An author withdraws

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Bestselling member M.L. Doyle explains what of today’s circumstances have convinced her to put down her pen.

I will not be writing fiction or much of anything else for the foreseeable future. 

I know withdrawing from writing fiction at this time won’t make much of a difference in the scheme of things. My readers haven’t read anything new from me for almost a year already. The last time I posted to this blog was in April. There are millions of fantastic books and short stories out there to keep everyone entertained forever. I have no illusions that anything new I might produce would be missed. 

I’m not boycotting the writing world as some kind of call to action, nor do I think declaring an end to my fiction writing will result in some kind of change that will impact how people think. Between the pandemic and the arguments over masks, the lives lost and the massive economic hardships millions are facing, my imaginary characters, their lives, their issues …  well, who gives a shit? Certainly not me. 

Every single day I’ve felt guilt and insecurities because I can’t do more than stare at the empty page. I wish I could fill it with my fear, frustration and the extreme anxiety that washes over me every time I consider what will happen to my country, to the world, if the same thing happens in November 2020 that happened in November 2016. If the politics aren’t enough, watching George Floyd die and the callous indifference on Chauvin’s face broke me. I didn’t think I could take one more story of police brutality and the wrongful deaths of innocents at the hands of people who simply didn’t care. Then there was Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain and Venessa Guillen, a sister in arms whose murder inexcusably went unsolved for so long even when the killer was the most obvious person imaginable. If her murder had been a novel, readers would have excoriated the author for making the solution to the puzzle so damn obvious.

Why is it so hard for Americans to wear a damn mask? How could parents support a president who demands they send their children into virus riddled infection chambers? How do we allow news organizations to spread propaganda against Black Lives Matter as if this civil rights group is some sort of terrorist organization? How is it okay for the party of POTUS to put a mentally ill rapper on the ballot in a scheme to draw votes from his opponent? How do we allow our neighbors or, more importantly, our employees to scream the N word and call the police on people simply for walking down the street? How does anyone make excuses for people who stand on their front lawn and point weapons at people exercising their first amendment rights? Did that cop really think it made things better to help a 16 year-old girl sit up, after he made her and her sisters lay face down on the ground and put handcuffs on them? And even after people from around the world have expressed their anger, shock and horror over our handling of this pandemic, and indeed, ban Americans from visiting most countries around the world because of it, how can the architect of this disaster claim we are the envy of the world? Worse, how can his followers think this is all okay? 

The horrific destruction left in the wake of the explosion in that Beirut warehouse seems almost representative of the collective pressure we are all facing. I’ve had enough. 

Every single day my frustration and feelings of helplessness have grown in the face of all of this madness.  At the same time my guilt over not being able to put words on a page multiplied exponentially. The horrific destruction left in the wake of the explosion in that Beirut warehouse seems almost representative of the collective pressure we are all facing. I’ve had enough.

I wish I could control the fear so many millions feel over their need for that extra $600 congress can’t come to an agreement on. I wish I could control the guilt some cops may be wrestling with as they start to understand the realities of the systematic racism they have unknowingly supported. I wish I could control the risk to health so many teachers will face. I wish I could control the gut-wrenching feelings low income, hardworking parents must be facing who know their children won’t get the homeschooling they need. I wish I could have control over how much further behind those low income kids will become. I wish I could control the hatred in the hearts of so many who become incensed, outraged and violent over a simple demand that no lives matter until Black, Brown and Native lives matter.     

I know that many people share my frustration and feelings of helplessness in the face of all of this. By saying I’m not going to write anymore, I’m finally taking control of the one stone of guilt I can lift off my shoulders. Unlike COVID or federal troops on the streets or those who refuse to wear masks or the lunatic in the White House and all of the evil monsters who support him, this one thing, the guilt I feel over my inability to write, I can control. So I will.

M.L. Doyle

has served in the U.S. Army at home and abroad for more than two decades as both a soldier and civilian.

Mary is the author of The Desert Goddess series, an urban fantasy romp consisting of The Bonding Spell and The Bonding Blade. She has also penned The Master Sergeant Harper mystery series which has earned numerous awards including an IPPY, a Lyra Award and the Carrie McCray Literary Award.

Mary is the co-author of two memoirs: A Promise Fulfilled: the story of a Wife and Mother, Soldier and General Officer (January 2011) and the memoir, I’m Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen—My Journey Home (Touchstone, 2010), which was nominated for an NAACP Image award.

Mary’s work has been published by The Goodman Project, The War Horse, The WWrite Blog and The Wrath-Bearing Tree, an online magazine for which she serves as a fiction editor.

A Minneapolis, Minnesota native, Mary current lives in Baltimore. You can reach her at her website at mldoyleauthor.com.

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Summer reading season will soon be here

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While there is some unexpected weather in the Rockies, summer is coming up fast. And even though the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into many plans, there’s no reason that readers are looking forward to a book, or a lot of books, for reading under the warm sun, on the dock, or on a rainy day.

You know by now that your favorite BestSelling authors would never let you down! Here are the best summer reads that you can download to your e-reader for warm weather entertainment.

Samreen Ahsan

Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

If you love stories about medieval castles, lovers bound by destiny, characters steeped in reality and a plot shaded by fantasy, you will love the second book in the Stolen Series.

“Pure reading bliss!”

Scott Bury

Wildfire: Wine Country Mystery #1 by Scott Bury

Wildfire

A hot, dry summer in California’s wine country heats up mystery and love for a law-school grad. After fleeing from wildfires that sweep through the winery, Tara finds her employer’s body in the ashes. Was it an accident, or hiding a murder?

“It starts out at a run, and keeps you hooked til the end.”

David C. Cassidy

Velvet Rain

An occult paranormal love story set in a long hot summer in the Midwest. Drifter Kain Richards has mysterious abilities that put him on the run from a shadowy government agency.

When he falls for a beautiful and sensible Midwest farmwoman, his past puts them both in danger. With failing health and strength, he must find the will to save himself, his love—and the world.

“Exceptional writing on a par with Stephen King.”

M.L. Doyle

The Bonding Blade

Can the embodiment of an ancient goddess live a balanced life in modern times?

The second book in the Desert Goddess series is a rich, tense, action-packed and often hilarious urban occult fantasy that takes the reader from Minnesota to ancient Mesopotamia.

“Fun, funny, dark, serious: a joy to read.”

DelSheree Gladden

In What Had to be Done

Anna Elizondo is going on three years of bad days. Finding her ex-best friend living in her new home town and still hating her with a passion does nothing to improve her outlook for better days. If Anna can’t find a way to make things at least tolerable with Felix, it’s going to be a very long summer.

“Great read for teens.”

Seb Kirby

Double Bind

This psychological thriller cum science fiction mystery is perfect for a summer read. You won’t be able to predict what Bridges is dealing with.

“So compelling that you’re drawn in from the start. “

Sydney Landon

NEW: Nicoli, the ninth novel in the Lucian & Lia series

Out now!  

Nicoli Moretti, the top lieutenant of the Moretti crime family, falls deeply in love for the first and only time in his life with the one woman he should not have: the daughter of a rival mafia family. 

“The best in the series.”

Alan McDermott

Gray Genesis

A Tom Gray prequel and the newest thriller in this bestselling series.  

SAS Sergeant Tom Gray leads 8 Troop to disrupt Taliban operations in Afghanistan and stop them from kidnapping a world-leading virologist and unleashing a new kind of warrior.

“His most explosive adventure yet!”

Toby Neal

Wired Ghost

In the latest Paradise Crime thriller, security specialists Sophie and Jake find themselves trapped underground in a lava tube, engulfed by darkness and heat, struggling to outrun a deadly force that consumes everything in its path.

“Adrenaline overload!”

J.L. Oakley

Timber Rose 

In 1907, the best families did not approve of their daughters taking up mountain climbing. And when Caroline Symington elopes with a working-class man who works for the new Forest Service, her father disowns her.

Caroline builds a new life, but when her ruthless uncle muscles his was into the Naitonal Forest, Caroline must take a stand to defend the man and land that she loves.

“A talented writer with a fantastic concept.”

Raine Thomas

Meant for Her

In this bestselling baseball romance, photographer Sierra Stratton’s uncanny sense about people tells her the sexy and brooding major-league baseball player Evan Dorsey is he’s suffering. She wants to be the one to help him—but Evan has some mysterious enemies.

“I love the characters, the dogs, the plot and the surprising twist!” 

D.G. Torrens

Broken Wings 

A bomb-disposal expert in the British Army and a newspaper editor are brought together unexpectedly and fall in love immediately. But when Joshua is posted to Afghanistan, it will change Angelina’s life forever.

“A beautiful love story and tribute.”

Gae-Lynn Woods

A Case of Sour Grapes - mystery by Gae-Lynn Woods

A Case of Sour Grapes

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, it seems, for private investigator wannabe Maxine Leverman. Cheating spouses, dead bodies, and a Mexican drug cartel. Who knew a gal’s first day at work could be so exciting—and dangerous?

“Enticing and enjoyable!”

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Monday reading: The Bonding Spell

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By M.L. Doyle

The #covisolation solution continues on BestSelling Reads. M.L. Doyle returns to read from The Bonding Spell, the first book in her Desert Goddess series.

The Bonding Spell

Hester Trueblood can’t deny having an ancient, Sumerian goddess in her head has its perks.

She enjoys her new strength and fighting abilities, things that would have
been useful when she was a soldier. And the two handsome men dedicated to serving and protecting her are a nice bonus too.

On the other hand, there are drawbacks.

Having Inanna’s voice inside her head 24/7 can be annoying, and the constant threat of demons and monsters is a dangerous nuisance. The bitchy goddess and the evil hordes are problems Hester can handle, but the adoration of a demigod has Hester off balance.

None of that matters when an old secret threatens to destroy
Hester’s family. To battle the goddess of witchcraft, Hester will need all
of Inanna’s powers along with the help of her devoted soldiers—and even a
love-struck demigod—if she wants to survive.

M.L. Doyle

M.L. Doyle, military mystery, erotica and urban fantasy

aimed to prove her brother wrong when she joined the Army on his dare. Almost two decades later, she not only confirmed that she could, contrary to his warning, make it through basic training, her combat boots took her to the butt-end of nowhere and back countless times and she lived to tell about it … or write about it as it turned out.

A native Minnesotan, Mary lives in Baltimore where her evil cats force her to feed and care for them including cleaning up their poo. To escape from her torture, Mary loves to hear from readers. Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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The Peacekeeper’s Photograph

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A Memorial Day teaser

By M.L. Doyle

As we near Memorial Day, escape into the three-book Master Sergeant Harper military mystery series beginning with The Peacekeeper’s Photograph.

“Everyone seems to think highly of you,” he said, a smile playing on his lips. “Very professional, they say. A great leader. Good soldier. Articulate. I haven’t been able to find anyone to say anything negative so far.”

 Articulate. In my experience, people only applied that word like a compliment when used to describe African-Americans. We were to feel ultimately complimented because we could speak coherently. It felt more like an insult than anything he’d said so far. I felt my anger flare. I managed to check the angry words, but refused to keep quiet about it.

“Articulate? I wouldn’t be much of an Army spokesperson if I couldn’t talk, Chief.”

Ramsey colored slightly, pressing his lips together. He glanced at Santos then forged on.

“Unfortunately, people didn’t seem to have the same opinion of your soldier, Specialist Delray,” he said.

Since he wasn’t asking a question, I kept my mouth shut.

“What did you think of her, Harper?”

Now that was a question. Problem was, I didn’t want to answer it. I sat up straighter, blew out a breath.

“Come on, Sergeant,” Ramsey said. “She was your soldier. What kind of person was she?”

“To be honest, Chief, I feel as if I failed her.”

His eyebrows went up. “Go on.”

I fidgeted. It was hard for me to admit it. She was undisciplined. She’d been working for me for months and she still couldn’t write a decent feature story or take a publishable picture. I’d worked with her, tried to edit her stories and give her tips and tricks. None of it sunk in. After a while, it became too time consuming to give her the training she needed. She exhausted me. I’d avoided giving her assignments that were important, knowing they were beyond her capacity.  

“She was young, sir. She needed … constant leadership. I’m afraid I wasn’t able to give her the attention she deserved.”

“Constant leadership.”

“Yes, sir.”

He started pacing again, but let the silence stretch uncomfortably. The plastic tent flooring muffled his steps. A slow stab of guilt cut through my gut, the longer the silence stretched. Specialist Virginia Delray had gotten on my last nerve, but her lack of skill as a journalist was my fault. I’d given up on her.

I curled my hands into fists on my knees and squeezed. Ramsey saw my tension. He settled himself on the chair across from me, leaning his elbows on his knees. He invaded my space. I knew his blue-eyed gaze could see my guilt. Instinctively, I wanted to move my chair back. His close proximity was obviously meant to make me feel uncomfortable. It worked.

 “Constant leadership, and you didn’t give that to her?” He practically whispered my words back at me, the low voice meant to calm. I felt myself deflate, and slumped back into my chair.

“No, sir,” I said, and found myself whispering back. “I didn’t give that to her.”

“So you failed her, you say?”

“Yes, sir.”

He smelled like manly scented soap. His gaze wandered over my face as he sat only inches away. Clicks from Santos’s keyboard were the only sounds in the room, the whole table vibrating each time he slammed his thumb down on the space bar.

“You feel guilty about that,” he said. He put a comforting hand over my clenched fist, speaking in that quiet, intimate voice.

His frosty gaze could see everything, I thought, as if I’d scrawled my feelings across my forehead. His thoughts glared back at me just as clearly. Sympathy and accusation. His belief that I murdered Delray appeared there in the line of his eyebrows and the way he touched me. His manipulative sympathy disgusted me and pissed me off. I moved my hand away from his and sat up straighter.

“For not training her, Mr. Ramsey,” I said, no longer whispering. “For losing patience with her. For not making her a better soldier. That’s what I feel guilty about.”

He stared at me for a long moment, that icy glare back again. He pressed his lips together and breathed heavily through his nose, then stood up and walked toward the desk. He kept his back to me for several seconds, his hands on his hips. Finally, he turned around.

“Okay, let’s see what you know,” he said, and launched into an endless stream of questions. 

The Peacekeeper’s Photograph

“… A great voice can be found in The Peacekeeper’s Photograph.” Writer’s Digest

“I love a good mystery/suspense/thriller, and this book had all three elements. I read it from cover to cover within a matter of hours! At 306 pages long, I struggled to put this book down!” Lynn Worton

“By the time I finished the book I had formed a bond with Harper and Fogg, and Doyle had provide enough details of Army life to make me feel like an invisible character in the story.” Amazon Customer

Master Sergeant Lauren Harper, an African-American career soldier, always has her eye on the mission, especially when on a deployment to a war-torn country like Bosnia. While Harper is dedicated to her mission, she’s not a super combat operative trained to kill people with her bare hands. She is a smart, but human military professional caught in an impossible situation.

When Specialist Virginia Delray, a soldier under Harper’s authority, is murdered, military investigators need a speedy resolution. Delray is Harper’s roommate and the young southern girl’s incompetence had sparked Harper’s temper more than once for everyone to witness. For the investigators, the shortest route to closing the case could lead directly to Harper.

When investigators find evidence of an attraction between Harper and her commanding officer, Colonel Neil McCallen—an attraction the married man returns but has never acted on—covering up an illicit affair becomes the motive the investigators searched for.

Harper’s freedom hinges on the answer to one question: If she didn’t kill Delray, who did?

With help from British Special Operations soldier, Sergeant Major Harry Fogg, Harper learns Delray’s murder is only one piece in a much larger conspiracy. The details come into focus, first on life at a remote NATO base, then on misery in the aftermath of war, and finally on the brutal truth.

The Peacekeeper’s Photograph is the winner of the Lyra Award for Best Mystery (2013), The Rebecca Reads Choice Awards for best ebook (2013), and recognized in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) for 2014.

Learn more about the Master Sergeant Harper mystery series on Amazon.

M.L. Doyle

calls on her years of serving as an Army Reservist to write about women in combat boots. She co-authored the memoirs of two brave soldiers to ensure their stories keep their proper place in history. Her work with Spec. (Ret) Shoshana Johnson, an African-American POW of the Iraq War, was finalist in the NAACP Image Award. She also co-authored with Brig. Gen (Ret.) Julia Cleckley the story of her rise through Army ranks from humble beginnings and despite great personal tragedy.

Mary has written the three-book Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, and Limited Partnerships, a four-novella erotic romance series. Her latest release, The Bonding Blade, is the second book in her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series.

Mary’s essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in The War Horse, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Goodman project and O-Dark Thirty.

Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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A Bestselling response

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Photo by Nadine Johnson on Unsplash

Your favorite bestselling authors are reaching out from #covisolation

The novel coronavirus pandemic is changing everything. Even bestselling authors are not exempt from the urgency of isolation and physical distancing.

So at BestSelling Reads, we’re combining physical distancing with social media engagement. Followers of our Facebook page know that our members have been reading live from their books every week to help readers break up the #covisolation.

So far:

  • Mary Doyle has read from her groundbreaking book, I’m Still Standing: From Captured Soldier to Free Citizen, the true story of Shoshana Johnson, the first black female U.S. soldier to be captured in combat.
  • Alan McDermott has treated us to a reading from his brand-new Motive, a tale that weaves together a disgraced British soldier, a suspect cop, an engraver and other realistic characters into a thrilling crime story.

And we’re keeping up the pace. Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7, DelSheree Gladden will give us a live reading from her very funny Trouble Magnet, the first Eliza Carlisle mystery.

One week after that, Scott Bury will read from his first published novel, the historical fantasy The Bones of the Earth, on Tuesday, April 14.

And every Tuesday, you will get more live readings, at least until we’re through the Covid-19 response and can get back to something like normal—or maybe even better times.

Watch this space and Facebook for updates.

Changes to the blog

Because we’re posting live readings on Tuesdays, we’ll be changing the regular Monday Musings for the time being.

Keep coming back to the blog every Monday to watch the recordings of the previous Tueday’s reading.

Here are the previous readings:

M.L. Doyle, I’m Still Standing: From Captured Soldier to Free Citizen.

Alan McDermott, Motive.

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Writing in quarantine time

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Everything has changed: travel, work, leisure.

Visiting family and friends.

Writing has changed, too.

BestSelling Reads authors describe what’s different for them.

Alan McDermott

You’d think that being stuck at home would be great for a writer, but not this one. If I was alone it wouldn’t be such a problem, but with the entire family confined to the house, it’s not easy to find a quiet moment.

For the time being I’m not actually working on any particular project, but I am starting the outlines for three new ideas. One is the fourth Eva Driscoll thriller, the second is an FBI tale, and the third is another Ryan Anderson. I wasn’t planning on giving him a second outing so soon, but feedback from my novel Motive suggests readers put him on a par with Tom Gray, and many have said they can’t wait for Ryan’s next adventure.

Gotta keep the readers happy!

Seb Kirby

It was never going to be anything other than difficult during lockdown. On the surface it seems like a blessing that there’s more time to write, but it doesn’t work out that way. There’s just too much that’s very bad happening out there and too many brave public servants laying it on the line to try to protect us all.

In light of what they’re facing on a day be day basis, the comings and goings of my writerly imagination seem rightly of little import. I’d like to pay tribute to all those health workers and all the other essential workers who are facing this crisis head on for us all.

That said, I’m still producing, albeit in fits and starts. I’m working on a new sci-fi fantasy that places AI at the centre of a soon-to-come world where what it means to be human is placed under the microscope. It started out as a fun thing but has developed much deeper undertones as the story has progressed.

Toby Neal

I’ve been on lockdown for more than two weeks, and am literally watching the grass grow out my windows. I thought I’d get a lot done, but anxiety is a rat gnawing at my edges, and in order to write I have to shut everything off, put on headphones with instrumental music, set a timer, and hack through a scene, one tough word at a time.

I don’t need a ton of social interaction, but only seeing my dog and my husband for such an extended period has begun to feel like a twilight zone of sorts….but when I look outside to see that grass growing, the first buds of spring on the trees, daffodils pushing up through the earth—I know that this, too, shall pass. And I hope I will have made the most of it.

M.L. Doyle

I’m am so lucky. Not only do I have a job that I can do from home, I have a paycheck that will continue throughout this crisis. I have never felt as grateful for a steady income as I do right now. That said, I’ve also never been as busy. I am putting in longer hours almost every day of the week and as a result, I have not had the focus or the energy to devote to my fiction.

While I haven’t been able to write, I was thrilled to be able to do a couple of online events so far. A week ago, I appeared on a panel discussion of women veteran author panel discussion for the Centers for New American Security also read from one of my books during a Best Selling Reads Book Reading. It’s not writing, but it’s helped me keep in touch with readers. I hope to be back to creating very soon.  

D.G. Torrens

As an author, I am used to working from home, eagerly trying to complete my next WIP. However, the lockdown has changed the dynamics in my household massively.

My writing time is reduced not increased due to isolation and social distancing. I am now home-schooling my year-6 daughter daily Monday through to Friday. My husband is working from home too, taking conference calls throughout the day. So, I now have a house full constantly that I am not used to! It is challenging, to say the least.

One of several benefits: my gardens have received much attention, and they are looking fabulous. I have been upcycling furniture, too, and spray painting everything in sight!

A final word: I am so grateful to our wonderful NHS. They are our angels without wings and are having to fight the coronavirus head-on daily to save lives while putting their own at risk in the process. I will be eternally grateful to our NHS as we are fortunate to have such a great health system.

Readers: to break up the isolation, BestSelling Reads authors are doing live readings from their books on our Facebook page.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/BestSellingReadsPage/ on Tuesdays to hear from authors like M.L. Doyle, Alan McDermott, Scott Bury and more.

Just check our Facebook page, Twitter streams and other notifications for updates about the exact time.

Raine Thomas

Because I have a second career in events, I’m highly used to fitting in my writing time on evenings and weekends while my husband and daughter occupy themselves. My hours have been cut in my events role due to the impact of COVID-19, which actually leaves me more time to dedicate to my writing…a bonus in this bleak time!

I’m back to work on For the Win, my next baseball romance. Things are looking good for a summer release.

I’m also so grateful to everyone in healthcare, the sciences, retail/grocery, and every industry helping the world get back on its feet!

David C. Cassidy

I’m a fairly even-keel person, and I try to keep things in perspective as well as I can. Our current “new normal” is unsettling to say the least; frightening to say the most.

Like everyone else, I hear the news and feel that undeniable undercurrent of fear and anxiety. But as a person with many creative outlets, particularly writing and photography, I can always keep my mind busy. I’m not always successful, of course, especially now, but it’s my way of handling the situation.

In the end, we all have our coping mechanisms in place, and they get us through. So, for me, moving on with the work is so important at this troubling time.

J.L. Oakley

Being in the first state to report the virus, I watched in shock as the death toll climbed from February 29 on.

That very first week of March, I began to wear a mask and gloves, and carried hand sanitizer. I had just finished my historical novel. I needed to get a cover, edits to enter a contest, finish author notes and research.

I was already staying at the home, but when my chorale cancelled the rest of our season and deaths began to occur at a local nursing facility, the feeling of isolation began to take hold. My middle son lives with me, so we do social distancing. I can go out into my garden. I’m planning a garden extension. Can take the dog for a walk. I’m doing church, chair yoga, and my writer’s critique group through Zoom. I hunker down at night watching series on Netflix, writing extra parts for the novel and correcting the Norwegian words in the novel with the help of a friend who Norwegian. She’s a great beta reader, too.

Scott Bury

I find an inexplicable sense of normalcy and strangeness at the same time. I have less work to do, and therefore more time to write. I am also not commuting anymore.

I have managed to maintain my physical exercise regimen, which is a plus. And we’re not eating at restaurants, so we’re saving money.

At the same time, I do miss seeing friends, going to favorite restaurants and places in town, going to movies …

And strangely, I haven’t really accelerated writing. But I am making progress on my WIP, The Triumph of the Sky. Meanwhile, the real world continues to spark new ideas for novels.

One thing does make me feel hopeful: most people I see are doing the right things, in terms of physical distancing, staying home and so on. I hope that some of the attitude and practices I see continue after the pandemic becomes history, like more teleworking, and being mindful about infecting others if we’re symptomatic.

This may be a turning point in our history. Let’s hope that it’s a turn for the positive.

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