What Brings Me Joy

The Loves of My Life

The past few months have been a bit of a roller coaster, with more downs than ups if I’m honest. Still, through everything, I try to seek the things that bring me joy. Jesus is my ultimate joy, but earthly things make me happy, too.

Wanna know what they are? Some are simple; some are everything. Here’s a jumbled list in no particular order:

Brenya and Isaac

Brenya and Isaac

I’m scared to death to hold my new niece because I’m afraid I’ll break her. I was the same with Isaac and we’re super close anyway, so I don’t think she’ll hold my fear against me when she’s older. And Isaac… Never have I met a kid with such a strong moral compass and social conscience. This boy will change the world.

Mom and Dad

Liam’s citizenship ceremony

Sometimes I wonder if maybe parents as awesome as mine are actually the exception. No matter what I do, whom I love, or where I go, my parents support, help, love, smile, and encourage. Really, there can’t be better parents out there.

Ireland

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If you didn’t already know this one… But seriously. Who could NOT love it?

My Irish Family

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Liam’s family has always made me feel like I’m one of them, from the very first moment I met them. I’m so blessed to have them in my life and cherish the time we get to spend together.

Melissa Fox

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My co-author, editor, and dear friend holds the mirror up, even when she knows I won’t like what I see. I trust her with my work, my fears, and my dreams.

Swear and Shake

Unpretentious folk rock created and performed by some of the nicest people on the planet? One of the sweetest, sultriest, strongest female voices in music? It all adds up to joy, people.

Hurley

Hurley

Man, he’s cute.

Heyrocco

Just listen.

Luna and Rosie

Luna and Rosie

Our sweet girls have tried so hard to give the dog a chance. They had the house to themselves for years, so I don’t blame them that they haven’t yet figured out how to love him as much as we do.

Allie

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We have our differences even now, but no one makes me laugh like she does.

Smoky Mountains

Smoky Mountains

Maybe the lights of Pigeon Forge are about as tacky as Vegas, but oh man, the surrounding mountains hold a treasure of memories. Even the thought of fall and winter in the Smokies makes me smile.

Hurling

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Who knew I’d enjoy a sport so much? Not only am I developing a connection with Liam’s home and heritage, but I’ve also made some amazing new friends.

Eva

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I can’t even put into words what this girl means to me. She’s on the other side of the world, so time zones are always weird. Luckily, I’m up early and she’s up late, so we still get plenty of time to talk every day.

Writing

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This one’s probably obvious.

Christmas

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Unapologetically put my tree up as early as I can get away with every year. I also start making Christmas music playlists sometime in November. Make fun if you like. I don’t care.

Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes

Who could listen to these guys and not dance? Also, they’re just super nice. (As a side note, their bass player, Marshall, took the photos that appear on the cover of my latest book.)

Niki

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Somehow, this girl makes even the most outrageous disasters something to laugh at. Anyone who can turn tears to laughter in a split second is someone I need in my life.

Coffee

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Personally, I like the flavored stuff, but Liam hates when I run those through is coffee maker, so we have two. Best I ever had? Red Velvet.

Flats

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After a leg injury, all my cute heels got thrown out and I adopted flats. I love them. I wear them everywhere. I even sometimes play hurling in them.

Sleeping with a box fan

I even lured Liam over to the dark side. I also move it around the house with me so I have that hum even when I’m working.

Driving

This is especially important to me. My dad raised me with a healthy respect for fun cars, but after my car accident, just sitting in one made me car sick. I’ve managed to find my joy again behind the wheel, even if I’m a lot more conscientious and careful now.

Tiff

Tiff

If I had a long lost twin but then found again, she’d be it.

Watching Will and Liam together

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When Tiff’s husband and Liam get together, it’s like watching The Hangover.

Craft beer

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Just keep your IPA, please.

Harry Potter

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I dare you to defy me on this one.

Irish chocolate

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It’s just better than American chocolate. If you don’t believe me, try it.

Hoodies

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They’re like wearing a warm, cozy, loving hug.

Steph

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Is there anyone sweeter in the world? We don’t talk much, but when we do, I’m smiling the whole damn time.

My work

I’m so lucky to say this. Believe it or not, I enjoy my work. Mostly, I write blogs about ecommerce and inbound marketing for HubSpot, but sometimes I get to ghostwrite a blog or two about Nashville real estate. The fact that I do all these things in my pajamas…well, who could be so lucky?

Fireplaces—with fires in them

We have three in our house and none of them work. I’ve made it my mission to make at least one of them a functioning fireplace, but until then, the fire pit outside holds some pretty big bonfires.

Pedicures

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Once a month, like clockwork, with my friend Kristie. Except for a random lunch, we really don’t see each other unless there’s a chair massage and a pedicure involved, so I’ve really grown to cherish the pampering and friendship.

Pumpkin or Cinnamon Crunch Scones

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Drooooooooool.

My family

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I’ve always been quite close to my extended family. When Allie and I were kids, we’d stay weekends and summers with Grandmother or aunts and uncles. My grandfather took us on road trips—most famously the cross-country trip to California for graduation. I even count some of my cousins as my closest friends. I’m fortunate to have such a tight-knit family, and just thinking about any one of them makes me smile.

Snow

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Sure, it’s a pain in the ass sometimes, but it’s just so pretty. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m programmed to pray for it after only two years of teaching high school. Snow days made me happier when I was a teacher than they ever did when I was a student.

The ocean

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My attachment to the ocean probably stems from our whole-family vacations when I was a little girl. Still, even without that, could anything match the joy of warm sand between your toes?

Karaoke

I relish the chance to grab a mic and wail for a bit. Twin Kegs is my karaoke joint of choice. It’s where everybody knows my name. (I have no video of me singing karaoke, but this is me singing with the Corbin High School Jazz Band starting at 14:30.)

Katie Marcario

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This dollface makes me laugh even when the most annoying, irritating, and frustrating things have just pissed me off. When steam’s coming out my ears, I hit her up first because I know she’ll make me smile.

‘NSync

Don’t you judge me.

Liam

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Finally, but definitely not last, there’s Liam. Dear God, this man just makes everything better. Everything. When I’m sad, he holds me. When I’m angry, he soothes me. When I’m laughing, he’s making me do it. None of the things before could mean quite so much without my ability to share them with him.

What I’m Thankful For

227673_195511470594043_1596806289_nA kid always looks up to her older cousins. You, Jeff, Meredith, Todd… You were all worthy of that adoration, even if you liked to tease me every chance you got. I remember talking to you in Doug and Sandy’s front yard so many years ago—probably thirty, if I admit my age. You laughed at the way I said your name, with two syllables instead of one.

“Mahk,” you said.

“Mah-eek,” I replied.

So I liked diphthongs, even at the age of five. You never let me forget it.

We all used to go to the beach every summer. We’d load up the cars with everyone in tow: Grandmother, Kay, your mom and Bob, Jeff, Doug and Debbie, Darren, my sister, Matt and Brit, my parents. Vacation was a family affair, and the memories live on, even if the group trips didn’t.

I remember how you and Doug made me laugh until I shot my drink out my nose every time. I wasn’t afraid to be loud around you. I wasn’t afraid to be silly around you. With you, I could be myself and accept the teasing because you made me feel like I belonged.

You and Jeff introduced me to Star Wars. I hated it. Thought it was the most boring movie ever made. I love it now, but I never told you. I never told you that every time I watch it, I think of you and Jeff. I always will.

My first time fishing was with you and Shae. I don’t even know if Edgar and Wilma’s pond had fish in it. Probably not, or I never would have gone swimming there. Still, you baited my hook and showed me how to cast the line. I don’t remember how to do it anymore, but I do remember how patient you were.

Even as a kid, I knew what you and Shae had was special. I remember thinking you’d get married someday. I remember thinking you’d picked a really good one, because I could be myself around her, too. You must have been high school sweethearts, but I was too young to recognize the rarity of your relationship. All I knew was that your love was real, and she was beautiful, and you were lucky.

You left behind two beautiful girls—smart, clever, funny, just like their mom and dad. I don’t know them as well as I knew you, but I know they’re special. I know they’re strong.

I’m thankful for one thing above all others this year: that I knew you. That I was blessed enough to call you family. That I’ll remember your huge, infectious laugh. As long as we hold these things in our hearts, you’ll be with us forever.

Welcome to the World, Brena!

When life is crazy and sad things happen, we often get bogged down in the muck and forget how to smile. Beauty still happens all around – like last night, when my niece Brena was born. Of course, her Aunt Jen and Uncle Liam are prepared to spoil her rotten.

Welcome to the world, Little One.

Lessons My Pappaw Taught Me

Joe T. McBayWhen I was seventeen years old, my grandfather taught me my greatest life lesson. We were traveling across the country from East Tennessee to San Francisco as a part of my graduation present. The trip included a full-size conversion van and my sister. Perhaps not every seventeen-year-old’s dream, but to me, it was an adventure.

That summer, I was crazy about the Beatles and Doc Holliday—also probably not something most kids my age would have said. I jumped in that van with no real understanding of what I was about to experience. Allie and I packed a bunch of books to keep us occupied in between those funny roadside attractions. Dean Koontz and Stephen King were the authors of choice, because back then I was too young to know what real fear is.

We devoured those books between Knoxville and Somewhere-in-Oklahoma. A quick Google search tells me we were in Oklahoma City, because I know for sure we stopped at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Then, the next day, we stopped at Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas. Guys, this museum is located on Wyatt Earp Boulevard.

Yes!

I spent the whole day reading all the little tidbits about Wyatt Earp and DOC HOLLIDAY. So enraptured was I that my grandfather had to hustle me along before the whole place shut down for the evening. Then, we went back to the hotel room where I watched A Hard Day’s Night, which just happened to be on TV. Three days into the trip, and I was already in Heaven.

Then we crossed into Colorado, and I found myself supremely unimpressed. Where were the majestic mountains? Where were the snow-capped peaks? Flat, boring, bleh. I didn’t think anything could get better until we actually reached California, so out came the books again. About halfway through Colorado, I learned my lesson.

“Would you get your faces out of those damn books and look around? You’re missing everything!”

Heads snapped up, eyes cut toward the windows, and oh… He was right. In the distance, across a field of wildflowers, stretched a lake so clear and peaceful. Reflected in that lake were the snow-capped peaks I’d so desperately hoped to see. The sight still stands as one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my life. His harsh words snapped the shutter on the camera in my brain, and I’ll never, ever forget that photograph. Without him, I’d have missed it.

Without him, I’d have missed the Grand Canyon. I’d have missed the chance to stand in four states at one time. I’d have missed the Royal Gorge, the snowball fight in the last week of July, the beauty of Highway 1, shopping at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, wandering the streets of Silverton in Colorado, the record shop of Haight and Ashbury, looking over Hoover Dam, and shouting over the music to each other in the Hard Rock Café.

I’d have missed everything on that trip, and likely a lot of things since. Instead, he reminded me to keep my head up, to see the beauty in the mundane, to travel the world, to find joy each day, and to take every chance that comes my way.

I said goodbye to my Pappaw on Friday. Tomorrow, he’ll be laid to rest next to my Nana in Chattanooga. My world won’t be the same without him, but he left me with a lesson I’ve carried half my life. And now, without him, I won’t miss a thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Can’t Be Irish…

Be Irish for a Weekend

ireland immersion weekendIf you don’t know by now that my husband is Irish, well… Hi, and welcome to my blog. It’s nice to meet you. There, now that we’ve got that first meeting out of the way, the second order of business is that my wonderful—if not blog-fodder—husband is from the land of leprechauns (and Guinness and Blarney Stones and U2 and probably a bunch of other things you didn’t know were Irish). As an American resident for nearly ten years and citizen for three (his American birthday is coming up pretty soon), Liam’s certainly embraced all our country has to offer. Still, there are times when I can see he longs for home.

To combat the homesickness, we visit a few local places throughout the year to get some Irish grub. McNamara’s has always been our go-to for a full Irish breakfast—or a “fry” as the Irish might say it—and we can find Barry’s tea at World Market. Overpriced, sure, but Irish nonetheless. We’re the first to admit that, while we may have found a small community of friends interested in Irish culture, it’s tough to find true Irish experiences in Nashville. We play hurling (or camogie for the girls), we go all out for St. Patrick’s Day (and even St. Practice Day, which takes place at Kavanagh’s Pub this weekend), and we chase people down for a chat if we hear even the slightest bit of an Irish accent.

So, when we met Eilis Crean from Roscommon, we were over the moon. Real Irish! Right here in Nashville! (To be fair, Tom, the owner of Kavanagh’s, is also Irish, but Liam tries to tell people Dublin doesn’t count.) And Eilis is, as it turns out, a master of the East Galway style of music, which she plays on fiddle. Eilis also used her considerable moxie to begin an organization called The Irish Gift, which preserves not only the music for fiddle, but also for voice, flute, bodhran, and uilleann pipes. If that weren’t enough, she also organizes a large Ireland Immersion Weekend every year. Where we were last year when this was all going on, I’ll never know.

Anyway, the point of it is, The Irish Gift is gearing up for this year’s Ireland Immersion Weekend. There will be music, food, drink, and lots of Irish people about. Some legendary musicians will offer master classes in the East Galway style of music. Lessons on Gaelic Irish will also be available. Simply put, the whole weekend will be like a small trip to Ireland without leaving Nashville. Save money on a plane ticket!

If you’re excited (we really, really are), you can learn more about it on their website. At the moment, The Irish Gift is conducting a fundraiser over at Indiegogo, too. To be honest, they’ll need a lot of help raising enough money for those plane tickets.

What? Plane tickets? Yep. To keep your feet firmly in Nashville for this event, The Irish Gift must bring over actual Irish people for the festival. You can learn all about the musicians on the Indiegogo page, and let me tell you, the credentials are really impressive. I’m already set for a weekend filled with Irish breakfasts, brown bread, soda bread, Irish salmon, shepherd’s pie (the real stuff and not the lazy way I make it), and good drink. And speaking of drink, Liam will be brewing a batch or two of beer for the event.

If you’re in Nashville, this might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. If you’re not in Nashville, you won’t be the only people to travel thousands of miles to get here. There will be guests from all over the world here for the weekend. Go check it out. Let’s all be Irish for a weekend.

photo credit: eamoncurry123 via photopin cc

Going Under Already Ranking on Amazon!

You guys are the best! When I woke this morning, I saw Going Under (The Oracles of St. Ambrose) hit two bestseller lists on Amazon for Kindle. Thank you so much for all the support and for spreading the word.

#16 Children’s Mystery and Supernatural

Going Under Jennifer M. Barry bestseller

#18 Children’s Paranormal and Urban Fantasy

Going Under Jennifer M. Barry bestseller

*Trumpet Blast* It’s Here!

Going Under (The Oracles of St. Ambrose) Now Available!

The Kindle version of Going Under is now available on Amazon!

Not sure what else to say…

Go here to check it out and then come dance with me!

Oh, and a huge thanks to all those who read Going Under before it was available to buy. I hope you enjoyed it. If you’d be so kind as so leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or maybe tell your friends, I’d be so grateful.

I couldn’t do this without any of you.

teen paranormal mystery jennifer m. barry

Fun News of the “FINALLY” Sort!

Announcing The Oracles of St. Ambrose: Going Under

Hey, I’m fist-pumping, even if you’re not.

There’ve been so many setbacks, I can’t even name them all. You’re all still patiently waiting for The Morning Star (which will have its own FINALLY moment very soon), but in the meantime, you can sink your teeth into The Oracles of St. Ambrose: Going Under. This fun teen paranormal mystery is pretty much my pride and joy (for the moment.) I thought it would never arrive, especially after a mishap with champagne and the laptop had me convinced I’d never recover all my files. Guys, back up yo’ stuff. You’d think I’d learn my lesson after pushing back Morning Star due to laptop theft. I did not.

I digress. I ramble when I’m excited.

Before I share the trailer, I have some people I must thank. You’ll see the cover and some character shots, all of which are original. These are the work of Marshall Skinner – bass player for Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes, fantastic photographer, and all-around nice guy. Marshall took time out of his busy schedule last summer to do the shots (before the epic champagne disaster) and has probably been wondering what on earth happened to those photos ever since. Well, here they are!

I must also thank Nathan Merli of Heyrocco for agreeing to pose as the main character, even if a flat tire prevented him from doing so. His willingness to help should not go unnoticed. Susan Hisey features as Natalie, our snarky writer, and she saved the day by bringing along Greg Breal to fill in for Nathan. Greg was so perfect as the lead, I simply couldn’t stop staring. It was like he walked right out of my imagination! Finally, Bryan is portrayed by Christopher Gillespie, and I think you’ll agree he’s absolutely perfect for the job. His parents Tommy and Tracy were kind enough to allow him to sit in.

Then, there’s French Camp, whose song is so unbelievably perfect, I just can’t stand it. Owen, the lead singer and songwriter, has always been incredibly generous by allowing me to showcase his music in book trailers. I hope you’ll take a moment to seek out their other work.

And now, with a release date of August 24, I give you the trailer for Going Under, the first in The Oracles of St. Andrews series.

What the Heck is Hurling?

The Irish National Sport—No, Not That One

For the past few months, much of my free time has been spent with the Nashville Gaelic Athletic Club. If you don’t know by now that Liam is from Ireland, here’s the announcement. He received an invitation in April to join the new hurling club here and was immediately overcome with excitement. I was aware of hurling and had a pretty good idea of how the game is played, but everyone I’ve met since then has asked one of two questions: “What the heck is hurling?” or “Is that the game on ice with the broom and stuff?”

So What Is It?

To answer your questions, it’s the Irish national sport, and there is no ice in sight. You might be thinking of “curling,” and our neighbors to the north enjoy that one. It also does not involve drinking until you throw up. It is, in fact, the most intense game I’ve ever seen. A mix between lacrosse and field hockey without pads and with a lot of Irish grit, the game requires some serious fortitude and an amazing set of lungs. The stick used is called a hurley (also now the name of our new puppy. We’re hardcore), and the ball is a sliotar (it’s Gaelic. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it. Try “schlither”).

The Nashville Gaelic Athletic Club

The team here in Nashville is small but growing. Last week, we all traveled to St. Louis for a tournament and had to borrow players from other teams to have a full squad. We see new people in and out each week, so I don’t think it will be long before we have our own full club…and then some. John Watson, a sculptor on the faculty at Belmont University, is our fearless leader, along with his wife, Anji, who is a surgical resident at Vanderbilt. The rest of the club is made up of other Nashville professionals: optometrists, web designers, teachers, and marketers. We’ve also been blessed with a couple from County Down in Northern Ireland for the summer.

I don’t actually play yet. I hit the ball around on Thursday nights for the informal practice, but the training on Sunday mornings is too intense for my leg. I hope to slowly build up some more strength in my knee again so I can join the girls’ team for camogie next year in St. Louis.

So, aside from working, this is what I’ve been up to. I thought I’d share our new obsession with you and show some photos of the club and the tournament. If you’re interested in learning more about hurling, do a quick search for your city. You might be surprised to find a club already in place. I know for sure you can join clubs here in Nashville, Atlanta, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Chicago, Kansas City, and New York City.

In addition to fun, fun, fun athletics, I’ve met some of the nicest, funniest, and most encouraging people here with the Nashville club. I can’t wait to see where this all goes!

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Nashville Irish community

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Blogger Book Fair: Welcome Allison Blanchard

Forget Me Not by Allison Blanchard

Reviews:

“Blanchard creates a cinematic experience for the readers with her descriptive words and precise details.”

— 5 out of 5 star Amazon Review

“I read the very first line and was hooked until the very last line! It’s a great story line filled with great and relatable characters! I found myself immersed in the world of Great Falls! I am anxiously waiting the 2nd book!”

—5 out of 5 star Amazon Review

“A beautiful tender love story that kept me wanting to read more. A gorgeous hero in Cole, I couldn’t help but fall in love with him. Adeline had a difficult life and is swept away by the unexpected interest from the beautiful new boy at school from the Little Shell Reservation, but Cole has a deep secret that stems back into his tribe, the Chippewa’s, history. Drawn to each other, Adeline tries to unravel the mystery while Cole tries to protect her from it….full marks for Allison Blanchard’s debut novel.”

- Marianne Curley, Author of the Guardians of Time Trilogy, Hidden, and Old Magic.

“The mythology Blanchard wove through Forget Me Not was definitely my favorite part. The Native American legends she constructed were beautifully written and tugged you deeper and deeper into the story…If you’re a fan of shape shifters and paranormal romance I highly suggest Forget Me Not. With its unique storyline it’s sure to drag you in and not let go until the very last page.”

 – Pretty In Fiction Blog

Full Review Here

Blogger Book Fair Allison Blanchard

“Forget Me Not: Book One in the Forget Me Not Trilogy”

“Cole Dyami is a mysterious boy with a dangerous secret. Adeline Jasely is a typical teenage girl. Living in the seemingly normal small town of Great Falls Montana, Adeline is confronted with everyday teenage problems by a not so normal beautiful boy. As Adeline and Cole’s worlds collide, the line between illusion and reality is blurred. According to a tribal legend, Adeline and Cole are no longer two friends, but two pieces in a complicated mystery. Suddenly, Adeline finds herself in a world she never knew existed. Along side Cole, she attempts to unravel the mysteries of the small Chippewa tribe in order to not only find out who Cole Dyami truly is, but who she is as well. As Cole and Adeline begin to uncover the secrets behind the legends of the Chippewa tribe, illusion slowly unravels into reality and friendship gradually melts into a mutual need of survival.”

Buy Yours Now:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Paperback (Createspace link)

Add it on Goodreads

Coming This Year:

“Morning Glory: Book Two in the Forget Me Not Trilogy”

This war is far from over. This war is only the beginning.

For Adeline Jasely, the threat of both her life and the lives of those she loves is only getting greater as she delves deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the Chippewa tribe. As she falls more in love with Cole, she must make a choice: stand up and fight for what is right or wait for the next person she loves to be taken away.

Book Two in the Forget Me Not TrilogyMorning Glory continues the saga of Adeline and Cole, their newfound love, and the threat of those who wish to end it all.

Will Adeline grow stronger under the threat of more war and bloodshed or will she be unable to fight for those who need her?

Cover Reveal Coming Soon!

Blogger Book Fair Allison Blanchard

About Allison Blanchard

Allison Blanchard is currently a student at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia where she is pursuing her bachelor degrees in English Creative Writing and French. She is an active sister in Sigma Alpha Omega where she continues to grow as a woman in Christ. She writes everyday, drinks too much coffee, and is looking forward to the next adventure her characters will take her.

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