Writing Great Fantasy: World Building Workshop {Review}

Today I have a different sort of review for you. As many of you know I am currently writing a book. I have a few different books started but this current one is the biggie for me. I often look at courses to improve my writing skills or teach me more about the genre I am writing in.

I want to give my readers something with is compelling, believeable and enjoyable. I want to immerse them in a world they feel is real. Thanks to Facebook’s marketing I am often suggested new course providers and courses. In this instance it was Udemy and a writing course.

I had a browse of the online catalogue and came across the course Writing Great Fantasy: World Building Workshop. Looking at the module breakdown it was perfect. The course material is only 4.5 hours long but has a lot of assignment style questions along the way.

I finished the course yesterday and I have to say I really enjoyed it. It covered everything you  need to know about creating a world, from how to draw a map to creating creatures. The lectures were really well done and very thought provoking. I have come away from the course brimming with ideas and a million things I want to now add, it’s given me the opportunity to consider things I would never have thought of and I now have the ability to create a well rounded believable world for my characters.

I really had fun with the map making and character creation parts of the course. They provided me much needed knowledge and I filled gaps in my map that I hadn’t realised would be problematic.

A massive bonus to this course is that when you finish you get a fantastic discount to use against the course Writing Your Fantasy Novel by the same instructor, Jason Link. I will  be taking up that offer, however, I have another course through them I also bought when on offer to start first. This one is called Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Mastery which sounds great.

The courses can be a bit expensive if you get them full price (though very worth it) but Udemy often have sales where you can pick up the courses for £9.99 so it might be worth it to keep checking back if you want the lower cost.

All in all if you want to write fantasy I would absolutely recommend this course.

Here is a copy of my certificate of completion and the map I made, I have blurred out the names of places to leave some mystery and intrigue for my readers.

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As of today’s date (30/01/2019) there is a current sale on for reduce price courses, the ones I mentioned above are all included.

Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

 

 

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Word Prompt Wednesday: Rug (2/01/19)

the fiction cafe

The Aim: Write a piece of flash fiction of any genre under 750 words. It must include the word shown in the prompt below.

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The flames had started to die down on the fire in the centre of the pit, surrounded by logs used as makeshift seats. Silvania had been camped here for 2 weeks now waiting for the war to start, for the enemy to make itself known. She got up and made her way through the mud clogged field to her tent, been the Princess Royale her tent was the biggest to be found, surrounded by guards even when she was not in it. She entered through the curtain and removed the fur lined boots careful not to splash mud on the plush rugs which lined the floor.
The tent was warm enough, something she was grateful for given that the first flurries of light snow had started to fall earlier in the evening. Silvania knew that the rest of the army were getting restless, they had decided to come and set up the war-camp early to prepare for the winter weather and get themselves in a position which held the best advantages. As the first female commander of the Army and Elite Guard she knew that even more eyes watched her, to see how this played out. Many of the men under her leadership struggled accepting that she would know better, a mere female in the world of men.
Silvania knew what she was doing, knew what they thought of her but as daughter of the King they could hardly argue with his decisions. She had a lot to prove and she was thankful for the Counsel that guided her, that trusted her. Spies had returned early with the news that the opposing forces had moved even closer, not stopping for rest or sleep. They would be here in less than a day. She had told her army to rest, sleep and prepare for battle. Now it was a waiting game.
Silvania’s Elven magic stirred, she had spent the last few weeks learning how to control it better, to stretch it and make it more powerful. She already knew that she was the most powerful Elf in the continent, she far surpassed her father, that is why he hadn’t objected to sending her. Silvania had trained with the elite guard since the age of 6 years, she had 20 years of training with them, refusing to play the part of a traditional Princess, all Silvania cared about was protecting her City, her people, her fathers land. War had never come to these lands before but a new power had taken root in the South, pushing North wards they had captured and taken over many of the large cities and provinces on the way here, to try to conquer the North.
There would be little sleep for her this night, instead she took comfort in knowing that the people who she surrounded herself with would rest, would be strong and well rested for the battle that laid ahead.
After a fitful night, Silvania had dressed quickly ready for the battle ahead. The scouts had returned an hour ago, the enemy only a few hours from the camp. Soldiers were dressed and ready, the horses were all armored ready for their riders. The healers had readied the medi-tents at the back of the camp. Now it was a waiting game. Silvania summoned that magic from deep within and left it resting near the surface. Less than 2 hours later the horizon broke with dark figures who marched towards them. Silvania moved to the front-line and stood at the centre between the two most powerful elite guards. She raised her hands to the sky and channeled the magic within. The blast of shadows hit the ground in front of the Army heading towards them and split the ground in two. Silvania smirked as she turned and shouted to charge.

 

If you would like to have a go at the word prompt and write your own piece of flash fiction or poetry then please do so, feel free to share it in the comments or tag me in your blog post, I would love to have a read:)

Thanks for reading

Emma-Louise x

Alaria Playlist

Sometimes when I write I like to do it in complete silence, sometimes when I write I like background noise from the TV and then sometimes when I write I have a playlist of songs going through my head which sum up situations, scene, dialogue etc.

Alaria conjures up a lot of songs for me, coincidentally mostly from the same band. They create the perfect atmosphere and imagery in my mind and help me pull scenes together.

My Alaria playlist is quite small currently but I am only at the beginning on my journey on it. As I write more I will undoubtedly add more to it.

Alaria Playlist

Preptober Resources

Hey Guys and Gals,

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am sharing with you a list of resources which I have been using for NaNoWriMo preptober.

I’ve made some of my own little autumn themed images which I will also share, feel free to take from them anything you want:)

Megg Geri – Lost of helpful blog posts and printable resources. Her book How To Write A Novel in 30 Days is fantastic.

Eva Deverell – There are a million and one printable worksheets and bits of advice on Eva’s site.

Natalia Leigh – Natalia has created a fantastic Preptober workbook which is available for a donation of your chosing.

Writer’s Digest – A hubub of advice and printable worksheets and advice sheets.

Goinswriter – A blog with helpful advice

Pinterest – A link to my Pinterest board. Pinterest is a fantastic place to find information

Other Links

Rock Your Writing

Ari Meghlen

The Writer’s Craft

The Novel Factory

ReadWriteThink

Annie Neugebauer

Tricia Goyer

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If you have any helpful resources I’ve not mentioned please feel free to drop them in a comment below.

Emma-Louise x

My Current WIP Set-Up {A5 Uglydori Traveler’s Notebook}

Hey Everyone,

Today I have a lovely crossover post for you. It involves planners and writing, two of my favourite things.

I recently took part in a planner swap and I got this absolutely gorgeous A5 Uglydori from Uglybug Traveler’s Notebooks. The size meant it was perfect to set up for my current work-in-progress and NaNo prep and the quality of the leather means it will hold well getting a battering in my bag.

I have set-it up around the same theme as my novel genre and added little bits and bobs that inspire me and make me happy.

I have 4 notebooks inside it, each serves a different purpose.

Notebook 1 is my WIP Bible – this contains everything I need to know about my book. Character profiles, world building, plot points, outlines, storyboard. You get the drift.

Notebook 2 is my NaNo BuJo – I have all my preptober goals set up, NaNo goals, word trackers, NaNo self care info and I will add any word crawl pieces I take part in as well as a running to-do list.

Notebook 3 is my WIP notebooks – this is where I write out scenes and pieces of actual writing that I want to include in my book but don’t have my laptop with me. Great for when I am out and about.

Notebook 4 is for Writing Resources – this is where I write more technical notes, print out copies of advice, trips, tricks and worksheets. This is a book I can keep with me regardless of which WIP I work on as the information is relevant to writing in general.

I have various sticky notes and washi tucked in the pockets along with a NaNo personal size insert that I have yet to transfer all information into.

Natalia Leigh Pretober Workbook

Link to my pinterest where all these resources can be found: Alaria Storyboard

Links to images above: The Raven Girl The Room Stack

I would love to see if you have a planner or TN set up for NaNo or your work-in-progress.

Here is a link to my writing resources.

 

Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

Preptober – It’s a NaNorific Month!

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Hey Everyone,

Preptober is upon us! Now if you don’t know what Preptober is then I am about to tell you. It refers to the month before National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which falls in November, meaning that October is the month to prepare.

For many writer’s it is an essential month to get everything done that will help us in the quest to hit that 50k word count during November.

I didn’t take part last year as I wasn’t well so I am making the most of Preptober this year so that come NaNo I am able to hit the ground running.

I knocked up a little Preptober calender to keep me on track and i’d like to share it with you. Of course everyone prep’s differently but hopefully it will be of use to someone.

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Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

First Line Friday: Flash Fiction

Today I am posting a little piece I wrote for The Fiction Cafe: Writer’s Group, First Line Friday.

The goal was to write a piece using the first line prompt and to keep it under 750 words.

My piece came to 486 Words.

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To save his own life, he would have to kill his humanity. He had managed to survive 1 year, 3 months, 2 weeks and 3 days in the new world without killing one of them, without killing anything other than game to eat.
Times were changing, now faced with the reality that he would have to kill one of them to get out of his makeshift camp.

The virus came quickly, it seemed to take hold and wipe out populations of towns within a few days. Not many people were left now. He had always watched programmes like The Walking Dead, 24 Hours, Zombieland with a morbid curiosity. Assuming that things like that would never happen but planning his survival routine. When it came down to it, of course, his imaginary plans meant very little, he had no idea how to really survive when fiction became reality.

He survived by sheer luck, catching what he could to eat, looting shops and keeping to himself. He came across the odd person or group but avoided staying with them long-term. Survivability was better when alone. Fewer people, less attraction and less weight of others to carry.

He had found a shed to camp out in a few nights ago, surprisingly in decent shape and well protected. A few minor adaptations and it was a good place to rest for a while. However, overnight a few wandering pools of rotten flesh had come past and were now banging against the only exit. He hadn’t killed one before, naively holding out for a cure he couldn’t bring himself to kill something that was once and could possibly again be human. He knew if he wanted to get out of there he would have to kill them though, he knew they would attract more. He was trying to figure out what had caused them to stay and not go past, perhaps his scent or the ashes of the old fire. Perhaps these things were more capable of intelligent thought than he first thought.

He knew there was no danger of them breaking in so he just laid there with his stuff all ready to go, the sun peered into a small hole in the ceiling and it caught his eye. He got to his feet and carefully climbed onto the old workbench. He pushed the ceiling with both hands and it gave a little, with enough force he could create a hole to climb through. It didn’t take long considering most of the wood had started to rot but there was a hole small enough to get out of.

He pushed through his backpack and bat and heaved himself up. Carefully making his way to the edge if the roof to get down without distracting the half-human creatures. He dangled down and dropped to his feet, carefully he backed away. Once he thought he was safe he ran.

Thanks for reading.

Emma-louise x

Guest Post: Megg Geri {10 Steps to Revising Your First Draft}

I am extremely honoured to be hosting this guest post from Megg. I have been a fan of hers for some time now and follow not just her blog but her advice and book club.

Megg Geri is the author of Write A Novel In 30 Days and also owns Megg & Co Editorial Boutique.

Today Megg is sharing her tips on what to do when you’ve finished the first draft of your novel.

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Wow! You’ve finished your first draft. How amazing? How scary? How much hard work did that take? You’re freaking fantastic, let me tell you that! There are so many people who never even get to this step, who never manage to finish the first draft. Yes, you can give yourself a high-five for this one. As awesome as you are your first draft sucks (I’m allowed to say this because my first drafts all suck too). 

What now? How do you get this first draft not to suck? I’m not talking grammar corrections and typos here, I’m talking about your actual story. How can you get this story to be one that people will actually want to read? You do revisions.  These 10 steps to revising your first draft are the steps that I follow too. They take time, patience, and a tough skin. But you’ve gotten this far, so you owe it to yourself to take it one step further.

10 Steps to revising your first draft

  1. Wait it out!
    The worst thing you can do is jump straight back into your novel. It’s all still too fresh. You need to give yourself time to forget and time to allow yourself to become distanced from all the hard work you have already put into your novel. I always suggest putting your first draft aside for a month. What? A whole freaking month? Yes, one whole month. Take that time to work on a new story outline or start writing another novel. Try a different form of writing like poetry, and short stories. And, give yourself time to read more (reading is always a good idea).
  2. Reread 
    Now, after a month of sweating it out, you pick up that novel and you start your reread. Try not to throw it out the window, burn it, or tear it into shreds. Pretend for a second that this is not your first draft, but rather your best friend’s first draft. Read it with open eyes and optimism for the story. Your first draft is going to suck and it’s allowed to suck! After you’ve done this, reread it again and this time make as many notes as possible. Note down any changes, plot holes, parts of the story that irritate you, pacing problems. inconsistencies, unanswered questions, and major mistakes that you need to look at fixing. Always remember that your first draft is you telling the story to yourself, this is a rough version.
  3. Identify Plot holes
    Now that you have identified your plot holes take the time to fix them. Don’t rush through this step. Some of these fixes will be quick and easy and others will be terribly tedious and feel somewhat like torture to fix.By not skipping this step you’ll find the process rewarding as you will see your story come together to form an even better second draft than you ever imagined
  4. Pacing
    Focus on consistent pacing as well as appropriately varied pacing throughout your novel. Do parts read too slow? Do other parts feel rushed? Allow yourself the time to fix any pacing problems you may have found by this point of your revisions. 
  5. Kill your Darlings
    This is always a tough task to manage. You’ve worked so hard on creating this first draft and you’ve worked so hard on your story elements (that you already love to bits) but if it doesn’t have a purpose in your story, if it doesn’t move the plot forward, or reveal something about your story you need to cut it!Harsh? Yes! You need to be if you want your novel to be the best it can be. Some Darlings, may be able to be reworked into the story, but most must be cut.
  6. Make small changes
    Those irritations you found in your second reread, the character’s name that was hard to pronoun or didn’t flow off the tongue, the shocking yellow car that was super unbelievable, the constant over explaining, now’s the time to make these small changes. Change a character’s name if it doesn’t fit. Make sure all your quotation marks are consistent (single or double, baby).
  7. Sketch out character arcs
    I always have a good idea of my character arcs before I start writing, but they change as I write and I don’t always go back to my notes and relook the arcs. This step can be skipped if you’ve written on a story structure but it’s always a good idea to revisit this step and double check your own work.
  8. Create character sketches
    This is another thing that I try to do before I even start writing my novels. My characters develop so much through my writing process that I always have to rework, add, and take away parts of their character sketches. After writing my first draft I also know my characters so much better and find it so much easier to complete my character sketches.As part of my book, Write A Novel In 30 Days, I offer a free character sketch which I use myself too. I also like to add photo’s of my characters, diary entries, bag contents and things that will personalise my character even more. 
  9. Work on your character’s goals and motivations
    Wow, by now you have made a lot of changes to your novel. Do all of your character’s original goals and motivations still remain true? Have your changes affected them? Give your characters new goals and motivations if needed and give yourself and your character the time to accept these new changes. 
  10. The hook
    Yay! You’re almost there. Now re-read your first few pages. Is your hook clear? Is there too much information or too little information for your readers? Sometimes, as the writer we already know the backstory and so everything makes sense to us but they might not make any sense to the reader who knows none of the backstory. Think about this when you’re looking for that hook. This can be a quick and simple step, or this step can take a lot of time, and this will differ from novel, to novel too. Go pick up your favourite books and read their hooks for some inspiration. See how other authors hook the reader. A hook should be on the first page, preferably in the first chapter, and if you can have the hook in your first sentence then that’s even better. 

I know this is a lot to take in and it’s a lot of work too (you may want to skip some of the steps or rush through them) but you’ve put in all this hard work already that you owe it to yourself to really focus on each step individually until you’re happy with the results. 

The way that I manage to keep my focus on one step at a time is to use different coloured highlighters during step two of the process (during my second reread when I’m making my notes). I choose a different coloured highlighter for each major focus needed (small changes, darlings, characters, pacing, and plot holes), this way I can focus purely on that colour when I need to. I also tick off parts that have been revised as the process can get really confusing and it’s easy to forget where you are in this revision process.

Most of all, be kind to yourself and to your writing. You might absolutely hate your writing and your story when you reread it but through an effective revision process, you can sculpt it into something better. Allow yourself the opportunity to do this. Don’t give up on your story.

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You can find Megg on Instagram and Twitter under the handle @megggeri and on Facebook TheMeggGeri and her blog Megg.Co.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post for us Megg.

Emma-Louise x

First Line Friday

It has been about 2 months since I’ve sat down and written anything. Life has just been so hectic that every moment has been spent catching up on what I missed when I was ill throughout November. Today I am breaking myself back in gently with a First Line Friday prompt from The Fiction Cafe Writer’s Group.

As always the task was to use the first line and create a story around it in no more than 750 words.

Word Count 376 – Unedited.

‘There was a strange wailing coming from the next room. Noises in this place weren’t exactly unusual but this was different. A chill ran down my spine and the hair on my arms stood on end.

The large white clock on my wall ticked loudly with each second that passed. I sat up in my bed, frozen to the spot unable to move. I let out my breath slowly afraid that I would draw attention to whatever it was that woke me from my slumber.

The silence was eerie, unusual for this place. I’d been locked up in de Luca Asylum now for around 7 months. It was hard to tell how long exactly anymore. A combination of pills and treatments had left me more confused than when I entered.  I still wasn’t sure why I was even here, I wasn’t the one who started the fire but they wouldn’t listen, they never did.

They told me that I was hallucinating, that the man I was with wasn’t real and I had imagined everything. He was the one who started the fire, the fire that destroyed my parents home and killed my father. It wasn’t me.

The wailing had stopped now. I pulled the scratchy white sheet off and slide my legs down the side of the bed onto the cold floor. I got up slowly, careful not to make a sound. I walked over towards my door to peer out of the little square window.

I looked out at the sheer white corridor, the bright lights were glaring, reflecting off the walls.  I couldn’t see anything. A few people moved around down the end at the nurses station but that wasn’t unusual. There was no sign of anything amiss.

It was then I heard a shuffling sound, then out of no-where the face of a woman appeared at the window. It looked wild, hair all over and eyes wide. Dirt smudged across her cheek. That noise again, the wailing came from her mouth. Behind her I saw the nurses trying to grab her and she thrashed about.

I saw the glint of the metal as the needle hit the woman’s neck sending her instantly to sleep. Another new patient,  welcome to the madhouse crazy lady’.

Thanks for reading

Emma-Louise x

Guest Post: Natali Simmonds

Hey you lovely lot. Today I have a Guest Post by the amazing N.J Simmonds who discusses the Top 5 YA Book Myths. Natali has not only author with a 5 star rated book but she has experience with writing and marketing in the bucket load.

TOP 5 YA BOOK MYTHS

YA fiction, otherwise known as Young Adult literature, gets a bad rap. If I got a pound for every time someone misunderstood what YA really is I’d be making a lot more money than I am now as a humble writer!

From Twitter comments to conversations in book stores and right through to my own reviewers, I am forever hearing comments such as –

‘I can’t believe I really enjoyed that book when I’m not even a teenager’

‘Oh I don’t want to read YA, it’s for kids’

‘YA writers aren’t proper writers because they don’t write for adults’

‘YA books are all about high school dramas and boring teen issues’

So what does YA actually mean?

‘Young Adult’ is simply a description of books with teen protagonists covering issues that concern young adults. Therefore you won’t find a book about a divorcee struggling with her failing business (unless that person is the main character’s mother) – but you will get a story packed with tension, page-turning intensity and some of the coolest protagonists ever created.

For those of you that are still unsure what YA is – here are my 5 top YA myths!

  1. YA is a genre

Whoa! Did you think it was? Most people do and it’s a topic that is argued a lot in the book world. But if Romance, Thriller, Fantasy and Crime are literary genres then YA can’t be. ‘YA’ in itself is not going to explain to you what kind of book you are going to read because YA lit also has sub-divisions. YA Fantasy, YA Thrillers and YA Contemporary are all very different; the only thing they have in common are character ages and themes. You wouldn’t say that books by Marian Keys are the same as books by Stephen King because the characters in them are in their 30’s and have families, would you? Well it’s the same with YA.

  1. YA is a recommended age limit


Whoa! Another myth busted. I’m not kidding…if you’re avoiding YA literature because you think you’re too old then you are missing out on some of the best books out there right now. Take ‘The Hate U Give’ (Angie Thomas), for instance. Why is the book YA? Because it’s written through the eyes of a 16 year old girl, yet its political themes inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement are far from childish. This book has won all the awards of 2017 and been enjoyed by all ages, genders, race and backgrounds – because a good book is a good book. The fact that the YA book’s main character is a twelve year old wizard, a torn black schoolgirl or a heroic dystopian teen is neither here nor there – and it shouldn’t put you off reading it.

  1. YA books are simply written

No. They are not. Middle Grade books (think Roald Dahl, David Walliams and Enid Blyton) will certainly have more cartoon-like colourful characters and a simpler linear plot because they are written for kids aged 10+ BUT YA is read from 12+ such as the Harry Potter series (J.K.Rowling) or in some cases 15+, such as my own novel ‘The Path Keeper’ (N.J.Simmonds). When you go from Middle Grade books to YA the writing style jumps dramatically to a much more adult level in terms of both vocabulary and theme.

If you compare the writing styles of YA authors you may be in for a shock – each one is just as unique as non-teen based literature. There is no dumbing down for teens in the book world. YA bestsellers such as I’ll Give You The Sun (Jandy Nelson) and ‘We Were Liars’ (E. Lockhart) are both written in a poetic and whimsical fashion compared to the more dramatic language and style used in fantasy books such as the Twilight (Stephenie Meyer) or Divergent (Veronica Roth) series. So when you pick up a YA novel, you may be surprised that the language, pace and structure is just as challenging and unique as any ‘grown-up’ novel out there.

  1. YA books are tame and have no sex or violence in them

Actually, they can do – especially fantasy novels. Fans of Sarah J Maas will be the first to tell you about chapter 54 in A Court of Mist and Fury (put it this way, I struggled not to blush on the bus while reading about Feyre and Rhysand and his impressive wingspan). When writing my own YA Fantasy Romance series The Path Keeper I never intended for it to be enjoyed by teens until my publisher at the time told me it would be marketed as YA. It has three pretty explicit sex scenes, plenty of swear words in two languages and a few gory scenes (and book two Son of Secrets, release date to be confirmed, is even darker). I was shocked that it wasn’t going to be edited – until I remembered what I got up to at 17. YA isn’t written for impressionable young kids, most readers are young adults, so they want to read about people just like them acting like real teenagers do. And the best bit? YA books are full of way more drama, intensity and excitement than the boring reality of adulthood – so they are the perfect escape for everyone.

  1. YA books are not as high-brow as the classics

Have you ever read To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)? How about Lord of the Flies (William Golding), Catcher in the Rye (J.D.Salinger) or The Outsiders (S.E.Hinton)? They are all YA books. So does that mean, because you are no longer a teenager, you should avoid them? Of course not!


YA literature has been around for decades, it’s nothing new. The only difference, in this age of marketing and social media, is that by differentiating books that will appeal to teens publishers and authors have a better chance of reaching their ideal audience.

By writing YA and covering the concerns that young adults encounter during the most tumultuous period of their lives, authors (myself included) hope to not only show their readers that they are not alone…but bring them together through the love of a good story.

So next time you read an article about the best YA books of the year or see the New York YA bestsellers list – don’t dismiss it. No matter how old you are now, we were all young adults once. By exploring YA literature, not only will you revisit the angst and excitement of your youth but you’ll also get to enjoy some of the best books out there right now!

 

N.J.Simmonds is the author of highly-acclaimed The Path Keeper series, a YA fantasy romance set in London. She is currently working on book three in the series as well as a number of contemporary YA novels. Learn more about her work at njsimmonds.com or follow her on Facebook,

Twitter and Instagram.

Photo by Jeremy Standley (jeremystandley.com)

Thank you so much to Natali for taking the time to write this post for us.

Emma-Louise x