Victoria Alt

The writings & ramblings of an aspiring novelist

Victoria Alt is a writer who is aspiring to break into the world of Romance publication. Follow her journey through manuscript completions, submissions, the knock downs and all the successes that happen along the way.
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Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Big Changes Ahead
I realize I need to incorporate some big changes into my writing life. I've known these changes were necessary for some time but I have been putting them off - until now. If I am determined to make it in this world of publishing novels, it's time to put all the pieces in place to give me the best opportunity to do so.

The first thing I need to do is discontinue freelance copywriting. Writing copy and editing is proving a detriment to writing my manuscripts. Although it has given me great insight into the power of precision writing, it robs me of my ability to let the words flow from my mind to my fingertips.

On that note, I had an interview for an out-of-home job yesterday that I feel went very well. This job is totally unrelated to any kind of writing which will be a benefit. It will also give me an opportunity to deal with the public - and watching people is something I love to do.

The other big change will come tomorrow when I start my new manuscript for NaNoWriMo. As much as I love the WIP I am editing now, I need a break from it, even if for just a week or two. The new manuscript will keep me writing and, I hope, provide the inspiration I need to carry on with the first.

Who said change isn't good.

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posted by Victoria Alt @ 10:01 AM   1 Comments:

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Monday, October 30, 2006
"I'd love to write something but I just don't have the time." Or how about this one, "I wish I had that kind of time, unfortunately, it's a busy time at the office, school, home, etc."

I hear these statements, and many others just like them, all the time. Do you know what I have to say to this? Get over it. We all lead busy lives but if it's something we want to do, we find the time.

If you are serious about writing, you have to write. That's all there is to it. If you only want to do it for fun, well, by all means, do it when you can spare the time. However, if you have set goals for yourself or truly desire fulfilling your dream as a writer, you have to do the work. Talk won't make it a reality, only the hard work will.

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posted by Victoria Alt @ 9:23 AM   0 Comments:

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Friday, October 27, 2006
Love of Reading
Friday is here and that means it is library day. I love books and look forward to my reading time on the weekends. Curling up with a good book, getting lost in the setting, falling in love with the characters and living through them for just a little while is a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

I am also a big believer in that you have to be an avid reader to be a good writer. You can learn so much from other writers - from storytelling ability to bringing a scene to life and making it jump from the pages. Many times, I end up reading the same book twice. The first time is for enjoyment - and if I really did enjoy it, I read it again to analyze exactly what made it so.

The best part of a good book is that it inspires me to do better. To tell a better story, create believable and lovable characters and to persevere until the entire story is told.

So, read a book this weekend. And if it's a good one, make sure you pass it on!
posted by Victoria Alt @ 3:02 PM   1 Comments:

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Thursday, October 26, 2006
Push Me
One of my biggest struggles is with that of procrastination. Some days, I would rather do anything than lock myself in my office and hit the keyboard. It's a struggle but one that must be overcome.

At times, I will bribe myself with a special treat - just five pages then you can go out and play. Other times, when a deadline is looming, I just have to force myself to sit and type until the job is complete.

This is where support and encouragement can play a big role. Find a family member or friend to push you through those times and encourage you on. Sometimes, that extra little incentive is all you need to get back to the business at hand - and doesn't make it seem like such a solitary task.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 8:56 AM   0 Comments:

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Dressing the Part
I am an early riser, although this hasn't always been the case. I find that the mornings bring a sense of calm and relaxation that is hard to find elsewhere during the day. There is nothing nicer than getting out of bed to find a hot pot of coffee waiting for me. Of course, this is courtesy of my man who slips out of the house around six a.m.

For the next hour, it is my free time to sit back with a steamy cup, peruse the newspaper or see what is unfolding on the television. My mind often begins to start forming what writing I wish to accomplish for the day. Without of the hum of the computer or the whole world waiting at my fingertips, I can focus things down to the bare minimum - for a little while anyway.

Soon, children are racing in and out of showers, eating breakfast and leaving me a mess in the kitchen. Thankfully, the bus arrives and and I shuffle them out the door to begin their own days.

In the past, this is when I would head into my office and begin working for the day. I have been making a living through writing for the last few years, although in a very different area than the one I am pursuing now. Working on a romance novel means that I do things a little different now. I still begin my days in the same way - coffee, reading, children and sending them off to school - but I no longer than race to my computer, coffee cup in hand, and begin working.

To write romance, I need to feel romance - and what worked before, in pajamas and slippers, just isn't cutting it now. My daily routine has changed to "dress the part". Now, that does not mean that I doll myself up in an evening dress and satin shoes, but what it does mean is that I shower, dress, do my hair and put on a little bit of makeup.

Looking good makes me feel good, and when I feel good, I can easily slip into that romantic aura that I need to generate those heartfelt words and emotional scenes. While the bunny-slippers may have kept my feet warm, they did nothing to inspire a romantic atmosphere. I have also redressed my office. No longer is it the sterile, work environment of the past. The walls reflect soft colors and photos, pictures, flowers and inspirational words fill the room. It has become my own little romantic get-away and one in which I love to visit - which makes wanting to go to work a whole lot easier to do.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 9:19 AM   2 Comments:

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006
There is something magical about a hot and steamy bath. The fluidity of the water, its warm embrace and the heady lavender scent wafting from the surface deliver me into a world of relaxation.

It is in this state of relaxation that my mind is free to wander, roam and experiment with different ideas. There are no rules in a bath - just the luxury of time standing still for a moment while the heat of the water drains every muscle of its fatigue.

Perhaps it is in this draining away of all things weary and stressful that the mind opens to new possibilities. I find my mind is the most creative when I immerse in a steamy tub of water. Rarely is there a time that I do not get out of the bath brimming with new ideas to set into my writing.

Whenever I have had a particularly hard day or a tough time at the keyboard, I run that hot water, add the fragrance and get ready to free my mind from all of the day's obstacles. Even if not one articulate thought crosses my mind, I know I will come out feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and inspired to carry on.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 8:39 AM   1 Comments:

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Monday, October 23, 2006
Be Professional - Even When It Hurts
There's been a lot of talk flying around lately about writers needing a thicker skin. I, for one, truly believe that you need a thick skin (a few layers even) if you're ego is going to survive being a writer.

I'm not just speaking of handling the rejections from agents, editors or publishers either. Even before you get to that point, you need to prepare to take some harsh criticisms of your work, unless of course, you believe you are one of those people who can write without the need of any editing. For those that believe that, you need much more than just a thick skin.

When you hand off what you consider your finished manuscript for others to read or critique, be prepared to hear some unflattering remarks. I know it hurts. I've been there. There are few rules I think you should follow at this point.

One: Do not email, phone or get in touch with your reviewer - not yet. Take the time needed to rant, rave, spaz out or whatever you need to do, and make sure you do this in private. Once you have taken your moment, or day, go back and reread the comments again.

Two: After your sanity has returned, try to incorporate some of the suggested remarks into your work. As hard as it to believe, many times you will find it works better. This can be hard to swallow, so make sure you have a glass of water by your side.

Three: After your rant is done and your manuscript is looking better than ever, take the time to email or call your reviewer and thank them for their time and suggestions. Even if you did not use a single suggestion to improve your work, you still owe your reviewer a thank you. They have taken the time to read your baby and their comments were meant to help it be the best it could be. What they don't need, is your whining, hostility or any arrogant defense of your work.

Do that, and you'll never have to worry about that kind of criticism again; no one will ever offer to read over your work or help you out anymore.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 7:59 AM   2 Comments:

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Friday, October 20, 2006

The editing on my current manuscript is coming along nicely. I hope to have the first edit completed by the end of the month, and barring any catastrophes, it looks doable. Once the first edit is finished, I plan to shelve it for the month of November while do NaNo (thusly, beginning my second WIP).

Once November wraps up, I will pull out the first manuscript and read the entire story from start to end. Hopefully, I will be of fresh eyes and mind, and able to catch any inconsistencies in the story. A second edit will follow, and then off it will go for critique. Final polishing will follow, and with fingers crossed, it will be ready for submission come the New Year.

I leave you with the working hook to Fine Line (Between Love and Hate), a hint to what this story delivers.

Imagine hating a man so intently that your only desire is to obliterate everything he's ever created. Then, imagine falling in love with that same man, the one you've avenged to destroy.

That is Cara Andrew's dilemma after she gains the trust and attention of high-powered businessman, Garrett Masterson. As they attempt to solve a case of embezzled money, money she plans to steal herself, Cara falls prey to Garrett's stunning good looks, lethal charm and blatant sex appeal. In the end, she must decide what is important as she learns there is a fine line between love and hate.

posted by Victoria Alt @ 9:07 AM   1 Comments:

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Thursday, October 19, 2006
Guilt Changes Everything
I have not worked my copy-writing job for the last two weeks. In that time, the amount of work I have completed on my manuscript has been huge. I finished writing the complete story and now, I spend these free days on editing.

As happy as I am about it, I cannot help but be plagued by feelings of guilt. That little voice inside my head screams out, "You should be working, bringing in some money." To give me a point, I am working. Writing is work in which I take seriously. However, it certainly does not pay the bills yet.

My man is truly supportive in this aspect. He has even encouraged me to forget about the day job and just concentrate on the writing. As much as I love him for that, it's been a hard concept to deal with. What I really think I need to do is change the day job.

Copy writing puts me in editor mode, which is a big deterrent to freethinking and writing. Also, after writing for others all day, it becomes hard to sit at the computer and write for oneself. Perhaps the answer is a job that does not involve writing in any way.

That way, even after a day of work, I will be inspired to jump into the various writing works I have in progress and focus my energies on them in a fresh and willing manner. I think this is the best plan of action, that or get over the guilt feelings and take full advantage of the opportunity before me.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 7:44 AM   1 Comments:

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006
The Plan
Amidst editing my current manuscript, I have been preparing for my next WIP. This one will be for NaNoWriMo and I'm quite pleased with the progress. The plot is roughly outlined, the main characters in place, and enough conflict surrounds to drive it to the 50 000 word count.

That's the plan anyway.

The trouble is, the more I sketch out these characters and find out what makes them tick, the more eager I become to start writing their story. Unfortunately, I have almost two weeks to wait yet before I can begin.

I guess that means I focus all this energy into editing the other. A good way to think of it is that I have less than two weeks to get a majority of this editing finished.

That's the plan anyway.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 7:40 AM   1 Comments:

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006
As much as I enjoy hanging out with friends, going to funky little coffee shops, and entertaining family in general, they do not play into my writing day. I do these activities on my down time.

When I am writing, I need complete solitude and complete silence. I know many people who prefer a little background noise, whether it is music or whatnot, but this does not work for me. If I have the radio on, my mind drifts to the lyrics and I end up singing along instead of writing. I tend to have a hard time tuning out the noise around me.

What that means is that I schedule my writing time for when solitude is possible. Usually that is when the kids are at school and the man is at work. The entire house is quiet, the only noise coming from the loud pounding on the keyboard. And yes, I do type loudly. To hear that loud pounding makes me feel like I am accomplishing something, even if the words written do not.

The only rule I have during this time is that no one disturb me. I don't answer the phone and I do not make plans to meet up with friends. This is sacred time and I treat it as so. It is a time for my computer, my writing and me alone.

As much as I need and enjoy the solitude during my day, when its time for everyone to return home from their day, my writing day is done. I turn off my computer, join my family, go out with friends, and once again, rejoin the world as a whole.

A writer's life cannot be all about solitude. If it were, what would we have to write about?
posted by Victoria Alt @ 7:56 AM   2 Comments:

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Monday, October 16, 2006
For those who may not be aware, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers of every age and from every genre are encouraged to write 50 000 words in one month. This year, I've decided to sign up and give it a go.

I debated back and forth about this decision as I am in the process of editing my current manuscript and hope to have this edit done around the end of the month. You'd think that would be perfect timing right. Well, it will still need one last edit afterwards and that is where November is going to get dicey.

However, it is a great opportunity to get another WIP underway, and when my eyes glaze over from one, I can switch to the other. There's such a big difference between writing and editing that I'm hoping the distraction from one to the other will be a positive thing.

If you're a writer and want to give it a go, be sure to check out the NaNoWriMo website and sign up. You still have time to prepare. The fun, and agony, begins November 1st.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 8:12 AM   3 Comments:

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Friday, October 13, 2006
After editing my manuscript for a couple hours, I decided that I needed to get out of the house and have some fun. Too much time at the computer is a detriment. I have to work while I'm feeling the flow of the writing or, at least, still being productive. After a certain point, I hit saturation and it's time to recharge.

For me, and while the weather is still half-decent, that's a long quad ride. I jumped on, what I lovingly refer to as the Blue Beast, and took off for a two-hour ride. All the crops are off the fields now and it's a fun ride down to the river. What made the whole experience even better was that my man came home early from work and joined me on my ride.

I came back home, made supper for everyone and once the dishes were done, I edited for another hour. In the end, the distraction paid off. The last hour of edits I did were much better than they would have been had I just sat at my computer past my expiry time.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 7:40 AM   2 Comments:

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Thursday, October 12, 2006
Lessons Learned
I had the hardest time connecting to Blogger this morning. Don't know why but I found it very aggravating, to say the least. Hence, this post might sound like a rant. Part of my morning ritual is looking through my favorite blogs as well as posting a short snippet in my own. Being unable to pull up any of my favorites through threw my whole morning schedule out of whack. But hey, I'll deal with it.

Now, as much as I love Blogger and it's simplicity in use, there is one area that I would change. You see, I totally get off on that little "next blog" button. I flick it constantly, jumping from blog to blog, to see what is happening in the lives of other unknown bloggers.

Like anything in life, there is a downside to this feature - and thus, my rant comes into play here. Since I am clicking through blogs at random, I dislike when I am taken to a blog that has the toolbar disabled. I understand people not wanting it on their blog, but if that is the case and they have removed it, please don't show me blogs that I can't maneuver away from.

Aside from being stuck on these blogs, I dislike the havoc they play on my computer. This usually means I have to close out the window and start all over again. It's annoying. Another annoying little factor is too much distraction. I love the bells and whistles additions that you can add to your blog, but really, do we need to use every single one on one page?

I feel better getting this out of my system, and truth be told, there's something to learn from it all as it pertains to my writing. If anything, it emphasizes the fact to keep it clean. Now, when I get out my manuscript to edit in a couple of hours, I will keep in mind all my Blogger rants.

I will not bombard the reader with too many distractions that take away from the story being told. I will not make it difficult for them to keep the pages turning. If they get so stuck in one area, that all they want to do is close the book and toss it aside, I am not doing my job.

Lastly, I will keep my stories accessible. I will tell stories that people want to read, create characters that are relatable, and offer an easy escape into romantic fantasy, available any time they choose.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 8:32 AM   0 Comments:

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Help or Hindrance
Computers are wonderful - of course that is, when they are working properly. They make it easy for us to transfer large sections of text from one spot to another with just a few clicks (you have to love copy and paste). Dictionaries and thesauruses are right on board and even that pesky spell-check is ready to jump into the fray at any time.

As wonderful as they are, they definitely do pose a downside.

For me, that downside includes access to way too much information, communities, blogs and other whatnots. After the children are off to school, I grab my morning coffee and head into my office. I sit at my computer, fire it up and wait for it to hum into action. Then, what's the first thing I do? Check emails, of course.

After that, it's a quick trip around cyberspace. I check in on the latest news and weather, peruse a few blogs and message boards that I enjoy, and do any research required. The trouble is, this can be a huge time-waster and it is far too easy to fall into its trap.

I've heard it said that you should "write first" and then reward yourself with time for emails and surfing. It probably is good advice, although it doesn't really work for me. I enjoy that slow progression into work mode. I guess, in the end, we all need to do what works best for us - as long as we're getting the writing done.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 8:33 AM   0 Comments:

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Cleaning the Mess
The first draft of anything is shit. - Ernest Hemingway

I'm glad Hemingway said it first because that was my thought as I looked over the first draft of my manuscript. It's amazing at how you can go from complete elation that the first draft is finished to "what a bunch of crap". Let me say this, that's one heck of a ride.

Now, was I expecting it to be perfectly written with all the blanks filled in on the first go around? No, but I guess there's always a part of me that hopes I have little elves working on it for me while I sleep - kind of like the old shoemaker.

What that means is I'm going to have to buckle down and do some serious work here. I guess I'm going to have to take a page from my characters. They can't reach their happily ever after without some hard work, and neither will I.

It's time to start cleaning up the mess, put everything in its place and tidy it up. Reminds me of my closet. With that door closed, I can't see the mess that's growing behind it until I reach in for something I need.

In the end, I guess it's just time to stop doubting the work, and myself, and see what I can make of it. It may be a bunch of crap in the end or it could turn into the wonderful story I wanted to relate.

Time will tell. And you never know if it's just your own perception and criticalness of the work or if it really does lack superb writing. Reminds me of the words of Robert Benchley, "It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."
posted by Victoria Alt @ 7:46 AM   0 Comments:

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Monday, October 09, 2006
This weekend was a productive one. I managed to finish writing the first draft of my current work in progress, although it is shy of the word count I was aiming for. This is actually quite common for me. When I rough out the first draft, I concentrate on just getting the story I want to tell out there. It's in the second or third draft that I go back and fill in the details needed to make the story come together.

This tends to be the harder area for me to deal with. As I add in extra elements, characters or subplots, the main plot of my story tends to take some unexpected twists. Dealing with that and keeping it all under control can be a struggle some days.

This is also the area in where I have to keep my motivation up. Now that the story is all out on paper, my body and mind crave a break from it. This tends to be a good thing as long as I don't allow the break to last too long. That's where all my motivational factors will have to come in and crack the whip.

So here I go. Rough draft two begins today.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 10:16 AM   0 Comments:

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Friday, October 06, 2006
Tortured Souls
I've noticed two very distinct qualities that describe many of the writers I know. In fact, I wholeheartedly fall into this group as well. What is particularly amusing about this is that these qualities tend to be at opposite sides of the spectrum.

The first quality is procrastination. There are some mornings where I would rather do just about anything than begin my day at the keyboard. Even scrubbing toilets and washing floors appeals to me more on those days. I will clean house, gab on the phone, check emails and even surf the web. Unless I have a particular deadline looming over me, procrastination is an easy area for me to fall prey.

The second quality is that of impatience. After all the time procrastinating, and finally doing all the hard work it takes to get a manuscript ready, we tend to be a little short of patience on hearing back about said work. Whether we have sent it out to a critique group, agent or publisher, it is an agonizing wait until we hear of its success or failure. Even starting a new work doesn't always help in building our patience levels.

Perhaps we writers enjoy being tortured souls, even if it is self-inflicted.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 7:02 AM   0 Comments:

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Thursday, October 05, 2006
Flowery Prose
We've all read it a thousand times, in those lovable romance novels that take us away. However, the beauty of flowery prose tends to escape me. Maybe I just prefer the direct approach. I know I write that way. Even when I'm reading, my eyes tend to skip over descriptive passages of yards, fields, skies and the dew shining on the petals of flowers. See - I can't even think to name a particular flower.

I understand that these descriptions create an atmosphere, or setting, if you will. The difficulty lies in trying to work this approach into my own work. I'm all for laying out the scene, involving the reader in what's going on around the characters and setting the mood. The trouble lies in my choice of words.

They're not flowery.

I often wonder how many people are like me in this aspect. Do you love all those flowery-type descriptions? Or, do you tend to skim over them to get to the meat of the scene?

An inquiry mind wants to know.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 8:20 AM   0 Comments:

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Don't Think, Just Write
Since doing copywriting and editing the last few years, I have had to retrain myself in the way I think, or in this case, how not to think. When I first began putting the words to paper for my novel in progress, each sentence became a painstaking ordeal. I rewrote that sentence way too many times until it was just right.

Now sure, the sentence is the best it can be but at that rate, it would take me one hundred years to complete my manuscript. I had to put away the editor in me, that little voice of perfection, and just write the story that wanted to be told.

I had to ignore the cold sweats and shaking hands as I typed away improper sentences, fluctuations from past to present tenses and changes in viewpoint. Instead, I had to force myself not to hit the backspace button, but to continue on my way.

It wasn't easy but it was definitely worth it.

I am currently closing in on the halfway mark of my word count and the story is coming along nicely. I may have lost a lot of the flow I wanted in it had I nitpicked my way through every sentence.

Plus, that is what the second and third, and possibly the fourth, draft is for. Once the story is out, complete in characters, plot and substance, then you can go back and work on the inconsistencies, sentence structure and grammar.

So far, this has been the best and most useful advice. Don't think. Just write!
posted by Victoria Alt @ 8:07 AM   0 Comments:

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006
A Little Background
Before I start regaling you with all the trials and tribulations that go along with becoming a published romance writer, I thought I'd share a little background information.

I have always had an intense love of books, ever since I was a child. To this day, I am an avid reader of many different types of books. I tend to switch between various romance genres, suspense, crime stories and real-life tales. If there is a good plot, interesting and intriguing characters and a good flow to the book, I'm hooked.

Good books are what spawned my desire to write. That, and the fact I've always been a storyteller. Even as a teenager, my room was full of notebooks. Some had different stories written in them, others full of journal entries or various odd notes and scribbles penned within.

In my adulthood, I have etched out a meager living through writing. Most of this work, however, has been through various copy writing ventures, short stories and articles mainly published through online ventures. Now, I find I have more of a need, a burning desire really, to write what I am passionate about.

So, that leads me into new territory and my attempt at writing romantic fiction. I invite you to follow me along this journey as I work towards my goal - mainly, to publish and make a name for myself in the Romance genre of writers.

I'd love to hear from you as well, whether you're following the same path or well on your way to success. Writing can be such a solitary task so it's nice to know others are out there, pounding away at the keyboard, in search of fulfilling their own dreams.

Good luck to us all.
posted by Victoria Alt @ 9:20 AM   3 Comments:

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About Me

Name: Victoria Alt
Location: Lloydminster, Canada
I have been writing for years, although this is my first venture into the world of writing romance.
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