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I Belong


Guest Author: Anthony Francis (Guest Post & Giveaway)

My guest today is author Anthony Francis whose debut urban fantasy novel, Frost Moon, was released on March 1, 2010.  Frost Moon is also part of my Debut Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge.  You can read an excerpt here.

Five lucky commentators have a chance to win a copy of Frost Moon.  As always, details are listed at the end of the post.

Finding Balance

by Anthony Francis

This guest post was originally supposed to air in early May. It’s not early May. What happened?  Well, a lot was going on then – I was trying to finish the final draft of BLOOD ROCK before sending it to Bell Bridge Books, trying to keep my head above water at the Search Engine That Starts With A G, and trying to keep up with my life with my longsuffering wife, cats and friends. During that frenzy, hundreds of emails piled up, including the thread where I and Angela were talking about when I could post. So this post is about something important that I’m not too good at: finding the right balance.

But not about finding it in life.  Finding it in your writing.

FROST MOON is filled with juxtapositions and contradictions. FROST MOON is set in a realistic Atlanta filled with fantastic magic. The protagonist, Dakota Frost, is a hard-core skeptic who’s also a working magician. Her former best friend is a Christian vampire; another close friend is a blind witch specializing in the magic of pictures. Dakota is a liberal who starts dating a conservative; the book is filled with similar conflicts between religion and the scientific method, or normal expectations and alternative culture.

These conflicts aren’t vanilla versus ice cream; they’re divisive topics, things that matter to people – their morals, their ethics, their core beliefs. Choosing one side over another will alienate half of your readership – and I’m not worrying about that as a marketing concern, I’m worried because I’ve ticked off a large group of people I want to read and enjoy my book, a book I hope they’ll get something out of.  So how do you find the right balance?

Some people do that by taking the vanilla route: removing all the conflicts. That’s sometimes appropriate, but in my experience what happens more often is the author will SEEM to avoid politics until their own political views creep through. Others take the chocolate route: picking a side, black or white. I, on the other hand, prefer a mixed approach: cookies and cream – build the conflict straight in to the story. As I research, I come across conflicts, and when I do I try to find the best possible arguments, pro or con, or the most important issues that illuminate the conflict. And then, I find a place for all those voices in the story.

Sometimes that’s easy. As a Christian, I’ve always been a bit disturbed by the idea that if you become a vampire you’re suddenly, instantly damned, and crosses will set you on fire – what happens to free will, to the power of God to forgive? This isn’t a burning political conflict that bothers anyone, but it is a potential contradiction deep in the vampire myth I wanted to explore. So I created the Christian vampire Savannah Winters, and the idea that in the Dakota Frost universe, your ability to turn a vampire with a cross depends less on your faith than the vampire’s hostility.

Sometimes it’s a bit harder. Dakota is an uber-liberal – a bisexual, tree-hugging, in-your-face tattoo artist, who tells you her political views almost from the first line.  I can’t whitewash that; that’s her voice. So I tried to balance this by creating Philip, her love interest in the story, as a composite of several conservative and libertarian friends of mine.  Again and again in FROST MOON I use him as a counterpoint for Dakota. Even small details about Philip illustrate these conflicts, like his Prius, which Dakota likes – but he drives not for green reasons but for energy independence. Little details like these helped the book go over well with my early beta readers, several of whom are quite conservative.

And sometimes, you have to give up. I’m a scientist, and Dakota shares many of my scientific, skeptical instincts. But she also has a strong religious core, a stubborn nugget of faith that never deserts her in times of crisis, even if she thinks that most of the trappings of religion are woo-hooery. And I did explore those issues in the story … but not too much. Dakota’s skeptical instincts very much had to be at the forefront, overriding the religious concerns. And many of the potential religious conflicts – for example, some Christians find tattooing to be sinful –  are simply not conflicts for the vast majority of potential readers, and spending time exploring these issues was not helping the book. So in the end, I had to let some conflicts go.

That’s finding balance: figuring out what’s important. Finding the conflicts, where one important thing opposes another. Giving a voice to the arguments, on the left and the right. And, sometimes, based on what’s important, simply letting some things go.

Author Bio:

Anthony Francis is a computer scientist by day and a writer every free minute he isn’t spending with his wife and cats. He’s been writing science fiction since he was a child, but fell in love with urban fantasy five years ago and started work on what became the Skindancer series featuring magical tattoo artist Dakota Frost. The first book in the series, FROST MOON, came out this March, BLOOD ROCK is expected to come out this year, and he’s hard at work on LIQUID FIRE. In all his writing but especially the Skindancer series, Anthony loves mixing hard science with pure fantasy and seeing what comes out of the stew. His Ph.D work at Georgia Tech focused on artificial intelligence for information retrieval, and he currently works at “The Search Engine That Starts With a G.”

You can visit Anthony around the web here: Dakota Frost | Blog

GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES:

Five lucky commentators will have a chance to win a copy of Frost Moon.

To enter, leave a comment below answering the following question:

If you could have a magic tattoo, what would you get and what would it do?

1. +1 entry for answering the question (required).

2. +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter.

3. +3 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).

4. Giveaway is open to everyone.

5. Please include your email address in your comment.

6. Giveaway ends Tuesday, August 24th at 11:59 PM EST.

7. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.


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46 Responses to “Guest Author: Anthony Francis (Guest Post & Giveaway)

  1. EmilyNo Gravatar
    1

    +1 My magical tattoo would be a piece of cake- vanilla cake, vanilla buttercream icing, and it would provide the sensation of having had whatever snack you want but do not have in the house (come on, who hasn’t had this experience?)

    +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter. (I’m @heynocupcake)

    +3 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).- http://twitter.com/heynocupcake/statuses/20198095296

    Thank you! :D

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  2. Jeanette JuanNo Gravatar
    2

    +1 I would choose a black jaguar tattoo and it would be able to leap from my skin when I need it’s protection or give me strength and speed when I need it.

    +2 GFC follower

    +3 blogged about giveaway on sidebar: http://jeanette8042.blogspot.com/

    lilazncutie1215(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  3. Henry LumNo Gravatar
    3

    If I had a magic tattoo , it would be a tattoo of the word “Peace and sovereignty” in chinese. The words would destroy all of the disturbances in the world at this current time and let peace revolve around the world. The world where , I live in is a bit too noisy. Sometimes I just want to sleep and relax. Although , I do know having world peace is literally impossible because there is no such thing as “World Peace.” But there’s always a chance to try something out!

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  4. emmadNo Gravatar
    4

    I already have three tattoos a gryphon, a seahorse and one that is taken from a photo of my horse.

    Hmm for a magical tattoo I would have one of my dog. He would be there to always provide protection when I needed it.

    Have been a follower for a while with google reader but have added by friend connect as well.

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  5. emmadNo Gravatar
    5

    opps my email is emmad at xtra dot co dot nz

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  6. Bethany C.No Gravatar
    6

    Wow- that’s a really tough question! Maybe I’d get a kind of all-seeing eye that would allow me to see the true intentions of others. +1
    Follow the blog and on twitter (bcardoo79) +2
    tweeted- http://twitter.com/bcardoo79/status/20219450230 +3
    so 6?
    b(dot)cardone(at)hotmail

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  7. Misha MathewNo Gravatar
    7

    +1 A faerie maybe , who grants all my wishes

    +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter.(@Misha_1989)

    +3 Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/380579-frost-moon-by-anthony-francis-giveaway
    +3 Twitter http://twitter.com/Misha_1989
    +6 Blog plus sidebar http://books-love-affair.blogspot.com/p/giveawayscontests.html

    Misha
    moc.liamgnull@yramahsim

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  8. Beverly @ The WormholeNo Gravatar
    8

    If I had a magic tattoo, it would be a dragon, wolf, and a hawk. I would be able to call them or become them by touching the tattoo.

    +1 comment
    +2 old GFC follower
    +3 side bar post – http://wormyhole.blogspot.com
    gro.hcsednull@prahsveb

    Thanks for hosting.

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  9. debpNo Gravatar
    9

    My tattoo would be a gold heart, it would let me go back and redo any mistakes I made in the past. +1
    moc.oohaynull@21dnikafoowt

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  10. Meredith MillerNo Gravatar
    10

    I think I’d get a chihuahua (after my own!) and I think it would give me the power to grant me the occasional wish.

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

    +2 follower

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  11. lulilutNo Gravatar
    11

    +1 My magic tattoo would be of the moon and it would make me invisible.
    +2 Blog follower & Twitter follower
    +3 Tweet: http://twitter.com/lulilut/status/20250805039
    Blog: http://lulilut.blogspot.com/2010/08/guest-post-book-giveaway-frost-moon-by.html
    d.septer (at) insight(dot)com
    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  12. SandraNo Gravatar
    12

    Hi,
    +1 My magical tattoo would be of a clock and a heart with a chain linking them wrapping around my arm..The clock would make me able to jump and stop time..The heart would always show me my loved ones..Where they are…If they are okay and when linked together with the clock I could jump time to be with my love ones always..now..then and forever..Eternal time…

    +2 I am a Follower…
    :)

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  13. SandraNo Gravatar
    13

    Whoops…

    moc.oohaynull@ezorkcalb_ybab

    Sorry.. ;)

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  14. LingeorgeNo Gravatar
    14

    My tattoos – A small Gargoyle on the back of my right shoulder, would allow me to see what is behind me (in infa red at night) and a small dragon above my left ankle, because I have always wanted one.
    troublelore at gmail dot com

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  15. MinnChicaNo Gravatar
    15

    +1 I think I would get some kind of animal, and then have it be able to manifest and fight on my side. =)
    +2 follower here and Twitter
    +3 https://twitter.com/MinnChica/status/20269133361
    minnchica(dot)bookpusher(at)gmail.com

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  16. LiLiNo Gravatar
    16

    +1 I would most likely get a cheetah that would be running in place pretty much. Ever since I heard that the cheetah was the fastest when I was little, I never got it out of my head. I would have it on the side of my lower leg sort of running vertically up.

    +2 follower of blog and twitter: @Lilixtreme
    +3 tweeted: http://twitter.com/Lilixtreme/status/20269471672

    chicareader(at)gmail.com

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  17. Robin KNo Gravatar
    17

    Definitely a dragon that would roam my body and sparkle! Oh and change color as well as hiss when I am angry. Know where I can get one?

    +1 answering the question
    +2 follower of this blog and on Twitter (@intensewhisper)
    +3 tweeted: http://twitter.com/IntenseWhisper/statuses/20272756675

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

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  18. Eva SBNo Gravatar
    18

    I would have a caduceus the medical symbol and it would magically heal me, my family and friends.

    +2 I’m a a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter. @EVA_n_essence

    +3 I tweeted
    https://twitter.com/EVA_n_essence/status/20280200783

    I posted to my sidebar
    http://evasblackspot.blogspot.com

    eva.s.black[@]gmail[.]com

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  19. HeatherMNo Gravatar
    19

    Anthony’s book sounds so good! To answer the question, I would get wings tattooed on my back that enabled me to fly.

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  20. Van P.No Gravatar
    20

    +1 I would get a sword on the inside of my arm, so when i need a weapon it will materialize from my arm to use in a fight.
    +2 twitter/blog follower (@vanpham88)
    +3 twittered about guest blog: https://twitter.com/vanpham88/status/20320405460
    total: 6

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  21. JoanNo Gravatar
    21

    If you could have a magic tattoo, what would you get and what would it do?

    I would have a dragon tattoo because when I was born, my mom had a dragon pregnancy-dream (common in Asia)
    Hmm.. it would, give me strength? Or perhaps allow me to control fire? x)

    anbi14 at hotmail dot com

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  22. kemendraughNo Gravatar
    22

    Can I go super trend-follower and say a dragon? No? Oh, fine. Snakes then ^_^ I always did love snakes.

    +2 follower on both

    kemendraugh at gmail dot com

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  23. Beverly @ The WormholeNo Gravatar
    23

    Just stopping by all the blogs I follow – Thought I would check in with everyone! Stop by The Wormhole if you get a chance!

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  24. Michele PowellNo Gravatar
    24

    If you could have a magic tattoo, what would you get and what would it do?

    A phoenix and it would show me people true intentions.

    1. +1 entry for answering the question (required).

    2. +1 entries for becoming a follower of this blog

    nedsped at verizon dot net

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  25. Lisa RichardsNo Gravatar
    25

    If you could have a magic tattoo, what would you get and what would it do?
    It would be an eye winking. All I’d have to do would be touch it and I’d disappear.

    1. +1 entry for answering the question (required).

    2. +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog

    3.+3 tweeted–http://twitter.com/alterlisa/status/20368818165

    (\___/)
    (=’.’=)
    (“)_(“)
    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
    http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

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  26. MerviNo Gravatar
    26

    I would get a wolf and it would provide protection.

    +1 answered the question

    +1 follower of the blog

    musmekipi at gmail dot com

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  27. heatwave16No Gravatar
    27

    I would love to have a tattoo of a $100 bill so that I could just get money whenever I needed it. An unending supply of cash. :) IF I’m going for the protection angle, I think a dragon would rock…flying and fire.

    +1 for answer
    +2 for old follower
    +3 for tweeting – http://twitter.com/Heatwave316/status/20438202420

    heatwave96(at)hotmail.com

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  28. KristineNo Gravatar
    28

    1+ My tattoo would be of a ninja which I could call on at any given moment in time.

    2+ follower of blog and twitter.

    Email: moc.liamtohnull@em_htiw_enola_dnats

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  29. FionaChanNo Gravatar
    29

    +1 I would get the Deathly Hallow logo, and it would make me a witch and I will attend Hogwarts, yay! Or at least, gimme magic powers. :D

    +2 follower of both (FionaChan and @FionaChan)

    feeyonachan at gmail dot com

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  30. Marlene BreakfieldNo Gravatar
    30

    +1 I would have a dragon tattoo, which could come off and be alive and do my bidding.
    +2 GFC follower and twitter follower @mbreakfield
    +3 tweeted http://twitter.com/mbreakfield/statuses/20559119382
    marlenebreakfield(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  31. Noemi Sapiña RicoNo Gravatar
    31

    Hello, my mail is: omoc.liamgnull@ipasimeon

    +1 My tattoo would be a fish and I would to breathe under the water for a long time.

    +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter: “Mandarina” (here in blog) and @librosconalma (in twitter)

    +3 entries for twitted: http://twitter.com/librosconalma/status/20559958849

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  32. Badass BookieNo Gravatar
    32

    +1 I would get a tatoo of angel wings and hopefully they could (possibly) let me fly too!

    +2 Follower here and on twitter
    +3 Tweeted- http://twitter.com/BadassBookie/status/20598035495

    ua.moc.oohaynull@lrigtsohgemllac

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  33. ThrouthehazeNo Gravatar
    33

    +1 I would get an hourglass and it would give me the ability to control time.

    +2 follow here and on twitter @throuthehaze

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

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  34. JenniferNo Gravatar
    34

    I would get a tattoo of a book of knowledge so I could have all my questions answered instead of having to look it up.
    pinkpeonyblossom at gmail dot com

    +2 gfc follower

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  35. Ambar EdithNo Gravatar
    35

    If you could have a magic tattoo, what would you get and what would it do?

    Well if I could get a magic tatoo, I’ll choose one symbol about anime, manga, books or movies, better if englobe all these, so I could have the chance to transport me all worlds and stories, be a main character, have a mission, adventures, powers, see mitic and paranormal creatures, etc etc.

    1. +1 entry for answering the question (required).

    2. +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter.

    Google friend: simply_haku

    Twitter: @simplyhaku

    3. +3 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).

    Twitted: http://twitter.com/simplyhaku/status/20872810873

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=130467126976819#!/posted.php?id=130467126976819&share_id=139078249463919&comments=1#s139078249463919

    Blog simply haku (sidebar): http://simplyhaku.splinder.com/

    5. Please include your email address in your comment.

    moc.liamtohnull@ukah_ylpmis

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  36. emily lNo Gravatar
    36

    I would get a clock that could freeze time. That’d be awesome. =)

    moc.loanull@ecneconnidesusim

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  37. AikNo Gravatar
    37

    If I could have a magic tattoo, I would get a clockwork which can control time – be it reversing time or freezing it at a moment.

    +1 entry for answering the question (required).

    +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter.

    +3 entries for tweeting about this contest
    http://twitter.com/aikchien/status/21155014185

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  38. LoriNo Gravatar
    38

    1. +1 entry for answering the question (required).
    If I could have a magical Tattoo, I think it would be that what ever image I had, I would possess it’s essence. Like a wolf, I would have all its instincts and strength. A sword, I would have thepower of a warrior…

    2. +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter.
    I am already a follower.

    3. +3 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).
    In the side bar under Contest/Giveaways

    ladyrogue(at)ymail(dot)com

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  39. MetteNo Gravatar
    39

    +1 entry for answering the question.
    Wings so I can fly:-)

    +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/forceofstars)

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  40. ErinNo Gravatar
    40

    +1 entry-answering the question..
    Probably not very original, but I’d have a tattoo of a magician’s wand that could make me invisible whenever I want. Hee hee, I always wanted to be able to become invisible lol.

    +2 Entries for following blog and twitter…
    I subscribed to your feed (did not see a follow button? Maybe I’m blind which is an inconvenience since I like to read a lot) and am following on twitter as erinsdreams.

    +3 Entries for blogging or tweeting etc…
    I twittered, the link is http://twitter.com/erinsdreams

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  41. E.J. StevensNo Gravatar
    41

    I would have a tattoo of black feathered wings so that I could fly (plus they would look cool too!). Thanks for the great giveaway. :)

    +1 question
    +2 follower of blog and twitter

    xx,
    E.J
    From the Shadows

    e.j.stevens.author[at]gmail[dot]com

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  42. YelaniaNo Gravatar
    42

    Yay! Awesome!!

    If you could have a magic tattoo, what would you get and what would it do?

    If I had a magic tattoo, it would be a wolf, surrounded by maple leaves. I really want one like on my skin. The power… I would like to give me speed, almost as if I could fly. It would be great!

    +1 for answering the question

    +2 follower of this blog

    +2 follower on Twitter @Itzel_Library

    E-mail: moc.liamtohnull@yrarbil_lezti

    Thanks!

    Take care

    ~Yelania

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  43. Stella (Ex Libris)No Gravatar
    43

    If I could have a magic tattoo, I would like to have a silver or gold panther which could leap off my skin when I was in danger and be my protective particular. And would tingle to warn me.

    +1 entry for answering the question (required).

    +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog

    +2 entries for following Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter (@Stella_ExLibris)

    +3 entries for tweeting: http://twitter.com/Stella_ExLibris/status/21898815110

    +3 for posting on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000899165880&v=wall&story_fbid=101780659883624

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

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  44. sue brandesNo Gravatar
    44

    If you could have a magic tattoo, what would you get and what would it do?
    I would have a cat & it would give me good luck & protect me.

    1. +1 entry for answering the question (required).

    2. +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter

    katsrus(at)gmail(dot)com

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  45. Chas @ LLLNo Gravatar
    45

    I would love to have an intricate Polynesian tattoo and I would love to be able to call upon the spirits of my ancestors to absorb any physical pain.

    I am a follower here and on Twitter @lll808

    Sidebar: http://lll808.blogspot.com/

    lllinthe808[at]gmail[dot]com

    Mahalo!

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  46. Melissa RNo Gravatar
    46

    I would have a tattoo of a wolf/dog hybrid. It would give me the comfort and love of a dog but the fierce protection of it wolfish half.
    I am a GFC follower

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