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Bookaholic Confessions interviews Ellie Campbell

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It gives me great pleasure to welcome the fabulous Ellie Campbell (aka Lorraine and Pam) to Bookaholic Confessions today. Ellie Campbell is a new author to me but I am massively excited about reading Million Dollar Question, which sounds amazing. I had a great time chatting to the two ladies behind Ellie Campbell and learning just how they go about the writing process and where the idea of a pseudonym originated from…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi Pam and Lorraine (aka Ellie Campbell!), a big warm welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourselves…?

Hi, I’m Lorraine, I’m the elder of the two sisters, and after years of wandering the world, footloose and free, I’ve somehow landed on a 10 acre ranch in beautiful Boulder, Colorado with my husband, horses, cats, dog, and chickens. I’m addicted to books and when not reading, writing or trail riding, I’m volunteer at my favourite horse rescue Zuma’s, working with abused horses or untouched mustangs, (two of whom I’ve ended up bringing home.)  Every day is an adventure and I feel incredibly lucky to be living my dream.

And I’m Pam, the baby of the family, although rumours of me being spoilt are greatly exaggerated. I moved from London to a small town in Surrey with my husband when my three children were small. I love the countryside and growing vegetables in our allotment (community garden). I still work part-time at a local college and at least once a year I am a reluctant participant of marathon fundraising bicycle rides across Europe on the back of my husband’s bone-shaking tandem, cycling to Paris, Gibraltar, Brussels, Barcelona, Montpelier, etc. braving mountain ranges and blazing sun, although to be honest I would just as soon be sitting on a beach or at home watching movies with a bar of chocolate and a bottle of wine.

Can you tell us a bit about your new novel, Million Dollar Question (released 25th April 2015)?

It’s a story of luck and coincidence (and of course money). Of our two heroines, one is a ruined by a scandal that takes her from wealth and privilege to broke and homeless. The other, a divorced mother pining for her ex, suddenly wins a million pounds and has to face the pitfalls that come with that. As the novel progresses, their paths entwine and it turns out they have A LOT in common. It’s possibly the most romantic of our novels and quite a bit of it takes place in London and the Isle of Skye, two of our favourite places.

You’ve written five fabulous novels together now and you must get asked this questions LOADS of times, so I apologise in advance! How does the writing process work between the two of you?

It does vary a bit with each book but usually we will thrash out the storyline and characters with phone calls and emails and then each picks chapters to work on. It’s easier with books like Million Dollar Question, which has two simultaneous stories. We send the pages to each other for editing and reworking and we end up with a master document going back and forth, getting changed along the way. (It has also happened that one of us gets a burst of creativity and has quite a bit of the novel written before the other comes in to strengthen the story and develop the characters further.) We add in humour or suggest twists, we come up with new ideas, clean up sentences, rewrite segments, and generally do anything we think might improve the book. The first draft is inevitably too long and we both cut like crazy, catching typos and mistakes along the way. There’s usually a few rewrites, then one of us does the final run-through before it goes to our proof-reader. We’re pretty well matched in all aspects, writing, ideas, characters, dialogue. And we go over the manuscript so much that our writing really gets blended. We do sound alike anyway and we share a similar sense of humour.  It’s like siblings telling stories of their childhood.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember who did what.

lorraine and pam with alfieDo you always agree on storylines and character traits or do you ever have any disagreements?

Well, it’s not always easy writing together. You have to be flexible. Sometimes you have an unspoken idea of how a scene or character should progress and the way your partner writes it is completely different so you have to rearrange your thinking. That can be a good surprise or a not-so-good one. Sometimes you have a knee-jerk reaction against a new suggestion that veers dramatically from what’s been discussed or what you’ve envisaged. Neither of us will force an idea but we’ll sure as hell argue our point. Luckily, once we’ve had a chance to cool down and reflect, we almost always see the value in each other’s suggestions and realize what we’ve been arguing against is actually quite brilliant. It adds a bit of extra spice to the writing process. And we have a rule that if one of us hates something, it’s out. It’s a collaborative effort.  We both have to like everything and we both have to do what’s best for the book.

Lorraine and Pam on couchHow did the idea come about for you to write novels together under a pseudonym?

We were each separately writing and selling our own short stories with a longer novel in the works. But one day when chatting, we discovered we both wanted to write a story about four sisters and use some of our own (shared) family experiences as inspiration. We were already giving each other feedback on a regular basis, helping out when one of us got stuck. So writing it together seemed logical, saved us fighting over who got to do it. And we felt it would be a fun project, which it was. Then we got a two book contract so we had to write a second one together. And here we are.

Do either of you think you’d ever write a novel alone?

It could happen. We’ve both written independently and we could do again, especially if one of us wanted to move on to a different genre or a very personal project. What the writing partnership gives us is encouragement and confidence and a helping hand when you’ve tied yourself into some corner and can’t see where to go next. It’s almost like having a creative editor looking over your shoulder. We both value each other’s opinions so even if we were writing our own novels, I think we might end up asking for feedback as we went along.

How do you go about doing the relevant research for your novels?

We write mostly from our own life experiences and knowledge, we talk to people, and then of course the internet has an amazing amount of information which we make full use of. We read a lot too although I can’t say we spend entire days in library – our books don’t usually demand it. Alas, so far we’ve never followed anyone like a cop or a fireman around for a day, absorbing their life style – I’ve a feeling even if we were writing about someone like that, we’d be too chicken to ask. We’re actually quite shy.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?Pam and Lorraine 3 and 5 bigger 3000

We’d each sold over 70 short stories before we wrote How To Survive Your Sisters. Lorraine had started selling them when working in publishing, in a literary agency then for Woman magazine. Then when she was backpacking in South America, Pam was at home with kids and for fun took a bunch of creative writing classes, then started submitting to magazines. When we wrote that first novel together, we sent it out to an agent, Caroline Hardman, who was just starting to build a client list. (We were her first clients.) We got a two book contract from Arrow Books, Random House, but when the economy started to affect publishing, we decided to go the indie route with our third novel Looking for La La. We were so green.  We had no idea of promotion, reviews, Facebook or Twitter – the Arrow publicist had handled everything. So we realized we had to learn fast if our books weren’t going to sink without a trace. We are still with our agent but we reverted the rights to our first two novels so we could self-publish globally.

Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you both enjoy reading?

 A huge variety. We both love Anne Tyler and Susan Isaacs – Pam always lists Compromising Positions as her favourite novel, whereas Lorraine has loved Jane Austen, Tolkien, Daphne Du Maurier, and C.S. Lewis since she was about 12. We love all the good funny chicklit writers like Helen Fielding, Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Fiona Walker, Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Nick Hornby (male version) but other writers such as Amy Tan, Sue Monk Kidd, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver also come to mind besides mysteries, thrillers, (John Grisham, Michael Connelly) wisecracking detective stories like Raymond Chandler, Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton, some historical (Diana Gabaldan) and Lorraine loves to listen to l-o-o-n-g epic Game of Throne-type fantasy stories when she’s spending hours driving to and from horse rescues. And Pam spends her holiday devouring autobiographies.

And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

We’re working on a third novel in the Crouch End Confidential series which started with Looking For La La and followed on with To Catch A Creeper. The books could best be described as chicklit mysteries with Cathy, our crazy housewife and wanna-be sleuth, getting herself into all kinds of tangled situations, both domestic and more dangerous as well.   We keep writing about her because she’s so much fun.

A huge thank you to Pam and Lorraine for taking part in this interview. ♥

And thank you, Holly, for the great questions.  It was fun!

see the original on Bookaholic Confessions.

Ellie Campbell's Random Animal Facts

onmybookshelf – I Heart Chick Lit

To Catch a Creeper

The cat incident in To Catch A Creeper actually happened to a cat that Pam owned named Parker who closely resembled Cathy’s cat, Tic Tac.

Yes, we – Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell (aka Ellie Campbell) – are total animal lovers.  Not that animals have always loved us back…

 Ellie Campbell’s random animal facts

1.      Lorraine drove 18 hours to Kansas City and back to adopt a whoodle (got to love that name) named Remy, a wheaten terrier/poodle cross.  His misdeeds include eating the passenger’s seat of her brand new car, killing rabbits and burying dead voles in the marital bed.  He is also unbearably cute.

 2.     Pam has a tiny border terrier called Milly whose life’s ambition is to battle rottweilers and capture a fox. One of the sisters in “How to Survive Your Sisters” was named after her, yet they look nothing alike.

3.      Pam and Lorraine’s first dog was a wayward mongrel called Tippy who chased motorbikes, fought with male dogs and amorously pursued every bitch in town, hopping on and off buses, unescorted.  When about to move to England, the parents seized the excuse to find him another home at a distant farm.  They dropped him off, despite wails and protests, only to discover him back at the house within hours.  Clearly his knowledge of the bus system extended also to rural routes. 

 4.      Pam and Lorraine also owned rabbits, keeping the two does in a large aviary in the garden, separated from the buck called Dylan, who still somehow managed to procreate, bringing the total from three to nineteen with astonishing speed.  Pam liked to walk them on a leash in the local graveyard and turn them loose for exercise.  They would follow her around, leaping in the air.

5.      The two sisters were always horse obsessed, galloping down the street on their imaginary steeds, slaving and mucking out stalls in the local stables to cadge free rides. After leaving school they pooled their meager wages to buy a hot-blooded Anglo Arab named Eagle Star, often borrowing a scruffy old mule so they could ride together.  Lorraine and Star once had the unnerving experience of a hot air balloon descending straight at them, with the occupant screaming to get out of his way.  It added a whole new dimension to “hazards of the trail”.

6.      Pam and Lorraine used to win money at local fairs betting on their friend’s donkey, Bilbo Baggins, until the bookmakers wised up to his talents.  It was still an uncertain race because although extremely fast Bilbo had trouble turning corners and his jockey frequently fell off.

7.      Beside the horse, Eagle Star, Pam has owned or lived with cats, dogs, goats, fish, hamsters, rabbits, budgies, Java finches, chickens, lizards, snakes and rats.  Her least favorite was the python that thanks to father/son collusion was purchased with her very reluctant consent.  As soon as the men of the family went away on a camping trip, the python escaped.  Pam spent the rest of the weekend being afraid… very afraid.

8.      Lorraine has owned hamsters, horses, rabbits, cats, dogs, budgies, cockatiels, chickens, Indian runner ducks.  Her least favorite were the Indian runner ducks who lived up to their name by running in a panic whenever she approached. 

9.      Pam once frightened a house guest when he awoke to see an escaped hamster gnawing through a hole in the ceiling.

 

10.    Lorraine once went to throw a stick into the fireplace and realized it was a huge bull snake that had come in unnoticed when she fetched the wood.


12.    Pam was the first rider to mount Lorraine’s young feisty mare Luna in her early days of training.   They achieved half a dozen steps before Luna threw a monumental bucking fit and ejected Pam into the dirt. Pam was not impressed by Lorraine’s training.

 

13.    Lorraine was once on an elephant ride in Rajasthan when she persuaded the mahout to let her swap places.  No sooner was she perched behind its ears, when the elephant whirled and charged a man walking close by.  She realized then it had no brakes and she didn’t know the command for stop.

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14.  Pam once galloped around the Great Pyramid in Egypt on a runaway horse. She enjoyed it immensely.

 

14.    Lorraine once opened her barn door with cat food in hand, calling ‘kitty, kitty’ only to see a very large face emerge from the hay, followed by the rest of a magnificent bobcat who casually hopped out of an open stall door.  Her barn cats were all in hiding hoping to avoid becoming that morning’s meal.

15. Pam once had her shoes chewed on by rats when staying in a crummy hotel in Burma.

Rat_noir

16.    Lorraine and Pam both have the dubious distinction of having being charged and tossed in the air by cows. Pam in Delhi, Lorraine in Scotland. Neither knows why.

17.    Since moving to Colorado Lorraine has encountered raccoons, coyotes, skunks, rattlesnakes, bullsnakes, black widow spiders, bobcat, bear, elk, moose and mountain lions.  The mountain lions were outside her bedroom window.  For a while she stopped wandering outside to admire the night sky.

18.  Raccoons used to frequently break into Lorraine’s laundry room every night looking for a free meal.  A nervous friend living temporarily in Lorraine’s basement once called the sheriff when she heard sinister dragging sounds.  Turned out raccoons were having trouble attempting to haul a 50 lb tub of kibble out through the dog door.

19.     Pam had a fabulous cat called Parker who lived to the age of twenty-one. He was top “dog” amongst the other two dogs she had at the time and would condescendingly pat them on the head if they deigned to walk past.  He was originally a stray and not pretty but as he’d been at the rescue centre the longest, he was next in line for euthanasia and she felt compelled to take him home. If you stroked him in the wrong way, he would turn and scratch you hard, showing no mercy.

20.    Lorraine’s husband is not a cat lover and for a while banned felines, claiming to be allergic, but somehow they now own five, three in the barn, two in the house.  The house cats like to bring live mice indoors and let them escape.  Remy, the whoodle, then goes crazy tearing apart furniture to find them.  Lorraine swears the cats are sniggering. 

Thank you for stopping by!!!

 via To Catch a Creeper by Ellie Campbell / Book Review + Guest Post | onmybookshelf – I Heart Chick Lit.

To Catch A Creeper…the official singing and dancing launch party…

Hooray, it’s finally here.  Publication day for our brand new novel!!!    To Catch A Creeper: A Crouch End Confidential Mystery.  Bring out the balloons and the dancing girls.

(Or rather since we can’t afford dancing girls, click here to see EllieAy Caramba Campbell celebrate in style.   Margaritas anyone?)

And if your favorite words are ‘free’ and ‘almost free’  don’t miss the two very special offers further down this page…

“TO CATCH A CREEPER: A CROUCH END CONFIDENTIAL MYSTERY”

Yes, our favorite dysfunctional wife and mother, Cathy O’Farrell, is on the loose again… this time taking on the advertising world and also seeking to discover the identity of a notorious burglar, known to the press as the Crouch End Creeper.

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Of course being Cathy things never go quite as planned but you can bet there’ll be plenty of laughs, surprises and twists and turns along the rocky way…

(Those burglars can be tricky… even murderous at times.  Always popping up where least expected…  ) And talking of unexpected, as hinted above…

Creeper 3 (1)

ALMOST FREE…in UK and USA

LOOKING FOR LA LA 

All this week – 24th to 30th March – we’re reducing the price globally of our #3 humor bestseller Looking for La La in kindle edition to  the bargain price of .99 (cents or pence.) And don’t forget, you can get kindle apps for your smartphone, computer, i-pad or nook.  And if that wasn’t bargain enough…

WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN THAT…?

A GIFT FOR OUR US READERS

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FREE FOR JUST A FEW DAYS.   We’re offering How To Survive Your Sisters for free download Wed 26 March to Sunday 30th March on Amazon.com.  (Sorry, doesn’t apply to Amazon UK but soon, very soon…)

And, man, do we know all about the joys and pains of sisterhood…

fourgirls

Thanks for celebrating launch day with us,

Lorraine and Pam

Pam Burks: My Heart Belongs to ………. | The Love Of A Good Book

Pam Burks: My Heart Belongs to ………. THE ISLE OF SKYE

Every holiday throughout my childhood, my family would squeeze into our wreck of a car and drive the 250 odd miles to our grandma’s home on the Isle of Skye – birthplace of my dad and his parents and their parents and so on.

Growing up in Edinburgh was brilliant, no question. I’d gangs of friends, played out all day, dodging cars and strange-looking men. I’d climb church roofs with killer drops, clamber to the top of great high oak trees, coming home only when it grew dark. So why did I long for Skye so much?

I’d have sleepless nights beforehand. Ached to get there.

The journey was horrendous, all five passengers taking turns with the sick bag. The roads were windy, bumpy, some of them mere dirt tracks, but as soon as we reached the Kyle of Lochalsh car ferry, I knew I was almost home.

I’d leave the car and breathe deeply, as we made the crossing, absorbing the sweet scent of the peat-burning fires emanating from chimneys of the whitewashed houses dotting the landscape.

We’d arrive at my grandma’s house, late at night. The beds would have been warmed with the stone hot water bottles, a fire would burn in the range. I’d crash out the minute my head hit the pillow and next morning, I’d squint open my eyes and know I was in heaven.

To me, the freedom here seemed even greater. There was only one family living nearby, but they had five kids, so with my three sisters, I’d eight ready-made playmates alongside all the chickens, cats, dogs, sheep and cows.

We’d fish for crabs, go on boat trips to empty the lobster creels and spend hours messing around in the rockpools. We’d wade through peat bogs, stand perilous close to crumbly clifftops and take dips in the cold North sea. Once I had to swim like crazy as a huge fin appeared ten feet from where I was bathing. Turned out to be a harmless basking shark.

I’d follow heather tracks for miles, knock on any door and the householders would usher me inside, clucking away about how they’d known my dad since he was a “wee bairn”.

Last year, I returned with some of my family. Part holiday, part research. I was afraid I’d be disappointed. Our childhood friends had moved away. Some had died. Our family croft and the house I knew as my second home had long since sold. There was now even a bridge to the mainland. Where was the romantic ideal of “over the sea to Skye”?

Wasn’t a great start. I found out that I booked in one of the busiest holiday periods on the island as the Highland Games had just finished. I expected hordes of people, crowded shops and tourist sights, with the capital Portree changed beyond recognition. I was worried we’d be bored.

How surprised I was.

We visited Dunvegan castle, drank in fabulous pubs, danced at ceilidhs (where I was flung around the dancefloor by kilted members of a Chicago Piper band).

We sailed the bay to see white-tailed sea eagles soaring high above us and seals playing in the water.

We walked around the magnificent Cuillin mountains and picnicked beside the Fairy Pools.

Yes there was a bridge, but the ferry still ran. Yes it was busy, but there weren’t the hordes of tourists I expected. Maybe because each passing place on the narrow roads, is its own beauty spot. The scenery was outstanding.

I travelled back as I’d arrived, via the ferry, but no sooner had the boat left shore than I was aching again to return, knowing that I was leaving my home.

My heart belongs there.

Oh wow, I’m still amazed by that shark. Thank you so much for sharing Pam

via Pam Burks: My Heart Belongs to ………. | The Love Of A Good Book.

ORDER YOUR COPY OF ‘TO CATCH A CREEPER ON MARCH 24TH.

And La La wins… Amazon.com #1 bestseller!

FABULOUS NEWS!   Our Free Download Weekend for Looking For La La was a huge success  – much better than anything we could have hoped for.  Number One in the Kindle Free Top 100.

kindle #1 Bestseller

Over 40,000 downloads in three days – that’s enough new readers to fill an America football stadium!

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Thanks so much to all the lovely people out there who blogged, tweeted and best of all downloaded.  We hope you’ll enjoy reading Cathy’s misadventures as much as we enjoyed writing them.

We’ve just got our first review from the Kindle promo and – whoopee – she loves it!   It’s the greatest feeling in the wolrd when people like your books… I don’t know why but it always takes us slightly by surprise.  So keep those reviews coming… some authors claim never to read them but we love ’em!

Thanks again, so much for helping make this promotion such a success.

pam and lorraine Pavilion_2

WiLoveBooks – 10 Things I've Learned From Being A Writer

Today the authors behind Ellie Campbell are here to tell us what inspired Looking for La La and share what they’ve learned from being a writer. 

Ten Things I’ve Learned from Being a Writer

It happened…well, let’s just say it was a few years back.  My sister, Pam, co-author of our Ellie Campbell novels, was having a peaceful breakfast with her family when a postcard decorated with scarlet lipstick dropped through the letterbox.  Surprisingly, the sender, La La, was proclaiming impassioned love for Pam’s husband.  Below you can read how it appears in our novel, Looking For La La.  (What, us waste a great piece of material like that?  Never!  Particularly when this La La was clearly up to no good.)

“Not a sound is heard as it lands silently on the mat. No drums rolls, crashing thunder, shafts of light. The walls don’t start crumbling, the ground doesn’t vibrate with terrifying tremors and a yawning fissure fails to zigzag across the kitchen floor and separate my husband from his breakfast marmalade.

In short, I’ve no clue as to the impact it’ll have on our lives. Mayhem. Marital breakdown. Murder. It should at least have been written in blood or come in the beak of a dark-winged raven.

It is a postcard. “Love from London” blazoned above a giant pair of pouting lips kissing a cherry-red heart.

At first sight it appears to be one of those “Please Come to Our Rave” flyers which get thrust through my door periodically. Now the chances of me, a world-weary, put-upon mother-of-two, going to a rave are slim to none, but heck it’s nice to be invited.

I turn it over.

Dearest, sweetest Declan – it begins. My eyes widen as I take in the blue spidery handwriting and race to the signature. ‘Love from La La.’”

We never found out who sent the card, Pam’s husband claiming innocence of the whole affair.  (More accurately that there was no affair.)  Knowing her hubbie – and his friends’ questionable sense of humour – she wisely chose to believe him.  It could have been end of story if we hadn’t used it to inspire our third Ellie Campbell novel.  In it bored housewife, Cathy Rogers, goes slightly crazy searching for the identity of La La and discovering everyone around her is concealing secrets… including an alluring romantic admirer and a deadly opponent.

I guess we’ve learned that in life sometimes your gifts come in disguise. Which made me think of other important things I’ve learned from my journey down the author path.  Here are just 10.

1. Writing is cheaper than therapy.  And a lot more productive.

2. You will see countless pairs of reading glasses scattered around your house until the moment you actually need them.

3. Never forward an email chain to your publisher, agent, or person of influence, without checking for rude or personal comments further down the page.

4. Don’t send out anything in writing, be it angry email or lyrical piece of prose, until you’ve had a night to sober up and read it again in the cold harsh light of day.

5. Procrastination is an underappreciated art.  Also known as ‘the creative pause.’

6. Google is specifically designed to suck all the productivity out of a working day.

7. Everything you take in, from childhood on, will leak out someday onto the printed page.

8. Don’t share your friends’ intimate confidences with the world.  Unless you have an endless supply of friends.

9. The instant you’re faced with a computer screen and a deadline, you’ll be filled with an urgent desire to fold laundry and polish that ancient silver teapot you inherited and will never use.

10. Always disguise your sources.  Unless it’s La La and then it’s open season.

via WiLoveBooks.

The Truth About Author Photos

Every wondered how those author photos come out looking so darned intellectual, attractive, flawless? So do we. When our first novel How to Survive Your Sisters came out, and the publicity department of Arrow asked for photos we panicked. Hating our photo taken and not about to go the obvious route and hire a professional, we roped in our sister Jo.  After all she takes great photos, doesn’t she?

First we looked like we were in the middle of a sister war.

Then we thought balloons might help?  (They didn’t.)

The Daily Express did a feature, sent in a team of make-up artists, spending hours on hair and make-up, putting us in dresses and heels. Could this be our moment of glory?

Nope – unfortunately those hideous frocks helped nothing at all.

So when I went to Colorado to visit we decided that we’d get some nice shots. My daughter, Lucy was brought in. She had a camera. There were mountains.

I tried to look I was writing. Durr why??

We tried to look serious but ended up gormless (dopey). Or one of us closed our eyes.

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Or we couldn’t stop squinting but at least the scenery looked nice.

We couldn’t stop laughing.  Or it came out fuzzy.

Others were too dark.  (We were getting tired of this game. Lorraine looks like she’s sleeping on my shoulder)

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Then everyone kept jumping in, spoiling the point of it all. It was about US!

Lorraine kept pushing me out of the picture

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By now the photographer was getting fed up. But I wasn’t sure she was taking it all that seriously.

She began taking photos of the dog.

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I thought I might do better with a solo scholarly pose.

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The vacation was over and we still hadn’t got our perfect portrait.

Perhaps it was time to use a professional after all.

Thanks to the digital technology, soft lights and lots of airbrushing we finally got a shot we liked.

I still don’t know though – does it make us look a little too young?