MTLGTM: TP Roll Snowflake

MyTrueLoveGaveToMe_animated_PS[4]Hello, friends! That hiatus was a bit longer than I expected, but New York was an 24 hour round-trip, and after my adrenaline levels dropped, so did I! I had SO much fun, and did some research at the Met to boot. It was lovely to meet all the other MTLGTM authors, the American and UK editors and staff, and every single reader! A very cool aspect of the trip was seeing bloggers I’ve known since they were teens who are now working in the publishing industry. There’s a LOT to be said for being professional from the get go, no matter how young you are.

You can read more about the event here on Publisher’s Weekly. My True Love Gave to Me has been a healing, joyful experience from the beginning, and I count every blessing it’s brought me. Twice.

I have been making ornaments aplenty (easy to do from a prone position), so expect a flurry of posts over the next few days! And, yes, I made a Christmas ornament out of a toilet paper roll. I suppose if you find TP rolls offensive, you can opt for paper towels. Now for the HOW TO!

1. Gather Mod Podge, cardboard rolls, and book pages (or wrapping/scrapbook paper).

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2. Apply Mod Podge (or your own homemade glue mixture) to cardboard rolls, and then wrap pages around them. If you want to make yourself crazy, try to line up the edges. This reminds me of Vaughn in my MTLGTM story, trying to roll paper towels up exactly to avoid Gracie’s questions.

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3. Cut the rolls into equal sections. Mine are approximately 1″. The plain cardboard on the inside would look sweet with burlap or jute ornaments, but I fancied mine up by spray painting them gold. Glue and glitter on the inside would be cute, too.

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4. Glue gun! Attach the circles at the center point, and hold them together to shape the snowflake (or flower, whatever). I also put a tiny dot of glue on the opposite sides to make them a little pointy. Like snowflakes.

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5. Okay, this is totally a snowflower. I even put glitter in the center! A stamen! *sings REPRODUCTION song from Grease II*

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6. I decided to attempt the glitter version, since the kids weren’t home! I think I like it better! (Because I admitted it’s a flower.)

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That’s it! If you haven’t looked up TP art online, do it. There are some beautiful sculptures out there. More holiday ornaments soon!

My True Love Gave to Me: HIATUS

There will be no craft today, because I am in NEW YORK CITY! I hope to see you at Barnes and Noble in Tribeca at 4:00PM, or at the author signing/reception at McNally Jackson at 7:00PM! More info here on Stephanie Perkins’ Tumblr!

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MTLGTM: Snow Family

Welcome to Day Three of the MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME Holiday Craft Extravaganza! Today, I share one of my favorite projects. It’s not original, but it is special.

HOW TO MAKE A SNOWMAN FAMILY ORNAMENT!

1. Acquire volunteers. Listen to volunteers complain about how many pictures you’re taking.

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2. Paint volunteer’s fingers with acrylic paint. If your ornament has a large circumference, you might want to paint the whole finger. Also, may I suggest you do this project close to a sink?

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3. Have volunteers hold ornament so that their fingers imprint close to the center. (Note: The thing on the floor is a dog toy, not a wayward piece of lettuce.)

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4. Allow fingerprints to dry. Threaten freedom of volunteers if THEY SO MUCH AS LOOK at those ornaments before they dry.

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5. Embellish! I used paint pens and permanent markers.

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I plan to put a coat of white glitter on the bottom, but for now, I like the way they look resting on the mercury glass candle holders. Again, I’d love to see your pictures if you make any of these!

MTLGTM: Snowflake Wreath

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Welcome to Day Two of the MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME Holiday Craft Extravaganza! Today, we’re learning HOW TO MAKE A GLITTER SNOWFLAKE WREATH!

1. Start by tracing two circles on heavy cardboard or foam core. The outside circle measures 8″, and the inside is 4 1/2″. .

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2. After cutting out the ring, give it a light coat of spray paint in a similar (or contrasting – this is your party) color to your snowflakes. SO. MANY. COLOR. CHOICES.

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3. Once the ring is dry, grab a low temp glue gun and your snowflakes!

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4. I used approximately thirty 3 1/2″plastic glitter snowflakes. Attach the first level, eyeball it, and guesstimate. Or do The Maths. (I don’t do The Maths.)

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5. Glue those snowflakes on like a champ. Go to town, just like Santa, baby.

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6. You can add dimension by placing a layer on the back. This is also a good time to attach a hanger. I used ice blue gift wrap ribbon.

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And, now the finished product, hanging over the toilet in the guest bathroom! I know I said the decorations were for my office, but very room deserves a bit of holiday jewelry, don’tcha think?

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I’d love to see pictures if you make a snowflake wreath! I’ll post them here!

My True Love Gave to Me: Snowflakes and Chaos

CoverLast January, my husband decided we should sell our house.

I laughed, in an unhinged, hysterical way, especially when I realized he wasn’t lying. I called him a wingnut, an ingrate, and possibly some other things, and then ate a whole box of Chicken in a Biskit crackers. I’d been handed a depression diagnosis the week before. The WEEK before. I wanted to spend the spring resting, trying to heal, Netflx-binging, and building Sims 3 houses so I could light them on fire (it’s not as bad as it sounds).

BUT … the SOLD sign stood proudly on our curb in less than two weeks.

I steered my “MAKE ALL THE THINGS” desires toward decorating our new place. I find great pleasure in upcycling and repurposing items, so I spent/spend a lot of time at thrift stores. And on Pinterest. Where I have an alias. When I start on a design/craft/painting project, I have a basic idea of the materials I’m going to use, but I’m completely open to wherever my whims might take me. I save EVERYTHING, and I love “happy accidents.” If I screw it up, I can fix it, make it something else, or use it as firewood. No one ever has to know.

Last June, I wanted to do some large art pieces, so I did my usual creative warm up exercises — brainstorming, engineering, measuring, discarding, and asking “what if” (out loud) one hundred times. My OCD husband became a little  … twitchy. I looked around at the detritus of canvas, wood, paint, brushes, paper, cardboard, and sandpaper, and I had a revelation.

I create best in chaos. No matter the medium, I create BEST in CHAOS.

What is more chaotic than a first draft?

I’m making 12 days of MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME creations to decorate my office. In case you want to make your own, I’ll be posting tutorials here! And let me tell you, there is crap EVERYWHERE, and it is fabulous. I keep losing the scissors and the masking tape and the wired burlap ribbon and the tape measure and it couldn’t be more edifying.

Sometimes you need to step outside your own art form, shake up your comfort and confidence levels, and purposefully make your odds of coming close to perfection low. Rediscover how to remain firmly grounded in the joy of simply TRYING.

Speaking of trying …

 

HOW TO MAKE A SNOWFLAKE GLOBE ORNAMENT

 1. Find a book. I used family member’s books from the 1960’s that have sentimental value, but smell like tobacco smoke.

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2. Use a die cut stamp of your choosing. I picked a snowflake to die cut book pages and shimmery golden card stock.

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3. I have a husband, two boys, two cats, and a puppy, so I chose plastic globe ornaments for durability. Somebody’s getting cracked over the head with one of these suckers before school’s out.

 

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4. Glitter. We don’t DO glitter in this house, and I’ll explain why later in the week. I really wanted to give these an extra dose of sparkle, so I dropped half a teaspoon of glitter into one half of the ball, sprayed a very light glue adhesive on the die cuts, put the snowflakes in the ornament and closed it. Then I SHOOK IT.

 

 

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I tied the tops together with gold ribbon, curled it, and hung the ornaments on the tree with golden hooks!

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TAH DAH!

 

 

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I’m going to try some silver paper and glitter later this week, you can check them out at the tree unveiling!

Coming soon … prodigious use of a glue gun!

My True Love Gave to Me

So … hey there! It’s been … um … seven months? I’ve never had a very good concept of time, but this is ridiculous. Lots of things have happened since then, which I will post about soon!

However, today is the release of MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: Twelve Holiday Stories!

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(The real cover doesn’t do this. Unless maybe you’ve had too much egg nog.)

First Page

My story!

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The Macmillan UK edition! Look at those pink edges!

Last November, I participated in Y’all Fest in Charleston, South Carolina (which is an amazing yearly event and everyone should go). By Sunday morning, the festival shenanigans were over, so Stephanie Perkins and I went to a place called “Toast” for breakfast. We ordered Creme Brûlée lattes, and discussed our love of Hallmark holiday movies, among other things. Before our cups were empty, Steph had an idea.

Steph Latte

Lattes of Inspiration at Toast

A really (REALLY) short time later, she and her kick butt agent sold that idea, and MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: Twelve Holiday Stories was born! And I got to contribute! I was excited, so excited!

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I mean, REALLY excited.

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But when I saw the list of the other contributors, excited shifted toward overwhelmed. My confidence went … well … let Uncle Eddie demonstrate:

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But I persevered, with a lot of help! Here’s the thing about Stephanie Perkins. What you see is what you get. The kindness? Genuine. The authenticity? Authentic. Her belief that you can do it (yes, you too!)? She’s not foolin’ around. She’s an amazing encourager and a brilliant editor. Through her feedback and edits, and then through Sara Goodman’s at Saint Martin’s Press, I was able to write a story of which I am proud, and not just because it’s titled “Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus.”

It’s a mashup of THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGENT EVER by Barbara Robinson (where Gracie got her last name), and the Dixie Stampede, which I changed to the Rebel Yell (my apologies to Dolly Parton). I drew on the five years I worked in children’s ministry to write it (the glitter observation is a direct quote), and it has one swear. Okay, more than one swear. (I totally emailed my pastor and told him.)

MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME received a star from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and the School Library Journal. That in itself is a Christmas miracle!

Grab a copy, snuggle up under a cozy blanket with your favorite hot beverage, and enjoy. May you find the stories inside as magical as this:

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The Shame of Depression

I’ve had this post in my draft folder for like … two months. I kept waiting to bounce back, for the wry, sardonic Myra who could talk/write about depression to show up. If anyone knows where she is, please send her home. 

I wrote a post a year ago giving tips on how to avoid the spiral. That post became a source of shame for me. Even as I wrote it, I was still spinning. Isolating myself, forgetting the definition of balance, dodging my accountability partners. I still don’t have any emotional energy to spare. Conversation is hard. Reading is hard. Watching TV is hard. Y’all, I have FOUR episodes of The Originals on my DVR. If Joseph Morgan/Klaus the Sociopath can’t lift your spirits, there are ISSUES.

Being a wife and a mom and a friend are damn near impossible. So are things like answering emails and tying shoes. Some days, I worry I’ve lost my desire to tell stories. Boy, howdy, does that hurt to type. But one of the main symptoms of depression is losing interest in the things you love, and this gives me hope.

I’d decided to keep quiet about the whole thing, and then someone asked me at a signing (which required Xanax to navigate) why I hadn’t been online lately. My bottom lip did that uncontrollable wobble, and my top lip stuck to my teeth, and I said, “Depression.” I didn’t go into specifics, but later I had at least five people thank me for being honest. It meant the world. 

(Incidentally, “Sure, let’s have lunch – my psychiatrist thinks I should get out more!” is not a thing you really want to say to a casual friend at a book event.) 

I can pinpoint triggers, but knowing what kicked this bout off and knowing how to stop the fallout are two completely different things. Plus, there’s this tricky little bitch called brain chemistry. Then there’s doubt, and comparison, and self-hate. There’s this thought: “A million different writers have posted about this, why should I add to the canon?” And this one, too: “No one really gives a shit.” 

Most creatives I know examine depression. We take out our spirits, take note of all the scars and dings, and question how they got there. We wonder if karma is real, who we’ve wronged and how, what normal looks like, if anyone has accomplished it, and why we weren’t born with THOSE genes. 

I’m glad (?) to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder. It’s a relief to know I’m not just hopped up on angst. It’s a harsh truth that a clinical diagnosis doesn’t help us deal with those who brush depression aside. Someone actually said to me, “It’s not like depression kills you.” It’s claimed more than one of my family members. It’s taken lives of people in the writing community. The lesson we should remember most but always forget is simple. “Everybody is dealing with something.” Choose to be kind.

Sadly, a diagnosis isn’t always enough for the people you’ve hurt while you work out your heart junk. There are casualties. You don’t always get the chance to explain what’s up with your life, and even if you do, the truth can sound like an excuse. You want people to understand, but you don’t wish depression on them, so you become endlessly grateful for the people who get it. 

That’s why I finally wrote this post. I got a DM from a friend on Sunday with the words “She gets it” and a link to Libba Bray’s unbelievably beautiful depression post. (Find it here.) I called another friend to share it, and she was already writing Libba a note.

There’s a web that connects those who deal with depression, a tenuous thread that runs under every human interaction. Libba’s words: “I see writing as an act of resistance against an occupying enemy who means to kill me. It’s why I’m writing this now. Silence = Death …”

So this is my resistance. Not to claim a victory, because I’m coming to understand I will always fight depression, but to acknowledge that there are many, many people wielding weapons beside me. We might not know each other, and for different reasons, we might not be able to speak out, but we can stand together on the same side of the battlefield. 

Shame = 0. 

Community = 1.

Cover Reveal Celebration + Giveaway: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by MG Buehrlen

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 It’s time to PAR-TAY!

Today we’re celebrating the cover reveal for MG Buehrlen’s debut YA novel, THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE, coming to stores March 2014 from Strange Chemistry! MG is one of my dearest friends and confidants, and this book is amazing. It’s timey-wimey with swoon and humor and gorgeous writing. I read it in one day, and I can’t wait to read it again! YOU WILL LOVE IT.

 

 

 

BONUS POINTS: Mention you saw the cover on my blog (when you fill out the giveaway form below) and you can earn extra entries!

 
Ready to see the cover? Here it is!

 

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 THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE

US Release Date: March 4, 2014
UK Release Date: March 6, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry / Distributed by Random House
ISBN: 9781908844934

About the Book

One girl. Fifty-seven lives. Endless ways to die.

For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.

But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.

It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.

Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.

And will stop at nothing to make this life her last. 

Pre-order The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare now!
Barnes & Noble  |  Books-a-Million  |  Amazon  |  Indiebound  |  The Book Depository
 
About the Author

mgbuehrlen

When she’s not writing, M.G. moonlights as a web designer and social media/creative director. She’s the current web ninja lurking behind the hugely popular website YABooksCentral.com, a social network for YA (and kids!) book lovers.

These are the places you’ll find M.G. hiding: in her creaky old house nestled in Michigan pines, sipping coffee on her porch, cooking over campfires, and dipping her toes in creeks. Say hello to M.G. on TwitterFacebook, and Tumblr.

 

Giveaway Details

 

One winner from each participating blog (10 total) will receive signed bookmarks and stickers.

One grand prize winner will receive a copy of the book (once available) as well as the Mega 57 LIVES Character Prize Pack (each item pertaining to a significant character in the book):

- A pair of black Wayfarer glasses, like Alex wears

- A pack of chocolate pudding cups, courtesy of Jensen

- Vintage piano sheet music for the song Star Dust, the song Nick plays for Alex

- An orange Baltimore Orioles cap, like Porter wears

- A pair of engraved Polygon game piece stones (You’ll have to read the book to find out how these come into play!)

- A YABooksCentral.com tote bag

- Signed bookmarks and stickers

This giveaway is open internationally. Winners will be chosen and notified by email within 30 days of the giveaway end date.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Extra entries can be earned by following the bloggers involved in the Cover Reveal Celebration.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Early Fall Recap – In Pictures

I was gone for the majority of September, and with school/baseball/band, etc, I am more behind on blog posts than usual! I’ve been drafting like a fiend this month, but I wanted to share some pictures from my early fall adventures!

 

First, from San Diego Comic Con, drinking Game of Thrones mead in the Wired Lounge: 

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Finally meeting Katie B. Mundie Mom at the Scholastic party:

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At the Decatur Book Festival, being terrified by Courtney Stevens, who was dressed as a Shadowhunter for Dragon Con!

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Where Michelle Hodkin MADE ME RAP:

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 From the YA AdVANture Tour (more photos and a travel log HERE at Publisher’s Weekly): 

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Me and Tessa Gratton, right after a bartender asked me if I was Tessa’s mother: 

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Sonia Gensler and Tara Hudson, right after a bartender asked if I was Tessa’s mother: 

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 Tara Hudson, cry-laughing because a bartender asked if I was Tessa’s mother. 

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On the way to the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival I got to stay with the most lovely Stephanie Perkins, and she hosted a yummy dinner for me! Pic is of Beth Revis, Megan Shepard, Meagan Spooner and Steph: 

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 And Steph has a legit skeleton. In her closet.

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At the Parapalooza SIBA event in New Orleans, where I had to read a paragraph to tequila-fueled book sellers (thanks for the photo and Publisher’s Weekly mention, Paige Crutcher!)

Myra McEntire at Parapalooza (3)

 

 

With Terra McVoy and Shannon Messenger at the mind-blowingly amazing Anderson’s 10th annual YA conference: 

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Lemon Drop at the Anderson’s conference hotel – half of which ended up in Michael Grant’s lap (due to clumsiness, not insobriety – I am a GESTURER):

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At the Southern Festival of Books with my new favorite person, Sharon Cameron:

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And with Sonia Gensler at SoFest – we stood there for a REASON (I like big butts and I cannot lie):

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Milo the Cat, glad I’m home, and resting his head on my notes: 

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And finally, what I’m working on now. Well, a bit of setting from what I’m working on now: 

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Hope you’re all having a lovely fall!

 

 

Announcing the YA AdVANture Tour!

Introducing the YA AdVANture Tour! Four Authors, Five Cities, ONE MINIVAN!

This September, I’ll be hitting the road with Tessa Gratton (author of THE LOST SUN and the BLOOD JOURNALS: BLOOD KEEPER and BLOOD MAGIC), Tara Hudson (author of the ELEGY Trilogy), and Sonia Gensler (author of THE REVENANT and THE DARK BETWEEN) in somebody’s mom’s minivan to visit bookstores and libraries in the South and Midwest!

Thursday, September 5th: Irving, TX Barnes & Noble, Frisco, TX @ 7:00 p.m. Stonebriar Center Mall, Frisco, TX 75034 (972) 668-2820

Friday, September 6th: Little Rock, AR Barnes & Noble @ 6:00 p.m. 11500 Financial Ctr Pkwy, Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 954-7646

Saturday, September 7th: Memphis, TN The Booksellers at Laurelwood @ 7:00 p.m. 387 Perkins Extd Memphis, TN 38117 (901) 683-9801

Sunday, September 8th: St. Louis, MO Left Bank Books @ 4:00 p.m. Off-site library location TK

Monday, September 9th: Kansas City, KS Mysteryscape @ 6:30 7309 W 80th St Overland Park, KS 66204 (913) 649-0000

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!