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Announcing Two New Calendars for 2020

30 Sep

A friend reached out to me asking if I had a new calendar on sale yet. I was so surprised! I didn’t realize people looked forward to them so much. I love creating them, picking a theme, selecting the photographs, and creating new artwork, but I’ve never had huge sales on them (it’s super hard to make any significant profit since it costs so much to print them because of the color photography) so I didn’t think anyone was paying all that close attention to when they came out. After all, it’s still only September!

Well, I’m happy to announce that I now have not one but two calendars for sale for the year 2020!

Hellas is a calendar featuring photographs I’ve taken in Greece. This one is dear to my heart. I create it with my father in mind because years before I began creating calendars, he always wanted me to get him calendars. My first foray into calendar-making began with creating a calendar that I thought he would like. Now I have the pleasure of sharing my heritage with you and other Hellenophiles every day of the year with this calendar!

My Cup Runneth Over is a calendar devoted to those seeking to cultivate an attitude of gratitude throughout 2020. If Hellas was created with my father in mind, then My Cup Runneth Over, with its subtle coffee theme and optimism, is inspired in part by my mother. If you’re into mindfulness, spirituality, and gratitude and are seeking subtle reminders to find the good in each day, then this is the calendar for you.

 

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Experience the beauty of Greece every day of the year with HELLAS, a 2020 calendar. The natural landscape of the Mediterranean comes to life in the rich, colorful photography of Greek beaches, wildflowers, and lush palm trees. As you record your daily appointments in the calendar, the stresses of life will recede like the tide of the ocean. This calendar features US and Greek holidays. On sale now.

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Cultivate a life of gratitude each day of 2020 with the Your Cup Runneth Over Calendar. Each morning as you savor a cup of coffee, take a moment to give thanks. Every day offers a fresh start and an opportunity to practice thanksgiving. By focusing on the things you have to be thankful for, even if some days they may feel like small things, you will transform your attitude and become a more positive person. Your newfound optimism will help you to enjoy the life you currently have even as you seek to improve it one day at a time. Consider these prompts: What are you grateful for experiencing as a child? What friendships are you thankful for today? What do you appreciate about your neighborhood? How can you tell someone you’re thankful for them today? Each day, take a moment to stop and smell the coffee! On sale now.

Have you started planning for 2020 yet?

Don’t forget to mark your calendars with my upcoming events. Find my list of upcoming readings and writing workshops here. I’d love to mark my calendar with any readings, art shows, and concerts you’re involved in too, so drop me a line in the comments section with your upcoming events.

If you’re new to my page and are curious what else I’ve published, hop over to my Publications page to check out my books.

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Coming Back All Changed

8 Jul

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Carry On the Story

1 Jul

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Wild Women on the Road

19 Jun

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I’ve been invited to teach again at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers! I’ll be teaching a writing workshop called Wild Women on the Road. Because why should Jack Kerouac have all the fun?!

Here’s the description:::

Bohemians, rockers, and nature lovers throughout history have blazed their own paths, inspiring generations of women to put the pedal to the metal—and the pen to paper. So why is women’s writing so often derided as “domestic,” and why do so many women’s travelogues read like chick lit?

We’ll discuss ways to elevate the genre in terms of both substance and style as we take a fast-paced ride along with Manal Al-Sharif (Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening), Lynne Cox (Swimming to Antarctica), Waris Dirie (Desert Flower), Patti Smith (M Train), and other women who defied conformity.

Geared towards those who want to advance plot while maintaining artistic style, in-class writing exercises will equip you with the roadmap you need through storytelling templates and literary devices. Choose your own adventure—and encourage other women to live more fully even within their own neighborhoods!

 

My writing class is on Sunday, September 8, from 9:30 to 11:30am. The Festival itself will be all weekend long, though, and you’ll want to stay for all the great workshops and readings and to get to know and rest in this cute little town in the Catksills. Hobart is called the Book Village because even though it’s tiny, it’s full of indie bookshops! It’s enough to make any bibliophile swoon.

You can register here.

In the meantime, I’d love to know: What are your favorite stories of women adventurers? Female explorers? Lady bohemians that blazed their own paths?

Want to read more on Hobart?

Want to read more on wild women on the road?

As always, join me on the road! You can find out where I’m appearing next here.

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Leaving

3 Jun

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I Discovered a Thriving Literary Community as an American Writer in Paris (Guest Post)

1 May

I’m excited to publish this guest post about the Paris literary community by my writer friend Norma Jaeger Hopcraft, the author of The Paris Writers Circle and blogger of In Search of the American Dream. If you’ve been following me for a while now, you know I’ve written about the artist and literary community in Paris on a number of occasions, including my posts on the Surrealist movement and the The Beat Hotel. Norma reports back from her time living as a ex-pat writer in Paris, showing that the Paris literary community is still thriving today. If you’re looking to take a writing sabbatical abroad, she provides a plethora of resources for writers seeking literary community in Paris.

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When I moved to Paris one July recently, I arrived on a Thursday, took Friday to catch up with myself (I didn’t have to hurry—I had at least one year in Paris ahead of me—yes, be jealous!). On Saturday I launched myself upon the City of Light.

 

I took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower, explored the Parc du Champs-de-Mars at its foot, was offered replica Eiffel Towers in six sizes and colors by wandering, thin African young men. Then I headed for the Place des Vosges. On foot. On a hot day. When I got to the Place, I lay on my back on the grass, like a hundred other people, and gathered my forces around myself. I was 3,000 miles from home and did not have money to fly back and see a familiar face. I was on my own, knowing nobody in the entire city. In the country. In all of Europe.

 

I had found when I arrived on Thursday that my landlady, Martine, whom I first met via Skype, spoke great English. She went out of her way that first day to make me comfortable in my studio apartment in the ground floor of her home. I was famished when I arrived on her doorstep, had no Euros in my pockets. I asked her what I could do to get something to eat – I had no idea where a grocery store was.

 

I’ll never forget – she offered me the steak that she planned to cook for herself and her visiting son a few hours later. I was deeply moved but asked her to take me quickly to the nearest grocery store. I bought some pre-cooked chicken thighs and salad. Martine paid for them because my debit card didn’t work. I paid her back in Euros within the hour.

 

Her two nieces, Christelle and Daphné, lived in Martine’s house, in bedrooms upstairs. They were great 20-somethings who welcomed me and opened their hearts to me in the type of soul-friendship that’s a rare experience in the U.S.

 

Okay, so, in the Place des Vosges, laying on the grass, I had three faces I knew in Paris. I had a place to live. I had enough food. What did I need next?

 

Well, I was in Paris on a creative writing sabbatical. It was a gift to myself, not related to a university or artists’ residency. So I needed a circle of writers, incisive critiquers, who could help me improve my memoir. Finishing it was my goal for the year.

 

On that sunny Saturday in late July, I lay on the grass in Place des Vosges and prepared to meet my first Paris writers circle. The group was called Paris Lit Up, and I met them in a hot café where I trembled to purchase a Perrier. It bought me my seat in the café, but it nearly busted my tiny budget.

 

It was my first experience of English-speaking expat writers meeting in Paris. People in the critique group came from all over – Iowa, Barcelona, Berlin. We critiqued each other’s work, laughed over it, and then I went “home,” wherever that is, exhausted. When I got there, Martine fanned herself and said, “It’s so ‘ot.”

 

Two months went by with Paris Lit Up as my only writers’ circle, and then a Meetup popped up, to be held in the moderator’s Paris apartment. I was curious to see her space, and besides which, it sounded like such a nice gathering. “Meet, eat, and critique our work,” the description said. Eat together. Hmmm. That would form nice bonds, I thought, and I signed up.

 

Author Hazel Manuel led the Meetup, which still meets and is called Paris Scriptorium. People once again were from all over. Haze was from London by way of Wales and living full time in Paris. Ruth was British, married to a Frenchman. Kat was Russian, finishing a Ph.D. in English literature at the Sorbonee. Cris Hammond was an American living on a péniche (a barge) on the Seine. He’d written a book about traveling on it all over France’s 5,000 kilometers of canals and rivers. It’s funny. I loved it.

 

I ditched writing the memoir – so difficult to go back into all that pain – and wrote a novel instead, The Paris Writers Circle. It’s about four writers—four creative egos—who undergo dark days in the City of Light. Haze’s group critiqued it over the course of the year. The warmth of the bonds was fantastic, the talent for critique outstanding, and I’m still in touch with many of the participants today.

 

Then another Meetup popped up: The Paris Writers Group. It’s still meeting in a café and still running. After I left Paris, a member of Haze’s group, Graham Elliott, started a new Meetup, Paris Creative Writers. It meets in L’Amazonial Café, on Rue Sainte-Opportune, in the First Arrondissement, on Tuesday afternoons. If you Google “meetups paris writers in English” you’ll find all three groups.

 

I left Paris before I could attend Graham’s Meetup, but I never unsubscribed from his or any of the groups’ email lists. Every time a new meeting comes up, I wish like crazy that I were in Paris and could go.

 

So any writer who goes to Paris has three great critique groups in English (the fourth I’ve mentioned, Paris Lit Up, seems to be on hiatus) that they could attend, immerse in, and find the literary community that will help them improve their writing. They’ll also form bonds of friendship that will last even after they leave and there are thousands of miles between them and their friends’ familiar faces in Paris.

 

So make me jealous! Tell me you’re going to Paris and that you’ll attend any one of these groups! Leave a comment for me here or on my blog. And check out The Paris Writers Circle. One reviewer says, “If you love Paris, you’ll be swept away!” Another says, “Paris comes alive!” and “Outstanding for story appeal, character appeal, and character development.” Enjoy! And get to Paris!

Clip: Essay after Visiting the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Written from a Skyscraper

5 Mar

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In 2017, my friend Mark Chalfant, author of Devereux Emmet: American Master, invited me on a road trip up to Catskill, New York, to visit painter Thomas Cole’s home. It was a crisp autumn day, and with so many of the colorful leaves having dropped from the trees, we were able to get an incredible view of the landscape that the Hudson River School painter became famous for depicting.

Strewn around the Thomas Cole National Historic Site were quotes from Cole’s 1841 “Essay on American Scenery.” Take this gem for instance:

May we at times turn from the ordinary pursuits of life to the pure enjoyment of rural nature; which is in the soul like a fountain of cool waters to the way-worn traveler….

Cole’s way with words, his love for the American landscape, and his reference to travel reminded me of that great intrepid traveler Jack Kerouac, whom Paul Maher Jr. and I had written about in the literary biography Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”

Visiting the painter’s home had a profound experience on my weary soul. It invigorated me. It inspired me.

I ended up writing about my experience visiting the painter’s home, and last year I had the great honor of my “Essay after Visiting the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Written from a Skyscraper” being selected for the Landmark exhibit, presented by the Albany International Airport and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. The exhibition, which was on view at the Albany International Airport, from September 29, 2018, to February 25, 2019, explored our relationship with nature and our ever-changing American landscape.

Here’s what the official press release had to say:

Landmark, at the Albany International Airport Gallery, features 10contemporary visual artists and seven writers whose works explore our relationship to the natural world, and share common ground with Thomas Cole’s greatest written work, Essay on American Scenery, 1836, which is among the most influential proto-environmentalist essays in America.

On view at the Albany International Airport Gallery September 29, 2018 –February 25, 2019.Opening reception: Friday, October 5, 2018, 5:30-7:30 pm.

Albany, NY (September 17, 2018)–The Albany International Airport Gallery will host the upcoming exhibition Landmark from September 29, 2018 to February 25, 2019. Developed through a partnership between the Airport’s Art & Culture Program and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY, Landmark considers the legacy of Thomas Cole’s paintings and advocacy for environmental stewardship as they echo the concerns of artists and writers today. A public reception to celebrate the launch of Landmark will be held on Friday, October 5, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in the Albany International Airport Gallery.

Thomas Cole(1801-1848) is recognized as the founder of America’s first major art movement, the Hudson River School of landscape painting, and a proto-environmentalist who advocated for the appreciation and preservation of America’s landscapes. Kathy Greenwood, Director of the Airport’s Art & Culture Program, and Kate Menconeri, Curator at the Thomas Cole Site, invited 10 contemporary visual artists to participate in this exhibition, whose work has compelling connections to Cole’s, and engages the persisting resonance of the same issues and ideas from a 21st-century vantage point.

The 10 visual artists are Ellen Driscoll, Valerie Hammond, William Lamson, Portia Munson, Kenneth Ragsdale, Anne Roecklein, Lisa Sanditz, Kiki Smith, Darren Waterston and Susan Wides. The exhibiting artists have international careers and also maintain deep local ties to the Hudson River Valley, as did Cole. Artworks include works on canvas and paper, video, photography, new site-specific installations and sculpture, as well as woven jacquard tapestry.

“This exhibition is the perfect complement to this landmark year, as the Art & Culture Program celebrates its 20thAnniversary, which coincides with the 200thAnniversary of Thomas Cole’s arrival in America,” said Kathy Greenwood, Program Director and Landmark co-curator. “At its core, this Program seeks to showcase the outstanding cultural institutions and artists that populate this region, and it’s exciting and satisfying when we can accomplish that within a single exhibition.”

“We’re excited at the Thomas Cole Site to have this opportunity to work with the Albany Airport to create such an extensive project,” said Kate Menconeri, curator at the Thomas Cole Site and Landmark co-curator. “Thomas Cole was an advocate for living in harmony with the natural world and thoughtful development. What he saw happening to the landscape in the 19thcentury –new train tracks and industries expanding along the Hudson River –resonates with what artists and writers are responding to now. The project bridges art and ideas past and present but also inevitably is building new connections and conversations about how we might navigate today.”

Thomas Cole expressed his concern and regard for the American landscape through writing as well as painting and addressed the environmental impact of industrialization in his Essay on American Scenery, published in 1836. In the spring of 2018, the Thomas Cole Site launched its first call for writing and invited writers to respond to Cole’s Essay with their own writing and asked them to consider not only how the American landscape has changed but what should be preserved. The occasion sparked conversations between Greenwood and Menconeri that gave rise to the Landmark exhibition.

Among the contemporary visual artwork presented will be a selection of Ellen Driscoll’s large-scale works on paper from her recent Thicket series; Valerie Hammond will develop an iteration of her lyrical Forest installation; an immersive projection of William Lamson’s Infinity Camera will allow visitors a journey along New York waterways that defies a single viewpoint. Portia Munson’s Future Fossils will consist of an encased arrangement of common green plastic objects that both reflect and reject notions about ecology, resource consumption, and the persistence of plastics in the environment. Kenneth Ragsdale has produced a new site-specific installation for Landmark, titled Course of Empire. This work shares its title with Thomas Cole’s iconic 1836 painting series and expresses metaphorical cautionary concerns about the inevitable collision of expansion and consumption. Anne Roecklein’s panoramic vintage travel postcard collages are spliced-together landscapes both real and imagined; Lisa Sanditz’s vibrantly-hued paintings describe places in America that are both revered for their beauty and imperiled by human reach. In Kiki Smith’s 10-foot-high tapestry Harbor—jacquard-woven by Magnolia Editions—birds circle a rocky island amid star-studded sky and sea. A selection of Darren Waterston’s Ecstatic Landscape paintings reveals places habitable more by the spiritual than the corporeal form, and in Susan Wides’ I Kaaterskill series of photographs, relationships are drawn between Thomas Cole’s paintings of the Hudson Valley and those locations as they appear today.

The Essay contest, which was organized by 2017-2018 Cole Fellow Madeline Conley, received many outstanding responses. They were whittled down by a group of distinguished jurors: J. Jeffrey Anzevino, Land Use Advocacy Director, Scenic Hudson; Kathy Greenwood, Director, Art & Culture Program, Albany International Airport; W. Douglas McCombs, Chief Curator, Albany Institute of History and Art; Kate Menconeri, Curator, Thomas Cole National Historic Site; Nancy Siegel, Professor of Art History, Towson University; and Alan Wallach, Ralph H. Wark Professor of Art and Art History and Professor of American Studies Emeritus, Professorial Lecturer in Art History, George Washington University.

The seven writers whose work was selected for the exhibition are as follows: Sandra Dutton, author of six books for young readers, who resides in Catskill and teaches creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University; William Jaeger, a photographer and writer who lives in the Catskills and teaches photography and art criticism at the University at Albany; Jennifer Kabat, who lives in the western Catskills and teaches at The New School and whose essay “Rain Like Cotton” is in Best American Essays 2018; Herbert Nichols, a resident of Hudson, for whom this is his first published writing; Stephanie Nikolopoulos, a writer, editor, and writing instructor based in New York City; Justin Nobel, a magazine writer on science and the environment, who lives in Germantown and whose writing is in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014 and Best American Travel Writing 2016; and Sara Pruiksma, a resident of Albany County with a visual studio practice, who revisits her early passion of writing to further her creative voice. Their writings, alongside Cole’s original words, are a crucial component of the Landmark exhibition.

THE ALBANY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT’S ART & CULTURE PROGRAM: Since 1998, the Albany International Airport’s Art & Culture Program has sought to showcase the cultural vitality of New York’s Capital Region through exhibitions and installations throughout the Airport’s terminal. Such presentations enhance the experience of airport travelers and foster the advancement of a thriving creative community. The Art & Culture Program has become a cornerstone for demonstrating the breadth and quality of the arts throughout the Region as well as a resource for learning about local culture. Through exhibitions presented in the Albany International Airport Gallery and the Concourse Galleries, the Exhibition Case Program, free public programs and group tours, the Art & Culture Program has extended the reach of area artists and museums to an audience of more than 3 million people each year. Additionally, DEPARTURE, The Shop of Capital Region Museums –the retail arm of the Program –has become an important community service and a unique shopping venue lauded nationally and prized locally.

THE THOMAS COLE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE is an international destination presenting the original home and studios of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of painting, the nation’s first major art movement. Located on 6 acres in the Hudson Valley, the site includes the 1815 Main House; Cole’s 1839 Old Studio; the recently reconstructed New Studio building; and panoramic views of the Catskill Mountains. It is a National Historic Landmark and an affiliated area of the National Park System. The Thomas Cole Site’s activities include guided tours, special exhibitions of both 19th-century and contemporary art, printed publications, extensive online programs, activities for school groups, free community events, lectures, and innovative public programs such as the Hudson River School Art Trail—a map and website that enable visitors to visit the places that Cole painted. The goal of all programs at the Thomas Cole Site is to enable visitors to find meaning and inspiration in Thomas Cole’s life and work. The themes that Cole explored in his art and writings—such as landscape preservation and our conception of nature as a restorative power—are both historic and timely, providing the opportunity to connect to audiences with insights that are highly relevant to their own lives.

I am so thankful for The Albany International Airport and The Thomas Cole National Historic Site, as well as my friend Mark Chalfant and his friend who did the driving, for making this experience possible.

Also, thanks to all the media outlets that covered the exhibition, including:

(By the way, you can find out where else I’ve appeared in the media here.)

You can read my “Essay after Visiting the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Written from a Skyscraper” here.

Discover my other publications here.

 

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Everybody Goes Home in October

1 Oct

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Book Marketing in Train Stations

2 Mar

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I had a nightmarish situation at the train station the other night. I went out to Connecticut to visit a dear friend, and we got so wrapped up in conversation that I almost missed the last train of the night. She rushed me to the train station, where there were several others also waiting for the train.

Sigh of relief. I made it.

I ran to the ticket kiosk and purchased my ticket back to Grand Central. I thought I was just in the nick of time. The train would be pulling into the station any second.

But it didn’t.

Conversations with the several other confused bystanders led to various theories: the train had left early, the train was delayed. An app and the MTA website both said the train was delayed. We waited.

And waited.

No train. Some dude tried to get us to take an uber with him to Stamford. “It’ll get you a little closer,” he said. Not close enough, I thought. He left.

We waited some more.

Still, no train. A couple finally had enough of the waiting and also called an uber. They were going to Washington Heights and offered to split it with us. It was only going to be $80. Between 4 people that would be a bargain–especially considering the fact that I’d spent $22 purchasing the wrong ticket on the way out to Connecticut. My ever-hopeful friend believed that the train was just delayed, though, so we said we’d just wait.

And wait we did.

We waited over an hour for the train. We tried calling several numbers listed, but no one was working those late hours. There were no employees in the station. Was the train delayed over an hour? Was it canceled? Finally, an employee came by. She told us the train had come early and left without us. It was 1:45 in the morning, and the next train would come til 5am.

We tried to find an uber, but suddenly the prices had been raised to close to double of the original amount. That, and we no longer had anyone to split the cost with. The friend we were visiting told us we could crash at her place, but we hadn’t brought toothbrushes and new contacts and makeup. We endeavored to get home. We ubered back to the city, and I took a scary 3am subway ride home. I was the only woman in a train full of men. Not my wisest decisions, but I felt like I’d been leaking money and didn’t want to pay for a taxi home. I finally got in around 3:30am. I watched an episode of Frasier to unwind.

The good news in all of this is that I did a bit of free book marketing. The train station in Connecticut had a kiosk of free books, where straphangers were encouraged to take a book to read on the train. The selection was curious and random and lovely. Something for everyone. Maimonides. Edgar Cayce. Allison Pearson.

I’d heard of this take-a-book and leave-a-book trend before. And I’d experienced it years ago at hostels when I’d gone backpacking through Europe. It’s such a great way to meet new books.

I didn’t have a copy of Burning Furiously Beautiful on me, so I did the next best thing I could think of: I put a few postcards on the kiosk. What better author to read about on the train than Jack Kerouac, who was known for his intrepid travels?

 

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Experience Hellas Every Day of 2016

14 Dec

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I took this photograph in May of this year while standing on the beach across from my parents’ house in Greece. The name of the beach is Lagouvardos, which is part of the Peloponnese. I’d stolen one last look at the beach before I traveled back up to Athens to catch a plane.

Like the tides, I have a come-and-go relationship with Greece. It seems like I no sooner arrive, and it’s time for me to leave again. Perhaps like so many children of immigrants, I struggle with the concept of home. I call New York my home. I love the skyscrapers and window-shops, the fast-paced energy. It’s difficult in the beginning for me to settle into the quieter lifestyle of Greece, and yet soon it feels as if I’ve been there all along. Indeed, I’ve known my family’s house in Greece many years longer than the apartment I now live in in New York. More than that, it’s family that makes a home. It’s heartbreaking every time I have to leave.

I created Hellas: A 2016 Calendar to capture the natural beauty of Lagouvardos and Filiatra. The photographs show the blue, blue waters my father grew up swimming in; wildflowers that signify Greek resilience; our blue-and-white flag flying victoriously; and mountains rising toward heaven.

Experience the beauty of Greece every day of the year with Hellas, a 2016 calendar. The natural landscape of the Mediterranean comes to life in rich, colorful photography of Greek beaches, wildflowers, and lush palm trees. As you record your daily appointments in the calendar, the stresses of life will recede like the tide of the ocean in these stunning photographs.

Purchase your own copy of Hellas here.