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Category Archives: In The News

Does the IRS Pay Interest? #Taxes #Adoption

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Unless the envelope is orange-ish, most Americans don’t like seeing the IRS return address on a piece of mail. (The orange envelope contains a paper check for a refund.) Most folks know that if you don’t pay your tax bill by a certain date (or make arrangements for quarterly payments), the interest will begin to mount on what you owe. But does the IRS pay interest if they owe you money over a certain time?

Our family had some tax complications due to adopting children and moving around for my husband’s job with the military. Adopted children are initially assigned a temporary number, the ATIN, used on tax paperwork for up to two years while the parents sort out issues with Immigration & Naturalization, re-adoptions in home states (for international adoptions), and other paperwork that continues long after you’ve brought your precious child home. screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-1-43-57-pm

Unfortunately, we received bad information from an immigration official who told us our sons would have to live in the US for two years before we could apply for their citizenship. It just so happened that we were stationed in the US when we got this erroneous info, so we waited the two years. The ATIN numbers expired, we finally got citizenship for them and passports as the US Army moved us back overseas.

Problem, we were now living overseas and filing our 1040 with the IRS, but we did not have social security numbers for our younger two sons. The Social Security Administration would not accept Citizenship documents, or US passports–they wanted birth certificates from a US state. Federal stuff was no good.screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-1-46-16-pm

We tried registering foreign birth and had issues with our state of legal record because they wanted us to prove we were legal residents of that state at the time of the adoption. The state would not accept the letter from the US Army listing my husband’s legal address as also being my legal address as well. The fact that we both have drivers licenses from there, vehicles registered there, and even vote in elections there was not good enough proof.  Eventually we had to hire a lawyer in our home state and adopt our children again (which was very confusing to them. They’d been with us for over two years. “Aren’t you already our parents?” “Are we your children or not?”).

This all took another two years during which we dutifully filed our tax returns and continued to list the expired temporary identification number. After we filed, the IRS would send a letter adjusting our return because they removed our two youngest children from their equation.

Finally, we received those social security cards in the mail. Yay! It was a day to celebrate. It was also a day to begin our amended tax returns for the past two years. The most recent year we owed money because our book sales and one investment took us over the edge to pay for the first time. That amended return only showed us owing less.

For the year before that, however, the IRS owed us $2000, as shown on the amended return. We received a white envelope with the IRS return address and opened it to good news; the letter affirmed the amount owed was $2000. There was no indication any interest would be paid.

Did the IRS pay us interest on the amount they had owed us for two years?

Yes, they did. When our orange-ish envelope came, I am pleased to report the total amount on the check included interest.

Makes me wonder about that audit from so many years ago. Turns out, years of interest only accumulate if you owe the IRS, because you’ve only got three years to file that amended return.

(Disclaimer: I am in no way a tax professional, and this blog does not constitute advice on tax issues. If you have a situation, please consult the IRS or your own personal tax professional.)

Related Posts:

How My Audit Happened

How to Amend Your Federal Tax Return

Adoption Tax Credit 2016

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Kristin King is a paranormal fiction author, military spouse, and mother to four sons. She is contracting new covers for her vampire series, after which the first novel will become a free ebook. Rather than blogging about books and writing, which would make too much sense, she blogs about travel, food, living abroad, current events and other random topics.

 

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2017 in Adoption, In The News

 

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Return to Refugees in Holland #Expat

Photo from Wittenborg-Online.com with "Faces of Change" Professor Saskia Harkema

Photo from Wittenborg-Online.com with “Faces of Change” Professor Saskia Harkema

When I wrote about The Refugees in My Town, I hoped to give you some insight about how things are in The Netherlands. My friend I mentioned continues her volunteer work collecting items for these folks to use as they settle into new housing around our area of the country. She posted on Facebook, and I asked if I might share her up close and personal experience with you. It’s the news behind the news that you’ll never hear otherwise.  Thanks, Friend. –Kristin

(Anonymous Post)

Just wanted to share a quick refugee update since I haven’t done so in a while. Today I spent this glorious sunshine filled day with some wonderful people. I volunteered at the refugee clothing center in the am and was greeted by smiles, hugs, and kisses. Some of these folks I have now known for 6 months. I got to hear people share their stories and both good and bad news of their lives.

A young Syrian man, who a friend donated new soccer cleats last year, shared great news about finally being accepted by a Dutch competitive club. This is wonderful for him because 3 weeks ago he was sharing that his current local team was not being kind or helpful to him and he didn’t feel like “part” of the team and was thinking of quitting. At that time I encouraged him not to let this bad experience stop him for doing what he loved. Today he was beaming to finally have teammates who encouraged him and he is hoping to continue to play with them even when he gets status and has to move out of the camp.

Photo credit dutchnews.nl

Photo credit dutchnews.nl

I met and assisted another man find a stroller and clothes for his newborn son and the pride in his eyes and excitement for the future was so moving. Finally I spent the afternoon with a mother and her 14-year-old son who recently got status and gave them a ride to their new home to check it out before moving in next week and brought them donations of household items. Their home is 45 km from camp and it is very expensive by train and bus for them to go. Our language in common was basic HS French which was so fun to muddle through with her. We picked up her brother and wife, who have lived in NL for three years, and they shared with us they think they may be expecting a baby and can’t wait to find out if is true. The brother speaks great English and we had an enlightened discussion about tolerance, finding commonalities, diversity, and the funny, and sometimes aggravating, aspects of living in a country that is not your birth country.

How lucky am I? It humbles me to be able to assist in some small way. I thank our amazing expat group for the donations. You make so many people feel at home in their new country. These are some of the bravest, sincere, and hopeful people I have ever met. Makes me want to be a better person. Now I have to go make dinner for the family I am lucky enough to spend time with. There are so many of these refugees missing people at their dinner table each and every night…Much love…

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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in In The News, Living in Holland

 

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Muhammad Ali Philanthropy and Me #MuhammadAli #GOAT #ALI

Ali quote Make the days countThe moment I saw the news, I knew I would have to write about Ali, about our connections however tenuous. At first it was impossible to put my thoughts together. All week long news feeds, photos, quotes, and videos about him drew me away from whatever else I was working on. My last post about the connections I keep seeing between world events and my life was in my mind (Inside the UCLA Shooting).

When as a child I heard Muhammad Ali say he was “The Greatest” I believed him. Why wouldn’t I? My Mom and Dad, two of the greatest people I knew, were both born and raised in Louisville. My grandmothers both lived there where I spent numerous holidays and weeks of summer vacations. My brother watched Ali’s fights, rooting for the most famous of Louisville’s favored sons. Great people came from Louisville. Why not the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time)?

Born January 17, 1942, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was 13 months older than my father. I grew up thinking they attended the same school, or that perhaps my grandmother, a local teacher, taught young Cassius who didn’t change his name till 1964. As it turns out, I was wrong on both counts. My youthful imagination already made stories. Until hearing about Ali, it had never occurred to me that you could change your name to anything you wanted. To me that was pretty darn cool. Despite my youthful error, there are a couple of connections.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 10.49.18 AMAngry about a stolen bike, Cassius ran into a local gym where cops worked out. Telling Sergeant Joe Martin how he wanted to whip the thief, Martin told the 86 pound 12-year-old that he should learn how to fight first, and Martin became his first trainer taking him up to his Golden Gloves days when my father first hear of him. Since my grandfather was the superintendent of the traffic division, he was Officer Martin’s supervisor at some point earlier in his law enforcement career.

Hearing this story I had to wonder, was this the kind of encounter a black youth in 1954 expected to have in a gym full of cops? Kentucky is a mid-southern state, and Louisville was its largest city. Experience in Europe has shown me that some Europeans think the movie “Selma” represents what all of America was like in 1965. Obviously that’s not so, even if Americans of subsequent generations think pretty much the same thing. Consider Louisville in 1957 as my father described it:

Certainly, I remember the news coverage, and the brutality of the Alabama police, but south Alabama is so far removed from Kentucky, and I don’t mean just in road distance: I mean culturally as well….In Louisville…the schools were desegregated in 1957 without incident (to my knowledge).  I was in the seventh grade at Shawnee Junior High, and the integration of black kids into our classes, lunchrooms, and gym were a non event.

15-year-old Cassius must have had a slightly different experience of racism from those raised in the deep south. Certainly whites-only restaurants persisted, like the one Ali was turned away from not long after returning home with his 1960 Olympic gold medal. (He said the medal was lost and not thrown into the Ohio River in anger, debunking an oft-repeated urban legend).

Outside the ring, Ali’s refusal to submit to the Vietnam draft was one of the biggest news stories of his young career. My father remembers, “He and I both had to appear for our draft physical on the same day. The only difference was that I was standing in line with fifty or sixty other guys in our underwear waiting to see the doctor, when he came down the hall with his attorney, and went right in. He was already famous by then.” Gee, I hope they didn’t interrupts anybody…coughing.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.13.04 PMThe coverage of Ali’s boxing career and rise to fame was everywhere on the web this last week. What strikes me, though, is what he did with that fame and admiration. Certainly he used it in the civil rights movement. Some speculate that it was his first trip to Africa that opened his eyes to his larger world-wide influence. His “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman in Kinshasa (where we adopted our younger sons) is humorously titled in my opinion when I think of how large the city was even at that time. He road through the streets sitting behind the sunroof of a slow-moving vehicle, hands stretching out to meet the thousands reaching for him. That I cannot relate to.

However, I know what it’s like for Africa to open your heart, take a piece, and never return it. Co-founding Future Hope Africa in the DR Congo and sponsoring two Ethiopian children’s education and welfare through Compassion International are two of the ways I answered the call to make a difference.

Ali answered a call as well, and I wish there was more information on Muhammad Ali’s philanthropy work being tagged and shared. That is perhaps where his greatest legacy remains. In his retirement, Ali devoted much of his time to philanthropy. Over the years he supported the Special Olympics and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, among other organizations. He traveled to numerous countries, including Mexico and Morocco, to help those in need.Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.14.56 PM

Mr. Ali first came to the UN in 1978 to address the UN Special Committee against Apartheid with a message of peace and spirituality. He brings people from all races together by preaching “healing” to everyone irrespective of race, religion or age. Over the years Mr. Ali has been a relentless advocate for people in need and a significant humanitarian actor in the developing world, supporting relief and development initiatives and hand-delivering food and medical supplies to hospitals, street children and orphanages in Africa and Asia. (From Ali’s “United Nations Messenger of Peace” page)

Muhammad Ali became an ambassador for peace beginning in 1985, when he flew to Lebanon to secure the release of four hostages. Ali also has made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea; delivered over $1 million in medical aid to Cuba; traveled to Iraq to secure the release of 15 United States hostages during the first Gulf War; and journeyed to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison.(Look To the Stars)

Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox

Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox

When Ali announced in 1984 that he had Parkinson’s disease, he entered another fight. You may remember that Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed in 1991, did a series of commercials with Ali that juxtaposed the big man and the small both working toward a cure. That’s the video I’d like to share with you. Living in Arizona, Ali also raised funds for Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix. Fox called Ali “a peaceful warrior.”

In 2005, Ali received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. He also opened the Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, that same year. “I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given,” he said. “Many fans wanted to build a museum to acknowledge my achievements. I wanted more than a building to house my memorabilia. I wanted a place that would inspire people to be the best that they could be at whatever they chose to do, and to encourage them to be respectful of one another.”

About a week and half ago I was browsing the sports section of our international school library in The Netherlands picking out books for my children to read this summer. A few days later we woke to the news that Muhammad Ali had died. “I just brought a biography home for the kids to read about him,” I said. My husband responded to my angst with, “You didn’t kill him by checking out that book.” What a coincidence though.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.22.50 PMMany of my cousins still live in Louisville, and they took their children to stand along the funeral route Friday and then posted photos of the historical procession to Facebook. Muhammad Ali is buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill National Cemetery, a last crossroads for us.

In college I remember navigating the 296-acre cemetery, taking lefts at most forks in the narrow road till I reached a right-hand turn near the brick, back wall. From that winding bit of pavement, I spotted my grandmother’s stone, stopped the car, and laid flowers before wandering to look for nearby relatives.

Perhaps the next time I visit I’ll wander a bit farther, see the grotto, take my children to feed the ducks at the pond, and pay my respects at the grave of Muhammad Ali. I will tell them how he was much more than a boxer, how he fought for the rights of himself and others, how he used his fame to help poor and oppressed people around the world, and how The Greatest defined being great.

During his boxing days Ali said, “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” It’s one of his most famous quotes. I like this other one better myself.  Hana Ali repeated these oft spoken words of her father.

“Nothing makes us greater than the next person but the heart. If you want to be greater than someone than you have to have a great heart.” –Muhammad Ali

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Kristin King is a native of Kentucky, an author, and co-founder of Future Hope Africa. She is working on her third novel and closely monitoring the crowdfundraiser her nonprofit is running for Vacation Bible School in the Congo where for a limited time your gift will be doubled! She encourages others to “answer your call” whatever it may be.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2016 in In The News, Moments

 

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The Refugees in My Town

The Dutch building a camp for 3K refugees near Nijmegen.

The Dutch building a camp for 3K refugees near Nijmegen.

Several friends and family members have asked after the refugee situation here in Holland. They have heard all the worst incidents in the EU from news reports back home. Before my blog moves to a month focused on Historical Treasure during the A to Z Blog Challenge, I wanted to address the refugee issue from a personal point of view.

In the Netherlands, organization and compassion seem to prevail when dealing with this new influx of residents. The refugee camp near our home is quiet and a curfew is enforced. The Dutch Red Cross, and the Salvation Army offer support and local church groups host classes and activities. Every few days I see another call in local media outlets for ways we can all help out. The newspaper, the weekly school forum, even my husband’s work newsletter keeps us updated on what is needed for these strangers in a strange land. Earlier the call was for socks, men’s small and medium pants, underwear, winter coats and sportswear for them to take part in local athletic activities. The camp near us is all men on their own. Not all are single, but all are here without family.

My friend H. volunteers at a refugee camp for families not too far away. The calls there go out for baby items, strollers, pre-school children’s clothes. She has stacks of donated clothes in her garage that she sorts through to take what is needed most to the camp for distribution. I heard recently a group donated 20 bicycles, new and refurbished, to the camp. I thought how wonderful especially in a country where bikes are a passport to freedom of travel and integrating into life here. People are coming together with support and kindness.

There was an old joke that said, “How do you recognize an American tourist in Europe?” The answer said, “By their brand new white tennis shoes.” In my neighborhood something similar could be said for spotting refugees.

Needing a bit of fresh air, a writer friend and I took a quick walk near her down town home. Beneath the tower of the church, two men with bright new shoes approached and asked in slightly broken English where the church school was. We weren’t sure, but she said where she thought which happened to be the way we were walking. For a block, my curious friend peppered these refugees with questions.

What is your first language? How did you learn English? How is it going in the camp? How is the food?

The name of their first language was one I recognized due to some familiarity with the area of Ethiopia. They were from Eritrea, took English there and moved here. It was good in the camp, they said. Food was good. They said they were “well satisfied” with it all.

We wished them well at the next intersection. I was grateful my outgoing friend with such an inquisitive nature took a walk with me. I had naively pictured Syrian refugees and not realized the flood of immigrants comprised such diverse peoples from so many countries. Between January and October 2015 more than 45.000 people sought asylum in the Netherlands. The majority were Syrians, followed by people from Eritrea, Iraq and Afghanistan.

As I reflect on the refugee presence in The Netherlands, at least how I have experienced it, there is much to inspire hope. The refugees’ needs pull diverse people together to lend aid, offer resources, and teach classes on many subjects. A friend asked me, “How have the refugees changed your Dutch experience?” Well, it gives me great admiration for this country where the world comes together not only in terms of residents from around the globe, but also in terms of the 20+ international organizations such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice that are headquartered in The Hague alone.

Have I heard nothing bad? A Dutch reporter was attacked, and other isolated incidents are easy to find online. But near us there was only one item. A woman on a locals Facebook group was walking her dogs on the beach and was confronted by a man walking towards her exposing himself in an…active manner. The man was described as “Middle Eastern” looking and nothing like this was ever reported before the camp opened. Women were urged to be cautious walking alone and to report anything unsavory to the police.

On a practical level, though, my day-to-day expat experience has changed in only one significant way. I am now extra cautious when driving a car through roundabouts. Bikes have the right of way, but they are supposed to follow the order of traffic proceeding around the circles to the right. Since the camp opened I have seen bicyclers going the wrong way more often, coming from the unexpected direction into the intersection I was entering by car. Two of these incidents appeared to involve men in those tell-tale bright tennies. With such a large percentage of expats living in our community though, who is to say? These sighting are more common in the summer moving season as well.

Yes, there are refugees and camps near us in Europe. What do I tell friends and family members who ask about the situation? I am not a person who gets into political debates. Instead, I tell them about the charitable persons, orderly opportunities, and how I see refugees experiencing this country as I did for the 1st time not so long ago. I suspect if a member of the press happens across my blog, the only item to show up in their report would be the negative one. My hope is that you now have a bit more insight beyond what hits the front pages. I can only speak for my little corner of the world where the news is overwhelmingly good and lacking sensationalized material.

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Kristin King is the president of an NGO, a speaker, author, mother, dog lover, US Army wife and citizen of the world currently living the expat life in Holland. She will not be addressing the US Presidential election in any of her upcoming blogs.

 

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2016 in In The News, Living in Holland

 

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My First Bar Mitzvah – Part One (Anti-Semitism in EU)

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 2.42.53 PM My 4 stop-light hometown didn’t have a synagogue. In fact the nearest one was a 45 minute drive away. So it’s no surprise that my first Bar Mitzvah experience is later in life as I embrace being an expat in the Netherlands. With little idea of what to expect and with no faith that Hollywood depictions would serve me very well, I did a little research to discover what to wear, what gifts are appropriate, what cultural traditions would I encounter and what did they mean?

What I didn’t prepare for was anti-Semitism. I wasn’t concerned for my safety or that of my eldest son as we navigated The Hague and found parking last Saturday morning. Little did I know that a similar place of worship would be attacked in London that same day.

What was my first clue that maybe my great parking place wasn’t so great after all? The four heavily armed and Kevlar-vested police were notable. The striking difference between the open doors at Christian places of worship I’ve been to and the locked doors of the synagogue with a plainclothes man choosing who to buzz in and who not. This layman and another took turns manning the door, checking unfamiliar people (like my son) off a guest list, and eventually made a security announcement later that the afternoon.

The courtyard view (i.e. not street side) of the synagogue we attended.

The courtyard view (i.e. not street side) of the synagogue we attended.

“We are locking the front doors,” he said. “You are welcome to continue to enjoy the celebration. The police will remain on duty outside, and you can use the cellar door. Please remember to leave in groups no larger than 2 or 3.”

Had I not known those 4 police were within a couple of meters of my car for the whole morning, I would have checked my family minivan for car bombs.The threat is real and came home to me, a small town girl from Kentucky.

My heart and prayers go out to folks the world over whose faith is tested each week, whose courage is demonstrated simply by showing up for worship. My thoughts and prayers go beyond to those who gather in secret lifting up songs of praise to God even though the threat of prison, death and other persecutions hang over them.

When I planned to write about this experience, I hadn’t considered this angle. Now I’ll never forget. For part two, though, I’ll focus on what the actual Bar Mitzvah and Shabbat were really like.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher, and an American expat living in Holland. 

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Events, In The News

 

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Actors Receiving Their First Academy Award Nominations in 2015

J.K. Simmons spotted across genres in photos on IMDb.

J.K. Simmons spotted across genres in photos on IMDb.

It must be a great thrill for an actor to receive his/her first Oscar nomination. Those who are in that category are listed below. Last weekend my husband and I were youtubing the Super Bowl commercials one of which featured J.K. Simmons, an actor with 149 credits on IMDb. His is a recurring face that you immediately know you’ve seen several places but might be hard pressed to recall the roles or movies. It’s great to see him break into the academy’s notice.

Several of the other nominees were of interest to me as I glanced them over. First was that Patricia Arquette’s move from movies to tv and back again doesn’t seem to be holding her back. Second, as much as Steve Carell’s performances have produced laughter, it took a serious dramatic role for him to earn the academy’s attention. Third, although many folks hardly recognize Eddie Redmayne’s name, his performance of “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” was (IMO) the greatest rendition in the latest Les Miserables movie and is forever embedded in my mind.

Finally, Michael Keaton did you say? Yes! As a long-time fan I’m pulling hard for him to take home the gold.

Other actors are notable for their increasing number of nominations, prior wins and notable achievements–click-through here. Next up, how I missed most of this years nominees…

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and the first novel in the  Begotten Bloods Series is “Cain’s Coven.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in In The News

 

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Awards for the Most Spiritually Uplifting Movies and TV Shows

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.25.04 PM When I ran across these different sort of award nominees, I decided to include them this week as eyes turn toward the Academy Awards. No gold statues for this prize, instead the award is $100,000. The only overlap with the Oscars is that Reese Witherspoon stars in “The Good Lie” and “Unbroken” makes this list for movie rather than for Cinematography, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.

 

Movie Nominees:Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.58.16 PM

  • The Giver
  • God’s Not Dead
  • The Good Lie
  • Heaven Is For Real
  • Little Hope Was Arson
  • Son of God
  • Unbroken

TV Show Nominees:

  • The Gabby Douglas Story
  • Duck Dynasty:Home for the Holidays
  • The Last Ship:Phase 6
  • When Calls the Heart
  • Paper Angels
  • Love Finds You in Sugarcreek
  • Louis Zamperini:Captured By Grace

Catch these awards on REELZChannel Saturday, Feb. 21, and Monday, Feb. 23. For more information on past winners, how prize money is divided and funded visit TheMovieGuide.org.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and the first novel in the  Begotten Bloods Series is “Cain’s Coven.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Beyond the Book, In The News

 

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