10 Things Indie Authors Should Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

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In advance, happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I know not everyone here on WordPress celebrates manifest destiny and the destruction of a native people, but all the same, have a good one!

For most of us, Thanksgiving is about food, family, and giving thanks for everything we have. At least that’s what it means to me. And this year I’m grateful for many things, most of all getting to spend another holiday with my mother and being a published author.

I know I complain about the trials and tribulations of being indie author in today’s over-saturated and ever-volatile market, but there are many things that indie authors should be grateful for this thanksgiving. Here are ten:

1. A Variety of Alternatives to Traditional Publishing

2. Word of Mouth (AKA, Free Marketing) 

3. Positive Reviews

4. Any Reviews

5. The Internet

6. Local Bookstores and Libraries 

7. Librarians

8. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages  

9. Friends, family, and cats

10. Readers

Is there anything I forgot? What are you grateful for? Please share in the comments below and I’ll see you on Black Friday!

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So You Want to Make Money Writing Books? Excuse Me While I Laugh

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I imagine if you’re reading this post, you’re probably a writer (published or aspiring) who’s interested in knowing whether or not your dreams of becoming rich from your writing are possible. Excuse me while I laugh. Oh, wait. You’re serious? Let me laugh even harder.

Everyone knows that writing books is not profitable. According to statistics (I did not make up) only 30% of books published actually make a profit. The other 70% are lucky to even break even. (sadly, I can attest to that). So, knowing this information, why do we (authors, I mean) keep writing?

The obvious answer is we’re all a little crazy. Don’t bother trying to deny it. Haha! But insanity aside, every writer has their own reason for pursuing publishing. Whether it’s to fulfill a lifelong dream or to impress mom, all reasons are legit–unless you want to make a profit. Haha!

There’s a stigma in the writing community, especially among non-traditionally published authors, that authors who want to make a profit (even a little one) are selfish, unrealistic, and in it for the wrong reasons.

In defense of these authors, I would argue that the cost of production alone justifies wanting to make a profit. I, for one, cannot justify PAYING to publish when I have a mortgage and car payment solely under my name. And heaven forbid an independent author produce anything of lesser quality than a traditionally published worked. Well, editors, formatters, and cover artists don’t work for free. Time’s not cheap, either.

So, I do sympathize with authors who want to make a profit, even a little one. We just want to recoup enough earnings to keep doing what we love. Like an automotive technician or a teacher–you know, people allowed to make an earning doing what they love to do.

We’re not all in it to get rich, but wanting to make money doing what you love doesn’t make you a bad person or a heartless writer. It makes you a responsible person … who probably has bills to pay. Haha!

Now, get back to writing. And please excuse me while I laugh.

Some Humor to Brighten Your Monday Morning. You’re Welcome;)

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00030]Happy Monday, everyone! Or should I be perky at my own risk? Let’s face it, Monday’s suck. Especially when it rains. So, I’ve decided to share a short excerpt from my new novel, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other to brighten your day.

In this excerpt, our heroes Pig and Kay meet the famed Lady of the Lake. Before their encounter, Kay advises Pig to lower her expectations. The reader is welcome to keep theirs high;) Please enjoy:)


The seconds turned into minutes, the minutes into hours, and the hours stretched out into what to Pig felt like an eternity, though it was only midday. The farther they traveled, the denser the forest grew, and the thinner and muddier their path became. To Pig’s dismay, this only slowed their progress all the more.

“Are we there yet?” Pig threw back her head and wailed.

Kay turned and glared at her from the corner of his eye. “What did I tell you the last twenty times you asked me that dumb question?”

“You said I would know,” said Pig, mocking his tone.

“And do you think we’re there yet?”

“No.”

“Then we’re not there yet.”

“I’m sorry, Sir Kay, but I’m just so excited! I’ve never met a real celebrity before . . . except for you and Sir Lancelot—and King Arthur, of course. Oh, then there was Merlin and Sir Gawain—oh, what if she comes from the water and holds aloft the Holy Bread Box? It would mean God chose you to have it!”

“No, it wouldn’t mean that,” said Kay, swatting the mosquitoes that swarmed about his face. Like the foliage and the minutes, they, too, were increasing in number.

“Have you met her before, Sir Kay?”

“More times than I’d care to admit,” he said, frowning. The mosquitoes were relentless.

They did not bother Pig. She was immune to them by now, having spent so much time with them at the pits. Even a swarm of hornets would have little effect on her at this point. “What is she like? Can she breathe underwater?”

“She’s . . . unique.”

“Does she live in the pond or near the pond?”

“I’ve never actually seen her home,” said Kay after a short pause. “She’s always splashing around in the water.”

“Is she beautiful?” Pig assumed so. She just wanted to hear Kay say it.

“I’d imagine she’s a specific type.”

This did not sate Pig. “Is she kind? Can she sing? What is her favorite color?” The questions were just spilling out of her mouth as they formulated in her mind. She could not control herself.

“Just save your questions for when you meet her, Pig,” said Kay. “Just don’t waste her time with the silly ones.”

“I just can’t help it. I’m so excited!”

“So I gathered.”

“I just wish we’d get there already—what’s that terrible smell?” Pig’s nose picked up a familiar scent, but it was only similar to that of gong, not exactly the same. It was . . . more watered down.

“That would be our destination,” said Kay as he brought his horse to a stop and dismounted. When Pig did not follow immediately, he turned to her. “Are you coming? I thought you were impatient to meet her.”

“Yes, of course.” She hopped down from the saddle. After securing her pony next to Kay’s horse on a tree branch, she followed him to an old willow tree and waited as he parted the draping branches. Pig’s heart beat wildly in anticipation of the sparkling waters that would surely be revealed, but when the branches parted, they exposed a dank marshland.

“Here we are: the domain of the Lady of the Lake,” said Kay, allowing Pig to step through before him. “Of course, the term lake is being used liberally in this case.”

“Where is the lady?” Pig scanned the waters for movement, nearly tripping as she stepped back into a mushy spot of land. She pulled her foot out and gagged at the slimy substance clinging to her shoe.

“Come now, Pig. It can’t be worse than the sites and smells you encountered at your last job.” Kay chuckled.

“Yes, but one expects the pits to be unpleasant,” she said. “This is the mystical realm of the Lady of the Lake. It should be beautiful and enchanting. Where are the sparkling waters? The mystical fog? The baby ducklings?”

“You need to start setting your expectations lower,” said Kay.

Splash.

They both turned to face the pond. Pig’s eyes peered into the scum-covered water. Sure enough, someone or something was paddling over.

“Sir Kay, is that you?” It was the voice of a woman that spoke between gargled breaths as she came to the shoreline and pulled herself onto land.

Pig was shocked to see that aside from the stray foliage, shells, and pond scum that clung to her skin, she was absolutely naked. Thankfully, all of the naughty parts were covered by unimaginably long blonde hair* that reached down to her buttocks. Caught in the nappy tangles was an assortment of water life, some of which were still alive and flopping. Pig could not help but stare. The woman smiled as she came before Pig’s knight. “Kay, it is you.”

“Aye, it’s me,” said Kay, keeping his distance.

“My God,” she gasped as she looked him up and down. “You’ve gotten fat.”

“It’s taken me years to become so,” said Kay. His eyes ping-ponged about the marshlands, searching for something—anything—to look at other than the naked woman standing before him. Meanwhile, she smiled expectantly at him, waiting for a compliment in return. Coughing into his hand, he managed. “I see you’ve grown your hair out—a good decision.”

“Oh, thank you.” She smiled, fiddling with the ends. “I was actually thinking of cutting it.”

“I wouldn’t.”

Her smile widened. Then she turned her large blue eyes on Pig. “Who’s this?”

“Oh, that would be my new page, Pig.”

“Pig,” she said, a bit unsure, and then beamed as though a light bulb had gone on in her head. “I have just the thing for you in my waters, Pig. Be back in a jiff.”

Before either one could stop her, the lady was back in the lake, diving to the bottom of the water. Within minutes, she arose with a dagger, encrusted with jewels and a thick coating of rust.

“I present to you, young Pig, this gift,” said the lady as though she were speaking at an important ceremony rather than standing in the middle of a filthy pond. “Here take it.” She offered the dagger to Pig, who reached out for it in haste.

“No, she can’t have it.” Kay swatted Pig’s hand away and pushed the rusty thing back towards the lady.

“But, Sir Kay!” Pig watched in horror as the lady chucked it back into the waters.

“Quiet, lad.” Kay shot her a look of warning.

Pig slumped in defeat.

Turning back to the Lady of the Lake, Kay said in a more gentle tone, “Actually, if you don’t mind, I came for a specific item.”

“What is it Sir Kay seeks?” The lady tilted her head. “Perhaps I have it. There are all sorts of mystical treasures hidden in the waters. It’s God’s little treasure chest down there, and I am its keeper.”

“Er, right,” said Kay, avoiding her eerie gaze. “Well, I’m looking for a breadbox of sorts, possibly holy. Would you happen to have one of those floating about your pond?”

“I must consult with the powers that be,” she said, gaze drifting off. Then she stepped back into the center of the lake. “Be right back.” Sucking in a large chest full of air, she plugged her nose and sank to the bottoms of the water. Air bubbles popped at the surface of the water until there were no more. For a second, both Pig and Kay were sure she had drowned until, at last, she resurfaced, cradling an object in her arms.

“Sir Kay, I bestow upon you this.” She handed him a square metal item covered in holes. It too was rusted.

“A cheese grater?” Pig turned to Kay.

“It’s very nice, I’m sure,” said Kay to the lady. “But didn’t you find any holy bread baskets while you were down there?”

“I was not meant to give you this breadbox, nor do I know what one is,” she said, a little indignant. “It seems you were meant to carry out your quest.”

“That’s why I came here!” Kay groaned. “So I wouldn’t have to go questing.”

The lady took on a hurt expression. “And here I thought you missed me.”

“Oh, aye, that too.” Kay rubbed the back of his neck and turned away quickly as the lady leaned forward for a hug. “Well, better shove off, quest and all.”

“Farewell, Sir Kay,” The lady waved to him as she stepped slowly back into the lake, falling back into the waters with a loud splash. Pig and Kay watched her flail a bit before regaining her composure and sinking into the waters. Then they turned back.

“So, was she all you expected?” Kay asked Pig as he untethered his horse and led it back onto the path.

“She was more nautical than I imagined she would be,” said Pig after some thought. She waited until they had mounted their steeds and were back on the path before asking, “Why didn’t you let me have that dagger?”

“You’re not ready for one,” said Kay without missing a beat. “Besides, you won’t need one for this journey, as short as it will be.”

“Short?” Pig frowned. “What is our new destination?”

“The City of Un’Named,” said Kay after a moment’s thought. “The city hosts a huge market. There, we’ll purchase some supplies and one of those holy something or others.”

“Holy Breadbox,” said Pig. “And you can’t just buy a breadbox and call it holy.”

“Come on, lad. Do you think it actually exists?” Kay laughed. “It’s just some ridiculous vision that Merlin had. There’s no truth to it.”

“What about the Holy Grail? He also envisioned that.”

“Also a fake,” he said. “This is why the other knights are going to be finding their grails at a market as well. If they’re smart, they’ll split the cost.”

“But—”

“What did I tell you earlier?” said Kay. “It’s time for you to start lowering your expectations.”

*Blond being loosely used to describe her hair color.


The_Quest_eBook_coverThat’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed it. Knowing I brought a smile to someone’s face definitely brightens my rainy Monday morning.

If you’re interested in downloading a larger sample, click here to visit the Amazon sales site, no purchase necessary.

The book is available in both paperback and e-formats for those of you who would like to purchase it.

Again, Happy Monday to everyone!

The Right to Write: A Guest Post by Kimberly A. McKenzie-Klemm

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Happy Monday, everyone! Is there really such a thing as a “happy” Monday? Regardless, this post by Kimberly A. McKenzie-Klemm is sure to brighten your day. Please enjoy her thoughts on the right to write.

Take it from here, Kimberly!


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Fight for your right to write!

With the writing industry asking questions about Indie authorship, self-publishing, and on-line social media use, I think we (as writers) should consider our answer about why we have the right to write. As a relatively new novel author, a few friends of mine told me that it was “nice” that I had finished my first book but that having a book in print did not mean that anyone would read my work. Possibly, this is the most discouraging type of comment a new book author could have in response to achieving publication. Many reasons exist for traditional publishers and academicians going into battle with the current state of the writing community. Among those reasons are variations on the theme that writers should be carefully “chosen” by those placed in industry and scholarly pursuits to validate that the writing is “worthy” of a readership. It is a difficult endeavor to find support for better books written by relatively “unheard of” new writers without large marketing budgets.

On another note, there are people (not writers) whom assume it is the case that if someone understands the language and can put sentences together that individual could write as well as anyone else and that is all a writer’s craft is worth. I find that it is important, as a writer, to establish the reasons that writing is valid, professional, and print-worthy. I have found three personal characteristics that writers can cling to when facing up to their own validity:

1.  It has been said many times that “Writers write”. True to the nature of a writer’s craft, a writer’s style, voice, and ease with different formats will develop strength over time. If a writer is a serious writer, not just someone “trying to write” for a time, a writer will endure in the act of writing.

2.  Writers do not work in a vacuum. If a writer cannot speak about his or her work, defend his or her words, or is ashamed to release in public written works, then a writer has not established validity under personal commitment to the actual products of the writer’s pen.

3.  Writers work on their written words. A valid writer does not toss off sentences without putting it effort over the style, format, and revising and editing needed to showcase the intentions of the writing to the best of a writers capabilities and choices. Writers that do not have knowledge about the writing craft and art of the pen cannot validate their choices on the pages.

Other ideas over the right to write exist in the writing industry, but writing takes self-reliance to some degree and it is important for writers to have some form of personal viability to stand up against detractors from the writing craft.  I find that doubt about the “reality” of writing disappears with every word on every page. Writers will not fail to remain as long as reading and writing continues to be a part of the civilized world.

Slide1Kimberly A, McKenzie-Klemm was born in 1970 on Williams Air Force base in Arizona to Robert Klemm and Casandra McKenzie. The passion for writing has been with her life-long and she has been employed in the technical writing field across industries for ten years. Starting in poetry in her early twenties, Kimberly has written and published short stories and poems and authored three books: The Rest Room, The Dream of Keriye and Growing Past. She holds a B.S. in Business Management.

Please check out Kimberly’s website!

Happy Monday, all!

Industry Sins: A Guest Post by K.D. Rose

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It’s been less than two days since I made my request for guest bloggers, and already I’ve had an overwhelming number of responses! I want to start off by thanking everyone who answered the call. I will do my best to respond to you all in a timely manner and plan your post dates.

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Meet K.D. Rose

My first guest blogger is a real hoot. Meet K.D. Rose, poet and author of currently published works, Heavy Bags of Soul, Inside Sorrow, I AM, Erasing: Shadows, Anger’s Children, A Taste for Mystery, and her newest release, The Brevity of Twit.

Her poetry has been published in Candlelit Journal, the Voices Project, and showcased in the Tophat Raven Art and Literary Magazine. K.D.’s book, Inside Sorrow won the Readers Favorite 2013 international Silver Medal for Poetry. With fellow authors around the globe, KD was also a founding member of the e-magazine, INNOVATE. Check it out!

K.D. has an eclectic mind and loves language, physics, philosophy, photography, design, art, writing, symbolism, semiotics, spirituality, and Dr. Who. KD Rose is an avid supporter of music, the arts, cutting edge science, technology, and creativity in all forms. K.D also has a chronic illness but doesn’t let it get her down. K.D. considers herself a “Spoonie” on the lam.


Today, she’ll be discussing innovative e-readers. Take it from here, K.D. Rose!

I am a small-time author. By that I mean no best seller lists, small sales, etc. On the other hand I am also an immensely curious, well-studied, and eternally optimistic human being. Through-out my journey, both as an indie author and with publishers, I’ve noticed something. Indie and small-press authors should relate. What I noticed is how difficult it can be to publish e-books that consist of anything other than generic words in a generic font and .. and well, that’s it.

Generic words with a generic font are all we can seem to generate. By we, I refer to book distributors, meaning the big players of Amazon, and Barnes & Noble as well as the small presses. Then there’s Apple. The lone wolf of the technology world has some multi-touch books that have enhancements if you have an iPad. But Apple is rather useless to authors and publishing houses that do not have the time or money to put out complicated formats. These enhancements are not an innate part of the publishing process. Take it from an e-author. Even fonts are not up for discussion.

To make a living, authors and publishers need to be distributed by Amazon and other retailers who cannot yet accommodate these enhancements. Once an author has gone through the excruciating process of learning that his or her e-book must be formatted technically in multiple ways for multiple distributors, there’s relatively little money or energy left to fight for more.

However, I like to stay on the edge. And by edge I mean bleeding edge. You’ve heard of the cutting edge? Well the bleeding edge is where you’re so far ahead so people just look at you like you’re crazy. The concepts haven’t entered their mind yet. And it is so very important for concepts to enter minds—because how else do we create? We have to envision before we can create.

Yes, I want Dean Kamen’s clean water for the world!

Yes, I want Bill Gates’ next generation toilets in every third world country!

The point is, there are always pioneers, and as an author, I say that those pioneers need to get busy with books and more important; the industry should welcome these things with open arms. We know that e-books are “in” now and print books are still viable, but industry-wide enhancement of e-books is a murky, disturbed thought because it would require a way to bring together so many different types of formatting issues.

Here’s a few of the things I can’t do for large distribution:

  • I can’t use a smart pen to write on pages that my readers will see;
  • I can’t embed pictures easily into my e-book (or have them remain properly placed);
  • I can’t easily put links in my e-book for the readers to go other places related to the book;
  • I can’t place a video onto the page of my e-book for my reader to see.

Now, I can do all these things individually:

  • I can use my smart pen on my computer documents;
  • I can make a soundtrack to my book and share it using social media;
  • I can put a link in my book to go to a website where more links are available;
  • I can go to a vanity press and make a beautiful book full of pictures.

None of this helps an author. As an author my needs are simple. I need to be published and I need people to buy my books. However, as an author and someone who loves advances in every discipline, I want more. I conceive of more. I also know that in a few years, others will want more. Those babies playing with baby smart phones today are your e-book customers of tomorrow. They will expect more. The kids using smart-phones right now expect more. Now.

Here’s what I envision as de facto parts of an e-book:

  • An e-book that I can open and see pictures on any page. Pictures of characters, pictures of scenes, whatever, seamlessly integrated into my story;
  • An e-book where I can open a page and there is a video where all I have to do is click to see the video, because the video was important to the scene;
  • an e-book where I open up the page and see drawings by hand that the author wanted to show me, in between the print;
  • Multiple fonts used when needed for part of the story that I, as a reader, can enjoy; I envision buttons where all I have to do is click, as a reader, to hear the music the author is talking about to set any scene;
  • Multiple colors on text, not even used sparingly, as part of telling a story that I, as the reader need to see to ‘get it’;
  • A button on the e-book that will let me hear the book as an audio book if I so choose, rather than reading it;
  • A button on the e-book that will convert the format immediately to whatever mobile phone I happen to have so I can read it on there instead (because now I am out the door somewhere and don’t want to lug anything else). Or the other way around, because now I’m home and I want to read on something larger; I envision all these things available as an innate part of the publishing process.

Here are a few that distributors’ should care about:

  • Links that take me, as a reader, directly to the distributor site to buy the next book in the series, or any other book by that author;
  • Links that take me to an excerpt of that authors next book or any of that author’s books, which I can then click and buy if I choose.
  • Links that allow me to share a message of how good the book was on multiple social media accounts.

I’m sure there’s more. In fact, I am positive there is more because I am not a baby with a smartphone or a kid getting bored with e-books or reading in general because there is so much more at my fingertips on other devices. What do you envision? What can we make happen? Most important: when can we make it happen as a general industry practice?

I leave you with questions.


In the infamous words of Porky Pig, “That’s all folks!” Be sure to check out K.D.’s blog, website, and or connect with her on Twitter, Tumbler, Google +, InstagramLinkedin, Goodreads, and Facebook. And be sure to stay tuned for more awesome guest blogs!

Questions About Self-Publishing? Ask them During the Live Facebook Chat – All About Self-Publishing

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On the 28th, which is this Thursday, I’ll be participating in a live Facebook chat concerning self-publishing. From 9 pm to 10 pm, me and fellow author Rachelle M. N. Shaw will be discussing our own experiences in self-publishing, sharing not only what’s worked for us but also what’s not worked. Participants will be able to post specific questions, and Rachelle and I will do our best to answer them. Rachelle will also be asking me a few specific questions she thinks everyone will benefit from.

Also, as an added bonus, I will be doing a giveaway for a FREE Kindle copy of my debut novel, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other. Rachelle’s Paranormal Horror story, The Eyes That Moved is available now for FREE on Amazon!

The event is open to anyone and everyone who’d like to join. Please visit this link to join. If you’re having trouble please feel free to contact me for assistance or an invite.

Hopefully, I’ll see some of you there. If not, please feel free to share this event with your friends via Facebook, WordPress, and/or Twitter! The more the merrier. Authors helping authors is what being an Indie author is all about!

Are Local Author Events Worth Doing? Reflections from Friday’s Read Local Library Book Fair

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My booth set-up.

On Friday, May 1st, as part of First Friday’s in downtown Kokomo Indiana, the Kokomo Howard County Public Library (KHCPL) hosted a book fair featuring local authors from Howard and neighboring counties. Nearly 30 authors participated on that day, including me and my friend Teri Robison, author of The Secrets of Heavenly. 

I had low expectations going into this event considering the library has hosted similar events in the past with little success. The media coverage was sparse to say the least. My own feature in the Kokomo Tribune had run several months ago, and all of the articles the week of the event focused more on Saturday’s speaker rather than on Friday’s authors. With that in mind, I only brought about 30 books and half of my table decorations.

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Even mom showed up to offer her support!

However, once the event got underway, and once I sold a couple copies of my book, my expectations quickly rose. In less than three hours, I met with over 15 potential new readers and sold about a dozen copies of my book, which is cash in my pocket. Several of those readers recognized me from cosplay conventions. Several others were excited to hear about my book and future projects. It’s safe to say, I’ve made a few new fans who I can’t wait to see again at future events. Not only that, but I had a great time interacting with everyone who stopped by my booth. When the night was over, I was reluctant to pack up and leave.

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Working the buddy system

So, do I think local author events are worthwhile?

Yes!

Not only do they provide opportunities to sell your books, but they are also a great way to meet the local readers, encourage literacy in your community, and practice talking about your book. You’ve got nothing to lose but a couple of bucks and a few hours of your time, which are well spent.


Here are some ways to make the most out of any author event:

  • Bring lots of books. Better to have too many than not enough.
  • Hand out bookmarks and business cards with your websites.
  • Showcase your blog or social media site as part of the display.
  • Decorate your table with bright colors and fun items.
  • Include one conversation piece as part of your display.
  • Include a sign-up sheet for your newsletter.
  • Bring change in a money box.
  • Dress to impress.
  • Arrive early and stay late.
  • Smile and engage your audience.
  • Talk about your book.
  • Share your sense of humor.
  • Mark your prices lower than Amazon so readers get a deal.
  • Direct them to Amazon reviews while you chat.
  • Did I say smile?
  • Bring a buddy. Work the buddy system.

Anyway, I hope you find that advice helpful. Most of those tips were shared to me by Author M. T. McGuire, who I greatly admire. She’s the one who told me about the “conversation piece,” which by the way, really works! Mine is a stuffed rabbit from Monty Python. Fans of the movie hurried to my booth to play with the rabbit and learn more about my book.

And of course, thanks again to everyone who showed their support on Friday! Happy Monday!