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Just Be Yourself

Hello friends,

I’ve been thinking lately about all the blogging/branding advice I’ve been reading lately. There’s so much of it, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Following the usual advice has sometimes done me some good but I found the one thing that has worked best for me is…

Being myself.

The dork. The nerd. The clown. The sometimes potty-mouthed and dirty-minded weirdo that I am. Sometimes vulnerable. Sometimes sad. Determined. The failure. Struggling writer. True.

The true me–is the me that people connect with.

Lesson –Just be yourself!

The you that you truly are–no matter what that looks like–is bound to be better than anything artificial you try to portray.

Did you know that I had another blog and also a different Twitter account that I up and deleted one day? It’s true. I wiped everything clean and started new.

I wasn’t having any fun at all portraying myself as a serious person. And although I am serious about working hard to improve my writing and creating quality books, I am–at heart–a big, goofball weirdo freak. I think my freakery shows up in my writing. So why should I pretend to be someone else and shock people when they read my writing where a woman discusses her friend’s sascrotch? They are likely to get confused, or worse, put off. Best to be honest about who I am from the start, don’t you think? (I promise there is nothing dirty, or inappropriate in my children’s books–unless farting disgusts you.)

Yes, I’m a writer. But does that mean I have to put my (computer, not prescription) glasses in the corner of my mouth and say, “mmm, yes,” as I ponder the symbolism built into my serious literary work?

Pllllllttttttt! I take my work seriously but not myself.

On Friday, I felt the need for a break from my work-in-progess and tweeted this out…

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As you can see, it got quite a good response. 😂 😂 I’ve been drawing like crazy, especially that first day. I didn’t write. I didn’t do much tweeting of anything else.

But you know why I kept drawing and drawing? Because it was fun. And it’s still creative. Which I believe has a positive impact on my writing. Some of my drawings gave me the giggles so hard I thought my ribs might crack. Unbelievably, (especially for Twitter–you users know this) there has been no trolling on the entire thread and only one person tried to bring politics into it (insert eye roll) and isn’t that fantastic?!?! The best part has been that more than one person has said that reading the thread brightened their whole day.

True, it didn’t bring in book sales (not completely true, one person who discovered me did buy one) but I made people laugh and smile. And this thread kinda is me telling a story, isn’t it? And that’s what I love to do anyway. I’m showing my personality. –telling a little mini picture story about who I am.

Making money is nice but the saying is true, the best things in life are free. I love that I’ve connected with people. And with the nasty, hate-flinging tweets I see day after day, I’m happy that I may have been a ray of sunshine cracking through the muck for someone.

Here are a just a few of the doodles I did…

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If you’d like to look through the whole thread, you can find it here.

I did get my editing in this morning and I’m hoping to do some writing but I’m also going to be drawing more because, believe it or not, more people are waiting and I don’t want to let them down. I want to keep sending smiles (and maybe some giggles) out into this cranky world.

I am going to take a moment to request that if you enjoy my blog that you give me a follow. Also, if you’d like to buy one of my books, the link to my amazon page is here.

If you have read either of my books. I’d also like to kindly ask you to leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Reviews go a long way in helping indie authors like me find new readers.

I’m also posting my adult works on Chapterbuzz. You can find the link to that here.  I’d be thrilled to get more “buzzes” and feedback there. (Those works are in progress and haven’t been fully edited.) You can find some of them on this blog under the tab, “Sneak Peeks.”

Please and thank you! I appreciate all the love you’ve shown me and my work more than you can imagine.

Until next Sunday, keep smiling!

Allie 💕

 

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Here I go, yet again

Here I go, yet again

A few things about me before I begin this blog post:

  1. I love to tell stories, always have.
  2. Every day I fight the voice in my head that tells me I’ll always be a failure
  3. I’m awfully stubborn.

1 & 3 are the only way I can fight 2. 2 is always telling me to quit. 1 is the biggest reason I’ll keep pushing, keep failing, keep picking myself up and trying again.

What am I doing to fight the voice that says I’m a failure?

I remind myself of a few things:

There are a lot of people out there who want to write a book, haven’t, and probably never will. I have, over and again.

There are also a lot of writers out there who don’t share their work. I understand that. I’ve been sharing for a few years now. I’ve been trying to put myself out there more and more no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel.

I’ve done things in my past that scared me and made me push myself to succeed. I try to put myself back in the place I was in during those times when the thought of failure gripped me tightest. This helps me remember how helpless and hopeless I felt then, yet, I succeeded in the end.

What’s making me feel like a failure now?

Marketing myself and finding new readers. This seems like mission impossible. I wish I had the budget to do a massive marketing campaign, but I don’t. The writers I see succeeding are those that have lots of dollars behind them (I’m not saying their books are good, but I bet there are a lot of great books that go unnoticed because they can’t pay for the buzz that comes from a great marketing campaign–both indie and traditionally published authors.) I just read an article yesterday about an indie author whose debut novel sold over 10,000 copies. He said the key to his success was spending the money on a intensive marketing campaign.

I’m putting all my extra money into opening another business at the moment and chose to spend my writing budget on editing and cover art. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll have more money to sink into marketing, but I just don’t have those funds available right now.

While I work on the other project and wait to have these funds available, I feel like I’m stuck. There’s only so much I can do on my own with a shoestring budget to try to get the word out about my book. But I don’t think there are a lot of people out there who are willing to take a chance on an unknown author. Maybe this is bad of me to say, but I feel like a lot of people just buy into the buzz that comes from reading something on the NYT bestseller list.

What steps am I taking to push forward until I have a marketing budget?

I’m going to use all my platforms to try to find more readers. Finding even one more reader is better than giving in to my fears and giving up. Someday I may be someone’s favorite author, but that won’t happen if I stop trying to find them.

I’m going to keep sharing my journey on this blog. I’ll keep tweeting. And I’ll keep searching for new avenues to find readers I can connect with.

The newest way I’m doing this is…

I’ve joined Chapterbuzz.

I’m hoping to find more readers via Chapterbuzz. I’d love (and also feel terrified and nauseous) to share my work-in-progress and hear constructive feedback about how I can improve each chapter.

If you’d like to read my 1st draft as I go and help me improve my book, I’d love if you’d come on over and join me. When you become a fan and “buzz” my chapters, it gives me points that will help me to become more discoverable by other readers. Click here to join. (It’s free, btw)

I’ll also be posting on Wattpad.

I’ll also be adding my chapters on Wattpad. You can follow along and read my chapters by clicking here.

 

Maybe these will be flops, some of many failures on my road to finding readers, but perhaps it won’t. I’m always willing to try.

I’m going to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly, or how many times I stumble and fall flat on my face.

Thanks for reading. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it.

 

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Are book trailers useful? (part one)

Are book trailers useful? (part one)

Hello friends,

When you publish a book and you’re trying make it discoverable by readers, there is so much conflicting advice on what you should do it can be overwhelming. And unfortunately, a lot of the advice offered (to help you become a bestseller) isn’t free. I’m beginning to think there are a lot of authors out there who really make their money by promising to help others sell their books (but it doesn’t work and your money is wasted). They don’t write for the love of writing but to scam aspiring authors out of their dollars and cents.

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I want to share everything I do with you–for free! So that you can learn from my mistakes (yes, it’s embarrassing to show my failures) and you can benefit from my successes (if I ever have any 😂 😂 😭 😭 😭).

So here’s question 1 I’m going to explore and I’ll report back on whether it was a big, fat flop in a future post…Are book trailers useful?

I suspect the answer is no. I’d like to point out that I do have a bit of advanced knowledge of this in that I release a book before, paid someone on Fiverr to make a book trailer for me (I think I paid $15), and it brought me no noticeable sales.

This time, I’ve made the book trailer myself, so it only cost me my time. To be honest, it turned out just as well as the one I paid for.

Here it is…

 

Now you may be thinking, “Allie, if a book trailer didn’t bring you any sales before, why are you even bothering?”

Great question! You are smart, dear reader. I’m trying again because I think everything is always worth a few attempts–especially when they don’t cost me anything. I’ve shared the video on Youtube (which I plan to try to start utilizing), Facebook, in this post, Twitter, Google+, my Amazon author page, and I also plan to put a link on Pinterest. I’ve yet to figure out if I can put it on Instagram. (Have I ever mentioned how much I despise using Instagram? I find it so UN-user-friendly)

I’m not sure of any other ways that I can use this book trailer, but I’m going to dig around in some blog posts, seek out other book trailers to learn how they’re used, and try to brainstorm different ways I can use it. My goal is to make my book discoverable in as many places as I can. Whether or not that will convert to book sales, I have no idea but I guess we’ll find out together.

Are you an author who uses book trailers to try to generate sales? If so, would you mind sharing your experiences in the comments below? If you have any suggestions on additional ways to use a book trailer, I’d love to know those as well. I need all the help I can get.

Or maybe you’re a whiz at marketing and you’d like to share your knowledge with someone like me?

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Writing a book was the easy part for me. Marketing myself and my book–whew, that’s another story–one I’m struggling with.

If you’re interested in buying my book after that amazing book trailer 😉 you can purchase it by clicking here for the ebook or here for the paperback. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free.

See you in part two–which will hopefully be named Are book trailers useful? (part two-success!) 😂 😂 🤞🏻 🤞🏻

 

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Accepting Constructive Criticism

Accepting Constructive Criticism

Hello Friends,

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I’ve started sharing my work with others, it’s that if many people are telling you something needs to change, no matter how much it may hurt, you should listen and make changes.

I got a dose of constructive criticism that hurt yesterday.

I had a group web call with other authors and my book coach. They all agreed that the title of my book needed a change. It was like a stab in the gut. I liked the title but they all agreed that the title itself wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t a good fit for a middle-grade fantasy novel. More than the rejection, I’d have to change all my cover files, interior files, website, and review copy.

Fortunately, my cover artist, Ashely Byland of Redbird Designs (Click here indie authors if you’re looking for an incredibly talented and easy to work with cover artist) made these changes for me quickly and painlessly. Did I mention that she’s incredible? She’s incredible!

So my book will no longer be titled…

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But will now be known as…

AsterSpirit3D

Now I could have closed my ears and insisted that I was keeping my title because it’s my book. But these other authors have more experience than I do. They gave me solid reasons why my first title just didn’t cut the mustard. And my book coach is a best-selling author who is a wiz with titles and marketing.

I want to succeed. I can write books. I’m not doubting myself on that anymore (now don’t call me cocky–I just said I know I can write them, not that I think I’m talented. The imposter syndrome is still strong in me) I’m still learning when it comes to marketing and book promotion. But I know the best way to learn (in any situation) is to keep an open mind and accept constructive criticism in a way that allows me to learn and become more successful with each step I take.

 

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Writer not writing

Writer not writing

Hello friends,

I cannot remember the last time I opened up my laptop and worked on my novel. Was it in June sometime? Has it really been since May?

So what’s keeping me from writing… writer’s block?

Not at all. The slow down started when I began querying my romance novel, Hearts Mingling. The querying process is extremely time-consuming, but more than that, it takes all the joy out of trying. As a matter of fact, querying kind of makes me feel like I hate writing. It’s a misplaced emotion. It’s not actually the writing I hate, but it does make it all seem pointless–like I’ll never find readers for my work if I can’t get by the gatekeepers.

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I’ve also been taking a few courses. One–a marketing course for a small business I’ll be part-owner of and do the marketing for. The second–another marketing course, but this one is specifically for authors. As you know, in addition to my other small business, I’ve started my own publishing company, WhistlePig Publishing, to independently publish my children’s novels. Who knows, someday I may also be publishing my adult works as well.

All my time and effort has been going into these ventures, but at least I feel like I’m moving forward with my writing and my quest to find readers. I’m no longer stalled out in the querying trenches, spinning my wheels, and feeling like a loser.

I’ve begun building my book launch team and have been fortunate enough to have received excellent feedback from my readers. (And btw, all of you who have joined and been kind enough to let me know how you’re enjoying the book–THANK YOU! You have no idea how much it means that you’re willing to help. I suffer from imposter syndrome and doubt myself daily, so your words pull me out of some serious self-despising darkness).

If you haven’t joined my book launch team but would like to, click here to sign up to get your free review copy. Those who join, download the free ebook on launch day, and post their reviews will automatically be entered to win prizes.

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It’s tough to be a writer who’s not writing, but at least I’m getting closer to writing again. I am now a writer who is planning on writing and feeling the excitement bubble build inside. The bubble that will grow until it bursts and forces me to sit down and write because I won’t be able to think about anything else.

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I’ve decided to finally write the final two books for The Great Connection and turn it into a trilogy. I originally planned to do that, but then the query process smashed that thought into a million little pieces.

But now that I’m an indie author I can officially say, “Whatever, I’ll do what I want.”

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So take that, gatekeepers. You can’t tell me what to write and you can’t keep my readers from making their own choices!

 

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Traditional publishing vs. Self-publishing

Hello friends,

As you all know, I’ve been sticking it out in the querying trenches, and it’s been hard on my heart. I know I need to develop a thick skin and over and again I’ve heard, “Remember, this is a subjective business.”

Yes, I know. I completely understand that. I know market trends matter. And I also know that nothing makes sense. Seriously.

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Listen to this…

I have a friend who works as a literary intern. So basically, she wades through piles of query letters to sort through those the agent may be interested in and she also reads manuscripts for the agent as a screen before the agent reads them. Here’s an example of what I mean when I say I know that nothing makes sense. My friend read a book that, although it wasn’t her favorite genre, she couldn’t put down. It was a page-turner and was incredibly well written. She passed the book on to the agent who said that she really gobbled it up but wasn’t going to take it on. Why, you ask? Oh, because the author had approximately 11 books published through small presses. The agent actually called him a hack even though she agreed the writing was very well done. But it doesn’t stop there, friends. The intern asked if he could publish under a pen name. The agent said he definitely should but still wasn’t going to take him on. In the same conversation, the agent asks the intern to read another book. The agent had already read it and said it was “a mess,” written by a debut author. A MESS people! And why was she willing to take on a manuscript that is a mess? Well, because the author was a District Attorney. Goodness knows no one can write things unless it’s true to life. Good thing when I wrote my middle grade fantasy about witches, I really was one.

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So here’s the point of this blog post. I’m starting to think it doesn’t matter what I do or how many years I spend writing new books. I can continue querying agents until my heart cracks one too many times and just becomes a pile of dust ready to be blown away like a fart in the wind.

Since I started this blog and started working hard on my social media presence, I’ve had countless people ask me where they can read my writing, tell me they enjoy my blog, and ask me when they can buy my book. Am I missing out on sales and sharing my work because I’m so wrapped up in worry about the stigma associated with being a self-published/indie author? One, who by the way, makes 75% of royalties rather than 15 or maybe 35%. It’s no secret that authors have to do their own marketing whether they’re traditionally published or self-published. Does it really matter that my book isn’t available in a bookstore? I can’t remember the last time I went to one anyway. I buy everything on Amazon.

Just out of curiosity I did a poll asking whether or not people buy books from self-published authors. While it isn’t a large sample, I was surprised by the results.

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Most people said they do or would read a book by a self-published author. I tried to think back to the time before I thought about publishing any of my work at all and wondered…did I have any bias against self-published books? No, I didn’t. Not at all. If I perused books on my kindle, I would pick whatever sounded interested. I didn’t care who wrote it. I didn’t check the publishing house. I didn’t even look to see if it was a self-published book.

So where did I get this idea that there was a lot of bad stigma surrounding self-published authors? I realized it was from other writers, authors, and traditional publishing.

As I query and collect rejection letters, I’m reminded again of all the times someone has said to me, “I love your blog, where can I buy your book? Or do you have anything else I can read?” And I’ve had to say no. Why? Oh, because it’s sitting on my computer where–quite possibly–no one will ever see it.

I know that there are quite a few (especially romance) indie authors who have done quite well for themselves. So why don’t I try?

I know I need to

  • Pay for proper editing
  • Pay for good cover art
  • Pay someone to format things correctly
  • Invest in marketing myself
  • Maybe hire a PA

But two of those things I’m going to have to do anyway. I’m not going to slap some poorly crafted, first-draft turd up on Amazon and call it a day. I’m going to work hard to showcase my work in a way that I can be proud of. Something that when I sell, I get to keep a large portion of royalties for myself, to invest in myself and future projects. I’ll also have more control over…EVERYTHING.

Yet here I am. Still questioning what I should do? But why? Perhaps it’s the validation. Maybe it is me wanting to be accepted by other authors as a “real” author. But I can tell you, I’ve read a lot of self-published, indie press, or yet unpublished work that I have adored and I’ve read traditionally published crap that I couldn’t bring myself to finish.

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I would love to know what you all think. Please leave a comment below.

And as always…

*If you enjoy my blog, please give it a follow and subscribe using the popup window. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and I’m now on Pinterest. Please and thank you*

 

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Busy (wingless) Bee

Busy (wingless) Bee

I know! I know! I’ve done a horrible job at putting out blog posts regularly. I’ve just been a very busy bee lately. I’m working on a new novel (yay!), sending out query letters (gah), I’ve just started a marketing course, and am working on opening a business.

I realize that I shouldn’t let those things neglect my blog but I’m having a hard time feeling like there is any point to this anyway. This or social media. I’m just the crazy lady on the bus talking to herself while some random troll shouts back “No one cares!”

I’m also sick with some horrible head cold that makes me feel like my head is going to explode and then when I lie down to sleep at night a parade of coughing begins.

Excuses, excuses. I know. Well, despite this and the darkness in mood I feel moving in over me, I’m going to do my best to do what I can to move forward. That may mean neglecting the blog for a bit and just sitting in the sunshine or walking through the woods to remember why I do all this in the first place. It’s not the platform building, or the querying, or blogging…it’s the telling of stories. Maybe I need to focus just on that, even if the only person who ever reads my stories is me.

 

 

 

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Are those hawks circling overhead?

Are those hawks circling overhead?

One of the most difficult things about my writing journey has been feeling like prey–a little field mouse scampering around a field with hawks circling overhead.

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When I started writing this blog post, I wanted to call them vultures, but that wasn’t right. Vultures eat the dead, and some of these people are after warm blood–fresh blood–and after they’ve picked the bones clean, they leave a broken skeleton of a writer feeling victimized, shamed, and left with empty pockets.

That’s how it always works, though, isn’t it? There are always plenty of people looking to take advantage of the dreamy-eyed creatives. So many people try to profit off of writers and artists either by taking a slice or taking our art for free.

Btw, it makes me so sad to see so many books listed for free or for 99 cents. I know some of these books are self-published, first draft crap that’s slapped up without much care, but some of it’s not. Some self-published works are pretty great and have had a lot of love and care put into them.

Anyway, why are people willing to pay more for a cup of coffee than a novel? Ugh, I wish making coffee was my passion.

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Anyway, back to the main point of this post…

I saw an offer for a webinar and I signed up because I never turn down free information. Who knows? There may be a nugget there that made listening to someone talk for an hour worth it. But as I suspected, it was just a bunch of pointless circle talk promising to help people earn a bajillion dollars from blogging.

LOL! Okay, maybe not a bajillion but a living (oh, and there was this underlying message that suggests if you fail, it’s probably because you weren’t willing to “put in the work.” Hmmm…or pay for what they’re gearing up to sell you.)

It’s like in A Christmas Story when Ralphie finally gets his decoder pin…”Be sure to drink your Ovaltine. Ovaltine?” Yup, another crummy commercial.  But I wonder how many of the aspiring writer/bloggers threw down their decoder pins and marched out of the room? How many stayed, believing that if they signed up for the course being sold that they’d be successful?

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The whole time, the people running the webinar kept claiming they were doing this simply because they wanted to help other writers. Hmm, more like take advantage of writers who will do almost anything to see their dreams come true.

I know don’t have everything figured out (my lack of success is proof of that) but I know paying …”Not $5000, not even $1000 but only $500″ isn’t the way. Especially when what you’re paying for is just even more useless circle talk.

And these clever charlatans know that there will always be a fresh batch of new, aspiring writers/bloggers hoping to be seen and heard. And therefore, there will always be a fresh flow of cash heading their way.

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I’d feel bad about the piece of paper I wasted taking notes during the stupid webinar if I didn’t use them for this blog post. Oh, and also, I had fun drawing some poop emojis and other random doodles.

Anyway, I don’t know how to get seen but I do know that since I stopped trying to follow all the “advice” of others claiming to be experts (especially any advice I’d have to pay for) and started being myself, my followers have been growing.

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*If you enjoy my blog, please give it a follow and subscribe using the popup window. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Please and thank you*

 

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A little help from my friends

A little help from my friends

As some of you know, I’ve completed writing and editing my romance novel and am now at the querying stage. Recently, I came across the most interesting agent with an unusual submission process which I found extremely entertaining. He also sound a little bit like Seth Rogan and I had a fun time watching his videos on submission.

Anyway, this agent talked about the importance of having a platform and having a good one. (My platform is my following on social media, my blog, and email subscriber list. This shows that people are interested in me and my work.)

I only recently began to work hard on growing my platform. I had a different one before for another name under which I wrote middle-grade fantasy novels. I severed ties with my publisher and deleted all my accounts and started over in November 2017.

It’s always been extremely difficult for me to ask people for help but I need some support. I need your help growing my platform. I know there are quite a few of you who come over from Twitter to read my blog posts and I really appreciate it. It would help me so much more if you would also follow my blog. You can use the subscription window that pops up when you visit this blog or sign up to “follow” with WordPress, or even better, do both. If you’re hesitant to sign up with the popup subscription form, I just want to reassure you that I won’t share your email address with anyone or spam you.

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One more thing, I’d also appreciate if you’d follow my other accounts on social media sites where you’re active. I’m happy to follow back so if you’re one of my readers, leave a comment and let me know you followed because of this blog post and I’ll be sure to follow you back.

Here are the links to my social media accounts Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ 

Phew, I’ll admit, that was difficult for me. And I just want to say thanks again for reading my blog and supporting me. You have no idea how much it means to me. You’re all great!

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