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What’s your Filter?

30 Mar

As I near the end of my M.F.A. program, my final class is Writing about Popular Fiction, which is taught by UF author extraordinaire, Nicole Peeler. The class has members in all stages of their book careers–from multi-published authors with multiple pen names, to self-published individuals, working editors, or those that will begin their agent search after graduation. As expected in a program about producing marketable popular fiction, we’ve spent a good chunk of time discussing social media and the art of the author persona.

Creating an author persona doesn’t mean creating a new personality. It does mean thinking before you post. Everything you say contributes to your readers’ image of you as the author. So here are my questions: How well are you representing yourself online? Do you have a conscious filter?

Some writers let it rip. They talk politics and religion on their blogs, or tweet their opinions on popular events. That’s their prerogative, but it risks offending some readers.

Do you want to be controversial or conservative? Either way is fine–it’s your decision, after all–but the issue deserves some internal reflection. As an aspiring (or practicing) writer, it can’t hurt to consider what you will and won’t discuss.

Are you going to talk about your children? How much? You can range from tweeting about dirty diapers to offering vague anecdotes when the kids do something funny. Or will you decide that your personal life is separate from your writing life?

The same goes for your job. Will your readers know what you do from 9-5? Do you want them to? Maybe you have a super interesting job that you want to share with the world…or maybe you work somewhere that would frown on your writing alter-ego. Teachers and media personalities have been fired for being too free with their opinions online. Do you need to be careful?

Whatever you decide, it’s important to set your filter at the right comfort level for you and your writing career goals. But DO think about it. The beauty of social media is that we can consciously decide which topics are fair game and which are off limits.

Before you post, make sure what you’re saying jives with your image. If it doesn’t, file it away, or decide to post it anyway. It might change how people see you, but persona isn’t static. It’s a series of decisions, and you control your own destiny.

So… what’s YOUR filter?

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A Creepy Contest…Win Nancy Holder’s Possessions Series in celebration of the release of book three: THE SCREAMING SEASON

17 Mar

We just added a new contest on YALitchat.org to celebrate the release of Nancy Holder’s latest bone-chilling novel, THE SCREAMING SEASON.

In THE SCREAMING SEASON, The gutsy heroine of POSSESSIONS and THE EVIL WITHIN returns for another year of boarding school at the haunted Marlwood Academy. Lindsay wakes to find herself strapped down in the infirmary. She had a breakdown and might have tried to kill her nemesis Mandy or Mandy’s boyfriend, Troy—or both. The details are hazy, but one thing is certain: she is possessed by a spirit she cannot trust.

Pretty spooky.

To enter our SCREAMING SEASON Creepy Contest, add a post to the thread with your own creepy moment. It can be a close encounter of your own, a local urban legend, or the campfire tale that used to keep you up at night. Anything that will tingle our spines like our spines like the spirits of Marlwood!

Two winners will be chosen at random. One winner will receive a shiny copy of THE SCREAMING SEASON and a second winner will receive all three books in The Possessions Series: POSSESSIONS, THE EVIL WITHIN, and THE SCREAMING SEASON. It doesn’t get any creepier than that.

Contest opens on release day, Thursday 3/17/11 and closes to entries on Friday, 3/25/11. One entry per person. Open to all members of YALitchat.org.

Now go ahead and scare us…we dare you!

 http://ning.it/dSlmhs

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LIKE MANDARIN release day with author Kirsten Hubbard

8 Mar

Kirsten Hubbard’s debut, LIKE MANDARIN releases today! As part of the celebration, she stopped by YALitchat.org to share how she’ll be spending her day. If you’d like to wish Kirsten a happy book birthday, you can find her at her website or on twitter @kirstenhubbard. Use the hashtag #likemandarin to connect with Kirsten and help her spread the word about this great new novel. Look for a post to sample the first chapter!

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Some of you know I’m a travel writer as well as a YA author. I’ve been fortunate to visit some pretty colorful places, and certainly, I’d love to celebrate my release day in Thailand or Tikal (or more appropriately, the Wyoming badlands!). But I’ll be spending it right here in San Diego, mostly in my house and home office. My launch party isn’t until Saturday, and my friends and family won’t come down until Friday. So it’ll be and the dog til the husband gets home. Maybe it’s a little mundane, but it fits, since it’s the site of my most exciting journey of all: writing and publishing LIKE MANDARIN.

That all sounded really zen, didn’t it? Really, I expect my release day to go like this:

7:30 –  Wake up (if I ever got to sleep), butterflies with harpy eagle wingspans twirling in my stomach. Linger in bed and check my email on my iPhone while Husband heads off to work. Like every morning.
8:00 – Shuffle (bounce) into the kitchen and make chai. Like every morning.
8:05 – Sit at my computer, in my office or at my kitchen table or coffee table, and prevent myself from checking Goodreads/Amazon/Bookscan. Except really I’ll check all three, immediately.
9:00 – Repeatedly.
10:00 – Eat some Thin Mints. Get stressed about launch party Saturday.
10:15 – Read some Metafilter and CNN and so forth, and talk to my YA Highway co-bloggers, but every fifteen minutes head back to Goodreads/Amazon/Bookscan.
12:00 – Realize how ridiculous I am being, and that I need to get out of the house. Take shower and sing “Afraid of Everyone” by The National at the top of my lungs. Decide to leave my iPhone at home. Except really I’ll bring it.
12:30 – Treat myself to a Thai iced tea with boba.
12:45 – Take my Thai iced tea with boba somewhere scenic and relaxing, like Balboa Park, or the beach, and walk around a little bit, maybe for ten minutes, until early sense of refreshment is replaced by debilitating sense of off-the-grid terror, and then I will sit on a rock and check Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon and Facebook on my iPhone.
2:00 – Arrive home and head straight for my computer.
2:30 – Eat more Thin Mints. Call my mom. Get stressed about launch party Saturday.
4:00 – Walk the dog — but only a couple blocks. The internet awaits!
5:00 – Put on An Outfit and get bouncy waiting for Husband to release me from my own head.
5:30 – Husband gets home! Talk a SoCal mile-a-minute about all the internet things that happened today. Like every evening.
6:00 – Get in car and head to indie bookstore.
6:10 – Locate my book.
6:11 – Cry.
6:30 – Head somewhere with happy hour margaritas or mojitos.
8:30 – Arrive home and head straight for my computer. Intend to spend some time working on third book, but instead, get wrapped up in great conversation with great friends.
12:00 – Can’t believe it’s over! Fully initiated. I am an author.

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Big YA Release Day!

1 Mar

Lots of releases dropping today, including three from YALitchat.org members Lee Nichols, Rachel Hawkins, and Kim Harrington. Some beautiful covers, catchy sequels, and great plots!

  

BETRAYAL (Haunting Emma #2) by Lee Nichols

http://www.leenicholsbooks.com/

Emma Vaile is the most powerful ghostkeeper in centuries. Which is great when she’s battling the wraith-master Neos, but terrible when she’s flirting with fellow ghostkeeper (and soul mate) Bennett. When ghostkeepers fall in love, the weaker one loses all power, and that’s not something Bennett can handle. Heartbroken and alone, Emma tries to lose herself in school with fellow ghostkeeper, Natalie. When a new team of ghostkeepers arrive-one a snarky teen

boy, the other a British scholar-Emma finds solace in training for the battle against Neos. But as the team grows stronger, they are threatened by an unknown force. One they thought was good.

As chilling and page-turning as Deception, this sequel will grab readers and hold them to the last page. No one is safe from suspicion as Emma closes in on the traitor.

 

DEMONGLASS (A Hex Hall novel) by Rachel Hawkins

http://readingwritingrachel.blogspot.com/

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Acher to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

 

CLARITY by Kim Harrington

http://www.kimharringtonbooks.com/home.html

Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case–but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother–who has supernatural gifts of his own–becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

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SECRETS AND SHADOWS release day with author Shannon Delany

14 Feb

Shannon Delany dropped by YALitchat.org to share how she’ll be celebrating the book birthday for her second novel SECRETS AND SHADOWS. If you can’t stop by her release party at The Green Toad (in Oneonta, NY) please drop by #yalitchat on twitter on 2/23. Shannon obtained her contract for 13 TO LIFE after it was serialized as a cell phone novel and will be chatting with us on non-traditional paths to traditional publishing deals.

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I’d love to say that on the day of my second novel’s release (2/15) I’ll wake up late in a stylish hotel, have a mani-pedi, get my hair done and have a limo pick me up to take me to an ultra-swanky book release party where I’ll be mobbed by fans, sell and sign a gazillion copies of both 13 to Life AND Secrets and Shadows and conclude my day sipping champagne and having a massage. Or—maybe I could wake up late in a beach bungalow on a tropical island, mani-pedi, hair, limo, swanky party, champagne and massage from some cabana boy (hey, why not?). But (considering I’m an author of werewolves) I’m quite the realist. And I live on a farm in upstate New York.
So here’s how the 15th will probably go:
6:20 am—Wake up, dress, make breakfast, pack lunches for the resident males.
6:45 am—Check the weather forecast.
6:50 am—Panic because there’s always weather of some sort.
7:00 am—Tweet and FB about panic—erm—book release.
7:30 am—Last of the resident males departs, start farm chores.
7:40 am—Remember to carry the heavy shepherd’s crook into the sheep pasture as the ram has recently been, well, rammy and being mauled by heritage livestock is not on my to-do list. Ever.
8:30 am—Check emails, Twitter and Facebook. Do not check Amazon.com ranks or recent Bookscan numbers as they are the devil’s handmaidens.
8:45 am—Worry about the party at The Green Toad in Oneonta, NY at 7 pm. Check to make sure all the swag and stuff I’m responsible for is ready to go.
8:50 am—Contemplate packing the car well in advance.
8:55 am—Grumble about the car being filthy due to salt and snow and slush and mud and the fact I have at least one more February book release to survive. Swear that somehow contracts will next include a non-winter release clause.
8:57 am—Sigh because although I may have a cover clause in my contract, the power of release date control is still beyond my grasp.
9:00 am—Call to check on cake and other aspects of party at The Green Toad.
10:00 am—Do my own nails and try not to touch anything as they dry (this is more difficult than many may imagine as I don’t sit still happily—or often).
11:00 am—Call a favorite CP to vent and panic and spaz about something book-related.
11:30 am—Call a resident male to do the same as above.
11:45 am—Avoid calling a favorite beta to also freak remembering that betas have lives, too.
11:46 am—Sigh at the sheer audacity of betas having lives on the day of my book release. How. Dare. They.
11:48 am—Remember how awesome and helpful betas are in the success of my books. Forgive them for having lives of their own. They can’t be perfect, after all.
12:00 pm—Pace in circles before remembering doing my exercise routine probably burns more calories (although on a release day it’s a toss-up).
12:05 pm—Decide to try and exercise away some of my stress.
12:06 pm—Realize that for some god-forsaken reason a woman with my IQ still is incapable of getting the Wii to work.
12:07 pm—Resign myself to working out on the Gazelle.
12:30 pm—Feel really good about my workout. I. Am. A. Machine!
12:31 pm—Realize I’m now sweaty and gross-smelling and I have a book birthday party to get ready for.
12:32 pm—Hit the shower and use that Stress Relief stuff I got from Bath and Body Works. Contemplate just soaking in the stuff to see if it’ll really work under such fierce conditions.
12:50 pm—Vaguely notice that time has seemed to fold and unfold.
3:00 pm—Note with terror the bizarre loss of time.
3:15 pm—One resident male returns home.
3:20 pm—Focus resident male on homework.
3:21 pm—Mentally grumble about the fact resident male has homework on day of my book release. Don’t his teachers have any respect for my schedule?!
3:22 pm—Gasp aloud remembering I was once a teacher and still believe that a good education needs to come first in everyone’s life.
4:15 pm—Second resident male returns.
4:20 pm—Babble incoherently about everything that happened so far today and about my fears and paranoia…
4:23 pm—Get a sympathy hug.
6:00 pm—Pick up cake for the Book Birthday Party.
6:45 pm—Try Tweeting about Book Birthday Party at The Green Toad.
6:46 pm—Curse inventively because my Blackberry won’t allow me to Tweet.
6:47 pm—Fumble for the alternate cell phone in order to Tweet.
6:49 pm—Misspell several things in Tweet.
6:50 pm—Try Tweeting again.
6:51 pm—Tweet successfully.
7:00 pm—The Book Birthday Party at The Green Toad begins.
7:01 pm—Feel utter amazement that anyone actually showed up to my second book signing at The Green Toad. They like me. They really, really like me.
7:03 pm—Wonder how many of them may think they’re related to me or feel some strange sense of obligation to support me.
7:04 pm—Feel huge amounts of love for everyone in attendance—tempered with nagging fear they’ll all hate Secrets and Shadows.
7:05 pm—Talk about stuff—books, path to publication, the fact I brought Pietr along and he’s pretty…
7:10 pm—Try to keep from rambling.
7:15 pm—Realize rambling was inevitable as I am biologically related to my father AND a previous social studies teacher—the dreaded double whammy!
7:18 pm—Shut up and let people actually buy books, get swag party bags and have their books signed.
7:20 pm—Encourage everyone to eat cake. For heaven’s sake! I can’t take it all home with me—I’ll just pack back on the fifty-plus pounds I lost after the release of 13 to Life in June.
8:00 pm—The Book Birthday Party at The Green Toad wraps up.
8:05 pm—Ask how I can help clean up the mess I’m inevitably responsible for making.
8:06 pm—Get shooed away by The Green Toad staff because they’re really polite and professional and…
8:07 pm—Feel immense love for The Green Toad.
8:08 pm—Manage to help clean up something on the sly.
8:15 pm—High-five Pietr (Do Russian-American werewolves high-five? Shouldn’t I know this?), climb into the car and, realizing there’s no champagne at home—nor a cabana boy—not even a cabana! Make note of obvious oversight!) contemplate stopping someplace to find out if boxed wine really is as good as some people say.
8:17 pm—Decide not to follow that train of thought to the liquor store as it will inevitably make me seem like a lush, but instead head home, have a really nice hot cocoa and beg someone for a backrub.
9:30 pm—Go to sleep realizing this madness all repeats again in six months with the release of Bargains and Betrayals on 8/16/11.
9:40 pm—Roll out of bed to keep hammering away at Book 4 because time is short and werewolves don’t write themselves. Slackers.

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Shannon Delany is the author of the 13 to Life series which debuted in June 2010. Her novels release approximately every six months which keeps her hopping. You can find out more about Shannon online at www.ShannonDelany.com or on Facebook or Goodreads or www.Twitter.com/Shannon_Delany . She’s all over the place (and on a book release day that’s especially true)!

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That’s YAmore Blogfest

11 Feb


In honor of the That’s YAmore Blogfest hosted by the fantastic ladies over at Oasis for YA, I’m posting a romantic teaser from my novel CAPTIVE MAGIC.

I love this moment (though it doesn’t go as planned for Violet & Ralon!), but it’s gotten axed in my revision, so I’m glad that I have the chance to share!

From CAPTIVE MAGIC by Elle Stone

            “If Rose makes me leave, I’m taking you with me.” Ralon pressed his lips to my hair.

            “Promise?” I pulled back. This time, I needed to watch his eyes.

            “Promise.” He dipped his head, closing the space between us. I leaned, arching onto my toes until his lips brushed mine. His heat spilled into me. I tasted his breath, ran fingers through his silky curls until my knees shook my lungs worked in shallow pants.

            I felt alive with him.  Alive for the fist time I could remember.

            I wouldn’t let go. Not ever. I didn’t care if we weren’t supposed to be together. He was already mine.

            Ralon broke the kiss. His breath heaved to match me and red flushed his high, sweet cheekbones.

          Our noses touched and his gaze was so intense, so close, I wanted to hide away. It was too late for that.

            “I love you,” he said. “Whatever happens.”

            My smile spread on its own. “I l–”

            Fingers clamped my shoulder. “Stop there, Violet.”

            Rose.

            “No!” I thrashed in her grip. “Don’t, Rose. Please–”

Dun dun dun! Do Violet and Rose get to stay together, or are they broken apart for good? Only time (and much more revision) will tell ; )

Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to check out all the other great blogfest participants!

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Home Sweet Desk

5 Feb

In celebration of having cleaned my desk enough for it to be functional again, I thought I’d share my workspace with all of you in the blogosphere:

As you can see, I’m diligently working on CAPTIVE MAGIC revisions. This is my home. I’ve got Supermassive Black Hole Radio playing on Pandora for iPad, some handy snacks, and lots of things that inspire me.

Some other points of interest:

1. My word-a-day calendar has not moved since May 6th, 2010. The word is minatory. Minatory: having a menacing quality; threatening. I like this word.

2. My wall calendar has not moved since August, 2010. (Perhaps 1 & 2 explain why I struggle to make deadlines. I never know what day it is)

3. In order to be productive, my desk must be tidy but surrounded with things that provide motivation. I have cards from friends, pictures of my godson and past trips, a few story notes, and the all-important List Of Deadlines.

Now that I’ve recalled all of those looming deadlines (and the actual date) it’s back to writing!

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Werewolf + Waistcoat + Sandwich = Awesome…Review of Gail Carriger’s SOULLESS

20 Jan

Just finished and loved Gail Carriger’s SOULLESS. In general I’m not much of a historical reader, but Gail’s series was recommended to me and I was drawn in by the US cover copy.

SOULLESS: A novel of vampires, werewolves, and parasols.

Who doesn’t love a parasol? My love for the book was further confirmed on p16:

Professor Lyall, unobserved by the other two, was busy fishing about in his waistcoat for something. Eventually, he produced a mildly beaten-up ham and pickle sandwich wrapped in a bit of brown paper. He presented it to Miss Tarabotti, ever the gallant.

Under normal circumstances, Alexia would have been put off by the disreputable state of the sandwich, but it was meant so kindly and offered with such diffidence, she could do nothing but accept. It was actually rather tasty.

Reasons this passage is awesome:

1. Lyall is a werewolf in a waistcoat

2. There’s a sandwich in said werewolf’s waistcoat

3. It’s ham and pickle…and actually rather tasty!

The whole novel is an excellent lesson in voice for any beginning writer and does a phenomenal job melding history and the paranormal. The heroine, Alexia, is strong yet realistic and there’s plenty of sizzling romantic conflict between her and werewolf Lord Maccon.

A must read for lovers of urban fantasy, parasols, and sandwiches.

SOULLESS is the first of five books in the Parasol Protectorate Series: SOULLESS, BLAMELESS, CHANGELESS, HEARTLESS (July 2011), and TIMELESS (TBA)

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Why MFA?

11 Nov

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of a Master’s of Fine Arts in writing. Do you need one? No. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no one needs their MFA to be a writer.

That being declared, two years in my MFA program have probably put my writing career 5-10 years ahead of where I’d be on my own. I have a semester left and have had nothing but good experiences at Seton Hill University’s MFA in popular fiction. I came in a raw (but determined) writer and am graduating with an agent and likely two polished novels—one of which will be shopped to editors soon.

My program is special. It focuses on genre fiction and in my YA reading classes, the book lists are comprised of novels I would’ve chosen on my own. Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfeld, and John Green are just a few of the authors I’ve read and discussed with my classmates and professors.

But reading is reading. If you go for your MFA, you’re paying for big improvements to your writing.

Seton Hill is a low residency MFA program, which means we’re together on campus two weeks a year—one week in January and one in June. For residencies, every student submits a ten page piece for critique. It can be a piece of the thesis project, a short story, a first chapter, or an attempt at an unfamiliar genre. Almost anything goes and a few weeks before residency, everyone receives packets of stories. This ranges from 3-4 stories per day with about three critiquing days per residency. It works out to 9-12 story critiques per person, which is a lot of work, but fantastic experience. I’ve critiqued horror, YA, fantasy, picture books, and romance novellas, and have picked up the conventions of many different genres.

The best part? Everyone receives 7-10 very detailed critiques of their piece. After a thorough (and constructive) workshop roundtable led by one of the published faculty, you walk away with pages of marginal and global comments. The feedback is phenomenal and I’ve learned as much from listening to others comment as I have from doing the critiques myself.

Throughout the term, we work with assigned (or chosen!) critique partners on a thesis project—a full length novel. Some people switch CPs from semester to semester, while others click with one or two people and stick together throughout their terms. We also work with published author mentors. I’ve worked with Nancy Holzner, Diane Turnshek and the fabulous Nicole Peeler and we have many accomplished authors that come back to mentor year after year.

The bottom line? There’s no way I could have gotten so much quality feedback on my work—or learned as much as I have—without the program. I would’ve had to pay for a professional editor to get the same level of close reading, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get critiqued by writers with so many different perspectives OR to critique so many different types of writing.

Conference workshops can be productive, too, but they don’t foster the same sense of community as a structured program. We get to learn about our classmates over two and half years and many people make close friends or helpful business contacts.

The downside is tuition. No Master’s program is cheap, but there are scholarships and grants available for the brave. I quit my job in publishing to take a position at the university in exchange for tuition. I was ready to take a big step and get serious about my writing. I knew that what I was putting out wasn’t publishable and I didn’t want to waste anymore time trying to crawl off that plateau. The MFA was the kick I needed.

The MFA isn’t for everyone and earning the degree hardly guarantees publication or a cushy teaching job. What it does do is give students an insider’s view of the publishing industry and offers opportunities to improve for those who are willing to listen. People who join the program thinking they know everything don’t get much return on their investment, but those who listen and make changes to their work can make great strides toward publication.

I’d recommend it for anyone looking to join a dedicated community of writers and jumpstart a writing career.

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Hello, WordPress!

28 Oct

Well hello there!

I have become a grown up and discovered wordpress. I have my own domain and everything.

When will the wonders cease??

Please excuse me as I attempt to understand the unholy workings of teh intraw3bs. I’m currently experimenting with plugins and trying not to look too amateurish. So far okay! There’s a lot to learn and play with and I’m sure I’ll tragically destroy some things along the way (prepare for fist-shaking). But no worries. Stick around and look forward to all of the great content that I’ll post once I have half an idea how to post content at all ; )

So far, I’ve updated my CAPTIVE MAGIC tab with a teaser summary and Violet’s random-tastic playlist. Mind you, she picked the songs, not me!

Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by : )

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