An author regroups.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time. Not to air my dirty laundry, but because I’m a believer in the philosophy “in with the good, out with the bad.” Although I consider myself a positive person, I feel it’s important to acknowledge the bad stuff, get it out there, and move on. So this is me, getting it out there in the hopes of leaving it behind.

2015 was a disappointment for me, in terms of writing success and parts of my personal life. There. I’ve acknowledged it.

Surprised? After all, I had four releases in 2015. Count ’em. Four novels.

It was also a year in which my sales dropped considerably. When I do the math, it’s not encouraging. Of those four books, I was convinced three of them would have done well. These were books that spoke to my heart, perhaps more than others have done. They meant something to me.

As we enter a new year, I haven’t felt all that positive. Because  we had a death in the family last year, I found it hard to write new stories and the ones I came up with did not speak to me. I floundered for a while. I cut myself some slack under the circumstances. Who could write under duress anyway? Not me, it seems.

I’ve been tickled to see some of my writer pals achieve some sort of bestseller status in recent months. Truly, how awesome is that? As much as I’ve been thrilled for them, the practical person in my head asks, “If this doesn’t happen for you, what’s next? Do you keep writing?”

It’s disappointing to check out my royalties and see a sale here, a sale there. Don’t get me wrong. I thank God and my readers for every one of those sales. I know money is tight, for everyone. I’m humbled knowing my faithful readers care enough about my work to spend money on it.

But authors, successful ones, need lots of sales, right? How do we write without them?

And yet, in a year in which my backlist increased by leaps and bounds, in a year in which my social networks grew, in a year in which I released my first print book ever, my sales dropped.

I won’t lie. It stings.

And now I find myself on another Monday morning, a writing day, in my robe and slippers. My coffee is at hand. My laptop is fired up before me. Do I continue writing or do I find something else to do?

I’ve decided to keep writing. Why? Well, I never got into this business to become a bestseller. I’m honored to be published. Sure, if massive sales come, I won’t turn them away but I can’t make them the focus of my endeavors.

I need to throw aside my bruised ego and remember it’s about the stories. I need to trust that it’s all unfolding as it should. There are lessons to be learned here, chief among those being humility and grace. Those four releases from last year? I’m extremely proud of them. I know people will find them eventually and I know I have other great books inside me, just waiting to find a home on your bookshelves.

It’s time to put out the bad and trust in myself once again. It’s time to regroup and get back to business.

Good books don’t write themselves.

 

 

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88 thoughts on “An author regroups.

  1. Fantastic post, Rosanna. I think it’s a question all authors ask themselves at one point or another, and I think we all know we don’t get into this game for the money LOL. My sales haven’t been fantastic, but they’ve been consistent and as a first time author I am very grateful for that and for being published and having readers that take the time to write in and say how much they enjoyed it, like you say.

    We write because we have stories to tell and hopefully the right people find them. *hugs* Here’s to a year filled with success 🙂

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  2. Oh my gods, this is so where I was just a couple days ago. I came to the same conclusion that you did after some deep soul searching as well. For me, writing is something that I have to do. If I never sold another book I would keep writing. We do this because we love the craft and hope that we can touch one person and brighten their day, even if just for an hour or two. Success comes in many forms, and while society looks only at the monetary, we authors know there is a deeper kind of success. *hugs*

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  3. We are all definitely in the same boat. It can be very discouraging when productivity, awards, and great reviews don’t translate into sales. My last royalty check was microscopic. It is encouraging to hear that others are going through it, too. I’m so sorry that you have been having a rough time, but I’m so glad you’re going to keep writing. Please keep writing! I love your books and I will read every one. ❤

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    • Thank you, Jessica. It’s weird, I had some great reviews and even an award last year. Sales? Microscopic, as you say. Boggles the mind. Love ya!

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  4. This is such a ridiculously fluid industry, I’ve found regrouping necessary on a regular basis. Just keep loving your stories, and find a way to keep putting them out in front of readers. The ones who love you will make it worth it. Hugs to you. And I hope the regrouping is rejuvenating!

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    • Thank you, Anne! Hugs right back. I don’t know if the regrouping is rejuvenating, but the response to this post certainly is. 🙂

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  5. I think we are the same person, Rosanna. With the exception of the death in the family (and I’m sorry for your loss), we had the exact same experience last year. The good thing, I suppose, is our inner muses won’t stay quiet for long, right?? Hang in there. Your books are worthy of many, many sales. ~ Tami

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  6. You are right on every note, Rosanna. If you are going to judge your “success” as a writer by your royalty checks you might want to find something else to do. It is SO hard not to think of yourself as a “failure” when you see so many other authors (supposedly) making buckets of money. I just read one such article this morning (sobs). I believe that persistence pays off…eventually and that good stories will always find a home. The nice thing with the market as it is now, is that the books can be available into infinity and beyond. So you never know when your “success story” will take place. Glad to hear you decided to keep on keepin’ on. 🙂 Shall we make “Shake It Off” our theme song?

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    • Thank you, Barbara. Shake It Off definitely seems to be a theme today. 😉 You make some great points and I appreciate them very much.

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  7. Same here! I had 6 releases in 2015, and ended up deeeeep in the red. 2016 will be a year with 2, maybe 3 releases while I write like mad to launch a series in 2017. I keep reminding myself that this is a game with a very long tail, and I don’t want to quit before the work finds the light.

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  8. Thanks for this, Rosanna.

    My 2015 was a lot like yours as well – personal trauma and drama in the family that I had to deal with (and still have to deal with) and uninspiring but steady sales. But, as always, EVERY single day I have to reboot my mental computer (I used to work in IT). I have to swing back around my anchor. I have to remember that I’m not here to pursue sales. If I were, I wouldn’t be writing in this “cross-breed” genre of mine. If I were, I would be writing in a genre that’s hot. And I wouldn’t be sticking to my series when the sales are like a sloth – slow but steady. I would drop it like a hot potato and move to something trendy.

    But it is my heart. When I am broken and things aren’t working in my personal life – when other people are broken and their needs drag on me and steal my time – when my sweet fur baby struggles in her old age with diminishing vision and I desperately need to spend what time she has left with her – I remember what I wrote down when I started down this road – “Writing COMPLETES me.” And I can sleep when I’m dead… 😉 🙂

    Writing COMPLETES me.

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    • So well said, Donna. Thank you. Writing is my heart as well, a heart I denied for a long time and no longer wish to deny. It’s what keeps me going and when I get a great comment, my heart soars. This is what I need to remember, I suppose. Hugs to you and all the best in the new year.

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  9. Losing a loved one, (losing my own mother in 2014) I have found, shakes your world, can leave you numb in some spots and make you look for signs of life. Hugs to you, Rosanna, letting you know those four books gave me life to hang onto in 2015! Thanks for sharing your heart!

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  10. Sooo nice to read all the wonderful, honest comments. It does feel like a waste of time some days, to sit at the keyboard and keep at it. But all it takes is one magical moment. I’ve started reading inspirational books in the *ahem* bathroom. (TMI, sorry! 🙂 Words of wisdom from others, as do posts like this, give me a boost to go on. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Thanks, Naomi! I read inspirational books, too. We all need something to keep us going when times are tough. I appreciate you being here today and am glad you enjoyed the post.

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  11. Substitute death in family for major illness and I’m right with ya. You’re brilliant and your time will come! Maybe this is the breather before the storm, your time to hone. Look up “Blessings” by Laura Story on YouTube. It came on when I read your blog which tells me it was meant for you. Virtual hugs to you!

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    • Thank you, Annie! I will definitely check it out. I’m sorry to hear you’ve dealt with major illness in your family. Life isn’t always easy, is it? And the writing falls by the wayside. Thank you for your kind comments.

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  12. Oh Rosanna. I remember the first time I read For the Love of a God then watched that series grow. For my two books, you had put out many. I thought, how in the hell has she done it? I didn’t write for a year (2 years ago). My dad and his wife died 6 months apart. It kills the creative fire then…wait for it…those feelings ignite a writing storm. This is your time to breathe. Sales are great, but it’s always about putting out quality product. Give yourself credit for surviving the hits in this business and still sitting down to click the keys. Keep creating. Keep evolving. The chance of a writer hitting it “big” is like playing the lottery. Readers are fickle and the writer who comes out on top sometimes doesn’t mean they have a quality product. Simply means the write person didn’t think the book was shit. Hence…the 50 SOG bullshit. Hang in there. You’re a great writer and creative machine. *hugs*

    Pauline

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    • Hugs to you, Pauline! I still remember reading See Me and I can assure you, I think of it often (read: just the other day, in fact.) You are wonderful. I’m so sorry to hear of the losses in your family and I do understand how they ignite that firestorm. Hang in there, as well. I’m here if you ever want to chat. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hello Rosanna. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings in this post. I think almost every author has had these same exact thoughts at one time or another. It helps us all to know we are not alone when we have doubts.
    Firstly, I would like to say I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine trying to write while grieving.
    Secondly, I was where you are right now, late last year. I felt like I was up against a brick wall and didn’t know how to even climb it when it came to sales of my books. If I kept going the way I was going I might see a few extra sales a week with each book, but that just isn’t much. I had to make a decision which I think you might be at. Do I just keep writing and publishing and have a very slow and steady rise in my sales? Or do I look to see what other authors do (I am an indie contemporary romance author, so I looked to other indie contemporary romance authors who were hitting it big or bestseller after just a few years).
    I decided to look to other indie authors and the ones I love and see what they did to make each book have a bigger impact. I have spent the last several months doing just that. And, boy have I learned a lot. Now I realize how important marketing a book really is. That even the author (traditionally published or not) needs to do more than some blog tours and a Facebook party or two. You may know some of this already, but I spent the time observing these authors, even ones who hadn’t yet hit the bestseller list but came up with unique promo ideas, to see what worked and what didn’t for them.
    I scoured their blogs, read interviews they gave, became part of their fan groups, etc. Every little tip they gave or promo they had I observed that and took notes.
    Now I know what to do to make my books go from a very slow steady rise in sales to a steeper growth pattern. Having learned what I learned I even put my publishing on hold (not my writing because that’s what I love to do, as I know you do too) to save enough money and plan everything out, so when I do publish again it will have a bigger impact.
    I just wanted to let you know all this, and anyone else who may be in the same boat, that I think it is possible to make much more sales (more sales then just a small number) with each book but it requires a lot of planning & marketing. That’s why I said earlier it’s a decision. Neither decision is right or wrong, just has different outcomes. If you are fine with a slow and steady rise in fans/book sales, just love the writing aspect of it all so that’s what is most important. Then your decision is clear. But if you want a steeper rise in sales/fans, putting equal time in writing as well as marketing. Then that decision is clear too.
    Some of the authors that have taught me a lot are: J.A. Huss, Alessandra Torre, & Penny Reid. Not only do I enjoy their great stories but I learned a lot from them on how to sell a book. You may have your own authors that you admire, can learn from since you focus more on paranormal romance. Follow them, learn from them and I think you will be surprised what an impact it has on your sales. Or don’t, that is your decision to make.

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    • Thank you for commenting today, Elizabeth, and for your honest feedback. I think much of my frustration has stemmed from the fact that I thought I was doing all these things. However, clearly I have more to learn. I’ve always considered myself an Energizer Bunny of marketing, or at least, author friends have told me so. And yet there is an element that is missing. One author pal told me today she blames pirating. Another told me several authors she knows had rough years. I guess, no matter what, we learn and we move on. I appreciate your thoughtfulness today. 🙂

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      • Rosanna,
        Marketing is important, but I think you already do an awesome job with this. But the truth is you can follow another author’s (in the same genre) step-by-step marketing plan and not be as successful as them or on the other hand surpass their sales. There’s a certain amount of luck that goes along with the hard work that makes a book go viral.

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      • Thank you, Nina! As a fan of your writing, I appreciate you commenting. 🙂 You’re right. Luck has a part. Sometimes we need to be in the right place at the right time.
        May we all find that place at the right moment! 🙂

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      • To add to what Nina said, Yes! AND you don’t want to pursue a marketing plan that doesn’t match up with your personality and your voice. I can’t do a “street team” because it just isn’t “me”. Just like your writing, your marketing should be YOU, not someone else. 🙂

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  14. I think it’s the same for a lot of authors put there. However, I often hear authors finally catching a break, quitting their jobs to write full time, having a best seller etc. Not a single one of those did it with one book. Many did it after a lot of books that sold nothing! I have a lot of people that love my writing as I’m sure you do. The trick is to keep giving them what they want and find more of these lovely people 🙂

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  15. Wow…thanks for sharing. I really needed the inspiration this morning. It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one with doubts and struggles. We all have them but most of us won’t admit it. Firm believer in “yes the money is nice, but it’s about the dream and the stories. “

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  16. Great post and it applies to the reviewer in me. My blog is not reviewing any books after this month. I need a break, a regroup, too. It happens to all of us in one way or another.

    Marika/Harlie
    owner, Harlie’s Books

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  17. I feel like I could have written this myself. Thanks for opening up and reminding me that being disappointed isn’t the same as being negative. Disappointment means we had goals and expectations that weren’t met. That’s okay. It’s better than drifting aimlessly, right? I am sorry for your loss. Emotional turmoil throws our self-doubt into sharp relief, and I know it can be hard to find balance again. Here’s hoping 2016 exceeds all of your expectations!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Maggie. You’re right. Disappointment is not always the same as being negative. And we can move on from it and accomplish even more. All the best to you in the coming year!

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  18. A good friend of mine shared this with me after knowing my many struggles over 2015. This year I have seven books releasing, and I hope to see my sales pick up, but so far–not happening. It is very difficult to struggle with the inner demons who poke at your decisions to sacrifice time with your family, kids, and often times your sanity, all to write these stories you love, but that aren’t selling. After all, if others aren’t enjoying them, what is coming out of all of my hard work and stress? More stress? I’ve considered this many nights while in bed, staring at the ceiling. My heart shrivels a little, and then swells again when I remember the feeling of finishing a book–which happened just two days ago for the seventh time in my life. It’s a huge thrill, and then comes the worry that nobody will enjoy this story you’ve dumped your heart into.

    We are only human. We are creatures of wanting to see results. I guess in the end it’s up to each individual to determine what “success” means to them, and if we have it in us to chase a dream that we don’t know will be realized. But that’s why we’re writers. We love our stories, our heroes and heroines, our villains with so much depth to their wicked souls we almost wish they were one of the good guys. We love our settings and plot twists and the almighty “big black moment.” We love it all, which is why we choose to write on…

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

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    • Thank you as well, Theresa. Please know you are not alone in all this, not any of it. If this post has proven anything to me today, it’s that we are not alone. I firmly believe there is an audience for every book. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to find that audience. And still we write, because as you say, quite aptly, we have little choice.
      I hope this coming year brings much success for you!

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  19. Thanks for sharing your pain. I’m right there with you and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. And, after reading the comments here, it seems we’re crowded in this life raft!
    It’s something most every author goes through, and perhaps even endures their entire career. I have to keep reminding myself that the sales and money are NOT the measurement of my success as a writer. I see my writing getting stronger with every word put to paper (or screen) and that, to me, means the world.
    With hundreds of thousands of books published each year, how can the average writer expect to make any kind of mark? Most of us are but a blip on the radar. Until…that one day….when something magical aligns in the stars and we make it big. But what is big, anyway? For me, I’ve given up on the thought that I can quit my day job because my writing can make the ends of our budget meet. Big for me is when I hear even one person tell me they liked my writing.
    You are on the right track if you write for yourself. Numbers, shmumbers! Your fans have already realized the value of your prose, it just may take a while for the money to catch up. Hugs!

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    • Thank you, Darlene. And it was never about the money so much. Money is a validation, of course, and everyone wants and needs that sometimes. I guess it can be easy getting bogged down in numbers sometimes but I feel such support today and numbers don’t seem to matter right now.

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  20. Reblogged this on Reading, Drinking and Dancing with a Chaser of Snark and commented:
    Rosanna Leo is one of my favorite authors, BECAUSE she writes the stories that speak to her heart. Her novels speak to me, because her heroines are women I would want as friends. They are independent, strong, intelligent, confident, nerdy and adoringly unaware of their own sexiness. Her heroes are pantydroppingly strong, sexy, intelligent and unafraid to be challenged by their women. And, the stories themselves are hot, smexy, at times bittersweet and poignant, but ALWAYS entertaining.

    Additionally, most of her characters are women and men. OVER 30…..GASP!! They have life experience, baggage, and yes, continue to be sexual beings. Rosanna writes about women like herself. Women like me. We NEED her voice in the contemporary and paranormal erotic romance community.

    So, if you have not read her books, please march on over to Amazon and download them. They are perfect for an afternoon stuck in the.school carline, a stormy day at home, or a pamper-me day at the spa.

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  21. Thank you for this post. I know I’m not alone in my struggle to regain what I had, but it’s good to read something like this to reinforce that I’m not alone. I’ve started writing under a new pen name. I believe I can gain good sales again under this new pen name. ~~~ Good luck to you, Rosanna, and to every author out there who is struggling.

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    • Thanks so much, Callista! I’m happy when one person tells me my work spoke to them, I really am, but I guess we sometimes look for other types of validation as well. Like you said, we need to remember why we started doing this. Hugs!

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  22. HI Rrosanna if saLes dropped it wasn’t do to me not buying. MY LEAST FAV OF YOUR BOOKS IS THE SELKIE SERIES BUT i still get them. Keep them all coming.

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  23. Yep, sales sucked last year, and I think they did for most of us. I spent more on marketing than ever before since I first published and made less than ever before. I don’t get the book climate anymore. 2009-2013 were good.

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    • Let’s hope this is just a phase, Carla. The economy here in Canada is bad, with a weak dollar. Perhaps people are feeling the strain in other places too. Here’s to a successful 2016! Thank you.

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  24. Vice and Night Lover are two of my all-time favorite Rosanna Leo books. Maybe the change of sub-genre has something to do with the sales? Regardless of the reason, new readers will find these books and love them as I do. It just takes time. Every author I’ve talked with recently has had a decrease in sales over the last few years. I’m hoping it’s a trend that will end soon.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. You are not alone in the struggle. My mantra for 2016 is “eyes on your own paper.” I chant it to myself constantly as a reminder that it doesn’t matter what others are doing. What matters is what’s in front of me. So … Eyes on your own paper, Rosanna! Because what’s happening on your paper is magical.

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    • Thank you so much, Parker. I’ve wondered myself about the change in genre, but want so much to be able to share my stories with readers who might not want to talk selkies and shifters. I love your mantra. I will keep my eyes on my own paper…and probably yours because I love your books too! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Thanks Rosanna! I shared many of the same struggles in 2015 – hospitalization for me, death of my father, complete success and failure with my career, overseas travel, joblessness, published my first novel to a complete and utter lack of sales, didn’t finish my second novel on time. Sigh. It’s so hard to remember to write each day. But I don’t write because I want to. I write because I have to. The people inside my head don’t shut up when I’m having a bad day. Some days they shout. Some days they whisper. I know what other stories have meant to me throughout my life. I hope to have the same privilege and honor some day, to touch others with my stories. Best of luck to you in 2016!!

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your journey! Please allow me to express my condolences for your father. We lost my MIL this past year and it has been hard on all of us. You’re right. The voices in our heads don’t stop talking, a blessing and a curse at times. I have no doubt you’ll touch many with your stories. All the best to you in this new year!

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  26. Right there! I am amazed at your courage! Thank you for saying what so many of us feel! It is a daily struggle, especially on editing days…when we’re looking at the P&L and it’s all red, it’s hard to know what to do.

    Starving artists…right! Thank you for your insight and positive spirit.
    Anna

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    • Thanks so much, Anna! I’m overwhelmed when I see how many people feel the same way. I honestly wondered if it was just me having a bad year. It can be a struggle but we need to remember why we got into this, trust our Muses, and write. Hugs to you!

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  27. I too have felt the scary decrease in sales and don’t know what to attribute it to… I wanted to hang up the writing gig but those damn voices in my head won’t stop so on I go and keep hoping for the best. I do remember hearing that Stephen King didn’t quite his teaching job until after his 11th novel so maybe we all just need to hang in there. Best wishes! Tif

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    • Thanks you, Tiffany! I appreciate you sharing that tidbit about Stephen King. It’s easy to forget that the big buys struggled once, too. Hugs!

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  28. Pingback: An Author Regroups | Jeannie Ruesch

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