Thursday, January 10, 2019

Dear Writers--Encouragement needed


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HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: 
   Dear darling adorable Aimee Hix:
    Welcome to Jungle Red. We have shoulders to cry on, we have laps to cuddle on, we have been-there-done-that stories.  Every single solitary person reading these words has had a gasping, surprising, unexpected disappointing thing happen.
   Every single one.
    And every single one of us will tell you about the good thing that happened ONLY because of the bad thing.
    We know that doesn’t help now. But, dearest and most talented Aimee, we cannot wait for you to come back for WE TOLD YOU SO day.
    As you read this, Reds and readers, you might notice that our beloved Aimee has left one rather BIG THING out of this blog. But I will tell you when she’s done.
   
Aimee’s Story
    By Aimee Hix

2018 was not the year I’d envisioned.
Just putting that out there in case this guest post is a bit of a bummer.
(It’s likely going to be a bummer.)
My very first book, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, was published January 8 2018. I was ‘nervicited’ (a term my daughter came up with when she was little) about how it would all go. Sure, I had my wild fantasies that Ellen and Oprah and Beyoncé would be calling wanting to interview me or have me on Soul Sessions or option the book to turn it into a blockbuster starring herself. But wild fantasies are called wild because everyone knows they’re unpredictably impossible.
I’m sure you will all be unsurprised to find exactly none of those things happened. You’re a little relieved now. This was the bummer. Okay, she’s not very realistic but I get it. Sorry. That’s not it.
The book came out. I was more than ‘nervicited’ I was in full on Put The Oxygen Mask on Yourself First mode. It was weathering so my daughter’s school had a snow day. That helped. My friends were reaching out behind the scenes. That helped. It was getting good reviews from people I respected. That helped. But there was still this static-y sense of dread that fizzled and popped.
I didn’t know what it was then.
I prepared for my launch and party. I was more excited than nervous. My good friend Sherry Harris would be by my side doing a joint launch of our books, that was the plan. Then we’d adjoin to her house with all our friends and eat and toast.
(Bummer alert)
Then my writing assistant had to be escorted to the Rainbow Bridge the Sunday before the event.
I soldiered on. Two of my oldest and dearest friends flew in to surprise me. The event went off very well and I enjoyed myself so much I didn’t even notice the gorgeous boots I’d picked specially for the launch were murdering my feet. (They were worth it, in case you were wondering.)
But something was missing. My sweet girl Karma? Maybe. My call from EllenOprahBeyonce? Very much not. I filled it with new puppies. Twins. Who’d been horded. They were needy, so very needy. And that filled my attention enough to forget that something felt off, a hole.
I resisted it. I pretended it wasn’t there. I pretended what wasn’t there, wasn’t there. Impressive, no?
And it dragged on. I could not finish book three. It had a premise that intrigued me (else, why would I choose it) and I had a grasp on what should happen. It just wouldn’t come. I asked for an extension and got it. 
The very next day Llewellyn Worldwide announced they were shuttering the Midnight Ink imprint.
I was, and am, sad. I was also relieved. The pressure was off.
My subconscious played its part, as well, finding much food, twenty pounds worth, to try to fill the empty space I studiously ignored.
It took me until just recently, this week, while writing this to realize what was missing and why.
Impostor Syndrome. I guess I had just assumed that feeling would go away and that I would feel like a Real Writer once my first book, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, was released. But I didn’t feel like a Real Writer. I don’t feel like a Real Writer. And that’s okay.
Now that I know; now that I realize feeling like an impostor is an ongoing entity with a life of its own. It ebbs and flows like a river and also like a river it twists and turns and occasionally rages, overflowing its banks and flood the surrounding land.
I had been flooded. So now I’m lamenting not having sandbags ready while I sweep the mud out of the cellar. But I know now. I know. And I needed you need to know too. Because we all feel Impostor Syndrome. I’m not alone in it. You’re not alone in it. We’re a community. We have each other.
So maybe this turned out to not be so much of a bummer after all.
HANK: SO, Reds and readers, two things.
One, what Aimee LEFT OUT:
Her brand new book, Dark Streets, 
Cold Suburbs  was published this 
week! YAY!
Sometimes home is the most dangerous place of all.
People move to the suburbs for a better life—nice houses, good schools, safe communities. But there's no place you can go that's completely safe from danger. Willa Pennington knows this all too well after her first PI case almost got her killed. Helping her old mentor review a decades-old cold case seems much safer. 
Then she reaches out to a teenager in trouble, and suddenly a new case rips into Willa's life in a way she could never have predicted. It seems menace is always lying in wait behind someone's door. Especially on the dark streets of the cold suburbs.
 And two: let’s fill these comments with words of encouragement, JUST FOR AIMEE!  
Has anyone noticed her first book is titled What Doesn't Kill You?  
And a copy of  Dark Streets, Cold Suburbs  to one lucky commenter!
 
 Aimee spent twenty years working as a federal contractor, so she spent a lot of time contemplating murder. It made total sense that once she retired she would devote her whole life to it. Fictional murder, of course.
She is a native of Northern Virginia and so she truly understands the trials and tribulations of her main character, Willa Pennington, an apprentice PI starting her new career in the Starbucks-laden, decidedly non-gritty streets of Fairfax County.
Aimee lives in Virginia her family, three dogs, and all her killer thoughts. You can visit her at www.aimeehix.com.

77 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new book, Aimee.
    I think it takes a lot of courage to persevere when you’re feeling unsure of things, but the reward for the effort comes with the well-deserved success you’ve achieved.
    I’m sure we’ll be reading many more of your books; for now, I’ll be pleased to catch up with Willa and her newest adventure . . . .

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  2. We all fake it til we make it, Aimee. I once brought an award-winning guitarist in to speak to the guitar students at the arts magnet high school where I volunteer. This is a guy who is widely hailed as a genius by people like Eric Clapton, been on the cover of guitar magazines, and shared the stage with a long list of A-listers. One of the kids asked him when he knew he'd "made it," and he said, "When I get there I'll let you know."

    So my take is this: if you have come up with a great set of characters and a killer plot, actually written the book, actually SOLD the book, held the finished product in your hand and autographed it for a random person off the street (not your mom or your bestie) who paid real money to get it, then you're not faking it anymore. You did it. You're a real author. You? You're way beyond that point now. You've done all that, plus weathered the folding of a publisher, plus written and sold a second book, plus . . . heck, you're a seasoned professional now! I bow to you.

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    1. Love this! (Lee Child once revealed he was annoyed because James Patterson sold more books than he did. He HAD to be kidding...but maybe ...)

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    2. Nope. They're not kidding. We all only see the sweat stains from the hard work, and the places where we fell short of our ideal. It's only the folks who watch from the outside who can step back and call someone a genius. How many Emmys do you have? Do you still sometimes doubt yourself? Everybody deals with it.

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    3. Gigi, who was the guitar player?

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    4. Thing is, Lee Childs actually WROTE all his own books, just sayin'

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    5. Jay, I can answer that one for Gigi. It was Sonny Landreth. And if you don't know him, look him up! He really is a genius.

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  3. Happy book birthday, Aimee! It awaits on my kindle. I still have the imposter feeling and I'm halfway through my 21st novel. But it's okay, because we have each other. Because we write the best book we can write. tell people about it, and write the next one. Hugs and congratulations!

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  4. Aimee, congrats to you on Book 2! I picked it up this past Saturday (yaay for knowing how to get it early!)

    I get the notion of the impostor syndrome, but you've got this! You've got two books on the shelf, that's real and tangible proof you are anything but an impostor. "What Doesn't Kill You" was a really great start and I'm sure "Dark Streets Cold Suburbs" will continue that streak of Willa Pennington greatness!


    And just for my own sense of curiousity, is there a plan to continue with that third book you mentioned?

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  5. So happy about your new book! I think all of us have a touch of imposter in us, don't we? I mean, just being a mom causes a bit of faking things sometimes! I know I had to fake my fear of swimming pools, heights, snakes, etc so my girls would not be afraid. Yet, as a writer, I don't consider you a fake! Whether you have 1 or 100 books out, you are a writer!

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    1. ANd that's so exactly the point..nothing that we've already done is taken away!

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  6. Congratulations on your new release. You and your colleagues will conquer this bump in the road.

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  7. Congratulations on your new book! Sounds really good so I just ordered the first book. I have to read books in order, even when it doesn't make a difference.
    But the imposter syndrome thing - maybe it's like insanity in that if you think you have it then that is "proof" that you don't. Therefore all those people who have no idea they might be imposters, well there you go - they are.

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    1. I totally believe that! Once you think--oh, I've got this, no problem... Then you are doomed.

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  8. Congrats on the new book Aimee. You weathered a lot, losing Karma and a publisher all in the same year. Especially the kitty:(. But Hank is right, almost all of us have horror stories in this business. And some of us pick up and soldier on after wallowing in the muck for a while. (Just for starters, I had two dropped series and one publisher who decided cozy mysteries were out of fashion and no longer selling.) Every discouraging event feels like a blow, but then you figure out whether you want to keep going anyway or whether you've had enough and want to move on. And you know what? Either decision is fine depending on what you want. YOU. But whatever you decide, you'll always be a writer with 2 published books. And that is a real accomplishment!!

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    1. AN you never know what's around the corner, as I AlwAYS say, right??

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  9. Happy book birthday, Aimee! Every time I start to think, "I must be doing something wrong, I feel so fake and look at all these accomplished authors who put out a book a year so effortlessly," I read a blog post by those same authors who confess to feeling that THIS BOOK is the one that's going to expose them as frauds. It always makes me feel better.

    Enjoy the moment and welcome to the (very large, it seems) club. You got this!

    Mary/Liz

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  10. Darling, funny, talented Aimee: the only difference between you and everyone else is that you're honest and upfront about the Impostor Syndrome. And I love you for it.

    Your first book was amazing, and I can't wait to read the next one. A more worthy publisher than one willing to ditch all the incredible talent Terri Bischoff has collected for them will appear, and they will appreciate you and your work.

    Karen Maslowski

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  11. Happy book birthday, Aimee! I was shocked when I heard about Midnight Ink, but I am positive you and many of their other authors will find bigger and better things in your future. You're too talented not to.

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  12. So sad about Midnight Ink. I've been a huge fan of their books and of Terri. And the personal fallout for so many authors is heartbreaking. I know what it takes to WRITE the book, SELL the rights, EDIT the hell out of it... and then to have the rug pulled out? Sucks.

    Aimee, you sound as if you've got the right attitude. Relief? I'll bet that came as a surprise. (And aren't you glad you're not still a government contractor!)

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    1. Yes, I agree--I think the relief element was interesting... You don't have to want to do it!

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  13. Hey Aimee- here's to the best book birthday ever!

    The thing I've noticed about Imposter Syndrome is that it tends to hit when we narrow our definition of our identity to that ONE BIG THING! It helps to remember that you're a great mom. You're a daughter, a wife and well loved pet person. And, you write! I'm willing to bet there is more than one person in your life who is so grateful that you do way more than write!

    Today, at JRW, we're really glad you also write!

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  14. Someone at a conference once said to me, "It must feel so good to know you've made it!" Uh...I have? And I know from speaking to a few REALLY successful authors the feeling of having to keep it going never changes.

    The real winners in our crazy profession are people like Lucy and Rhys, who keep going, year after year, book after book, despite changes of editors, publishing houses and series.

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  15. Congrats on the release! You have a large MI family in the same boat to hug and hold you up and rant with. You will find the next door that opens will be. Much success and lave to you.

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  16. Aimee, keep on truckin'. Leave the Impostor Syndrome in your rearview mirror. When you're sitting in the driver's seat and you've got a tailwind and your fingers are flying over that keyboard--whether first draft or final revisions--well, that's real! And nothing the Impostor Syndrome throws at you can take that away from you!

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  17. Aimee, what a wringer you've been through! And Imposter Syndrome - yep. It's the worst. But this is a fact: two books are in the world right now because you wrote them, books that are keeping readers up past their bedtime and making them miss their bus stops! Hugs to you.

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  18. Aimee, let me tell you what I remember about you from Malice last year - you signed my copy of WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU with a very kind note. I remember that moment and I also remember your talk at the New Author's Breakfast. In fact, I shared a picture of you on my blog relating that you said you liked the cover. I liked it too. You were friendly and welcoming to me - and I'm not an author - just a mega-book lover. I say that all those great aspects of your life that you shared above are all Aimee. To me, you are definitely a person that I want to listen to - in a book or in a post or at a conference. Hang in there! You have a lot of support here. Love your daughter's word 'nervicited' (love that - I'll use it as I'm a nervicited type person myself). And now, I'm going to go pull that book off the shelf and read it next. Truly. Take care!

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    1. YAAY! This is such a perfect thing to say...thank you for posting!

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  19. HI Aimee, I'm sorry about Midnight Ink but look on it as a new door opening.
    So many people think that once a book is published the writer is suddenly rich and famous. I think we have to focus that it is not the product that is important but the process. The part we enjoy should be the writing. We have no control over the publication and marketing.

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  20. This is a new series for me

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    1. You have treats in store! Welcome! (And see, Aimee? Always new readers!)

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  21. Aimee take heart. You've written three more books than most of the world and published two of them -- so far. That makes you not only a writer but a published author. I think there is a difference, you know.

    Last night while taking a break from James Lee Burke's latest book, I googled him and found this:

    "He finished his first novel, Half of Paradise, when he was twenty-three, but could not find a publisher for it. In Los Angeles he met George Poole, a kind and gentle former member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who introduced him to an agent in New York. Upon publication, the novel was given a six-column review in The New York Times. The reviewer, Wirt Williams, author of Ada Dallas, compared Burke’s novel to the work of Faulkner and Sartre.

    Burke published two more novels, then submitted the manuscript titled The Lost Get-Back Boogie. It stayed under submission for over nine years and was rejected more than 111 times. The consequence was that Burke stayed out of hardback print for thirteen years. During this period he met his current agent, Philip Spitzer, who was driving a cab in Hell’s Kitchen at night and running a one-man agency during the day. When The Lost Get-Back Boogie was finally published by Louisiana State University Press, it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize."

    I can't guarantee anyone a nomination for a Pulitzer, but I can promise that you will only be in the running for one if you continue to write and write and write and refine your craft until the whole world knows your name.

    Good luck and God bless

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    1. I am going to read this a hundred times, Ann! Thank you!

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    2. That is fabulous, Ann. I didn't know that about James Lee Burke.

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  22. Aimee, I absolutely LOVED this post. I so totally get it. I am finishing (yes, really, I promise) my 18th book, and at least one of the reasons why I'm so slow is that I fight a constant battle with imposter syndrome. (This is a terrible idea, why did I ever think this book would work, nobody will want to read it, I'm not a real writer...) On the other hand, I can't imagine NOT writing. So I think we have take Rhys's advice and focus on enjoying the process. When I'm totally involved in the story is the only time the demons shut up:-)

    Kudos to you for getting that book finished in spite of all the roadblocks, and I'm going to go look up your first book right now.

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    1. PS If you want to start with Aimee's first book, WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU is .99 on Kindle today.

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  23. What a brave post Aimee. Loved it. I don't know how writers hang in there in the good times, much less when the rug is being pulled out from under you. And thanks for mentioning the imposter syndrome. You're right, it never goes away but we do learn to kind of shrug it off. So what if "they" find out we're not really whatever it is we think we're fooling them about, we can still do what we need to. And big congrats on the new release!

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  24. As Debs discovered, Aimee's book one, WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU is 99 cents to day! here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/What-Doesnt-Willa-Pennington-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0728G2W34/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1547141214&sr=1-1&keywords=what+doesnt+kill+you+hix

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  25. Yay Aimee! Thanks to this group, you have been introduced to me and your books look like books I would enjoy. I am hopping on over to Amazon to get What Doesn't Kill You.

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  27. Aimee, you are an absolute doll. You light up and fill every room you're in, you make total and complete strangers feel welcome, you share donuts, you give scarves away, you listen, you contribute, you matter, your work matters, and you're oh, so brave. Hank nailed it: we've all had gasping, surprising, unexpected disappointing things happen. I could do nothing in 2018 but watch six years of my very hard work swirl the drain. Just...there it went. And that, after I'd given it everything I had and then some. I wallowed for months, then, guess what? I wrote. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I'm still writing. Go, write, sweet Aimee. And message me a picture of your release boots. xo

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    1. Yes yes yes--donuts.
      And Gretchen, you are fabulous. xooxo

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  28. Aimee! I met you at Malice and you looked like a Real Writer to me, esp. since you were holding a published book with your name on the cover! Congrats on the second book, and surviving a tough year.

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    1. And there you have it. Ramona, as always, gets it totally right, instantly.

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  29. Life would be dull without setbacks, wouldn't it? You've written and published two books.
    That is not "imposter" work. I think we all suffer from bouts of lack of self confidence.
    I know I do. I think it's due to having a preconceived notion of how one is supposed to be
    and do things. I have to remind myself that idea was some nonsense I dreamed up that needs to be revised. Keep on, keep on Aimee!

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  30. Thank you all so much for all your lovely words of encouragement and support.

    It really is okay to feel like you don't have it all together or that you don't know what you're doing - you just have to remember that it's NORMAL. We're not meant to feel like we have it all together or be certain that it's all been done right. That's not the point of life.

    My friend, Kellye Garrett, messaged me after reading this post and said she wished people would talk more about the behind-the-scenes feelings that aren't so positive or happy so I will be expanding on this theme next week on my regular monthly post with the Femmes Fatales.

    I appreciate you all tuning in to what I had to say and hope you all remember that getting the work done (as Rhys so eloquently advised) is what truly matters because it's the only thing we can control. And it's too easy to forget that when you're wearing a dozen hats as a modern writer.

    It makes one long for the days when all you had to do as a writer was drink and sleep around like Hemingway. ;)

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  31. Aimee, I loved book #1, I can’t wait to get book#2 and I expect there will be others. When I finished the first one I felt a sense of loss because I need to know more about Willa. I’m pulling for you!

    DebRo

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  32. My daughter, named Amy Hicks, might agree with imposter syndrome. She tells me to say that she has had bad years and good years, and the good always out weigh the bad. Two books means you never can be an imposter, unless you are at an unpublished author's group.

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  33. Dearest Aimee, you know how much I love you and your writing. I'm more than halfway through Dark Streets, Cold Suburbs, and I stop every once in a while to remind myself that this smooth flowing story is from only a second book. Of course, What Doesn't Kill You, as again you know, was a book I was gobsmacked impressed by. As I messaged you, I do apologize for not getting this marvelous second book read before the publication date, but December took a real nosedive at its end. I think that you have so much talent, Aimee, someone born to write, and I'm so glad that you have jumped in the pool and are swimming like a swan. As well as knowing how to tell one heck of a story, you are one of the kindest, funniest, and generous people I know. I hate that Midnight Inc. is being dissolved. Terri was so gifted at finding great writers, and so many of my favorite authors were published under their banner. However, you, my dear, will absolutely land on your feet, with your two books showcasing what a valuable commodity you are.

    Imposter Syndrome is something I've heard most great authors admit to. I remember Hank stating that every time she starts a new book, she asks Jonathan if she can do this, because she's not sure she can. Of course, she always does. Even in just writing reviews, I sometimes think I just don't have it anymore, if I ever did, and then someone will complement me on a review or an author will really like it, and I go back and read it again and think maybe it wasn't too bad after all. Sometimes you need to reread your published books and see that, yes, you have it going on big time, girl. Now, back to Willa and her looking over crime scenes photos once again.

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    1. Yes, you are SO right!! AndI would worry if I didn't worry. Seriously.

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  34. You are so NOT an imposter, Aimee. And I'm just thrilled for you to have crossed the threshold into bona fide writerlandia. Congratulations on the new release. It only gets better with each book, I promise!

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  35. Congratulations Aimee on your new book. I know great things are coming and I can't wait. You got this!

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  36. Aimee, I'm very late to this party, but wanted to echo what so many posted. You are amazing and wonderful in every way I can imagine. You're an author and human whose voice needs to be heard, so please keep writing. And, as so many have said, Imposter Syndrome is rampant. In fact, I think Lee Child admitted at a recent con that he(!!) suffers from it.

    Hugs, encouragement and eagerly awaiting for whatever you write next (and CONGRATS on the new release!).

    xoxo

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  37. Oh, my darling Aimee, I so feel you on the imposter syndrome. And, like so many others have already said here, you are not just a real genuine author, you are also a genuine human being and I celebrate you and your new book! Which is waiting on my bedside table to make sure I get some prime reading in before sleep!

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  38. And the winner is GAYLE BOYCE!! email me your address at . h ryan at whdh dot com . YAY!

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  39. Aimee, my brother in law once asked me how much I made writing books. When I didn't answer, he asked if I'd sold 1,000 books yet. I said, no, not yet. He told me I was wasting my time. I told him I was doing what I love, that when you do what you love, it's not work, that everything in life isn't about money or fame or power. I don't think he understood it, and I'll be honest. His comments gutted me. For a day. And then I started writing again. Congrats on 2 books in 2 years and think of it like this: If you'd told yourself 5 years ago that in 2019 you'd have 2 books published, would you have believed it? Savor this moment and then get writing again. You can do it. You're not an imposter, you're a human being.

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