*GIVEAWAY ALERT!* My Favorite Christmassy Things!

********Giveaway of GLORY ROAD advance copy is CLOSED—the WINNER is Erin, who was the very last to comment! Erin, please send your mailing address to Lauren(at)LaurenKDenton.com. Congrats!! And thank you to all those who left comments—boy, some of you have had some wild Christmas experiences! Thank you for sharing such sweet and funny stories. Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

Love,

Lauren

Hi Friends! Welcome to My Christmassy Things, where twelve authors share our favorite Christmas memories and stories and YOU, dear reader, have a chance to win one of several gift cards or the *grand prize* of 12 print books—one from each of us! (And pssssst…at the very end of this post, you’ll find a separate giveaway for an advance copy of my novel GLORY ROAD that releases March 19!!)

Today is my day to share…

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Disaster isn’t exactly synonymous with the word “favorite,” is it? It’s hard to call a disaster your favorite anything (favorite terrible moment, maybe?) but in the spirit of My Favorite Christmasy Things, I’m going to tell you about my most memorable, if not favorite, Christmas disaster.

Decorating my own Christmas tree was something I was always really excited to do once I got married and had my own home. I imagined warm twinkle lights, hot chocolate, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire coming from the speakers. Maybe some snow drifting down outside. (Ha! We live in Alabama!) My husband and I lovingly hanging ornaments side by side.

And it was that way for a few (childless) years.

Well, not exactly that way. There were twinkle lights, and ornaments, and my husband was usually around somewhere. But mostly it was me hanging ornaments on the tree while watching Christmas Vacation. But still, there was always the moment when the tree and mantel were all decorated, everything sparkling and colorful. I loved seeing the ornaments we’d both accumulated over the years—crafty things we made in preschool, ornaments picked up on vacations over the years, a yellow tennis ball my childhood best friend gave me when I was ten or so, the key that Matt’s parents gave him when he bought his first home after college. Everything hanging on our tree was somehow a part of who we’d been and who were were going forward.

Once we had kids, the decorating of the Christmas tree changed. Our first child, Kate, was born in November, so that first Christmas with her remained pretty much the same as it always had been. She slept in her rocker while we/I decorated. Going forward though, and especially after her sister Sela came, decorating became a game of keep-away. Let the girls have fun and experience the joy of Christmas, but for the love, keep them away from all things breakable and covered in glitter.

Several years ago, when Sela was about two and Kate was five, I attempted to decorate the whole tree while Sela was napping and Kate was having quiet time in her room. Matt helped me wrap the tree in lights then I started in on the decorating. Box after box of childhood ornaments and a host of paper/popsicle stick/cotton ball/candy cane ornaments the girls had made. All of it out of hiding and hanging on our tree. When I was putting on the finishing touches—hanging those last awkward ornaments that didn’t have a hanger, looking for a sturdy branch for the heavy jingle bell—the tree fell over.

That’s right. Fell. Over. On the floor. Needles and sap and ornaments everywhere. I did what most people would do in that situation—I cried. Yelled. My husband came running down the stairs, wondering what in the world had happened. He lifted the tree and got it standing again and I began to assess the damage. Somehow, the painted sand dollar ornament Matt’s grandparents gave him in 1981 survived but his tiny two-year-old handprint in pottery didn’t. I think we still have that little broken hand in a drawer somewhere. I lost several ornaments I’d gotten at an annual ornament-swap party I used to go to, along with a gold star I’d always loved for no particular reason.

Once I picked up the broken pieces and attempted to hide the bent and twisted branches, I realized what had happened. As I’d been hanging ornaments, I only hung them on the three sides facing out into the room, because why put ornaments where no one will see them? It’s easy to think ornaments don’t weigh very much until you hang a tree’s worth of them on basically one half of the tree. Do that and you’ll soon have a big mess on your hands.

It’s been several years since that debacle and we’ve accumulated many more of those paper/popsicle stick/cotton ball/candy cane ornaments, as well as several more I’ve bought for the girls’ collection and a few I’ve picked up just for fun. We have plenty. But I still think about Matt’s little hand print and those fragile snowflakes that lost their arms.

Oh and we now secure the tree to the wall behind it. Pull on it and it won’t come down. No more toppling trees for us.

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Now, back to the MY FAVORITE CHRISTMASY THINGS GIVEAWAY

Be sure to visit each stop so you don’t miss the fabulous daily giveaways!

Dec 13: Ronie Kendig – My Favorite Christmas Movie

Dec 14: Jody Hedlund – My Favorite Christmas Food

Dec 15: Elizabeth Byler Younts – My Favorite Christmas Ornament

Dec 16: Beth K. Vogt – My Favorite Christmas Decoration

Dec 17: Rachel Linden – My Favorite Christmas Service

Dec 18: Courtney Walsh – My Favorite Christmas Memory

Dec 19: Rachel Hauck – My Favorite Christmas Book

Dec 20: Susan Meissner – My Favorite Christmas Vacation

Dec 21: Catherine J. West – My Favorite Christmas Gift

Enter by midnight on 12/21/18 USA Eastern time! Winners will be drawn on 12/22/18 and posted on Catherine West’s site.

Draw open to US addresses ONLY, with apologies to our international readers.

Major Prizes:

1st: All 12 Print Novels
2nd: $50 Amazon gift card and $20 Starbucks Gift Card
3rd: $50 Amazon gift card

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Now, for the GLORY ROAD ADVANCE COPY GIVEAWAY!!



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To be entered to win an ARC of GLORY ROAD, just leave a comment here on the blog and tell me YOUR favorite Christmas (or Hanukkah!) disaster. Or if you’re lucky enough to have not had any kind of holiday disaster, tell me your favorite holiday tradition. This contest ends at midnight EST on 12/23/18. (US residents only.) I’ll post the winner here!

Good luck on both contests!

Love,

Lauren

GLORY ROAD, a giveaway, and other odds and ends

Friends! Hello!

It’s been tooooo long since I’ve updated this poor blog and I’m sorry! I have random bits of news, so I’ll start with the biggest (for me, anyway!)…

My next novel, GLORY ROAD, is coming sooooon! It releases March 19, 2019, and I’m so very excited to get it in all of your hands! Of course, it’s available for preorder now, wherever you like to buy books. And in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the cover in all it’s, well, glory ;)

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My editor Kim and I went back and forth and back and forth with the design team a whole lot, all of us trying to get just the right look and—most importantly—feel for the cover. I’m so thankful for a team that not only asks for my input, but is willing to go back to the drawing board when necessary. I think we all won on this one! It’s just so pretty.

Here’s a quick summary of GLORY ROAD…

At thirty-eight, garden shop owner Jessie McBride thinks her chances for romance are years behind her and, after her failed marriage, she's fine with that. She lives contentedly with her fiery mother and her quiet, headstrong daughter. But the unexpected arrival of two men on Glory Road make her question if she's really happy with the status quo. Handsome, wealthy Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter's wedding, and Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. And Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school days who's known her better than anyone and whom she hasn't seen in years, moves back to the red dirt road. Jessie finds her heart being pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie's fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and trying to navigate a new world of identity and emotions--particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who's moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie's mother, Gus, increasingly finds herself forgetful and faces a potentially frightening future.

As all three women navigate the uncertain paths of their hearts and futures, one summer promises to bring change--whether they're ready for it or not.

I can’t wait for y’all to meet Gus, Jessie, and Evan. I really had a lot of fun creating and developing these three women.

WHAT I’M WRITING:

Next bit of news…I’m working on book 4! It’s so early in the process, it doesn’t have a title, and it’s still in a pretty fluid form, but I have a feeling about this one. This one takes us back to the water, in south south Alabama (yes, that’s two souths), and so far, there’s a charming older gentleman who goes by Coach and rides in a golf cart decorated with Hawaiian leis and fuzzy coconuts, a young mother in need of a do-over, and a hair salon. That’s all I’ll say for now, but I’ll keep you updated as the writing progresses.

WHAT I’M READING:

I’ve read some good books this fall. Here are just a couple I really enjoyed…

Loved this road trip of memories and music. I felt like I was learning a lot about Elvis, although the Author's Note in the back tells you exactly what she fictionalized and what came right from history. I loved the way she structured the novel, telling one story as a road trip from Beaufort to Memphis, and the other story the other way, from Memphis to Beaufort, but in reverse order. (It sounds confusing, but it's not. The two stories flow together beautifully.)

Loved this road trip of memories and music. I felt like I was learning a lot about Elvis, although the Author's Note in the back tells you exactly what she fictionalized and what came right from history. I loved the way she structured the novel, telling one story as a road trip from Beaufort to Memphis, and the other story the other way, from Memphis to Beaufort, but in reverse order. (It sounds confusing, but it's not. The two stories flow together beautifully.)

This book gets all the stars from me. It hooked me quite literally from page 1 (with that amazing phrase "the tinnitus of technology") and I looked forward all day to the time when I could pick it back up and read more. I loved Eunice and Bomber and Anthony and Laura and Sunshine and Freddy. I loved the touches of magic, which will appeal to fans of Sarah Addison Allen. Loved her use of alliteration! And her English wit! (The humor reminded me a little of Abbi Waxman's The Garden of Small Beginnings.) Utterly charming and original.

This book gets all the stars from me. It hooked me quite literally from page 1 (with that amazing phrase "the tinnitus of technology") and I looked forward all day to the time when I could pick it back up and read more. I loved Eunice and Bomber and Anthony and Laura and Sunshine and Freddy. I loved the touches of magic, which will appeal to fans of Sarah Addison Allen. Loved her use of alliteration! And her English wit! (The humor reminded me a little of Abbi Waxman's The Garden of Small Beginnings.) Utterly charming and original.

Right now, I’m reading two books—All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy and the follow-up to Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea. When I need the silence and stark beauty of the wide-open southwest, I go with the horses. When I need something charming and light, I pick up Anne. ;)

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GIVEAWAYS COMING!

Y’all keep your eyes on my blog around December 12—I’ll be posting a special blog entitled “My Favorite Christmas Disaster” as part of a blog tour I’m doing with eleven other authors. If you participate in the 12-day tour, (December 10-21) you’ll be entered to win TWELVE signed books! One from each of the authors (mine will be HURRICANE SEASON)! That’s a huge prize, friends. (Plus, it’s possible I may add a separate giveaway of my own, for an advance copy of GLORY ROAD!!)

I’ll pop back in here soon with details about the contest so everyone knows what to do. I’ll also mention it on Instagram and Facebook.
And speaking of Insta and Facebook, if you don’t follow me there, just know I post there much more frequently than here on the dear blog.

Find me on Insta here: https://www.instagram.com/laurenkdentonbooks/

And on Facebook here:
https://www.facebook.com/LaurenKDentonAuthor/

I’ll be back soon with contest details and maybe some info on a GLORY ROAD giveaway. Thank you all for reading and may all your Christmas trees stand proud and your to-do lists be short!

Love,
Lauren

Return to Regular Programming

There's well over a month left of summer, but for those of us with small kids, specifically in Homewood, Alabama, summer ends this week. Though it's still steamy hot outside, the minute all our kids begin the trek to the little red brick building, the lazy, carefree days of summer are over. (That cacophony you hear is a combination of parental sobbing and celebration.)

I've been both dreading and anticipating this week for a while now. It's been a mostly glorious summer, full of late bedtimes, sleeping in (by the kids), reading, puzzles, lots of beach and pool time, hanging out with friends, and porch time. In the last few weeks, however, things have started to unravel a bit. My oldest daughter's inquiries as to "What are we doing tomorrow? What are we doing after lunch? What's for dinner? What will we do after that?" have begun to wear away at my patience. My youngest daughter spent the first month and a half of summer contentedly traipsing through the backyard in search of bugs and treasures, but it seems our yard's treasure trove has been emptied. And where the two sisters played so beautifully together for the majority of the summer, they're now bickering over things so ridiculous, when I ask them about it a few minutes later, they can't even remember why they're mad, just that they ARE. I think the return to routine and structure will be good for sisterhood, for imagination, for patience, for world peace. 

Another thing--this summer, I *haven't been writing* and it's been such a welcome break. I told everyone (and by everyone, I mainly mean my agent and my editor) that after turning in the GLORY ROAD manuscript back in February, I didn't plan to start writing anything new until the kids go back to school in August. I needed the mental break, time for creative juices to flow again, and I wanted time to read for pleasure. Which I've done. A lot. But now that school is starting (in two days!!), it means I'm staring the blank notebook in the face. (I actually have a new blank notebook. I bought it about a month ago in anticipation of THIS week, when the kids start back and my time turns back to brainstorming and writing. It's purple, and cheap, and this time has 3 subjects instead of just 1. More room to write and scratch out, write and scratch out.)

I admit it, I'm a little scared. I worry, "What if I can't do it again? What if another story just won't come?" I worried about this after THE HIDEAWAY and again after writing HURRICANE SEASON and both times, another story came. But here I am worrying about it again. I do have some ideas. I have several pages in another ratty old notebook where I've jotted down ideas and thoughts about various story possibilities. Yes, one is rising to the surface a little more than the others. But I've purposely held off on doing any serious plotting or outlining until after August 8, because I know once I get going, I'll want to really get going, and I can't do that until I have a chunk of time that's mine all mine. And I haven't had that since May 24th. 

So it is with fear and trembling, and celebration and rejoicing, and yes, plain old sadness that my babies are getting older, that we enter into this important week. We meet our new teachers today, then tomorrow we are having a lemonade stand with some friends, then school starts Wednesday. Wednesday morning, I will take pictures of the girls holding their handmade "First Day of..." signs, hold back my tears as I walk them to their new classrooms and kiss their faces, then go across the street and have a mimosa with other moms who've just done the same thing. Then I'll probably spend that first day wandering around my empty house wondering what to do with myself. 

Maybe Thursday I'll buckle down and start that book. 

 

SUMMER IS HERE!

Hi all!

It's been a while since I've updated my blog! The reasons are many and varied, but the main hold-up has been spring/end-of-school madness coupled with first-round edits on book three, which now has an official title of GLORY ROAD. (I'm tickled to say it's MY title! I'm three for three on choosing titles!)

How about a little photographic recap of the last several months....

Our Birmingham launch party for HURRICANE SEASON was a blast, and again I was amazed by the sweet support of our family and friends who came to celebrate with us. 

Our launch party for HURRICANE SEASON was a blast, and again I was amazed by the sweet support of our family and friends who came to celebrate with us. 

Our launch party for HURRICANE SEASON was a blast, and again I was amazed by the sweet support of our family and friends who came to celebrate with us. 

My brother and sister-in-law on the left and my adorable editor extraordinaire on the right.

My brother and sister-in-law on the left and my adorable editor extraordinaire on the right.

My sweet parents and my partner-in-crime and travel companion Anna on the left.

My sweet parents and my partner-in-crime and travel companion Anna on the left.

My daughters' sweet teachers came to the party!

My daughters' sweet teachers came to the party!

My sweet and proud husband.

My sweet and proud husband.

I've had a few book signings too. I chatted with author Kristy Woodson Harvey at Foxtale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA, and with author Emily Carpenter at The Book Exchange in Marietta, GA. 

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We've had some kid stuff going on too...

Sela the sassy narwhal. (The narwhal is the unicorn of the sea.)

Sela the sassy narwhal. (The narwhal is the unicorn of the sea.)

Sela's dance recital. 

Sela's dance recital. 

After Kate's end-of-the-year jazz performance. 

After Kate's end-of-the-year jazz performance. 

Lastly, we had a second launch party for HURRICANE SEASON in Mobile. Lots of friends and family there to help of celebrate! 

Kate loved helping the booksellers! She handed out bookmarks and added lots of cuteness.

Kate loved helping the booksellers! She handed out bookmarks and added lots of cuteness.

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I've also met with some amazing book clubs! 

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Whew. So, you know, not much going on at all ;) It's been a lot of fun though. I love meeting with book clubs and book groups--book people are definitely my people! And it's been a fun season of life with our girls too. They're getting older, which brings with it a measure of sadness because of the passage of time, but it's wonderful too--we can do more with them and they're enjoying each other a lot too. (As soon as I say that, sibling rivalry will kick back into high gear, I'm sure, but for now we're enjoying the laughter and friendship!)

WHAT I'M READING
I always like to tell you what I'm reading, and right now I'm reading this book that's totally obscure and I'm sure none of you have heard of it.....

Just kidding--it's Anne of Green Gables! I've never read it and I'm LOVING it! What a spunky and clever and hilarious girl. 

WHAT I'M WRITING
Nothing! And I admit, it's kind of nice. I'm currently working on first round edits for GLORY ROAD. I'd planned to have them finished by tomorrow when the kids get out of school, but I don't think I'm going to quite make it. I'm very close though. And as usual, I'm enjoying the editing process. Having a fresh set of eyes on my words (those of my wonderful editor Kim) has made the story even sharper and more alive. I can't wait for this one to release! It comes out in February. 

I'm thinking about my next book, of course, but I probably won't give it serious thought until a little later in the summer. The short 10 or so weeks of summer flies by and I want to enjoy it with my kids and catch up on as much reading as possible. (I do have a couple of ideas I'm batting around...)

I hope you all have a nice start to the summer--even if it's not official summer, it's the start of the school summer, and that counts for me!

Love,
Lauren

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Hi friends! It has been a while! What's taking up my time these days, you ask? Here's a quick visual.

Sela and Kate on Hero day at school.

Sela and Kate on Hero day at school.

Kate's 8th birthday party!

Kate's 8th birthday party!

Sela at Christmas/Frozen/Cinderella madness at the mall.

Sela at Christmas/Frozen/Cinderella madness at the mall.

But what's been taking up my free time the most? 

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This friendly little chart is keeping me on track to finish this draft of book 3 by the time my kids get out of school for something like three weeks for Christmas. I made up the schedule when I realized that having to squeeze writing time into the days while my kids are home through New Years would make all of us fairly miserable. Especially the days leading up to Christmas. It's always a bit of a struggle to keep things peaceful and restful in the midst of Christmas frenzy, trying to remember what and who we're celebrating, but much more so if I'm trying to wrangle words as well. So, deadline to the rescue. And I have to admit, as I near the end of this story, I'm starting to feel a teeny bit excited about it. I'll put it aside after the 13th and hopefully not pick it up again until at least after Christmas, if not when the kids are back in school. Then it'll be a last push to reread, ask a few people to read it for me, and do final revisions before turning it in Feb. 1. 

HURRICANE SEASON
I can't wait to get this book out into your hands! It releases April 3, 2018. In short, it's about marriage, motherhood, sisters, daughters, cows, photography, and hurricanes. I'm a little biased, but I think you'll like it ;)

THE HIDEAWAY
This sweet little thing has stayed on the USA Today Bestseller list for 8 weeks! Amazing. And thank you for helping it make it to the list! I've had so much fun talking and Skyping with books clubs over the last several months, and I have several more on the calendar in 2018. If you're part of a book club, I'd love to come visit--or Skype if you're not in the Birmingham or Mobile area! Shoot me and email and let's talk!

WHAT I'M READING THESE DAYS
 

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I recently finished this little gem, The Longest Night by Andria Williams. It's her debut novel but you'd never know it by its beautiful prose and tight tension. It's centered around the country's only fatal accident at a nuclear reactor (in the early 60s), and the marriage of one of the reactor's operators and his wife. I really enjoyed it. 

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This was another fascinating read, about the man who led the exploration of a portion of Alaska; his wife Sophie who stayed behind; and a wonderfully crotchety old man writing letters to a young staffer at a museum in Alpine, Alaska. Eowyn Ivey wrote The Snow Child, which I haven't read, but it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, so I'm assuming it's pretty good ;) This one kept me up many nights until I finished it. It was beautiful.

COMING UP
If you're anywhere near Mobile, AL, I'll be signing copies of The Hideaway at LUSH Home and Garden during the Christmas at the Loop holiday open house! It's Friday Dec 1 from 5-8pm. I'd love to see you there! Remember BOOKS make great gifts! Especially signed ones. And I can personalize them for anyone you want. 

I hope you all have a restful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Love,
Lauren

 

 

 

USA Today Bestseller!

So, THE HIDEAWAY had a bit of a good week last week! Wednesday I learned that the book made it on to the Top 20 Most Sold list on Amazon, coming in at #17. This on its own was exciting enough. 

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THEN, oh but then, on Thursday, I returned home from dropping my kids off at school, started scrambling eggs for breakfast, and saw an email from my friends at Thomas Nelson informing me that THE HIDEAWAY debuted at #39 on the USA Today bestseller list!

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I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I sobbed over my plate of scrambled eggs. My brain was total mush for the rest of the day. It's crazy that we keep getting good news about the book--making it onto these lists, seeing numbers continue to rise, etc. But honestly, the best part of it is that daily, I'm receiving email messages from readers telling me how much they enjoyed the book. Those messages are so precious, and I've saved every single one in an email folder. I plan to pull them back out and read them on difficult writing days or when a particularly stinging negative review comes in. So THANK YOU to all of you who've read the book and THANK YOU for spreading the word to your friends and family. I love knowing Mags and Sara (William and Crawford, Dot and Bert, Glory and Major, and of course Allyn) are having such an effect on readers. 

**Sidenote: The eBook was on sale for $1.99 for all of August, BUT in case you missed out or know of someone else who did, the sale has been extended for all of September! Please spread the word to your book-loving friends. Here's a link to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks.

READING:

I just finished reading an advance copy of Billy Coffey's STEAL AWAY HOME. 

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I loved this book. Here's my review of it: During the course of one fateful night--his first game in the Major League--Billy Coffey's main character, Paul Cross, is confronted by his childhood love, aspirations, and regrets. Baseball fans will love the behind-the-scenes peek into a night game in the Major Leagues, but even non-baseball fans will be pulled into the beauty and tension of Coffey's writing, the lovely and tragic Blue Ridge Mountain settings, and his compelling characters who make both selfless and heartbreaking choices. This is a powerful story of grief, love, forgiveness, and holy mystery, and I loved it. Billy Coffey is a master storyteller. 

Next, I'm reading Patti Callahan Henry's THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER'S END, Emily Beck Cogburn's AVA'S PLACE, and Johnnie Bernhard's A GOOD GIRL. The four of us are going to be on a panel at the Louisiana Book Festival at the end of October. 

WRITING:

I've started going through my rough draft of book 3 (which I'm tentatively calling Glory Road). I'm about 5 chapters in and relieved that I still like the story! I think the three women in this story will resonate with readers and fans of Sara and Mags, as well as fans of Betsy and Jenna, the main characters in next April's HURRICANE SEASON. Right now, I'm trying to parcel out my day to include a decent chunk of writing/revising, reading, and "adulting" i.e., keeping the laundry from overtaking the house, making sure dinner gets on the table, making sure Kate does her 20 minutes of reading a day and keeping Sela from bringing cicadas inside the house. 

Speaking of HURRICANE SEASON, I just received the designed pages of the book and I have my last chance to read through and catch any last hiccups before production begins! So exciting. I can't wait to get this book out to everyone. I love it. 

Hope y'all are well and finding time to do things you enjoy. And if any of you are in Florida, please be safe and careful. 

Lauren