Why would anyone listen to your story? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Sharing Anything with Anyone

I just picked up a copy of Story Genius by Lisa Cron, and I’ve really felt inspired by the exercises she has included. While the questions below do not appear in her book, I feel like they fit her general emphasis on the importance of story. Here are three questions to ask yourself before you share your story with anyone.

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Writing / Sharing Your Story

Why would anyone listen to your story?

Stories are ways to communicate deeper ideas, and they are only as compelling as the motivations that drive the characters within them. This speaks to the heart of one of the lessons I learned from the first pages Lisa Cron’s book. Good storytelling relies on solid emotional content, and our stories are only as good as the reasons why we are telling them.

While the content of the story enriches the experience for the reader, it is the context – the reason why – that makes the story worthwhile. I’m starting to think about the short fiction that I write, asking myself this question.

Why would anyone read the story? Having a solid “why” may ensure that your story is interesting enough to listen to, view, or read.

Is your story relevant?

Really knowing your audience is important, no matter what story you are telling. The way you frame the story for your audience matters. The emotion you reveal and the details you emphasize shape your story.

Being relevant means that you are telling the story to the right people, or that you are telling the story the right way to your audience. Every audience is different. There are cases where a story is told so well that it is universal. In that case, the story is always relevant. It may speak to a higher truth or part of the human experience.

A relevant story impacts readers. An irrelevant story is forgotten.

How will this story impact your reader, listener, or friend?

How you tell your story changes the impact it has on the reader. Are you trying to prove a particular point, or is your story a way to connect with someone? What mode of story are you using?

Sometimes stories share ideas that are meant to change the reader’s world. Other times, a story is meant to communicate an experience. But what are you communicating? What’s the point? How will your reader walk away?

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I hope you enjoyed these questions!

-Curtis

Let’s Connect!

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

 

7 Lessons I Learned From Hosting My First 7-Day Challenge, and What I’m Doing Next . . .

Today marks the end of the 7-Day Reading Challenge.

At least, it marked an end to the official days. . . Here’s what I learned from hosting a 7-Day Challenge over Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress, and what I plan on doing next.

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Seven Days of Challenging Myself

I spent the last seven days of my life reading for 20 minutes a day and posting to Instagram, Twitter, and WordPress about my reading experience. This was an attempt to start building a stronger reading habit while connecting with others about the joy of reading. You can read about the challenge here.

I thought that building the reading habit would be the hardest part. It was not.

The most difficult element of the challenge was keeping up with a consistent posting schedule across the three mediums. The process taught me so much.

Here’s what I learned:

Lesson # 1: Hosting a challenge is fun, even with a small number of people.

As of writing this post, the Instagram hashtag garnered about 26 public posts. This is a relatively small number considering what is possible during a challenge. However, this made no difference in terms of how fun the challenge was.

Some people are still continuing the challenge, and that’s unbelievably cool. Others are just starting, like this user, @blackbird_reads, who is creating a story highlight for the challenge.

I had the opportunity to connect with people I didn’t know, inside and outside of the challenge, simply because we were consistently reading and posting about our reading experience.

Lesson # 2: Social pressure helps me accomplish tasks.

Hosting the challenge gave it an extra edge, as I had the opportunity to see the process grow. I was pushed by social pressure to make sure I completed my 20 minutes of reading a day. Social pressure also encouraged me to post daily on WordPress and Instagram – a habit that I would like to continue whenever possible.

Lesson # 3: I can easily let social media consume me.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I found myself checking Instagram far too much, and I needed to check in with myself about how much social media time was healthy. I know I may sound old saying this, but there definitely is a limit to how much Instagram a person should consume before it consumes you.

Still, it wasn’t wasted time. Last week I didn’t even know what a theme or aesthetic was for an Instagram feed, and now I’m learning how to post more visually-appealing content.

Lesson # 4: On most days, I wanted to read for more than 20 minutes.

The reading challenge not only pushed me to read for 20 minutes, but it also pushed me to think deeply about my own reading. As a result, I took a longer amount of time to process my reading each day. For that, I am happier.

Lesson # 5: The most meaningful connections were with people over the smallest things.

Whenever someone told me about a new book, project, or ARC, I felt like we were building a small community around reading. I know that Bookstagram and other communities exist for readers, but this felt more personal. Maybe it was the size, or maybe it was the specificity of the challenge.

The smallest conversations somehow felt bigger, like we strangers were reaching across the internet and building bridges.

Lesson # 6: Hosting a challenge keeps you focused on a small set of tasks.

Hosting the challenge kept me focused on these tasks:

  1. Reading every day.
  2. Posting to Instagram every day.
  3. Writing blog posts every day.
  4. Asking questions every day.
  5. Becoming inquisitive about what works and reflecting for a few minutes on new things I could try.

Lesson # 7: Seven days is too short of a time to recruit people to a challenge. Which is why it will remain open . . . forever.

I only promoted the challenge for a week before it started, and I honestly have a very small following of people at this point. This didn’t discourage me when I started the challenge, and it doesn’t discourage me now. In fact, it’s rather encouraging. I’m keeping the hashtag open, and I will post regularly to it, just in case someone else decides to take on the challenge and #readwithcurtis.


What’s Next?

I organized all the 7-Day Reading Posts on a new site page. You can check it out here.

I’m going to post about my reading regularly to the Instagram hashtag #readwithcurtis , and I will update the #readwithcurtis site page when I write articles about specific books.

New Habits to Keep

  1. Reading regularly.
  2. Posting regularly to Paper Palaces.
  3. Posting to Instagram daily.
  4. Connecting with others daily.

I’m sure there will be days when this won’t be possible, but I think setting the intention is important.

A New Challenge

I’m planning a new challenge, just for me. It’s more of an experiment than a challenge. You can follow the experiment via this blog. Of course, you are welcome to join in too!

For the next season, I am going dive into my fiction writing. I will post about it regularly on my Instagram feed as well under the hashtag #MinutesToABetterBook, and I will, of course, create process posts here on WordPress. I want to see how quickly I can get to 18,000 minutes (300 Hours) of time dedicated to just writing fiction, specifically my books. Read more about Minutes to a Better Book here.

I’m would like to complete that writing time by the end of the summer. It will take many early mornings, and probably some late nights, but the story must be told.

-Curtis

Let’s Connect!

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

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Want to try the 7-Day Reading challenge? Read more about the challenge here.

-Curtis

Read an article that refreshes you!

Today’s bonus daily task for the 7-Day Reading Challenge is to reconnect with yourself. One of my suggestions is to read an article about mental, spiritual, or physical health. Recharge!

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Reconnect with Yourself – Read an article that refreshes you!

My Response

Day 07

The purpose of today’s task is to refresh yourself after these last seven days of building a reading habit. I hope that the 7-Day Challenge has worked for you so far. It definitely has been a great experience for me. If you have not done the challenge, I encourage you to do so. The hashtag #ReadWithCurtis is still up, and I will continue posting to it, especially on Instagram.


Refreshing Articles

When it comes to refreshing articles, I strongly recommend any article on mental, physical, or spiritual health. This morning, I took some time to read a few articles online. Some of the articles focused on the psychology of feeling motivated, as well as how to develop habits that leave you feeling empowered and generally happy.

Taking time to read short articles that contribute to my well-being always improves the quality of my day. Strangely enough, I usually feel most refreshed when reading about goal setting in any of these areas; habit formation is definitely one area that I love reading about.

Of course, whenever I read articles like these, I usually have a cup of black coffee in hand, and that may account for all of the refreshing energy I feel…


An Article for You

This morning, I was walking while listening to a podcast interview with James Clear. I have talked about him before on this blog.  He usually has simple, easy-to-apply tips for forming positive working habits. Today’s podcast brought up the idea of an anchor goal. I have included an article from James Clear’s blog on single-tasking vs. multi-tasking. There, you will find the idea of an anchor goal in his own words. I really like the idea of creating an anchor goal, especially because my high degree of openness drives me to chase every idea I have.

Here is the article for your perusal:

Do you have an article that refreshed you? Let me know!

-Curtis


Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

Spend your Day Binge Reading or Sampling New Books – 7-Day Challenge – Day 06

Today’s post is for the Day Six of the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Challenge. Today’s bonus task is to binge read or sample new books.

Read all of my 7-Day Challenge Articles here.

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Binge Reading or Sampling New Books

 

My Response

Day 06

Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 10.58.09 AM.png

 


This week has been great. While I have mostly stuck to reading two books Fragile Things and Tolkien’s Ring, I have found the process of reading daily and posting daily to be not only fun but also extremely sustainable. It’s nice to connect with friends, family, and complete strangers over what’s being read.

For day six, I’ve already started amassing my next list of books to binge read. In a few hours, I am heading over to my mother’s house for Mother’s Day, so I won’t binge read until tomorrow – sometime between grading papers, doing the dishes, and writing A Thousand Watchful Eyes.

I’ve continued reading Tolkien’s Ring as a start, and I hope to budget more of my time tomorrow towards knocking out books on the list.

Here’s the start of my Mythic / Epic Fantasy Binge-Read List

  • Tolkien’s Ring – David Day and Alan Lee
  • The Mythology of Middle Earth – Ruth Noel
  • Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman (Re-Read)

Do you have any book recommendations to go on my list? I’m looking especially for short fantasy fiction, as I am doing some writing experiments within that genre.

-Curtis


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Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

Connect with another reader!

Today’s post is for the Day Five of the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Challenge. Today’s bonus task is to connect with another reader!

Read all of my 7-Day Challenge Articles here.

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Connect with another reader!

7-Day Reading Challenge Update & My Response

Day 05

This challenge was about connecting with readers while forming a stronger reading habit. In a way, I have been trying to do this since the beginning of the challenge. To change things up a bit, I’ve decided to talk to more and more people. I want to connect with others about what I am reading, what I am writing, and share the enthusiasm for both! To help with this,  I am participating in a few more challenges and communities online. #BookstagramTogetherInMay is a one example.

I am finding that I often stick to my own comfort zone when it comes to connecting with people, and sometimes I need to take a risk and reach out. I’m hoping to make as many meaningful connections with people as I can. I’ve already gained solidarity with the people who have joined the challenge, and I am happy for that.

 


Have you started the challenge? What are your reading plans?

-Curtis


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Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

What is the strangest or most memorable thing you have read today?

Today is Day Four of the # 7-Day Reading Challenge. Today’s bonus prompt is What is the strangest or most memorable thing you have read today?  Remember to post with the hashtag #ReadWithCurtis on Instagram, Twitter, or your blog so we can see how you respond. Feel free to leave your response in the comments!

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What is the strangest or most memorable thing you have read today?

My Response

Today, I continued to read David Day’s Tolkien’s Ring, a book that explores the connections between myth, literature, and Tolkien’s writings. I learned a few days ago that Tolkien hated Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”

Today, the most memorable passage I read was a retelling of the Norse Volsunga saga – specifically a scene where the wander Odin plunges a sword into a tree. This story very much reminds me of Arthurian legend, and the academic inside of me is holding both arms in the air in excitement for reading myths and legends.

I’m proud of my nerdy taste in books.

 


7-Day Reading Challenge Update

Day 04

This has been a great day of the challenge so far. More people are joining the hashtag on Instagram and WordPress (#ReadWithCurtis). Here’s a big shoutout to Judy in Delight in Your Garden for starting the challenge on WordPress! I strongly encourage you to join if you haven’t already. It’s been a lot of fun.

You can choose which seven days you are going to read. Read for 20 minutes a day, and then post about your reading experience.

Even if you miss a day, try restarting the challenge! There are a lot of false starts when it comes to habit building. Believe me. I know. I’ve tried and messed up before, but that’s just how forming new habits work.

If you decide to join, I wish you the best of luck! Why not try the bonus prompt of the day as well?

What’s the strangest or most memorable thing you read today? (Blogs and online reading count too!)

 

-Curtis


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Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

 

 

A Note of Gratitude: On Surpassing 50 WordPress Followers . . .

This is a note of gratitude for readers of Paper Palaces and Curtis Writes Books.

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Thanks!

I’m grateful.

My blog, PaperPalacesBlog.com, has gained over 50 WordPress followers. Over the past six months, I’ve connected with many writers on WordPress: book reviewers, travelers, armchair historians, and academics alike.

I want to take this moment to thank you for reading Paper Palaces and Curtis Writes Books. It means a lot to me to connect with you on the topics of reading, writing, and the motivation it takes to do both.


What’s Next?

Posting

I’m happy to say that I’m trying to write at least one solid post a day on Paper Palaces, but this is not yet a promise! Life pulls us in all sorts of directions, and finding the right direction is often fraught with difficulty. I find just having the goal of writing one post a day to be enough!

Books

I’m still working on all my fiction projects, and believe me, it’s hard to manage the time. No matter what, I will keep pushing to write as many books as possible in 2018 and beyond. Maybe I’ll work out a schedule this summer where I complete a writing session and post the day of, or on the very next day with a relevant topic.

More Media

I would really like to do more this summer with both Paper Palaces and Curtis Writes Books, perhaps adding videos and more media in general. Do you have any suggestions?

I am even toying with the idea of a barebones podcast to accompany the content. I’m a beginner at this so I may need your advice and feedback!


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Let me know if you have any suggestions! Again, thank you for your support!

-Curtis


Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com


Like What You’re Reading? Check out the Reader’s Club.

What resonates with you from your reading?

The question for today’s reading challenge is What resonates with you from your reading? If your not part of the 7-Day Challenge, feel free to answer the question anyway. It’s nice to hear what ideas stick with you. What impresses you? What piques your interest?

This can be about anything you’re reading! Reply in the comments or through any of the challenge feeds.

Read all the 7-Day Challenge Articles here.

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What resonates with you from your reading?

My Response

I read a lot of fantasy and non-fiction lately, and there used to be a time when I read more realistic fiction. My tastes have definitely changed over the years, and I think it is because I am realizing what resonates with me; I am moved by well-crafted works of fiction.

Not only am I moved by well-crafted scenes, plot, and dialogue, I also love the unique quality that the fantasy genre has to offer. For me, the technique of a well-written book resonates with me. I am moved by the deep worlds created by Rowling, Tolkien, and Martin, and I’m excited by the dark prose and unique voice of Gaiman and Maas.

Let me know what resonates with you! What type of reading moves you? Which authors just do it right?


7-Day Reading Challenge Update

Day 03

Today is Day Three of the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Reading Challenge, and I’m currently reading Tolkien’s Ring by David Day, illustrated by Alan Lee. I am also reading short stories out of the book Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. I had these authors in mind today as I wrote my response to today’s prompt.

Tolkien’s Ring examines Tolkien’s work and its relationship with mythology and classical literature. There are gorgeous illustrations in this book.

Fragile Things is a collection of short works by Neil Gaiman. This book has re-inspired me to look at the relationship between my own reading and writing.

How are you doing with the challenge?

Remember  to use the hashtag #ReadWithCurtis so we can see what you are reading!


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Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

When you have writer’s procrastination, try these five simple steps. . .

I sat down at my screen today wanting to write for my project, A Thousand Watchful Eyes. This resulted in the usual pattern of procrastination – surfing the internet, watching a video, writing notes about future projects, eating a snack… The list goes on. I have faced this dragon before, and I have defeated it many times over. When you don’t feel like writing, try these five simple steps . . .

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Stop Writer’s Procrastination in These Five Steps


Step One:

Feed Your Brain So You’re Not Fighting Hunger and Dehydration

Here’s what I suggest… Drink a glass of water. If you have not eaten in hours, eat a light snack with a little protein and fat. You don’t want to lose out on your precious writing time because your body isn’t ready for you to sit down and use your brain. It takes effort and persistence to write, so feed your brain.

Feed your brain so it is up to the task.


Step Two:

Make your writing space comfortable and enjoyable.

I suggest setting yourself up in a comfortable place – a place that you enjoy. Ideally, this is an area that creates the right mindset for you to write. In the long term, try setting up something permanent. In the short term, work with what you have!

For me, my favorite spot to work is at the kitchen table when no one is home. Make sure everything you need is available to you, including whatever writing implements you use.


Step Three:

Clear away all possible distractions.

Put your phone on silent and close all social media, and make sure all your extra tabs and windows are gone. Music is the only exception, as it can get you pumped to work. A playlist is the most ideal, as you won’t shuffle through songs every minute or so.


Step Four:

Set a timer.

Set a small amount of time. I suggest five minutes or under.

The bigger the urge you have to run away from your project, the smaller the amount of time you should set.

For example, to overcome procrastination today, I did Steps One through Three, and then I set a timer for three minutes. I wanted to get three solid sentences finished in that time. This is a simple and manageable task for me.

You should strive for your own simple and manageable task. Maybe it’s just writing for that small amount of time. Maybe it’s describing a character or a detail of your setting.

You could set your timer for thirty seconds or thirty minutes! The point is to set a small goal, and that’s relative to what you are doing.

This tiny writing sprint moves you from procrastinating to actually starting your work. Crushing this tiny goal will give you enough motivation to move forward.


Step Five:

Make what you just wrote better.

Take what you created during your tiny writing sprint and revise it to make it better. This may involve re-arranging the sentences, editing for punctuation, or re-arranging the order. In fact, it may involve a few other processes I failed to mention. The point is to improve what you just created.


Now what?

Now, your brain has switched gears.

Now, you are no longer procrastinating.

Now, you can stop, if you want, but you’ll probably feel like working on your project! Maybe you will even feel like repeating steps four and five again. In all cases, you can say, “I worked on my project today, and tomorrow, I can try to do the same, or better.”


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A Quick Tip

While these five steps work for Writer’s Procrastination, you can apply the same method to any task. You just need to get creative with Steps Four and Five.

If you procrastinate frequently, don’t worry. You’re human. It’s better not to beat yourself up. What you could do, however, is see what can be fixed. Maybe one small area of your life needs changing for you to work on your project.

A desk may need clearing, or a light may need fixing. Maybe you just need to adjust the little things in your life that help you focus 1% better. Maybe you need to rest. Sometimes there are a thousand little things that call for our attention and we have to decide to attend to them immediately or budget time later.

In all cases, I hope you try these five steps yourself. They work rapidly for me, and I hope they work for you.

Do you have any tips for overcoming procrastination?

-Curtis


Let’s Connect

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com


Like What You’re Reading? Join the Reader’s Club.

WP Daily Prompt: Rapid

What’s next on your reading list? #ReadWithCurtis Challenge: Day Two and Book Review Blogs

Whenever I finish a book,  I usually consult a reading list, pick a book from a stack, or go to my online reading communities via book blogs or vlogs. When you can’t decide what to read next, what do you do? What’s next on your reading list?

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#ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Reading Challenge: Day Two

First, let me with you a happy Tuesday! Today’s task/bonus prompt for the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Reading challenge is related to the title of this post: What’s next on your reading list? 

Are you sticking with the same book that you have been reading lately? Or, are you going to venture out and sample a few others?

Additional Questions You Could Answer

  • What has gone well so far?
  • Have you completed two days of reading in a row?
  • Have you read for 20 minutes or more on each day?
  • What kind of books, articles, magazines, or blogs have you read?

Remember to use the hashtag #ReadWithCurtis so we can see what you are reading!

Read all of my 7-Day Challenge Articles here.


My Response to Today’s Daily Task:

What’s next on my reading list?

Today, I have a choice between Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things, and David Day and Alan Lee’s illustrated edition of Tolkien’s Ring. Both books look fantastic. Gaiman’s short works of fiction are his usual mix of humorous, dark prose and wit. Tolkien’s Ring is definitely next on the list, but I don’t know if I want to finish Gaiman’s book of short works first. Anthologies lend themselves to be read piece by piece, so I may pause from Gaiman’s work and begin reading David Day’s book.

Challenge Progress

The 7-Day challenge has been great so far. I have read for twenty minutes each day, including this morning (I’m an early bird). I’m mostly sticking within my comfort zone of speculative fiction and fantasy.

To be completely honest, the #ReadWithCurtis tag has not caught on yet. However, it has made a nice place to keep track of all challenge-related posts. For the most part, I have a refreshed enthusiasm for reading, and I’m inspired by the books I’ve decided to pick up.

Although only a small community of people have joined me on the challenge, I don’t feel alone in my reading endeavor. In fact, I feel like I’m making small but meaningful connections with a lot of people across the internet. Strangely enough, it’s all been through comment threads and direct messages. I wonder if this is because it’s more personal than a hashtag. Who knows?


Book Review Blogs Worth Checking Out

Reading and sharing reading is a funny thing. I would never dream of starting a book review blog, mostly because I prefer writing about the creative process, particularly crafting fiction. Still, I have an appreciation for book blogging and book reviews.

There are so many beautiful reading review and book blogs/vlogs on the internet, and I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface with the ones I’ve found. Ashley from ThriftyBibliophile is someone I’ve recently followed because of the quality of her posts and the organization of her content.

Stephanie from Adventures of a Bibliophile is another one worth checking out. Although they have very different styles, they both deliver interesting posts in their own way. If you have an excellent book blog that you follow, please share!

-Curtis

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