Pen Name: G. Egore Pitir
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born a MidAmerican, of middle-class parents, grew to middling height, and received a Midwestern education. Yep, that’s me, pretty much right there in the middle, Mr. Average in all human qualities save one, namely, an insatiable curiosity. And despite the ghostly warnings of many a dead cat, I’ve let that meddlesome inquisitiveness rule my life. On my tombstone, maybe they’ll write “Why?” I love that word. Why anything? Why everything? Why not nothing? “Why” allows one to consider all the other possibilities—challenge the status quo. Of course, challenging what’s commonly accepted as truth comes with risk. For instance, employing the impeccable logic of my ten-year-old self, I informed my fourth grade teacher, a Catholic nun, that if God knows everything, and God creates a man who God knows will eventually choose to follow the devil, then God created that man to go straight to hell. I then discovered that ghostly felines are very smart. After barely surviving several such early forays into challenging the common wisdom, I eventually learned that the tight-jawed sighs of humans were akin to a cat’s hiss, and that the written word, no matter its challenging content, gave both writer and reader time for reflection. Armed with a notebook to privately vent the most controversial of my challenges to society’s norms, I channeled my more acceptable “Whys” into a pursuit of the unpopular. To start things off with a bang, I married my high school sweetheart, started a family, and headed off to college. And with the hippie-esque humanities seemingly all the rage on every university campus, I instead obtained an Aeronautical Engineering degree. In the post-Vietnam, spit-on-men-in-uniform era, I became a fighter pilot. After the movie Top Gun gave fighter pilots a groupie following, I left the USAF for an airline job. With our children raised and out of the house, my high school sweetheart and I started hiking amidst the grizzlies of Glacier National Park. Hiking eventually led to mountain biking, then snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, anything to keep me outside in the Rocky Mountain air. Wendell Berry explained me to myself when he wrote, “When despair for the world grows in me…I come into the peace of wild things…” Yet, I mostly mountain biked alone, and that “peace of wild things” often promoted wildish thoughts of “Why?” Why 9/11? Why Afghanistan? Why Iraq? Why the cultural clash? Those “whys” and many more eventually led to…why not write a novel? So I did. FACE OF OUR FATHER contains decades of my “whys.” And, as I’d hoped, I’ve found that many readers share my questions. Perhaps the asking will lead to answers. Likely not. Either way, the company sure is nice.
How do you feel that your career, educational background and overall life experience contribute to your writing?
Both the military and the airlines took me to distant lands, where I witnessed different ways, and came to know other peoples. As a Lieutenant stationed in Europe during the height of the Cold War, I had occasion to visit the divided city of Berlin. I rode through the famous Checkpoint Charlie and spent some time in East Berlin, where I met Russian pilots, and contrary to the political hype, they seemed like decent folk, didn’t eat a baby, or commit any act remotely approaching such a heinous crime. Afterward, as I wrestled with the confusing notion that I might have to kill them someday, I pondered the history, questioning how it had all come to this. Berlin—a city divided into quarters, each quarter run by a different occupying nation, all of those nations armed with nuclear missiles, with three of those nations pitted against the fourth in an ideological struggle that threatened the safety of the entire world—well, that’s the epitome of human insanity, isn’t it? Later, with the airlines, I visited pre-Erdogan Istanbul many times and found the city and its people wonderful. The followers of Islam were gracious and welcoming. Women wore all manner of clothing. Upon hearing the call to prayer from the top of the minarets, I thought it beautiful and mesmerizing. Experiencing other cultures, asking questions, and pondering possible answers, has afforded me the confidence to attempt writing some tiny bit of truth from their perspective.
Where is your favorite place in the world to live and why?
I love the Rocky Mountains, a place where I can regularly embrace the peace of wild things. If you seek the mountain trails that others don’t, you can go hours without seeing another human. Away, far away from everyone else, you can think.
Where is your favorite place in the world to visit? Why?
The Mediterranean blends together most of my favorite things—history, art, architecture, wine, coffee, sea, and sun. A perfect vacation day consists of two hours of coffee and conversation, then visiting ancient ruins in the morning, a museum after lunch, walking the seashore in the late afternoon, dinner atop a cliff, and wine from sunset to moonrise. The next morning, rise, rinse and repeat.
What is the funniest thing about your personality that fans would love to know? What are your quirks?
Much like a teenager, I can become utterly infatuated with a pop culture song, playing it over and over and over again. Right now, it’s Lady Gag’s “Million Reasons.” And, I’m utterly embarrassed to admit that I am completely addicted to The Voice. Watch every episode. Love the early rounds where the judges don’t get to see the performer. Their decisions are based purely on talent. I enjoy watching the rapid growth from raw talent to sophisticated performer. Love rooting the singers on. I have no rational explanation for this. I don’t play an instrument. Can’t sing a note. I’m tone deaf. Perhaps, it’s awe for that which I cannot touch.
What drew you to writing?
Early in life, I was drawn to writing by the simple desire to give back. I loved the escape of reading, the immersion into other lives, other worlds, where despite the desperate travails endured by the characters, ultimately everything made sense. I pondered these amazing humans called authors, these people who brought me so much growth and joy. I wanted to give someone what I’d been given. Someday, I wanted to take a reader on a journey, a flight into a world of bright heroes and dark villains. Of course, as I grew older, the stories I read grew more complex, and not everything made sense, but somehow that made more sense. Heroes were human, villains too. By the time I wrote FACE OF OUR FATHER, I wanted to take the reader on a journey of self-discovery, a voyage of character, through struggle and strife, desire and folly, love, honor, courage, and mistakes, plenty of mistakes, until some final redemption was earned, more by the sheer will of endurance than by any specific character talent. I see my novel as a reminder to all of us, me included, that we should judge our lives more by what we strive for, and the purity of our struggle, than by our achievements. And also, perhaps FACE OF OUR FATHER is an admonition that atonement is always possible, that few, if any, are beyond redemption.
Do you have anything special, a habit, that you do that gets you into the mood of writing? Favorite object, desk, pen? Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you listen to?
Morning coffee and conversation start off my writing sessions, followed by background music to help launch my immersion into the character’s head—often Enya, or Lisa Gerrard—something haunting and powerful, sort of like a composer scoring the scene in my head. But no lyrics. They distract me. I’ll spend a day or two, often many more, attempting to do a particular character’s pain some bit of justice. I’m never really happy with the result. I almost feel like each character looks at me and shakes their head, implying that after giving me so much, I’ve returned so little. Once immersed in the emotional center of a scene, I’m lost to the real world. My wife sometimes amuses herself with playful antics to see what it takes to get my attention. As payback, I should describe them in detail, but alas, I’m too much the gentlemen.
Do you have a special place you like to go to write? Do you do a retreat?
My writing location depends largely on what stage of the writing process I’m pursuing. Those first creative explosions usually occur seated in a leather chair near the hearth of my fireplace. But the many, many, many rewrites…did I mention many…usually take place at the kitchen table, or at my office desk, where I can spread the pages of a scene across a broad surface, and note the arrows, and strike outs, and margin scribbles, and the yellow, green, purple, and red of my many, many highlights (lowlights seems more accurate, but alas, it’s not a word) that need editing. I attempt to improve my writing skills by regularly participating in Autumn, Spring, and Summer writing retreats. The summer retreat is a full week of total focus on the writing craft. I always come away energized, wanting to write and write and write.
Does your life experience influence your writing?
Yes, my life experience is the wellspring. Deep down, I find the memory of a loved one’s drug overdose, a brother’s suicide, a sister’s struggle with depression, a mother that loved without reservation, and a father of honor and sacrifice. Tapping those memories and many more, I inject my characters, my scenes with all the fervor of real life, of hard life. As a writer, I need not personally suffer the murder of a loved one to write of such pain. Instead, I remember a suicide, revisit the pain, transfer the core emotions to a character, and write. Perhaps Hemingway said it best, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
FACE OF OUR FATHER was inspired by 9/11, or more accurately, the aftermath of 911…the mistakes we’ve made…the mistakes we continue to make. Western culture’s missteps over the past fifteen years have created a generation of Middle-eastern jihadists. I don’t want us to create another. What do we do from this point? Just keep killing them, creating another million in the process, another million to kill, and then another, and another? But some of those millions are innocents. Collateral damage we call them—a polite euphemism for those noncombatants who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wanted to put a human face on that collateral damage. Yet, I also wanted to validate the cultural divide, highlight those elements that are not merely quaint cultural differences, but true barriers to human progress. A burqa is not something to fear. It is a piece of cloth. But, as my Angie character asks “Where was the common ground? What words sufficed when a woman’s punishment for learning to read is acid in the eyes.” This is not a simple cultural barrier, but a horror, a crime against humanity whose victims must always and forever receive justice. One of my readers said they enjoyed my novel because I poked an accusing finger in nearly everyone’s eye. I suppose that’s somewhat true. Plenty of blame to share. Edmund Burke wrote “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” A sentiment that stirs my soul. But, when good men elect to do something, they should be careful lest they become the greater evil. In every philanthropic endeavor, when we do something, the devil lies in the details.
If you use a pseudonym, why? What are the pros and cons of using a pen name?
Yes, G. Egore Pitir is a pseudonym. Both my writing mentor and my family encouraged me to employ such a device to address their safety concerns. After all, writing about Islam has gotten more than a few writers into deadly trouble. Yet, in this Internet age of zero privacy, what good is a pseudonym? However, it made my family happy, and I had fun creating my pen name. G. Egore is an anagram for George, which is my real first name, and when I’m on the radio or at book readings, I always explain that the G. is for George and I insist everyone call me by my first name. That way, I don’t have to remember to respond to a pseudonym. I can just relax and be myself. So, I advise that if you’re going to employ a pseudonym, make sure you pick one that allows you to respond naturally.
What is your biggest writing challenge?
The biggest challenge is paring each scene down to what provides the best experience for the reader. My ideal scene contains theme, metaphor, symbolism, dialogue, character development, plot advancement, opening hook, emotional center, and on and on. But for the reader, most of those elements should remain invisible, working on readers without them noticing, shading the present scene while foreshadowing the future. I struggle to keep that which should be invisible unseen. It’s been said that a novelist must be writer, reader, and character, all at once. And that’s tough, real tough, especially for me.
Are you easily distracted when trying to write? Or are you very focused? If you are easily distracted, what are some of the things that distract you?
A rich full life is my biggest distraction. I’m blessed with plenty of family and friends. But having lots of family and friends comes with lots of distractions. And this past year contained many distractions that were impossible to ignore, all the emotional extremes that loved ones can bring, from saddest to most joyful. For me, and I think for many writers, writing is an emotional journey. And when family and friends send out emotional tsunamis, it’s hard to have anything left for my characters, and the writing languishes.
Did you study any other authors before you embarked on your first novel?
Yes and no. In the beginning, not at all. No study. No guidance. No advice. I had this notion that I didn’t want anyone or anything influencing what my naked thoughts might produce. So, I just sat down and wrote a story. A really, really bad story. I’d bet that out of the hundreds of pages I wrote, if you added up all the sentences that made the final version of FACE OF OUR FATHER, you wouldn’t have a single page. But I did have powerful characters. And that has served me well. Whether you love, hate or are exasperated by my characters, I can promise that you’ll remember them. And with those characters firmly implanted in my head I studied other authors. Since my goal was to take the typical thriller novel and soak it in a barrel of character depth, I reviewed this odd mixture of literary and thriller. From Vince Flynn and Stephen King to Chad Harbach and Ralph Ellison, I studied. Then I reached back into the antiquity of Vonnegut, Orwell, and Hemingway, before I returned to examine the current success of Suzanne Collins and George R. R. Martin. After garnering what I could from these masters, I rewrote the whole darn novel.
Who influences you now?
Suzanne Collins influences me with her tight writing. All of us have had that experience while reading a novel where we page back looking for a particular passage, seeking some bit of information we’d like to revisit. With Collins, I often paged too far back, and then searched forward, eventually finding the information I sought on the facing page. Of course, I then paused in awe, realizing how much ground she’d covered in such a short space. I continue to strive for a Collins-like tight prose, but consistently fall short, or more accurately, I land long. With George R. R. Martin I’m influenced both structurally and thematically. He too, writes from several characters’ perspectives, and I find that method the best way to fairly represent the other side’s position. After all, most bad guys don’t see themselves as bad guys. Martin also emboldens me to strive for character redemption. I’m continually impressed by his ability to show the good in the most evil of characters.
What is your favorite genre to read?
Favorite? Like, just one? I’m afraid that when it comes to novels, I’m quite the reading floozy. Show me a flirty fantasy novel and I’m off on another love affair, not even giving the last historical fiction novel I finished so much as a soft pencil note in the margin. I just leave her. I’m very bad. Heartless. Dust collects on her jacket. It’s very sad. I’ve read most everything. From literary to romance, thriller to satire, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical novel to pure history. Enjoyed them all. Yet, if I have to pick one genre, I’ll go with historical fiction. That is, until some trollop of a science fiction novel leads me astray.
Do you have any favorite authors? What is it about their writing that really grabs you and pulls you in?
Characters grab me and pull me in. A great plot or beautiful language can lure me to your characters, but like the artful plate presentations at fine restaurants, I’ll never pay those prices again if the main course runs shallow on flavor. And I’ll return again and again to the unkempt dive bar that gives me something hearty to chew on. I loved Collin’s Katniss character. I’m enthralled with Martin’s entire Stark family, and Tyrion Lanister, Daenerys Targaryen and countless other GOT characters. Give me characters, or give me Sports Illustrated.
What do you love about writing?
Two moments in the writing process stand out. One of them is the initial creative explosion of a new scene, that moment when I understand the scene, and I fire-hose it down onto paper before I lose the crucial emotions. The other is that first rewrite of the entire novel. That’s where synergies take place, where the weak parts come together to form strong ties, because I now know exactly what compelling bits will replace those anemic tidbits. Weak scenes grow strong, and strong scenes grow even stronger.
What do you hate about writing?
Five things. The first is the many polishing rewrites. The second thing I hate about writing is marketing. The third is marketing. The fourth and fifth are marketing. The 6th, 7th, wait…I said 5, didn’t I? Anyway, in case I forgot to mention it, I hate marketing.
Do you have a good support network around you? Do you find that people understand how writers work? Or do you encounter people who just don’t get it, the process we go through, the way we see the world, the way we think, the way we need to be inside our heads so much of the time?
I have a truly great support network. My family understands as much as they can. And my wife understands at a level that few can match. She knows that when I’m writing, everything she says needs repeating, again and again. She knows I have to live another life for a time. And I’m lucky in that my youngest daughter shares my passion for writing. She is an exceptional writer with mad skills. She’s professionally trained and I enjoy the expertise of her edits (please don’t blame her for any missteps you detect here—she didn’t edit this interview). Yet, I think that perhaps only artists truly understand writers. All artists, including us storytellers, are trying to communicate at another level, reach something deeper, something that strikes at the human core, eliciting some primal emotion such as fear, sadness, or joy. Something that lasts. I’m sure it’s probably the single malt scotch talking right now, but I think that ultimately, all writers write to connect, and touch, and in doing so, feel alive. Only other artists completely get that.
What did your family think when you told them that you wanted to write a book?
I think my family is mostly bored with my insanities. From engineering school to fighter pilot to airline Captain to mountain biking amongst the moose, they just shake their heads and wonder what is that crazy man going to do next? Surf. That’s what. I recently told them I was going to learn to surf. They yawned.
Was there anything about the industry that surprised you?
Yes. I dislike negativity, so I was particularly struck by the pettiness often displayed amongst and between struggling authors. There exist over seven billion people on our planet. Yet many budding writers seem to feel that any reader that reads someone else’s book is a reader that won’t read their novel. I’ve seen struggling authors post vicious critiques about fellow struggling authors’ novels. I just don’t understand that. It’s not like a novel, any novel, poses a life threatening risk to readers. And readers figure out pretty quickly, without the dubious help of negative reviews, which novels merit the biggest audience. So, what good purpose does posting that negative review serve? I try to remember that most budding authors labor through countless hours of hard work to complete a novel. I’m never going to criticize the results of their efforts. If I read a novel I don’t like, I simply follow that sage advice that recommends, if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. I like to think of our great body of budding authors as one big family. We’re all in this together. Let’s encourage each other. Any struggling author’s success is every struggling author’s success.
What did you most learn about yourself through the writing process?
So many things! But let me throw out there, the real whopper. I learned of my personal sin of misogyny. Some might call that an awfully strong choice of words, a harsh characterization of my shortcomings, a large dose of hyperbole, yet authors, above all others, should dare to speak honestly, frankly, boldly. I certainly don’t hate women, or dislike them, or even mistrust them, but the last part of the definition of misogyny mentions “…prejudice against women.” Hmmm…so what about the pedestal I tend to put women on? Sounds nice, that word, “pedestal.” Doesn’t quite seem like misogyny, or even prejudice. Okay, so let’s gentle my harsh self-characterization down a notch. Call the pedestal I often place women upon a “soft prejudice.” But, it’s still a prejudice, because it’s hard for any woman in my life to explore the full potential of her existence when confined to a pedestal, when limited by the expectations of my pedestal. And that revelation of identifying my pedestal as a confining box led me to reevaluate all my prejudices, soft or hard, reconsider all the boxes within which I might tend to place groups of people, even if velvet-lined, wondering how I was limiting those I shoved inside. That reconsideration became a breakthrough, allowing me to think beyond the usual limits of the thriller novel, beyond the genre boxes, and ask questions—Why can’t the female protagonist be the character that is willing to risk everyone and everything to catch the villain? Why can’t the male protagonist be the character whose life is shattered by the obsessive, yet arguably noble actions of the female protagonist? Why can’t both male and female characters be strong and bold? Why does every Middle-Eastern character have to be pure evil? Through such questions I grew beyond my prejudices, and my novel grew beyond genre prejudices. A remarkable experience.
Do you have a favorite fan reaction that you can share with us?
My favorite fan reaction was when a woman told me that out of all the characters in all the books she’d read over the past few years, she remembered my characters more than any of the others. She cared about them, thought about them, and wanted to know how it would all turn out for them. That reaction spurs me on. I’ve had quite a year that has set me well back of my writing goals, but her comment gives me the strength to finish the tale I started, if for no other reason, than to provide that one woman with character closure.
How did it affect you when you first began to realize that people responded well to what you present as an author?
No matter the amount of positive feedback I received as I wrote FACE OF OUR FATHER, I had this little devil of doubt that sat not on my shoulder, but certainly followed a few paces behind, whispering that my family, friends, and fellow struggling writers were all completely wrong. Most everyone has seen the American Idol contestant that has an entire supporting cast of family and friends at their audition. Before the big moment, several loved ones are interviewed and speak of how great a singer is their brother, sister, cousin. Then we TV viewers are rendered speechless by how hard that singer is trying, how serious is their attempt at rendering a song, yet how awful a singer they are. And instantly, ten million viewers all have the same question. How could his or her family and friends have been so wrong? So, maybe my family and friends were just as wrong about my writing efforts. Yet, I’d said at the beginning of my writing journey that I either wanted to succeed, or fail spectacularly. And there was only one sure way to find out which way fortune would fall, so I clicked publish. Afterward, part of me was waiting for that horrible moment when I realized that my family’s love for me had made them blind to the awfulness of my novel—I was a terrible writer, and my novel would remain out there, hovering, haunting me from the cloud, forever, an undeniable testament to the greatness of my personal folly. Consequently, my response to critical success was a great big exhale, a huge sigh of relief.
How has being an Independent Author affected you? Has it been positive? What are the down-sides of being an Indie Author?
The biggest positive is that every decision is mine. From opening hook to final climax and denouement, from cover design to acknowledgements and back of the jacket blurb, it’s all mine. No agent or publishing house to argue with. I get exactly what I want. The biggest negative is that every decision is mine. The traditionally published author can claim both validation, “See, I am a good writer…I’ve an agent and a publisher,” and assign blame for any failure, “Not my fault that the novel didn’t sell…I wrote an excellent story, but my agent and publisher are terrible marketers.” Any and all shortcomings of my finished product are entirely my fault. But, truth be told, I love it that way. In an age where all of society seems to encourage excuses, to reassure us that nothing is ever our fault, I get to run counterculture to that lie, and take full blame for my shortcomings. It’s refreshing. It’s cathartic. It’s truth.
Where do you think publishing is going? Some have predicted that readers are waning and that in years to come, few people will read anymore. Do you believe that?
I cannot conceive of a world where few people read. That notion suggests a future nearly void of thought. A world where humans stop seeking answers. Doesn’t seem likely. As one god after another falls beneath the onslaught of science, more and more of humanity begins to wonder why anything exists? Scientists can’t answer that one. And no better vehicle for unbridled conjecture on human purpose exists than the novel. My feeling is that total readership may ebb and flow, but few people reading? No, I think not.
How do you think technology is affecting writers? Both good and bad?
Technology has ushered in the great age of literature. Yep, I wrote that, and I’ll write it again—right now is the greatest time in all of human history for the free expression of human thought through the written word. Not fifty years ago, a person could slave away for a decade, writing a novel, and have nothing but a few dusty copies of a manuscript to show for the countless hours of effort. Every agent rejected the novel. No publisher showed interest. Writers were at the mercy of the self-appointed few that made the reading decisions for all of humanity. Much like the U.S. two party political system, readers were told their choices, and often suffered similar abhorrent results. Now, via the eBook platform, anyone can publish anything at zero cost. Some see this as bad. Not me. Mostly, I believe that readers get it right. Or, at the very least they get what they want. The unreadable novels remain largely unread. And eventually, the best novels find the most readers.
What do you love most in life?
Connection. Human connection, animal connection, the earth, the universe, those moments when you know, and it grabs you by the gut and heart, and you stop and pay attention. Sometimes, as I mountain bike in the Fall, and the leaves are every shade of ochre, glowing in the half-light of evening, with shadows and bright colors piercing the canopy, laying a kaleidoscope of color across the mountain path, I can’t help it, out of my mouth comes, “Hi God.” In that moment, I’m connected, with everything.
What is the best advice you would give a new author?
Write your passions. Passion will sustain you through the times of self-doubt. All authors doubt, pause and lament. But passion for the subject matter will bring you back to finish. Passion is powerful. I had many starts, stops, and abandons in my writing life. Only when I found the clash of cultures did I find passion enough to sustain me through to the end.
What advice would you give an author about negative reviews?
Authors should love their negative reviews. That’s right, I wrote, “love their negative reviews,” and I meant it. All authors, especially Indie authors, need negative reviews as a validation of their legitimacy as an author. No author escapes unscathed. Look at the Amazon pages of the most respected authors of all time and you’ll find negative reviews. Readers aren’t fools. They know that authors whose novels have nothing but five star reviews are likely not playing by the rules. My first novel, FACE OF OUR FATHER was dozens of reviews deep before I received my first truly negative review, and when that three-star came in, I opened a bottle of wine and raised a toast to that reviewer. I felt legitimate. If commenting on reviews wasn’t seen as unprofessional I would’ve thanked that reviewer in the comments section right below their negative review. I’ll also add that if you’re not getting negative reviews, then you’re probably not risking enough. No matter your genre, don’t hold back. If you’re writing the classic romance novel, then write that happy ending with reckless abandon, all full of love, joy, and happily-ever-after. If horror is your field, then write it truly horrifying. If you’re bending a genre, then twist it like a pretzel—write it right back upon itself. In FACE OF OUR FATHER, I started my “Thrill-Lit” novel with plenty of the deep character study you normally find in a literary novel, arced right into high, uninterrupted action, and then curved literary again, finishing with a flurry of quiet desperate hopes for the futures of the protagonists. When I read my negative reviews, I keep in mind what I wrote, and the risks I took. And knowing that negative reviews most often come from readers who are reading outside their usual genre, or from deep inside, I temper any inclinations toward adjusting subsequent novels. Neither of those types of readers will easily embrace the risks we take as authors. Certainly not the strict “genretarians.” Negative reviews are a badge of honor that says you’re writing at the edge. So, my advice is celebrate your negative reviews—you’re legitimate.
If you could, what would you do to change the world?
I would change us, all of us. We need to take ownership of our lives, and how we lead them. Everyone seems to point the finger of change at someone else. Mahatma Gandhi said it best when he said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Is there anything more you would like to add?
Yes, I’d like to add a great big thank you to Best Indie Books. Voices that would otherwise go unheard, free voices, experimental voices, the voices of change, the voices of passion, all have a place to sing out due to the efforts of Best Indie Books. That’s one heck of a fine legacy. I’m proud to wear the logo of Best Indie Book Award Winner. I hope I’ll go on to win other writing awards in the future. Yet, just as everyone remembers that first kiss, that first love, Best Indie Books will always have a fond place in my heart. Forever, a part of me. Thank you.