The big questions: Memoir or fiction? Is the Past ever Past?

Life is full of so many questions. What’s for dinner? White wine or red? Is it time to turn on the furnace?

The writing life is no different. Three events coming up in the next several days let me join other authors in discussing some of the big questions writers face. I expect those discussions to both fun and challenging. Equally fun is that you can join in on some of those discussions even if you’re not in Iowa.

The Big Decision – Memoir or Fiction? – On Thursday, October 15, at 6:00 p.m. CDT, my long-time writing buddy author Mary Gottschalk and I are the featured guests in a free teleseminar hosted by the National Association of Memoir Writers. If you’re interested in exploring The Big Decision with us, there’s still time to sign up. Click here.

Celebrate Writing PosterCelebrate Writing at MPL On Saturday, October 18, at the Marion Public Library in Marion, Iowa, I’ll join other fiction writers in a panel discussion on “The Art of Fiction.” Other panels will explore the Perks & Perils of Self-Publishing, Writing Memoirs, and Selling Your Book: Marketing. After lunch, Mary and I will reprise the Fiction or Memoir discussion in a small group workshop. If you’re in the area, seats are still available for the morning panels and a noontime Lunch with the Authors. The afternoon workshop is already wait-listed. For event details, click here.

Live from Prairie LightsIs the Past Ever Past? – On Sunday, October 19, from 2-3 p.m., I’ll be in Iowa City for a book talk and reading at Iowa’s iconic indie bookstore – Prairie Lights. Reading at Prairie Lights is an honor in itself, but this event is even more special because I’ll be joined by author Shirley Showalter, author of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets A Glittering World. Shirley and I have more than a little in common even though we grew up 1,000 miles apart. Just one tidbit: we’re both dairy farmers’ daughters who grew up to be authors. We’ve only met online, so it will be great fun to meet in person and share the podium.

Since our three books are all set in the past, Shirley recalled William Faulkner’s quote “The Past Isn’t Dead. It isn’t Even Past,” which we adapted for our talk title. If you’re in the area, join us. If you can’t be there in person but you’d still like to hear what we talk about, you can tune in as Prairie Lights streams readings live.

These events offer a unique ability for in person or live interaction over the airwaves. I hope you’ll join in for one or more.

Since I’m still preparing for these presentations, I’d appreciate your thoughts. What do you consider the major factors in whether to to write about a topic as memoir or fiction? What comes into play for you in considering fiction “art”? How do you react to Faulkner’s quote? Is the past dead? If not, why not? How can it be that the past isn’t even past?

The value of a blog tour?

RunningWhile I was running fast on the ground to launch my historical novel Go Away Home in Iowa, I was also zipping through cyberspace on a virtual book tour that included 15 blog visits.

In the course of the tour, I participated in two author interviews, shared my thoughts on efficient “just in time” historical research and my inspiration for writing the book, offered my ideas for networking online to promote a book, and made copies of Go Away Home available for giveaways.

A virtual book tour was a new marketing approach for me. My goals were to share my book more broadly and to garner reviews.

Here’s what the reviewers had to say:

Patty @ Broken Teepee: (4.5 stars) “This is a well written story about a young woman, Liddie, who was born on a farm in Iowa at the turn of the 20th century. I felt myself quite engrossed in the story and found it very hard to put down. It wasn’t all sweetness and light and Liddie learns some hard lessons as she grows up. Ms. Bodensteiner has a very strong feel for the era and its mores and I would love to follow the characters further.”

Kathryn @ A Bibliotaph’s Reviews (4 stars): “Bodensteiner draws on familial history within this tale, and her writing leaves the reader with a sense of homesickness for one’s family. Her writing style is detailed but not in a manner that overloads the reader with information. She often leaves them guessing as to what will come next. I highly recommend this book.”

PC @ Writing Whims (5 stars): “The research is impeccable in this novel. Ms. Brodensteiner has proven herself as an exceptional storyteller in her first novel. If you enjoy rich characters and historical fiction, you won’t be disappointed in Go Away Home.

Lauralee @ History from a Woman’s Perspective (4 stars): “Overall, the book is about family, friendship, love, loss, sacrifice, choices, and hope. It is also about a person’s quest for home. The pace of the novel is easygoing, reminiscent of a leisurely Sunday morning. However, it is pleasing and you care what happens to Liddie. I recommend this book to anyone interested in early 20th century America, life in the rural Midwest, and those who face tough choices in their own lives.”

Kathleen @ CelticLady’s Reviews (5 stars): “Go Away Home is written about the daily struggles within a family during a tough time in our American history. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am not sure if there is to be a sequel, but I think it would be interesting to see what happens to Liddie in the future. I highly recommend this book!”

Jorie @ Jorie Loves a Story: “Bodensteiner reaches back into the classical story-telling grace of giving her characters an encouragement of innocence and an appreciation for learning through their choices. She … fills … the novel with realistic truths and a backdrop of honesty that is refreshing to find in the historical fiction genre. This is a story that knits into your heart as you soak inside its core, giving you a firm realisation that you’ve found a family you’re emotionally connected too. I shall not soon forget this novel and I cannot wait to read more by the author.

Ashley @ Closed The Cover (4 stars): “Liddie is an incredible character, which is essential in a book like this as she is the primary focus of the novel. The book centers around her; her hopes, goals, dreams, passions and eventual understanding. She is everything a reader would expect from a young girl as she is naive, hopeful and passionate yet as the story progresses she grows and understands. Readers will find themselves quickly and fully engrossed in her story. Liddie’s coming-of-age story is remarkable and will take readers on a very emotional journey. In the end Liddie must choose that which is the most important to her and decide on what it is that makes life worth living. This is a beautiful book. Wonderful, lovely and a great read!

There’s no question a blog tour is a lot of work for the author. Posts to write, staying in touch with comments, sharing the posts across social media. I arrived at the end of the month as winded as if I’d run to all those places in real time. I also conclude the month satisfied that the investment in a professional tour company was well made. Kudos to Amy Bruno at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for setting up the tour and managing it so well.

I couldn’t have asked for more in the reviews. Some of these reviewers expressed interest in a sequel; other readers have, too. A sequel wasn’t in my head when I wrote this novel, but not the seed has been planted. We’ll have to see if it grows. Overall,  the success of the tour was summed up for me in the comment a reader left: “I’m seeing this book everywhere.”

Have you picked up a copy of Go Away Home yet? If these reviews spark your interest, here are links: Print – Createspace           Kindle – ebook

Feeling the love – Making the most of local book launch events

As I prepared for the launch of my historical novel Go Away Home, I wondered how much the world had changed. Since publishing my memoir as a paperback in 2008, ebooks have proliferated, social media connects the world. Would local launches even be relevant?

Now that the local events are over, I can say the basic strategies of “events, placement and promotion” I blogged about a couple of years ago for doing local launch events are still sound. I’ve refined a few things, and I’m basking in the glow of a successful launch.

I scheduled four events – three in eastern Iowa where I grew up, an area that serves as the setting for much of the novel, and one in Des Moines where I live now.

Libraries, Bookstores & the Historical Society

Preston book Launch 1

Sharing the history of memoir and fiction at the Preston Public Library.

The library in my hometown hosted a large event where I reconnected with friends who enjoyed my memoir and remembered our family fondly. This was my first change to try out my “Writing History” talk. The book talk and Q&A lasted an hour and a half. Another library event in the next county allowed me to connect with more people and maximize my time in the area.

The Jackson County Historical Society – one of my research resources – invited me to speak at their annual meeting. I refined the talk, read a couple of short sections from the book, and shared tidbits of Iowa history I’d learned in doing research for the novel.

Connecting with friends at a launch party for "Go Away Home"

Connecting with friends at a launch party for “Go Away Home”

In Des Moines, my event was at Beaverdale Books, an independent bookstore that was the first to carry my memoir. This event drew a wonderful cross section of people from my life: neighborhood, church, public relations, reading and writing, plus people I didn’t know who’d come to the event because they’d heard about it in the media. For this event, I pared the book talk to 15-20 minutes. Talking with friends old and new, signing books, enjoying a glass of wine. Wonderful!

Where to buy books?

In addition to having books at the events, I made sure books were available in advance of the events and the media promotion.

My home counties are largely rural, so I placed books with the local pharmacies and the historical society, in addition to the one small bookstore. Many people came to the events having already read the book. In Des Moines, I made sure both independent bookstores had copies on their shelves.

Unlike when my memoir was published, with the launch of Go Away Home, I was already live on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble was able to order.

Getting the word out

My marketing background kicks into overdrive for things like this. I created a media kit and made it available on my website. I started contacting media more than a month in advance of the events. This was important for two reasons. In the rural counties, some of the newspapers are weeklies so the deadlines are further out. In a large city like Des Moines, the competition for space is great and the media book time weeks in advance.

The overall news hook of a woman following her dream is a theme from the novel that is playing out in my life as I write and publish my books. I also added other hooks I hoped would appeal to the media: local author, historical fiction set in Iowa, centenary of WWI, successful memoir.  The scheduled events gave the news urgency – a reason to run the story NOW.

I also increased the sophistication of my email marketing. I segmented my email list, sending out “save the date” and reminder emails to people in each market.

The results?

  • The combined events drew in close to 200 people
  • The major newspapers in Jackson and Clinton Counties carried features in print and online editions. I was interviewed live on radio.
  • In Des Moines, the Des Moines Register included my event in the Sunday Arts & Entertainment section “Pick 6” column; I was interviewed on KCCI-TV at noon, and the Business Record focused on me in their e-newsletter and online editions.
  • Momentum. The buzz around these events has led to scheduling other events. People are reading the book and talking about it on social media. Reviews are getting posted.
  • Best of all? I connected with so many people. After working so hard for so long to bring Go Away Home to fruition, the reward is putting it into peoples’ hands.

Soon I’ll blog about the virtual book launch that’s been going on in cyberspace this month. For now, I’m happy feeling the local love. 

Tips for being in two places at once

The magic of a modern-day book launch.

file0001820510540I’m not in the habit of defying the time/space continuum, but this month I’ll be giving it my best shot. July is the official launch of my World War One-era novel Go Away Home, and the month is packed.

My first event is a library book talk today. The week of July 8, I return to eastern Iowa where I grew up for three events. At the same time, I’ll be zipping through cyberspace making the first four stops on a virtual book tour. The rest of the month repeats the challenge with more blog stops and more in-person events each week. July’s last event (at least that I know about right now) is July 25.

Maybe the best I can hope for is not to meet myself coming and going. I’ve taken these steps to ensure a smooth launch:

  • Written four versions of a presentation that focuses on Writing History. It’s a challenge to anticipate what audiences will want to hear, but my journey from memoir to fiction with an emphasis on the historical commonality seems a good place to start. With four outlines in hand, I can adapt on the go as the presentation evolves based on audience questions.
  • Wrote a multitude of guest posts. Invitations by author/bloggers Shirley Showalter, Annamaria Bazzi, David Lawlor, P.C. Zick (July 9),and Christoph Fischer (Aug 4) to visit their blogs have helped me prepare for interviews, focus my thinking and get the word out. I’m grateful to them for hosting me.
  • Product in place. My eastern Iowa events are in towns without bookstores. Since I know from my memoir experience that people want a local place to buy the book, I’ve arranged with two pharmacies, the county historical society and a library to stock copies.
  • Media outreach. I’ve returned to my public relations roots to prepare media materials and made them available on my website. I’ve targeted pitches to key media for interviews. I’ve made sure local media in the geography surrounding my events have news releases and images well in advance.
  • E-mail marketing. On the theory that people who know me will be most interested in hearing about Go Away Home, I’ve sent a series of targeted e-mails to everyone on my list. The response has been encouraging and sends me forward on a wave of good feelings.

Modern technology is a wonderful thing. Without the Internet, wi-fi, and cell phones, this would not be possible. Time will tell how my body reacts to being in two places at the same time.

No doubt, I’ll arrive at the end of the July exhausted. During the month, I know I’ll have reconnected with old friends, met many new friends, and had a lot of fun.

I think I’m prepared. I hope so. But are there other things I should be doing? If you think of something, let me know. It’s not too late. After all, if I can be in two places, surely three can’t be that difficult 😉

How can you help an author? Here are 11 ideas

Ever wonder how you can help an author friend promote their new book? Chuck Sambuchino offered 11 great ideas in his blog today on Writers In The Storm. His ideas were so good and so easy, I’m re-blogging that post here. 

How to Support an Author’s New Book: 11 Ideas For You

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By Chuck Sambuchino


large_5595133805My Writer’s Digest coworker, Brian A. Klems, recently geared up for the release of his first book — a humorous guide for fathers called OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL: A DAD’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS (Adams Media). On top of that, my coworker Robert Brewer (editor of Writer’s Market) recently got a publishing deal for a book of his poetry.

So I find myself as a cheerleader for my writing buddies — trying to do what I can to help as their 2013 release dates approach. I help in two ways: 1) I use my own experience of writing & publishing books to share advice on what they can expect and plan for; and 2) I simply do whatever little things I can that help in any way.

This last part brings up an important point: Anyone can support an author’s book release by doing different things to help the book sell and get noticed. 

To read more, click here.

Making the most of a book signing

J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Amy Tan sit at tables to sign books while people line up out the door and down the block. These super stars barely have time to take a drink of water for the crush of fans waiting to talk to them.

Now you’re an author, too, and you’ve lined up book signing events. You’ve got your books all displayed. Pen at the ready. Readers will be just as eager to line up for your book, right?

Enter the reality. Book signings are a great way to get your name out there, to meet readers who may become loyal followers, and to sell books. They can also be tedious, even spirit crushing. So tedious, in fact, that you might be tempted to read a book, file your nails, or eat lunch to fill the time. But don’t do it. A successful book signing requires work on the author’s part.

Here are some things I’ve learned from other authors and from doing dozens of signings myself. These won’t guarantee success, but they will help your book signing events come closer to your dreams.

Promote the event yourself. You can’t count on the host to do it all for you. Post on all your social media sites that you’ll be signing books and invite your friends to come.  Email everyone who may not use social media. Friendly faces are helpful even if they’ve already bought.

Location, location, location. Arrive early to get the lay of the land and thank your host for the opportunity. If it’s possible, get your table moved closer to the door. You want to be in the highest traffic spot possible. Ask to have a few of your books positioned next to the cash register to encourage impulse buys.

Set up your display. Have a stack of books but also have a stand to hold one book so the cover is clearly visible. Prepare an 8×10 sign that includes the cover of your book, a pithy review comment or two, and the sale price.

Have something for everyone. A bookmark touting your book and your contact info is great. People like bookmarks and even if they don’t buy your book on the spot, the bookmark will be a useful reminder of  your book and how to get it.

Sell yourself. Stand beside your table (instead of sitting behind it), make eye contact, smile, greet people. People who may have walked on by may be drawn in by your friendly greeting. Tell them you’re an author that xyz location has invited to chat with their guests. Ask them if they have a moment so you can tell them about your book.

Sell your book. Be ready to explain your book in 30 seconds or less. Here’s where your log line comes in. Put a book in their hands. It’s harder to say, no, when they’re already holding the book. Ask questions to engage them in a conversation and find out their reading interests. Tell them you’d be happy to sign a copy for them. When they buy, ask how they’d like the book inscribed. Be sure to ask them to spell their name for you. You’d be surprised how many ways there are to spell Carol!

Thank them. If they buy, thank them. If they don’t buy, thank them. Make sure everyone you meet leaves your table happy they met a real, live author. And get a bookmark into their hands.

Backroom Details.  It took me a few signings (and a little lost money) to learn these tips. 1) Be sure you and the store agree on how sales will be handled. Will the store ring up the sale? Before you sign the book? Or will you handle the money? 2) Keep track of book numbers. Know how many books you came with and how many you have left. Even bookstores can’t always tell how many of your books rang through their register and you’ll settle up before you leave. And of course, thank the store owner for the opportunity.

These tips work as well if you’re on your own at a signing or if you’re in the company of a dozen other authors, at bookstores, restaurants, libraries. 

Have I thought of everything?  Probably not. If you have other tips, or book signing stories to share, don’t hesitate to leave a note. And, happy book signings!

photo credit: BlissDom 2012 via photo pin cc

Launching a print book? Think local.

With the advent of e-books and social media book launches, I wondered if print book launches even happened any more. But I’ve seen several indie authors question how to launch a print version, so I’m sharing my book launch experience and hope those of you reading will add our ideas.

Product, Price, Placement, Promotion – These are the starting point for any product launch. A book is no different. Whether it’s an ebook or a print book.

For the sake of this discussion, we’ll assume the book is written, the content professionally edited, the cover professionally designed, and the book priced so readers see a price/value correlation. That leaves placement and promotion. For a print launch, Think Local for both placement and promotion.

Placement – People have to be able to find your book. Seems obvious, but there are many considerations.

  1. When I launched, I sold my book off my website. The plus? I made the most money. The negatives? I had to do all the packing and shipping. Plus, if people didn’t know my name and couldn’t remember the name of the book, they couldn’t find my website.
  2. I walked my book into all local bookstores and gift stores. Indie bookstores like Beaverdale Books were super. The reception I received from them reinforced this lesson: You need to ask. Many authors are shy about this, but it’s time to put on your big girl panties and get out there. Ask if they’ll stock your book. Ask if you can hold an event. And keep asking. It took me four trips into one gift store to connect with someone who had the power to decide. Remember, the worst thing they can say is, no.
  3. Though indie book stores were wonderful and website sales kept me busy, I quickly learned this reality: Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the default book sources for most people. If you aren’t there, people jump to the conclusion that you don’t exist.
  4. Amazon is easy to get on through Amazon Advantage. I chose not to sign with Amazon at first because the economics (they keep 55% and I had to pay shipping) didn’t work with my book price and cost of production. With my second printing the economics worked. For me, worldwide visibility is worth some expense but not if it means losing money on each sale. For my next book, I’ll get production costs low enough to be on Amazon from day one.
  5. Getting books into Barnes & Noble is more difficult because you usually need a distributor, but it can be worth the effort. It’s a matter of scale. Indie bookstores took my book in lots of five or six. B&N took them by the case. When enough people requested my book at their stores, B&N contacted me and walked me through their process.
  6. When you think distribution, think broadly about where your book could go. Gift stores in airports, hotels, restaurants, and pharmacies are a better option than I originally realized, particularly when it comes to smaller towns that don’t have bookstores.
  7. Don’t underestimate libraries. Even though I held my hometown launch event at the library, I didn’t extend that thinking to future events. (Here is where you see me hitting my forehead and screaming, Doh!) Libraries are in the business of meeting the needs of readers so they may buy your book. Libraries like to have authors do readings. Generally they’ll let you sell books afterwards. Double bonus. Since the launch, I’ve done dozens of library readings, connecting with readers and selling books. Next book launch, I’ll do a postcard announcement to all libraries in the state.

Promotion – No promotion. No sales.

Hometown library launch

Here is where a print launch generally varies the most from an ebook launch.  A few ideas:

  1. Write a news release that has a hook specific to your book and can be personalized to each event/town/date. For me the hook was Iowa girl writes book about growing up in Iowa. Email the release to local media along with .jpg images of the book cover and your author photo. Maximize the local angle, i.e. Iowa girl (Preston girl, Jackson County girl, Eastern Iowa girl – ‘local’ can be anywhere, get it?) writes book.
  2. Schedule as many book signing and reading events as you can. Media cover events. Media coverage equals more events and more sales.
  3. Call local radio and TV stations and let them know you’re available for interviews. Again, the local angle: You’re a local person who’s written a book. You’re holding events their listeners/viewers will be interested in knowing about. (I know it’s scary, but ask. They want news. You, your book, your events can be news.)
  4. Hold multiple launch events. 
  • I held a reading/book signing event in my hometown library, arranging to have the local pharmacy stock books on consignment in advance of the event, and sending the local newspaper a release and photos touting new (local) author, new book, local event, where to buy books.
  • In the town where I live now, I teamed up with two other authors who also had new books and we held a reception/book signing for our friends, family and business associates.
  • I arranged book signings at three local indie bookstores and a restaurant gift store. I let the newspaper know about all four events, which caused them to see this as news and run an article. The article was read by bookstore owners around the state who contacted me to carry my book and arrange signing events.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This is a bare bones outline of what my launch included. And I know it’s only one approach. If you’ve done a hard copy book launch, please share your experiences. If this triggers thoughts, let me know. We’ll share and all hold better launches in the future.

My Mom: My Inspiration – My Nag

“You’re a writer. You can write our stories.”

I can’t tell you how many times my mother said that to me. It made no difference to her that I was a business writer, not a creative writer. When she got an idea in her head, she didn’t let it go.

Turns out Mom intuitively understood one very important thing about effective communication. Research shows that you have to say something three times for a person to remember they heard it at all. You have to say it an average of seven times before a person will act on what you’ve said. Come to think of it, all moms may come with this knowledge programmed in their DNA.

As a public relations person who told clients that very thing about repetition countless times, I somehow overlooked that it applied to me, too. But Mom got it. She was persistent in the way my mother was always persistent. I could do what she asked sooner or I could do it later, but I was going to do it.

Because of Mom, I wrote my memoir, a collection of stories about growing up on a family farm in the middle of America, in the middle of the 20th Century. Mine was a happy childhood on a farm like the farms people these days like to idolize.

Every time I share ‘growing up country’ stories with a group at a library or conference or book club, I give thanks to my mom who was my inspiration, my communication teacher, and–let’s be honest–my nag.

Thanks, Mom! Because of you, I got a lot of things done!

Learning from others’ crises

When I was in college, I took a self defense class during which I learned to ward off an attacker, break a fall, and use common objects to defend myself. Over and over again, the instructor threw me to the ground, attacked me from the front, back, side. We practiced until my reactions were second nature. The point was to be prepared, to learn the moves before an attack occurred. What I did in that class is no different than a company preparing for a crisis.

When a crisis happens to someone else, businesses have many reactions. The first is generally relief – Thank god that didn’t happen to us! Some also express naive denial – Thank god that could never happen to us! What they would be wise to think is – What if something like that did happen to us?

Whenever a crisis happens, I find myself thinking, “What would I have done? How would I have advised that client had I been their public relations counselor?” The media are full of opportunities to exercise this thinking. The mental equivalent of my self defense class.

I guest blogged this week on – discussing what went wrong from a public relations standpoint in the Susan G. Komen For the CurePlanned Parenthood blow up.

The rules of crisis communication include: Telling it all. Telling it fast. Keep on telling it. A fourth is to Tell your own story. You can’t always control whether a crisis happens to you, but you can always control how you communicate about it.

It’s easier, I admit, to be on the sidelines for one of these exercises than in the frying pan. On the outside, I don’t have the pressure of media breathing down my neck, the public banging on the social media door, or the CEO and board demanding, what do we do? Being on the outside also means I don’t have all the insider info.

But there are guidelines to successfully navigating a crisis. It’s best if you don’t have to figure out what those moves are after a crisis hits.

What’s in a name?

Negro. Black. Colored. People of Color. African-American.

Having spent my career in the public relations world, and considering myself reasonably sensitive in any case, I’ve always tried to be mindful of using the terminology groups of people prefer to describe themselves. Because the terminology changes regularly within the black community – and because it’s all so politically charged – I’ve often felt as though I’m walking on eggshells, uncertain whether I’m using the right term of the moment.   

A recent article written by Jesse Washington for the Associated Press addressed the changing attitudes among young black people on this topic. According to the article, increasingly, young black people are shunning the term African-American. Census figures show that 1 in 10 black people in America is born abroad. So the slave ancestry connotation of African-American is at the least inaccurate and possibly even offensive.

I was dismayed to learn from a prominent black educator that some in the black community are offended when any black person who cannot prove slave ancestry adopts the term African-American to describe themselves.  Rather than bring people together, the labeling is used as a wedge to drive apart. But then, maybe for some, that’s the point.

We have seen that in the political arena. Both Alan Keyes and Herman Cain used slave ancestry as a mark of differentiation against President Obama. The not-so-subtle implication that the President isn’t black enough or American enough.

But then such tactics are used often, regardless of race, to declare oneself ‘in’ and someone else ‘out.’  

The more generations that pass since their ancestors left Africa, the more tenuous the connection some may feel.  One young man, Gibr George of Miami, interviewed for the AP article said, “Are we always going to be tethered to Africa? Spiritually I’m American. When the war starts, I’m fighting for America.”

All the terms, all the labels, had a purpose. They meant something in our society at the time. Perhaps moving us all along, maybe to greater awareness, pride, sensitivity, hopefully to greater cohesiveness but perhaps to greater separateness.

I know words matter. I know names matter. But I’m with Gibr George – Couldn’t we all just be Americans? I hope I live to see that day.