I can’t think of the number 300 without conjuring to memory visions of bronzer-soaked, greased up Spartans rising to fight the God-King Xerxes and the whole of his Persian Empire. That image of perpetual bad-assery is nothing compared to the accomplishments of MY army, and now the number 300 holds an even more impressive, special significance to me: It’s the number that makes my knees weak and my heart fall into my guts, like a rock dropped into the ocean, making a splash that grows into waves that are felt even by the faraway shore. 300 is the number of individual people who have contributed to the success of my book’s pre-order campaign. That number is more impressive to me than the fact that such a hefty sum is only good enough to keep me in 8th place during this grueling, patience draining trial of emotional grit and fortitude. 

The good news is that I am not beyond hope. The scary news is that you are the wardens of that hope- the keepers of my heart’s flame. Many of you have been throwing gasoline into that roaring inferno for the last five weeks and I thank you for having kept my soul so well fed. It makes it more challenging to admit how utterly at your mercy I am, but the simple truth is that I can’t do more than ask others for help- that’s the foundation by which this contest is built. 

 At the end of the day, this competition is not about my writing. It’s not about the size of my dreams in comparison to the rest of my Inkshares peers. This contest boils down to one thing: the people that I’ve asked for help doing more than the people other Inkshares authors have asked- or at least enough to bring me into a Top 5 position out of about 300 (there’s that number again!). 

 In order to win this contest, I need you all to do even more. I wish I could just push this boulder up the mountain through sheer force of my own willpower. Somehow that’s more within the parameters of my character than panhandling my way across the internet, less vulnerable I suppose. But with less than a week to go, that just isn’t going to cut it. My effort is in the asking, and after five weeks of being showered with more than I feel I should ever be allowed to deserve, begging for more feels like opening a vein with a jagged, rusty razor. 

 Please, if you know anyone that would help you out if asked, pass this on to them. I need you to spread the vulnerable position of asking another human for their hand in order for me to make it back into the Top 5 within the next 6 days. If you have a spouse, parents, friends- anyone who you think would be willing to do me a solid by doing you a solid, please take the time to ask them on my behalf. Hell, if you’re feeling especially ballsy, ask people who you think may NOT take the time- you’d be surprised. I certainly was! I’d be about 295 orders shorter if it wasn’t for people who didn’t owe me a damn thing stepping up to pledge their support. 

 A new incentive chapter has been added to commemorate hitting 300, which is truly a milestone that belongs to you, not me. 

Please ask 2-3 people to consider supporting and if money is the only thing holding anyone back, you should know that you won’t be charged the $10 unless I win and there are ways of getting discounts on your order if you want to contact me directly to work out what those methods entail. I feel like advertising the discount potential goes against the spirit of the contest, so I don’t want to promote it publicly (even in desperation), but if someone cares enough to ask, I’ll take that as a sign that your interest in supporting the book is genuine enough to warrant sharing that information directly. 

 The words “thank you” don’t seem like a strong enough sentiment. I love you is more like it. And I do. But also thank you.