Posted by: nancyisanders | February 12, 2016

Faith Building Fridays: Worship

The God whom we serve is able…
But even if He doesn’t, we will still worship Him!
-paraphrased from Daniel 3: 16-18

God is able to get our manuscripts accepted by editors and published. He is able! But even if He doesn’t, we will still worship Him. He has important reasons for having our manuscripts accepted or rejected. These reasons are trustworthy. They affect us today as well as His entire kingdom for eternity.

Dear God, we praise you for whatever You choose to do with our manuscripts. We choose to obey Your call to write. You will do the rest. You are able! Amen.

Posted by: nancyisanders | February 5, 2016

Faith Building Fridays: Fishermen

Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
-Matthew 4:19-20, NKJV

The journey of writing is a journey of being made into fishers of men. With each manuscript we write, each conference we attend, each rejection we receive, each publication we achieve, and each critique group we participate in, we are being shaped and molded by the Master’s hand so that we can best draw lost souls into the Kingdom of God. Each accomplishment or frustration we experience has its eternal purpose in our lives as we’re learning to catch fish in our heavenly nets. Whether it’s in writing recipes for a kid’s magazine, puzzles, blog posts, picture books, Bible stories, or nonfiction for the educational market, God is teaching us how to fish. If he hands you a fishhook on a pole and gives you a rowboat, rejoice and fish for all you’re worth! If he invites you on a yacht to go deep-sea fishing, rejoice and go for the prize! He has fish in different waters for each one of us to catch.

Dear God, I yield to your teaching. I offer myself to your use. I am following you. Make me a fisher of men! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 29, 2016

Faith Building Fridays: Prosper

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with scoffers.
But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants;
day and night they think about his law.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season without fail.
Their leaves never wither,
and in all they do, they prosper.
-Psalm 1:1-3, NLT

The secret to prospering as a writer is not about measuring our success by the world’s standards. It’s all about measuring our success by God’s standards. Have you ever looked closely at a tree? It’s not a world traveler and nobody sees it except those who pass by. A tree stays right in one spot day after day and is considered prosperous if it bears the fruit it’s supposed to bear. A successful writer is one who sits down day after day at the computer, typing the words we’re called to write, delighting to do what God wants us to do, meditating on His Word as we write for His glory.

Dear God, my heart’s desire is to write the words You put on my heart. It truly doesn’t matter if I’m successful in the world’s eyes, as long as I know I’m prospering by bearing the fruit and completing the manuscripts you have called me to write. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 28, 2016

Frederick Douglass for Kids: Nonfiction Sale!

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SALE! SALE! SALE! SALE! SALE! SALE!

I’m excited to announce that from today (Thursday) through Sunday, January 31, my book FREDERICK DOUGLAS FOR KIDS is for sale for a whopping low price of just $4.24!

CLICK HERE to order your own copies. No minimum and no maximum!

With Black History Month just around the corner, this book is a great classroom and school library resource. It’s also amazing for homeschoolers as it has 21 hands-on, historically-based activities from the life and times of this great American hero.

Want to learn more about the book? CLICK HERE to read a book review on the site of the Pioneer Woman!

Want the free teacher resources to use this book with your kids? CLICK HERE to visit the book’s official website where you’ll find a free teacher’s guide and more.

I have to rank this book with one of my all-time favorites that I ever wrote. Studying and writing about this amazing man inspired me and motivated me as a person, as an American, and as a writer in so many ways. Frederick Douglass is truly an amazing American hero and inspirational role model for our kids.

CLICK HERE to order your own copies at this great, great savings. But hurry! This amazing sale ends on Sunday.

 

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 27, 2016

NF PB Journey: STEM Books

STEM

What is STEM? Is it a plant? Is it an animal? Is it a machine?!!!!!

It’s an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

As writers of nonfiction picture books, it’s important we learn about picture books that support STEM classroom learning.

And guess what? Charlesbridge has a very handy list of their titles that support STEM!

CLICK HERE to see the list. While you’re at it, print it out like I did and add it to your writer’s notebook files you’re collecting on Charlesbridge.

Plus, go ahead and order in oodles of these titles from your local library. Then read them! Then list them in your reading log. And evaluate your favorites using your Nonfiction Picture Book Rubric (see the previous post here on my blog for a link to the free download.)

This is all part of what I do when I study a publisher. And this is all part of what I’m doing to target Charlesbridge. You can do these activities, too, if you want to follow along!

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 26, 2016

Book Review: Parable Treasury

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Parable Treasury
by Liz Curtis Higgs
Art by Nancy Munger

Bestselling favorite Parable books bring fun throughout the year in this new four-books-in-one format.

With more than 1.1 million units sold in the Parable Series, Liz Curtis Higgs has given parents and kids alike beloved parables they can read throughout the year. This adorable compilation, Parable Treasury, allows families to get all their favorite stories in one value-packed book.

For nearly twenty years, Liz Curtis Higgs has made the holidays a little brighter throughout the year with her Parable Series. In a lovely padded hardcover format, the Gold Medallion–winning books from the Parable Series will include:

The Pumpkin Patch Parable, which focuses on the harvest season and shows that we can let God’s love shine through us
The Pine Tree Parable, a heartwarming tale of the farmer and his family, who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees
The Parable of the Lily, which helps children understand the power of grace and forgiveness and the true meaning of Easter
The Sunflower Parable, which helps children discover the value of planting seeds, not only in the ground but also in the hearts of those around us

With simplicity and creative storytelling, this is sure to be a family favorite.

Summary

This 117-page oversized book with its soft padded cover contains all four parable stories to read aloud with young children and celebrate Easter, Summer, Harvest, and Christmas. In the Easter story, Maggie is given a special gift by her father, the farmer. She’s disappointed in the box of dirt with the flower bulb and eventually tosses it out the cellar door and forgets about it. When it grows and blossoms into a beautiful lily, however, she asks her father to forgive her for not appreciating his gift. He gently reminds her that forgiveness is what Easter is all about.

In the sunflower parable, Logan helps his father plant sunflower seeds and is very excited to see them grow to be the tallest in the garden. But when they bow their heads and are done growing, he is disappointed that they didn’t last longer. When the birds come to carry away the seeds, however, he realizes that the seeds will bless many, many people.

In the pumpkin parable, the gospel message is shared in a simple way as the farmer cleans out the slimy seeds and throws them away, then lights a candle inside to share the joy of its smiling face with everyone who sees.

In the pine tree parable, a family who can’t afford a Christmas tree is given one for free in a tender story about the farmer and his wife selling Christmas trees from their tree farm each year.

What I Like

These four precious stories have been repackaged into this one volume set. Each story is told in a simple way so young children can understand them. At the bottom of most pages a Scripture verse is included. This is helpful to share with little children and talk about what each part of each of the parables means. The illustrations are warm and delightful, making this a nice addition to a family’s collection of holiday books. A treasure for young and old alike.

 

 

-Thanks, BookLook Bloggers for another wonderful free book in exchange for my honest review!

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 25, 2016

NF PB Journey: Picture Book Rubric

NF PB Rubric

If you’ve been following along here on my blog, you know that right now we’re exploring Charlesbridge, especially their nonfiction picture books. (CLICK HERE if you want to start at the very first post about this journey.)

When I read over picture books, I like to read them for pleasure. But then I also like to study them and analyze them and try to understand what works and what doesn’t.

To help me evaluate my favorite Charlesbridge published nonfiction picture books, I developed a picture book rubric that I fill out. It’s amazing how filling in this rubric helps me then write and self-edit my own picture book manuscripts to make them shine!

To download a copy of your very own NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK RUBRIC, visit the site of my writing buddies, Writing According to Humphrey and Friends. Click on the link for the NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK RUBRIC, download it, print it out and add it to your personal writer’s notebook. This will really help you keep track of the books you’ve read.

Here’s how to fill in the rubric:
* At the top, rate the nonfiction picture book. A 5 star rating means it’s tops and definitely a book you want to study and use as a mentor text to help write and improve your own manuscripts.

* Fill in the title of the book so you can file these rubrics alphabetically in your writer’s notebook.

* Write down the author’s and illustrator’s name so that you can look for more picture books by your favorite writer or artist. If your book doesn’t have an illustrator because it uses photographs instead, either note this here or just leave blank.

* Include the date of the copyright as well as the name the copyright is under. A more current date, especially within the last 2 years, means that it’s a good indication of what is being published in today’s current market for picture books. If the copyright is under the author’s name, that means the rights belong to an author and was probably offered a royalty-based contract. If the copyright is under the publisher’s name, that means the rights belong to the publisher and the author was probably paid a one time fee.

* Be sure to write down the publisher and list any awards you know of. (If you are using this rubric for a book by a different publisher than Charlesbridge, you can visit the publisher’s website and explore their site for potential book ideas to submit to them.)

* On the top right ,write down the date you read the picture book.

* Include a short summary inside the box. Practice writing a 1-sentence summary of each picture book you read and it will help when you’re writing a pitch for your own nonfiction picture book manuscript!

*Opening Page: The opening page often works with the cover in a picture book, so answer Y for yes or N for no for each item on the list to note if it is accomplished in either the cover or opening page.

* Main Topic: The main topic is very important in a nonfiction picture book. Learn to evaluate how the author develops the this.

*Structure/Plot: Some nonfiction picture books have predictable plots such as So You Want to Be President which includes lists of different presidents. Others use a story arc that has a set up, a conflicting middle, and a resolution. Some editors prefer one type of structure/plot over another. Evaluate the type your story has to better understand Charlesbridge’s (or the particular publisher you are targeting) likes and dislikes.

*Craft: Study the craft and techniques the author used and mark your observations here. If a story is commercial, it means it could have toys or other products to sell with it.

For the optional section, feel free to write your evaluation on the back to have more room. Identify the book’s universal theme, or underlying theme that every kid can identify with such as losing a first tooth or moving to a new house. You can also jot down any thoughts you want to remember about this book.

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 22, 2016

Faith Building Fridays: The Door

Then Jesus said to them again, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.”

As writers, God opens doors for us or closes them. How comforting it is to be reassured that Jesus, Himself, IS the door for us as His scribes. Do you feel like you’re stuck in the sheep pen because of all the rejections you receive? Learn to hand over your manuscript that has just been rejected and work on the next manuscript He is calling you to write. He calls us to write and keep on writing whether or not the manuscripts are rejected. He is the door. He will take our manuscript where it is supposed to be on its journey through eternity. We’re just called to be His sheep…and as His scribes this calling means we continue to write no matter what the current market trends are or today’s publishing world does.

Dear God, Thank You for helping me keep my writing in perspective. Please encourage me to continue writing for Your glory even while I am inside the sheep pen. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 20, 2016

NF PB Journey

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I thought I’d show you my current stack of Charlesbridge picture books that I’m reading. My writing buddy, Sandman, is enjoying listening as I read some of them out loud!

This is only a partial stack because many of the titles I’ve read from Charlesbridge have already been returned to the library. But these titles here are some of my favorites and some of Yolanda Scott’s favorites, so I’m planning on dissecting them in the days ahead and posting my thoughts about them here on my blog.

So stay tuned and keep reading books by Charlesbridge, too! This really helps understand the heart and soul of this publisher and its editorial staff. All of this information will help us prepare our own manuscript submissions to send their way.

 

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 15, 2016

Faith Building Fridays: Encouragement

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Let everything you [write] be good and helpful,
so that your words will be an encouragement
to those who hear them.
-Ephesians 4:29, NLT

We are called to set the standard in our world for godliness, holiness, and righteousness. Is there a way we can share God’s message through our manuscripts in a way that is encouraging and uplifting instead of condemning? As God’s scribes, let’s think how we can share His message through inspiration and encouragement rather than criticism or condemnation. From the critiques we give to fellow writers to the fiction or nonfiction manuscripts we get published, let’s strive for our words to be good and helpful.

Dear God, forgive me for the times I’ve beaten others down because of my harsh criticism or condemnation. Please give me Your tender heart. Help me write words that encourage people to chase after Your goodness! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 8, 2016

Faith Building Fridays: Write!


Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were printed in a book!
-Job 19:23, KJV

How many of us have words burning in our hearts but never get them written down? Let’s start writing today. We can start small. We can make it our goal to write one page each day, for five days each week. If we write one page a day for one month, after just a month and a half, we’ll have the first draft of a 32-page picture book. If we write one page a day for one year, by the end of the year we’ll have the first draft of a 260-page full-length book. Let’s start writing! Today!

Dear God, please show me how I can rearrange my schedule each day to just write one page. Give me the strength to continue writing one page tomorrow…and the next until finally, the words of the book You are calling me to write will be written down. Then I will place them in Your hands to be published. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement for you to have to start a brand new year as a writer!

Posted by: nancyisanders | January 4, 2016

NF PB Journey: Reading Log

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Happy New Year! I took a break from blogging over the holiday season, but today’s a brand new year and I’m so excited to be on this journey with you to learn more about Charlesbridge publishers as we consider them for submitting nonfiction picture book manuscripts to.

I’ve been keeping a reading log of Charlesbridge picture books I read. Normally, I keep a log in my writer’s notebook of picture books I read in general, but I wanted to keep this list all in one place, so I got out my art supplies and a composition book and decorated it to match my nonfiction muse. (See below.)

Inside, I labeled the pages from A to Z for nonfiction titles and then again A to Z for fiction titles. Basically, I’m just writing down the title and a short little note about it. Plus, my own personal 1-5 star rating, and the author’s and illustrator’s name. And the publication date.

Then, for my favorite titles and ones I want to use as my mentor texts, I’m going to fill out a detailed rubric to keep on hand for future reference. In an upcoming post I’ll share the rubric I’ll be using.

I recommend keeping a reading log of some sort to keep track of the picture books you read from Charlesbridge’s list. Making a separate book is so much fun! And I’m excited because it will all be in one handy place that I can easily add to as I read even more. (I ordered in a batch of new picture books from the library last night.)

Here’s my newly decorated reading log. When I write nonfiction picture books, I like to write about American history and nature topics, so that’s why I chose the images you see below. I think I was drawn to the dominoes as the background paper because writing picture books is so much fun I get the same warm fuzzy and happy feeling as when I play dominoes or other childhood games.

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Posted by: nancyisanders | January 1, 2016

Faith Building Fridays: Cast


Cast your bread upon the waters,
for you will find it after many days.
-Ecclesiastes 11:1, NKJV

Submitting a manuscript is like casting our bread upon the waters. How often as a writer it is tempting to leave a finished manuscript in our file cabinet. Yet it is very important to submit it. Otherwise, how can God do anything with it? As we start this brand new year, let’s commit ourselves and our manuscripts into the Lord’s hands. Let’s submit our manuscripts on a regular basis until they find a home.

Dear God, thank You for Your promises. I stand upon Your Word today. I will cast my bread upon the waters. I will submit my manuscripts this year. You promise that I will find the good and just reward! Amen.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement for you to have to start a brand new year as a writer!

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 25, 2015

Faith Building Fridays: King


Where is He who has been born
King of the Jews?
For we have seen His star in the East
and have come to worship Him.
-Matthew 2:2, NKJV

Oh, what joy it is to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior! In everything we do and in everything we write, may we always seek to worship the King of kings!

Dear God, thank You for sending us the most precious Christmas gift of all–Your Son! Thank You for taking our mourning and turning it into joy. We praise You and adore You! Amen.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement for you to have to start a brand new year as a writer!

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 23, 2015

Have Yourself a Merry Christmas!

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This year, give yourself a gift (or two!) to nourish your writer’s soul. For some fun ideas, CLICK HERE to read an article I wrote for the children’s writer column at the Working Writer’s Club.

Have a happy Christmas Eve and a Christmas filled with the blessings of God!

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 18, 2015

Faith Building Fridays: Today

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If you wait for perfect conditions,
you will never get anything done.
-Ecclesiastes 11:4, NLT

The kids are little. The bills need to be paid. We’ve got a cold. The dog chewed up a pencil and left its shredded pieces on the rug. Life is busy and often seems out of control. If we wait for it to slow down so we can have one hour of uninterrupted time to write, we’ll probably never write a word. Learn to carry a notebook wherever you go to work on a manuscript if you suddenly find yourself with 15 minutes of free time. Carry your manuscript around in your head and develop the plot of your next scene while you’re washing the dishes or wrapping gifts. Snatch 15 minutes here and a chunk of time in between there. Learn to write anywhere and at any time. Focus on writing one word at a time until you have enough to fill a book.

Dear Father, please help me learn the importance of writing…today. Help me manage my time so that I write new words on my manuscript…today. No matter how busy life is or how many things are going on, help me stop making excuses. I don’t want to wait so long that I miss my opportunity to write…today.

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 16, 2015

NF PB Journey: Support Your Peers

5 stars

Guess what I just did?

I hopped on over to Amazon and posted 5 star reviews for some of my favorite Charlesbridge nonfiction picture book titles.

If you want to write nonfiction for kids, especially if you’re targeting Charlesbridge, I recommend that you do this, too.

There are oodles of reasons why I did this.

First of all, when I read a good book, I like to post a 5 star review. I want to support the author and give a good plug for his or her book. I truly appreciate when people do that for my books, so I like to support my author friends and author peers as well whenever I can.

Secondly, I can’t tell you the number of times when someone posts a 5 star review or a really nice, thoughtful review that I get that review in my e-mail. From my publishing house. Circulating to nearly everyone involved in my book at the publishing house including the marketing team, my editors, the art director, and yes, even the publisher!

So if you’re targeting a certain publisher like we are, and you discover great books that you’ve read, taking the time to post a positive and encouraging review can possibly also help build your name recognition at their publishing house. People in high places do pay attention to these reviews!

And speaking of reviews…I always try to be professional regarding reviews I post. I have a personal philosophy that if I can’t post a 5-star review on it, then in general I won’t post a review at all. Not even a 4-star.

Why not? Because 4-star reviews, believe it or not, lower the ratings of a book. I know tons of reviewers who say they loved the book but then they gave it a 4-star and the ratings dropped. I don’t think they realized what they were doing.

And why won’t I post a less than 5-star review in general?

Here’s why. I used to belong to a writer’s group of professional published writers where we read 40 picture books each month and met to evaluate them. I’ll never forget 2 books in particular that we read and discussed.

One was a picture book I thought was boring. Stupid. Lacking any good qualities at all. But when we got together for our meeting, one of the gals said it was now her daughter’s favorite book and her daughter laughed so hard each time she read it she got the hiccups!

Another book was by an author I loved. But this book fell flat. I felt it was his worst book ever. I felt like he only got it published because the publisher owed him a contract or something. But when we got together for our meeting, one of the gals was in tears as she shared it was now her favorite book ever by this author because it resonated so deeply with her.

What did I learn? I learned that even if I personally dislike a certain book, it doesn’t mean that book deserves to be blasted on a public review site. Someone else may cherish that book.

So that’s why I try to only post reviews of books I love and can give a 5-star review. The rest I leave for others to review.

 

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 15, 2015

Board Book Workshop

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Over the years, I’ve had the joy of publishing board books and novelty books for babies. That’s one of my books, My Special Things, featured in the image above. Now that I have a grandbaby of my own, I’m especially enjoying writing new potential manuscripts for this market.

Have you ever thought of writing board books for babies? They’re lots of fun, fun, fun to write. And in my newest writer’s audio workshop, I talk with Suzanne Lieurance about how YOU can write board books, too. CLICK HERE for the details of how you can register for the pre-recorded audio workshop, including lots of tips on which publishers and agents are currently accepting board book submissions.

For an example of what a board book looks like, you can watch my book, The Pet I’ll Get, be read on YouTube on Nana’s Storytime!

And here’s an example of what a manuscript submission for a board book looks like. I just submitted one this past month, and this is the format I used.

Board Book Sample

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 14, 2015

NF PB Journey: More at Your Library

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Yup. It’s time to get more books from your local library. I’ve been reading various Charlesbridge books. (You can find lots of nonfiction picture book titles by either looking at their catalog or using the advanced search feature on Amazon to search the publisher’s name for for younger ages.)

By now, I’ve got some of my favorites that I’m planning on using for mentor texts along my journey to target Charlesbridge and write and submit nonfiction picture book manuscripts to them in the year ahead. (If you want to do that, too, be sure to add this to your list of New Year’s goals! It’s the perfect time of year!)

So here are some of my favorite nonfiction picture books from Charlesbridge that I’ve recently read:

Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle by Cheryl Bardoe

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook

Dirty Rats? by Darrin Lunde

Feathers (Not Just for Flying) by Melissa Stewart

Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh

Hop on over to the online site of your local library (or go and visit it!) and order in these nonfiction picture books to read. They’re tops!

NOTE: And hey…while you’re at it, take a peek on your library’s site and see how many copies of each of these books they have in their system. I discovered they have a whopping 12..yes 12 …copies of the title TRAPPED! You bet I want to look especially close at this title to see what makes it so appealing to a library these days when funds are tight and they only order in 1 or 2 copies of most picture books.

So if you notice your library has a lot of copies of a certain title on this list, pay special attention to it because it’s doing something to be successful.

 

Posted by: nancyisanders | December 11, 2015

Faith Building Fridays: Quiet Words

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The quiet words of a wise person
are better than the shouts of a foolish king.
A wise person can overcome weapons of war.
-Ecclesiastes 9:17-18a, NLT

A writer’s life is often solitary and alone. Countless hours of quiet reflection are spent at the computer, perfecting our craft. How wonderful it is to know that the words we write can be more effective than the mightiest sword.

Thank You, Lord, for this reminder that the time we spend alone at our computer is a valuable and precious time. Please give us wisdom so that the words we write will overcome Satan’s weapons of war. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

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For more faith-building encouragement as a writer, visit my site, Scribes.

Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers is available at Amazon. What a great gift of encouragement for you to have to start a brand new year as a writer! Add it to your Christmas wish list today.

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