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                    W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 12:15        13,362 subscribers              August 2, 2012
MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION: See the bottom of this newsletter for
details on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editors.

THE EDITOR'S DESK: Farewell to a Legend, by Moira Allen 
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: Creating Characters Readers Will Care
About, by Victoria Grossack
FEATURE: Writing to Pay the Bills - Updated, by Audrey Faye
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers                   
The Author's Bookshelf

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* Rankings. Statistics will show you how your writing is doing.
DON'T GET SCAMMED!  Choose the right Self Publishing Company for
your book. What you need to know before choosing a self publishing
company and the questions you should ask.


Farewell to a Legend

Many of you have already heard the sad news: As of October 2012,
the longest-lived publication for writers will be suspending
publication.  The Writer is "going on hiatus" -- it will no longer
be published by its current owner, Kalmbach Publishing, and if a
buyer cannot be found, it will vanish from the writing scene

The Writer was established in 1887 by William Hills and Robert
Luce, "to help all literary workers."  It was published in Boston
until 2000, when it was purchased by Kalmbach.  Besides being one
of the oldest magazines continuously published in the US, it had
one of the longest continuous editorial management: A.S. Burack
became its editor in 1936, and the magazine was taken over by his
wife Sylvia upon his death in 1978.  Sylvia remained the magazine's
editor until selling the magazine to Kalmbach.  

I have fond memories of hunting down back issues of The Writer in
the Berkeley public library, where I'd eat my lunch in some quiet
corner of the stacks or tucked away in the children's room.  I'd
skimmed through Writer's Digest, but at that time, it was aimed
more at the professional freelancer, and spoke of a world of which
(then) I had little understanding.  The Writer focused far more on
the creative aspects of writing, and I read every issue I could get
my hands on, cover to cover.

The Writer was also the source of my first "writing article" sale
-- "How to Be Your Own Editor," back in 1988.  I sold several other
articles to The Writer in its pre-Kalmbach days.  After the sale, I
became a regular contributor and, at one point, was managing two
columns for the magazine.  (In fact, I once got an angry e-mail
from a reader who was incensed to discover that I had THREE items
in the same issue -- two columns and a feature article.  In her
view, that just wasn't fair; apparently she had not experienced the
same degree of success.  She did offer me an opportunity to "make
it up" to her, however, by giving her free tuition to one of my
online classes.  I declined.)

I'd like to say that the demise of The Writer comes as a grave
shock, but unfortunately, it doesn't.  I always wondered why a
publisher like Kalmbach acquired it in the first place; Kalmbach
publishes craft and hobby magazines, on such topics as beads and
jewelry and woodworking.  I always wondered if the publishers
fancied that writing was "just another hobby" -- that the
magazine's readers were indulging in a recreational pastime, rather
than pursuing a serious career or avocation.  In recent years, it
has seemed to me that the editorial focus has indeed downplayed the
professional side of writing.

More to the point, I noticed the recent "slimming down" of the
publication.  When a magazine suddenly loses 8 pages (or more) of
content, you know it's in trouble.  The writing field is a tough
place to find advertisers, a problem that is even greater in these
economic times.  

Between the loss of The Writer and Byline magazine, which also
closed its doors recently, the print options for writers have
dropped dramatically.  Fortunately, writers can still find a vast
wealth of writing information online, on sites like
Writing-World.com and a host of others.  Better yet, most of these
sites are free -- no subscription required! 

Nevertheless, it's a sad day when a publication that has endured
the Depression and two World Wars, and stood by writers through 125
years of turbulent history and economic upheavals, must come to an
end because it's no longer "paying the bills."  It will surely be
mourned by thousands of loyal readers.

Compared to The Writer, Writing-World.com seems like a virtual
infant, pun intended.  Who knows what changes it will see, over the
decades to come?  When I founded this site in 2001, I wasn't sure
it would last a year, let alone a decade.  Certainly I wasn't
thinking in terms of "a century."  But who knows?  Perhaps, around
90 years from now, someone will be writing a tribute to
Writing-World.com. I hope it won't be to mourn its demise!

NOTE TO CONTRIBUTORS: If you are a regular contributor to The
Writer, you'll have been informed by now that no further articles
or queries are being accepted.  The Writer is saving "selected"
queries and submissions to forward to a new publisher, but these
will be destroyed if no buyer is found.  If this has stranded you
in "submission limbo," Writing-World.com will be more than happy to
consider your material.  You'll find our complete submission
guidelines at http://www.writing-world.com/admin1/guidelines.shtml

-- Moira Allen, Editor

Copyright 2012 Moira Allen 


Over 400 editors contribute their unique news and views each year.
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We All Need Someone To Love: 
Creating Characters Readers Will Care About

One of the ways to make sure that your readers keep turning the
pages is to give them characters -- especially main characters,
also known as protagonists -- whom they will care about. Now, this
technique is not absolutely necessary for a successful novel. For
example, in "Vanity Fair" by William Makepeace Thackeray, the
author is very cynical about his main character. (I remember how
shocked I was when I read it and realized how Thackeray felt. But I
was only twelve, so this literary device was brand new to me.)
However, for the most part, people will want to read about
characters they love, with whom they identify, whom they want to

How can you make this happen? There are a number of ways that you
can make your characters more interesting and sympathetic to your
readers. Here are some of them: 


One of the ways to make this happen is to give your main characters
some of the same traits as your readers. These traits may be
superficial, in that the characters are about the same age and the
same sex, and so on -- potentially very important, for example, in
writing children's stories, but in other situations as well. For
example, when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin," she
wanted -- she NEEDED -- to gain the sympathy of white readers. So
she made one of the characters, George, ALMOST white in color, so
that it would be absurd, even for many of the anti-abolitionists,
to insist that he be forced to remain a slave on the basis of his


This is another way to have your readers identify with the main
character, although it is less superficial. There are many ways in
which this can occur. For example, if you are targeting Christian
readers, you're probably going to want to have some Christian
characters. Another way is to put a character with whom we identify
into an unreasonable or at least an unfamiliar surrounding.
Although this may deal with current political / religious events --
think of Betty Mahmoody's book, "Not without My Daughter" -- it can
also be done by putting characters from today into periods in the
past, such as time-travel books.  For example, consider the
classic, Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's
Court," or the more recent Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Or
it can be done on an implicit basis, where a character with a
familiar outlook is in a situation where the other characters have
a less familiar outlook. For example, in "The Clan of the Cave
Bear" by Jean Auel, a Cro-Magnon girl is adopted by a clan of
Neanderthals; in "Pope Joan," by Donna Woolfolk Cross, young Joan
does everything she can in order to learn to read and write. In
these two last examples, the modern-day attitude that education for
females is a good thing is something that is questioned severely by
many of the other characters. 


If your main character is in the process of killing someone, or
even in the process of doing something nasty, such as being rude
toward another character in an inferior position, your readers may
learn to dislike the main character. Now, this doesn't mean that
your readers will necessarily stop turning the pages. 

How do you make your main character a nice person? Thinking of
another person kindly; doing a charitable act for someone less
fortunate; resisting the temptation to do something. 


There are many situations in which "the good guys" are clearly
defined -- for example, the Allied side of World War II, or the
police working to catch a particularly nasty criminal, such as a
kidnapper or a murderer or part of the Mafia. 

Actually, in these situations, it is not the "good guys" who are
clearly defined but the "bad guys." By having "bad guys" who are so
clearly defined -- and who are so categorically dreadful -- you can
introduce more shades of gray into your protagonists. Perhaps your
protagonist is a prostitute, thief or even a drug dealer -- but
saves the day when it comes down to stopping one of the worst of
the bad guys' acts. 


If your characters are threatened, either in terms of life, limb,
or property, the readers will tend to sympathize with them. 


Your character may not be allowed to study, or to go to the ball,
or may be forced to wait upon her less beautiful (as well as
spiteful) stepsisters, despite being more deserving (in the case of
Cinderella, more beautiful both in body and character). 


Perhaps your main character is trying to become a doctor, despite
tremendous odds (Noah Gordon's "The Physician") or trying to save
the city or even the planet from destruction. Because of the goals
that are sympathetic, the character will also be sympathetic. 


There are characters who have it harder than others and who will
therefore gain our sympathy. Some true life examples include Helen
Keller's "The Story of My Life" and Christy Brown's "My Left Foot"
(the story of a man with cerebral palsy who was only able to
control his left foot and learned, therefore to write -- and thus
communicate with his family -- with that member). For a recent
fictional example, consider the novel "The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon, told in first person by
Christopher John Francis Boone, a character who has autism, and
thus has difficulty communicating with those around him. (This
novel is also an example of a BRILLIANT development of voice.) 

Often more than one of these devices is used at a time, either
because they overlap or because you have decided to use more than
one. You will also notice that many of these devices are
situational -- not necessarily reflecting upon the innate qualities
of the character, but in the setting and in the plot. 

You may also consider these devices manipulative. Well, I agree;
they ARE manipulative. But manipulating the reader is not
necessarily a bad thing. When readers pick up your story or novel,
they are agreeing to manipulated -- but they want to be manipulated
in such a way that they enjoy it. 

A version of this article appeared at the Coffeehouse for Writer's
Fiction Fix. Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English
Literature at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and
articles in publications such as Contingencies, Women's World and I
Love Cats. She teaches a variety of writing classes at 
http://www.coffeehouseforwriters.com/courses.html.  Victoria
Grossack is the co-author of the Tapestry of Bronze series
(Jocasta; Children of Tantalus; The Road to Thebes; Arrow of
Artemis) based on Greek myths and set in the late Bronze Age. 
Besides all this, Victoria is married with kids, and (though
American) spends most of her time in Europe.  Her hobbies include
gardening, hiking and bird-watching.  Visit her website at 
http://www.tapestryofbronze.com, or contact her at tapestry (at)
tapestryofbronze (dot) com.   

Copyright 2012 Victoria Grossack


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The Writer Magazine Closes
This came as a major shock to us, but The Writer Magazine is
ceasing publication after 125 years.  Officially it is going on a
hiatus after the October 2012 issue, while the publisher, Kalmbach
Publishing Co, looks for a buyer for the magazine. 
For more on this astonishing story, click here: 

Want to Keep your Career as a Journalist? Don't make things up!
We had more startling news this week as not one but two journalists
are sacked for making things up. New Yorker journalist, Jonah
Lehrer has been fired after it was discovered he had made up quotes
from Bob Dylan for his book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works." 
Meanwhile, Connecticut reporter Paresh Jha has been fired from The
New Canaan News after it was discovered that he made up quotes in
25 of his stories!  For more on this unbelievable tales, click

New Low Price for eBooks Sparks Controversy
Meanwhile back in the UK a storm is brewing over the fact that Sony
and Amazon have both started to sell eBooks by bestselling authors
for as little as 20p/31c. Sony apparently started the trend to draw
readers to its new Reader Store, and Amazon has, naturally, matched
their prices.  For more on this story visit: 


FEELING PRESSURED TO PRICE A JOB? Follow the 3-step process in
Freelance Fee Setting: Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price
NOW. This brief e-book is by the author of the award-winning What
to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants.
Get it now at http://tinyurl.com/86qfupw


Writing Jobs and Opportunities

Literary Agency Seeking Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors        
We're writing to introduce you to The Ethan Ellenberg Literary
Agency and to let you know we are actively seeking clients in the
Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. We are a full service agency,
representing writers at every stage of their career.

The agency opened in 1984 and has always had an interest in both
genres.  We're privileged to represent a number of top talents in
science fiction and fantasy such as John Scalzi, Karen Miller,
Sharon Shinn, Gail Z. Martin, Ian Douglas/Bill Keith, Kay Kenyon,
Mel Odom, and the recently signed James Cambias for whom we just
sold his first novel.  We are also proud to represent the estate of
Gandalf Grand Master Award winning author Andre Norton.  
Our success in this area is not confined to the adult market,
either.  The agency has negotiated publication deals for young
adult fantasies by Karen Miller, Mel Odom, Sharon Shinn, and Ed
Willet as well. 

We are a very active, successful seller of translation rights with
agents in all foreign markets and a track record of approximately
fifty new licenses per year. We also successfully license film
rights, audio-book rights, e-book rights and rights for publication
in the United Kingdom. 

The ideal submission for us is an introductory letter, synopsis and
the first three chapters of manuscript. We welcome electronic
submissions to fantasy"at"ethanellenberg.com. We also welcome
submission by mail with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for
response. Please check our website (http://www.ethanellenberg.com)
and follow the submission guidelines carefully.

We remain upbeat, active and committed to the highest standards of
professional conduct and representation. We are members in good
standing of the Association of Author's Representatives and
consistently receive high marks from all the top professional
writers' organizations. We look forward to your submission.

Ethan Ellenberg, President,     Evan Gregory, Associate Agent

FEATURE:  Writing to Pay the Bills - Updated
By Audrey Faye Henderson

In August 2011, I wrote a feature for Writing-World.com entitled
"Writing to Pay the Bills" (
http://www.writing-world.com/freelance/SEO.shtml) that described
how to utilize content providers to supplement your writing income.
I did not imagine that just a few short months later; the bottom
would fall out of the content provider market - at least for

What happened?  A Google algorithm adjustment called "Panda"
that was implemented in phases throughout 2011.  During the latter
half of the year, the full effects of Panda shook up the entire
content provider sector, and left many writers who had (almost
certainly unwisely) depended on content providers to provide all or
the bulk of their income to deal with the fallout.

The Panda Effect
Panda was designed to "punish" websites deemed by Google to feature
low-quality content by pushing them down in keyword search results.
As a result, many websites found their traffic numbers sharply
reduced, which had a knock-on effect of drastically cutting the
click-through ad revenues that comprise the lifeblood of much of
online content. Content providers adjusted to being downgraded in
Google searches with a variety of strategies designed to improve
their stature but that produced mixed results at best.  In many
cases, contract writers represented the collateral damage.

Content providers across the board have clamped down on available
work while increasing demands on longtime contractors and new
writers alike. In many cases, the result has been what contractors
call "title droughts" -- days, weeks or even months of little or no
available work. Stricter requirements for accepted work forced
writers to spend much more time and effort for each article than
was previously required -- often with little or no corresponding
increase in pay per finished article.  Many contractors who had
previously garnered four and even five figures each month through
writing for content providers found that their earnings after Panda
were slashed to a fraction of their previous levels.

Writing for Content Providers Post Panda
In my original feature, I advised writers to contract with several
different contract providers and to limit the overall time spent
writing for any one of them.  At that time, it was still possible
to pick up several hundred dollars or more relatively quickly to
cover an unexpected expense or to bridge the gaps between
higher-paying work assignments.  After Panda, for a sizeable number
of writers who contract with content providers, this is no longer
the case. Although content providers have not become extinct, it is
much more difficult to earn anything approaching a consistent
income by writing for content providers than it was less than a
year ago. Some examples:

1) Demand Media Studios has forced many of its writers, including
writers who have been under contract for years, to reapply for
recently re-organized segments if they want to continue writing for
those verticals.

2) Bright Hub has ceased providing assignments for all but a select
group of writers contracted on what it calls an "ad hoc" basis. 

3) The Writers Network and WiseGEEK have imposed freezes on
applications from new writers until further notice.  

Given the present environment, I can no longer recommend mass
content providers as potential writing outlets for professional
freelancers.  Especially given the low pay scale and ongoing "title
droughts," any benefits (read: earnings) that you may gain from
writing for a content provider will almost certainly fail to
compensate for the effort necessary to obtain and execute your
assigned work. However, if you choose to remain as a writer for
content providers where you're presently under contract, or if you
decide to attempt to sign on with one or more content providers as
a new contractor, the following guidelines may minimize your stress

1) Follow the application instructions precisely.  Even with the
low pay they offer, content providers that are still signing new
writers are being inundated with applicants, which means they can
afford to pick and choose. If you fail to comply with the required
procedures, you may be immediately eliminated from consideration --
and many content providers do not allow writers who have been
previously turned down to reapply.

2) Tailor your application materials to applicable specialty
fields. For instance, if you're applying to write for a
fashion-oriented content provider, emphasize your major in Fine
Arts and provide samples from your makeup blog.  For a content
provider that targets the tech sector, promote your computer savvy
and provide samples from your weekly gadget column for the local

3) Be especially wary of providing original writing samples.
Unscrupulous operators have always targeted gullible or desperate
applicants to provide unpaid work under the guise of testing.  In
the post Panda world, you must be even more vigilant against scams.
 If you'll be paid for your work once you're under contract, be
sure to get it in writing, preferably as part of the contractor's
agreement.  If you won't be paid for your work, steer clear of that
particular content provider. 

4) If you choose to submit an original sample, it MUST be original.
 Do not attempt to submit previously published work. In nearly all
instances, the content provider will scan your work through a
plagiarism filter, and if you "fail" the screening, you will be
immediately eliminated from consideration.

5) Once you're under contract, document your work meticulously. 
This is essential if you are paid by the hour or must account for
the time you devote to completing each assigned article. Your
efficiency or your ability to account for your time may determine
whether you are retained by the content provider.

6) Periodically re-evaluate your experience with the content
provider.  If you find that you're spending more time seeking
available work than actually writing, you're wasting time that
could be more productively spent seeking better-paying clients. 
Likewise, if you must rewrite every article, or experience high
rejection rates, that particular content provider may be a poor fit
for you.

"On Spec" Content Providers
One possible exception to the grim post Panda scenario may be
Constant Content and similar content providers that allow you to
submit your work "on spec" for inclusion in a catalogue of work
available for potential buyers. Clients may also list prospective
assignments, but within fixed price ranges. Writers are not
expected to "bid" on the prices clients pay. Of course, you are not
guaranteed to receive a quick payout (or any payout at all) with
such a provider model.  However, because you set your own prices
for the bulk of your work, your potential pay per piece is
significantly higher than for conventional content providers. 

I have sold several pieces through this type of content provider
and have never received less than $50 for each one, and usually
much more than that, even after the content provider took its cut
as commission. Content providers that operate by the "on spec"
submission model have also experienced an onslaught of new
submissions post Panda.  Unless you are a known quantity, expect
lengthy waits to have your submitted work evaluated by the editors. 

The Hard Truth
Before Panda, conventional content providers compensated for their
low pay with rapid turnarounds, predictable, reliable up-front
payouts -- and plenty of readily available work.  No prospecting
for clients, no writing on spec, no chasing down payments.  Many
writers came to view their assignments as "jobs," content to rely
on income from one or more content providers to maintain their
homes and provide for their families.  As the content provider well
ran dry, these writers often found themselves with few or no
alternative sources of revenue -- with disastrous consequences. 
The fallout from Panda for content providers reinforced the hard
truth that no professional freelancer should rely too heavily on a
single client, or even on a single type of client, for the bulk of
his or her income.

Audrey Faye Henderson is a writer, researcher, data analyst and
policy analyst based in the Chicago area. Her company, 
http://www.knowledge-empowerment.net/, specializes in social policy
analysis concerning fair housing, affordable housing, higher
education for nontraditional students, community development with
an asset based approach and sustainable development in the built
Copyright 2012 Audrey Faye Henderson dba Knowledge Empowerment.

For more information on ways to increase your writing income check
out: http://www.writing-world.com/dawn/recession.shtml


An epublishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what
is happening and show you how to self-publish your own eBooks.


Free Stuff for Writers: Finding the Cool, Part 2
By Aline Lechaye

August is here, and in my part of the world at least, it's still
blisteringly hot. Thankfully, this month we're going to be looking
at more cool sites on the internet, so hopefully that will help you
through the extreme weather until autumn rolls round again.
Ever wanted to save the world with your amazing superhero
vocabulary powers? Now, thanks to Freerice (http://freerice.com/),
you can do just that. Freerice is a non-profit website owned by the
United Nations World Food Programme, and the two aims of the site
are to provide free education for everyone and to end world hunger
by providing free food to those in need. They've combined these two
aims in an ingenious manner: every time you correctly answer a word
definition question on the site, they will donate ten grains of
rice through the World Food Programme. This challenge might as well
have been specifically designed for writers! To learn more about
how the site works, go to: http://freerice.com/about/faq. [Editor's
Note: I've "played" this one and it's loads of fun!]

If you're feeling bored and in need of some inspiration, Pinterest
(http://pinterest.com/) is the best place to go. Basically,
Pinterest is a place for users to collect and organize images that
inspire them from all over the World Wide Web (so, yeah, it's like
a virtual corkboard). Put together images of your hopes, fears, and
dreams. Walk around the site and look at other people's boards. Do
you feel inspired yet? 

Would you like to go back to high school? Specifically, would you
like to go back to high school and relearn all those subjects that
you hated and barely managed to pass? Yeah, probably not. But how
about relearning all those subjects at your own pace, right from
the comfort of your whole home? How about learning from videos that
actually try to make it interesting? Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/) can
make it happen. With over 3000
videos on various topics, this is the website to go to if you want
to learn without the pressure of exams and pop quizzes. By the way,
if you know someone who's going to be taking a standardized test
(SAT Math! GMAT!) any time soon, you might want to let them know
about the videos in the "test prep" section.
The Generator Blog (http://generatorblog.blogspot.tw/) is not a
place you want to go if you have something urgent planned within
the next five hours. The Generator Blog is a blog full of -- you
guessed it -- generators. Dozens of generators. Customize images in
unusual ways, make your own action figures or fantasy characters,
put your name on book covers (good for the ego!) or newspapers...
if you can imagine it, you can probably find a generator relating
to it on the blog. Just be warned -- generating stuff can be quite
addictive! You may find it hard to tear yourself away once you've

And finally, a nice relaxing website that will turn any frown
upside down -- Storybird (http://storybird.com/). If you're the
kind of person who loves picture books, or if you've got kids that
love picture books, you're going to love Storybird. Why? Because
this whole site is about picture books with absolutely amazing
artwork and short, easy-to-follow storylines. You can even create
your own stories using artwork submitted by artists on the site.
The interface is easy to use: simply drag and drop images to the
new page, type in your text, and repeat as needed. Storybird
automatically generates a cover for your finished work, but you are
free to change it if you wish. Watch the introduction video at
http://storybird.com/tour/ to learn more.

Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who
resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye"at"gmail.com.

Copyright 2012 Aline Lechaye


Writing Forums
This site, as you can guess from its title, is a collection of
forums on all aspects of creative writing.  It has a wide selection
of forums, all regularly updated and all very active.  

The Itch of Writing
This is a blog by British novelist Emma Darwin which I came across
recently and have already bookmarked. It is, in Emma's words, about
"Writing, reading writing, teaching writing and sometimes hating
writing," and is full of fantastic advice, musings and resources on
all aspects of writing. 
Writing Excuses 
This is an unusual site that offers writing advice and exercises
and prompts to help you with creative writing.  Written by
published novelists Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson and Dan
Wells and cartoonist Howard Tyler, this blog is packed with great

AUGUST'S AWESOME BLOG: Write to Done, edited by Mary Jaksch
Here's another blog packed with tips, inspiration and guidance,
plus a nifty feature called "scene stealers" that provides a
regular writing prompt. Like most blogs, this could use a more
detailed navigation menu, but you can easily reach the different
topical categories on the site, including: Art of Writing,
Blogging, Copywriting, Creativity, Fiction, Freelancing, Scene
Stealers, Uncategorized, and Writer's Toolbox. Loads of guest blog
contributions, which keeps the content varied and interesting. 


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find writers. Join us today at http://naiwe.com!


To Win" is completely updated for 2012, featuring over 1600 contest
listings for writers worldwide.  The 2012 edition has more than 
450 NEW listings.  You won't find a more comprehensive guide to 
writing contests anywhere.  Available in print and Kindle editions.
Print: https://www.createspace.com/3778183
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B007C98OUA/peregrine


AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

Envious of the Clouds, by Amy Michelle Mosier

Find this and more great books at

Have you just had a book published?  If so, let our readers know: 
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