BECOMING JOSEPHINE by Heather Webb releases today!
Dec31

BECOMING JOSEPHINE by Heather Webb releases today!

Amazon I’m so thrilled that today the talented Heather Webb’s novel, BECOMING JOSEPHINE, releases today. This book sounds so amazing, I can’t wait to dive in. Here’s a little bit about the book and a few reviews. Check out the Holiday Guest Post Heather did for the blog, as well. There are some fun facts and yummy recipe from her novel.  I hope you’ll buy your copy of BECOMING JOSEPHINE today to help support such a wonderful writer and friend to the writing community. Brief Synopsis: Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris, eager to enjoy an elegant life at the royal court. Once there, Rose’s aristocratic soldier-husband dashes her dreams by abandoning her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. After narrowly escaping death, Rose reinvents herself as Josephine, a beautiful socialite wooed by an awkward suitor—Napoleon Bonaparte. BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.  Reviews: “Webb’s portrayal of the range of Josephine’s experience—narrow escapes from bloodshed and disease, dinner-table diplomacy, and her helpless love for Napoleon, her children and a small dog—is exceptionally concise and colorful. A worthy fictional primer on Empress Josephine.” –Kirkus Reviews “Webb holds up a light into the inner recesses of a fascinating and contradictory woman . . . Becoming Josephine is an accomplished debut.” -The New York Journal of Books More here: Heather Webb Twitter Website Amazon...

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Happy Holidays … and we’ll see you in 2014!
Dec24

Happy Holidays … and we’ll see you in 2014!

  Hope you all stay safe during this holiday season. We’ll be back after the New Year. To those working hard to get ready for Pitch Wars, keep trekking and get those manuscripts nice and shiny like Rudolph’s nose.   And here’s something from your Pitch Wars team … Rae Chang, Marieke Nijkamp, and...

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Holiday Guest Post by Thomas Torre!
Dec23

Holiday Guest Post by Thomas Torre!

Ah, the holidays. It’s the only time of the year where we pull out all the stops and suit up for our family traditions passed on through the generations. Whether it’s decorating your house, baking some delicious treats, or shopping online for the hard to find gift since the lines at the mall are absurd, everyone has their own tradition. Don’t get me wrong, those are all well and good, but my family follows a tradition of their own. Holiday Movie Marathons. Thus I give to you all, my present to you. A list of my top five favorite holiday movies that I just had to watch with my family when I was a kid. Now I warn you, these aren’t the traditional holiday movies you are probably thinking of. For the most part, these are my guilty pleasures. So sit back, relax, and take a sip of your eggnog. It’s movie time. 1)      NATIONAL LAMPOONS CHRISTMAS VACATION I have always been a sucker when it comes to the National Lampoon movies, and what better way to celebrate the holidays than by watching Clark Griswold try to pull off the perfect Christmas. As usual, it winds up being a disaster. From oversized Christmas trees burning down, to noxious fumes seeping up from the sewer thanks to your brother-in-law dumping his waste; it just keeps getting better and better. Of course, as most National Lampoon movies, there is a happy ending, but not without Clark Griswold going off on one of the greatest rants in movie history. Trust me; you’ll know it when you hear it. Three words – “Where’s the Tylenol?” 2)      Scrooged     A modern retelling of Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol”, we follow Frank Cross (played by Bill Murray), a filthy rich television programming executive  tasked with producing a live broadcast of the CHRISTMAS CAROL on Christmas Eve. Cross is the Scrooge of this movie, without even the slightest bit of a heart inside him. He goes through the typical “ghosts of Christmas” events, but just having Bill Murray behind the mask of scrooge makes it all the more brilliant. Some of the lines he says in this movie are enough to make your stomach rip open from laughter. Oh and Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present is absolute perfection. The chemistry between her and Bill Murray is spot on.  Not to mention she decks him a few times which is always good for a laugh. 3)      The Muppet Christmas Carol Another Christmas Carol portrayal, but who can pass up The Muppets? Scrooge this time is played by Michael Caine, who of course...

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Holiday Guest Post by Pitch Wars Mentor Julie Sondra Decker!
Dec21

Holiday Guest Post by Pitch Wars Mentor Julie Sondra Decker!

HAPPY SOLSTICE! Today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere! Winter solstice on this side of the Earth means the longest night and the shortest day. It means every day from now until the summer solstice will be slightly longer than the one before it. It means the start of the waxing year. But for some, winter solstice is more than an astronomical event. It’s a holiday that some practitioners of nature faiths consider spiritual or religious. For many folks of Pagan persuasions, today is THE big winter holiday. And many Christmas holiday traditions have their roots in our Yuletide celebrations. OUR CELEBRATIONS Yule logs, decorated trees, and caroling (as well as many of the carols themselves!) come from ancient practices celebrating new life brought into a frozen world. Many polytheistic and Pagan beliefs of old feature a god who was reborn on the winter solstice, and his mother the goddess (symbolic of Earth) would celebrate his arrival. Gifts were exchanged, candles lit, bells rung, carols sung. And some modern Pagans celebrate in similar ways today. Some modern Pagans celebrate with group or solitary rituals. The purpose of the rituals is to greet the newborn king—sound familiar?—and honor the cycle of nature. Most Pagan folks believe in some form of reincarnation, and that is reflected in the cyclical deity who is born in winter, is married as a king in summer, and dies/is “harvested” in the fall. Because of the mother goddess’s major role in most Pagan spirituality, this holiday honors the female deity as much as the male, and so some rituals will incorporate some sort of tribute to a general or specific goddess, such as lighting three candles to symbolize her three aspects (Maiden, Mother, Crone: white, red, and black candles). Some like to read spiritually significant poetry, make wishes for a new year, or make a toast. And some group rituals will involve bonfires, dancing, singing, drumming, and group invocations. Decorations and celebrations vary widely, but the symbols and practices tend to contain certain common threads. OUR DECORATIONS Many Pagan people like to have a Yule tree and/or a decorated Yule log, and happily this is one of the three holidays of the year for which mainstream stores carry decorations we can use (the others being Easter/spring equinox and Halloween/Samhain). Traditional Yule logs are decorated with ribbons and sometimes burned, though some folks prefer to put candles on it and “burn” the log symbolically.   Yule trees will be more or less indistinguishable from Christmas trees, but many Pagan people prefer to decorate theirs with nature-related symbols or—if they have them—specific symbols of whatever tradition...

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Holiday Guest Post, Celebration Cake, & Excerpt from THE ART OF FALLING by Jenny Kaczorowski!
Dec20

Holiday Guest Post, Celebration Cake, & Excerpt from THE ART OF FALLING by Jenny Kaczorowski!

Hi Brenda! Happy holidays and thanks for having me! Today I wanted to share one of my all time favorite recipes. I love this cake so much that I even included it in my debut novel, THE ART OF FALLING. It’s super easy, always comes out perfect, can be scaled up or down, and because there’s no raw eggs, kids (and adults) can eat the batter without worrying about food poisoning. Always a plus for this busy momma!  Chocolate Celebration Cake 3 cups all-purpose flour 2 cups sugar 1/2 cup cocoa powder 2 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. salt 2/3 cup vegetable oil 2 tsp. vinegar 1 tsp. vanilla 2 cups cold water Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9” round pans or 24 muffin tins. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine oil, vinegar and vanilla in a small bowl. Add oil mixture and water to dry ingredients and mix by hand until well blended, about one minute. Immediately pour batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake until tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes for round pans or 20 minutes for muffin tins. Allow to cool 10 minutes before removing from pans and frosting. Tips: For some extra holiday flavor, try mint or orange extract instead of vanilla. Decorate with chocolate shavings, sprinkles or candy. I used Skittles in honor of Ben from THE ART OF FALLING. For a (slightly) lighter treat, serve with berries and cream instead of frosting. For an extra holiday treat, here is an excerpt from THE ART OF FALLING, where Bria ends up baking this very recipe with Ben’s mom, Adele – right after she has a particularly unsettling encounter with Ben. Enjoy! ~ “Good morning,” Adele said with a bright smile. She wore a ruffled apron sprinkled with cherries tied around her slender waist. “I didn’t wake you, did I?” “No, I’ve been up for a while.” “That’s right. You’re an early riser like Ben.” The comparison cut her, bringing the previous night back full force. “I tried to sleep in.” Adele laughed and continued gathering mixing bowls, measuring cups and baking supplies. “If you’re up, would you like to help?” “What are you making?” “Chocolate cake. I thought I’d whip something together for Ben’s birthday while he’s out running.” “Right. That’s Monday.” She had tried to forget. “Yep. I’ll be on set all day, but I try to have something special for the kids. It’s actually a vegan cake. So moist and easy.” “What can I do?” Adele handed her an apron. “Measure out the dry ingredients?” “Sure.” Bria picked...

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Holiday Guest Post … Christmas in South Africa by Suzanne van Rooyen
Dec19

Holiday Guest Post … Christmas in South Africa by Suzanne van Rooyen

  Christmas in South Africa by Suzanne van Rooyen As a kid, Christmas was a strange and somewhat disappointing time of the year. All the Christmas songs we sang at school were about reindeer and sleighs, cold and darkness, chestnuts roasting on open fires and this mysterious white stuff called snow. Despite asking Father Christmas (never Santa Claus) for snow several years in a row and waiting anxiously for it to arrive, it never did. It wasn’t until I was 18 and spent December in Switzerland that I experienced a white Christmas and saw proper snow for the first time. The Christmas season kicked off for my family on December 16th – a public holiday in South Africa and the day the Christmas tree goes up. We had a real tree once or twice but they inevitably died in the sweltering December heat so we stuck with a plastic tree after that, replete with balls of cotton wool in imitation of the ever elusive snow. But after a while even that seemed silly so my brother, father and I built a tree out of wire and wrapped it in tinsel. This happened about ten years ago and that same tree is still in use today. Exhibit A: Wire crafted Christmas tree… Some of my fondest memories involve my large, extended family hanging out in the garden and playing Marco Polo in the pool while Christmas dinner cooked on the braai (South African version of a grill or barbecue). The best gifts were pool noodles and inflatable lilos. Christmas for me was never a stuffed turkey and vegetable casserole, but rather boerewors and salad. Christmas Eve usually involved a light supper and laying out the presents. For a while I left milk and cookies for Father Christmas but that eventually became beer and biltong – that was a year or two before I realised my dad was the one sneaking into the lounge to leave the last of the gifts. Our family, like most in SA, open presents on Christmas morning before the big day of family and feasting commences, which actually doesn’t stop until after December 26th. Although I’ve spent many more Christmases in South Africa, I’m lucky to have experienced this time of year in 3 other countries as well: Switzerland, Australia and Finland. While I do sometimes miss the sun and warmth of a summery festive season, I’ve got to say that there is something extremely special about a snowy, cold, dark December. And at least all the Christmas songs now make sense.   Suzanne van Rooyen Website Twitter   The Other Me by Suzanne van Rooyen...

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Holiday Guest Post & Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor Heather Webb!
Dec18

Holiday Guest Post & Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor Heather Webb!

A Holiday Giveaway, a Recipe for Sweeties, and Why December Matters By Heather Webb December is a time for cheer, for giving and gratitude. Especially for me this year. Here’s why: December 2nd Kirkus Reviews released a fantabulous review of my novel. (SQUEEE) December 30th is my birthday! Fondue, massive amounts of chocolate ganache, and champagne will be consumed this year, because the very next day on… December 31, 2013 my women’s historical BECOMING JOSEPHINE releases from Plume, an imprint of Penguin!! (Not to mention it’s New Year’s Eve. Partaaaay!) For Josephine, the heroine of my novel, it was a busy time of year, too. On… December 13, 1779—Rose (aka Josephine) married her first husband on this cold, dreary day in December—an omen of what was to come between them. December 24, 1800—The Bonapartes were headed to a Christmas Eve performance of Haydn’s opera. Josephine, choosing a new shawl à l’égyptienne to adorn her risqué gown, made them late and rode in a separate carriage behind Napoleon and his consort. Her love of fashion saved her life. In a plot to assassinate Napoléon, a team of men set up explosives in the street. Napoléon had already escaped to safety. But when the explosion detonated, Josephine’s carriage was badly damaged and she barely escaped death. She continued on to the opera house as per Napoleon’s orders to put on a brave face for his people. I can only imagine what was going through Josephine’s head that night…As a matter of fact, in the novel, I did imagine it! December 2nd 1804—On this day, Josephine and Napoléon were crowned Empress and Emperor of France and the European empire at the famous church, Notre Dame de Paris. Louis David, famous painter of the era, captured the moment in this lovely painting, now hanging in the Louvre. An exact replica of the painting, also painted by David, can be found in one of the bedrooms at Versailles. For Pictures of Josephine’s many gowns, jewelry, furniture, etc, visit my Pinterest board HERE In the Name of the Holiday Spirit, a Giveaway & a Recipe Leave a comment and go into a drawing for an advanced copy of Becoming Josephine or a Josephine hand mirror in drawstring velvet bag. And now for a delicious holiday recipe mentioned in my novel: Ile Flottante  This is an island of meringue that floats in a puddle of English cream—a light, yet decadent dessert you’ll want to gobble up! For the recipe, click HERE.  About the Author Heather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good...

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Holiday Guest Post by Jolene Haley!
Dec17

Holiday Guest Post by Jolene Haley!

Christmas Books and Christmas Drink Pairings By Jolene Haley Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. For me it’s not about the presents (but they are great). It’s not about the food (but the food is fantastic). It’s not about the cheesy Christmas movies (though they get me every time). No matter who you are or what you believe, I think everyone can appreciate the feeling of joy and love in December and the beauty of a winter wonderland. Before I go all soft on you, one of my very favorite things (unsurprisingly) about December is the literature. I can’t get enough of Christmas themed reads. You know the ones. The bad guy’s heart grows ten sizes and gives back all the presents he stole. Santa sneaks down the chimney. Rudolph saves the day. And since we’re all adults here, I can also appreciate a good jolly beverage. So I’m here to pair some of my favorite Christmas reads with drinks. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!   Christmas Books & Drink Pairings The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton: This is one of my favorite reading traditions. I remember when I first read it, I felt like somebody just understood me. I love the dark nature of this Christmas tale. Pair with: A Purple Martini Ingredients: 3 oz vodka 1 1/2 oz cranberry juice 1/2 oz blue Curacao liqueur 1/2 oz sweet and sour mix 1/2 of 7-Up Directions: Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake gently. Add more blue Curacao if the color isn’t purple enough. Found here. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore: One of my all-time favorites! I can actually recite this from memory. This is a must have for my Christmas Eve. Pair with: Martha Stewart’s Classic Eggnog Makes 12 servings Ingredients: 6 large eggs, separated 3/4 cup superfine sugar 2 cups whole milk 3 cups heavy cream, plus more for garnish 1/2 cup bourbon, preferably Maker’s Mark 1/4 cup dark rum, preferably Mount Gay 1/4 cup Cognac, preferably Remy Martin Grand Cru Freshly grated nutmeg, for sprinkling Directions: STEP 1 Beat yolks in a very large bowl until thick and pale. Slowly beat in sugar. Whisk in milk and 2 cups cream. Mix in bourbon, rum, and Cognac. Cover, and refrigerate for up to one day. STEP 2 Just before serving, beat whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into eggnog. Whisk remaining 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form, and fold into eggnog. (Alternatively, you can fold half the whipped cream into eggnog, and top with remaining half.) Sprinkle with nutmeg. Found here. A Christmas Carol by Charles...

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TWELVE STEPS by Veronica Bartles … cover reveal!
Dec17

TWELVE STEPS by Veronica Bartles … cover reveal!

Twelve Steps by Veronica Bartles Release Date: 03/25/14 Book Summary: Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. The only thing Andi’s sure she has going for her is her awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina’s perfect everything else. When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough, and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and get the guy.  Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks.  Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities. She MUST have more than just great hair, right? Step 7: Demand attention for more than just the way she screws things up.  When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi realizes that her twelve-step program isn’t working. Her prince isn’t as charming as she’d hoped, and the spotlight she’s been trying to steal isn’t the one she wants. As Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine. About the author … As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.) She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy.   When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes. TWELVE STEPS is Veronica Bartles’s first novel.   Author Links:...

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Jen Halligan PR is sponsoring prizes for Pitch Wars!
Dec16

Jen Halligan PR is sponsoring prizes for Pitch Wars!

Jen Halligan offers literary publicity and a wide range of author services. Formerly known as A Book and a Latte PR (as part of Jen’s YA book blog), the company was rebranded as JHPR in December 2013. Jen specializes in YA and NA fiction, as that’s where her heart is, and building author platforms. She loves working one-on-one with authors and helping them achieve their dreams. Whether you’re looking for full time publicity, or would just like to schedule a blog tour, cover reveal, or other online promotion, Jen can help! Publicity is not a one-size-fits-all business. A package can be customized to meet your needs and budget. For more information check out the website here. And check out her book blog A Book and a Latte! The team with the most and biggest agent requests will win … Each team member will win a $75 gift certificate for services. Plus each will get a $20 Amazon gift card. Here’s the details for the literary publicity certificates… The second and third teams with the most/biggest agent requests will receive a $15 Amazon gift card...

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Holiday Guest Post by Pitch Wars Mentor Jaye Robin Brown!
Dec16

Holiday Guest Post by Pitch Wars Mentor Jaye Robin Brown!

As a child raised on Mammy’s cooking in Gone with the Wind, Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes, and my grandmother’s pralines, it’s really no wonder once I started writing what came out was flavored with okra, squash casserole, and buttercream frosting. My debut novel, NO PLACE TO FALL, is set in the North Carolina mountains and is about Amber Vaughn’s dreams of singing on bigger stages. But it’s also about family, and Amber’s mama is one heck of a good Southern cook. She’s famous for her apple spice cake. It’s what made Amber’s daddy start flirting with her and what keeps all of Amber’s friends coming around begging for another slice. But since it’s the holidays and time for finger foods and office gatherings, I thought we’d put Mama’s apple spice cake in cupcake form. These tasty treats are almost muffin-like without the brown sugar frosting. I think that’s due to the fresh apple that goes in the batter giving them a bit of extra heft, so they’d be good plain. But the slight crunch of the brown sugar and half of pecan nestled on top of the creamy butter frosting is worth the extra calories! Enjoy. Prep Time: 25-30 minutes Bake Time: 15-18 minutes Makes: 20 cupcakes Apple Spice Cupcakes: ¼ cup butter, softened 2/3 cup packed brown sugar 2/3 cup white sugar 2 eggs ½ cup applesauce 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 ¼ cups flour ½ teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon all spice 2 medium/large apples, cored, peeled and grated Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting: 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 2 tablespoons butter, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup brown sugar 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar Pecan halves, optional for garnish For cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until well blended. Mix in applesauce and vanilla. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level off. In a separate medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices; mix well. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients; mixing at low speed until well blended. Beat at medium speed 1 minute. Stir in grated apples. Spoon cupcake batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and frost with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. Top with chopped walnuts, if desired. For frosting: In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter and...

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Holiday Guest Post by Ashley Whitt!
Dec15

Holiday Guest Post by Ashley Whitt!

I wrote this for you, Pitch Wars. Perhaps I have too much free time on my hands. Anywho, thank-you to everyone for your dedication to making aspiring novelists dreams come true. Enjoy! Ashley ‘Twas the night before #PitchWars, and all through the web, writers were stirring, not a lone one a’bed. The queries were sent to the inbox with care, in hopes that a mentor soon would be there. The spouses were nestled all snug in their beds, attempting not to regret it was a writer they wed. And some with their PCs, and some with their Macs, revised furiously with clickity-clacks. When from the Twitterverse there arose such a clatter, they sprang from their desks to see what was the matter. Away to the window they flew like a flash, minimizing their manuscripts, teeth starting to gnash. Encouragement on the breast of their new-fallen woes, gave the lustre of hope to writers unknown. When, what to their wondering eyes should appear, but a Tweet from Brenda, and her helper Rae-dear. With little preamble, so lively and quick, they announced in a moment the mentors had picked. More rapid than eagles the writers elected, to fly to the blog, and see who was selected! “Now Middle Grade! now, YA! now, Adult and New! On, Fantasy! On, Mystery! on, Science Fiction too! To the top of the list! to the top of them all! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!” As they scanned for their names, some hoped and some prayed, some went to work, their excitement delayed. Their eyes fell on names of alternates and competitors, some were friends, others rivals and upset-it-ters. And then, in a glance, from the corner of their eye, their dream-mentor’s name did they hesitantly spy. As they drew in their hopes, and were turning around, their attention was drawn by the new email sound. An email dressed up in praise, from it’s header to footer, ‘Congratulations, I love you!’ from an enthusiastic mentor. A bundle of toys and improvement already in store, they appeared as a general, going to war. The writer’s eyes-how they twinkled! Their dimples how merry! Their cheeks were like roses, they abandoned the sherry. The mentor’s new suggestions all tied up with a bow, the manuscript would be as spotless as new fallen snow. But it would turn out the honeymoon wouldn’t last, after revision and revison, and pass after pass, The writer exhauseted, the mentor still patient, the writer would shake at the thought of an agent! The day would come when the MS was ready, and the writer laughed when they saw it, the feeling...

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