Cowgirl Up! A Colorful Legend

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Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers’ Favorite

Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women by Heidi M. Thomas captures a small piece of American history that might otherwise be forgotten. I’m talking about the contribution of women to the world of rodeo. Cowgirl Up! specifically concentrates on the contribution of women from Montana during the golden age of rodeo in America. Montana became one of the states holding commercial rodeos in 1896, but rodeo derived from the working world of ranching. Long before the commercial rodeos sprang into being, there were informal local contests to see who was best at roping, riding, and bronco busting. Conditions were terrible sometimes and the pay was not good by today’s standards, but that didn’t stop women from wanting to compete.
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Cowgirl Up! takes this early history and weaves it into colorful legend. There are many famous names from American history here. Theodore Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Dale Evans, and Annie Oakley are the ones I knew. If you are a real rodeo fan, you will probably recognize names like Lucille Mulhall, Prairie Rose Henderson, and Fanny Sperry. The characters, both men and women, are colorful. The history is rich, and the anecdotes, facts, and biography are very well written. It is obvious that Heidi M. Thomas loves her subject and, if you are a fan of the American West and American history, you do not want to miss Cowgirl Up! It should be on the bookshelf in every school library across America, but especially in states where rodeo played an important part in their history. These women and this sport should not be forgotten.

 

Published in: on May 19, 2016 at 11:47 pm  Comments (2)  
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January Round Robin on Reading and Writing

Our topic from Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/
this month is: What is your favorite time and place to read? How about writing time? Do you have to make time? Do you have a ritual or is your plan helter-skelter? I had a quilting teacher who followed the swiss cheese method to completing tasks: Make a hole here, and sometime later a hole there; keep repeating this until the whole thing is complete. What’s your method?

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IBook pile_reading have to admit I’ve been reluctant to return to a schedule, following the holidays. It is always difficult to carve out time to write or to discipline myself to put my own writing first, ahead of my blogging obligations and editing projects. But after being on “vacation” I don’t want to return to “Reality.”

Reading: I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a kid. I’ve never been able to get enough of books and always have a stack or a list of TBR (To Be Read) books. I read while I eat, during commercials when I watch TV, when I’m in a doctor’s waiting room, and before I go to bed.

Writing: I belong to a great critique group, so that makes me accountable. I know I have to bring at least five pages to the Writing_in_Journalmeeting every week, so even if I wait until the last minute, I’m at least writing. I find I need a deadline to work—probably a learned response from my time as a newspaper reporter. I found I could write under pressure and now I seem to need it.

How about you, fellow readers and writers—what is your preference?

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Check out the rest of our round robin group and see what their responses are:

A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Geeta Kakade http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rita Karnopp  http://www.mizging@blogspot.com
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Heidi M. Thomas https://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Ginger Simpson http://www.cowboykisses.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Published in: on January 24, 2015 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  
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32 Great Reasons to Read Good Book

by John Kremer

Here are 32 great reasons to read more books. Please share.Book pile_reading

To escape your normal life.

To travel to real destinations.

To explore new worlds.

To imagine more than you could on your own.

To understand something new.

To understand something old.

To connect with the author.

To connect with other readers.

Book and contentsTo dream a new life.

To compare dreams, realities, and in-between.

To laugh and enjoy.

To deepen your understanding and insight.

To know more than you could learn on your own.

To learn what you don’t know.

To learn what you do know.

To discover something extraordinary.

To meet incredible characters.

To build a larger vocabulary.

To cry after a great read.

To be entertained by a great story.

To relax with a great storyteller.

To stimulate thought.

To grow your spirit.

To find motivation to do more.

To go on a great adventure.

To learn how others live or have lived.

To expand your horizons.Giant notebook_pencil

To explore inner dimensions.

To educate yourself.

To inspire your own writing.

To learn how to change the world.

To discuss in a reading group.

To share a good book with your friends.

Published in: on May 3, 2013 at 6:03 am  Comments (7)  
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Readers: What to do to Help Your Favorite Authors

This article was first posted in August 2012 by Nancy Cohen.

By Nancy Cohen

If you’re an avid reader, no doubt you’d like to encourage your favorite authors to keep writing. What can you, as a consumer, do for the writer who bares her soul to you in each story? Beyond buying her latest title, is there more?

You betcha! Here are some things you can do on your end that will be appreciated.

Write customer reviews of author’s books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Shelfari, and Library Thing.

Add author’s book to your Wish List on Amazon.

Search for author’s website, author name, and book titles periodically to raise their rank in search engines.

Bookmark or add to Favorites the author’s online sites.books2_thumb

Like author’s Facebook page; Share and comment on her Facebook posts.

Retweet author’s Twitter updates; Mention author and her books on Twitter.

Like and Tag author’s Amazon author page as well as each book title and edition.

Share author’s newsletter with your friends.

Recommend author’s books online on various reader forums.

Create a Listmania list on Amazon and add author’s books.

Look for good reviews of author’s book and click Yes to “Was this review helpful to you?”

Follow author’s blog tours and leave comments.

Repin author’s photos on Pinterest. Go to online bookseller and Pin author’s book covers into one of your albums.

Offer to hand out bookmarks for author.

Initiate a Street Team of fans to spread the word about author’s works.

If you live in the same region, suggest the author as a speaker to various groups.

Buy the author’s latest book or ask your librarian to order it and put your name on the wait list.

Anything you can do will help, especially in this era of viral content. Word of mouth still has the most clout. So share your pleasure in the author’s writing and make her job easier so she can concentrate on writing the next book.

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Nancy J. cohenNancy J. Cohen is an award-winning author who writes romance and mysteries.

Her popular Bad Hair Day mystery series features hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Several of these titles have made the IMBA bestseller list, while Nancy’s imaginative sci-fi/paranormal romances have garnered rave reviews and a HOLT Medallion Award. Active in the writing community and a featured speaker at libraries and conferences, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets.

Website:  http://nancyjcohen.com

Blog: http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/nancyjcohen

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nancy-J-Cohen/112101588804907

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/91508.Nancy_J_Cohen

Published in: on February 22, 2013 at 6:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Celebrate With a Free Book and My Recommended Books List

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Come and help me celebrate my birthday, which is Monday the 10th, and I will give some lucky commenter  your choice of Cowgirl Dreams or Follow the Dream.

All you have to do is share this post on Facebook, Twitter or any of your other social networks, then leave a comment with the links. I will put your name in the Cowgirl hat for the drawing! The more links you post, the more times I’ll put your name in. (Paper books limited to the U.S., out of the U.S. will receive an electronic version.)

And, my Christmas gift to you is FREE SHIPPING on orders for autographed books from now until Dec. 25! (Also in the U.S.)

Books make great Christmas gifts. They are inexpensive, they take the reader on great adventures, and you can read them again as many times as you’d like (even share them with friends and family!)

Here are a few of my recommendations:

Tubob-CoverTubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps, by Mary E. Trimble. This memoir describes her and her husband’s life in third-world country The Gambia. As Peace Corps volunteers, they struggle with cultural differences and do what they can for people who are often reluctant to change. Hardships abound, but so do strong friendships. Humor is abundant, but so is misery. Early on, the newlyweds were told that Peace Corps would either make or break a marriage. Mary and Bruce find out how true that is.  To learn more about Tubob, click here  To order Tubob, click here

Dividing SeasonThe Dividing Season, a novel by Karen Casey-Fitzjerrell. In The Dividing Season, Karen Casey Fitzjerrell celebrates the redemptive qualities of the human spirit and raises the question:  What are you willing to give up in order to calm those  secret longings that beg for something more?     Near the end of her life, Nell Miggins decided all her years spent on earth could be divided into two parts, each equally content but separated by a season of bewildering uncertainty and death. She remembered the stinging edge of desperation the day the dividing season began and understood clearly that if it hadn’t been for the Windmiller she’d have lived the last half of her life as a shriveled old fool never knowing the grace and simple joy of just being. Order here

wrecker1Raising Wrecker by Summer Wood, A WILLA Literary Award Winner. By turns funny, moving, and gripping, Wrecker is the story of a nearly-broken boy whose presence turns a motley group of isolated eccentrics into a real family. Real enough to make mistakes. Real enough to stick together in spite of everything ready to tear them apart. Order here

Moonshine Murder coverMoonshine Murder a Young Adult novel by Erin Gray.  When seventeen-year-old Lenora Giovanni’s father dies from tainted moonshine, leaving her alone, she is forced into a life of danger. Lenora is determined to find whoever sold the poison to her father–a determination that leads her into working as an undercover agent in the town of Durango, Colorado. Falling in love with a bootlegger, how will Lenora choose, with her head or her heart? Order here

The InheritorsThe Inheritors by Judith Kirscht, the author of Nowhere Else to Go. Raised in Chicago’s Latino working class community during the Sixties, Alicia Barron uncovers her mother’s Caucasian roots when she inherits a time-worn mansion, the remnant of the estate of a Chicago industrialist who, she discovers, is her grandfather. Her search of the house takes her into the lives of past generations of women whose love carried them across forbidden boundaries, and into the conflict of class, nationality, and race that is the history of the city itself. The identity she finds there, however, leads to increasing conflict with her first great love, Ricardo Moreno, who wants Alicia to reject her gringo roots. Order here

Can you add any books to this list?

National Banned Books Week

I just discovered Chase’s Calendar of Events. Today is R.E.A.D. in America Day and for the next week it is Banned Books Week (Sept 25-Oct 2). See www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm

Today is also National Book Festival, National Mall, Washington, DC. See www.loc.gov/bookfest/

And it is Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner’s birthday (1897-1962).

The List

Here are 10 books that have been banned and challenged all throughout the United States.

  1. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger—Ever since it was first published, The Catcher in the Rye has been targeted by censors all across the country. Back in 1960, a teacher was fired for assigning this book to her class. In 1963, parents in Ohio protested the book for being obscene. This continued for many years, and the book is still challenged to this day. Just last year, it was challenged in the Big Sky High School in Montana.
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee—To Kill a Mockingbird has been challenged and banned in many schools across the country for containing profanity, racial slurs, rape, and other “trashy” behavior.
  3. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck—Everyone from the KKK to a range of high schools has challenged this classic. The book contains racial slurs, profanity, and depressing themes.
  4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark TwainRacial slurs are the biggest reason Huck Finn has been banned and taken out of numerous classrooms across the country. Even in schools where it hasn’t been officially banned, there are teachers who remove it from their classrooms just to prevent any controversy.
  5. The Harry Potter series, JK Rowling—According to the American Library Association, the Harry Potter series ranks as the most challenged books from the past decade. Christian parents all across the US want Harry Potter banned for its witchcraft themes.
  6. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut—Not only has Slaughterhouse Five been challenged, banned, and removed from required reading in dozens of cities across the country, the book was actually burned in Drake, North Dakota in 1973.
  7. The Color Purple, Alice Walker—Why is The Color Purple constantly challenged? Let’s count the reasons: troubling race relations, human sexuality themes, questions about man’s relationship with God, inappropriate language, violence, drug abuse, and countless other reasons.
  8. Beloved, Toni Morrison—Charges for Beloved range from it being to violent to it depicting inappropriate topics of bestiality, sex, and racism. It was most recently pulled from an AP English class at Eastern High School in Louisville, Kentucky after parents complained about its content.
  9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou—Coming in at #6 on the most challenged books of the last decade, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings has been a target of censors for the past 40 years. The book’s graphic depiction of racism and rape ensure it will always be challenged.
  10. Ulysses, James Joyce—Not only was Ulysses banned from the United States in 1918, it was also banned in Canada, England, and Ireland. Most recently, Ulysses made headlines again after a web comic version of it was temporarily rejected by Apple from its App store.

What is your favorite Banned book?

Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 2:23 am  Comments (4)  
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A Dream Worth Having

My guest today is first-time novelist, Catherine Madera, author of Rodeo Dreams. This story is about fifteen-year-old Cindy Crowe, who adopts a mustang and pursues a dream of barrel racing fame. If only she can keep from being distracted by disappointment, rhinestoned rodeo queens, and a certain cute bull rider. Ultimately, Cindy discovers that any dream worth having has the power to break your heart…and change your life forever.

Catherine, this is a wonderful story for adults as well as young adult readers. Tell us what inspired you to write this book.

In 2004 I read the young adult book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Even at 32 years old I found the book delightful—fun and heartfelt. It reminded me of being a teenager and the importance of friendship. Though I’d never thought of myself as a fiction writer, I thought that if I ever did write fiction I’d want it to be something like the Pants books. I loved the classic horse stories as a child and worked to create an intriguing story that combines elements I never grow tired of: the drama of pursuing a dream and friendship (between humans and also human/horse friendships). My protagonist is a teen but I wanted to write a story I would enjoy reading.

How did you come up with the title and the theme? (Great minds think alike!)

Yes they do, Heidi! I love cowboy/girl culture and rodeo. And fighting for a dream is a universal theme that is endlessly fascinating to me. As to title, nothing else came to mind at the time. Shortly after I began writing, however, I had what I now call a “T-shirt from God” moment. I’d been feeling discouraged with my first attempts to write the story and that old negative voice we all fight with was berating me for wasting time on the thing. I remember a conversation I had with God that said, in essence, “What’s the use?” That very day I went into town and stopped at the feed store to buy a couple items for my small farm. I took a few extra minutes to look through some clothing that was on sale. My mouth dropped open when I pulled out a shirt that had a vintage rodeo cowgirl on the front wearing red boots. In rhinestones underneath it said, “Rodeo Dreams.” I bought the shirt. It may sound weird but at that moment I felt God’s encouragement to keep going.

Wow. That is so cool! I love anecdotes like this.

Have you always been a writer?

I was always an avid reader and enjoyed writing poetry, etc. in elementary school. I knew I wanted to be a serious writer when I worked on the school paper my senior year in high school. For many years after, I dreamed about becoming a journalist—flying to the scene of exciting stories and meeting interesting people.

What was your first published piece and when?

My first published piece was an essay for the now out of print Victoria Magazine in 2000. It was called “Horse Heaven.”

You’ve written many essays and non-fiction magazine articles. How did you get started in this writing arena?

In 2004 I won a national contest for Guideposts Magazine (one of fifteen women nationwide out of 3,000 entrants) and had a remarkable, intensive, all expense paid five-day trip to Rye, NY to learn to write inspirational non-fiction stories. That experience changed my life and birthed my freelance career. Most of what I know about story telling I learned from Guideposts. I still write for the magazine and other non-fiction publications.

Are you an outliner or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer (though I sometimes wish to be an outliner!). I work from a general idea of major events in a story but no firm idea of how I’ll get from one scene to the next. My characters constantly surprise me!

Have there been other authors or books that have influenced you?

An important early influence was my first editor at Guideposts, Jim McDermott. He taught me so much about the elements of story. The books that have helped me the most include: Writing for the Soul, by Jerry Jenkins; Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott; and On Writing, by Stephen King. Very recently I also read Donald Millers outstanding new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It has great wisdom for writers about how to create a great story as well as inspiration for life. I also consider the northwest writer Sibella Giorello (The Stones Cry Out/The Rivers Run Dry/The Clouds Roll Away) an important mentor and friend in my writing life. The encouragement of those a bit farther along the road is critical.

You are a cowgirl in your own right. Did you grow up riding and barrel racing or is this a recent development?

I grew up with horses and have done lots of different types of riding. However, I’ve never barrel raced! In a curious twist of life imitating art, my eleven-year-old daughter has become serious about the sport of barrel racing. She takes lessons on her Quarter Horse, Cowboy, and we do local shows and 4H. She would like to do junior rodeo in the future. I own an Arabian stallion named Eli and enjoy dressage and trail riding.

How do you think your childhood background has influenced your writing?

I moved around as a child…a lot. Seeing many different places/people perhaps inspired my curiosity and fascination with people’s stories. I also grew up in a home where books and reading were very important. My father, especially, encouraged a love of good writing.

You decided to self-publish your book. Tell us what influenced this decision and what your experiences have been in doing this project.

I spent about four years editing the story, submitting it to contests and my critique group, and pitching to agents and such at writer’s conferences. I received enough positive feedback to feel like I had something worthwhile. Unfortunately, it was bad timing in the publishing industry. I knew that, regardless of my solid experience writing non-fiction, I’d have a tough time getting an agent. I’d always thought self publishing fiction, in particular, was a bad idea. “Kiss of death” were the exact words, as I recall. However, God seemed to have other plans for me. He very definitely gave me direction to self publish and put the people in my path to help. Most notable, perhaps, was my graphic artist, Karen Bacon. From the beginning, Karen “got” my vision and I love what we created together. I also opted to use a printer, not a vanity press. This kept my printing cost down and also got the book into the major distribution channels immediately and with almost no effort on my part. Self publishing can be a confusing maze of choices and options with numerous pitfalls and ways to waste your money and compromise your copyright. I feel blessed that my experience has been extremely positive and low/no risk.

What are you doing to market Rodeo Dreams?

Good question! I have been pretty low key but am selling the book slowly and steadily through word-of-mouth, Amazon/Barnes, and also in a couple niche stores in the area. I am getting the book in front of my target audience through groups like 4H and horse expos/events. I am also interested in presenting the book at elementary schools and am looking into ways to do this. As every serious writer knows, marketing these days is almost exclusively up to the author whether you go through a traditional publishing house or produce the work as I have. It can be tough but also a good opportunity to learn and grow.

Are you working on another fiction project?

Yes. I am working on a sequel called Rhinestones. In addition, I’m about a third of the way into a work of women’s fiction.

Here’s a fun question for you: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have to have? Assuming I can’t have my husband, Mark (thinking deserted), I’d need good coffee, my Bible, and my Smart Wool socks/long underware for potentially cold days. I hate being cold!

Catherine, thank  you so much for sharing your publishing story with us.

Rodeo Dreams is available on Catherine’s website, The Writer’s Way, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Women’s History Month

Because March is officially Women’s History Month, I want to take the opportunity to honor my grandmother, Olive May “Tootsie” Bailey Gasser. She was the inspiration for my novel, Cowgirl Dreams, and most likely contributed genes to my strong, independent spirit.

She was the consummate horsewoman and much preferred to be out riding than in the house pushing a dust mop. The thing about her that inspired the book was the fact that she rode steers in rodeos during the 1920s. I love knowing that about her!

What a legacy our foremothers left us.

Published in: on March 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm  Comments (5)  
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Christmas Shopping Opportunities

Like Santa’s elves, I have a busy schedule this month with book signings and craft fairs. I’ve already done a couple of craft shows and signings at my local Starbucks.

Remember, books make terrific gifts!

One of my venues is at Brindles Christmas Market on Camano Island, 848 N. Sunrise Blvd. This market has a delightful array of gift items, from books, of course, to art, crafts, photography, and food items. If you live within driving distance of Camano Island WA, stop by and do some Christmas shopping.

My Schedule

Friday December 4: Anacortes Book/Art Walk. I will be signing books at Burton’s Jewelers from 5-9 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 5: I will be with fellow author Mary Trimble at the Clear Lake Elementary School Holiday Bazaar, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday Dec. 11: Presentation with Mary Trimble at the Camano Island Library, 3 p.m.

Saturday Dec. 12: Book signing at the Farmers’ Co-op Country Store in Mount Vernon 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Brindles Market is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Terry’s Corner, Camano Island through the end of January.

Published in: on December 4, 2009 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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E-books, Vooks and Wovels

KindleTechnology is an awe-inspiring thing. We’ve all been hearing about the trend toward e-books for some time, especially with Amazon bringing out the Kindle and other manufacturers with their versions of electronic readers. Travelers like them because they can download multiple novels, and it’s less bulky than packing several books, and students can download large textbooks onto their Kindle.

Although e-books by themselves haven’t hit the best-seller lists yet, this seems to be the wave of the future. I’ve believed for some time that if our youngest generation reads at all, it probably will be in some electronic form. After all, now you can read books on your iPhone.

Paul Gillan, author of Secrets of Social Media Marketing, writes that teens today spend 60 percent less time watching TV and spend that time on-line (on MySpace, Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube via computer or cell phone).

Now there is something called the “Wovel,” a serialized novel that is iphonewritten for easy reading on the cell phone. According to Writer Magazine, these are all the rage in Japan (a poll indicates 86 percent of Japanese high-schoolers read cell phone novels) and now U.S. websites like Quillpill and Textnovel have popped up. These sites allow people to post serialized novels in 140-word increments (think Twitter).

And, Publishers Lunch just had a post about the “Vook,” a video book form, which embeds original video clips within a browser-based version of a digital book.

This is all very exciting in the fast-changing publishing world. But, can the feel and smell and permanence of a “real” book ever be replaced?

Moira Allen, editor of Writing-World.com e-zine sums it up very well, in my opinion: “To be permanent, something must be physical.  That, I think, is why we writers (and readers) are still drawn to “real” books — by which I mean a construct of paper and ink that can be held in the hand.  It’s not just that many of us still prefer to curl up on the sofa, or a deck chair, or by the fire, or even in the pool, with a “real” book.  It’s partly the knowledge that even when we put that book down, it lives on.  It will endure.  It can be handed on, perhaps to a friend or relative, perhaps via a used book store, or even a library sale.”

She ends by writing: “Perhaps this is the ultimate answer to the apparently endless debate over ink vs. electrons, and the possibly silly question, “which will win?” Perhaps, in fact, it’s not a competition and never was.  Perhaps, instead, it is a remarkable partnership.  The printed page gives our words endurance; the electronic page gives them wings.  Why would we want one to triumph over the other, when, as authors, we gain so much from having both?”

How many of you read books electronically?

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 6:08 am  Comments (1)  
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