THE PRACTICING WRITER
Supporting the Craft and Business of Excellent Writing
Volume 11, Number 6: July 2014
Editor: Erika Dreifus
Copyright (c) 2014 Erika Dreifus
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IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Editor’s Note: What’s New
2. Article/Lessons Learned
3. Featured Resource
4. Upcoming/Ongoing Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities
5. Submission Alerts!!!
6. Blog Notes
7. Newsletter Matters
1. EDITOR’S NOTE: WHAT’S NEW
Greetings, practicing writers:
Some interesting things are brewing here at Practicing Writer HQ. No beans being spilled onscreen quite yet, but you’ll hear more soon!
Meantime, I’m delighted to share this month’s issue with you. The July issue kicks off with a Q&A with Celeste Ng, author of a terrific debut novel titled EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU.
Then, as usual, you’ll find plenty of information about competitions and submission calls for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. And, as usual, this newsletter presents ONLY opportunities that WON’T charge you any reading/entry fees and WILL pay for winning/accepted work.
Have a joyous July, everyone, and all best wishes with your writing practices,
ARTICLE/LESSONS LEARNED: EVERYTHING SHE GRACIOUSLY TOLD ME: AN INTERVIEW WITH CELESTE NG
Everything She Graciously Told Me: An Interview with Celeste Ng
By Erika Dreifus
One book you’re likely to hear a lot about this summer is a debut novel by Celeste Ng, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, published by Penguin Press. In the words of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, which awarded the book a starred review back in April, “This emotionally involving debut novel explores themes of belonging using the story of the death of a teenage girl, Lydia, from a mixed-race family in 1970s Ohio.”
I was thrilled to see this pre-publication praise. Although Celeste and I did not meet face-to-face until shortly after it appeared, we’ve been friendly correspondents for years. Celeste had also edited plenty of my blog posts for FICTION WRITERS REVIEW. I’d long admired her writing, and I suspected that when this novel was ready to meet readers, I’d want to help make the introductions. That hunch was confirmed when I read a complimentary galley. I’m delighted that Celeste was willing and able to answer these questions for THE PRACTICING WRITER.
Celeste Ng has also published stories in ONE STORY, TRIQUARTERLY, SUBTROPICS, and many others. Her essays have appeared in KENYON REVIEW ONLINE, THE MILLIONS, and elsewhere. She has been awarded the Pushcart Prize, the Hopwood Award, and a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. She attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’’Program at the University of Michigan). She has taught writing at the University of Michigan and Grub Street in Boston and served as blog editor for the website Fiction Writers Review for three years. Currently, Celeste lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To learn more about her and her work, visit celesteng.com or follow her on Twitter (@pronounced_ing).
Please welcome Celeste Ng!
Erika Dreifus (ED): Celeste, please tell us how the idea(s) for EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU developed.
Celeste Ng (CN): My husband once told me about a school friend of his who–as a boy–had pushed his own little sister into a lake. She was rescued, but I kept thinking about what it might have been like for her to fall into the water, what the dynamic between this brother and sister might have been like (both before and after), and what would have happened in her family if she had not been saved. The image of a girl plunging underwater stayed with me and morphed, as story seeds often do, into something quite different.
ED: I don’t know your exact age, Celeste, but I know when you finished college, and I am pretty sure that you weren’t yet born in 1976, when the narrative present of EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU is set. Please tell us a bit about the research that contributed to your evocation of this temporal setting.
CN: You’re right, I wasn’t quite born in 1976–but I grew up in the ’80s in a little suburb with a small-town feel. Whether it was the town or just my family that was slightly behind the times, I’m not sure, but the 1970s setting didn’t feel foreign to me. I filled in the scenes with items that I remember from my childhood home: telephones with rotary dials and spiral cords, record players that sometimes needed a stack of pennies to weight the needle, cars with stickshifts and roll-up windows and actual cigarette lighters. Even some of the clothes the characters wear are based on hand-me-downs I got from my sister–my family didn’t believe in throwing things away.
I did have a lot of fun doing research for the earlier sections–set in 1966 and before: watching the broadcast news coverage of the Gemini 9 mission on YouTube, looking at old cookbooks, reading about the experience of women at Radcliffe in the 1950s, and so on. (I collected those bits of research on a Pinterest page, if readers are interested: http://www.pinterest.com/celestelng/everything-i-never-told-you-by-celeste-ng/.)
ED: At its heart, this is a novel about a family, its tragic (and mysterious) loss, and its grief. But it’s also a story about an interracial marriage that begins, as the novel notes, several years before the United States Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, invalidated laws against such marriages in 1967. And throughout the novel, we see numerous instances of prejudice–some explicit and some more subtle–against Asian Americans. Please tell us a bit about what you hope readers may take away from this element of the novel.
CN: While I was growing up–first outside of Pittsburgh, then outside of Cleveland–there were virtually no other Asians in my community. It’s an extremely weird experience to look very different from everyone else around you. It can be draining and disorienting to feel so conspicuous, to have others instantly perceive you as different–especially if you, inside, feel part of the group. I hope the novel will get readers thinking about what that might be like, especially if they’ve never had that experience themselves.
And I hope readers will think about issues of culture and identity in a broader sense, too. It’s shocking to me that interracial marriages were illegal as late as 1967–that’s really just a generation or two ago. (My own marriage is interracial, and my son is biracial, so these issues are very much on my mind personally.) Even more shocking is that negative attitudes towards marrying outside of one’s race–and towards Asians in general–still persist more than you’d think. Since 1958, Gallup has regularly polled people on their attitude towards interracial marriage, and only in 1997 did a majority of Americans approve of it. A landmark 2001 study on attitudes towards Asian Americans found that 68 percent of Americans had a “somewhat negative” or “very negative” view of Asian Americans; that more Americans were uncomfortable supporting an Asian American for president than a black, Jewish, or woman candidate; and that 24 percent disapproved of intermarriage with an Asian American. A 2009 followup found numbers had improved, but only somewhat. Sorry for all the figures, but I find those numbers really startling. We’re making progress, but there’s still a long way to go.
ED: Which character was most difficult to write (and why)?
CN: Lydia. We often talk about how story arises from a character’s desire, how as writers, we need to know what a character wants and have them strive to get it. Marilyn, of course, desperately wants a career in the sciences (first for herself, and then for her daughter) while James wants to be socially accepted. Nath wants to go into space, and Hannah wants to be noticed. But in early drafts, I didn’t think Lydia had a clear-cut desire–she was largely defined by others’ plans for her–and that made her very hard to write: she felt very passive. Partway through writing the novel, though, I realized that what Lydia wants above anything, even her own happiness, is to please her parents. That’s what drives all her actions and decisions. Once I understood that, she became a lot easier to write–and a lot more interesting.
ED: You’re currently listed as Editor-at-Large for FICTION WRITERS REVIEW. Please tell us a bit about FWR–how you became involved with it and why it has been important to you.
CN: FICTION WRITERS REVIEW is a website founded in 2008 by Anne Stameshkin, a classmate of mine from the University of Michigan’s MFA program. As newspaper review sections folded, Anne’s idea was to create a space for reviews of fiction, interviews with fiction writers, and craft essays–all written by fiction writers. The site’s name is a nod to that: it’s both a review (i.e., journal) for fiction writers, and a place where fiction writers review books. Its philosophy about why fiction matters is summed up by an Ian McEwan quote: “Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality.”
In the early days, it was a one-woman show, with Anne soliciting pieces, assigning reviews, and doing all the blogging. Anne asked me to write an essay for the site’s launch, and over the next year I wrote several reviews for FWR, but behind the scenes I kept emailing Anne with tidbits of literary news as blog fodder. I think I was more of a nuisance than a help! After a while, Anne suggested that I write some blog posts myself, and in 2009 I took over as blog editor.
I stepped away in 2012 (partly so I could finally finish my novel!) but the site remains important to me. It’s where I wrote my first essays and reviews, and where I first learned to blog. It gave me the chance to work with many writers I’d already admired–including you, Erika!–and introduced me to many new writers as well. The site is now being run by editor Jeremiah Chamberlin, and I look forward to watching it continue to grow.
ED: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
CN: Whenever I have a hard time writing, I recall something Ann Patchett said in her keynote address at Grub Street’s 2009 Muse and the Marketplace conference: “The Muse is bullsh*t. Get your work done.” It’s one of the best pieces of writing advice I know: sometimes, you just have to stop waiting for inspiration and get to work.
ED: Thank you so much, Celeste.
To learn more about Celeste Ng and her novel, please visit http://www.celesteng.com/everything-i-never-told-you/.
FEATURED RESOURCE: CONVERING COURSEWORK INTO (PUBLICATION) CREDITS–AND CASH
ICYMI: I recently published a “Success Story” with WritersWeekly.com that focused on how I’ve managed to convert coursework and conference papers into paying publication credits. On the Practicing Writing blog, I’ve posted the text of the piece, along with some suggestions of venues that may be hospitable to YOUR similarly-inspired work. Please check out the post (and add your own suggestions based on your experiences and/or ideas). Many thanks!
4. UPCOMING/ONGOING CONTESTS, COMPETITIONS, AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES OF INTEREST
Can Serrat Writers Full Stipend Programme for Writers
http://www.canserrat.org (see “Stipends”)
Applications: July 1-31, 2014
NO APPLICATION FEE
“Each year, Can Serrat offers two Writers Full Stipends, and two Visual Artist Full Stipends which entitle the winners to a 30-day residency including free accommodation, breakfast and dinner (except Sundays). The residency is open to writers and visual artists in all fields regardless of nationality or age. All chosen candidates have the opportunity to do a reading/exhibition at the centre. The AIR[s] are responsible for all extra personal living expenses, travel and insurance costs, telephone charges and any other expenses during their stay.” NB: “Each recipient may choose a 30-day time slot for any period of the year, dating up to 12 months from the time of original notification (assuming space is available at that time).”
Linda Flowers Literary Award
Deadline: July 15, 2014
NO ENTRY FEE
The North Carolina Humanities Council “invites original entries of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry for the Linda Flowers Literary Award. Submissions should detail examinations of intimate, provocative, and inspiring portraiture of North Carolina, its people and cultures, bringing to light real men and women having to make their way in the face of change, loss, triumph, and disappointments. While authors do not have to be North Carolinians, entries are expected to draw on particular North Carolina connections and/or memories. Above all, entries should celebrate excellence in the humanities and reflect the experience of people who, like Linda Flowers, not only identify with the state, but also explore the promises, the problems, the experiences, and the meanings of lives that have been shaped by North Carolina and its many cultures.” The award confers “a cash prize of $500 and a stipend for a writer’s residency at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, North Carolina.”
Frieze Writer’s Prize
Deadline: July 21, 2014
NO ENTRY FEE
“Frieze Writer’s Prize, an annual international award to discover and promote new art critics, is now open for entries….The winning entrant will be commissioned to write a review for frieze and will be awarded GBP2,000. Entrants must submit one unpublished review of a recent contemporary art exhibition, which should be 700 words in length. Entries must be submitted in English, but may be translated (this must be acknowledged). Entrants must be over 18 years of age. To qualify, entrants may only previously have had a maximum of three pieces of writing on art published.”
Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award
Deadline: July 25, 2014
NO ENTRY FEE
“For this year’s competition GLCA will accept entries published from the spring of 2013 through the spring of 2014. GLCA will also accept galley proofs for works to be published in late spring or early summer of 2014. For the 45th year this group of thirteen independent Midwestern colleges will confer recognition on a volume of writing in each of three literary genres: poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Publishers submit works on behalf of their authors; the key criterion for this award is that any work submitted must be an author’s first published volume in the genre. All entries must be written in English and published in the United States or Canada….The winning authors tour several of GLCA’s member colleges from which they receive invitations, giving readings, lecturing, visiting classes, conducting workshops, and publicizing their books. Each writer receives an honorarium of at least $500 from each college visited, as well as travel expenses, hotel accommodations, and hospitality. By accepting the award the winner is committed to visit member colleges that extend invitations. GLCA works to identify dates that accord with campus calendars and a writer’s availability.” NB: Each publisher may enter only ONE work in each genre.
Deadline: September 14, 2014
NO APPLICATION FEE
“The Hodder Fellowship will be given to writers and non-literary artists of exceptional promise to pursue independent projects at Princeton University during the 2015-2016 academic year. Potential Hodder Fellows are writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists, or other kinds of artists or humanists who have ‘much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts’; they are selected more ‘for promise than for performance.’ Given the strength of the applicant pool, most successful Fellows have published a first book or have similar achievements in their own fields; the Hodder is designed to provide Fellows with ‘studious leisure’ to undertake significant new work.”
Renegade Writers’ Collective/Burlington Book Fest Short Works Writing Contest
Deadline: August 1, 2014
NO ENTRY FEE INDICATED
Guest judges: Kim Addonizio (fiction), Leslie Jamison (nonfiction), Elizabeth Powell (poetry)
“The Renegade Writers’ Collective is sponsoring a writing contest to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Burlington Book Festival occurring September 19 – 21, 2014 at the Fletcher Free Library. Submit up to 750 words of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.” The winner in each genre will receive a $100 honorarium offered by Phoenix Books in Burlington. Winners will also be able to share their work at a reading during the festival, and their pieces will be published in GREEN MOUNTAINS REVIEW ONLINE. NB: “The contest is open to all writers, but submitters should plan to attend the festival for the reading, should they be selected as the winner in their genre.” (h/t http://twitter.com/leneagary.)
Speculative Literature Foundation Gulliver Travel Research Grant
Submissions: July 1-September 30, 2014 (received)
NO APPLICATION FEE
“SLF travel grants are awarded annually to assist writers of speculative literature (in fiction, poetry, drama, or creative nonfiction) in their research. They are not currently available for academic research, though we hope to offer such funds in the future. We are currently offering one $800 travel grant annually, to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses.”
Stone Court Writer-in-Residence Program
Deadline: July 25, 2014
NO APPLICATION FEE
”The Stone Court Writer-In-Residence has a number of aspects. First, it is designed to provide emerging writers the freedom, time and material support to concentrate on their creative work. Second, it is focused on bringing to the Berkshire Hills in Western Massachusetts young writers who represent diverse American voices, particularly those from other regions of the United States. Finally, it is structured to permit the writer to contribute to the community by leading a creative writing ‘master class’ at a local independent high school and offering at least one community reading of his/her work.” Two 8-12 week residencies will be offered, one starting in September and one starting in February. “The residency includes a small one bedroom apartment in Stockbridge, Mass. The apartment is on the second floor (walkup) of a quiet colonial building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stockbridge, Mass. is in western Massachusetts approximately two hours west of Boston and two and one-half hours north of New York City.” Residents receive a stipend ($250/week) plus lodging and utilities. “Residents are responsible for their own transportation and meals. The stipend will be $250 per week for the length of the residency.” NB: “Over time, the program hopes to attract young writers from a variety of regions of the U.S. For the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 residency, preference will be given to those writers bringing a distinctive Southern voice to their work. The program is open to those who are pursuing or have completed a graduate degree in creative writing or who have completed an undergraduate creative writing degree in the last five years.” Also note that the application guidelines ask for a writing sample “of a chapter of a novel or work in progress, or a short story,” which suggests a focus on fiction writers.
Sustainable Arts Foundation Awards
Online application available July 21, 2014; deadline: September 8, 2014, 5 p.m., Pacific time
NO APPLICATION FEE
“Our program focuses on awards to individual artists and writers with families. Specifically, *the applicant must have at least one child under the age of 18*. We welcome applicants from anywhere, but will give some preference to residents of the San Francisco bay area.” Multiple winners will be awarded $6,000. “Additionally, we will be awarding a number of smaller Promise Awards to those applicants whose work may not qualify for the main awards, but nonetheless demonstrates both skill and potential.” NB: “We seek to reward excellence. Your portfolio will assist us greatly in evaluating your work which may, but need not, refer to your parenting. We’re also interested in hearing what your plans are, and how this award might assist you in attaining your goals.”
WonderRoot Loose Change Writer in Residence Program
Deadline: July 31, 2014
NO APPLICATION FEE
“WonderRoot’s Loose Change Writer in Residence program supports talented, self-directed, emerging/mid-career literary writers in realizing their goals and visions. While a large portion of the program is dedicated to enabling writers of all literary genres to strengthen their individual practices, resident writers will also serve as a source of inspiration and guidance for novice writers who create and learn at the WonderRoot Community Arts Center. WonderRoot will host two Loose Change Writers in Residence in the program’s inaugural year.” Check the website for details regarding the residency dates, stipends, and other benefits. Note that this program is based in Atlanta, and “travel and housing costs are the responsibility of the resident writer.” Note also: “Applicants should be practicing, published writers, as well as capable teachers who have experience working with writers of all levels within their field of expertise. Applicants should have a specific writing project that they would work on during their residency as well as an interest in helping others become better writers.”
5. SUBMISSION ALERTS!!!
From MILKWEED EDITIONS: “Milkweed remains committed to having open submissions and will reopen for submissions in July.” This nonprofit press publishes between 15 and 20 books each year. Categories include fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, and books for young readers (middle-grade and YA novels). Details: http://milkweed.org/submissions/
A July postmark is required if you’re planning to submit a book manuscript for consideration with the SARABANDE BOOKS Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature. Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction will be considered by writers who are natives of Kentucky, who have lived in Kentucky for at least two years, or whose manuscripts are set in OR about Kentucky, or whose manuscripts are about Kentucky. Please see http://www.sarabandebooks.org/submissions-bruckheimer more more info.
BOA EDITIONS also makes use of a July window, during which it accepts submissions for its American Poets Continuum Series. Only poets who have already published a full-lenghty poetry book are eligible to participate. The submitted poetry manuscript should be 48-100 pages. See http://www.boaeditions.org/submissions/american-poets-continuum-series/ for details.
TRIQUARTERLY’s current submission season will close on July 15. Welcomes “submissions of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, short drama, video essays, and hybrid work from established as well as emerging writers. We also welcome short-short prose pieces. We ask that poets submit only six poems per cycle and prose authors limit their total submission to fewer than 3,500 words. We especially are interested in work that embraces the world and continues, however subtly, the ongoing global conversation about culture and society that TRIQUARTERLY pursued from its beginning in 1964. TRIQUARTERLY pays honoraria for creative work and publishes two issues a year.” See http://triquarterly.org/submissions for more info.
Also with a July 15 deadline: submissions for an anthology to be published by THE FEMINIST PRESS. For the book, THE FEMINIST UTOPIA PROJECT, the editors are accepting “essays, short fiction, visual art, maps, poems, lyrics, photos” that reflect ideas for “what a feminist world would look like.” Pays: “We’ll be compensating contributors—the exact amount depends on what we can successfully raise—but are committed to honoring the work we are asking everyone to make.” Lots of information, including a list of confirmed contributors, is available at http://www.thefeministutopiaproject.com/. (Discovered via the “Call for Submissions” group on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/35517751475/ )
There is a July 18 deadline for essay, fiction, and poetry submissions of the 2015 edition of THE LABLETTER. For essays, unpublished “narrative nonfiction essays with a focus on art or literature will be considered. That focus and be broadly interpreted.” Essay payment: $150 plus one copy of the magazine. Unpublished fiction submissions can be of “any style and subject”; selected fiction contributors also receive $150 plus one copy. For poetry, “We’d like to present four to six poems by one or two featured poets as well as one of two poems by several other poets. Poems by featured poets should have a consistent theme, a clear narrative, a distinctive voice, or some other element that allows them to work together as a cohesive portfolio.” For poetry, reprints “will be considered if work was originally published in a limited capacity,” and payment includes $25 per poem published and a copy of the magazine. Visit http://www.labletter.com/submit for more information.
Based at the University of Western Australia, WESTERLY “publishes lively fiction and poetry as well as intelligent articles. The magazine has always sought to provide a Western Australian-based voice, although its contributors and subject matter have never been geographically exclusive. It covers literature and culture throughout the world, but maintains a special emphasis on Australia, particularly Western Australia, and the Asian region.” Deadline for the November issue is August 31. Pays (in Australian dollars): for poetry, $75 for one page/one poem or $100 for two or more pages/poems; for stories, $150; and for articles, $150. More information is available at http://www.westerlycentre.uwa.edu.au/magazine/contribute.
APPRENTICE HOUSE, a student-run, campus-based book publisher at Loyola University (Maryland), seeks manuscripts for review, with twice-yearly deadlines of October 1 and February 1. Check the website (http://www.apprenticehouse.com/seeking-authors/) for details on the manuscripts that they’re actively seeking, including travel stories, memoirs/autobiographies/biographies, “supernatural events or folklore,” “locally or regionally-related narratives,” and “stories that provide insight into one’s personal understanding and/or connection with current social, environmental, or political issues.” Pays: “Apprentice House offers industry standard royalties for all forms of the published work. Because of its non-profit nature and budgetary limitations, Apprentice House cannot offer advances.”
Received via email from Brian Scott: “We’ve been publishing new articles at http://www.freelancewriting.com/articles/articles-new.php over the last year….We are accepting more nonfiction (how-to) articles on the business and craft of freelance writing. This also includes topics on how-to write fiction and poetry. Word length is between 700 and 1,200 words. We pay an honorarium of $25 on acceptance. We work with both emerging and seasoned writers.” Guidelines: http://www.freelancewriting.com/write-for-freelance-writing-dot-com.php
Nice news from NANO FICTION: “NANO Fiction is delighted to announce that we are now in a position to pay our contributors! Starting with issue 8.1, all writers who have work published in NANO Fiction (including reviewers and contributors to our State of Flash series) will not only receive two copies of the issue in which they are published, but they will now also be paid $20 per published piece!” Visit
http://nanofiction.org/weekly-feature/news/2014/06/a-brand-new-reason-to-love-nano for more information.
6. BLOG NOTES
The newsletter is published just once each month, but there’s *always* something new at our Practicing Writing blog: fresh market news, current contest and job listings, links to writing-related articles, newly-discovered craft and business resources, and so much more. Regular blog features include:
–Monday Markets for Writers
–Friday Finds for Writers
Please visit, and comment! http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writer.
And for those of you practicing writers who are interested in matters of specifically Jewish literary/cultural interest, please also visit My Machberet (http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/my-machberet). (For the curious, “machberet” is the Hebrew word for “notebook”.)
Recent posts there include:
–Lilith Magazine and Lilith Blog Are Looking for Submissions
–Facebooking the Association of Jewish Libraries Conference
–Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat
7. NEWSLETTER MATTERS
Information contained in THE PRACTICING WRITER is collected from many sources, with the purpose of providing general references. It is researched to the best of our ability but readers should verify information when necessary and appropriate. THE PRACTICING WRITER and its editor/publisher disclaim any liability for the use of information contained within. Thank you for subscribing.
For updates and additional opportunity listings between newsletters, please check in with our “Practicing Writing” blog, http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writing.
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Based in New York City, Erika Dreifus is the author of QUIET AMERICANS: STORIES, which is an American Library Association Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. A member of the advisory board for J JOURNAL: NEW WRITING ON JUSTICE, she has taught for Harvard University, the Cambridge (Mass.) Center for Adult Education, and the low-residency MFA programs in creative writing at Lesley University and the Northwest Institute for Literary Arts. Please visit http://www.erikadreifus.com to learn more about Erika’s work, and go directly to http://www.erikadreifus.com/quiet-americans/book-clubs/ to arrange for her to visit your book club!
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