Category Archives: Non-Fiction

New Book for Review: Nonfiction ‘My Life & 1000 Houses’ by Mitch Stephen

My Life & 1000 Houses 3Mitch Stephen is touring in May with his nonfiction book, My Life & 1000 Houses!

This autobiographical tale is perfect for entrepreneurs and a must-read for anyone aspiring to be a real estate investor. Beginning with a handful of credit cards, he mastered the art of the purchase and sale of single and multi-family residences, small commercial properties, manufactured homes, raw land and lots, and eventually was honored by the San Antonio Real Estate Investors Association. Combining commonsense, experience and technology, he merges real estate and Internet marketing. With fifty one informative chapters, including an eye-opening introduction to “Adversity University,” and powerful food for thought in “Escaping the Debt Trap” and “The Moat Theory: Keep Something Sacred,” this book provides insight far beyond deal making. In the second half of the book, he delivers eighteen anecdotes such as “So What Can a Dollar Buy?” and “The Art of War,” stories about real life in the real estate trenches. You simply can’t make this stuff up. While everyone’s struggles are different, you are sure to connect with the author’s tumultuous and rewarding journey. You don’t need a college class ring to be a success but a successful person’s education never ends. Continue your education on a deeper level and read the book My Life and 1,000 Houses.

Read an Excerpt:

One day, I was answering an advertisement that touted a great deal on a house. I met a young, energetic man at the property and we began to talk real estate. I don’t remember if I purchased that house from Sam Hombre or not, but I do remember this: We started talking and it didn’t end for four years. He asked me what I was doing to make money in real estate. I told him that I was buying houses on my credit cards, fixing them up, and then reselling them. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he had limited funds, so he was tying properties up on a contract and then selling his position in the contracts to people like me who had the resources or ingenuity to buy them quickly with cash. I immediately recognized Sam’s modus operandi as a personal revelation and vice versa.

That was the start of a relationship that covered hundreds of deals on the entire south, east and west side of San Antonio and beyond. Sam and I still reminisce when we travel together downtown. Every street evokes an image of some little house we used to own. More often than not we remember the ones that caused us the greatest heartburn. Our efforts combined, it’s almost impossible to find a street on which we’ve not paid a property tax.

406 pages

You can visit his website at www.mitchstephen.com.

If you would like to review My Life & 1000 Houses, email us by clicking here or email Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife@yahoo.com. Deadline for inquiries end April 25 or until the tour is filled. Thank you!

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Filed under Books for Review, Non-Fiction

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Homer's OdysseyTitle: Homer’s Odyssey
Author:  Gwen Cooper
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub. Date: August 2009
ISBN: 038534385X
304 pp
Rating: 
Reviewed by: Dorothy Thompson

Homer’s Odyssey is the beautiful account of one blind cat and a woman who learned about life through the sightless eyes of a cat that was doomed (or so it seemed) from the beginning. In this first person narrative written by Gwen Cooper, the reader is taken on a journey into Gwen’s life as a single woman dealing with an underpaying job and a recently broken heart.  Adopting another cat when she already had two was the last thing on her mind, especially a “special needs” cat.

But Homer turned out to be quite the opposite.  Of all the books about dogs and cats on the shelf today, Homer’s Odyssey has got to be not only the best book I have ever read but also the most memorable one. As the owner of many cats in my past, I understand the personalities of cats, but Homer was beyond extraordinary.  Take this for example:

“The first time I discovered his latest achievement was by accident.  I awoke early one morning and stumbled into the bathroom.  Flipping on the light, I fount that it was…already occupied.  Homer balancing one the edge of the toilet seat.”

Another hilarious part:

“Homer, in those days, was particularly enamored of playing with tampons.  Having encountered one by chance, he was fascinated by the way they’d roll around, and by the string at the end.  He liked them so much, he figured out where I kept them stored in teh cabinet below the bathroom sink and – with unerring patience and accuracy – mastered the task of forcing open the cabinet doow and rading the tampon box…When I walked in with my date, Homer rant to greet me at the door.  And there, hanging from his mouth, was a tampon.”

Keep in mind this is a blind cat and this is only a very small part of his amazing abilities.

One part that was rather miraculous was not only could he scale seven-foot bookcases and leap five feet into the air to catch flies, but he was incredibly adept at chasing burglers out of Gwen’s bedroom and saving Gwen’s life.

The part that really touched me was when he survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center.  Gwen frantically tried to get to him but no one was allowed in the area where the World Trace Centers went down.  Here’s a bit from that:

“…I walked for more than three miles, and that entire time I didn’t see or hear another living soul – not a car, not a person, not a bird in a tree.  It felt eerie, almost post-apocalyptic, as if I were the only living human left in Manhattan.  I had never seen or even heard of a completely deserted New York City street.  No matter how late the hour or how queit a neighborhood, there was always something or someone else – a woman walking a dog, a man delivering produce to a twenty-four-hour grocery stor, lights in windows.  You were never so far from a jamor thoroughfare as to be unable to hear cars whizzing by like comets in teh distance.  But now there was nothing but silence.  Smoke and silence.”

A truly remarkable book and one in which I enjoyed tremendously.

Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion. It celebrates the refusal to accept limits—on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds. By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet.

This book will not only bring a smile to your face, but a smile to your heart. Excellent book and highly recommended!

For more information, visit the author’s website at www.gwencooper.com.  To purchase your copy of Homer’s Odyssey, click here to take you to Amazon.

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Is Your Ghost Holy?: Eight Principles for Evaluating Your Walk in the Spirit

Is Your Ghost Holy cover

Is Your Ghost Holy?: Eight Principles for Evaluating Your Walk in the Spirit
Author: Shay Bills
Publisher: Saint Paul Press 

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl Malandrinos 

 

Not every inspirational book is going to touch your heart or even make you think.  But Is Your Ghost Holy? by Shay Bills does that and more.  In this slender book full of powerful and moving words, the reader is given eight principles to help her evaluate her walk in the Spirit.  The Principles of Truth, Life and Death, Faith, Love, Change, the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and the Power of the Holy Ghost come together for an inspiring and empowering read.

The author’s experience as a speaker, teacher and motivator truly shines in Is Your Ghost Holy?  Her conversational style and touching words will leave you thinking long after you close the cover on this book.  But I recommend that you never truly close this book, but leave it on your nightstand so that you can refer to it often, using it perhaps as a devotional on a regular basis. 

Certain chapters may speak to you more than others.  I found the seventh principle extremely helpful, especially considering some of the events I still hold onto from my past.  In “The Principle of Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost”, Bills discusses how unforgiveness in the Christian walk keeps many stagnant in Christ.  She explores the dangerous place that the state of unforgiveness is.  With a firm grasp on Scripture, she discusses how easy it can be to notice unChristian behavior in others, but not in ourselves.  And she fully explains what blasphemy against the Holy Ghost truly is.

Learn how to take the road less traveled and stand firm on the Word.  Is Your Ghost Holy? by Shay Bills will show you how.

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Filed under Christian nonfiction, Inspirational, Non-Fiction

Learning Disabilities: Understanding the Problem and Managing the Challenges

learning-disabilities-cover-mid

Learning Disabilities: Understanding the Problem and Managing the Challenges
Author: Etta K. Brown
Publisher: Langdon Street Press 

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl Malandrinos 

If you suspect your child has a learning disability or if an educator has suggested your child has a learning disability you’ll want to pick up a copy of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the Problem and Managing the Challenges by Etta K. Brown.

A certified special education teacher, school social worker, school psychologist and Licensed Education Psychologist, Brown puts her twenty years of experience to excellent use in putting together a helpful and informative guide for parents who need to understand learning disabilities and the environmental influences that impact a child’s ability to learn.

If only I had this book in my possession when I began the difficult process of having my daughter assessed, I would not only have done things differently, I would have been a better advocate for my child. I didn’t know the majority of the information found in the book, which is why I believe that every parent with a child who has been recommended for an assessment needs to read it before taking any step in that direction.

In addition to the impact that diet and sleep have on brain function, the author discusses developmental readiness and how immature development may affect classroom performance. She spends time on the subject of retention and why it isn’t always the best solution. This book also covers how parenting, emotional trauma and toxic metals can affect development.

After getting an understanding of learning disabilities and environmental influences that impact a child’s ability to learn, Brown moves on to a history of Special Education and provides an in-depth look at the entire process of determining eligibility, tests and testing, and the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). She is a strong proponent of parents acting as advocates for their children.

The last section of the book shares signs and symptoms of learning disabilities and accomodations and modifications that can be made at home and school to provide the best enviroment for your child’s learning based upon the disability she is trying to manage.

Learning Disabilities will empower parents to take an active role in their child’s education and provide them with the tools to be the best advocates for their child.

I highly recommend Learning Disabilities by Etta K. Brown. Every school should have multiple copies on hand to assist parents with the process.

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How to Win a Pitch

howtopitch cover

How to Win A Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You From the Competition
Author: Joey Asher
Publisher: Persuasive Speaker Press

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Gary Mack

 

PRESENT A SOLUTION. That’s the main theme of the book. After breezing through the chapters reinforcing the theme, I thought of how I might apply the author’s advice. 

Being involved in a soccer club, a perplexing situation arose when a rogue coach of ours decided he wanted to take our team to a competing club. With the parents torn between their allegiance to the club and their desire to remain on a winning team, a meeting was set to discuss the matter between all parties. At the meeting, the club, along with its new coach, would pitch the parents on the advantages of staying, while the old coach would attempt to lure them away. 

As the spokesperson, I used the recommendations in the book. Rather than speak about our many state cup championship victories, myself and the unrivaled history of the club, I chose to focus on providing a solution for the parents. Knowing, at the age of fourteen, the girls were only a couple of years away from receiving offers from colleges, I charged forward and presented a curriculum that brought Division I college coaches in to train and speak to the parents and girls.  Fully understanding the parents’ desire and expectation for hefty scholarships, I raved on about the new progressive training methods we were going to implement – how they mirrored those of the Division I schools. I added that with each girl, we would build a profile of their accomplishments on our web site and then create a scholarship strategy for every player based on her ability and her education needs. 

When I was finished, lo and behold… The parents walked out with the old coach. 

Just teasing.

It actually worked. Joey Asher’s “How To Win A Pitch” has extreme value as an advisory source for those who need to win business for their sake, and the sake of their companies. Written in a simple but sprightly prose, the book is filled with humorous anecdotes, colorful insights and common sense articulations that will strengthen your understanding on how to close a deal. Asher even goes so far as to teach you how to gesture and what your body language means to a prospective buyer.

 “How To Win A Pitch” is a winner from the first sentence to the last. Based on my success with it, I’m turning it over to my wife, who as the Administration Manager of her firm, plans on having all the sales staff give it a read.  We both believe it will benefit the company a great deal.

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Filed under Business, Non-Fiction, Sales and Marketing

On My Own Now

on_my_own_now_cover

On My Own Now:  Straight Talk from the Proverbs for Young Christian Women who Want to Remain Pure, Debt-free and Regret-free
Author: Donna Lee Schillinger
Publisher: The Quilldriver

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Are you concerned over what decisions your daughter might make once she’s out on her own?

Are you a young woman searching for guidance now that you no longer live with your parents?

Are you a pastor seeking to guide young single women in your church?

Do you know a young woman living on her own or soon to be living on her own who would benefit from some Godly guidance?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you’ll want to pick up a copy of On My Own Now: Straight Talk from the Proverbs for Young Christian Women who Want to Remain Pure, Debt-free and Regret-free by Donna Lee Schillinger.

In this interesting and thought-provoking exploration of the book of Proverbs, Schillinger takes young women along a journey that will help them to make better, safer, and more sound decisions.

The author takes a unique approach to the book of Proverbs by reversing the gender in many of the proverbs from “he” to “she” and Schillinger includes a modern day translation of Proverbs 31:10-29 about the traits of a good woman at the back of the book.

Exploring such topics as how Proverbs applies today, staying pure until marriage, dealing with anger and jealousy, developing good habits, tithing, using passion to make a positive impact, and the importance of not making rash decisions, Schillinger shows how the book of Proverbs can guide young women to be the women they want to be and stay that way.

On My Own Now can easily be used as a daily devotional, each section concluding with a thought for the reader to hold on to, such as “What I can’t have honestly, I simply won’t have.”

Its hip cover and conversational style will attract young women, and Schillinger is careful to get her point across without being overly preachy. There are also word bubbles throughout the book that capture important portions of the text to focus the reader.

I have to admit that the overuse of the exclamation point made it lose its effectiveness for me; but in the hands of a younger woman, that may not be the case. I also found a portion of text where I stopped to ponder the impression a young woman would be left with when reading that passage.

It is found on pages 179 through 181. The chapters in this section deal with friendship, and these particular pages cover depression and finding help when you need it. Schillinger talks about chemical imbalances possibly being a cause of depression and how modern medicine can help if we aren’t too proud to ask. She first suggests creating good eating, sleeping, and exercising habits, and then if that doesn’t make the reader feel better after 21 days she should start taking multivitamins, St. John’s wort, and other supplements recommended by a pharmacist. She then goes on to say that if this works, “don’t stop taking them…vitamins are something our body needs every day for the rest of our lives.”

While the author does make a point to mention that St. John’s wort may interact poorly with some medication and to talk to a healthcare provider if the reader is on any prescription medication, it seems it would be safer and prudent to suggest the reader talk to her healthcare provider or a registered dietician about adding supplements to her diet prior to taking anything.

On My Own Now, is an excellent resource for young women on how to use proverbs to guide their lives. I am going to talk to our pastor about purchasing copies of this book for female high school graduates from our church.

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Filed under Christian nonfiction, Non-Fiction, Self-Help, Teen Non-Fiction, Women's Issues

The Losing Game

the-losing-game-coverThe Losing Game: Why You Can’t Beat Wall Street
Author: T. E. Scott with Stephen Edds
Publisher: Hidden Truth Publishing

Rating:  + half
Reviewed by:  Gary Mack

This is a conspiracy book about Wall Street. Like one of your father’s rants, this book is goes on and on about the minus/sum game of Wall Street investing. Scott asserts early that Wall Street is nothing but a massive scam created merely to pull the hard earned money from the pockets of the common man. With constant references to Vegas, Scott wants you to conclude that Wall Street is nothing but high society’s version of casino gambling.

 

I can honestly say that by eighth grade, I knew that Wall Street was a place where people with disposable income went to purchase stock in corporations they hoped increased in value. I assumed, like any investment, those involved knew they were taking a risk and for some time after their initial capital investment, they would be in arrears.

 

As an adult, once I began investing, I was certainly under no illusion that I was going to automatically reap huge windfalls simply for my stock purchases. Like when I borrowed money to start my corporation, it was years later before my loan was paid off and I began to profit from my idea and hard work.

 

What Mr. Scott forgets is that Wall Street is a nebulous institution. There is no Mafia family running the enterprise, as he would lead you to believe. As in any stage where competition takes place, there are those who play the game at a higher level. To assert that Wall Street was conceived by a group or master race, who like puppeteers, pull the strings that easily rip off on a daily basis the hard earned money of working class people is nonsensical.

On a positive front, for the sake of the newbie investor, Mr. Scott explains how hedging works, details facts about derivatives, and gives a rudimentary assessment of the actual tracking methodology of the Dow Jones Index. The chapters on the meat and guts of how Wall Street works are the unhidden strengths of the book.

 

Had his book been slanted more toward simply helping out the uncertain investor, I believe Mr. Scott would have had a winner. Instead, The Losing Game comes across too much like your typical conspiracy tale, whereby, a lot of scandalous events or sightings occur right in front of your eyes, yet you, or anyone else but the author, never sees it happening. The constant repetition of the author’s theme unnerves the reader and trips your concentration from focusing on the important subject matter at hand. And that’s a shame. For it’s there that Mr. Scott has a lot of good advice to give to the investing public. 

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Filed under Business, Current Events, Non-Fiction, personal finance

Finding Faith in a Skeptical World

finding-faith-front-cover1

Finding Faith in a Skeptical World 
Author: Chet Galaska
Publisher: Triad Press

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Some books about faith overwhelm you with complex theology and language. Some are so condescending that they turn you off. But that definitely isn’t the case with Finding Faith in a Skeptical World by Chet Galaska.

Finding Faith is a guide to what faith in God truly means. For the believer, it provides answers to questions they often feel inadequate to discuss. And for others, Finding Faith can help explain some of the most difficult concepts surrounding putting your faith in an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving God.

* Why doesn’t prayer always work?
* What is sin and why is it important?
* Why do bad things happen?
* How is the Bible relevant to me?
* Why are there so many different Christian churches?
* How are Christians expected to conduct themselves?
* Why doesn’t science prove there’s a God?

These and many more topics are discussed by a former atheist who became a Christian after several years of investigating the faith with an open mind. Christian churches should keep multiple copies on-hand and every Christian home will want to own a copy of a book that offers so much information in such an encouraging way.

An engaging and powerful book awaits you in Finding Faith in a Skeptical World by Chet Galaska.

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Filed under Christian nonfiction, Non-Fiction

United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror

united-in-hate-coverUnited in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror 
Author: Dr. Jamie Glazov
Publisher: WND Books

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Gary Mack

 

Once I was involved in a business partnership with a talented and seasoned salesperson. Often we teased my partner he was so good at what he did he could sell all the swampland in Florida. The man knew he was good at his trade and reveled in all the tricks he learned to perfect his pitch. Oddly enough, whenever a salesperson came to our office to pitch a product, my partner, so knowledgeable of his craft, easily succumbed to the tricks of his trade. He was always the first to sign on the dotted line. I could never understand that.


After reading, United In Hate, The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror, by author Jamie Glazov, I’m beginning to grasp an understanding on the phenomena of such thinking. I understand a little more how certain individuals, or entire groups, can be so close to something they cannot recognize when the tricks of the trade are being used against them. In the case of the Left, as Glazov points out from his opening chapter, it’s as if the “believer” is so close to knowing what they hate, they somehow fall in love with it. It’s just a matter of how the cause is packaged and sold to them.


For instance, if you were to announce on the “View”, to the hosts and audience, that a mystery guest was about to appear who was a mass murderer, a theocrat, a racist, a bigot, a sexist, a torturer, and a homophobe, the set of the show would instantly be filled with angry boos and jeers from the crowd. However, when the identity of the guest were to be revealed as Fidel Castro, the knees of the female hosts would suddenly quiver and an about face would occur. Barbara Walters would be the first to her feet to greet the great Leftist Dictator. The crowd would follow, taking her lead on giving Castro a standing ovation. Within minutes after the applause died down, movie pals Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola would greet their little darling via speaker phone. (Again, it’s all in the packaging. Those who work in a business of illusion and deception are easily deceived.)


As Glazov candidly points out, when it comes to the Left, Castro could easily be replaced by the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Pham Van Dong, Mao Tse Tung, Ayatollah Khomeini, Osama Bin Laden, and the newest darling of the Left, the world’s most charming homophobe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These are their heroes, their leftist idols. It doesn’t matter that their heroes represent and encompass all that the Left hates. The Left is easily sold, easily caught up in the imagery and mystique, easy marks for despot trickery whenever one of their intellectuals arrives in the country of their autocratic friend. All a dictator has to do is clean up a town, dress up the townsfolk in totalitarian wear, and threaten the lives of the people if they don’t look happy while the conspicuous visitor is in town. Wow. How many times does that trick have to be done before the Left catches on? Yet you wonder how did Susan Sontag, Mary McCarthy, Walter Duranty, George Bernard Shaw, Sean Penn, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Ernest Hemingway, Danny Glover, and a host of other western intellectuals or entertainers fall for the same scheme?


What’s worse is their glowing testimonials after their visits. It’s as if these great thinkers or performers go back to high school to write of their first love. I was squeamish and embarrassed reading the passages Glazov used to illustrate and drive his point home. Unless you are stupid, or love struck, how could all the monsters of tyranny possess such sweet and unassuming qualities as reported by the Left?


Does anyone still remember the 1981 film, “Reds”, by Warren Beatty? What a perfect example of what Glazov speaks of. Back then, as a student, I wanted to puke over the manufactured sentiment over the flick, a film many of Beatty’s associates were hailing as a masterpiece. In the most overused scene in cinematic history, Jack Reed, the protagonist prepares a meal for the married woman he loves and stole from an American capitalist. In the scene, the water in the pots boils over, smoke billows from the oven, and Reed clumsily trips around the kitchen as the romantic little communist nervously tries to prepare a meal for his girlfriend. Geez Warren. That’s an original and uncontrived scene! Such masterful film making is certainly deserving of an Oscar.


Even then I thought, is Beatty willing to give up his glamorous American Hollywood life for the meager lifestyle of the Russian peasant? It certainly appeared from the point of view of the film he was selling the Soviet or Bolshevik way of life. History has certainly proven Beatty’s romance to be false and has certainly proven he was easily sold by his leftist comrades.


Glazov’s well thought out and carefully sculpted narrative of our times is an in-your-face expose on the hypocrisy of the Left. Glazov will take a lot of heat for what he reveals but he seems like a man with broad shoulders ready to take on the burden of a good fight. He’s professional in his presentation and his arguments are clean and succinct. Based on what he’s written, there’s little doubt in my mind that if an alien ship arrived in America, most of our Leftists, from Springsteen to Spielberg, would beg to be taken away. After paying homage to our captors, and after paying their way to the front of the lines, they would get on their knees, with their arms stretched out in the direction of the sinister ship. Then they would chant, “Free us from our freedom! Free us from our freedom” over and over, hoping to be heard.


Unable to stop themselves, and always desperate for attention, our Leftist friends would continue to chant while boarding the ship, knowing they could never return, and knowing a life of darkness would be all they would ever know again.

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Filed under Current Events, History, Non-Fiction, Politics

Grit for the Oyster

Grit for the Oyster 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher, Debora M. Coty, Faith Tibbetts McDonald, and Joanna Bloss
Publisher: Vintage Spirit

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Filled with helpful advice and inspiration, Grit for the Oyster 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Debora M. Coty, Faith Tibbetts McDonald, and Joanna Bloss is a must read for all aspiring writers.

Broken down into four sections, not a single page in this book is wasted. Readers can expect to find motivational quotes from successful writers, Biblical Scriptures, anecdotes from the authors, prayers tied into each pearl of wisdom, and questions to reflect upon.

More than just a book that will help you move your writing career forward, Grit for the Oyster will change not only how you pursue your writing career, but also your perception of that career. A powerful motivator that will increase your self-confidence and draw you closer to the One who has called you to write, this book should stay close by your computer and lift you up when you need it most.

Grit for the Oyster will help the aspiring writer to get started, to find her voice, to handle interruptions, to deal with rejections, fear of failure, moments when she feels like giving up, and so much more.

An excellent daily devotional for every writer who seeks to glorify God with the written word.

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Filed under Devotionals, Non-Fiction, Self-Help