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  1. Dear Brown Bookshelf:

    Betsy Bird, a children’s book reviewer who works in the Children’s Center of the New York Public Library, referred me to you.

    I’m an author with a new YA book coming out this October. Ugly To Start With is a collection of short stories being published by West Virginia University Press. The 13 stories–about growing up in The Mountain State–have all been published in good literary journals, including The Iowa Review.

    My short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Twice I have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. My short story “The Scratchboard Project” received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007.

    I am also the author of the nationally acclaimed coming-of-age novel The Night I Freed John Brown (Philomel Books, Penguin Group, 2009), winner of The Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers (Grades 7-12) and one of ten books recommended by USA TODAY for Black History Month. Rave reviews include Kirkus Reviews, The Boston Globe, The Buffalo News, and BookPage, along with award-winning literary magazines Mid-American Review, Black Warrior Review, and The Texas Review.

    Can I talk you into reviewing my collection, Ugly To Start With? I’d be very grateful. If you email me back, I’ll send you a professional-grade PDF of my collection for your consideration.

    I’m confident you’ll enjoy my stories.

    Thank you, and I look forward to hearing back from you.


    John Michael Cummings

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