Former student Lena Nelson’s first book, America’s Youngest Ambassador: The Cold War Story of Samantha’s Smith Lasting Message of Peace, releases in the US on June 1, 2023. “The tale of ten-year-old Samantha Smith, who in the fall of 1982 wrote to the Soviet leader expressing her fear of nuclear war, was part of my life since I was a child growing up in the former USSR,” says Lena. “To see this project grow into a book was an amazing adventure!”

Of her experience in the Writers’ Program, she says, “I joined my first creative nonfiction class with Gordon Grice in the summer of 2015; his patience with my first drafts and his guidance were invaluable. Yelizaveta Renfro’s Intermediate Creative Nonfiction Workshop helped me solidify the braided narrative structure for the book. Yelizaveta’s sincere enthusiasm for my story was a great boost to my confidence. Kristin Loberg’s classes on proposal writing were instrumental in helping me find the publisher. I also am grateful to the late Barbara Abercrombie for her input as I read my chapters at her Vroman’s Bookstore workshops. I was inspired by the Writers’ Program instructors’ generosity, kindness, and faith in their students’ projects!”

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