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Alum publishes first book

When 21-year old Natasha Hanshaw visits the Amazon.com site or stops by the essay collection section of Barnes and Noble bookstore, she will see her new book staring right back at her.

 "The World through Our Eyes: A Collaboration of Essays by International Students," however, would never have existed if she had not taken Political Science Professor Peter Feaver's international relations class as an undergraduate.

 "I took his course Introduction to International Relations either first or second year and that class made me decide I wanted to study international relations," said Hanshaw, who graduated from Duke six months ago. "In addition, we received a promotional visit from the ISC-Symposium during the class--the competition I went to that gave me the impetus to write the book."

 The symposium, held annually at St. Gallen University in Switzerland, is a conference for university students from all over the world, as well as decision-makers from politics, economics, business and science and media representatives, to exchange ideas and foster dialogue on current issues. The 32nd symposium that Hanshaw attended in May 2002, which focused on the new world order, provided her not only with the idea of the book, but the contributors as well.

 "I started to write the book to create a global voice outside the intimate framework of the conference," she said. "The students were from all over and had local knowledge of these issues. I wanted the people of the world to hear these different ideas."

 After the conference, Hanshaw played around with the idea of writing the book for a few months before contacting the participants about book submissions. Finalizing the topics--which range from poverty in Kenya to global terrorism--as well as the lengthy process of revising the essays then took until the beginning of this year. Since many of the essays were written by students whose first language is not English, Hanshaw ended up editing all of the essays herself. This process, however, taught her a good lesson in perseverance.

 "No matter how long it takes, you should always go back and read [over] until you know everything is perfect," she said. "So many times I would read it over and then I would go back and see more mistakes. So take your time, whatever you do."

 The biggest hurdle to overcome ended up being not the writing or editing process, but rather just getting the book published, which finally occurred this summer.

 "Since I am a first-time author, it was challenging to find one who specializes as a first-time publisher, but I did find one through Barnes and Noble," Hanshaw said. "I also knew a professor at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who had written a book and knew of a number of websites devoted to authors."

 Hanshaw, a political science major who specialized in international relations, had no intention of becoming an author during her college years. Her book, however, which was released in bookstores in September, is a clear reflection of her academic interests.

 "I never knew I was going to be a writer. I just went to the symposium and this is what I chose to do," she said. "Many topics in the book are related to international relations and international studies in general. I also wrote one of the essays entitled 'Corporate Responsibility in the 21st Century,' which I originally wrote for Professor Jentleson's Globalization class senior year."

 The most important piece of advice she gives aspiring writers, however, is not to be discouraged with the publication process, especially the marketing, which Hanshaw is currently still doing.

 "It's persistence. It's easy to get disheartened during the process, especially finding a publisher, and also afterwards," she said. "I never realized the marketing process is one of the hardest parts of the process. Press releases, putting things together and getting in contact with people for reviews takes huge amounts of time. But the more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it."

 For Hanshaw, it will be until March that she has a concrete idea of how much--in terms of sales and profit--she's going to get out of it. But the most rewarding aspect of the process for her may have already come.

 "I am really pleased with it. I never really expected to have a real book in front of me. It was quite a shock when I first got the book," she said. "It was an amazing feeling to see my words and everything I've worked on for a year and a half be put into a hard copy."

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