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In "The Big Shuffle," (Ballantine, 400 pages, $14, paper) Buffalo-born novelist Laura Pedersen tells a story about growing up, gaining wisdom, and playing poker. Pedersen, who left Western New York after high school and now lives in New York City, spins her story around a central character named Hallie Palmer, a teenager about whom she's written two previous novels, "Beginner's Luck" and "Heart's Desire." "The Big Shuffle" follows Hallie as she suffers the death of her father and becomes a card sharp to pay for college.

Pedersen had a successful career on Wall Street -- including becoming the youngest person ever to have a seat on the New York Stock Exchange -- before turning to novel-writing. She's written a best-selling memoir of her financial career, "Play Money," as well.

In other news:

*Local writers Alycia Ripley and Tom Waters are accepting submissions, between now and July 1, for an anthology of Buffalo short fiction, nonfiction and poetry tentatively scheduled for publication in 2008. The material must be about modern-day Buffalo or Buffalonians. For more information or to submit work, contact the pair at or All royalties of the planned anthology, Ripley said, will go to Just Buffalo Literary Center.

-- Charity Vogel

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