5 Nifty NaNoWriMo Blog Posts

If you’re a writer and/or you’ve been on just about any social media page recently, you’ll probably have realised by now that NaNoWriMo is nigh upon us: one month of furious writing where participants strive to ‘win’ by knocking out 50,000 words in a single month.

Naturally I wanted to write a post about it for Penstricken, but I’ve already written about my one and only abortive attempt at (Camp) NaNoWriMo, so I thought it was probably a good time to take a step back and let my fellow bloggers do the blogging this week. I’ve selected five posts from across the internet, each with two things in common: 1) they’re about NaNoWriMo and 2) I enjoyed reading them.

I trust you will too.

‘Writing – NaNoWriMo’ by Shawn L. Bird

‘NaNoWriMo 2020: Should You Participate?’ by Smudgedthoughts

‘The Ultimate Guide to Planning for NaNoWriMo’ by Savannah Gilbo

‘Nanowrimo prep – plan your characters, improvise your plot’ by Roz Morris

‘3 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD DO NANOWRIMO IN THE YEAR 2020’ by Helen

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Opposable by Kirk E. Hammond

The Arca Trochia; a shifty, omniscient mega-fungus two billion light years from Earth, impregnated Dr. Vanderbilt’s mind with Sparks; thought spores carrying ideas. The Sparks search the cosmos for other habitable planets and germinate in fertile minds. Once rooted, they create Spires; portals allowing for instantaneous travel between the two worlds.

The first Spark told Dr. Vanderbilt to document every detail of the Arca Trochia’s home world; Halteres. The second Spark told him to attach bionic, opposable thumbs onto his cats…. The ambivalous Dr. V thinks these ideas are his, and what he’s too aloof to know, will kill us all. EARTH’S FATE COULDN’T REST IN WORSE HANDS.

Can psychotic cyborg cats, a pyromaniac alien, the punk rock Veteran of Chemical Wars, a merc known as Lilac Vengeance, and a severed head convince the unwitting doctor that he and his cats hold the key to thwarting the imminent alien invasion? ….

ALIENS, PREPARE TO ABDUCT SOME LEAD.

Praise for Opposable

Any fans of outrageous action and science fiction that actually has a little science with the fiction will be happy to read Opposable, I recommend it.

Amanja, ‘Opposable, Science Fiction Review’, Amanja Reads Too Much, 14/10/2020

Starts off odd and just keeps getting weirder, yet it draws you into the story with mounting tension, vividly portrayed characters, out of this world drug tips, betrayal and a ticking clock will keep you turning the pages until the very end.

TH Leatherman, ‘Book Review – Opposable by Kirk E Hammond’, TH Leatherman, 15/05/2020

Have you read Opposable? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Opposable on Amazon.

Click here to check out Kirk E. Hammond’s website.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Point of Danger by Irene Hannon

Radio talk show host Eve Reilly is used to backlash from her pot-stirring on-air commentary and interviews, but now it seems a disgruntled listener is resorting to more than angry words to express their displeasure. When a suspicious package arrives on her doorstep, Eve turns to law enforcement for help.

Police detective Brent Lange can’t find any evidence to link the string of unsettling incidents that follows, but he’s convinced they’re connected. As the harassment grows more menacing, it becomes clear someone wants Eve’s voice silenced–permanently. 

But unless he can track down her foe, fast, the gutsy woman who is willing to take risks for what she believes–and who is swiftly winning his heart–may not survive.

Praise for Point of Danger

This is a definite recommendation for suspense lovers and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series!

Mandy, ‘A 4 Star Book Review Of Point Of Danger By Irene Hannon, Book One In The Triple Threat Series | A Romantic Suspense Novel’, Turquois Avenue, 28/07/2020

If you’re looking for a romantic suspense with a political thread, definitely pick up a copy of Point of Danger.

Danielle Grandinetti, ‘BOOK REVIEW | POINT OF DANGER’, Danielle’s Writing Spot, 10/10/2020

Have you read Point of Danger? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Point of Danger on Amazon.

Click here to check out Irene Hannon’s website.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Throwback Thursday: Different Seasons (Book Review)

Originally published 21/02/2016 under the title ‘Different Seasons’

SPOILER ALERT:

Although every effort has been made to avoid spoilers, anyone who has not read Different Seasons by Stephen King is hereby advised that this post may contain a few unavoidable spoilers.

I’ve never been a fan of horror stories (but power to you if you like them) and for that reason, I’ve avoided the work of Stephen King for far longer than is healthy for someone who claims to love a good story. However, on my birthday at the end of last year, I unwrapped not one but two Stephen King books: Different Seasons and The Green Mile (I also unwrapped Cup of Gold by John Steinbeck and a 9 book collection of Poirot novels by Agatha Christie, but that’s not important just now). I haven’t got around to reading The Green Mile yet but if it’s half as good as Different Seasons then I might have just become a Stephen King fan. It’s a fantastic book.

I would offer one word of caution to anyone who, like me, does not usually like horror but is curious about Stephen King: Different Seasons may(!) not accurately reflect the kind of stories King normally writes. As I read through Different Seasons, I was surprised by how relatively mild the horror elements were until I got to the afterword, in which King (1982, p. 672) comments,

I write true to type … at least, most of the time. But is horror all I write? If you’ve read the foregoing stories, you know it’s not … but the elements of horror can be found in all of the tales, not just in The Breathing Method – that business with the slugs in The Body is pretty gruesome, as is much of the dream imagery in Apt Pupil. Sooner or later, my mind always seems to turn back in that direction.

It’s this little afterword which leaves me wondering exactly how King’s other novels compare to this collection. That being said, the four novellas contained in this collection (Rita Hayworth and Shawkshank Redemption; Apt Pupil; The Body; The Breathing Method) certainly have their own dark threads running through them.

I don’t really want to rabbit on about Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption too much since I’ve already raved about it in a previous post but it bears mentioning. It tells the story of a friendship which develops between two prisoners in the Shawshank Penitentiary and of the final dramatic exit of both men from that prison. It features pretty much nothing in the way of supernatural horror elements but neither is it shy about giving a gritty account of life in the Shawshank Penitentiary, where most of the story is set. There are, for example, a few brutal scenes of violence including rape, though these are not overdone in a way which would make the narrative needlessly crude. In fact, I found there to be something strangely heart-warming about the main plot and the way the story ends. What really made this story stand out for me, however, was King’s superb use of narrative voice, as mentioned previously.

Like ShawshankApt Pupil is a story that does not really contain any traditional horror elements. However, it is very dark; the darkest of the four in my opinion. It is set in the fictional Californian suburb of Santo Donato and focuses on a mutually destructive relationship between an elderly Nazi war criminal, Kurt Dussander (a.k.a Arthur Denker) and Todd Bowden, an ‘all American kid’ with an unhealthy fixation on the Holocaust. Unlike the other three, Apt Pupil is narrated in the third person.

The story opens with the protagonist, Todd, appearing quite uninvited on Dussander’s doorstep, having already learned of Dussander’s previous life as a Nazi and his specific role in the Holocaust. Todd begins by blackmailing Dussander, threatening to expose him unless Dussander tells him gruesome and detailed stories about the Holocaust. The relationship brings out the worst qualities in both characters, eventually leading both to actual acts of murder while their mutual fear of each other forces them to continue their toxic relationship. While this is a little darker than the type of story I would normally go for, I must say that the two main characters are a master-class in constructing complex relationships between characters. Each character is unique, memorable and serves a vital function in the story (as all characters should), yet their relationships are a complex and intricately crafted web of obsession, hatred and interdependency the like of which very few other authors could hope to equal. Despite being darker than the type of thing I would normally read, it is so well written that I would have to say that, along with ShawshankApt Pupil is probably my joint-favourite story from Different Seasons.

The Body, on the other hand, was probably my least favourite of the four. It is written from the perspective of Gordon Lachance; an author, writing about an incident in his youth when he and a group of his friends, all of whom come from dysfunctional families, learned of a dead body which one of their brothers had discovered but not reported to the authorities. Lachance and his friends set out in secret to search for this body so they can ‘discover’ it and become famous. Personally, I found the narrative a little on the slow side compared to the other three novellas and while King’s use of narrative voice in this story was very good, it doesn’t come close to Red’s narration in Shawshank. The ending was also a bit of a let down. On the plus side (if you don’t like anything too dark), it is comparatively light on the physical and psychological violence found in the previous two stories.

The Breathing Method is a story within a story and is probably the closest thing to a supernatural horror to be found in the collection, though any supernatural or fantastic aspects to this story are only hinted at. The story opens with David, the protagonist of the frame narrative, being invited along to a mysterious men’s club by his boss where the members mostly read, tell stories and play pool. The rest of the novella takes the form of another character, Edward McCarron, telling David and everyone else at the club a story about an unmarried pregnant woman he once treated who was determined to have her baby despite the social and financial difficulties this would have caused her. He also tells them about an unconventional method of controlled breathing which he teaches her to use when she goes into labour, which allows him to save the baby’s life when the woman is involved in a fatal traffic accident.

All in all, Different Seasons is an excellent collection and is probably a great place for a first time reader of Stephen King to begin, especially if you’re not wild on horror. More importantly than that, the quality of the writing in all four of these stories testifies to the fact that – no matter how famous he might be for writing horror – Stephen King is no one-trick pony. Different Seasons may be a little on the dark side at points but I would still highly recommend it to even the most avid of horror-dodgers.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney

Her life didn’t turn out the way she expected–so she made herself a new one

When Clemmie goes next door to check on her difficult and unlikeable neighbour Dom, he isn’t there. But something else is. Something stunning, beautiful and inexplicable. Clemmie photographs the wondrous object on her cell phone and makes the irrevocable error of forwarding it. As the picture swirls over the internet, Clemmie tries desperately to keep a grip on her own personal network of secrets. Can fifty years of careful hiding under names not her own be ruined by one careless picture?

And although what Clemmie finds is a work of art, what the police find is a body… and she was the last person at the crime scene, where she left her fingerprints. Suddenly thrown into the heart of a twisted investigation, Clemmie finds herself the uncomfortable subject of intense scrutiny. And the bland, quiet life Clemmie has built for herself in her sleepy South Carolina retirement community comes crashing down as her dark past surges into the present.

Praise for Before She Was Helen

This story just reels you in. And honestly, I kept guessing and just plain guessing wrong! I love that! I love an author which keeps me on my toes and this one surely did!

Fredreeca, ‘Before She was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney @PPPress @carolinebcooney #fiction #review’, Reecaspieces, 10/09/2020

Before She Was Helen captures well Clemmie’s terror as the basketball coach continues to torment her right up to his death as well as Helen’s struggle to defend herself as the drug dealers circle, and all this set against the amusing, everyday life of the elderly residents of Sun City. This book is highly recommended.

Lyn Squire, ‘Before She Was Helen: A Novel’, Manhattan Book Review, date unknown

Caroline B. Cooney always leaves you on the edge of your seat, and this book will do the same.

Mrs. Mac, ‘“Before she was Helen” Caroline B. Cooney’, You Decide: Should I Read It or Not? 08/09/2020

Have you read Before She Was Helen? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Before She Was Helen on Amazon.

Click here to check out Caroline B. Cooney’s website.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons

Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.

But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?

Praise for Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You was moving, heart-warming and emotional women’s fiction with amazing characters and concept.

Yesha, ‘#BOOKREVIEW : EUDORA HONEYSETT IS QUITE WELL, THANK YOU BY ANNIE LYONS OMCREADALONG #EUDORAHONEYSETT @0NEMORECHAPTER_’, Books Teacup and Reviews, 26/09/2020

I really cannot sing the praises of this book highly enough… the perfect book for a lockdown lift.

Julie, ‘Book Review: Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons’, A Little Book Problem, 24/09/2020

A book that you feel like hugging at the end… All the stars!

Lynne, ‘“Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You” by Annie Lyons – Book Review #EudoraHoneysett @1AnnieLyons @OneMoreChapter @UnitedAgents #BookReview’, Fictionophile, 25/09/20

Have you read Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You on Amazon.

Click here to check out Annie Lyon’s website.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: The Curator by M.W. Craven

It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again…

Praise for The Curator

A cracking story, exceptional characters and a storyline that just has to be read…

Yvonnembee, ‘The Curator by M.W. Craven #20booksofsummer #readingchallenge #mustread #bookreview’, Me and My Books, 21/08/20

Most definitely recommended… once you start reading, you won’t want to stop.

Jen Lucas, ‘The Curator by M.W. Craven’, Jen Med’s Book Reviews, 05/06/20

… Another magnificent thriller in what is easily the best thriller/mystery series in a long while.

Janetemson, ‘The Curator by M W Craven – review’, From First Page to Last, 10/06/2020

Have you read The Curator? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy The Curator on Amazon.

Click here to check out M.W. Craven’s website.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

It is 1963 and an anonymous Englishman has been hired by the Operations Chief of the O.A.S. to murder General Charles de Gaulle. A failed attempt the previous year means the target will be nearly impossible to get to. But this latest plot involves a lethal weapon: an assassin of legendary talent.

Known only as The Jackal, this remorseless and deadly killer must be stopped.

But how do you track a man who exists in name alone?

Praise for The Day of the Jackal

I loved the storytelling, the depiction of 1960s Europe and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the age before technology took over… I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys classic thrillers.

Arun P.C, ‘Book Review: The Day of the Jackal’, Arun P.C’s Blog, 12/09/20

The Day of the Jackal is a marvelous novel… This book is among the best thrillers out there.

Daniel Lin, ‘A Book Review: The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth’, Daniel’s Corner Unlimited, 03/12/2015

Wonderfully authentic, plausible down to the last tiny physical detail, and with a narrative drive which goes way, way beyond mere reporting, The Day Of The Jackal remains the brightest and best example of a political thriller.

David Prestidge, ‘CIS: The Day of the Jackal Revisited’, Crime Fiction Lovers, 01/09/2014

Have you read The Day of the Jackal? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy The Day of the Jackal on Amazon.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Rules of Blackheath

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer. Understood? Then let’s begin . . .Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others . . .The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave listeners guessing until the very last second.

Praise for The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

This book is one of the smartest things I’ve read in a long time… The plot is intriguing and keeps you on the edge of your seat, the characters are quite complex which I like and most of all THAT GREAT, creepy, and intriguing ATMOSPHERE is ALL I needed. Amazing book!

Sofi, ‘Book Review | The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton’, A Book A Thought, 11/08/2020

Atmospheric and unique, this is a mystery that adds “Who am I?” to the question of whodunit, with existentially suspenseful results.

Meg Nola, ‘The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’, Foreword Reviews, July/August 2018

You will put this book down feeling immensely satisfied…. Thrilling, Unpredictable, Captivating.

Amy, ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’, Amy’s Bookshelf, Jan 2020

Have you read The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle on Amazon.

Click here to check out Stuart Turton’s website.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

SoldierSummoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold – a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.

Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite – and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.

As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.

Welcome to Ravka… a world of science and superstition where nothing is what it seems.

Praise for Shadow and Bone

The Grishaverse has the most stunning world building I have come across in  the YA fantasy genre in quite some time…. it has restored some of my faith in the fantasy genre…

J, ‘Book Review: Shadow and Bone’, Midnight Book Blog, 30/07/2020


Leigh Bardugo weaves a tale of magic, power, and definitely intrigue and wonder in the first brilliant instalment of her Grisha trilogy.

Brooklyn Saliba, ‘Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo’, The Nerd Daily, 17/02/2019

No matter how many times I read this book I never tire of it, it’s a beautiful book that I want to make everyone I know read.

Nicole Sweeney, ‘Book Review: Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo’, The Bibliophile Chronicles, 13/09/2018


I finished it in one feverish sitting and immediately bought the next book.

Kitty Marie, ‘Book Review : Shadow and Bone (#1 in the Grisha trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo’, Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner, 07/09/2019

Have you read Shadow and Bone? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Shadow and Bone on Amazon.

Click here to check out Leigh Bardugo’s website.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here: