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.

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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:

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:

Throwback Thursday: Being a ‘Real’ Writer

Originally published: 03/09/2017

There seems to be a notion in a lot of folks’ minds that while lots of people may wish to be authors, and may even actually sit down and try to thrash out an original work of fiction, not all of these are real writers. If you look around the internet or other public forums where writers gather, you’ll see what I mean. People will say things like ‘if you don’t write something every day, you’re not a real writer,’ or ‘real writers read at least twenty books a year– oh and newspapers as well!’

These are just examples but you get the idea. Many try to be writers, but only those who do this-this-and-that are real writers. But wait just a minute. What does it even mean to be a ‘real writer’?

Oxford Dictionaries has a rather lengthy definition of ‘real’ you can view here, but let me draw your attention to the important bits:

Adjective

2. (of a thing) not imitation or artificial; genuine.

2.2 [attributive] Rightly so called; proper.
‘he’s my idea of a real man’

I would suggest that when people talk about being a ‘real’ writer, they are referring to something akin to this: ‘[attributive] Rightly so called; proper’. So, a ‘real writer’ is someone who displays certain key attributes we might expect a writer to possess, and is therefore justly called a writer. In other words, ‘real writers’ are people who do a certain thing, behave a certain way, drink a certain brand of coffee or write in a particular genre (or who spit out the word ‘genre’ are if it were an insult); something which separates them from other unreal/pretend/bogus/inferior/impostor writers.

Well I think you can see where I’m going with this. I’m here to set the record straight. And I’m going to do it with a parable.

The Parable of the Real and Pretend Writers

by A. Ferguson

In a certain town there lived an Aspiring Author. This Aspiring Author religiously attended the local coffee shop every day with his laptop. He would arrive early in the morning and drink their most expensive coffee and diligently study blogs about how to be a writer (he was a particular fan of Penstricken.com). His mug said ‘WRITER AT WORK’, and his table was always littered with notepads (with snazzy writer slogans on the front) and pens. He had even scribbled out a few character profiles and he had a strong idea for a plot in his mind. He got to know the staff there and told them all about the novel he was writing and promised to give them all signed copies when it got published. He also had a Twitter page which he used to communicate with other Aspiring Authors, tell the world about the novel he was writing and to share inspirational quotes about writing.

This Aspiring Author also had a five year old daughter. She spent most of her time in her bedroom scribbling out stories in crayon (complete with illustrations) which she then sellotaped together into a book and sold to her long-suffering relatives. To date she has “published” seventeen such books and is now working on her eighteenth: The Day Mummy Took Me To The Zoo (We Saw Lions!).

So… the question is, who was the real writer: Aspiring Author or the daughter?

The answer is the one who displayed the attributes of a real writer. Specifically, the one who actually wrote stuff: the daughter!

Dear friends, writing stuff is the only truly defining attribute of a writer that I know of. If you’re writing stuff, you’re a writer. If you’re not writing stuff, you’re not a writer. If you publish ten thousand best sellers, all of which get made into films, then stop writing, you’re no longer a writer. You may be the author of Such-and-Such a Work but you’re no longer a writer. Similarly, if you are writing with any kind of regularity, you are a real writer. You might be a professional or only an amateur, but you are a writer. Really.

‘But you don’t understand…’ I hear you lament. ‘I only manage to write five days a week!’

That doesn’t invalidate the fact you write. I agree that you should write as often as possible, and certainly if you intend to become a professional writer you might want to do it as close to daily as possible, but I’ve found that writing regularly is far more beneficial than writing constantly. In any event, how often you write does not define you as a writer, as long as you write often.

‘But you don’t understand…’ I hear you lament. ‘I care about my husband/wife and kids more than I care about writing. Why, I even missed a deadline to attend my husband/wife while s/he was in hospital!’

That proves nothing except that you prioritise your family above your writing (a perfectly right and healthy thing, if you ask me). Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard it suggested that ‘real writers’ put their writing before their families, but I for one profoundly disagree. In any event, how you prioritise your life does not define you as a writer. When my daughter was born, I took the day off my day-job as a clerical officer to attend her birth. When I returned to work, no one questioned whether or not I was a ‘real clerical officer’, just because I had other things that mattered more to me. In the same way, whether writing is your life, your day-job or just a hobby: real writers are people who write.

‘But you don’t understand…’ I hear you lament. ‘I only seem to be able to write YA space operas!’

So what? You still wrote it, didn’t you? If you write, you’re a writer. Don’t let snobs get you down. No genre is any more valid than any other so write what you’re going to write. People that like your writing will read it and people that don’t, won’t, but the same is also true of people who write so-called ‘serious literature’.

There seems to be a strange mysticism surrounding writers, as if being a writer is something otherworldly; an awesome gift bestowed upon only the Chosen Few. Worst of all, I fear it has perhaps gone to some of our heads; that we may be tempted to believe we really are somehow supernatural or unusually gifted. But we’re not. Writers are people who write. Excellent writers practice their craft, yes, but ultimately they’re still just people who write. If you are in any way committed to writing, then I hereby acknowledge and publicly confess (for better or worse) that you are a real writer.


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: