Beyond the Books

A Bookish Chat with John Sibley Williams, author of ‘Disinheritance’

JOhn Sibley WilliamsJohn Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Controlled Hallucinations (2013) and Disinheritance (2016). A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Midwest Quarterly, december, Third Coast, Baltimore Review, Nimrod International Journal, Hotel Amerika, Rio Grande Review, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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About the Book:

A lyrical, philosophical, and tender exploration of the various voices of grief, including those of the broken, the healing, the son-become-father, and the dead, Disinheritance acknowledges loss while celebrating the uncertainty of Disinheritancea world in constant revision. From the concrete consequences of each human gesture to soulful interrogations into “this amalgam of real / and fabled light,” these poems inhabit an unsteady betweenness, where ghosts can be more real than the flesh and blood of one’s own hands.

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  • Disinheritance is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, John.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

It’s great to be here, and thank you for the invitation.

This is actually my second full-length poetry collection, and I’ve had seven chapbooks published through various small presses. Each book has its own tone, its own unique themes, so, in a way, each published book feels a lot like ‘the first time’ again.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

Unfortunately, there are only a handful of mainstream poetry publishers, so small presses are really the best first step for poets who are not seeking self-publishing. My previous chapbooks and my debut full length collection were all published by small presses staffed by passionate editors. I feel very lucky to have worked with them. For this new collection, Disinheritance, I sought a slightly more prominent press, and I was honored to be accepted by Apprentice House, a great press run by Loyola University students.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I signed the contract in November 2015, and both editing and design began a few months later. Though the book could have been published earlier this year, the press and I decided on September 2016 to allow for an extensive Advanced Reader Copy phase.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

My first book publication back in 2011 was a huge first step and one I will always remember. Though I had previously published a few hundred poems in literary journals, knowing that a team of editors believed in my work enough to put their time, passion, and money into its publication was humbling. I honestly don’t recall how I celebrated that first book publication, but I’m sure it involved a few unabated screams of joy.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

With my first book, as I was still a newbie to the book publishing world, I didn’t have the solid marketing plan I use now.  Also, it was a chapbook from a small press, which limited the opportunities available to me. I did use social media, of course, and I booked perhaps a half-dozen readings in my area. I was also able to acquire a few reviews from literary magazines and bloggers. If I recall, it sold a few hundred copies, which was fantastic.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

We’re all maturing as writers with each new word we write, each new book we publish, and each new author we’re exposed to. And with each new personal experience we have, our eyes open a bit more to the world and new ways of expressing our feelings about the world. Growing as a writer is a lifelong process.

I’m not sure if book publication itself has helped my writing, but it has definitely helped other creative areas. For example, creating a poetry, short story, or essay collection can be a tricky thing. How to know which pieces to keep, which to cut, and how to order them? Each collection I have published has given me a bit more confidence in how to weed out the unnecessary poems and how to structure things so a consistent tone and momentum is fostered.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

It’s amazing to think around 800 books per day are published now. Digital and self-publishing have democratized the process, so pretty much anyone can publish a book now. On the one hand, the sheer abundance of books out there makes finding your readers all the more difficult. What once was a hill is now a mountain. On the other hand, thousands of fantastic authors whose work might never have found publication are finally able to be heard.

In general, I suppose what surprises me most is finding work of incredible quality coming out of presses most people haven’t heard of. These smaller presses are often staffed by volunteers or students who are so very passionate about publishing strong stories and beautiful poems. Though it’s wholly understandable, mainstream publishers are mainly interested in sales potential. There is a bottom line, and that bottom line is money. One cannot blame them for it. But because of this money-oriented approach, I tend to find the most surprising, risk-taking, and satisfying books coming out of small and university presses these days.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Definitely reader reaction. We have all read poems or novels that truly moved us, that made us reconsider ourselves, that illuminated the beauty and power of language. It has been indescribably rewarding to know my work has touched others in that way. When a total stranger who perhaps stumbled across your book or had it recommended to her contacts you out of the blue to say how much it inspired her, that is a potent feeling. When you’re giving a reading and you can see that glow in the audience’s eyes, that is unforgettable. Even after around 50 or so readings across the country, I am touched every single time someone goes out of their way to express their thoughts on my work. That’s what it’s all about. Trying to use language that lifts up off the page and resonates with people.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

There’s a reason “keep writing, keep reading” has become clichéd advice for emerging writers; it’s absolutely true. You need to study as many books as possible from authors of various genres and from various countries. Listen to their voices. Watch how they manipulate and celebrate language. Delve deep into their themes and characters and take notes on the stylistic, structural, and linguistic tools they employ. And never, ever stop writing. Write every free moment you have. Bring a notebook and pen everywhere you go (and I mean everywhere). It’s okay if you’re only taking notes. Notes are critical. It’s okay if that first book doesn’t find a publisher. There will be more books to come. And it’s okay if those first poems aren’t all that great. You have a lifetime to grow as a writer.

Do we write to be cool, to be popular, to make money? We write because we have to, because we love crafting stories and poems, because stringing words together into meaning is one of life’s true joys. So rejections are par for the course. Writing poems or stories that just aren’t as strong as they could be is par for the course. But we must all retain that burning passion for language and storytelling. That flame is what keeps us maturing as writers.





The Gail Force, by Robert Lane

Plug Your Book!

Gail Force Cover Art.jpgThe Gail Force

by Robert Lane

Mason Alley Publishing – Release date: September 20 2106

Available in trade paper (ISBN: 978-0692670446, $14.95) and eBook ($4.99) editions

 “a consistently entertaining crime thriller…The plot crackles with energy and suspense. The writing is crisp…clever.” –Kirkus

“Charm and humor permeate the pages of the surprising thriller. There’s little chance that anyone will turn the last page before developing a craving for the next installment.” –ForeWord Reviews

Award-winning novelist Robert Lane, who has drawn comparisons to John D. MacDonald, has created one of the most compelling characters in mystery today.  PI Jake Travis is tough, smart, wise and wisecracking. He’s hailed as “a winning hero”—and this time, Jake has an elaborate knot to untangle.

While trying to expose a corrupt Miami art dealer, Jake goes undercover for the FBI. The gallery’s owner, Phillip Agatha, is more enchanted with murder than he is…

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In the Spotlight: Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey From Heroes to Villains to Redemption by Emilio Corsetti III

scapegoatTitle: Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption
Author: Emilio Corsetti III
Publisher: Odyssey Publishing, LLC
Pages: 472
Genre: Nonfiction Narrative

“This is the kind of case the Board has never had to deal with-a head-on collision between the credibility of a flight crew versus the airworthiness of the aircraft.” NTSB Investigator-in-Charge Leslie Dean Kampschror

On April 4, 1979, a Boeing 727 with 82 passengers and a crew of 7 rolled over and plummeted from an altitude of 39,000 feet to within seconds of crashing were it not for the crew’s actions to save the plane. The cause of the unexplained dive was the subject of one of the longest NTSB investigations at that time.

While the crew’s efforts to save TWA 841 were initially hailed as heroic, that all changed when safety inspectors found twenty-one minutes of the thirty-minute cockpit voice recorder tape blank. The captain of the flight, Harvey “Hoot” Gibson, subsequently came under suspicion for deliberately erasing the tape in an effort to hide incriminating evidence. The voice recorder was never evaluated for any deficiencies.

From that moment on, the investigation was focused on the crew to the exclusion of all other evidence. It was an investigation based on rumors, innuendos, and speculation. Eventually the NTSB, despite sworn testimony to the contrary, blamed the crew for the incident by having improperly manipulated the controls, leading to the dive.

This is the story of an NTSB investigation gone awry and one pilot’s decades-long battle to clear his name.

Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption is available at Amazon and B&N.

Book Excerpt:

When TWA 841 departed JFK on April 4, 1979, no one onboard had any idea of the drama that would soon unfold. One passenger, travelling with her husband, wrote in a journal about the smooth takeoff. She had been keeping a personal journal of her travels to share with her children on her return. She documented everything down to the most inconsequential detail such as her ears popping as the aircraft climbed. Days, weeks, and years later, after TWA 841 had become the subject of one of the longest NTSB investigations in the agency’s history, investigators would scrutinize every minute of the flight in a similarly detailed manner. Much like a criminal investigation, the movements, actions, and whereabouts of each crew member were documented. Routine tasks such as when and where the meal trays were exchanged between the cockpit and cabin crew would take on added significance. Unraveling the mystery of TWA 841 was a monumental puzzle that needed to be solved. But unlike any accident investigation before or since, the same evidence investigators would use against the crew would be used by others to challenge the theories put forth by Boeing and the NTSB. Readers can draw their own conclusions as to which version is correct.

Book Trailer:

The First Page: Friend of the Devil by Mark Spivak

friend-of-the-devil-kindleTitle: Friend of the Devil
Author: Mark Spivak
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Pages: 325
Genre: Culinary Thriller

In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, sold his soul to the Devil to achieve culinary greatness. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe.

Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano. The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.

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The First Page

“The man’s here.”

The old Black woman delivered her pronouncement into the darkness of a back room—half in amusement, half in disgust. She then walked back across the front room of the cabin, her feet creaking on the wooden floor, to the place where the young man sat. A pot-bellied stove, streaked with soot, crackled in the opposite corner.

“He be wit you in a minute.”

“Thank you.”

The white youth seemed strangely comfortable in this shack outside Clarksdale in rural Mississippi. The year was 1947, at the height of Jim Crow, at a time when the races never mingled.

The young man had concocted an elaborate cover story and, with the confidence of his age, he believed he could explain himself if the wrong people found him here.

“What you say your name is?” the woman asked.


The woman laughed. “You a crazy-assed white boy, Joseph.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied in a deep baritone, guttural and booming. “That may well be.”

The old Black man shuffled out of the back room, moving slowly and deliberately. He was clad in overalls, and his silver hair framed a deeply lined and creased face. He glanced at Joseph and shook his head.

“Let’s go out on the porch, boy.”

They walked outside to the dilapidated wooden deck surrounding the front of the shack, and the old man settled in a rocking chair. He motioned for Joseph to sit beside him and regarded him with the same amusement his wife had displayed.

“You a long way from home, ain’t you?”

“I don’t really have a home, sir.”

“Everybody got a home.” The old man chuckled.


Welcome, Mark. Can you tell us what your book is about?

Friend of the Devil tells the story of Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, America’s most celebrated chef, who has cut a deal with the Devil for fame and fortune.

The first page is perhaps one of the most important pages in the whole book. It’s what draws the reader into the story. Why did you choose to begin your book this way?

There are two narrative lines: the “present day” of the story, which occurs in Palm Beach in 1990, when Avenzano has been America’s most famous chef for 25 years, alternating with a series of flashbacks that tell the reader about the tortured journey he traveled to get there. I decided to start at the beginning, with a teaser set in Mississippi in 1947.

In the course of writing your book, how many times would you say that first page changed and for what reasons?

The entire book went through numerous drafts and changed significantly any number of times. For example, the early drafts didn’t have the flashbacks, which left readers to supply those details from their imagination. Ultimately, that didn’t work.

Was there ever a time after the book was published that you wished you had changed something on the first page?

No. Friend of the Devil emerged slowly and painfully, but I think I finally did it as well as I was able to.

What advice can you give to aspiring authors to stress how important the first page is?

Literature students are trained by reading the classics—books that were written and read before radio, movies, TV, Internet and other electronic devices. Those authors were working in an environment where they could get away with a lot more. Today, the truth is that we’re competing with The Real Housewives of New Jersey. If that first page doesn’t grab people, they’ll wander off and do something else.

About the Author

mark-spivakMark Spivak is an award-winning author, specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants, and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the Food Editor for Palm Beach Illustrated; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. From 1999-2011 Spivak hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Spivak is the author of two non-fiction books:  Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). Friend of the Devil is his first novel. He is currently working on a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq.

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Anokhi Dosti Book Blast!

We are excited to be hosting Subhash Kommuru’s ANOKHI DOSTI Book Blast today!
Leave a comment or a question in the comment section of this blog to let her know you stopped by!
About the Book:

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Title: Anokhi Dosti (The Magic of Friendship)

Author: Subhash Kommuru

Publisher: Kommuru Books

Pages: 42

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Mom’s Choice Award GOLD Recipient
Does a smile or a laugh have trans-formative power? It does in a special place called Tadoba. Anokhi Dosti is a book written in Hindi and is a remarkable tale of the trans-formative power of companionship, particularly for someone who is lonely and never really had the gift of laughter.
Guaranteed to get a giggle out of kids, Anokhi Dosti also provides plenty of opportunities for readers to connect with the characters in richly detailed, mesmerizing illustrations.
This Award Winning picture book is perfect for read-aloud fun and is also appropriate for beginning readers. This book is written in Hindi using Hindi script.


Annokhi Dosti is available at Amazon or pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble



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About the Author

Subhash and Sujata hail from India. They migrated to the United States along with their memories of childhood and youth. Now that they are parents, just like every immigrant they crave to introduce their child to the culture
and values of their upbringing. Yet it is challenging to teach something while you are in the midst of adjusting to a different culture yourself.


Subhash and Sujata both work in different disciplines and have different styles and backgrounds, but it is the upbringing of their son that brings them on the same page. That exact place where they meet is captured and reflected in their stories, where Subhash can express in words, and Sujata can illustrate them beautifully. Where he puts it in black and white, she adds color to it. You get the idea!

These stories are their attempt to share a glimpse of their childhood days with their son. He is their inspiration to write short stories that have meaning to them and provide teaching in some shape or form.

Shobhan’s latest book is the children’s book, Anokhi Dosti (The Magic of Friendship).

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Character Interview: Summer Silva from Anna del Mar’s romantic suspense, ‘The Stranger’

character interviews logo

We’re thrilled to have here today Summer Silva from Anna del Mar’s The Stranger, her newest romantic suspense and the second book of her Wounded Warrior Series, following on the heels of the Amazon bestseller, The Asset. Summer is a twenty-nine year old architect living in Miami, Florida.

It is a pleasure to have Summer with us today at Beyond the Books!

Hi. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Thank you so for this interview, Summer. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Well, I’d like to start by saying that my trip to Alaska was sudden and unplanned, which explains why I wasn’t exactly prepared for the Alaskan weather and the Bering Sea superstorm that overtook me after my rental skidded on a patch of ice in the middle of nowhere and tumbled down a ravine. I mean. Black ice. Really? We don’t have that in Miami.

Why did you come to Alaska in the first place?

I would’ve never come to Alaska if my sister hadn’t run away with a guy she met on the Internet. But that’s Tammy for you and it fell on me to find her.

I know that, at first, Seth didn’t know what to make of me. But honestly, I didn’t know what to make of him either. He seemed…grumpy and not exactly friendly. All of that, combined with my…err…little secret, made for a bumpy beginning.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m sensible, dependent, dutiful. I love my family. I’m curious, driven and hard-working. I think I’m pretty smart as well and I’m a very good architect. I design plans, buildings, lives. That’s what I do.

Worse trait?

I can be a little fiery at times. And I have a lot of attitude. I’ve got this little problem that limits me sometimes. I’m what the Athabaskans call a “dream chaser.” But if you want to know more about that, you’ve got to read The Stranger.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Are you kidding me? Yes, yes and yes! That’s really what the novel is all about. In The Stranger I fall for the stranger himself, the enigmatic Seth Erickson. When I first met him, I thought he was the most aggravating man in the world. I also thought he was delicious to the eyes. Come to find out, he had his hands full. He is a powerful Alaskan tycoon, the scion of his family’s extensive fortunes, fighting off a takeover attempt and dealing with his quarreling family.

Seth is also a helicopter pilot, a wounded warrior struggling to recover from injuries he sustained while serving in Afghanistan, a man haunted by his past and fighting his own set of demons. Seth is a total alpha, brilliant, blunt, systematic and precise, always cool and in command, a man who despises emotion and sticks to his icy logic… well, that is, until he met me!

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

The whole time I was in Alaska I was wondering if I would survive. Not only was there someone inexplicably trying to kill me, but the weather was challenging and summer is a rather brief season in Alaska. I’m essentially a tropical being and I didn’t know if I could make it in Alaska. I mean, Not only did I get stuck in a Bering Sea superstorm. I got charged by a bear. A brown bear. That would never, ever happen in Miami. Not even in my wildest dreams—and I have a lot of those. As to the crash, when the plane went down in the middle of the Alaskan Rage I thought I was dead. Finito. Over.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I loved the ending, because I love Seth.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

Give me some good gear from the start, lady, not a fashion coat and a pair of expensive heels, but something warm and heavy. And boots, give me boots that grip the ground so I’m not sliding all over. Tell me who I’m dealing with, a man haunted by his past, a sexy hunk, inside and out, a deliciously passionate soul whose icy exterior challenges the flame that burns in him, a brave, loyal, generous, kickass warrior who needed me as much as I needed him. Did I tell you Seth is sexy and mouthwatering gorgeous? I mean, that part I could see right away. The rest would’ve given me a head start.

Thank you for this interview, Summer. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

If Anna del Mar returns to Alaska, for sure you may catch up with Seth and I. If not, you’re off to Africa with Jade Romo and her scrumptious game warden, Matthias Hawking. Those two, you don’t want to miss.



When her sister runs away with a guy she met on the internet, a warmth-loving Miami architect chases her reckless sibling to Alaska and finds her life in danger from more than the elements. Only a stranger, a wounded warrior who is also Alaskan tycoon with a quarreling family as complicated as her own and no time for a lady in distress—let alone one who walks on her sleep—can save her from disaster. Together, two strangers from different worlds and opposite spectrums of the thermometer must unravel the intrigues that threaten their lives to chase after a new dream, together, in majestic Alaska. 


Anna del Mar writes hot, smart romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind, and satisfy the heart. Her stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass, military heroes who defy the limits of their broken bodies to protect the women they love. Anna enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the center of her stories. When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.


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On the Spotlight: The Moreva of Astoreth, by Roxanne Bland



In the world-building tradition of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Moreva of Astoreth is a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure in a unique, richly imagined imperialistic society in which gods and science are indelibly intertwined. It is the story of the priestess, scientist, and healer Moreva Tehi, the spoiled, headstrong granddaughter of a powerful deity who is banished for a year to a volatile far corner of the planet for neglecting to perform her sacred duty, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love.

Link to Follow Tour:

Goodreads Link:

Buy Links:      Amazon | B&N | Kobo 





I’ve been a fugitive from reality since forever. As a child, I constantly made up stories–some would call them lies–about my family, friends, neighbors and even strangers on the street. I had friends that only I could see. Oh, the adventures we had!

Learning to read was a revelation. Words fascinated me. Whole new worlds opened up, and since my parents forbade nothing, I read everything. Some of it I didn’t quite understand, but I didn’t mind. I read it anyway. I even read the dictionary. When I was a little older, I was big on mysteries–English cozy mysteries, that is, Agatha Christie, were my favorites. Then I graduated to horror. Whenever a new book came out by Stephen King, Peter Straub or Dean Koontz, I was first in line. I was reading a little science fiction at this time–Robert Heinlein and authors like him–but I really didn’t get into it until I was in college. The same with fantasy. I really got into high fantasy–Lord of the Rings style–in college.

During this time I was still making up stories, but not writing them down. They were private. Besides, I thought my family and friends would laugh at me. In fact, the only story I recall writing was one that won a contest when I was in elementary school.

So anyway, life goes on. I went to law school. After I graduated and entered the workforce, I finally started writing down my stories. I wrote a bit here and there, short stories that never saw the light of day (which was probably a good thing). Then I fell ill. I had the flu for a month. Bored out of my skull, I started writing a piece of fan fiction, though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I showed it to a friend of mine who suggested I finish the story.

Well, that piece of fan fiction fell by the wayside, but in its place came a manuscript that would eventually become my first book, The Underground. I absolutely adored writing it. I absolutely adore writing, period. Slipping into that alternate reality for hours on end, there was a time in my life when it was called daydreaming and I got into trouble for it. Now it’s legitimate. And that’s the best part of all.

Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook 




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