Interview With Rachel Griffin


Meet Rachel Griffin.

Rachel Griffin is the author of the upcoming The Nature of Witches, releasing from Sourcebooks Fire in 2021, with a second standalone novel to follow in 2022. When she isn’t writing, you can find her wandering the Pacific Northwest, reading by the fire, or drinking copious amounts of coffee and tea. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, dog, and growing collection of houseplants.


The Interview.

Hi Rachel!
Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Rae! Thank you so much for having me. I’m the author of the upcoming The Nature of Witches, releasing from Sourcebooks Fire on June 1, 2021, with a second standalone novel to follow in 2022. I love to write stories inspired by the magic of the world around me.

I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and have a deep love of nature, from the mountains to the ocean and all the towering evergreens in between. I adore moody skies and thunderstorms and hope that more vampires settle down in my beloved state of Washington.

On my path to writing novels, I graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelor of Science in diagnostic ultrasound. I worked in healthcare for five years and taught ultrasound at my alma mater before making the switch to a small startup. I’ve been mentoring in Pitch Wars since 2017 and now write full-time from my home in the Seattle area.

When I’m not writing, you can find me wandering the PNW, reading by the fire, or drinking copious amounts of coffee and tea. I live with my husband, small dog, and growing collection of houseplants.

From sonographer to PR and social media to full-time writer. How has your background and the experiences you’ve gotten to have influenced you as a writer? Has it helped with goal keeping? Time management? Networking?

Absolutely! Practicing ultrasound meant I was with patients during some of their happiest moments, as well as some of their worst. And being with people when they receive either wonderful or devastating news certainly impacts how I tell stories and write those kinds of moments. It was a tough job, but I’m thankful for the connections I made during that time.

I thought I’d be amazing at time management when I started writing full-time because I was so used to cramming my writing in on evenings and weekends, but it was actually the reverse! It was so easy to procrastinate and not get any work done when I knew I had a full eight hours to write, so I had to develop a strict routine in order to get words on the page. I’m very dependent upon my planner, and I schedule my days out consistently to make sure I’m being as productive as I need to be.

How many drafts did your debut, The Nature of Witches, go through before being seen by an outside reader that wasn’t a family member, significant other, or close friend?

I drafted the book on my own, then did one revision before sharing it with critique partners. And even then, I only shared it with people I have a ton of trust in. I’m very private with my early work, and it’s important to me that I share it with people who I know will give me constructive feedback and try to see the story for what I want it to be.

After that, I did another round of revision, then I sent out it more broadly. For me, I know it’s imperative to my creative process to protect my early work, so that’s how I do it!

Magic and nature – how closely do you believe they are linked and how has that viewpoint/belief shaped your debut?

In many ways, I think nature is almost indistinguishable from magic, and that informed by debut a ton. Nature, weather, the Earth, so much of it feels like magic already, so it was easy for me to turn that up and imagine it as an expressly magical thing. I absolutely loved coming up with the magic system and imagining what kind of power and temperament each season would have—it was one of my favorite parts of writing this book!

If you and your main character Clara were sitting drinking tea and watching a thunderstorm, what would be a secret she might share with you? Or perhaps you with her?

I love this question! I think she’d share her fears about being “too much”; too sensitive, too emotional, too in her head. I share those same fears, so I think we’d really relate to one another and be able to curl up and assure the other that they aren’t too much of anything. We’d feel seen and understood, and hopefully we’d both walk away from that conversation reevaluating if the things we see as weaknesses are actually strengths instead.

From the first draft till now, what was the biggest bump on your publishing road so far?

It was definitely my querying journey with this book. For those of you who don’t know, querying is when you send your manuscript to literary agents in hopes of finding someone to represent your work. Then your agent is the one to submit your book to publishers. (This is how it works for traditional publishing, anyway! Self-publishing follows a different process.)

I parted ways with my first agent a couple months before I finished this book, so I had to query again. My first time querying only took me about a month to find representation (even though that book didn’t sell), but it took me almost a year to find representation for The Nature of Witches. I did two large revisions in that time and received a lot of rejections before signing with my current agent. It was so hard at the time, but the revisions I did made the book so much stronger, and I’m really thankful for how it worked out; I love my agent and she’s an incredible champion for my career. It just took a while to find her!

If you could go back and change anything that you had done from starting that first draft to now, what would you change? What would be something you tell yourself?

The book changed so much from the first draft to the final product! In the first draft, there weren’t witches; there were people called “seasonaries” who had a special connection to the weather, but no real magic. After I made the change to witches, there were several things I avoided doing in the manuscript because they were a lot of work and I was sick of revising, so I just didn’t do them and hoped no one would notice. 😂 But they were changes that made the book so much stronger, and when I finally did them, they took the manuscript to the next level. So I’d tell myself to just sit down and put in the work, because the book will be so much better for it.

Real life vs. Writing: What is your daily writing routine? Do you write all day? Only when inspiration strikes?

I rely very heavily upon my routine to keep me productive! I write Monday through Friday and tend to do administrative tasks in the mornings; then I write in the afternoons because that’s when I’m most productive. I’m a firm believer that most books get written not in bouts of intense inspiration but in the routine of sitting down and doing the work, even when we aren’t feeling inspired. If I only wrote when I felt inspired, I’d never finish a book!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

The Nature of Witches holds so much of my heart, and I’m so excited to share it with you! It’s a love letter to the Earth, and it contains so much of my awe for the natural world. But it also shows how change can be a beautiful thing, follows a girl learning to love herself, and includes a romance that explores what it feels like to fall in love with someone who sees you exactly as you want to be seen, all themes that are deeply important to me. It releases on June 1st, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world!

The Nature of Witches comes out June 1st!

Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?

Guest Review: Vortex Street


Guest Review by: Kailey Tedesco

Kailey Tedesco is the author of She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publishing), Lizzie, Speak (White Stag Publishing), and the forthcoming collection, FOREVERHAUS. She is a senior editor for Luna Luna Magazine. You can find her work featured in Electric Literature, Black Warrior Review, Fairy Tale Review, and more.

For further information, please visit

The Review

Let Yourself be Swept into Heather H. Thomas’ Vortex Street

In a labyrinth, a vortex represents a choice. You’re in the center of a maze. You’re spiraling. You’re confused. All passageways say “exit”, but you know it’s not that easy. You must choose or else find yourself back where you started.

In Heather H. Thomas’ Vortex Street (FutureCycle Press), the reader is guided on a temporal journey through memory and witness where all paths lead back to the starting point, and the starting point is in a constant state of manifesting new paths to follow. All that are lost are eventually found, but the found will then continue to re-seek lostness dutifully. It is a collection that begs the reader to question the comfort of nostalgia so that the entirety of the self might be viewed objectively. In the ekphrastic poem “Voyage” inspired by Magritte’s “L’Evidence Eternelle”, Thomas writes:

As though parts of a body can suggest

            what is missing, a child and her father

sing open a spot where the parts

            reassemble and walk forward,

carrying themselves.

The speaker of these poems is acutely aware of & influenced byher ancestors, both biological and spiritual. She conjures apologies and confessions from deceased or missing relatives in order to create closure so as to continue the path of understanding the self in relation to those who surround her. In “Letter My Father Never Sent Me”, the poet writes: “All those years you were just across the bridge. You had a new / father, new name. Why interfere? How could I, having failed to give /your mother a cent” and later, “Look, there’s a war going / on. People getting killed by the hundred thousand, guys sweating it out / learning life, death, and God in the air…”

By adopting the persona of an absent father, the speaker exercises an act of empathy crucial to this collection as a whole. By removing the self from the self, the speaker briefly rectifies her relationship with her father by examining the possible trauma that may have led to him causing further pain. This insistence on interconnectedness is vital & woven into every poem. Further, the poet interrogates the way place and upbringing inform our ideas of family. In the poem “Pagoda”, Thomas writes:

            A poet becomes emperor of ice cream

and my parents split. The closed door where

a poem takes the place of a mountain.

Closed door that takes the place of my father.

Through masterful language & tone, the poem makes a direct allusion to the poet Wallace Stevens and then immediately ties this allusion to the speaker’s own familial background. Throughout the book and in the Notes section, it becomes clear that the poet briefly lived in the home where Stevens was born in Reading, PA.  Later, this same poem reads:

            I’m attached to my father because

his body was conjoined with my mother’s

before he was erased and

            When he died, we did not separate.

I am not this thing a hungry ghost

with my neck as thin as a needle’s eye

and my stomach the size of a mountain —

This home is then a place atavism for the speaker. The inhabitants behind the closed door of the house, in both past and present, inform her identity and her desire to understand the voices and ghosts of those who surround her as a way to insist that she is not a ghost herself. She is working on her own story through the stories of others. Here, to understand the past’s mingling with the present is to understand the significance of life.

And while this childhood home certainly holds significance, this collection also rejects the idea of home as a place. Instead, home becomes the practice of conjuring memory and bearing witness to all other existence. Vortex Street is also not a home, but a place to be visited or passed through. It seems to exist along the river of the speaker’s geographical upbringing, but it is also a place where the speaker “follow[s] the map / of your voice / divergent, convergent” and finds that those who inhabit Vortex Street have “defeated old ghosts / and stayed.”

These words come from one of six postcards from Vortex Street, each dated with no year. However, this particular postcard shares a date with a previous one: 4/13. The first of these April 13th poems reads: “The trees are for you, / the whole of their wideness // blooming magnolia.” In this haiku, the poet communicates succinct images suggesting growth and spring. Yet, on the later April 13th postcard, perhaps from the same day or perhaps from years before or after, there is a lack of trees — only darkness and ghosts. Something has been lost and so it becomes imperative to “[find] a flashlight and [go] / looking for [ghosts] again.”

Ghosts haunt the pages of Thomas’s collection. Sometimes they are guiding and sometimes they cautionary. In the poem “Oblivion”, the poet writes:

            Stone faces in my house tell their harrowing stories:

I got out but I lost my wife.

The men forced my son to watch. I never saw him again.

I crawled from a ravine where they’d thrown a pile of bodies.

Here, survivors of war and immeasurable pain speak of their trauma. They testify as the speaker listens, sometimes recording their stories in her “reporter’s notebook.” All of these stories become woven into the walls of the many homes the speaker inhabits and into the very infrastructure of the poems the writer records. The aforementioned poem continues: “Inside, the living / room brims with fish and fresh water. Everyone is coming in to eat, / drink, live on in the space after I disappear.”

A book of knowing and clairvoyance, Vortex Street is a testament to the existence of the living and the dead. It is a collection about survival through an examination of those who survive to tell our stories. It is a reminder that even behind closed doors, there are others witnessing our stories, recording them, validating our existence through understanding, even if that understanding is “Brief as a negative / held to the light.”

Thomas is a phenomenal poet, and so naturally Vortex Streets is a phenomenal collection that blends varying structures and language that is reflective of both modernist and contemporary sensibilities. Through a voice uniquely her own, Thomas weaves each striking image into the reader’s body & bones so that all who engage with this work are swept into the vortex, joining the chorus of prophetic and reflective voices that echo in this collection.

Heather H. Thomas is the author of six poetry collections, including Practicing Amnesia, twice a finalist in the National Poetry Series; Resurrection Papers; and Blue Ruby. Her honors include a Rita Dove Poetry Prize and a Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry. Thomas’s poems have been translated into seven languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Lithuanian, and Spanish. An award-winning teacher, Thomas is devoted to sharing the creative and healing power of poetry. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Blog Tour: By the Book

Blog Tour, Misc.

By the Book

By Amanda Sellet
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 12th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Mary Porter-Malcolm has prepared for high school in the one way she knows how: an extensive review of classic literature to help navigate the friendships, romantic liaisons, and overall drama she has come to expect from such an “esteemed” institution. Her love of literature even inspires her to imagine herself the heroine of a nineteenth-century novel. Not the sort who makes poor life choices and ends up dying of consumption while still in her teens, but the noble, virtuous, quick-witted type.
When some new friends seem in danger of falling for the same tricks employed since the days of Austen and Tolstoy, Mary swoops in to create the Scoundrel Survival Guide, using archetypes of literature’s debonair bad boys to signal red flags. But despite her best efforts, she soon finds herself unable to listen to her own good advice and falling for a supposed cad—the same one she warned her friends away from. Without a convenient rain-swept moor to flee to, Mary is forced to admit that real life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction and that if she wants a happy ending, she’s going to have to write it herself.
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Guest Post

Meet the Characters



Being a reader means spending a lot of time in your own head. Mary is a person who thinks and feels deeply, but can sometimes be a step behind in picking up real-world cues. When the story begins, she’s caught between two conflicting ideas of herself. The first is that she’s less interesting than her siblings, and therefore easy to ignore. At the same time, there’s a little voice inside her (which I think most of us have) that whispers about a more exciting future, when she will make her mark on the world. She’s waiting in the wings, almost ready to step onto the stage – and she’s not 100% sure she knows her part.


I have known a handful of Ardens in my life. There is a warmth and energy and openness that almost makes you take a step back, like whoa; this person is plugged into a different frequency. It’s like they didn’t get the gene that makes the rest of us grumpy and judgmental, so they go through life looking at other people like they’re all lined up in a bakery window, one delicious surprise after another. Being generally optimistic doesn’t mean Arden can’t be hurt, however.


If the fabled Emperor showed up in his “new clothes,” and the rest of the world was fawning over his non-existent threads, Lydia would be the first to say, dude, you’re naked. She can be brusque and intimidating, but she’s also fiercely loyal, and will definitely threaten to cut anyone who goes after her friends. The tricky thing is that her toughness can make it hard to see the vulnerability underneath.


If you surveyed a group of teens, most of them would probably say that being beautiful would make their lives easier. That’s not how it works for Terry. As a person who is shy to an extreme, attention is the last thing she wants. Quiet and analytical by nature, she’s comfortable in a small group but not looking for more. Of the four friends, Terry still has the farthest to go in terms of accepting herself and having the confidence to make her own choices.


Having learned at a young age that charm is a potent weapon, Alex knows how to smile and flirt, working the blue-eyed-boy thing to his advantage. As Mary gradually learns, that doesn’t mean he’s superficial, or only wants to take the easy road through life. Alex is also a loving brother with a sneaky sense of humor who is quickly intrigued by things – or people – who surprise him.

About the Author

Debut author Amanda Sellet had a previous career in journalism, during which she wrote book reviews for The Washington Post, personal essays for NPR, and music and movie coverage for VH1. These days she lives in Kansas with her archaeologist husband and their daughter.

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Prize: Win a copy of BY THE BOOK by Amanda Sellet

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Ends: May 20th 2020

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Blog Tour: Last Girls

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Last Girls

Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: May 5th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
No one knows how the world will end.
On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own.
Prepare for every situation.
But when danger strikes from within, putting her sisters at risk, training becomes real life, and only one thing is certain:
Nowhere is safe.
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Guest Post

Flawed Main Characters

Of all the characters I’ve written, and there’s been quite a menagerie over five books (published and unpublished), Honey Juniper is my most flawed. She’s also my most treasured. That’s not to take away from her sisters Birdie and Blue who come with their own flaws (well, Birdie more than Blue. Let’s be honest), but Honey’s flaws hit a special note with me. Here’s why.

A friend once invited me to a full moon circle led by a psychic. Once there, this psychic, who was more astute than I ever imagined she might be, told me with a big breath of certainty and confidence that I was ruled by Responsibility (Big R) and Aggression. At first, I was shocked. Me? I’m a nice person, I thought. I care so much about other people. But then I realized these weren’t necessarily bad things. Responsibility means I get the job done. True. Aggression, in my psyche, is something I turn against myself more than others. It stems from frustration with certain situations for which I feel a lack of control. Honey is the same. A rule-following Aquarius with a sarcastic inner monologue, Big R Responsible might as well be her middle name. A position thrust upon her not just by being the oldest sibling, but from internal past wounds and external expectations. And until you learn why, you don’t understand her obsessions and beliefs. Honey takes responsibility for herself and her sisters at all cost. She is too quick to judge, as evident by her threat assessments. And extremely guarded, to her own detriment, which is why when she finally lets her guard down with Rémy it feels, at least to me, so satisfying. But it’s that balance between her flaws and attributes that made her such a pleasure to write. Honey is guarded, but she’s also an intelligent, unique, caring, and level-headed protector. She can admit when she’s wrong, a characteristic I deeply value in people. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as you experience her character arc. And root for Rémy, too, while you’re at it. Sometimes, it’s another character that teaches us the most about ourselves and that’s certainly true for Honey Juniper.

About the Author:
DEMETRA BRODSKY writes twisty thrillers about dark family secrets. She is an award-winning graphic designer & art director turned full-time. A native of Massachusetts with a B.F.A from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Demetra now lives in Southern California where she’s always exploring and researching, looking for clues to things that might feed into her next book. She is a first generation Greek-American and a member of International Thriller Writers. Dive Smack, her debut YA Thriller, is a 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection, an (ALAN) Pick (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE), and a Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book for Young Adults for Spring/Summer 2018.
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Prize: Win (1) of (3) copies of LAST GIRLS by Demetra Brodsky (US Only)

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Ends: May 13th 2020

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Author Interview: Loriel Ryon

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Loriel Ryon.

Hi Loriel! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Loriel Ryon.pngLORIEL RYON has long held a passion for science and books. During her childhood she was often found with her nose in a book, even at the dinner table. Now a writer of middle grade and young adult fiction, she finds that her stories are often influenced by these two interests, as well as her upbringing in a bicultural family. Loriel is a registered nurse who holds bachelors degrees in both nursing and biology. She currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband and her two daughters who also share her love of reading. Her debut middle grade novel INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS will be published by Margaret K. McElderry Books in Spring 2020.

Social media links.
Twitter: @lorielryon


The Interview.

What is the biggest change you’ve noticed since announcing your book’s publication acceptance?
That nothing much has changed. Haha. I’m a mom who is mostly home with the kids wiping noses and doing laundry. I also work as a registered nurse part time. It still doesn’t quite feel real, like I may wake up and realize it was all a dream. Publishing is slow and seems to happen in spurts. So it’s a lot of silence and waiting and then a flurry of activity and deadlines. During those flurries there is excitement and drama, but during the waiting periods, there is only one thing to do. Write something new and put another load of laundry in the washer.

What do you think is the hardest part of the process from writing to revising to final edits?
For me the hardest part is deciding when to cut something that started out as an important framework to get me through the drafting process, but isn’t really serving the overall story anymore. I hate to say goodbye to something I spent so much time researching and working on. My gut tells me it served its purpose and needs to go, but it’s hard to delete all that work. This is why betas, critique partners, agents and editors are so important to help me see what isn’t working. They can give me the permission I need to let things go.

Does your writing style, and or routine, change depending what age you are writing for?
I can answer this two ways. First, my writing routine hasn’t changed in a long time. I haven’t been consistent at getting up early or staying up late to write. I’m really good at writing during the middle of the day. (Ha! That’s my best time of day!) But it probably will have to change soon. My youngest will probably give up her nap soon and that is when I write, so I’m going to have to find a new routine when that happens. In terms of the age I write for, I’ve also dabbled with some picture books and Young Adult, but right now, I find I keep returning to the upper Middle Grade age range. That was such a formative time in my life and I would have loved books that would tackle tough issues head on with love and compassion. All of my protagonists tend to be of this age range right now.

Depict your debut, Into the Tall, Tall Grass into 10 words – go!
*Ok, ten words is very hard, so I’m not counting the filler words! 🙂
Girl embarks on magical journey through the desert to save her dying grandmother.

If you could add any magical element into your daily life, what would you pick?
Teleporting. Loading up my kids day after day in their car seats is exhausting and repetitive. It would be so nice to not have to do that, and end up where we need to be. Also, it would be better for the environment and let’s be honest, we all need to do more for our planet.

Is there any particular scene or character in Into the Tall, Tall Grass that energized or exhausted you?
I love all my characters, but Yolanda’s sister Sonja was especially fun to write. She is fierce and daring and seems so confident, but she also has her own insecurities and issues she’s grappling with that her sister (and the reader) isn’t fully aware of at first. I love her passion for the outdoors and her loving nature.

If you could warn your younger writing self about one thing, what would it be?

The books you read have gone through a MILLION revisions before they get published. Ok, maybe not a million, but a lot. Don’t compare your first draft to the published final product. I am still learning how the publishing and editing process works as this is my first time through it and I had NO IDEA how much work goes into making this happen. Just keep revising. With each revision the story gets stronger and clearer. And better.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. I lacked the confidence to even start writing until I was older and I wish I would have started younger. It sounds silly now, but I was terrified someone might actually read what I wrote! It’s a waste of time to not try to pursue something you enjoy because you are afraid. Just jump on in. If you fail, at least you’ll never regret trying.

Thank you Loriel for stopping by today!

Into the Tall, Tall Grass is available now!

Blog Tour: Wicked As You Wish

Blog Tour, Misc.

WICKED BOOK COVER.pngWicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic #1)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 3rd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
An unforgettable alternative history fairytale series from the author of The Bone Witch trilogy about found family, modern day magic, and finding the place you belong.
Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.
Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.
Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.
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About the Author
Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.
She is represented by Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency. She is also fond of speaking in the third person, and may as well finish this short bio in this manner. While she does not always get to check her Goodreads page, she does answer questions posed to her here as promptly as she is able to.
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Giveaway info below!

1st Prize: Win a signed copy of WICKED AS YOU WISH by Rin Chupeco + 3 character stickers (Alex, Tala, and the firebird) + 2 character cards (Alex and Tala) [INT]

2nd Prize: Win (1) of (3) character stickers from WICKED AS YOU WISH (Alex, Tala, and the firebird) + character cards from WICKED AS YOU WISH (Alex and Tala) [INT]

Starts: February 26th 2020

Ends: March 11th 2020

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