STILL WATER is in a new anthology

STILL WATER has joined nine other stories in the new horror anthology TEN OPEN GRAVES.

This collection includes:
Closet Treats by Paul E. Cooley
The Crypt of Dracula by Kane Gilmour
Eldren: The book of the Dark by William Meikle
Still Water by Justin R. Macumber
Refuge-Night of the Blood Sky by Jeremy Robinson
Dark Rite by David Wood and Alan Baxter
The Flat by Rick Chesler and Jack Douglas
Laughing Boy’s Shadow by Steven Savile
Piercing Through by RJ Fanucchi
Hunger by Jeremy Robinson

All this can be yours for the price of just $0.99! Head over to Amazon now and get your copy today!

My Top Movies Of 2015

2015 was a great year for movies, especially if you’re a genre fan like me. I’ve never made any bones over where my cinematic preferences lie, eschewing normal dramatic filmic fare for stories told across more fantastical canvases. I recognize that limits my consumption of movies, and therefore limits my perspective, but it’s a cross I’m okay bearing. I’m not the Academy, so screw it.

* It should also be noted that I have not yet had a chance to watch either The Hateful Eight or The Revenant, both of which look great enough from trailers to possibly be on this list.

Here are my top films of 2015 according to my ratings on The Hollywood Outsider podcast with the scores I gave them in parenthesis beside it:

#1 Star Wars: The Force Awakens (10/10)

#2 Jupiter Ascending (9/10)

#3 Cinderella (9/10)

#4 Ant-Man (8.5/10)

#5 Furious 7 (8.5/10)

#6 Avengers: Age of Ultron (8.5/10)

#7 Mad Max: Fury Road (8.5/10)

#8 San Andreas (8.5/10)

#9 Ex Machina (8/10)

#10 Boy Meets Girl (8/10)

That’s not a bad list, I suppose. It has some world famous movies, and a couple lesser-knowns. Of that list I want to highlight five films that meant more to me than simply a score. They are:

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#1 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I don’t need to go into this one too much, do I? I’ve probably talked it to death already. But, I do want to say how thankful I am that J.J. Abrams was able to knock this one out of the park. So much rode on his shoulders, and I’m sure there were a million moments when it could have all gone to shit, but it didn’t, and now current and future generations of fans have a movie they can be proud of. Finn and Rey, not to mention BB-8, are great new additions to the franchise, and Kylo Ren will hopefully carry on to be the greatest villain the world has ever known. We’ll see. Either way, this is a great start to what will hopefully be an amazing new trilogy of films.

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#2 – Jupiter Ascending

This movie is, for me, the Oreo cookie of movies, as it combines two things I love into one greater whole – space opera and the Wachowski siblings. I am a slobbering fan of space operas, as my eternal devotion to Star Wars attests, and for me the Wachowskis have yet to miss the mark (yes, I adore the Matrix sequels and think Speed Racer is a misunderstood masterpiece), so bringing them both together was a sure-fire hit. The visuals were lush, Giacchino’s music was amazing, and I think Kunis and Tatum were great together. Only my #1 did it better this year.

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#3 – Cinderella

Yup, a Disney movie. And not just a Disney movie, but a live action remake of a cartoon classic. That usually would be a recipe for disaster, but as Disney showed with Maleficent, it can be done, and done very well. Cinderella is further proof of that. Though the original cartoon will never be replaced, this is an amazing new take on the story brought to life by wonderful actors such as Lily James as the titular character, Richard Madden as Prince Charming, and Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother. Behind the camera, though, Kenneth Branagh’s direction was exquisite, walking the line between cartoon and reality as only he can. This is a wonderful, wonderful movie.

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#4 – Ex Machina

Alex Garland is a movie writer I’ve followed from a distance ever since the film 28 Days Later came out. It wasn’t the first movie to use fast moving zombies (I think that might have been Zach Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead), but it certainly used them to terrifying effect. He then went on to write the screenplay for Halo, a science fiction film based on one of my favorite video game franchises of all time, but sadly the production fell through. He also wrote the amazing sci-fi horror movie Sunshine. Now, with Ex Machina, we not only get Garland’s fantastic writing, but we also get his debut as a director. Ex Machina is a very dark, but also strangely human take on the idea of artificial intelligence and what sentience for that intelligence might mean. Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson (both of whom were also in my #1 pick) are great, but it’s really the slender shoulders of relative newcomer Alicia Vikander that this movie rests, and she carries it off in spectacular fashion. It’s high-minded science fiction made by a great group of people.

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#5 – Boy Meets Girl

Because The Hollywood Outsider podcast has achieved a certain level of visibility in the entertainment industry, we are occasionally asked by studios to review movies they provide to us. Since most of these requests come from smaller independent movie companies, that means a lot of cheaper, more… limited… films are put before us. That is often not a great thing (you can go see my reviews for such films at the HO website), but occasionally something special comes along. In 2015, that something special was Boy Meets Girl, a film written and directed by Eric Schaeffer. The movie is about a young transgender woman in a small town who forms a relationship with a young woman who moves nearby. It is an incredibly sweet movie, with ever moment feeling real and honest, mostly because of the work of actor Michelle Hendley, a transgender girl herself. This is a film that will upset some, and infuriate others, and they are the audience this movie was made for. I think it has the power to actually change lives.

And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed reading this. May 2016 be a glorious new year.

What STAR WARS Means To Me

Given all the chatter that’s sprung up about Star Wars since THE FORCE AWAKENS was released, I thought I’d post a little piece regarding it and my history with the franchise.

Ahem ahem…

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What Star Wars Means To Me

If you’ve heard this story from me before, please bear with me. I repeat it here now so that it’s fully and officially on the record.

STAR WARS, what we would later come to alternatively call EPISODE IV and A NEW HOPE (depending on your level of geekery), was released upon the world in May of 1977. I was four and a half years old. I clearly remember my parents taking me and my little brother Scott (he wouldn’t have even been two at the time) to the local drive-in movie theater to see it. The weather was clear, the playground up near the screen was filled with kids swinging and clambering over monkey bars, and the smell of buttered popcorn drifted through the air like the promise of a great summer to come.

Being so young, I really had no idea what the movie was we were there to see. Movies hadn’t penetrated my fledgling mind yet, nor had any books my parents read to me or shows on the television. I was a tabula rasa, just waiting for the right thing to come and spark my juvenile imagination. My joy at being at the drive-in came mostly from the play area. What little boy doesn’t love sand boxes and seesaws? But, when the sun went down, it was back to the family car to watch whatever film we’d come to see. So long as I had a small bag of popcorn and a coke, I didn’t really care what it was. But, when the projector burst to life like some sort of Asgardian artifact and that famous Twentieth-Century Fox fanfare poured forth from Angelic horns, my life was forever, irrevocably changed.

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I couldn’t read the words that floated down the whitewashed movie screen ahead of us, but sitting on the roof of my parents’ car it didn’t matter. I knew they were important by the music and the way they marched with steady purpose through a field of stars that looked so much like the stars twinkling over my head at that very moment. And then when the camera panned down to reveal a spaceship racing away as lights flashed against it, only then to watch as the vessel that followed it thundered above me like a metallic monster that grew larger and larger and larger with every moment, a leviathan hounding after a goldfish. It was amazing, and the lights reflected like stars in my little eyes.

Nothing, though, could have prepared me for the introduction of Darth Vader, a figure that haunts me to this day, mostly in various plastic forms around my office. After all the whiteness of the small ship’s corridors and the Stormtroopers that quickly poured into it, Vader’s immense blackness sent chills through me. Sitting on the roof of that car, I felt true fear for the first time. Later, when Luke and Han were doing their fumbling best to save the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen in my young life, I felt joy, and love, and excitement. When the end credits finally rolled, there really aren’t words to describe how I felt. To be honest, I don’t know if even I – after all these years – truly understand just how I felt. But I do know this – I was changed. The boy that crawled back into his parents’ car and went home to dream of heroes in white and villainous evil in black, was not the same boy who played in the sand just hours before.

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Before I move on, I need to say one final thing about the memory I just shared with you in the interest of full disclosure: I don’t know if it’s actually true. That, right there, is me being honest. I think it’s true. It certainly feels true. When I cast my mind back nearly four decades, those are the things I honestly remember happening. My mother could come along and say, “Oh, son, that didn’t happen. We saw it…” and she would probably be right. But, that doesn’t matter. Not to me. I know my truth. Real or not, those memories are what I recall when I think about Star Wars. We all have mythologies about ourselves that we create using as much truth as we can and then filling in the rest with “that’s how it should have happened” bits. For me, those shared memories are my Star Wars origin story. That is where my heroic journey began. Now on with the show…

Over the years since May of ’77 the level of my fanaticism waxed and waned. I played with all the toys when I was kid, turned my bedroom into Hoth and Endor, held X-Wings and ran through the yard with them held high as they soared after Tie-Fighters. But with each year that passed after RETURN OF THE JEDI’s end credits faded, so did my passion. I read the Marvel comic every once and awhile, and if I stumbled across some toy or item I’d never seen before I’d do my best to get it, but aside from the occasional book there just wasn’t much to keep the Star Wars fire burning. Such is the way of things.

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That doesn’t mean my love of science fiction and fantasy diminished, however. No no, my brother, not even a little. Because of Star Wars I launched into the fandom of all things nerdy with a greedy abandon. Lord of the Rings, Dungeons & Dragons, Dune, the Dragonlance novels, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek, and on and on it went. When everyone else wanted to play sports, I wanted to keep my face in a book, or play a game, or rewatch CLASH OF THE TITANS. While my friends wanted to play Rambo out in the woods, I wanted to play as a Jedi or an X-Wing pilot. It was just the way I rolled.

As I’m sure you can imagine, all this led to me to being a pretty geeky kid. And yeah, sure, there were rough moments from time to time holding that freak flag aloft. If I had a dime for every book slapped out of my hands or every “you’re such a nerd” spat in my face I could have bought LucasFilm instead of Disney. It never got me down though, because it wasn’t as if I could be any other way. Geekdom is woven into my very DNA.

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Luckily for the Star Wars fan inside me, the fires returned when it was announced that new Star Wars books would soon be hitting bookstore shelves, starting with a new trilogy to cap off the movies! OMG! Just as I’m entering college, Star Wars is returning to my life, and in a way I adore – books. From there suddenly there were new games, new toys, even new music (Shadows of the Empire rocked!). And then came the Special Editions! And more books! And then…holy frijole…EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE. Say what you want now, but back then the idea of new movies shook the world. I have plenty of issues with the prequels, believe me, but I never make myself come down and hate them. As bad as some of it is, there’s good too, like Vader himself proved possible. Star Wars was once again a cultural phenomenon. I couldn’t have been happier.

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Star Wars has been a gift to me, and somehow it never ceases to give. Of all the things it’s led me to, however, none is more important to me than my writing. The books I’ve written that sit on someone’s bookcase wouldn’t exist were it not for Star Wars. My mind was blown open at a very impressionable age, and in the decades since I’ve absorbed as much science fiction and fantasy as possible across as broad a range of stories and characters as you can imagine. And all of that, once filtered through my mind, comes out in the novels and short stories I’ve written and will go on to write. I cannot thank George Lucas enough for what he created, and when I say that I mean both Star Wars and myself. He was practically a third parent, tending to my brain while mom and dad took care of the rest.

Does that sound odd, or perhaps excessive? Maybe. But, I do think Star Wars has led to me being a good person. Because of my travels across space and time I’ve met so many different types of people, both real and imagined, and through that I became a very accepting person. I don’t judge people because of what they look like, or who they love, or who they worship. We’re all children of the same long ago stars. I try to be empathetic, forgoing fear for love, like a Jedi should. Some of this I gained directly from Star Wars, and some came through the universes Star Wars led me to. When I say I am who I am because of Star Wars, I honestly mean it. And I think it’s a good thing.

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And perhaps that’s really it. I love who I am. I love that my mind is filled with alien worlds and ancient kingdoms. I love that my shelves are crowded with Stephen King books, Marvel movie box sets, and action figures that cover the gamut of science fiction and fantasy. When someone says, “Where do we go?” in my mind I follow it up with a mentally sung, “From here…” (That’s a Buffy reference, y’all). If a person asks me who my doctor is, I immediately want to answer with, “David Tennant.” And of course when anyone says, “I’ll try,” you know I want to tell them, “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” My nerd runs deep, and it runs rough.

Some might say that all this makes it impossible for me to be unbiased when it comes to the Star Wars universe, and more specifically the movies. To them I answer, you’re right. I can’t. But that’s not because I lack the objectiveness needed to see the flaws and failings of the movies; rather, it’s because they aren’t just movies to me. They’re friends. Hell, they’re more than that – the Star Wars movies are my family. They’ve been with me practically my whole life, through good times and bad, giving me advice when I needed it, hope when I felt hopeless. I know the films aren’t perfect, but that doesn’t make me love them any less. I acknowledge all the problems with Star Wars, can understand why some might not like them, but I can do  all that without lessening my affection one iota. I don’t let the rough patches make me stumble, or get lost in plot imperfections. I accept the movies as they are and love them unconditionally just as a father loves his children, or as a brother loves his siblings. Is Jar Jar an idiot? Yeah, but he’s my idiot. Are Ewoks cool? Nope, but who cares, they’re still cute and still kill Stormtroopers. Could I have possibly written better dialogue than, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth,”? Probably. But a cheesy line has never made me love my younger brother any less, so why would it with Star Wars? For me it’s all the same.

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So there you have it. That is what Star Wars means to me. To most people it means a lot less, and that’s cool. I don’t expect them to love it as much as I do. Wish, yes, but not expect. And I understand that most people haven’t grown up with it in their lives the way I did. We can’t change how we grew up. For me Star Wars goes beyond fandom to family. I know it has its problems, but I’ll always love it, and it will continue to be unconditional.

Until next time…

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FRAGILE One Step Closer To Publication

As some of you may be aware, my latest book is a follow-up to STILL WATER, my first horror novel. FRAGILE tells the continuing journey of Maya, a paranormal investigator who also happens to have a touch of the supernatural about her. Maya is a character I adore (she might be my favorite creation), and I love getting to tell more of her story, something I plan on do more of in the years to come. Last week I finished my first editing pass, and now it’s in the hands of several beta readers who will hopefully help me make it a tighter, more entertaining book. Once I get their notes back I’ll give the book another editing pass before sending it to Gryphonwood Press. My fingers are crossed that it works as well for others as it did for me while writing it.

Stay tuned for further developments. I want to make the eventual release something special.

A BROKEN MAGIC free audiobook codes!

One of the nice things that ACX does when you produce an audiobook through their services is to give the author a number of free download codes they can give to whomever they like. I was proud of the audiobook for A MINOR MAGIC, and I’m even more proud of this one, both of which are narrated by the amazing Veronica Giguere. If you would like one of these free codes, send me a message and I’ll reply back with the code. The only thing I ask in return is that you post an honest review of the audiobook on Amazon and/or Audible.com. These codes are first-come-first-served, so contact me soon! I’ll update this post once all of the codes are gone.

Thanks for coming by, and I hope you have a great Halloween weekend!

I’m back!

Well, a year and a half after I last posted something to this site, I’m back! Why have I been away so long, you might ask? You see, it goes like this… I’m lazy, and when it comes to fixing internet issues I’m not very good at it, and around the same time as I posted the cover reveal for STILL WATER I somehow screwed up my site so that half the time you tried to get to it you’d instead get an error. I tried to fix it myself, but nothing I did helped. I then decided to redo my entire site using SquareSpace, but my laziness kicked in and I never got around to it. I was too busy working on a new novel that I later set aside to write something different, and before I knew it over a year had gone by and I still hadn’t done anything about it. Typical Justin.

So, one day I received an email from a listener of the Dead Robots’ Society podcast saying that he had started a website building company and would like to offer me his services. His name is Oscar Heller of Monstrous Designs, and after talking with him I decided to let him have at it. Now, a little while later, you can see the results of all his hard work. Now my site is focused on my books (is it crass to put all the product link stuff up top?), it’s clean and dependable, AND it’s setup so that it can be easily viewed on a mobile browser. It’s everything I wanted and more. PLUS I now have an actual store! If you want to go to Amazon and buy my books, I have links for that, but if you’d like to buy from me instead, there is a SHOP button up top that will let you do so.

Why buy from me instead of Amazon? For one, I would actually make much more per purchase than I would through Amazon. Secondly, if you want a print book, I can sign it if you so desire. If you decide to go with ebooks instead, when you purchase from me you will get a ZIP file that contains the top three ebook formats – MOBI, EPUB, and PDF. That will cover all your electronic reading needs.

And, with that, I bid you a good evening. I will be back tomorrow with more news and updates. I’m so sorry that it took me this long to get my site updated, but I promise that from here on out I’ll be much more active and on top of things. Take care, and be good.

Oh! One last thing! At the bottom of the page is a place where you can join my mailing list. I promise I will never spam you, and I’m thinking of ways I can incentivize your joining. Please sign up now, and when I have new book information to share, you will be the first to hear it!

STILL WATER cover reveal!

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Coal is the hard, black heart of the mountain town of Stillwater, West Virginia. But, far beneath it lies something much darker, an evil beyond time, waiting to rise and bathe the world in blood and fire once more. When unwitting miners dig into its tomb, only Kyle – Stillwater’s prodigal son – and paranormal investigator Maya stand between humanity and Hell. Time is short and evil runs deep in… STILL WATER.

April 22nd, 2014, is the official publishing date of my upcoming horror novel, STILL WATER. It will be available in print ($9.99) and ebook ($3.99), with the audiobook coming out sometime in late summer. I hope that all of you are anticipating this release, as I think it marks a change in my writing career. I love science fiction, and I love urban fantasy, but horror is where my heart really seems to lie, and STILL WATER is only the first of what I’m hoping will be many scary books to come. So now mark your calendar for April 22, and stick around for more news as it develops. Thanks for your interest!

“In STILL WATER, Justin R, Macumber brings all the vivid Americana of Stephen King and all the creeping evil menace of Lovecraft, to a cloausterphobic tale of horror lurking in the deep parts of the world. The plush prose pulls you in and carries you along at a mounting pace until a confrontation so bloody, you can feel the claws raking you.”
Kane Gilmour, bestselling author of RAGNAROK and THE CRYPT OF DRACULA

“You’ll want to leave the light on long after you’ve turned the final page of this dark thriller.”
Jeremy Bishop, author of REFUGE

“Justin Macumber excels in the dark. STILL WATER will trap you and never let go.”
Edwarn Lorn, author of CRUELTY

“Macumber’s STILL WATER marries Lovecraftian-dread with a character driven thrill-ride that will leave you shivering with fear.”
Paul E. Cooley, author of GARAAGA’S CHILDREN

Two New Book Contracts Signed

Yep, you read that right. In 2014 I have two more books being published. First I want to talk about A BROKEN MAGIC. This is the sequel to A MINOR MAGIC, where we find that just because Skylar was able to defeat her enemies doesn’t mean her job is done. In ABM she will be heading north in the hopes of finding someone like her, another child of the House of Gairn, to help her heal the world from the damage done to it by Sau’faen’s foreign magic. On her journey she will find what she is looking for, but it will come in forms she never saw coming, and it will take everything she has to save the world once more. I hope that if you read AMM you’re excited to read this story, and if you didn’t read it, correct that mistake now! I’m so proud of AMM, and I think ABM is even better. If these sell well enough, then I have a third book in mind to close out the trilogy. Please help me make sure that happens!

The second book that will be published next year is a horror novel entitled STILL WATER. This is my first horror story, but it certainly won’t be my last. I enjoyed writing it so much; too much, really, to ever think about not doing it again. Succinctly put, STILL WATER is about a small coal mining town in West Virginia that accidentally awakens an ancient evil that’s been slumbering in the mountains around it for millennia. As it slowly rises, the town and its people change, transformed under its terrible influence, and the only ones who can stop it are Maya, a supernatural investigator, and Kyle, a young man who once called the town home and thought he left it in his rear view mirror years before. I have plans on carrying some of these characters into future novels, but – again – I can only do that if this first one sells well. I think it’s a great book (though I *am* biased), and everyone I’ve had read it so far has loved it too.

Well, that’s it for now. Thank you for keeping up with me, and I hope that these stories sound interesting to you. I’ve poured my heart and soul into them. Hopefully soon you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy them. I’ll keep you abreast of developments as they happen.

I’m in a new anthology – DIRTY MAGICK: LOS ANGELES

Hi, everyone! I know, I know, it’s been awhile, but I hate to spam just to fill in content. I want to make sure when I post that it’s something worth reading. This most certainly applies. I hope you’re as excited as I am.

DIRTY MAGICK: LOS ANGELES is an anthology from Lucky Mojo Press. The synopsis for it reads: “Dirty Magick: Los Angeles” is an urban fantasy anthology exploring the crossroads between magic and crime. Set in the city that invented noir, these stories comb the back streets and side alleys where the shadows are so sharp they can shave you clean.”

My story for it is entitled THAT OLD HELL MAGIC, and it’s about a police detective on the hunt for a demon that has stolen souls in a night club on the Sunset Strip. Right now it’s available in ebook form for the Kindle and Nook, and soon it’ll also be available on the iBookstore and in print. When it is I’ll update this post. I’m really proud of the story, and I’m proud that it’s featured in this anthology. Please click on the links below and purchase your copy today. It’s at a great price point.

Thanks, and I’ll be back soon with even more great news!

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Purchase for the Kindle

Purchase for the Nook

A New Venture – TV Talk

I am a big fan of television. Perhaps too big a fan, some might say. I always have been, ever since I was a kid marveling at the adventures of Michael Knight and KITT on Knight Rider, and over the past several year TV has been responsible for some of the greatest storytelling I’ve ever seen (e.g., LOST, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Breaking Bad). When Aaron Peterson asked me to be on the co-hosts on his The Hollywood Outsider podcast I jumped at the opportunity since it meant I would get to chat weekly with people who were just as nerdy about movies and television as I was. But, recently I was presented with another venue for my love, and I wanted to tell you about it in case you’re as geeky about TV as I am.

As their site properly states, TV Talk is the hottest new brand in second-screen TV entertainment. Using their app — which is available for iOS and Google mobile devices — you can listen to 20 minute chats between two knowledgeable hosts as they discuss what happened on your favorite show, speculate about what’s to come, and present intriguing questions of the week to get you engaged and interacting via the app. It is a completely free service, so don’t worry that you’re going to be charged anything. Get the app for free, pick which shows you like to watch, and it will download the TV Talk episodes for you. That is pretty easy! And it’s totally free!

Now, I will be co-hosting two shows for TV Talk. They will be Grimm and Sleepy Hollow. Grimm returns to television October 25th, so there will be a little while before we start talking about it, but Sleepy Hollow premiers September 16th, which is just over a week from now. Aaron, whom I mentioned earlier, is hosting that show with me, and a premier episode has already been released in which we talked about the original Washington Irving short story, what we know about the upcoming show, and how they relate and diverge from one another. I sincerely hope you’ll give it a listen and then try more TV Talk shows.

Anyway, that’s all from me for now. Please check out TV Talk and then let me know what you think. I wouldn’t have joined up with them if I didn’t feel like it was a quality service. I’m confident you will too. Click on the image below to get started.

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