Monday, January 20, 2020

Sorority Rush

We survived sorority rush.

I say “we,” because even though Banana Girl was the one who went through it, the rest of the family was intimately involved with the stress, the wondering and the strategizing during the two-week process.

I’m glad it’s over. I’ve never been a fan of the process, although things are much different now than when I was in college. The Princess has benefitted in many ways by being a sorority sister, and I expect Banana Girl to do the same.

I’m proud of her, for sticking to who she is and not trying to bend into a pretzel in order to fit in somewhere. She went with her gut, which never fails her. She over-strategized, but don’t we all? And in the end, she’s part of a sorority that wants her for her, that wants her to be her genuine self, and that wants her to be comfortable.

It’s all I, as her mom, could ask for. And the happiness in her voice when she talked to us makes the two weeks of stress worth it. I think.

But I’m very glad we never have to go through this again.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Welcome Mia Lansford

Mia and I have known each other for years. You need to get to know her too!
***
Waves hello to anybody reading this, and I’m sending a big—but slightly crooked—hug to Jennifer for having me as a guest on her blog today.

During the holiday season I rewatched The Man Who Invented Christmas. It’s about Charles Dickens’ finding the idea and the funds and the sacrifices he endured to write his popular book A Christmas Carol. In the movie he goes out into the town to find his inspiration amongst the townspeople. I love that movie and could talk about it for hours.

Not now though, because I’m talking about my inspiration. It’s similar to Mr. Dickens process, at least the Dickens portrayed by Dan Stevens.  

I write contemporary romance and have one book out in the wild and another about to be released. Both of them are set in New York City, and both of them have disabled characters. For this series, inspiration comes from people who are doing the impossible. Like Walt Disney said it is kinda fun to do the impossible. Seeing a painting created by a painter who uses their feet because they have no hands is inspiring. Or attending a performance and the performer is deaf. Or attending a sporting event and the athlete has a disability.  These people motivate me to create a world where the focus is on their ability to do.

If it’s not obvious, I am disabled too and over the years I have done plenty of things deemed impossible for me to do. Recently I drove to an out-of-state vacation destination and on the way, I stopped for gas. The driver in the car next to me mouthed “OMG! She drove!” so clearly it was almost comical. And so fun to fold back into my car and drive away. To show what the disabled are able to do is probably my catnip. 

As I mentioned, for this series the above inspired me to write stories focusing on people’s abilities rather than their disabilities. This new series has nothing to do about abilities and everything to do with their job and where they work.

Sorry but that’s all I’m giving away about that series until I know what I’m doing with it. 

The point, my inspiration is found through the people I meet or see while I am doing the everyday task of living. What they are doing with their lives and whom they allow in their world. Since I write romance, I’m also inspired by people who do for others. The soft heart and capable of understanding especially for a male character is a winner in my book. And speaking of my books thank you for reading about what inspires me and I hope you enjoy this short excerpt from my upcoming release, It’s Gonna Be Real.  


Bio: MIA LANSFORD is an own voice and diverse author who writes about the disabled and the men or women able to love them. She lives with her family and adventurous beagle. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually learning a new crochet stitch and using said new stitch in her latest project.

***


EXCERPT
With Reese on his right, the ear he had zero hearing in, he knew there was no danger of her spotting his aide. Still, he was annoyed with himself. After months of perfecting an aloof and distant air in the theater community, he was blowing it in one afternoon. On one woman!
            Aw, hell. This was getting complicated.
“When is lunch with your dad?” And personal.
“Seriously?”
He offered a sheepish shrug before nodding once. She crossed her arms at the same time as she crossed her long legs, drawing attention to her delicious body. His mouth went dry from the view. Giving himself a mental shake, he forced his gaze off her legs and onto her lips, which had formed a pretty pout and were not helping his libido. Unfortunately, he’d have to deal with it, because the only way to continue a conversation with her on his deaf side was to read Reese’s lips. 
“Umm, the rules apply for you too,” she informed him.
Swallowing hard, he nodded before murmuring, “Touché.”
“I’ll only answer if you tell me: boxers or briefs?” she replied.
“With how often you ask questions, you shouldn’t be encouraging said rules.”
“Mmmm, I think I should. This is too much fun.”
Fine. She wanted to play? Game on. He cocked his head and raised his eyebrow slightly. And waited. Reese wasn’t stupid. She’d catch his meaning soon. 
Her adorable mouth opened and her eyes widened. Yep. She understood. Her deep intake of breath caused him to laugh.
“Okay fine. I asked for it. Not that I believe you’re commando.”
He shrugged, refusing to deny or confirm anything. “You’re fishing.”
“Can you blame me? Rhetorical questions do not count,” she said admonishing him with a glare. 
Amused, he nodded his acquiescence.
“When is the lunch, Reese?”  
“Any minute now,” she replied, sucking in her breath. Her tone sounded…gloomy? From the sadness in her eyes and tight smile, he’d guessed she wanted to see her dad but she also wanted his approval. Alessio swallowed, resisting the ache in his chest to pull her close. 
Didn’t matter because he couldn’t help her. The cast would be performing while she talked to her dad. And after the negative publicity from the other night, they could use a successful performance.  
“You shouldn’t go alone. When Alec gets here, ask him to go. I’m sure Mary won’t mind.” He didn’t have a clue if Mary would mind. He barely knew her.
“No, Mary wouldn’t. But I would mind asking for a loan in front of Alec. If my dad turned me down… Well, I know Alec. He’d offer to help.” 
If she took money from Alec, she’d no longer feel like an equal partner, especially since the brothers’ owned the building. 
“I get it,” he replied. 
With the conversation turning too personal, he slouched on the bench and crossed his legs at the ankles. Silence reigned between them while they each were lost in their thoughts. Later, he would realize how comfortable he was sitting next to Reese without doing much else.  
While Alessio sat there, he mentally reviewed the business plan he had seen for RAM Café. A cozy and casual café serving organic teas and coffees and foods, sounded like a solid business, especially in New York City. But what about someone like Mr. Kelley, who hadn’t seen the plan and wanted something safer for his daughter’s future? Would he dismiss the venture? Or worse, would he deny the loan and leave Reese feeling alone and abandoned by her family? Alessio clenched his teeth, not liking that outcome for anyone after what his mother did to him.
            “And…there’s my dad.” She tilted her head and pointed.
            After everything he heard about Mr. Kelley, Alessio couldn’t help feeling protective over Reese. He looked in the direction of the restaurant’s outdoor tables. If she meant the lanky guy with gray hair who wouldn’t stop pacing, Alessio could understand her defeat. From here, his attitude radiated annoyance, impatience, and fear. His hand in his pockets shook hard enough to see from this distance. Speechless, Alessio’s gaze slid back to Reese. 
            Rubbing the inner part of her arm, she stood. “I better go meet him before he calls. Break a leg, Alessio.”
            Knowing she was putting on a brave face for his sake, Alessio waved a goodbye. 
            “Reese.” She stopped walking and glanced over her shoulder. Why the hell did he stop her? Groping for any reason other than the truth, he said, “After, come find Alec and tell him about the lunch. He’d want to know.”
            “Alec, huh?” she teased, her smile turning flirty.
Yeah, okay fine, he wanted to know. Perhaps she wasn’t the only curious cat. Refusing to show her teasing bothered him, he slouched further and cupped his hands behind his head.
“Hey, Alessio,” she said motioning to his waistline. “I like your black boxers.”
His eyes dropped to his stomach and the edge of exposed underwear. 
“There’s a penalty for lies,” she hollered, her tone mischievous.
You bet there is, honey.
“Looking forward to it.” He smiled cockily and raised his eyebrows to her challenge. 
And he knew without a doubt he wasn’t lying. Which was either the craziest mistake his cautious ass could ever make, or the most brazen truth he’d ever spoken. He swallowed hard, knowing it was a combination of both.  

Buy Links: 
amzn.to/380NUhy - Amazon Kindle
            bit.ly/36UqFFE - Barnes and Nobles
            bit.ly/3a9dCCp - Kobo



Monday, January 13, 2020

I Think We’re Doing It Wrong

My husband and I have adjusted pretty well, I think, to having both girls away at school. We still have things to talk about, we enjoy spending time together, and we don’t get on each other’s nerves any more than we usually do. At least, I think that’s true.

But our latest “couple time activity” might need some work. We’re cleaning the basement together. 

Now, he’s a packrat and I’m not. This has always been a point of contention between us, but after more almost twenty-five years of marriage, we’ve learned to compromise. I keep my mouth shut about all the things he wants to save, he lets me get rid of things when the stuff piles up and starts to drive me crazy, and periodically, we take on a project of cleaning things out. We pick our battles, and it works.

Last time, it was the garage. He didn’t want to clean it out, but I might have precipitated the project by my own method of cleaning it—using a leaf blower to clean, and in the process, cover EVERYTHING with dust. Oops. Not the smartest, but definitely an effective, way to get the garage cleaned.

The basement was less dramatic. I’ve been telling him for months that we really need to clean out the storage area, and he’s agreed. It was just a matter of finding the time. Most couples decide to devote an hour or two a week to going out on a date night, or watching a movie together, or having an adventure. We’ve declared Sunday mornings Basement Cleaning Time. Like I said, I think we’re doing this wrong.

So we started. Last week, we cleaned out the luggage area, and found bags and suitcases that we each got for our high school graduations. Miraculously, we parted with them, and found people to donate them to. This week, we started sorting through storage containers. We still found things that predate our marriage, but some of that is actually worth saving (shh, don’t tell my husband). I convinced him to get rid of things he was saving for “someday we might need it” and he convinced me to save things “because I’m already giving in on other stuff.” Like I said, compromise.

We’re in the early stages of cleaning, so it really doesn’t look like we’ve accomplished much. Hopefully, someday. In the meantime, if you have any better ideas for “couple time,” I’ll gladly take them.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

What inspires me… 

When I asked Jenn if I could slide into her blog to help promote my newest book, she told me to write about something that inspires me as a blog post.

I have to tell you honestly, I sat at my computer for an hour before anything popped into my head. And even then, none of the things that did seemed right.

I write romance stories, mostly romantic comedies and books about families and all the warts and foibles that make each family – and each romance – individual and special. So, you might ask, doesn’t the concept of romanceitself inspire me?

Kinda. I mean, it’s fun to think up scenarios and meet cutes, then take the characters and put them through the emotional wringer before allowing them to be together. But that’s not the impetus, the real reason I write romances. A romance, in and of itself, isn’t what inspires me to pen them.

Well then, is writing about family my inspiration?

Again, the answer has to be kind of. The family structure is the backbone of civilization and society, but not all families are comprised of people who are related to one another by DNA. I’ve written a bunch of books where friends make up what are truly the bonding glue - the family -  in the protagonist’s life and not her blood relatives. So family is only a part of it.

I thought long and hard about this topic, folks. A few cups of tea and a brisk walk on the treadmill later and it finally came to me; what truly inspires me; why I write what I write.

It’s the capacity for human beings to believe in the concept of a Happily Ever After.

It’s not a myth, that HEA, despite what some will tell you. It real. It’s not a mythical unicorn or a tagline developed by Walt Disney to scroll at the end of his movies, but a living, breathing entity that we only have to glance around to see truly exists.

How else can you explain the overwhelming monopoly the romance book market holds in fiction sales? The financial success of RomCom films? The market share for the Hallmark channel from its never ending Holiday Romance Movies? In books, on television, at the movie theater, people want to see stories about finding an everlasting love, a Happily Ever After. 

People believe in a Happily Ever After. They yearn for it. Despite what the divorce statistics show us, and maybe even because of them, we still want to find our soul mates and believe we can, no matter what obstacles sit in our way. That’s the very concept and definition of faith, isn’t it? 

I believe we can, too, and more: I believe every person deserves their own HEA. Everyone deserves to be loved and adored, cherished and cared about. Despite all the darkness in the world, the light of an HEA burns brightly for everyone.

So, Jenn, thanks for giving me the impetus to discover this about myself!


Blurb:
Elite bodyguard and P.I. Rick Bannerman's job is to protect. He doesn't get emotional with his clients, but when a woman from his past is threatened, his next job becomes personal.

Family lawyer Abigail Laine is the target of a client's vengeful husband, but refuses Rick's offer of protection. He walked away from her four years ago, and she swore to forget him.

Now her reluctance to accept his help could cost Abby her life.

Excerpt:
“Right there.” She aimed her fork at him as if it were a spear. “Perfect example. You know I hate being called Abigail. I’ve lost count of the hundreds of times I’ve told you and you still do it, knowing it pisses me off. And”—she cut him off before he could speak— “your usual response is to lift your hands and say ‘and still’ when you’re called on it. Who does that? What kind of person persistently and purposefully annoys people?” 
“So you’re saying I’m intentionally annoying?” 
“Persistently, so. Yes. Makes the lawyer in me wonder why.” 
Just the lawyer? “Any answers come to mind?” 
“Plenty.”

“Care to share?”

She placed her fork down next to her plate and regarded him across the table. “You really want to hear this? Because if you know anything about me, you know I’m truthful. I don’t hold back.” 
Oh, he was sure she didn’t. And wouldn’t. Her tenacity was one of the things he’d first been drawn to. 
That and her fabulous ass. 
“I’m a big boy,” he said with a grin. “I can take it. 
She took a sip of water first, her eyes trained on him the entire time. “Okay. If you really want to hear this.” 
He waved his hand for her to continue. 
“I think you use your cocky, aren’t-I-simply-too- witty attitude to keep people at a distance.” 
Purchase Links:


Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-pride-of-brothers-peggy-jaeger/1135068636

apple books (i-books) https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-pride-of-brothers-rick/id1488238197

books-a-million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Pride-Brothers/Peggy-Jaeger/9781509229369?id=7423724839353



Biography:

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer!

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, Peggy is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at peggyjaeger.com where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"

Social Media links:

Website/Blog: http://peggyjaeger.com/


Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00T8E5LN0










Sunday, January 5, 2020

My Resignation

I don’t tend to air my grievances publicly, and in my professional life, I stay out of most conflicts and drama, preferring to observe before I draw conclusions. However, in this case, I have decided to speak out.

After careful consideration, I have decided to withdraw my membership from my national writers organization, the Romance Writers of America. As a result, I will no longer be able to maintain my membership with my local chapter, the New Jersey Romance Writers, since membership in the national organization is required.

I do this with a heavy heart. However, I can no longer be involved in an organization that repeatedly treats writers of color and of diverse backgrounds as less worthy than its white writers. I have watched the national organization make significant and egregious errors multiple times, and each time I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt, since no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. However, despite giving it numerous chances, it continues to treat marginalized writers poorly and show a preference for white authors.

I won’t stand by and watch that happen. There is entirely too much hate in this world for me to let this go by unchecked. I won’t pay money to support an organization that does this. There is guilt by association, and I do not want my continued membership to be looked upon as tacit agreement or complicity in its actions. Therefore, I am announcing to my fellow writers and readers that I am no longer a member of the Romance Writers of America.

I hope to be able to join them again in the future, when and if they overhaul their practices. I have truly appreciated the wealth of knowledge and experience the organization has given me. And I’ve loved meeting so many talented writers. But until the organization changes its practices in a measurable and consistent way, I’m on my own--but in very good company.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Welcome Fran Thomas

When I was growing up in PA, in fourth grade we studied how the Spanish came to Florida. I never dreamed I'd eventually move here, but something about their story must have spoken to me. A classmate and I wrote a play about two children crossing the ocean. I like to joke that we only wrote it so we could play the two lead roles. I played the brother since I was taller than my co-author (I never grew much after that). Our cast included all of the girls in our class (the tallest girl was the captain of the ship) and none of the boys (we were nine years old, after all). I don't know if we had costumes, but we did have props (I was supposed to stick a knife in a door and picked up a plastic fork instead, earning me an unintended laugh). After the boys sat through our opus, we performed it for the fifth graders too. This is the first writing I remember doing. Sadly, I don't have a copy.

I wanted to write a romance for a long time and started several. I knew nothing about plotting, so every time I got stuck in the middle and didn't finish. Finally, in 2016 I was determined to complete a book. That ended up being the first book in my Calusa Town Tales. These are set on a small island in the Gulf of Mexico suspiciously similar to the real island where I live. 

Stylin' with the Art Teacher is the fifth novella in the series. I'm pretty sure it will be the last, but anything could happen. In the meantime, I'm planning to start a new series after the first of the year. Stay tuned.


Blurb:
Astrid Jensen loves teaching art to the children of Calusa, but she has ambitions beyond the classroom. She wants to bring her colorful designs to the attention of Florida fashionistas. No matter what it takes.
Spencer Hall is a self-proclaimed control freak. He got burned collaborating with people who valued the almighty dollar over artistic integrity.
It won't happen again.

Excerpt:
It was the middle of hurricane season in Calusa, but not a cloud marred the bright blue sky.

   Astrid Jensen pulled her red convertible into a parking space at Calusa Town Elementary. Since school was starting the following week, all the teachers were on the small campus on an island off the coast of Florida for an in-service day. On this mid-August day, Astrid was grateful the school rooms were air conditioned.

   Just inside the front door, she was greeted by Will Thompson. The jovial principal beckoned her into his office. “All ready for a new year?”

   “I can’t wait to see the students. I’ve been thinking about all the ways I can encourage their creativity.” She loved being an art teacher. Elementary school kids were eager to draw and paint. They hadn’t yet learned to censor their innate creativity.

    "That’s what I wanted to talk with you about. I hired a new fifth grade teacher who happens to have a background in theater. He wants to start a playhouse here in Calusa.”

   Astrid nodded politely, not sure what that had to do with her. “That’s a great idea. I’m sure the town would support it.”

   “The thing is, he’s new to town and doesn’t know anybody. I was hoping you’d introduce him around. I know the golfers and fishermen, but I’m not that much into the arts. You met a lot of people by judging the painted poles, didn’t you?”

    Astrid had been on the committee to choose the designs that now enhanced utility poles all over town.  “I suppose I did. Sure, I’ll introduce him to folks.” A little shy and fairly new to town herself, she didn’t relish this idea. But Will was her boss. What was she supposed to say?

   “I knew I could count on you. He’s already in his classroom. Let’s go.”

   Will tapped on the partially opened classroom door and poked his head inside. “Gotta minute? There’s someone here I think you should meet.” Stepping to one side, he let Astrid precede him into the room. “This is Astrid Jensen, our art teacher. You mentioned you’d be looking for someone to help with set painting once you get your theater group up and running. Astrid, this is Spencer Hall.”

   Astrid’s violet eyes widened in surprise. This guy looked as if he belonged on a football field, not a stage. Even though she was tall, she had to look up to meet his gaze. His school polo shirt hugged a muscular torso. Her extended hand was swallowed up in his firm grasp. 

   “I’d be grateful for your help. I’m hoping to put something in the local newspaper after Labor Day to find out if anyone’s interested.”

   Well, he certainly had the voice for theater, smooth and resonant. His words were carefully articulated. No southern drawl, so he must be from up north. What would possess someone like him to come to little ole Calusa, of all places?


Bio:
Pittsburgh native Fran Thomas never meant to move to Florida, but Fate (and her husband) had other ideas. A stint as the editor of the local newspaper gave her plenty of material for her novellas.


http://www.amazon.com/dp/B08273KSDD

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Welcome Cynthia Tereist!

Hello from Down Under
Recently, after a twenty-year hiatus, I took up writing again with the intention of publishing a novel. I came into the industry completely blind. I thought writing a book was just that – writing a book. How wrong I was.
I had a lot to learn. When I finished writing my novel, I did four rounds of self-editing. I googled as much as I could about what to look out for in my writing, what I should omit, what I should add. Before my research I knew nothing about the concepts of show don’t tell, redundant words and using all of the senses. I remember writing this unspectacular paragraph:
The view was breathtaking. We had a better viewpoint of the river from here and could see how it was contained between the cliffs before widening again.
When I revised it, it became this:
I sucked in a breath as I examined the view. There was a mixture of undulating hills and craggy cliffs making their way down to the river, their sharpness changing to a delicate softness as they met the horizon. Shadow and light played off the dips and curves of the hills, reminding me of paintings of naked ladies by French artists from years gone by, voluptuous and sensual. The cliff faces varied in colour from a steely grey to a rich rust. The shadows defined their sharp edges and ruggedness. The river cut its path between them, contained by the ancient layers of sedimentary rock, before widening out again.
Like I said, I had much to learn.
After self-editing came beta readers. Another concept that was foreign to me; people who read your novel and tell you where improvements can be made i.e. something that confused them, parts where they found the story slow, or a particular part they enjoyed. I studied hard, made a list of questions I wanted answered and found some readers. Their feedback was invaluable. Then came another round of self-editing.
It took FOUR months to get to this stage.
Editing Wow! Who would have thought there were so many different types and so many editors to choose from. More research was on the cards. Then came ordering a cover – in line with best sellers, writing a blurb that would draw readers in, designing a website (what a challenge), setting up social media accounts, creating a newsletter, joining promos and newsletter swaps to get subscribers, being active on all platforms, setting up a pre-order, finding a proof reader. AND THE LIST GOES ON.
I read other author’s posts and learnt as much as I can from their successes and failures. There are many great resources and a whole bunch of authors who are helpful. Some days I go to bed with my head spinning, not having written a single word.
So, when I thought all I needed to do was write a book, I was completely wrong. Being an indie author is so much more than that.
Regardless of the hard work, when someone reads your book and enjoys it, it is rewarding. What is even more rewarding is knowing that I have turned out a quality product.
If you would like to give a first-time author a go, please click on the link below.



***
BLURB
One van. Two hearts. Thousands of kilometres.

Jesse’s a self-made billionaire who yearns to get away from his empty life and the money-hungry parasites who inhabit it. The plan? Go to Australia, tell no one about his money and find himself. Instead of finding just himself, he finds Evie, who is everything anyone should aspire to be. Now, what he aspires to be, is hers. But to be hers, he needs to tell her everything.

Evie has left her past behind. She has rebuilt herself, and her life, into one of happiness. After she meets Jesse, while volunteering at a cat shelter, memories of her past filter back in. She is stronger now and wants to trust him. But after all she has been through, is trust even possible? It feels like a never-ending push and pull battle.

The quest to find a cat a forever home leads them to travel across the country together. Can the close quarters drive them to open up to each other? Or will it drive them apart?

BIO

Cynthia Terelst is a contemporary romance writer who likes to share a little bit of history, some Australian scenery and a whole lotta love. Cynthia does not shy away from difficult topics, as she feels that they should not be ignored.

She lives in Queensland, Australia, where the sun shines at least 283 days a year.

EXCERPT
I turned my board to the incoming waves, waiting for the prefect set. As soon as I saw it, I paddled hard. I stayed ahead of it with enough time to compose myself. 
Popping up, my feet settled firmly on the board. My stomach lurched as the momentum of the wave spurred me on. I took the right shoulder and rode the wave in. Exhilaration soared through my body, mixed with a sense of being. I was lost in that moment of becoming one with Mother Nature. All other thoughts left my mind.
The wave petered out, and I paddled back to the line-up. Sitting, watching, waiting. The constant breeze in my ears and the sound of waves breaking relaxed me. Lulled by the gentle rise and fall of the swells I thought about Evie.
She was one of the most complicated people I’d ever met. Whatever she had been through had made her strong and independent. But underneath she was all doubt. I could see her trying to be brave, but that could change in an instant as her insecurities took over. I felt like it was a fight between Nick and me, and I didn’t even know the guy. I didn’t know how to beat a ghost. But I would. I would figure it out, and I would gain Evie’s trust, bit by bit. 

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