Power Word: Create

When was the last time you visited a museum or attended a concert? Visited a historical site? Ate at a great restaurant? The draw of all these activities is rooted in our desire to experience that which stirs the senses, whether it be sight, taste, sound, smell, or touch. The people behind these experiences, the painters, musicians, architects, or chefs, all have one thing in common – they create.

Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

The word ‘create’ is simple, yet powerful. Everything that surrounds us is a result of an act of creation. From the first moments we discover the use of our hands, we create. As children, we spent a great deal our energy creating crayon art, play dough sculptures, sand castles, digital worlds, Lego worlds, and endless stories.

As adults, we have less and less time to spend in carefree acts of creation. I find this sad, but I’m guilty of it as well. Ever since I shifted my writing from something I did as a hobby to a career, that element of carefree play has been lost. Each time I sit down to write or edit something, it’s to meet a deadline, a goal, or a career milestone.

That said, I still enjoy the act of creating new ideas and putting those ideas into a story. There is a rush of fulfillment and joy every time I get to hold a new book or anthology in my hands for the first time. Finishing a project that has taken weeks, or months, or even years is an emotional thing.

Happy mommy otter

Using ‘create’ as a power word means to remind myself how much I enjoy the process of writing. It’s a reminder to make progress on other creative projects, like the half-finished crochet Totoro that’s been stuffed in a box. It’s gentle encouragement to try something new.

Ultimately, the joy that comes from creating art; whether it be visual, edible, or word driven, can’t come from any other pursuit. It’s the ability to look at something with pride and say, “I made that.”

What are you going to create today?

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This post is part of the Power Words series.

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Power Word: Discover

Have you ever watched a toddler walk through a park? The first thing you’ll notice is they don’t walk. They stop every few steps to bend and look at something. Every moment is engaged in the adventure of discovery. Each rock, bug, and flower is a source of wonder and amazement.

“Look!” They call. “Look, look, look!” Their excitement is infectious.

As grown ups, as we are wandering the world on our own, how often do we truly look anymore? We’ve seen dandelions and ladybugs hundreds of times. What is left to see?

This is why I’ve chosen the word ‘discover’ as one of my power words this year.

Dewdrops on a ladybug

The word ‘discover’ is full of the excitement of curiosity and the possibility of seeing something new. Our world is filled with undiscovered and unappreciated wonders. Each flower holds its own unique beauty. Each sunrise is its own play of light and color. Sometimes we need to slow down and simply take the time to look.

For some, this act of slowing down and taking time to look is difficult but needed. We often get caught up in the business of getting things done. There are always lists of chores and errands that follow us wherever we go. Taking that extra second to allow our curiosity to take charge is time where we get to breathe and live in the moment.

For me, to discover means to allow myself to try new things. Sometimes it’s a book or movie I’ve been curious about but not something I’d normally chose. Sometimes its taking my kids to a new park we’ve found while driving somewhere else. Sometimes its experimenting with a new recipe in the kitchen. Each of these acts brings the potential of experiencing something new; a new idea, a new view, or a new taste. Each exposure to something new helps us redefine ourselves and what we enjoy.

This act of being very conscious about the act of discovery also means giving myself permission and time to follow random thoughts and bursts of creativity and see where they lead. The more I’ve allowed the act of discovery to guide my work, the more creative impulses come my way. This not only has influenced several of my writing projects, it’s created opportunities and opened doors.

It is my belief that we are all creatures of curiosity. By allowing ourselves time and permission to be childlike in our pursuit of discovery we can find a deeper appreciation for the world we live in, and in turn find happiness.

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Power Word: Simplify

Modern living tends to be complicated for most and downright chaotic for some. It’s easy to allow the sheer numbers of chores, to do lists, job responsibilities, social media, and hobbies become overwhelming.

Which is why I’ve chosen the word ‘simplify’ as one of my power words this year.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

‘Simplify’ means to keep reminding myself that I can only do one thing at a time. Worrying about everything else needing to be done accomplishes nothing.

It means, while dozens of different things can fit in each day’s planner square, I can only do what I have time for.

It means choosing tasks that are important first and making progress or finishing them, then moving on.

It means not taking on new projects unless there is reasonable space in my schedule.

It means not obsessing over things that don’t matter and accepting that good and finished is much better than perfect and never done.

It means finding new ways to streamline processes to be more efficient and rewarding.

And finally, it means to make sure I’m doing the simple things to take care of me.

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What does the word simplify meant to you in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Don’t miss it!

Stonebearer’s Betrayal received another amazing review over at Reading for Sanity: A Book Review Blog – go check it out!

Also, my article about my journey from writing hobbyist to author, “Never Settle, Never Give Up,” went live on the Always the Journey blog, run by Jason Woodland.

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Power Words of 2019

No, this isn’t a goal writing post. I swear it. No one wants to read yet another one of those. Besides, it’s mid January, trendy goal-setting posts are not allowed past this point.

This is totally a motivating “set your intention” mindful living kind of post.

And I’m all about motivation!

This year, I didn’t want a set of structured goals looming over me. It’s not that the goals aren’t helpful – structured goals are a powerful tool – it’s that I tend to get carried away with the details and that causes anxiety. If I create all those details, then there’s the pressure that I might get it wrong. Instead of spreadsheets of detailed goal planning, I’m embracing a single word:

‘INTENTION’

As a busy mom, everyday brings with it a new set of challenges. Instead of fighting the never ending tide of changes and feeling like I’m constantly behind or missing out, or doing it wrong, the focus instead will be on what I want as the desired result.

It sounds super hippy, that’s why I like it. It’s not going to solve my problems, just my mindset. And a healthier mindset can move mountains.

In addition to reminding myself to live each moment with intention, I’ve created a series of power words to help focus that intention from day to day.

For this year, these words are the following:

In the morning, somewhere between making breakfast and checking if everyone’s teeth are brushed, I take a moment and consider my day and the challenges I might face. One of these words will best encapsulate what I need to focus on and I stick it to my monitor as a reminder.

Stay tuned, every third Wednesday of the month is now power word day here on the blog, where I discuss what each word means to me and how it has helped me work toward my goals.

A huge thank you to Jenelle Stone for her class on power words and goal setting, I loved it!

Do you use focus words? What words do you find powerful? Share in the comments below.

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Love fantasy and sci-fi? Go check out the Fantasy and Sci-fi Reader’s Lounge over on Facebook. Everyday new authors visit the page to talk about their books and also their favorite fantasy and sci-fi. Even better, there are lots of contests and giveaways of the freshest fiction. Go check it out!

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Just posted today! My article “What to Expect when you are Expecting … a Book” is over at James Thomson’s blog, The Wayside. Go check it out!

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2018 Reading List

While lots of people spend hours, if not days, deciding on goals for the new year. I spend days figuring out my reading list. It’s a very involved process that includes pouring over “Books You Must Read Before You Die” lists, searching through releases by fellow author friends, and finding the lost desperate papery souls on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list.

51jWBJa-X-L._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_Then there’s all the hot new books from 2017 that I probably missed… When you’ve got kids home more often than not, quality reading time is hard to find.

Out of the fifty or so titles making up the preliminary list, only twenty-four can survive the final cut. Twelve fiction. Twelve non fiction. Could I read more? Yes, absolutely. However, the best part of the reading experience is spending time sinking into a story and relishing each page. I can’t do that if I’m stressing out about finishing in time.

January’s selections are Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style – reviews to come, stay tuned!

2018 (Mostly) Fiction Titles. Drum roll, please:

Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Man from Shenandoah – Marsha Ward
Heroes of the Valley – Jonathan Stroud
A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
Looking for Alaska – John Green
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan A Safran Foer
Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan
Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
Never Let me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

2018 Non Fiction Titles. Kazoo chorus, please:

The Question of God – Armand M Nicholi, Jr
Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy – David Gerrold
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Stiff: Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach
Lucifer Principle – Howard Bloom
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves – Lynne Truss
Power Cues – Nick Morgan
The Gift of Fear– Gavin De Becker
Rules for a Knight – Ethan Hawke
Be Different – John Elder Robison

3264344How about you, dear reader? What titles have made your “Must be read” list this year?

Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think?

Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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Reading List for 2015

Last year at about this time I announced that I was going to read twelve books from the BBC’s Big Read List of 2003. I had so much fun plowing through these gems that I intend to challenge myself again, but with a much different list.

This year I will read some of the best that speculative fiction has to offer. Some of these books have been around for awhile and I’m ashamed that I haven’t picked them up sooner, and some are still fairly new.

Either way, I’m excited to dive in!

Here’s is this year’s list:

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
  2. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
  3. Everneath – Brodi Ashton
  4. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
  5. Redshirts by John Scalzi
  6. Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
  7. Under Heaven – Guy Gavriel Kay
  8. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  9. Existence – David Brin
  10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
  11. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett
  12. A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. Le Guin

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What are you planning to read this year? Share in the comments!

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Also – I’m still taking names for feature posts in the future, this includes writers, artists, cosplayers, and musicians.  If you, or someone you know, would like some shameless self promotion, let me know!

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4th Quarter Reading, Done!

Here with only a few days left of 2014 I’m proud to report that I finished the last book of the year this morning at 2:45 am. Now I’m not saying that I stayed up reading all night, although I liked the last read enough that I could have – my youngest woke at 1:30 throwing up and I couldn’t turn my brain off afterward. Ahh, the joys of too many ideas and not enough time.

Here are this quarter’s books-

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Somehow I escaped reading this in school, and it’s a shame too because I’ve heard references to parts of this book and it’s characters all my life and never realized it.  If I were to pick a favorite element I would chose the character of Atticus Finch, the father of Scout and Jem and also the town attorney. He is a brilliant example of what it means to lead by example.  His high standards and sense of morality are enviable and something that is lacking from much of the world today.

Dune, Frank Herbert: Ok, I’ll admit, I cheated a little here.  Dune is a massive tome of dense writing that even the most seasoned writer needs to pick through carefully.  It’s fascinating and a good read, but time consuming. I read the first section, which still was over 300 pages and intend to read the rest at my leisure later. This is one of those books that has redefined what is possible in the world of science fiction and is a prime example of how to do world building right. I only wish I would have picked it up earlier, this would have been a perfect example when I was creating my own fantasy world.

A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute: At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, the story didn’t take off right away and for the first twenty or so pages the reader has to wade through the narrator helping a gentleman settle the articles in his will. Not too exciting. Things pick up when we get into the story of Jean Paget, who inherits the estate. We first learn about her experience as a prisoner of war to the Japanese in Malay where she, and a group of women and children, was forced to travel by foot from town to town because no one wanted to take them in. I love stories of survival against the odds, so this was great. The rest of the story is devoted to how she spends her inheritance by first digging a well and washing house for the town that finally took them in at the end of the war, and then making improvements in a derelict town in Australia where her love interest has a cattle station. It is a story of perseverance and grit and one that I truly enjoyed.

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I had a great time reading these books off of the BBC Book Challenge and hope to find equally good reads for the coming year.

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Did you have a favorite read this year? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Get your Fantasy Fiction Fix

ID-100212922Let’s face it, we are all very busy people. Sometimes that translates to not having time to do the things we love. I love reading. Ever since I was a kid, I found that I would rather hang out within the pages of a great book than with real people.

I really miss having endless hours of reading time.

I never realized that there would be so many demands on my time. From caring for the kids to caring for the house and yard to attempting to become a world class author (hey, we all have dreams), there is hardly time to breathe some days.

This is where I love short fiction, and even better, having it delivered to my inbox like a little present. Here is a list of great places to go to get a mini reading fix during the day.

  1. Tor.com – For those who love Tor books, here is where to find their ongoing series of short stories They don’t have an email service, but their twitter feed @tordotcom will provide you a link when they release a new story. They publish 1-2 stories a week.
  2. Daily Science Fiction – This includes more than just science fiction, they also include fantasy, slipstream, and other speculative fiction topics. When you subscribe they will send you daily stories in you inbox.
  3. Every Day Fiction – Like it says, this is also a email service that sends out daily stories to your inbox. These stories can come from any genre and are a great way to be exposed to different types of writing. They are also all flash fiction, meaning under 1000 words, so they are fast reads.

Where do you go to get your reading fix? Tell us about it in the comments!

Image “U.f.o” by dan courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Legends and Lore Blog Tour

LegendsandLore_blogtour500pxFresh from my new favorite publisher, Xchyler Publishing, comes another awesome anthology LEGENDS AND LORE. I’m showing my bias here, because I’ve had the chance to work with their editors. These guys know their stuff and find great stories to share with readers everywhere.

Check out the different stories and authors below and be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom for a chance to win some great swag.

Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

Delve into myth and legend, where the Fates force post-modern man into a world of the unknown—a world long since dismissed as ignorant superstition.

The Brother-Sister Fable by Alyson Grauer: a young boy disappears into a realm where only his sister can follow.

Faelad by Sarah Hunter Hyatt: Claire Whitaker didn’t even know she was Irish, let alone The Morrigan, the goddess of war.

By Skyfall by Emma Michaels: a mer-couple from Atlantis find themselves in the middle of a human murder investigation.

Charon’s Obol by. R. M. Ridley: Jonathan Alvey didn’t believe in gods, until he helps a lost child find her all-powerful parents.

Peradventure by Sarah E. Seeley: a jinni must choose between the woman he loves and destroying the city that persecuted her.

Natural Order by Lance Schonberg: when Carlos Vasquez is kidnapped, he discovers powers within himself to change the world.

Two Spoons by Danielle E. Shipley: A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron.

Grail Days by A. F. Stewart: Living forever has its drawbacks, especially when you spend it clearing away the messes of other immortals.

Downward Mobility by M. K. Wiseman: they say love conquers all, but can it save a Valkyrie when she breaks all the rules?

Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportion
Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson GrauerAlyson Grauer

Alyson Grauer is a storyteller in multiple mediums, her two primary canvases being the stage and the page. On stage, she is often seen in the Chicago area, primarily at Piccolo Theatre, Plan 9 Burlesque, and the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Her nonfiction work has been published in the “Journal for Perinatal Education” for Lamaze International. Her short fiction can be found in Tales from the Archives (Volume 2) for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and in one other anthology from Xchyler Publishing, Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology. Alyson is a proud graduate of Loyola University of Chicago and hails originally from Milwaukee, WI. Her debut novel, On The Isle of Sound and Wonder, will be released in November 2014 from Xchyler Publishing.

A Dash of Madness: A Thriller AnthologySarah Hunter Hyatt

Sarah Hunter Hyatt grew up outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. As a child, she kept notebooks of stories that she would share with her little sisters at bedtime. Now, an adult, her stories have matured but still occupy her thoughts (and notebooks). “Faelad” is Sarah’s second short story for Xchyler Publishing, her first being “Stunner” which appeared in A Dash of Madness: a Thriller Anthology. Along with writing, being a mom to three wonderful kids, and a wife to a patient husband, she also dabbles in graphic design.

Emma Michaels

Emma Michaels is a cover artist, blogger, and author of the Society of Feathers series. Her love of blogging started when she created a book blog in 2009 which gave her the courage to finally submit her own novels to publishers. Emma Michaels’ publications now include Owlet and Eyrie (Tribute Books), Holiday Magick Anthology (Spencer Hill Press), and Cirque d’Obscure Anthology, and Cogs in Time Anthology (Crushing Hearts Black Butterfly). To find out more stop by http://www.EmmaMichaels.com

Tomorrow Wendell, Book 1 of The White Dragon Black seriesR. M. Ridley

R. M. Ridley lives in rural Ontario on a small homestead, raising a menagerie of animals, including a flock of sheep and a swarm of foul. He has been writing stories, both long and short, for three decades, the themes of which range from the gruesome to the fantastical. As an individual who suffers from severe bipolar disorder, Ridley is a strong believer in being open about mental health issues because myths should be kept to stories. Ridley’s first short story featuring Jonathan Alvey, “A Case for Custody,” appeared in Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology (2013), followed by Tomorrow Wendell, Book 1 of the White Dragon Black series (2014). He has two works slated for release in 2015, including Books, Bourbon, and Blondes, an anthology of White Dragon Black short stories, and another full length novel, Book 2 of the White Dragon Black series.

Sarah Seeley

Through two wonderful mentored research experiences, Sarah E. Seeley had the opportunity to work with dead sauropods and ancient odonates while acquiring her undergraduate degree in geology from Brigham Young University. She hopes to study more dead things in the future and contribute to scientific discussions about what makes life on Earth so amazing. In the meantime, she explores the bright side of being human by writing dark fiction. Sarah’s independently published works include Maladaptive Bind and Blood Oath: An Orc Love Story. Another short story, “Driveless,” appears in “Leading Edge Magazine” Issue #66.

You can learn more about Sarah on her writing blog at www.SlithersOfThought.com.

Lance Schonberg

In the middle of lecturing one of his children on the importance of following dreams, Lance began to wonder why and when he’d stopped following his. Gathering up a few salvageable shreds of unfinished stories, he began his first novel. He’s written several novels and many shorter works in the years since, and has had twenty or so stories see publication. At any given moment Lance is working on a novel and at least one short story—probably more—most of which fall into the broad buckets of science fiction or fantasy.

Lance can be found lurking on his blog at www.lanceschoberg.com, on Twitter as @WritingDad, and sometimes even on his Facebook author page.

Danielle E. Shipley

Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. . . . Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble.

Danielle blogs at www.EverOnWord.wordpress.com.

A. F. Stewart

A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A.F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being dark fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author she’s published novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry and nonfiction. Stewart’s first published work with Xchyler Publishing, “Our Man Fred,” appeared in Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology (2013).

SMechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthologytewart is fond of good books, action movies, sword collecting, geeky things, comic books, and oil painting as a hobby. She has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.

M. K. Wiseman

M. K. Wiseman is a librarian who recently decided that it would be fun to try her hand at the creation of books instead of mere curation. A ‘method’ writer, she likes to first try out the worlds that she builds. This has, admittedly, led to some strange results. (For example, she once elicited funny looks at her daily coffee shop by adopting a British accent for one day. We’re all in trouble once she decides to write a space novel.) Wiseman’s first short story for Xchyler Publishing, “Clockwork Ballet,” appeared in Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology (2013).

In addition to the dozens of stories currently marinating on her hard drive, she maintains two blogs, Flying the Blue Pigeon and Millicent and Rue.

 Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

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3rd Quarter Reading – Done!

We are swiftly sliding into the last few months of the year and I’m proud to report that I’ve keep up with the goal of reading one book a month from the BBC Book List Challenge.  This last quarter’s reading was both fascinating as it was diverse. The hardest read, due to its sheer length and complex structure, was Cloud Atlas and it still doesn’t hold a candle to Midnight’s Children in terms of how difficult it was to get through.

Here are this quarter’s books –

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell: Even after finishing this I’m hard pressed to say what it’s about.  There are several story lines ranging in the timeline from the 1800s to an unimagined future.  Each story shares one or two tiny elements from the other so in the end they are all connected in small ways.  I had really hoped that somehow these stories would converge into a single cohesive story, but in my mind they didn’t. That considered, Mitchell is a genius. Each story is so vastly different from the others that had I not known otherwise I would have assumed that there were multiple writers, each a master at their chosen time period and genre.

Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald: I’ll admit having watched the recent movie incarnation with Leonardo DiCaprio might have tainted my experience of reading the book. Instead of seeing the story through the words of Fitzgerald I saw it through the artistic lens of Baz Luhrmann.  This isn’t a bad thing, just unfortunate because Fitzgerald has such a wonderful way with words and being able to envision them myself would have made reading the book a different experience. The book captures the essence of Gatsby, his strengths, his vulnerabilities, his desperation to get what he wants, and paints him through his actions.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irvine: I’ve been looking forward to reading this, after so many people have told me that this is one of their favorite books of all time. I’ll agree that it is a fascinating character study. The reader is shown small pieces of Owen Meany, his oddness, his single-mindedness, his devotion to his best friend.  As the book reaches the end these pieces begin to click together until we see a portrait of this man who is completely different from what we expected. It’s brilliantly written and pulls the reader in as they along with the characters try to learn the truth.

Here are the rest of this year’s picks, feel free to read along with meto-kill-a-mockingbird-by-harper-lee-profile

  1. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  2. Dune – Frank Herbert
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

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