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Archive for the ‘Canonbridge’ Category

                                 Photo and Bio courtesy of her publisher, Canonbridge, LLC
Today on writer Wednesday we have another debut author with her first book coming out from Canonbride, Cathleen Holst.  She can be found on her website, Facebook, twitter, and her blog.
BIO: Born and raised in Atlanta, Cathleen Holst is a “Georgia Peach” whose stilettos are firmly planted in the South.  She has no desire to relocate anywhere good old fashioned sweet tea is not readily available.  She lives just outside Atlanta with her extremely patient husband, their three children and two rambunctious dogs.  Although her love of literature is not confined to one particular genre, it has always been the “feel-good” stories that have resonated with her. Calling her stories “chick-lit” does not offend her in the least.  For her, these delightful easy reads are as perfect as the cherry sitting atop a banana split.  Her debut novel, The Story of Everleigh Carlisle, will be released in November of 2010.
JS:  Thank you for joining me today, Cathleen.  It’s a pleasure to have you.  When did you begin writing, and did you always envision being an author?
CH:  Writing is something I’ve always loved doing. Even as a young girl I remember writing stories, but it was something I always kept very private. I remember writing a short story for my history class during my sophomore year of high school, which I based on the Salem Witch Trials. Ms. Ray, my history teacher, returned the stories and had written a note on the top of my paper that I will never forget. In red ink she wrote, “You’re a great writer.” The seed was officially planted, but I never thought seriously about writing until I read a book (that I will leave nameless) in 2009 that I really enjoyed. The story was great and highly addictive (I literally could not stop reading). The writing, however, was mediocre at best, and I thought if writing like that could get published, than certainly mine could.
(JS:  Hmm, I wonder what book that is.  😉 )
JS:  What have been the most rewarding aspects of being a writer?
CH:  The feeling of such accomplishment I have once I complete a novel has to be one of the best feelings in the world. Second to that, (and I can only imagine) when a reader tells you how much your book means to them. I know I adore my books and each one has touched me in some way or another. I can only wish that after reading my book, the readers feel the same connection to the characters that I felt.
JS:  The most challenging?
CH:  I would have to say the most challenging thing, for me, is finding good blocks of uninterrupted writing time. My mother-in-law has been so helpful in that respect and watches my four year-old a couple days a week for me. That is such a huge help. But on a technical note, that would have to be the outlining process. I find it almost impossible to outline before I start writing. I will get an idea and just start writing like mad, but inevitably stall around the third or fourth chapter. That’s when I start outlining or really what I like to call my “what if’s”. I’ll take my idea and twist and turn it in as many different directions as I possibly can until I get something I like.
JS:  Tell me a little about your book, “Everleigh in NYC.”
CH:  Oh dear. This is something I have yet to master, how to tell a little about my book without reciting my five-page synopsis…articulately. Let’s see if I can do this. It’s about a small town girl with big city dreams who mistakes one dream come true for the real thing, while letting the other walk away.
JS:  Can you tell us a little more about how you conceived the story?
CH:  I wish I had some type of prolific answer like how the story came to me in a vivid dream, or I was sitting on train and had this sudden burst of inspiration, but sadly I have none of that. I literally had no idea what I was going to write about when I began. All I knew was that I had this burning desire to write something…anything. I had no outline, no plot ideas, not even the name of a single character. I just started typing the first thing that popped into my head. And that’s how Everleigh was born.
JS:  When you write, do you always know where you are going, or do your characters lead you in their own directions?
CH:  In the beginning I usually have a general idea of how I want the story to progress, but it’s not long after that when the characters take over and I just follow their lead. If I don’t listen to them, they tend to get very angry and will stop speaking to me for a while. Just recently my MC stopped speaking to me for a couple of weeks. She didn’t care about my looming deadline; the only thing she cared about was that I was trying to make her do something she absolutely did NOT want to do. I got the hint and things are flowing smoothly again and she’s quite happy.
JS:  What advice do you give to budding writers?
CH:  I’ve said this before, but if writing is what you want to do never stop writing and don’t let rejections get you down. It’s all part of the business. John Grisham, Stephen King, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and countless others…they’ve all received rejection letters and after receiving mine I was now a member of that club. That’s some great company to be in. If you want it bad enough, it will happen. Don’t let a few “no’s” stop you from pursuing your dream. Another piece of advice I would give is to take your time when writing your first novel, and get as much HONEST feedback as you can. That means stepping outside your comfort zone and sharing your writing with others who are not close friends (unless your close friend is also a writer) or relatives. It may be painful sometimes, but believe me it will help you grow as a writer. I received a comment about my writing once that almost had me in tears, but once I calmed down I realized everything this person had pointed out was spot on. In the end it was the best comment I’d received.
JS:  What were some of your favorite books when you were growing up?
CH:  When I was a young girl I loved “Amelia Bedelia”. But as odd as it sounds, as I got older I didn’t read much. If ever. (maybe I shouldn’t say that.)
JS:  What’s a typical day like for you?
CH:  I try to wake up as early as possible. I tend to be most creative in the early morning. That doesn’t last long, though. With three kids (two who are school age) and a husband, the house begins to stir early. Once the kids are off to school and my husband is at work, I try to squeeze in as much uninterrupted writing as I can before my youngest wakes up. Then it’s off to the races with breakfast, countless juice refills, lunch, laundry, cleaning the house, grocery shopping and somewhere in there I fit in my workout and a shower. It’s madness, really.
JS:  How long does it generally take to write one of your novels?
CH:  For my chick-lit novels, anywhere from six months to a year. Historical fiction, those tend to take a bit longer due to the time needed to dedicate to research.
JS:  How many have you written?
CH:  I have four works in progress. Of course, at the moment I’m only concentrating on “Everleigh in NYC”. Aside from that I have “The Pink Dress Collection” which will be a three-part series (that I cannot wait to get back to) and two historical fictions.
JS:  Can you tell us more about your journey?
CH:  It’s been quite a ride. I’ve had several setbacks during the time I was writing this book. The biggest was the death of my father. He passed away before I could tell him I was writing. I wanted to surprise him once the book was complete. Now I’ll never have that chance. Aside from that, it’s been amazing. When I sat down in front of my computer to write something all those months ago, I never in a million years thought I would be sitting here answering questions trying to promote my debut novel. I feel like I’ve won the lottery.
JS:  Prada or Gucci?
CH:  Yes, please.
(JS:  Ah, a girl after my on heart.)
JS:  Is there anything else you’d like to say?
CH:  I would just like to thank you, Jessica, for taking the time out of your own busy schedule to interview a fledgling novelist like me. I also need to give a huge shout-out to my dear friend Tamara. If it wasn’t for her reminding me (almost on a daily basis when I was at the lowest point in my life) not to forget about this book, that I had truly done something special, I may not be where I am today. Yes, I have a long way to go, but I have come so very far. Tamara, I will be eternally grateful to you; for your patience, for your ear, and most of all for putting up with my flakiness. I love you, girl! You get me!
And to my readers, I just hope you love reading “Everleigh in NYC” as much as I’ve loved writing it.
JA:  You’re welcome, and thank you for sharing with me today.  

Don’t worry, guys, when it gets closer to the release of her book, I’ll rerun this interview so you can refresh your minds.
If I have anymore authors (or editors or agents) out there that would like to share with me and my readers please contact me at j.souders  (at) jsouders (dot) com. 
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Today on the interview block I’ve had the distinct privilege of interviewing the uproariously funny author, Steven Novak. Please join me in extending a little Southern hospitality—and fresh squeezed lemonade—and welcome him to my humble blog.  He can be found on his website, blog, or FB page.
BIO:  Born in Chicago, Illinois, Steven Novak has spent the majority of his life drawing, writing, and creating. In doing so he’s forsaken things like a personal life, social graces, and good hygiene. After spending four years at the Columbus College of Art and Design, in Columbus Ohio, he moved to California and married a woman able to look past the whole hygiene thing. He has spent the last ten years working as a freelance illustrator, designer and writer for a wide variety of clients in both print and web media.  Steven’s book Fathers and Sons, will be released in March of 2010 from Canonbridge.  He is collaborating with Paul Wood, illustrating Here Comes Cousin Albert, which will be released in April of 2010.
 (Bio, cover art, and author picture courtesy of Canonbridge, LLC.)
JS:  When did you begin writing, and did you always envision being an author?
SN:  I suppose I’ve been writing all of my life, though I never for a second imagined becoming an author. For years the first thing that came to mind when hearing the word “author” was some guy with an expertly manicured mustache, sporting a pair of dark glasses that’s dressed head to toe in black with one of those silly little beatnik hats on his head.
Maybe he’s sitting in a coffee shop puffing away at a cigarette or something.
Later he has a political rally of some sort to attend.
It’s weird, I know.
I was into comic books as a kid, but it was more because of the pictures than the story. Painting, sketching, scribbling, drawing – these were my first loves, and if I’m honest they remain so to this very day. If I’ve had a bad day I tend to reach for my sketchpad before my laptop.
Still, I’ve always had a love affair with books and enjoyed the act of writing. It didn’t come naturally the way drawing did though. I knew early on that I was going to have to put in some effort if I wanted to get any good at it. Unfortunately effort and I have a history of going together as well as a Thanksgiving dinner with the Hatfields and McCoys.
JS:  What have been the most rewarding aspects of being a writer?
SN:  Mostly just clearing out some space in my grossly overcrowded head. It’s spring-cleaning. There’s far too much going on up there and if I don’t dump some of it onto the curb for the garbage man to haul away I would likely go bonkers. I could give a more standard answer like, “watching as my characters come to life and begin to breathe before my eyes” or something along those lines, but in truth they’re already alive inside my head anyway.
I talk to them all the time. It scares people.
I won’t deny that there is something undeniably fulfilling about knowing – if I’m lucky – someone out there might read, and enjoy, and fall in love with them as much as I however. There’s some vanity involved I guess. I’ll fess up to that much. It’s not the most important thing though, and it’s not why I do what I do. I write, or paint, or film little movies because I have to. It’s what I’ve always done, and what I’ll always do. It helps me sort things out for myself, and quite honestly keeps me sane.
Which is a pretty astounding feat.
You know, because I’m a bit of a weirdo.
JS:  The most challenging?
SN:  Without a doubt it’s the technical stuff. Up until about five years ago I was still using the wrong “your” in my sentences. It’s not that I’m an idiot – because I like to think I’m a fairly intelligent man – it’s just that I didn’t much care. I don’t think I ever took the act of writing seriously enough to be bothered with the little things – you know, like “proper grammar.”
Another big issue for me is that my head is “The Flash” and my fingers are your ninety-four year old grandma lugging a couple tanks of oxygen behind her – more often than not they can’t keep up.
I know what I want my characters to do, what I need them to say, and where I’d like them to be while they’re saying and doing it. That being said, I often have to stop myself and figure out the ideal way to express what they’re doing, saying, and why in the world anyone in their right mind should care about the lot of it. 
JS:  Tell me a little about your book.
SN:  “Forts: Fathers and Sons” is the first in a three-part series telling the story of a group of kids that stumble through a doorway leading to another world and find themselves caught up in a war in which the fate of the universe is at stake. It’s epic scale stuff that I tried my best to tell on a very small scale. A lot of people have asked me what age group it’s for and my answer is that it’s part young-adult, part adult-adult, part adult that refuses to grow up-adult.
Does that make any sense?
Maybe not.
Long story short, there’s a lot going on. I touch on friendship, and creativity, hint at youthful infatuation and love, and even delve fairly deep into child abuse – which is the aspect I think will catch most people off guard.
JS:  Can you tell us a little more about how you conceived the story?
SN:  In one form or another it’s a story I’ve been writing for twenty years now. The overall theme of the entire series has popped its way into just about everything I’ve ever done.
Except when I painted my living room the color my wife told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to paint it…
It wasn’t there.
The lead character has a whole lot of me in him – right down to the hair – and there are nods to people I’ve known or met over the years. I find it easiest to write what I know. Anything else comes off not only feeling weird, but false. I like to think that I managed to sneak some meaty, worthwhile stuff in-between the sword battles between giant turtle-men and overly muscled lizard soldiers with forked tongues. Hopefully there’s a little something for everyone to relate and latch onto.
JS:  When you write, do you always know where you are going, or do your characters lead you in their own directions?
SN:  Know where I’m going? As Whitney Houston might say, “hells to the naw.”
Don’t get me wrong; I have a rough outline in my head. I know where the story is going to start and how it’ll end for the most part. In fact, as of this very moment I know exactly what the last two words on the very last page of book three are going to be. This is despite the fact that I haven’t even written twenty-five pages yet. Beyond that however, I generally like to let things go where they’re going to go.
If I write my characters into a situation and can’t come up with a logical way to get them out of it, guess what – they aren’t getting out of it.
Forcing the issue doesn’t make any sense to me.
JS:  What advice do you give to budding writers?
SN:  The same advice I give to any artist working in any medium – if your only reason for doing it is to get rich, don’t bother. You’re missing the point. On top of it all you aren’t likely to make any money anyway so you’ll not only end up broke, but disappointed as well. The term “starving artist” exists for a reason, and it’s not because we’re all living in mansions, and sipping drinks brought to us by members of the opposite sex in outfits so skimpy they would make Lindsay Lohan blush.
If you’re going to do this, first and foremost do it for yourself. Do it because it’s out of your hands. Do it because you’re compelled to do it – because it fills a void, and because you can’t imagine doing anything else.
Do it because you love it.
JS:  What were some of your favorite books when you were growing up?
SN:  There are so much of them I hardly know where to begin. Lets see – I stated earlier that I was a big comic book nerd growing up so something like Allen Moore’s “Watchmen” absolutely blew my mind when I was a kid. “The Dark Knight Returns” was another, as well as “Maus: A Survivors Tale.” In junior high and high school I started delving deep into science fiction stuff – pretty much anything by Ray Bradbury, and of course “The Time Machine,” “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “1984,” and a million others.
Considering the kind of stuff I’m writing these days a lot of people find it odd that I never got into the “Lord of the Rings” or anything like.
Movies were a big thing for me growing up as well – more so than books maybe. At thirteen I was already filled with an almost terrifying obsession with Alfred Hitchcock. While everyone else was rushing to the theater to see “Indiana Jones” I was hunting down Beta-Max copies of “Strangers on a Train.”
Needless to say, it didn’t make me many friends.
(JS:  I have to interject that I LOVE Alfred Hitchcock and that is one of my favorite movies of his.  Good on you for picking a wonderful obsession.  J )
JS:  What’s a typical day like for you?
SN:  Despite having not gone to bed until one in the morning, I generally wake up around six, wipe a few crusty boogers from my eyes and wobble on Frankenstein legs into the office to get to work.
The brunt of my income comes from graphic design and illustration work, so that’s first on the agenda. Four or five hours are spent wading through emails from clients, making obscure – sometimes entirely unnecessary – font changes and staring mindlessly at the computer screen. Seeing as I’m lucky enough to work out of home I generally bother with a shower, or for that matter a pair of pants until well after lunch.
Trust me on this – you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten your lunch while your hair is still so bed-stiff that it’s sensitive to touch.
My wife of nine years is the absolute most wonderful, caring, intelligent woman I’ve met over the course of my life. I’m a lucky man to have her. That being said, she couldn’t cook a can of microwaveable soup if her life depended on it, and because of that I generally handle the cooking chores for the evening.
Unfortunately I usually don’t get around to writing until long after the sun has gone down, and I can hear my same loving wife snoring from the other room.
JS:  How long does it generally take to write one of your novels?
SN:  It took me a year to finish “Forts: Fathers and Sons” and another year to finish the follow up, “Liars and Thieves.” To be fair though I ended up having to remove myself from both of them for two or three months at a time while writing.
When writers block hits me, it hits me like a slab of concrete to the noggin tossed in my direction by the world’s strongest man. I don’t bother trying to work through it because the stuff I write when attempting to do so is usually pretty awful. For me personally it makes more sense to let it pass on its own. If it’s not going to work, it’s not going to work and there’s no point in forcing it.
JS:  How many have you written?
SN:  I’ve started and quit so many novels over the years that I couldn’t even begin to count them.
Counting the novels I’ve actually finished is a far easier task however – in fact, I can do it on one hand.
JS:  Can you tell us more about your journey?
SN:  It’s been a long one. I’m still pretty young, so hopefully there’s a lot left. Growing up my mother would often call me “old man Novak” because I tended to not do things other kids my age were doing.
There was also the fact that I couldn’t stand when those sticky candy-mouthed rascals would ride their bikes on our lawn!
I got married when I was twenty-one, found myself with a stepson only eight years my junior, and there’s a chance I’ll sort of, kind of, be a grandfather before my thirty-third birthday.
When you think about it, I’ve lived a fairly accelerated life. If things continue on this way, maybe there isn’t much of a journey left. Maybe I’ll be sitting in an old folks home by the time I reach forty and pooping my diapers again by forty-five.
It’s been a heck of a ride though, and I wouldn’t change a single moment.

JS:  DC comics or Marvel?

SN:  Ahh…there it is, the ultimate fan-boy question. I suppose it was only a matter of time before it reared its ugly head. You’re trying to expose my nerdiness, Souders – trying to see just how high I rank on the nerd scale.
You’re a tricky one. I’ve underestimated you. I shall not make this mistake again.
Honestly, I’ve always leaned toward Marvel and I think it has to do with the fact that despite the superheroes, and the villains, and the alien races, and the mega-battles between superheroes, villains and alien races – Marvel always felt more like it existed in the real word. The DC universe is closer to pure fantasy for me, and I’ve never found pure fantasy quite as interesting. I like my characters grounded in something I can relate to.
JS: Superman or Batman?
SN:  Rorschach.
(JS:  Nice choice!  I have to admit that, that’s one of my favorites too, though he is a little…scary?  J)
JS: If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
SN:  You’ve succeeded marvelously.
Ask the person sitting to your right for a high five.
JS:  Is there anything else you’d like to say?
SN:  Please buy my book. I really need you to buy my book. I promise you’ll like it. Please? Come on, I’ll be your best friend.

Does that sound too needy?
Maybe so.
Seriously though, I would like to thank my publisher, “Canonbridge” for seeing something in the novel that no one else did. I have a stack of rejection letters so high I could probably form them into a crude paper mache table with a matching set of chairs that I could then use to type another novel on.
I also want to thank all the people that I’ve met over the years while blogging and whatnot. The encouragement and friendship has meant a lot – more than they’ll ever know, and certainly more than I’m willing to say out loud for fear one of them will sarcastically respond by telling me to “go home and put on a tutu.”
Despite the dinosaurs, and the swords, and the epic battles on far away lands, there’s an awful lot of myself sprawled across the pages of this series of books. I’ve always been a glass is half-empty sort of guy and a notoriously hard critic of my own work, but I’m fairly proud of what I’ve done here.
Believe me, if it were garbage I’d be the first to point out. I would honestly feel like kind of a jerk for trying to pawn it off to you.

 Thank you for joining us today, Steven and please let us know when Forts is available, so we may buy it.  And for the record, I fully expect my copy autographed. 

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                              (Bio and photo courtesy of her publisher, Canonbridge.)

          





Today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing a good friend of mine, fellow inkslinger and wonderful fantasy novelist, MJ Heiser.  
       BIO:  MJ Heiser was born in the Philippines to an American Navy Mormon and a Filipina Catholic.  She came to the United States as a baby, started reading at the age of three and began to write at the age of 12.  Educated in San Antonio, Texas, MJ is an avid student of religion, politics, anthropology and technological gadgetry.  She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and their menagerie of pets and electronic devices.  Apart from writing, she spends her time walking, plotting, being silly, eating sushi and trying to not trip over something.  Her first book in the Chronicles of Jaenrye series is Corona, published first in eReader format in February 2010 by Canonbridge LLC.
JSFirst of all, thank you for joining me today.  What have been the most rewarding aspects of being a writer?
MH:  The most rewarding thing for me is the realization that I could be good at something, even if I was born with an atrocious singing voice.  That’s a traumatic thing to realize as a little kid born into a family of musicians.  
JS:  The most challenging?
MH:  I have a fragile ego, so being told my work isn’t good enough for anyone is brutal.  Fortunately, I’ve also learned to take it as much-needed guidance and a refreshing breath of honesty; after all, your friends are conditioned to tell you what you want to hear, right?
JS:  What would you say are the most important qualities one needs to possess in order to make a living as a writer?
MH:  Stubbornness, and the ability to hear the small voice of your story calling to you .
JS:  Why do you write?
MH:  Because it makes me feel good . . .it puts me in touch with something that I imagine is outside of myself, a river of creative thought and urge that runs through each of us.  Every now and then I dip my ladle into that stream and pull out a sip of Wonder.
JS:  What’s a typical day like for you?
MH:  Long.  Frustrating.  I have a full-time job as a claims examiner, then I come home to run a house full of dogs and cats.  –No, they’re not charity cases, but I’m childless, and they’re my little Surrogates.  All I want to do is plot my stories and write them, but real life has a habit of delaying gratification.
JS:  Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you work through it?
MH:  Unlike most writers, I don’t really hate writer’s block.  I think there are times it comes up for practical reasons — like, maybe you need a reminder of how much you love to write, and only by depriving you of the ability can you fully appreciate it.  Sometimes also it’s used to divert you from a bad story idea, or a good story idea executed badly.  Most of the time, writer’s block is specific to one story, and can be overcome by stepping away from that story for a bit and working on an intriguing new one.  When you finally return to the blocked story, you can probably see why you got blocked in the first place.  😉
JS:  How long does it generally take to write one of your novels?
MH:  Oh, there are no generalities when it comes to what I write.  My first (and worst) novel took 10 years.  (See what I mean about listening to the writer’s block?)  CORONA took 5.5 weeks for the first draft.  CANTICLE, the prequel, is almost a year in progress.  Seriously, it’s just all over the place.
JS:  What’s your favorite quotation?
MH:  Sadly, it’s from an anonymous source:  “Those who dance are considered insane by those who can’t hear the music.”  A lot of people attribute it to George Carlin, but sadly, it’s not his.
JS:  What are you working on now?
MH:  CANTICLE, the 2nd (or 1st, depending on how you look at it) in the Chronicles of Jaenrye (pronounced “JANE-RYE”).  Sheesh, she’s a true labor of love.  CORONA was a blast to write, but CANTICLE is, I think, maybe just that much outside my skill set.  I’m learning as I go. 
JS:   What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions aspiring novelists have of the writer’s life?
MH:  That it has to be lonely.  I know I thought all writers were forced to write alone and figure it out alone, but in this day and age, with Twitter and Facebook and WEbook, there is simply no need to be alone anymore.  Besides, writers are my favorite kind of people; they’re just like me!  🙂
JS:  What advice would you impart to these aspiring novelists?
MH:  Don’t suffer; there’s no need.  Don’t hide your babies; that’s not the point of writing.  Get out there, make your work available to review, and push, push, push.  This dream doesn’t come true on its own. 
JS:  Where did the inspiration for CORONA come from?
MH:  Some of the aspects of CORONA (the Travellers, for instance) have been in my head since I was a kid.  The story itself started with Father Rey, who was inspired by Father Oliver O’Grady, a pedophile priest who was shuffled by the church from one small California town to another when his abuses were discovered.  I sucked this guy into Jaenrye to find a way to make him pay for what he did.  Then, since I was controlling the story anyway, I made the control a little more…transparent. 
JS:  What do you hope your readers take away after they’re done reading?
MH:  Never, EVER give up on your opportunity to make it right with yourself.  If you ever feel a tinge of regret or failure, address it head on; become the hero you promised yourself you’d be when you grew up.  It’s never too late.
JS:  Tell me a little about CORONA.
MH:  CORONA is my one breathless moment, the story that made me laugh and cry as I wrote it, the one I made my truest writer’s promise to.  I promised I would not abandon it and let it be forgotten.  That story truly took my breath away, and she deserved my full attention.
JS:  Thanks for doing this interview with me MJ, it’s been a real pleasure having known you and reading CORONA.  I can’t wait for its sequel(prequel) to be released.  Now I have just one last question. If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?
MH:  From what I can tell — yes.  🙂
         Thanks again for joining me folks for my very first author interview!  Next week I’ll be interviewing S.S. Michaels AKA @slushpilehero for all you twitter followers.  
        
         If you are interested in doing an interview with me, please email me at J.Souders (@) jasouders (.) com.  

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