Who’s That Indie Author? Pat Spencer

Author Name: Pat Spencer

Genre: Thriller, Historical and Literary Fiction

Books: Story of a Stolen Girl (international thriller) and upcoming Golden Boxty in the Frypan (Historical Fiction) to be released in 2023 by Pen It Publications, and Sticks in a Bundle: The Early Years (Literary and Historical Fiction).

Bio:  Besides six states in the U.S., I lived in Canada and Germany. I love traveling and getting to know people and their cultures. When not writing or traveling, I golf, read, walk the beach, hang out with family and friends or frequent book clubs

What got you started as a writer? My second-grade teacher pinned my Christopher Columbus report on the bulletin board for parents’ night and then bragged about what a good writer I was. I was hooked. But then my career counselor in high school shared reports about how little money the average writer earned, so I went into education.

What is your writing routine? I write almost every day. I carve out time in the mornings and then again after lunch when I am home all day.

What route did you take to get your books published? I was pretty successful with my nonfiction writing. I published a textbook with the first and only publisher that I queried. Imagine that! I also served as a columnist for a large newspaper and as a columnist, reporter, and editor for a tabletop magazine. I also freelanced for a trade journal. I self-published my first novel, Story of a Stolen Girl. For my second novel, Golden Boxty in the Frypan, I sent out queries and accepted a contract offer from Pen It Publications.

What things do you do to promote your books? My favorite promotional activities are events: signings, book fairs, book club meetings, public speaking at community and service groups. I also post on my website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? My favorite genre is generally a crossover of literary and historical fiction because these books typically provide the depth of character development and insight into the past that I enjoy.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I prefer to write emotions and the six senses. Both can be conveyed in either dialogue or description.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book The main character of my Sticks in a Bundle Trilogy surprised me by revealing more than I expected about her life and coming-of-age under the oppressive rule of apartheid. I thought she would tell me enough for one fairly thick novel, but her life was far too complex for that.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? Earning a Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside while being a wife, mother, and full-time professor at Riverside Community College.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? Many people and experiences have contributed over time, too many to list here.

What would you tell your younger self? Finish college while you are young. I completed my Ph.D. when I was 50 years old and that was hard. Then go out into the world and be bold—travel, see the world, meet people different than you.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I have not met up with a bear, but if I did, I would toss all my food to him or her, and back away quickly.

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? If I only have water, I’d chose a candy bar, but not necessarily Snickers. I prefer a Heath Bar, Payday, or $100,000 Bar. If I happened to have a beer in my backpack, I’d choose Nacho Doritos. Why? Because I don’t like to eat salty things while drinking water. It reminds me of all the water I swallowed when I surfed and snorkled.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Probably 6 or 7. I like small kitchens and eating out.

Closing thoughts: I thank Book Club Mom for allowing me to share with you. Writing can be an isolating endeavor, so I appreciate opportunities such as this to talk with other readers and writers. If you would like to receive the traditional recipes my characters love to cook, log on to my website and send me a note.

Website and social media links:
Website: patspencer.net
Twitter: @DrPatSpencer
Facebook: Pat Spencer
Instagram: drpatspencer


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Book Club Mom’s Author Update: News from Richard Fulco

Hi Everyone, Happy Friday! I recently caught up with author Richard Fulco to learn about his newest book, We Are All Together. Learn more about it here:

Author name: Richard Fulco

Genre: Literary Fiction

Books: We Are All Together and There Is No End to This Slope

News: We Are All Together by Richard Fulco, on sale November 2022

It’s 1967, the Summer of Love. When twenty-one-year-old guitarist Stephen Cane’s promising band falls apart, he is forced to move back home with his Christian mother. Unwilling to give up on his rock and roll dreams, however, Stephen flees to New York so he can patch things up with his former friend and bandmate, Dylan John, a pioneer of psychedelic rock whose band is on the verge of making it big. When Dylan unexpectedly quits Red Afternoon to be a civil rights activist, Stephen is handed the opportunity of a lifetime.

Lured into the trappings and pitfalls of celebrity and confronted with a dangerous secret, Stephen spirals into self-doubt and misplaced loyalties. Against the backdrop of a nation in turmoil, Stephen questions his dreams, his parents’ loyalties to a bygone era, his inability to choose wisely in love, and the unfortunate legacy of racial discrimination. 

We Are All Together addresses a nation struggling with its mythological past and the effects it has had on the integrity of the individual. Does the artist owe the world anything? Does the ailing world need another rock star? 

Website/blog link:  www.richardfulco.com


Are you working on a new book? Have you won an award or a writing contest? Did you just update your website? Maybe you just want to tell readers about an experience you’ve had. Book Club Mom’s Author Update is a great way to share news and information about you and your books.

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for more information.

Open to all authors – self-published, indie, big-time and anything in between

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Book Review: The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo

The Fall of Lisa Bellow
by
Susan Perabo

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In a psychological drama that begins with a robbery and an abduction, eighth-grader Meredith Oliver is the girl who was left behind on the floor of the convenience store, when an armed man in an oversized hoodie and ski mask takes Meredith’s nemesis, the popular and pretty Lisa Bellow. This story is about how Meredith, her family and Lisa’s mother, Colleen cope with the tragedy during an investigation that leads nowhere. Meredith may have been the lucky one, but she descends into unknown territory as she imagines where Lisa may be.

Dynamics change at school when Lisa’s friends invite her to sit with them at lunch. At home, Meredith’s father, Mark tries to cheer her up and her mother, Claire irritates her. Her older brother, Evan, despite a recent debilitating eye injury that has wrecked his promising baseball career, may be the only one who can reach her.

Perabo tells the story through both Meredith’s and Claire’s perspectives and shows the disconnect between them. One question that haunts Meredith is why she remained frozen on the floor of the store and didn’t look up to see what kind of car the man drove. And while Meredith enters a post-traumatic state, Claire turns the situation into something about herself. Readers also get a look at Claire’s faulty marriage and her disturbing and ego-centric thoughts.

This was an interesting book, although not what I expected. Despite opening scenes that suggest suspense or mystery, it’s a slow-moving drama about adolescence, families and marriage. Most of the characters are unknowable, as readers only get a look at their actions, like Colleen’s strange insistence on having Meredith and Lisa’s other friends hang out in Lisa’s room. Apart from a couple scenes in which Mark calls Claire out (possible game changers in their marriage), the author portrays Meredith’s dad as the cheerful and likable parent. Evan may be the only side character we get an inner glimpse of, as he struggles to overcome his physical injury and his efforts offer a nice parallel to Meredith’s trauma.

A few things bothered me a little about this story. The first was that I didn’t like Claire at all and that can be a problem in a book in which not much happens, which is the second thing that bothered me. While you can see how Meredith and her family progress and imagine how their next year may be, the improvement is slow. That’s probably intentional, because who can bounce back from a situation like that? But the book ends without much of a conclusion and I found that a little unsatisfying. And although the cover is very pretty, it gives the misleading impression of two friends falling into water.

That said, the writing is very good and I did fly through the pages, always a positive part of a book.

So if you like psychological studies and don’t mind a couple unlikable or frustrating characters, you would probably like The Fall of Lisa Bellow. I picked this book at random in the first of my Read, React, Decide YouTube videos in which I read a short passage from a book and decide if I want to read it.

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Book Review: There There by Tommy Orange

There There
by
Tommy Orange

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tommy Orange’s debut novel, There There, has been on my TBR list since it was first published in 2019. It was one of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and is about the urban Native American experience of twelve characters as they plan to attend the Big Oakland Powwow in Oakland, California.

Each character has a separate story, all leading up to the day of the powwow. Central to the story and to these characters is the need to recognize and celebrate their native heritage as full or partial Indians. In the beginning, the reader only gets to know these characters as individuals, but Orange brings them together in unexpected ways. Honestly, even when I could feel the momentum building, I could not have predicted the genius of this story, which is tragic, sad, uplifting and a lot of other things. Orange says he thought of the ending first, then took several years thinking about how to connect the characters from the beginning.

How to explain this book, without saying too much? The first-hand experience of reading it is the way to go. But the characters need a brief description because they give you an idea of the additional struggles they face. Now imagine them all preparing for the powwow.

Tony Loneman, born with fetal alcohol syndrome, scored low on intelligence tests and suffered from ridicule in school. Now he’s a grown man, sensitive, strong and intuitive, but he’s mixed up with Octavio, a drug dealer. Dene Oxendine, half native, wins a grant to interview Native Americans in the Oakland area and these stories play into the events at the powwow. Edwin Black has a master’s degree in literature, but he won’t leave his room, he’s grossly overweight and is addicted to the internet. Bill Davis is Edwin’s mother’s boyfriend and an ex-con. He’s white and works clean-up at the Oakland Coliseum. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield and her half-sister Jacquie Red Feather look back at their lives on Alcatraz during the nineteen-month protest from 1969-1971. Jacquie, now a recovering alcoholic mourns the suicide death of her daughter, Jamie. Jamie’s three young sons live with Opal. Orvil Red Feather, Jamie’s oldest son, secretly dresses in Opal’s native regalia and learns how to dance from YouTube videos. Calvin Johnson owes a drug dealer money and gets caught up in a scheme to rob the powwow with Octavio and others including, Daniel Gonzales, Octavio’s cousin. Blue, head of the powwow committee, was adopted and raised by a white family. She ran off to the Midwest but is back in Oakland, seeking connection. Thomas Frank, an alcoholic, is half-native. He lost his job at the Indian Center due to drinking. Now he’s headed to the powwow as one of the drummers.

All these people attend or are in some way connected to the powwow. Some make discoveries. Some meet tragedy. Some become heroes. And they all grapple with their identities.

As I’ve said about other excellent books, There There is the kind of book that you want to re-read, to understand the complexity of the characters and the issues they face and to appreciate the effort Tommy Orange put into writing it. I highly recommend this book!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Richard Fulco

Author Name: Richard Fulco

Genre: Literary Fiction

Book: There Is No End to This Slope

Are you a full-time author? If not, what’s your side gig? My paying gig is teaching high school English Literature and Creative Writing.

Favorite author/books: My list is quite lengthy, so I’ll just mention a bunch of authors I’ve been interested in recently: Baldwin, Morrison, Camus, Whitehead, Woodson, Adichie, Diaz, Frost, Eliot and Beckett. Always Beckett.

What experiences or people have influenced your writing the most? When I was nine, my teacher, Mrs. Nevins, told me that I had a creative mind and that I could be a writer when I grew up. A teacher’s words can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of toil and misery (kidding).

Do you keep a writing journal and if so, how do you use it? I keep a journal, though I don’t write in it every day. But I frequently jot down thoughts and ideas that I might explore or otherwise incorporate into a piece I’m working on.

Do you belong to a writers’ group? If so, describe your experience: I haven’t had much luck with writers’ groups. It’s difficult to organize a quorum of like-minded individuals. Although I am fortunate to have a trusted and worthwhile collection of astute readers who are generous, kind and critical of my work.

Are you up with the sun or do you burn the midnight oil? I’m up with the sun, plugging away before a full day of teaching. It’s not perfect, but it’s a faithful routine and a productive way to begin the day, especially in the dead of winter.

How do you get over a writing slump? I think writers, like baseball players, are in a slump more often than they are in a groove, and the only way out of a slump is to step up to the plate and take your cuts. Sure, you’ll strike out a bunch of times, but you’ll eventually get your hits too.

Do you prefer writing dialogue or descriptive passages? I write plays too, so I am drawn to clean, crisp and provocative dialogue, dripping in subtext.

What are you working on now? My latest novel, WE ARE ALL TOGETHER, is the story of a young guitar player’s willingness to prove he’s not the washed-up wannabe he fears he might become. My novel addresses questions of race, integrity, narcissism and greed that drive the art and lives of those who have a dream. How much does the artist owe the world and what do we expect in return?

What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing and publishing a book? First, ask yourself, “Why do I want to write a book?” If your answer is something like “I want to be rich and famous,” then you’re in the wrong profession. But if your answer is something along the lines of “I have a story that only I can tell,” then sit down immediately and begin writing. You should know, however, that the sea is lonely and it will be long, treacherous, disheartening and you’ll want to abandon ship on more than one occasion, but if you maintain the oars and ride out the storms, you will eventually steer the ship into port.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which podcasts do you find the most interesting? I should probably get on that.

Favorite escape: My version of a great day includes, running, playing guitar, hanging out with my children and reading (and of course, some writing too).

Have you ever tried Kombucha tea? Kombucha is not my cup of tea.

Do you prefer a couch with pillows or no pillows? I prefer a couch with a couple of pillows to rest my head.

Would you rather rake leaves, shovel snow or weed? If I even look at poison ivy, I get a rash. However, I’d rather rake leaves and weed the garden over the back-breaking work of shoveling snow any day.

Favorite mask – disposable paper, plain fabric, colorful print or something else? My favorite mask is one that hides my wrinkles.

Biggest writing challenge since Covid-19: It has been difficult to maintain my writing routine.

Website and social media links:
Publisher’s Website: wampus.com/richard-fulco/
Amazon: There Is No End to This Slope
Twitter: @RichardFulco


Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Joanne Kukanza Easley

Author name:  Joanne Kukanza Easley

Genre:  Literary Fiction

Book:  Sweet Jane

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  I’ve always been an avid reader and have had aspirations to write for years. As a young adult, I started taking classes and workshops. When I retired, I became serious about getting published. Although I was born in Chicago, I call the Texas Hill Country home. My small ranch is  the perfect setting to write.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  I’m a retired registered nurse, so I am blessed with the gift of time to write. My three little rescue terriers take up a good deal of time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  The day my first adopted son was placed in my arms.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I’m a hybrid. I start out with a character, imagine her back story and current conflict. As I write the novel, I become more of a planner.

Could you write in a café with people around?  Yes. No problem.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  In my next novel, one of the characters is from Hungary and when stressed lapses into Hungarian. I used several translation websites to help with the dialogue.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  It’s so hard to pick just one, but I’ll go with Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides. Right now, I’m rereading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  You nailed my order of preference, although I rarely buy a hardcover these days. I finally broke down and bought a Kindle.

Do you think print books will always be around?  I really hope so. I do love the feel of turning the pages.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  No. I consider my phone both a useful tool and a nuisance.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  I do have a new iPhone and it’s great for Instagram and recording videos, but I’m usually on my laptop.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  All day.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  I haven’t delved into audiobooks. I’m a very visual person.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  I do a lot of promotion on social media. Facebook is my favorite.

Website and social media links:
Website: sweetjanenovel.com
YouTube: Joanne Kukanza Easley Author
Twitter: @jeasleytx
Facebook: @J.Easleywrites
Instagram: joanneeasleywriter
Goodreads: Joanne Kukanza Easley

Awards/special recognition: Sweet Jane was a 2019 Faulkner/Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Finalist


Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

What’s That Book? The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

TitleThe Nest

Genre: Fiction

Author:  Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Rating:  4 stars

What’s it about?  A dysfunctional group of middle-aged siblings who put the pressure on their charming but reckless brother to pay back a large sum of money from their inheritance. The story is set in New York and begins a few months before Leo, Jack, Bea and Melody Plumb are due to collect money from a trust (The Nest) their father set up years earlier before his death. Each had been counting on the money, which had grown substantially, but when Leo, drunk and high on cocaine, crashes his Porsche, their mother dips into the account to send Leo to rehab, pay off the young waitress in the passenger seat, and above all else, avoid scandal. Out of rehab, will Leo make good?

Leo, the oldest, made his money from a “literary” gossip magazine which helped propel their writer sister, Bea into fame. But Bea never got her long-expected novel off the ground and has been floundering ever since. Jack, always in Leo’s shadow, owns an antique shop, but he’s bad with money and has kept many financial secrets from his husband, Walker. And Melody wants desperately to send her twin daughters to college. She has scrimped and saved her entire adult life, but money is still tight. Secrets between the siblings and their spouses muddle up an already complex dynamic, heck to live through, but lots of fun to read about!

How did you hear about it?  Selected by my book club

Closing comments:  I loved this book. It’s a great balance between serious themes and entertaining plot lines. In particular, I love how the side characters develop and have their moments later in the story.

Contributor:  Ginette


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Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Anne Leigh Parrish

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Anne Leigh Parrish

Genre:  Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction

BooksWomen Within, a novel (Black Rose Writing, 2017); By the Wayside, stories (Unsolicited Press, 2017); What Is Found, What Is Lost, a novel (She Writes Press, 2014); Our Love Could Light The World, stories (She Writes Press, 2013); All The Roads That Lead From Home, stories (Press 53, 2011).

Bio:  Anne Leigh Parrish is an award-winning author, now also a poet. She lives in the South Sound region of Washington State with her husband of forty years. Aside from the evergreen forests all around her, her favorite places are the deserts of the American Southwest, and the Hawaiin Islands.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Creating beautiful worlds full of complex, courageous characters

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  I’d say getting the word out about my books and story publications.

Favorite booksThe Roundhouse by Louise Erdrich; Mendocino Fire by Elizabeth Tallent; Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout; Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively; The London Train by Tessa Hadley

Contact Informationanneleighparrish.com

Awards/special recognition:

  • Finalist in the short story category, 2017 International Book Awards, By the Wayside;
  • Best Fiction WINNER, 2017 Maxy Awards, Women Within;
  • Winner, Literary Fiction, 2015 Book of the Year Award, What Is Found, What Is Lost
  • Finalist in the literary fiction category, 2015 International Book Awards, What Is Found, What Is Lost
  • Finalist in the short story category, 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Our Love Could Light The World

For a complete list, please visit the “Awards” page of my website.


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Kathleen Doler

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Kathleen Doler

Genre:  Crossover Fiction: Literary, Crime and Action/Adventure

BookTHE HOOK: Surfing to Survive a Shattered Family, Drugs, Gangs and the FBI

Bio:  I was raised on the coast of Northern California. I’m an author, journalist and adventure sports addict. I write for national newspapers and magazines on everything from business and finance to helicopter skiing, sea kayaking and scuba diving. I also travel extensively, mostly to wild places, often while pursuing sports that have the potential to maim me. I own a wardrobe of wetsuits and a closet full of Gor-tex.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I love being able to tell stories that touch people. I’ve enjoyed working as a journalist, but in business journalism you have to shelve the emotion. Now that my first novel, THE HOOK, is out, I get to experience how different readers connect with various pieces of the story.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  I have to pump myself up to remain upbeat every day in my efforts to promote THE HOOK and build my readership and distribution network one contact at a time. As a self-published author, it’s all on me. But I’m a journalist; tenacity is part of my DNA. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised and gratified at how other authors have shared information, opportunities and advice.

Favorite booksDamage, by Josephine Hart, is my all-time favorite. I love how she can just gut the reader with a short sentence or phrase. For the rest of my top five: I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb, The Wave by Susan Casey, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

Contact Information:
Website:  kathleendoler.com
Facebook: @kathleendolerauthor
Twitter: @kathleendoler

Awards/special recognition:  THE HOOK now has 43 5- and 4-star reviews on Amazon. Also, in May THE HOOK was named a “Finalist 2017, Action-Adventure,” by the National Indie Excellence Awards. And Blueink Review gave THE HOOK a “STARRED” review and named it a “Notable Book of 2017.”

This editorial review made me swoon: “In THE HOOK, the pace is swift, the plot is involving, and character development is thorough … Plus, there is a lyrical, almost mystical homage to surfing, sailing, and the sea itself. Participants in this tale are never far from its enticing allure.” — Joe Kilgore, the US Review of Books.


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

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Who’s That Author? Tom Franklin

whos-that-author

tom-franklin
Source: bookfans.net

Tom Franklin is a best-selling, award-winning American writer from Dickinson, Alabama.  He is currently an associate professor in the MFA program at University of Mississippi.  He is considered a diverse Southern writer of several genres, including crime fiction, mystery and literary fiction.  Franklin’s wife, Beth Ann Fennelly, is an American poet and prose writer.  She also works at Ole Miss and is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi.  They met at the University of Arkansas MFA program.

Franklin put himself through college at University of South Alabama, after his father cut off his tuition because of bad grades.  To pay for school, he worked in a wide range of places:  in a warehouse, at a plant that made sandblasting grit and at a chemical plant where he cleaned up hazardous waste.  He also worked in a morgue, a job that was unpopular, but one he enjoyed because of the stories he heard.

When asked about his writing, Franklin responded,

I’m a very happy person and very lucky with my life, my wife and my children, but when I’m writing I find conflict interesting and it goes to dark places for me.  I’m interested in the shadowy part of humans.  If I try to write against the dark, it feels false.

Awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger Award.


Books by Tom Franklin:

Mississippi Noir (2016)
The Titled World (2013) – co-written with his wife, Beth Ann Fennelly
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (2010)
Smonk or Widow Town (2007)
Hell at the Breech (2003)
Poachers (2000)


Check out these links for more information:

Amazon Author Page – Tom Franklin
Harper Collins Publishers
LitLovers
Wikipedia


crooked-letter-crooked-letterbookmarks-5a
Interested in Tom Franklin’s books?  Click here to read
my 5 Bookmark review of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

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