Friday, August 28, 2015

Parabolic Tales for the Ages by C. Kevin Thompson


C. Kevin Thompson

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around, him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying…” (Matthew 13:1-3; NIV, emphasis added). Jesus goes on to tell the crowds about a farmer sowing seed: The Parable of The Sower. He follows this up with other parables: The Weeds, The Mustard Seed, The Yeast, The Hidden Treasure, The Pearl, and The Net.

After telling The Parable of the Sower, the disciples came up to him and asked why he spoke to the crowds in parables (v. 10). Jesus’ answer is very telling:


“The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them…This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’ In them is filled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ (Matthew 13:11, 13-15; cf. Ezekiel 12:2; Isaiah 6:9-10; emphasis added).
 

Jesus tells the disciples that they are blessed because they do have eyes that see and ears that hear (v. 16).

A stark contrast to the crowds.

As storytellers in our modern society, it seems the pattern for writing fiction has been established for God’s people, and was done so by our Lord Himself. When we create a story, no matter what the setting, no matter who is involved, no matter the time period, the story should “reveal the kingdom” or explain what “the kingdom of God is like.”

Now, it doesn’t have to be allegorical. Every single name doesn’t have to have a double meaning or mystical root (See Pilgrim’s Progress for reference). Nor do your characters have to be fictionalized caricatures of real people in the Bible (e.g., The Lion in C. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series being Jesus; “Aslan” being the Turkish word for “Lion”). Even though these kinds of stories and techniques have their place, one size does not fit all. And neither does the story have to take on ALL the aspects of the world in order to have a real impact (e.g., profanity, etc.). Jesus managed to use tell parables, using worldly images like birds and flowers and gold and pearls and hate and greed and power and corruption without soiling the language itself.

Sometimes, however, your story may deal more with a theological truth/concept than a person, place, or Biblical passage. My first book, The Serpent’s Grasp, asks the question, “What is truth? In the world of science, can truth be found?” My second book, 30 Days Hath Revenge, begins to delve into the question of “What is true peace? In a world that cries out for peace like in the days of Jeremiah, can politics, military might, or economic clout bring about true peace, or is there something more to it?”

As a fiction writer, our job is to dive deep into these biblical passages and truths and bring forth a story the crowds can begin to understand. If Jesus only spoke to the crowds in parables, then shouldn’t that be our pattern, too (see Matthew 13:34)? We are the keys God uses to open up the doors of their hearts. After that, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to break down the door and enter in.

If we write fiction solely for the Christian community, we’re missing out on so much.* Jesus explained the parables to the disciples only when they were dull in understanding. However, the parables were never intended for them. I liken it to our publishing world today. Fiction serves as the parables. That’s why “preachy fiction” never flies very well. Jesus never got preachy with his parables for good reason. Those hearing the stories needed the concepts to come down to their level of spiritual understanding.

In the same vein, non-fiction is for the disciples. This style tends to get into the nitty-gritty details of a spiritual truth. This is when Jesus explains things to us, has us stop, pause, reread a page, so our understanding can increase so we don’t have to keep stopping him and ask, “Can you explain that to us, please” (see Matthew 13:36)?

Does that mean a believer can’t enjoy a good fiction story? Of course not. Does that mean an unbeliever should never pick up a non-fiction book on some biblical passage or truth and read it? Please, say, “No!” You and I both know God can use anything to reach a person’s heart for the first time.

Apparently, though, the norm is as follows: The stories, the parables, the fiction is intended for those who “have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people” (Ezekiel 12:2).

And those were Jesus’ words. Not mine.

So, may our stories be for the lost as well.

Especially in this ever-darkening world.


  
*Could this be a reason why Christian fiction is falling on such hard times? Parables solely for Christians doesn’t follow Jesus’ model, does it?






A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.

Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.

But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.




C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Website: www.ckevinthompson.com   
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog: www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com  
Kevin’s Educational Blog: www.thehelpfuleducator.blogspot.com   
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson








Thursday, August 27, 2015

What Happened to All My Twitter Peoples? by Dora Hiers

Dora Hiers
Our four-year-old grandson calls his daycare friends "his peoples." His accent is so cute with that North Carolina twang, that I admit to asking him about his "peoples" every time I pick him up from daycare just to hear him say it. :)

Whenever we talk about his "peoples," my mind wanders to my "peoples" or my friends all over the world on social media. In case you didn't know, I'm a big fan of Twitter. I appreciate that Twitter allows follows without the obligatory follow back. Also, the 140 character limit and the list option makes for quick scrolling at different intervals throughout the day. It doesn't gobble huge chunks of my time like Facebook.

Recently, I was using JustUnfollow.com (now Crowdfireapp.com) to purge followers who immediately unfollow me or folks I follow who choose not to follow back for whatever reason. But, I must confess that I have never cleaned out my "inactive" followers, those people who haven't been active on twitter for three months or more.

Yowza! I probably spent an hour "unfollowing" and I was nowhere near the bottom of the list. Crazy.

Some didn't surprise me. Maybe they just decided that Twitter was one more distraction they didn't need, or they'd only tweeted a few times and Twitter just wasn't for them. But what did surprise me was the number of inactive users who had ten or twenty thousand or more followers.

What happened to all my Twitter peoples? 
Image Courtesy of Pixabay
You know how much time you invest to build relationships on social media. Why would someone abandon a Twitter account with such an impressive platform, especially after working so hard to accumulate thousands of tweets and tens of thousands of followers? I could only conclude that something traumatic happened in their lives, whether it was death, illness, or job loss, and eventually I stumbled onto one whose profile indicated that he'd passed away. This process made me sad, and I found myself praying over the profiles.

I learned a few things that day.

What happened to all my peoples? I care about my online connections, but at some point, it becomes impossible to keep up with all of them. Reach out, pray, and let it go. And that brings me to the next point...

You can't be everywhere. Sure, you can try. But if you're like me, the more social media sites I'm on, the more overwhelmed I am. I really only maintain a bio on Google+ and LinkedIn, but that doesn't stop the notifications from bogging down my inbox. Invites to connect and being added to someone's circles just sets off my internal panic button. I'm rethinking this whole "be everywhere" philosophy. Would I be better off concentrating on just a couple sites? I think so. I may eventually deactivate my accounts.

Keep it clean. You're allowed to follow 2k people before a follower/following ratio kicks in. Once that happens, you won't be able to follow more people until more people follow you. Yes, I know, it's a vicious cycle. But Twitter sets it up to prevent aggressive spammers. Since doing this, I scheduled a few hours each month to update and purge my twitter account to accommodate that ratio.

How do you feel about Twitter?
How often do you purge your inactive followers or have you put that off like me? 
What's your favorite social media hangout?


Purchase Link
Burn survivor Savvy McCord doesn't blame her best friend for running away. She can't even look at her scars without wincing. When Beck's disappearing act spans years, she relinquishes dreams of love and marriage. Unable to face Savvy's expectations of happily-ever-after, Beck Harmon deserts her, far away from the rumors that he's just like his father. When the wanderer returns, dreams of forever blossom in Savvy's heart, but she worries he'll leave again. Can Beck convince Savvy that her true beauty comes from her inner strength and faith? Will his idea to help burn victims regain their self-confidence restore Savvy's trust in him? Will love be what the wanderer needs to find peace for his hurting soul?

Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA and her local chapter, Carolina Romance Writers. Connect with her on Seriously Write, Fiction Faith & Foodies, TwitterFacebook or Pinterest.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

10 Ways to Nurture a Mama-Writing Life By Preslaysa Williams

I remember those years of catching a little writing in between the daughter's naps. It wish I'd had some of these tips from Preslaysa Williams. -- Sandy

Preslaysa: Life with small children comes with many challenges. There have been many times I walked the grocery store aisle with my two energetic children with a dazed, deer-in-headlights mama look on my face. Well-meaning people would come up to me and say: “Oh these are the best years of your life. Enjoy those little ones.” I’d think to myself: Umm, it’s kind of tough to enjoy anything right now when my son is wielding a breakable bottle of Kikkoman Soy Sauce and my daughter has maneuvered her way out of the child straps in the shopping cart.

But who am I to complain?

Aside from these (very frequent) moments, I enjoy being around my children. They are cute and funny and shockingly wise at times. I also enjoy writing. For me, these two activities have shaped the grown up version of me (Preslaysa: version 2.0). However, it’s a daily challenge to squeeze in the mothering and the writing in one day. When I awaken each morning an internal clock starts its countdown. This internal clock reminds me I have only so many hours to do the following:

· Quiet Time

· Fill my daily writing quota

· Fill my daily editing quota

· Do any social media/blog promotion tasks

· Do homeschool lessons with the children

· Read some good storybooks to the children

· Oversee and assist my son’s violin practice

· Oversee and train my children to do a simple chore or two

· Manage the inevitable child tantrum(s) or sibling squabble(s).

· Do my daily chores

· Do my weekly chores

· Update the budget, pay bills, etc.

· Workout

· Read a novel

· Eat

· And oh yeah, take a shower, brush my teeth and get dressed or something…

I’m pretty sure you, Mama Writer, have a pretty full plate too. Here are 5 ways to ensure you thrive both as a mom and as a writer.

1) Have a dedicated writing space. As moms, we spend a lot of time in giving mode and very little time nurturing our creative spirit. Set aside a space in your home that is off limits to children. A “room of your own” to quote Virginia Woolf. It doesn’t have to be a full room, but a small desk or table away from the main activity of the family will do. You don’t always have to write in that space, of course, but knowing it’s waiting for you provides a psychological boost. You are telling yourself that the work you do as a writer matters, regardless of whether you are published or pre-published.

2) Steal time. This is one of my favorite techniques for writing. When my children are playing or eating or napping, I pull out my handy dandy notebook and start writing, or I’ll pull out a page from a rough draft and start editing. These little moments add up quickly.

3) Carry a notebook or index cards around with you. Collect ideas for stories or blog posts, lines of dialogue, character snippets, and rough scene outlines for later use. This will help guard against that mythical idea called “writer’s block.” When you sit down to write, you’ll have a bunch of ideas ready to flesh out. If you use index cards, make sure they are attached to a ring binder for ease of use.

4) Use a Timer. I *heart* timers. It keeps me on track during the day. I have two timers: one for upstairs and one for downstairs. I also have a timer on my wristwatch. (I’m a little obsessive about timers!) For 2015, I recently found a great Google Extension called Stay Focused which will block me out of social media sites after I filled my daily time limit quota on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. I tell you, Stay Focused made me quickly prioritize how I spend my time on social media! These tools alone have kept me more focused and less idle. They’ve empowered me to actually do the work that shapes my greater calling as a wife, mom and writer.

5) Use checklists. I am also a checklist person. It’s not because I am particularly organized; I am quite the opposite. Checklists are my taskmaster. I’ve created a checklist that maps out my normal morning, afternoon and evening routines. I don’t follow my checklists to a T, and that’s okay. I can go to bed with and unfinished checklist and not have any guilt. I have another day to accomplish those tasks. However, if I didn’t have the checklist there to remind me, I’d be all scrambled up! Checklists simply tell me to do what matters whenever I am prone to get lost in the World Wide Web. Checklists are a girl’s best friend.

There you have it: five easy ways to manage a writing life and motherhood. What have you done to manage this Great Balancing Act?


~~~~~


Preslaysa Williams (pronounced press-lay-suh) is a novelist and expert multi-tasker. She writes and edits fiction while her children nap and reads novels during her (almost) daily walks. A 2013 ACFW Genesis finalist and a 2014 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist, she writes inspirational romance and middle grade fiction of the happily ever after sort. Visit her online at www.preslaysa.com

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Our Years of Living Dangerously by Sandra D. Bricker

Sandra D. Bricker
The times, my sweet writer buds, they are a-changin’! It all started with talk of the demise of bookstores; progressing to an avalanche of freebies offered on Amazon; deteriorating further with traditional publishers fighting and clawing to stay afloat. Readers have become so accustomed to receiving free books that having to pay more than a couple of bucks is met with appalled gawks and dismissive sighs. Even my most loyal readers—of which there are many, thank the Lord!—have become far more discriminating about where they spend their entertainment dollars in recent years.

I published a total of six books with Summerside Press/Ellie Claire, only to watch helplessly as the two companies were dissembled like an automobile sold for parts. Then came River North Fiction. After two books with them, Moody made the choice to discontinue their fiction line. The same happened with B&H Fiction around the time that my Christmas book was released. And just recently, my most loyal and beloved publishing home—Abingdon Press—delivered the too-familiar bad news. After nine novels with them … no more fiction.

Yes, I know. It would appear to be a pattern snapping at my heels; but I’m fairly certain I haven’t singlehandedly brought about the destruction of Christian fiction as we know it! Instead, multiple contributing factors have intersected and brought about severe climate change in the publishing industry that makes it necessary for writers to be more adaptable to change than ever before.

When I first accepted the position of managing editor for BLING!, a romance imprint under the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas umbrella, many of the agents out there didn’t want their authors considering us. Despite the fact that LPC pays substantial royalties an author could never get with a traditional publisher, the concern was about sales numbers and the impact on future contracts. However, in the last six months, I’ve had half a dozen name authors approach me about BLING! Why? Because they’re less concerned with what the traditional publishers will think than with the idea of getting their content out to their readers.

In that vein, after the final blow of losing my connection to Abingdon, I started thinking like many of my counterparts and did what I never thought I would do either: I took “the book of my heart” to LPC.

Moments of Truth is not what my readers (or publishers) typically get from me. Romance? Of course. Christian thread? Naturally. But there was a lot more latitude I might not have been afforded with a traditional house. The luxury of being able to write straight from my own life experience and apply my Christian purview to it was liberating in ways I hadn’t expected. How readers and reviewers respond to it will, of course, factor into my decisions about how/if to proceed as an author, but the experience has been fulfilling and illuminating.

Meanwhile, I’m also preparing a project that readers will hear more about in October, but self-publishing options have enabled me to continue telling stories revolving around my Another Emma Rae Creation series in a fairly unique and interactive way. I’m not sure I could have done that with any confidence of success a few years ago. Or even one year ago.

Convinced that this is the YEAR OF THE PIONEER in the publishing world, I’m eager to watch trends and talk to other writers and hear from readers about what might come next. I’m not exactly the most adventurous spirit you’ll ever meet … but in this case, I feel like I’m up for anything. How about you, writers? … And what say you, readers? What shall we do for you next?

About the Author
SANDRA D. BRICKER was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she
attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rearview mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and an award-winning author of LIVE-OUT-LOUD fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press. As an ovarian cancer survivor, she gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.
Moments of Truth
by Sandra D. Bricker

Five women ... Five lives ... Strength in numbers. Regan Sloane was married once. Eight years, no kids, she got the house. In the years since the divorce, she's managed to keep afloat with the only real skill she has: Writing. She hadn't really noticed how her readership had blossomed until a well-known reviewer noticed her sweet little lifestyle blog. When had it transformed into a single woman's go-to? With the life and loves of her four BFFs to fuel the content and have her back at every turn Regan realizes that something magical happens when women join forces. Girl Power just might be the new super power!

Monday, August 24, 2015

All Things New



All Things New

by Mary Manners
 


He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"

~ Revelation 21:5 ~
 
Some of you may know that in addition to being a writer, I am also blessed to have spent twenty-seven years educating children as a public school teacher, and am currently in my third year as a school administrator at a local intermediate school. As I head into the second full week of this new school year, I am warmed by the eager smiles on the faces of the young children that are entrusted to my care each day. These youngsters have a passion for life and learning, as well as an eagerness for all of the adventures yet to come. There is a pep in their step and an enthusiastic, sing-song tone to their voice as they wish me good morning. It’s a wonderful thing…a true blessing to me as I greet them at the front doors of the school as the sun rises each weekday. I watch them rush down the hall, their backpacks filled with fresh supplies and textbooks, and wonder what each child might grow up to become. Every day is important; each moment—every word—counts.

Often, I consider my good fortune to be blessed with two professions that I hold so dear to my heart…educating children and writing books. The two seem to go hand in hand. A new school year is much like the adventure of embarking on a fresh story; both unfold with a great deal of anticipation as well as a sprinkle of surprises along the way. Opportunities abound and a sense of fulfillment unfolds as all thoughts and plans come together. Even so, one never knows what a new day—or the turn-of-a-page—might bring.

Everything new…that’s our gift each day in education, whether we are on the teaching or learning side of the desk. It’s also our gift with each book we open, whether we are on the writing or reading end of the page. I choose to embrace the newness, and take joy in the blessings that each opportunity brings. Will you join me?
~~~~~
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus. She loves swimming, running, flavored coffee and Smoky Mountain sunsets.
Mary believes everyone has a story to tell, and she loves to share hers. She writes inspirational romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.
Learn more about Mary Manners at her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com.
~~~~~
Jaxon Briscoe has enjoyed a decade as the beloved star center of the Chicago Blackhawks. But off the ice, a string of reckless relationships has resulted in an accusation that he's fathered a child. As Jaxon's conscience is tossed into a firestorm, he learns his nephew, Grayson, has been expelled from school, and Jax is blindsided when Gray shows up on his doorstep—for good.
Adrienne Price carries a heavy secret...pregnant at a young age, she gave up her daughter for adoption in the hopes that the child might have a better life. Now, Adrienne's vowed to help teens rise above unsavory situations. As a result of God's grace, her project, Second Chances Day School, has prospered beyond her wildest imagination. But when Jax's troubled nephew enrolls at Second Chances, Adrianne is faced with a big challenge in the form of a hockey player with a bad reputation and a lot of boyish charm.
Can Adrienne and Jax finally find real love?

 
 
 

Friday, August 21, 2015

How to Get Published in 3 Easy Steps by Colleen Scott




Colleen Scott
How many times have you heard a publisher or an agent express desire to work with authors who are willing to learn and take to heart well-meaning suggestions? Colleen Scott is that type of writer, and now she has an awesome debut novel coming out soon.  ~ Dawn



How to Get Published in 3 Easy Steps

Don’t you wish the title of this blog post were true? I do. I would follow each step carefully, then sit on my front porch and wait for my box of books, hot off the press to arrive. The truth is, each person’s journey toward publication is different.

There are no three easy steps to becoming published, but here are three things I did that helped me get my first contract.

Step One – Keep writing and submitting. Each rejection you receive is one step closer to a contract. Be willing to try any and all avenues. I’ve had friends who’ve won contests and went on to be published. There are others who were agented first, then offered a contract, and others still who submitted their manuscript to a publishing service and had publishers contact them.

Step Two – Be willing to listen to advice. The first draft of Misconceptions was written from five POVs. After meeting with an agent at the ACFW conference, I took her advice and trimmed it down to three.

After the revisions, editors and agents were very interested in the book. I’d get requests for the full, then receive a rejection. Unfortunately, none gave a reason as to why. I was stumped.

Then one day while I was scrolling on Facebook, I noticed a new Christian publishing company, CastleGate Press, was launching their business. They were looking for suspense novels that included a little something unusual. Perfect! I followed the submission guidelines, submitted a query, and received a request for my first three chapters.

Step Three – Be willing to try something different. After reviewing my first three chapters, the editor contacted me and offered some very helpful feedback. She said that my writing was “almost there.” Ahhh … that was what I’d been looking for. She suggested that I read up on deep POV and edit my manuscript, and she invited me to resubmit.

I researched deep POV and felt I needed some help. I contacted a close writing friend and asked if she knew any freelance editors with a good reputation. She referred me to Dawn Kinzer and assured me Dawn was good at what she did, and she was kind. Sounded perfect to me! I forwarded my e-mails to Dawn, and she said she understood what the editor was looking for. After making the revisions, I resubmitted to the editor at CastleGate. She loved the changes and requested the full manuscript.

Now I had a decision to make. Each year, I attend one writing conference. I save money each month to put toward this investment. After praying, I decided to take my conference money and invest it in a full-manuscript edit. I could have attended the conference and pitched the novel to more agents and editors, but I felt hiring an editor was a better choice.

It paid off. After implementing all of the edits Dawn provided, the editor from CastleGate contacted me and offered me a contract. She went the extra mile and recommended me to Linda Glaz from Hartline Literary Agency, and I signed with her that same week. Once things fell into place, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

My debut novel will be coming out this fall. Click on the links below to follow me on Facebook, or sign up for my newsletter. When Misconceptions is available for purchase, I’ll give a big shout out!

Wherever you are in your writing journey, I encourage you to keep going. Take that next step. And don’t be afraid to try something different. It just may work out.




Misconceptions
Misconceptions

It’s mysterious. And she’s too curious.

In the near future, the birthrate in the United States has dropped precipitously…everywhere except a few small pockets. Posing as a social worker at a southern Ohio hospital, TV news reporter Dominique Sherwood aims to get the scoop and find out why.

Her investigation takes a radical turn when she meets Dr. Joseph Armstrong. His attention makes her heart flutter, but his theory about the birthrate decline makes her heart stutter. It’s too strange to even consider, but it’s her only lead.

Dominique follows the trail into the dangerous underworld of black-market adoptions as Joe and his family are unwittingly drawn into the web of deceit and murder. And when the truth comes out, more than just her story is on the line.



Colleen Scott is an active mother and wife and keeps busy homeschooling her children, directing plays for the local homeschool group, and playing endless fetch with her Border Collie. When not writing, Colleen enjoys reading, going for long walks, and spending time with her family and friends. She lives in the Midwest, and Misconceptions is her debut novel.

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