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I have just completed a major update for my website, removing outdated code from hopefully everywhere. (And that’s a lot of everywhere!)


For the past two weeks I have been writing (or editing) Monday through Thursday, and coding Friday through Sunday, and its been working wonderfully. I’ve been going around grinning, because it makes me so very happy to have both kinds of projects moving forward at a reasonable pace. Here’s to hoping that it continues working for me for months and months and months!


(Although, I do have to figure out how to work Art in there also, somehow. I’ve currently got 4 books all at the editing phase all at once. That means Cover Art will be needed. Eeep!)

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I think I have got Lioness to the point where I really need to get some outside feedback.

Here’s a go at a blurb for same, see what y’all think:

As the daughter of a wealthy merchant lord, Veldy grew up rich and sheltered, spending her days weaving and making lace. When her father convinces her to marry a nomadic lion hunter, she embarks on a bridal journey that will carry her deep into the dry and windswept highlands — facing physical hardships she previously could never even have imagined. But Veldy has far more to overcome than a harsh climate and an extreme change in lifestyle. Her bridegroom has many enemies — and not all of them are entirely human.

Anyway, the vital statistics: Lioness is a ~160K word story (I’ve currently got it split up into a duology), set in an Africa-esque fantasy world. (The same world as Cantata and Pavane, but on the other side of the continent). It could probably be considered YA. It’s got action, “cultural stuff”, and, of course, a bit of romance. And I’m looking for people who would be willing to read it and tell me what they think of the pacing, and whether I have any plot holes or I didn’t explain something well enough — that kind of stuff.

Mirrored on My Website.

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I have finished the first draft of a historical pirate romance set on the same world as Across a Jade Sea. It took me about a year to write. I don’t know exactly how long it is, because I wrote it out by hand, but at 281 pages, with my average page of longhand being somewhere between 150-200 words, it is clearly a full novel in length. That makes it my 13th completed novel.

Unless Lioness ends up getting split into a duology. Which is very possible.

Either way, 13th or 14th, it’s still a milestone, and I still get to celebrate. 🙂

I started working on it because I wasn’t feeling very well, and I was having trouble putting in a regular work day (especially since my computer had been moved out of my bedroom due to family computer-shortage issues). But I really wanted to be writing something, so I said: ‘Why don’t I write longhand? That way I can take it to bed with me, and I can tell myself, ‘it doesn’t matter how good it is, because I can fix it when I type it up later’. Also, I can just work on one of the random shorter things in my head that isn’t in the regular queue, so that if I start feeling better I won’t mind abandoning it for something else.” (I thought it would be ‘shorter’. I don’t always guess right when it comes to length.)

By the time I felt better — several months later — I had at least 50 000 words, and I didn’t want to abandon it. I wanted to get it written.

But now it is written, and I can finally get back to my ‘regularly scheduled’ work. Yay!
Which means: getting the two Bambi books ready to go off to my copy editor; finishing my first pass edits on Lioness, so I can get reader feedback; and then writing Book Four of Song of Asolde, Fencing With Waves.

I’m kind of eager to get to Fencing With Waves, because while in the middle of the rush to the end with the Pirate thingy, I took a week off to get the previous Song of Asolde book into a state where I could send it to my oldest daughter as a birthday present — she has been eagerly awaiting the next installment in that series for a few years now. So now I have that story in my head, but I really need to finish off some of my other projects first. Sigh.

Mirrored on My Website.

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I know a lot of people don’t seem to like Mondays, but I used to hang out online with author Julie E. Czerneda, and she’d get really, really excited about Mondays. Mondays were the day she got to go back to work, and she loved, loved, loved her job. I’m not sure I’m quite up for getting that excited — for one thing, I’m operating on a very limited energy budget here. Excitement is exhausting. But I do like Mondays.

Mondays are my “start over” day. I’ve learned to limit quantity goals to one week, and if I don’t make the goal in that week I don’t carry over the deficit. I start fresh each new week with a new chance to get it done right this time. Monday is probably the best day for me to assign myself to do something I really, really want to get done once a week. (Although it wouldn’t have worked last week, because last week I slept all day Monday. I do not know why I slept all day Monday, but assigning myself to do something wouldn’t have worked, because I never woke up enough to even care about what I was or wasn’t getting done.)

After getting past that sleepy Monday, I spent last week working on something that only resembled writing, rather than actual writing. (My husband seemed to think it pretty much counted, anyway, perhaps I should believe him.) I was creating ebooks. I started because I finally got around to acquiring a copy the transcription my daughter made of a Regency Romance Novella I wrote when I was eighteen. And then, of course, I had to go over the manuscript to see if there were transcription errors (possibly an almost-pointless enterprise given my general inability to see typographical errors, but I did catch a few), and having done that I figured I would just transfer the file over to ebook format, why not?

When I opened up the app in which I edit my ebooks, I discovered I was in the middle of making an ebook version of the script for Compelled. (Yes, script. Compelled is a story that I think wants to be a graphic novel… okay, to be honest, I think it wants to be a movie. Getting a graphic novel seems more potentially possible (I have done it before once), so I wrote a script for a graphic novel, and until I get my energy back and actually get to become the workaholic I always wanted to be, or someone volunteers to do the illustrations on spec, or I inherit a lot of money, I’m stuck at that point.) I can no longer remember why I wanted to ebook-ize a graphic novel script. But whatever — the ebook was sitting there half-finished, so I finished it. The ebook I originally meant to be making isn’t quite done yet. But almost!

I also discovered how to solve the mysterious problem of suddenly my new eBooks not having their cover images used for the thumbnails in iBooks anymore. Fixing this involved including a property tag I had never included before – rather than doing something I had recently been forgetting to do. So although all my books now have their cover images showing properly when I view the “by me” shelf, I’m still a bit boggled as to why the older books have them when they don’t have the property tag that is apparently now required. Apple must have changed its protocol for creating thumbnails — but the older thumbnails created using the former protocol still work? Something like that.

Also last week I tatted some more bookmarks. (Mental note to self, must email the friend I sorta offered a bookmark to, and make sure I have her latest address.) I have also been toying with the notion that the obvious solution to the problem of tatted bracelets pulling out of shape and stretching while being worn, is to sew them to a ribbon. This brilliant notion came to me while I was finishing some tatted barrettes, for which I have been using ribbon to cover up the metal bits so that they look better. (I will post a picture as soon as I get them taken and uploaded.)

Having come up with the idea, I will now undoubtedly end up making a few ribbon and tatting bracelets, even though I really have no use whatsoever for them. ::rueful:: I do need to figure out how they will be fastened together, though. Buttons are not so ideal for ribbon (where I would need to actually MAKE the buttonholes) as for tatting (where holes are a naturally occurring feature.)

Mirrored on My Website.

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That is to say, I got back from the ~3000 mile each way cartrip to get my eldest daughter married and my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary properly celebrated.

I’m not entirely sure I held up my end of things, but I tried.

And now, in theory, I will once again have time to do all those things I haven’t been getting done for the past four or five months, like participate in online discussions, update my website and write/edit books.

…The problem with theories is that they are so very theoretical.

But at least I’m home, with nothing worse having happened to me than getting robbed (I dropped my wallet, and when I got it back it was missing all the cash), being stopped by the cops (they issued a driving warning to our rookie driver temporarily filling in to give the two experienced drivers a break), throwing up (maybe the water at our first campsite disagreed with me?), discovering that fires had been banned at one of our campsites so we wouldn’t be able to cook dinner, and mostly loosing my voice and so having to transpose the song I wrote for my parents down four notes before I could perform it which infuriated my accompanist.

That’s probably about par for 6000 miles, right?

Mirrored on My Website.

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My WiiFit monitor says I’ve walked a thousand miles.

This doesn’t show how amazingly much I walk, because I’ve been collecting the data for more than two years now, (although I do sometimes forget to wear the silly thing), and so I’m averaging less than 1.5 miles a day.

But once again, I prove that I have persistence in spades.

(Also I just ‘beat’ that silly WiiFit Obstacle Course game, so I gleefully removed it from my workout routine — I have discovered that I do not enjoy walking in place. Dancing and not going places is fine because the dance steps aren’t intended to travel, but pretending to walk is just miserable: I’m moving wrong. I know it’s wrong, but I can’t fix it, because if I moved right I would step off the little balance board. Grr!)

Mirrored on My Website.

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I guess I’m in a talkative mood, so I’m going to explain the steps I have been using to make a history for my Cultivator Universe.

1) I started by drawing myself a galaxy, and then I gridded it off into squares. (Fortunately for me, spiral galaxies are relatively flat, so it wasn’t too huge of a stretch to use a 2D map for this exercise.)

2) I then mostly randomly created 200 dots representing the worlds on which my civilizations started. (I randomize by rolling dice. I married an avid board-gamer and there are always dice around.)

3) I randomly assigned a Civilization Level to each of those dots. These levels told me which of those planets started developing technology the soonest, and therefore who had a “head start” when it came to spreading out among the stars.

4) I made an arbitrary guestimate of how fast the “reach” civilization would expand once its ships had achieved near light-speed capabilities, and based on how much “coverage” I hoped to achieve, decided how long ago my oldest civilizations started expanding.

5) I created a technological advancement chart that would give me a rough estimate of how long it would take each Civilization Level to achieve various technological benchmarks.

6) I split my total timespan into segments, and created map overlays that showed the “reach” of each civilization at the end of each segment in the form of transparent colored circles.

7) And then, checking each overlay one at a time, I have been figuring out which civilization encountered which other civilization in what order, and writing a quick one sentence explanation of what happened when they did.

Mirrored on My Website.

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So I was taking my usual evening walk with my husband, and he knew I had been working on a history for my Cultivator Universe, and he was curious about my “squid aliens” and how far along my technical advancement track I was going to let them go (I had already told him that my “squid alien” civilizations didn’t achieve spaceflight before they were discovered by other people who had).

I admitted that I hadn’t even figured out how squid aliens could achieve written language yet, and then dove right into figuring out how they might do so, with my husband valiantly holding up his end as sounding board and alternate outlook. We wandered through a possible system for representing their language physically, discussed clay tablets, and about the time I started wondering what materials would be available to act as the frame for a moveable-type system, he told me his brain had gone into overload… “I was just asking a question!”

And I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t help it — my brain just works like that.”

“Yeah,” he answered. “I know.”

For me it was a bit of relief, though. It means I am pretty much back to normal, after over a month of “feeling awful and not able to get anything done,” followed by another month of rebuilding of my mental and physical endurance. Bleh.

I’m doing much better now, and should be in good enough shape to get back on my “regular” schedule. (Sans singing, alas, because I’ve been perpetually stuffed up since New Years.)

And in the eye-candy department…

As I said I have been working on a history, and that means I needed a map… only it’s the history of something that calls itself a Galactic Empire. So, map, yeah…

This is the “terrain” map I ended up drawing.

Pretty, yes?

Mirrored on My Website.

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So I’ve tried it for a week.
In order to make the switch from work to music, I set my husband’s alarm-clock to turn on the radio. This worked fine for stopping me from editing, but on Friday when I was coding, I just ignored it. ::rueful::

Still I not only got a better balance of stuff accomplished, I also got more total accomplished. Stopping working before I hit brain-dead apparently has fringe benefits.

(I used to know that. Once upon a time my wordcount goals were actually there to tell me “Time to stop,” not to push me to write more. But I guess I sort of forgot that in all the excitement of doing the publication thing?)

Anyway, here’s what I got done last week…

  • Writing: I fixed many errors in Eyes of Infistar, installed a copy on our tablet for my husband to read, got back several chapters worth of notes, made more fixes, and put a new copy on the tablet.

    I also ebook-ified a book written by my daughter, put it on the tablet, and did a read-through.

  • Art: Compiled 19 pages of ink scans for Scent of Spring.
  • Music: Practiced 5 times (inc. 3 “vocal workout” sessions). Worked on scoring Scent of Spring. (Yes, the song has the same title as the graphic novel… There’s a reason for that.)
  • Coding: Started work on an image carousel for inserting on the bottom of certain webpages. In the process, discovered that the ‘$’ jquery shortcut doesn’t work consistently when used on a page that is integrating wordpress content. The discovery process involved a certain amount of hair-pulling. ::rueful::
  • Tatting: Worked on a design that still isn’t right. (I do a lot of that.)

Plus, I did 11 holes of disc golf, played the Eldritch Horror Boardgame with my family 3 times (we just got a new expansion, so we were eager to try out all the new stuff), helped one daughter build a website and helped another make bead lizards* to give away to friends. All in all, a good week.

*My design from over 15 years ago. They were actually the body of a dragon, but the wings were futzy and delicate and the older kids and I ended up making a bunch of dragons without the wings, back when. Examples were still inhabiting my bedroom, and she wanted to make a couple. Her first one is pictured below.

Mirrored on My Website.

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I like doing things I can count up or check off. I like to be able to prove to myself that even though I am in the middle of the project, and will probably continue to be in the middle for a long time yet, I am still moving forward.

As long as I’m writing, the wordcount bar fills that psychological need. But when I’m editing, I flounder. Right now, I am editing.

In addition to that, I am struggling with the fact that I have many non-writing projects I want to be working on, and more than one skill I want to be developing. How do I keep everything organized, and on-track, and prioritized?

Right now my week-day routine goes something like: wake up, practice my french, eat breakfast, exercise, work until my brain is too tired to work (this usually doesn’t take anywhere near a whole day), futz around for the rest of the day—maybe on my various non-work projects, but as often as not just killing time.

I want badly to be getting regular music and art time in there too, but I’ve been having trouble motivating myself on the music end because I have no clear goals. And my current art project is at a non-artistic stage in the process, so that’s been an issue too. Plus it would be great if I could set aside some time when I am not brain-dead for coding. And I don’t want to neglect my tatting!

So…
Same morning routine.
Edit for only half my workday – (Change this into a wordage goal when I get back to writing)
Music – Goal: use Garageband to make recordings of my songs. One song every two weeks?
Art – Just get the Scent of Spring Coloring Book put together already! I can prioritize making art again when I no longer have a folder full of over a hundred ink scans waiting to be made into a book. So: 20 pages a week. At least.
Code on Fridays.
Tat one bookmark per weekend.

I think that’s doable. It looks doable. I may need to break the “one song every two weeks” down into smaller sub-goals, but everything else is pretty well defined.

I will give it a try and see how it works.

Mirrored on My Website.

Done!

Nov. 11th, 2015 12:01 pm
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The first draft of Lioness is finished. All ~140 000 words of it. (Long one!)

…It may possibly be the messiest first draft I’ve ever done, but I don’t care. For the first time since I started writing it in — as close as I can figure — March of 2010, it has not only a beginning but also a middle and an end. So I’m heading off to celebrate. :)

Mirrored on My Website.

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Apparently my little tatted dragon pendant has been nominated for the “best new free tatting design” award on Craftree.com. Coolness!

Mirrored on My Website.

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My son went to the library the other day, and came home with a particular book because “I saw it and I thought of you.”

Which book makes him think of me?

The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure: Classic Tales of Dashing Heroes, Dastardly Villains, and Daring Escapes, edited by Lawrence Ellsworth

I would guess that this isn’t what reminds most college students of their moms, but Vive la Difference! :)

And, in other news, I have been slowly revamping the “Art” area of my website into the “Arts and Crafts” area of my website, so that I would have a place to put my tatting patterns. I also included a link to the instructions for the origami fold from Across a Jade Sea, but it looks kind of lonely as the only “craft design” that isn’t tatting. Clearly I need to figure out what else I’ve invented over the years that is worth posting instructions for. My bead dragons, maybe? Or “How to sew your very own Coral Palace gisgir”?

Mirrored on My Website.

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Velvet Lies is a novella that shares a setting with my fantasy novels Cantata in Coral and Ivory, and Pavane and Pearl and Emerald. It is free on amazon for the kindle for the next few days. Plot-wise it’s a murder mystery: no fantasy elements at all except for the non-earth setting. But it’s really more about exploring a culture*, and people making (hopefully) witty remarks, than it is about catching crooks.

For my ad on Goodreads, I used the tagline: A comedy of murder and manners. I don’t know that it’s actually all that funny — more snicker-ific than LOL — but oh, well. My publisher wanted the “You mean the man’s own servants won’t say who killed him because it wouldn’t be polite?” quote, and that was the best I could do with the limited space remaining.

*Since the culture being explored is an imaginary one, yes does pass the “does this book actually need to be fantasy/sf?” test, even with the complete lack of expected fantasy elements.

Mirrored on My Website.

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I published another book.

Yeah, yeah, I know normal people have a party on their birthday. Since when was I normal? But I did go out to dinner.

Many thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday!

Except my Wii. It claimed I was 20 two weeks before my birthday, but just as my birthday was approaching it changed its mind and decided I was 54. Bad Wii. No cookie.

Mirrored on My Website.

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When transcribing someone’s Juvenilia, should one preserve the spelling errors, or not?

Mirrored on My Website.

Filk and Me

Jan. 4th, 2015 02:18 pm
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It occurred to me that before I posted another ‘Making of Cantata’ post where I blamed part of the Coral Palace culture on the filk community, that I really ought to explain what the filk community is. Especially since a lot of non-filkers define filk as “song parodies about scifi, computer games and other geeky things”. Which doesn’t quite cover enough ground to explain the Filk-Cantata connection.

As a young reader, I delighted in the bits of poetry/verse that I found in some of the books I read: Tolkien and McCaffrey come most particularly to mind. I would often memorize the poems, and even sometimes improvise tunes for some of the ones that were supposed to be songs, so that I could sing them. When I started writing, I sometimes included songs in my own stories. The “folk songs” I made up for use in one particular story with a historical setting (I wouldn’t do that now, I don’t think, I would use actual existing folksongs) I even created tunes for, thinking that because they were “folk songs” I might get a chance to sing them to someone sometime. You never know. But there didn’t seem to be any possibility of finding an audience for the more “fantasy” type songs, so I didn’t bother making up tunes for those.

And then I went to college, and the guy who would eventually become my husband took me to my first ever science fiction convention, and in the evening, even though I said I was tired, he insisted I attend something called ‘filking’. “You’ll love it!” He assured me. I walked in and discovered a group of people sitting roughly in a circle, and singing a song called “Pride of Chanur”, about the science fiction books featuring a race of intelligent cat-like people by C.J. Cherryh, with a tune that I had never heard before… but luckily I’m good at picking up tunes, and in no time I was singing along with the chorus. We went on to sing many other songs, some of which, like “Pride of Chanur”, were songs with original words and original tunes, some of which were new lyrics to familiar tunes, and some of which took poems from out of books and set them to music. Clearly I had found ‘my people’.

And when the convention came to an end, I went home and started writing tunes for my “fantasy” songs. :)

So: the filk community is a musical community that grew up around science fiction and fantasy conventions. (It is now large enough to hold conventions of its own.) There are two key elements to the filk community: the interest in fantasy and science fiction and related topics, and the emphasis on participation in music rather than just passively listening. Everyone is encouraged to sing. Everyone is encouraged to write songs. If you can’t do tunes, write new words to someone else’s tune. If you can’t do lyrics, write music to someone else’s lyrics. Take a turn singing in the circle. If you know the song someone else is singing, join in. Learn to play an instrument. Don’t just be a fan of filk, become a filker.

Mirrored on My Website.

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I think I’m supposed to be saying something Christmasy right now. So Happy Holidays everyone!

We don’t do a lot of celebrating at our house, just because we’re not into making a big fuss. But I always enjoy having my family around and getting to spend time with them, and the presents are appreciated and all the Christmas chocolates fully enjoyed. :)

It’s also the end of the year, so I am desperately trying to finish everything I hoped to get done this year, and, as usual, failing. But here’s one thing off the list: Velvet Lies, a Coral Palace murder mystery novella is now available for the kindle at Amazon.

(You can only get it at Amazon right now, because we decided to try some of their exclusive programs and see what we thought of them. In three months we will start making it available elsewhere. In the meantime if you are a member of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program you can read it for free.)

In the meantime, my health slump continues, and now with a traditional Christmas cold on top of everything, I am once again reduced to playing boardgames while lying down in bed instead of sitting up at a table. ::grumble::

But I am still taking regular walks, and will get back to a more extensive exercise program as soon as I can! (Mood: determined)

Mirrored on My Website.

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Cantata in Coral and Ivory is set on a world named Ialfa, which I had originally intended to be used for fairytale retellings, or fairytale-like stories. But I thought I wanted to do tales that featured a slightly more… er… sophisticated grasp of politics than ones where kings arbitrarily pass the rulership down to whichever of their sons brings back the golden fish, or where princes can get away with marrying kitchen maids just because they happen to have the smallest foot in the kingdom. I wanted the romance and the magic (and the happy endings!) but set against a richer, more realistic cultural backdrop.

Because of that, I had two main interests when I started working on this world: the creation of an elaborate historical background, and a magic system that had an organic feel to it.

I didn’t actually have a specific story in mind yet, just those two goals. So started on a very large scale. I created a solar system, and a world geography. Then I started mapping the rise and fall of nations, and worked out what exactly magic was here, and how it accomplished things. This established the “rules” of the world. But everything I knew was very general and grand and sweeping, and it wasn’t until I decided that I wanted to actually write a story in this world that I started to think on a smaller scale about what it might be like to live there.

The spot I rather arbitrarily decided was the location of my first story, turned out to be on the equator of a continent roughly the size and geographic position of Africa. So I started reading about Africa, as well as other tropical locations and civilizations—feeding the fabulator. The large-scale rules I had already established by creating my geography guided my search for smaller details, which then ballooned back out to large-scale rules again.

If the most common form of agriculture in my target climate is slash and burn, then what sort of civilization would emerge from that base? Would they have money? What would their religion be like? How about their courts and palaces?

One book I checked out of the library commented that Africa was home to the greatest variety of very large mammals still in existence, but that giant mammals used to roam all parts of the world. Africa’s abundance is merely because, for some as yet unknown reason, more large species survived extinction there. “What,” I asked myself, “would my world be like if I reversed that trend? What if this continent I was working with wasn’t the place where the most giants survived extinction, but the place where the fewest did? Then, if I had elephants, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses and giraffes here, what did that mean the rest of the world would look like?”

My world was gradually gaining depth. And although it didn’t look anything at all like what you’d expect from the word “fairytale”, it did have cultural richness, plenty of room for romance, and some nicely understated magic. Most importantly, it had achieved a unique personality all of its own, and was coming to life.

It became so much alive, in fact, that it did what most authors complain that their characters do.

My setting developed a mind of its own, and completely took over the story.

Mirrored on My Website.

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This might amuse people who have read Cantata or Pavane. (And maybe even those that haven’t.)

I have a webpage that will do you up a horoscope Coral Palace style. Now with a fancy image showing your birth signs and the current state of the skies that displays if you tell the page your birthdate.

Please be aware that the advice of the Coral Palace astrologers comes without any warrantee express or implied.

Mirrored on My Website.

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