Friday, November 30, 2007

So, What Did You Do This Year?

It's early, early Friday morning and I'm getting a headstart on my day.
And then I'm going to bed and I'll start over in a few hours.
I was wracking my brains, trying to come up with something to blog about--and then I realized that we're almost at the end of 2007. Before we start our What I'm Going to Accomplish in 2008 List, we should look back and applaud ourselves for what we accomplished in 2007!
So, what did you do in 2007?
Stop right there! Don't think about any of those things you didn't do! That's not what I asked you.
Think of what you did do. Maybe it was something you planned on doing, like sending that query letter off to an editor. Or writing a rough draft of your novel. Or attending a writers conference.
Maybe it was something unexpected, like abandoning non-fiction because you heard voices and were lured to fiction. Or maybe you started a blog. (Really? Tell us about it!) Or maybe you had something published. (Tell us about that too!)
I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.
I can't wait to hear about it!

**Today's the last day to be entered in our second giveaway to win Jerry Jenkins' book, Writing for the Soul.**

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Highlighting a New Writers Blog

One of my favorite resources as a Christian writer is Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide. I buy one every couple years. Recently Sally started a blog, Christian Writers' Marketplace. I've found it very informative. She highlights changes within the publishing market, announces upcoming contests and new writing opportunities.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

**Remember, all comments until November 30th are still entered into our second giveaway. Jerry Jenkins' book, Writing for the Soul.**

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Punting This Post

What do you do when your writing life collides with your real life? Or, in my case, my mommy life?
I'm on deck today with a sick kiddo, which is no fun for her or for me. And I am going to punt this post. In other words, I am going to keep it brief.
And all I can say is Thank you, God, for people who compile lists.

5 Reasons to be Persistent and Patient
  1. You have to be. It is a necessary part of being a writer.
  2. Being patient and persistent works. The people who make it as writers are those who have practiced patience and persistence for years.
  3. It's saner, more comfortable, and less stressful than being impatient and giving up.
  4. Decisions, pieces of writing, and careers all need time to grow, mature and ripen.
  5. Editors, agents, and other publishing people are often overwhelmingly busy, and thus slow to respond to writers.

Excerpt from 1,818 Ways to Write Better & Get Published by Scott Edelstein

**Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.**

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Networking Matters

Writing involves so much more than transferring your brilliant idea from the back of your grocery receipt to your keyboard. Networking is necessary for every professional writer. For the introvert, it's more like the necessary evil.

My first published articles were born from meeting editors face-to-face. Since then my circle of connections continues to grow. I enjoy meeting new faces and learning what publishers are looking for. I can think I have a great topic, but often times it requires a tweak--or two or three--to fit into a magazine.

So how do you start networking? I suggest attending a writer's conference or workshop in your area or joining Shoutlife.com or another online writers group. Put yourself out there and let people know you write. Have business cards made. I like Vistaprint.com for reasonable prices and template choices. Don't be like me and show up to your first conference with scissors and paper. I cut out my own cards. I'm sure I made a strong first impression. A funny, unprofessional one.

Thoughts on other networking options?

**Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.**

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Book Just For the Fun of It

It's Monday.

Time to roll my chair over to my bookshelf and peruse my assortment of books. And, thanks to my addiction to bookstores and my dad's willingness to support my book habit, I've got quite a stash!

Here's a fun one for today:

In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World by Christopher J. Moore. Here's a few lines of explanation from the inside cover:

"Take a trip around the world of words and unlock the meaning of some of the most insightful, intriguing, and satisfying espressions on the planet, for which there are no English equivalents."

Here are a couple of entries to whet your word appetite:

  • craic (Irish) "Where's the craic?" is the cry of any Irish person arriving in a new city. With an original meaning close to something like "chat" . . . the term now means the combination of elements all adding up to a good time--fun, laughter, music, and warm company.
  • dast u del baz budan (Persian) [dast oo del baz boo-dan](idiom) This phrase literally means "the opening of hand and heart." It describes the idea of being free with your money, not being stingy, and having a generosity toward others.
  • uitwaaien (Dutch) (verb) A most useful and attractive verb meaning "to walk in the wind for fun." It conjures up a charming image of Dutch people outdoors knowing just how to enjoy their landscape.

And, just for the record: it is not easy to type the word i-n-t-r-i-g-u-i-n-g, which I've had to do twice in this post, with many mistakes.

Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words #4

What would you write about this photo?

Looking forward to reading your comments.

Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Trends Change

As writers, we see trends come and go. Historical fiction. Forty-day books. Chick-lit series. Testimonials. If we look to follow the current trend, we're too late. There's a new book fade stepping up to take center stage. So how can we stay above the latest happenings in publishing?

I'll be honest: I don't know. I've heard try to think ahead of the market. I've heard stick with your passion and eventually it'll be back in style. Any random thoughts out there?

I think regardless of trends our best work is done with our whole heart. Time, talent, work, and sacrifice. Nothing less will do.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Reasons to be a Writer--the Short List

Good and Bad Reasons to be a Writer--the abridged version
by Scott Edelstein

Good Reasons
  1. To communicate to others your ideas, emotions, experiences, cares, needs, concerns, questions, and obsessions.
  2. To grow emotionally, intellectually, psychologically, artistically, and/or spiritually; to help others to do the same.
  3. To entertain yourself and/or others.
  4. To leave your mark on the world.
  5. To play with words, concepts, images, and meanings.
  6. To provide catharsis--to enable what's inside of you
    to come out.

Bad Reasons

  1. To hurt other people or take revenge on them.
  2. To make, or attempt to make, other people miserable, envious, or unhappy.
  3. To impress others with the fact that you're a writer.
  4. To make yourself miserable. (If writing makes you miserable, don't be a writer!)

Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Wish

I'm not going to write a wordy post today. I'm cooking the turkey this year, so I need to get busy rinsing my turkey. I hate that job. I'm not thrilled to stick my hand inside a gooey, slimy bird to retrieve a long neck and some bagged, body parts.

At any rate, I wanted to wish you all a memorable, fun, and joyful Thanksgiving! Eat too much, laugh too much, and relax too much! Think of ways to write about your experience. In your journal. For an article. For your fiction novel. Or just because. I love recording memories.

God bless you all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Writer Montage

With thanks to my writing friend, Beth, who sent me this fun video clip after I'd told her I wanted to quit writing and find another job. (She recommended Starbucks.)
And also to my daughter, Amy, who helped me figure out how to make this video clip happen. And to my son Josh who told me how to post a video clip on Blogger.
Yep, I am tech-challenged!


Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One Thing Every Writer Must Have

Do you ever find the writing process draining? Or do you enjoy every rewrite and rejection?

If you're like me, you mumble, "It's not worth it," certain days. So what can you do to get over the hump of discouragement? For me, it's been one thing. And that is having a cheerleader. Someone who believes in my writing, someone who encourages me, someone who challenges me to grow in the craft. Dare I credit Beth on our blog? Sorry I must.

Because of Beth, I'm a published writer. I've finished the Christian Writers Guild course. She comforted me when I wanted to quit. We've attended four writing conferences together now. Beth came along early in my writing journey. She was farther along the writing road than me. I felt intimidated, yet Beth took time to meet with me and train me. She was my mentor. And her support has made all the difference.

I still go through my doubts about once a year. Beth patiently listens and then speaks words of motivation to me. I ponder her words, shed a tear, and start again. Writing, rewriting, submitting and waiting.

It's a writer's life.

Who's your cheerleader? Do you have one?

***Don't forget to post a comment to enter our giveaway. See Monday's post for details.***

Monday, November 19, 2007

Let's Get This Blog Started Contest-Part 2

Tiffany and I had so much fun with our first contest, we decided to have another one.

Let's Get This Blog Started Part 2! (There's always a sequel, right?)

So, what's the prize?

Tiffany and I connected at a Writing for the Soul conference, so it seems appropriate to offer Jenkins' book as a prize.
Since this is Part 2 of a contest, we'll give you two ways to try and win:

  1. Post a comment through the end of November

  2. Tell someone about The Writing Road blog and have them post a comment--just have them tell us how they found out about the blog.

Easy, right?

Tiffany and I are enjoying meeting all of you. We try and drop by all of your blogs too. Is there anybody out there we've missed?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words # 3

What would you write about this one?
Fiction writers and non-fiction writers, jump on in! We're looking forward to your posts.
And, yes, they count towards our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2.
We'll announce the prize for the contest for the second half of November tomorrow.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And The Winner Is:

Thanks to all who've posted a comment during our first giveaway. We've picked a winner. Congratulations, Elizabeth. You've won the Writers Digest CD. Please click on the "Contact Beth" link and give us your address so we can send you the CD.

Check back in Monday for another giveaway.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Here's a Thought

Never throw up on an editor.
~Ellen Datlow

I read this quote and laughed. The admonition: Never throw up on an editor reminded me of my article "I Think I'm Gonna' Be Sick."
It's okay to write a lousy first draft. It's obligatory. Really.
Just don't send that oh-so-wretched first draft to an editor. That's why you re-write. And re-write again. So that an editor receives the final copy that sings.
Thoughts, anyone?

****Tiffany and I are searching for a randomizer to help us choose our winner of the Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway, which ended yesterday. Everyone who posted comments from Nov. 1st-Nov. 15th is entered in the drawing.
Keep posting, because we are starting another giveaway today!!! Maybe we'll call it: Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway Part 2--or maybe we'll think of something snazzier by Monday. Keep commenting. And check back to find out who our first winner is and what the next prize is!****

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thinking Out Loud

As I've thought about what to post today, I keep coming up with the same thoughts. No tips today. I'm out of fresh ideas. Just thinking out loud.

As writers, we are full of ideas and creativity. Well, some days we are anyway. I have probably 100 documents started. Devotions. Outlines. Articles. Queries and rough drafts. My question is what can I do with all of this chaos?

I've heard pick the "one" topic you are passionate about right now and start there. Okay, what if I'm not sure? What if I like all of them? Then what? Can a writer be effective with more than one project going at once? If so, how?

What are your strategies with your WIP(work-in-progress)? I'm hoping I'm not the only writer overloaded with Word docs. Maybe I have a devotional book in the making.

I'd love to hear your take on this topic. I'd love to know I'm not alone.

***Drawing winner will be announced tomorrow. ***

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A List Worth Keeping: Top 55 Reference Websites

The editorial board over at eBizMBA (tagline: Everything You Need to Know About Ebusiness) compiled an amazing list of the Top 55 Reference Websites. My writing comrade, Scoti, aka The Research Guru, could spend weeks trolling through this list.

Writing=Research. And research often means wondering, "Where do I find the answer to this question?"

Well, here's 55 good places to start!

Here's a sneak peek at some of the sites:

Howstuffworks explains hundreds of subjects, from car engines to lock-picking to ESP, using clear language and tons of illustrations.

Learn how to do just about everything at ehow, the world's most popular place to find How To instructions.

Your source for famous quotes and quotations from thousands of famous people.

Listed as The World's Biggest Show and Tell, Instructables and Real Simple are giving you a chance to share your most delicious holiday recipe shortcuts and win great prizes. A quick glance at how-tos included: how to make your own medicine ball and how to make a safety pin from a straight pin. Okay, then.

Check out eBizMBA's Top 55 references. Find any new favorites? Got any favorites they forgot to mention?

***Today's the last day to be part of our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing.***

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


"Write what you know."

As writers we've all heard this. Or this one: "Write your passion." And if your passion is books, your first step is creating a book proposal. I've walked through the process with Beth's book, but haven't actually tried to write one yet. Article and devotional writing seem easier. Like most writers, I have book ideas. I even own proposal writing books. But intimidation stops me from starting. Can't I just write my book and skip that process? Nope. Every published book started with a proposal or a query.

So where do you start? I recommend checking online with the publishers you are considering. Often times they have sample fiction and non-fiction proposals. Or purchase a book or read articles about proposals. Try "googling" this topic.

You know the phrase, "You never have a second chance to make a first impression" Well, your proposal is your first impression. Make it your best work. Do the necessary prep work. And you may just get a reply, "Send me more."

**Two more days until our drawing! Post a comment to enter. Read previous post for link and details.**

Monday, November 12, 2007

Recommended Reading

For a non-fiction writer, I read a lot of books on fiction writing.

One of my favorites is Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. Stein has written novels, poetry, screenplays, and tv dramas. He also created the computer software WritePro, FirstAid for Writers and FictionMaster.

Often when I'm reading a book, I'll underline favorite quotes. And if I really like something, I'll make note of it on the inside cover of the book. What's scribbled on the inside of Stein on Writing?
  • pg. 36 -- list for drafting a first paragraph

When I turn to page 36, I find these questions:

  1. Does your first sentence trigger curiosity to make the reader want to continue?
  2. What will the reader see in that first sentence?
  3. Have you focused on an individual?
  4. Have you given us a visible characteristic of that individual?
  5. Have you portrayed the individual doing or saying something?
  6. Is there a startling or odd fact that will trap attention?

When you think about it, those are good questions to ask whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction. Shouldn't every writer trigger curiosity and make a reader want to continue? Shouldn't every writer paint some sort of picture for the reader?

I had another notation for page 56. You might want to go buy Stein on Writing and find out what Stein had to say that was worth taking notes on.

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Sunday, November 11, 2007

If a Picture's Worth a Thousand Words 2

What would you write about this photo?

Consider this your writing prompt for the week. Be sure to post what you write as a comment. Looking forward to seeing what y'all come up with!

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Saturday, November 10, 2007

How Can I Get Noticed?

After attending a writers conference, I feel both encouraged and discouraged. Encouraged because I met other writers, learned a few things, and heard positive feedback from editors. Discouraged because of the fierce competition. I remember one editor saying she needs 365 devotions each year and she receives about 2500 submissions. Sounds like tough odds to me.

So, how can I stand out among the crowd? How can I make sure my article or book proposal gets a second read through?

Here's some basics I try to remember when I write:

*Prefer the simple word to the fancy.

*Avoid adverbs. Use adjectives sparingly.Oops, there's an adverb.

*Use strong action verbs and nouns.

*Research what I'm writing about, if needed. An author loses credibility if he is writing about a person with Parkinson's Disease if he doesn't know about the current treatment options or how the disease affects the body.

*Submit only my best work. The most frequent complaint I've heard at conferences from publishers is writers send in sloppy work.

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Friday, November 9, 2007

Who is a Writer?

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for
other people. ~Thomas Mann

I just have to comment on this quote. I read it and thought: Only another writer would understand and appreciate this quote!

People who say, "Oh, I think I'll write a book," like they're going to clip their toenails or dust a bookshelf annoy me. They make it sound like writing a book is E-A-S-Y. That all you do is sit down, la-de-da, and write a book.

They know nothing of rough drafts and rewrites and writer's block and rewrites and writers conferences and rewrites and critiques and rewrites and query letters and rewrites and REJECTION LETTERS and rewrites and learning the craft while living in this alternate universe of the writing world.

Ahem. I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

Remember: Join in the Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway! Comment on blog posts through November 15th and you may win The Writer's Ultimate Resource Guide 2008

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Inner Critic Battle

Ever hear yourself say, "Who do I think I am to call myself a writer?" If so, that's your inner critic. I've heard phrases like this in my mind more times than I care to count.

So how can you and I fight off the inner critic and write? Here are some ways to deal with the voice of doubt and defeat:

Remember all the people who have said, "You are a writer."

Reflect back on your previously published articles or books. Even rejection letters prove you write. Okay, maybe I am a writer.

Read comments on your blog, if you have one. Mine reminds me that I am making a difference. Even if I'm not getting paid for it, I love knowing I encourage others.

Renew your commitment to grow in your writing ability. Read, read, read. Read books or magazines on writing, read the newspaper, read fiction, read biographies. Read what you love to write. If you write devotions, you should be reading them.

Research possible new markets for your writing. Challenge the current angle you're taking on an idea. If you've received repeated rejections, consider tweaking your approach.

Recognize these thoughts are normal. May I repeat that? Normal.

Return to your computer and write. If you cannot not write, then you are a writer, regardless of the voices you hear.

Writing takes commitment and peseverance. The road is long, but the journey is full of wonder and adventure. Ready to join me? There's room on the road for you.

I know Beth would agree.

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Blog of the Week: The Answer Man

It's not what you know but who you know.

That adage is true along the writing road too. Soon after I stepped back into the writing world, I met Chip MacGregor. I could say a lot about Chip. Things like:

  • He's been all over the writing world: writer, editor, agent
  • He's proud of his Scottish heritage
  • He's written books on magic (card tricks, to be exact)
  • He does not suffer fools gladly--and I mean that in the best possible way

If you want to learn about the alternate universe we writers reside in, check out Chip's blog at ChipMacGregor.com. His tagline says it all: Publishing tips, insights, and wisdom from a seasoned pro in the book business.

Recent posts include:

  • Authors, Markets, and What to Read Next
  • What a Fiction Publisher is Thinking
  • Approaching Agents

I could say a lot about Chip. I'll say one thing: I trust him. Okay, make it two: I respect him.

Back when I was brainstorming my idea for a book about late-in-life motherhood, Chip steered me clear of my original idea. He knew what publishers were looking for--and my format (a compilation book) wasn't it. I joked that he'd torpedoed my book. He said, "It's a good idea. You just need to figure out a different way to write the book."

Get thee hence to ChipMacGregor.com.

****Don't forget to join in our Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway. You're entered just by posting comments during through November 15th.****

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tips on Working With Editors

Patricia wrote, I'd like to hear about common mistakes writers make that cause editors to cringe so that I can avoid them from the beginning.

Okay, here's a list of what to do and not to do when working with editors.

1. Be professional. No cute photos, perfumed paper or presents with your query or manuscript. White or ivory paper is perfect. Good writing will get you noticed without all the fluff.

2. Research the publishing house before you submit your idea. Read their magazine, know the audience and style. Know what type of books they publish. Make sure your idea fits.

3. Never send a manuscript in without reading the writer's guidelines. Most publishers want a query first. Most guidelines are found online. You will be noticed if you send in your article instead of a query. Not in a positive way.

4. No phone calls. Respect an editor's time. Be patient. Wait until after the response time is over to ask about your submission.

5. When mailing a manuscript, always include as SASE(self-addressed stamped envelope). If not, you may never hear back from them. And be sure you have the right amount of postage.

6. Meet your deadline. No excuses. Submit on time. Obviously on rare occasions, circumstances prevent this from happening. But if you know you have a wedding to attend on the due date, submit early.

7. Work with the editor as your partner. They are there to help you. So when they recommend changes, do them. Don't argue. Be willing to rework your piece.

8. Send in a clean copy. Editors expect writers to self edit. Always submit your best work. Have at least one person read what you've written. Read it out loud.

9. Write to the word count or below. If you get an assignment to write 800 words, write 800 words or less. Never more. There's a reason for the word count. They have page layouts that require a certain number of words. If you are over, they will have to edit out the extra words or you will have to.

There's my two cents for this Tuesday. Maybe Beth can weigh in and add a few more tips.

Hope this helps, Patricia.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Talking About Books

Monday got away from me! I know it's only midday, but I usually like to post earlier than this. Oh, well. The blogosphere is a fairly forgiving world. And I'll offer myself some grace today and be flexible with my "book" post.

If you're like me, you have a teetering, tottering To Be Read Pile. I'll tell you what's in my pile, if you tell me what's in yours. Of course, this means I have to check out the pile on my desk and the pile by my chair and the pile by my bed and the pile in the bathroom . . .

Without further ado: Beth's To Be Read Pile
  • Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh (Actually, I finished reading this, but now I need to review it for this blog. I guess I need to start a To Be Reviewed Pile! Spoiler: I loved it!)
  • Speak Through the Wind by Allison Pittman
  • God is in the Small Stuff at Christmas by Bruce and Stan
  • Blacktop Cowboys by Ty Phillips
  • Wisdom of Our Fathers by Tim Russert
  • You're Only Young Twice: 10 Do-Overs to Reawakan Your Spirit by Ronda Beaman (I just may move this up to the top of my pile!)
  • Heard for the First Time by Susan D. Miller
  • A Walk with Jane Austen by Lori Smith
  • Alone in Marriage by Susie Larson (This is really the next book I am reading! Not because I need to, but because I know Susie and because this book is doing well right now.)
  • 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper

There's one more book on fatherhood, but I left it in my car, which is now at the mechanics. Ugh. I will tell you that I love the cover of the book. That saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover?" You know it's not true! We all do just that! We look at the cover, then we flip the book over and scan the back cover copy real quick to see if it catches our interest. If it does, then we open the book and skim the first couple of pages. And, if we like what we see--cover, back cover, first couple of pages--we buy the book.

So, what's in your To Be Read Pile?

Remember: Join in the Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway! Comment on blog posts through November 15th and you may win The Writer's Ultimate Resource Guide 2008

Sunday, November 4, 2007

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words . . .

What would you write about this one?

Consider this a writing prompt. Don't panic, just write. See where the photo and your words lead you. And if you're willing, share a bit of what you write as a "Comment."

See you along The Writing Road.

****Don't forget to join us in our Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway. You're entered just by posting comments during the first two weeks of November.****

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Why Blah, Blah, Blog?

Many writers have started blogging over the past few years. Obviously Beth and I are no exception. And if you haven't started, you may be wondering if blogging is something you need to do. Our answer is maybe.

Here are some reasons to consider starting your own blog:

Blogging helps you write regularly. And writing regularly helps you develop your voice.

Blogging is free.

Blogging is a place where you can promote or host a giveaway of your book.

Blogging can serve as a photo album for your family and friends.

Blogging expands your readership to the world. Most blogs are open to public viewing.

Blogging connects you with other writers. There are writing blog groups you can join.

Blogging gives you opportunities to be interviewed by other bloggers.

Blogging allows you the freedom to express your passions. We've seen people with three, four, or five blogs to their name; each one showcasing a different interest.

And lastly, blogging is fun!

Let us know if you start a blog because of this post. Or what your thoughts are on blogging.

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Friday, November 2, 2007

Quote for the Week of November 2, 2007

To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make. - Truman Capote

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