Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: April – On Line Communities for Readers

Books, Connie Cockrell

Books by Connie Cockrell

Uh oh, you caught me. I’ll have to confess that I don’t know about online reader communities. I should, as an author, have a whole list of reader communities that read my genre’s books but I don’t.

I do use Goodreads. I have an author page there, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7033046.Connie_Cockrell but don’t use it much. I do make sure that I have my books listed there. I opened the Ask the Author function but only one person has sent me a question. My site blog post is woefully old and I had nothing in my Upcoming Events section. I just changed that to reflect the local Book Festival in July.

One other reader site I do use is Wattpad. http://www.wattpad.com/user/conniecockrell And by use, I mean I post there. I have a story, Lost Rainbows, currently being posted as a serial, one chapter per week. Unfortunately, I don’t join any discussions and have little time to read posted work, despite the fact it appears interesting.

You’ll note a pattern here, of course. As an author, I get the most value out of a reader site if I’m an active participant. Posting what I’m doing on my page and disappearing isn’t very helpful if my true goal is to get readers to find me and my work. And I’m missing out on wonderful stories and the chance to meet other people who love to read.

OK, I promise to do better. Really.
The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara

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Monday Blog Post: Things are Moving Fast

Peach, Tomato, Seedlings, Connie Cockrell

Peach (very top) and tomato seedlings by Connie Cockrell

We’re trimming up around the yard. Last week hubby trimmed some diseased branches from a tree in the back yard and took out a tree that was growing too close to another and leaning over the house. The fact that it was a juniper with a pollen pod on the end of each needle and spewing pollen all over the place was an added bonus. I have managed to get 4 of the 12 rosebushes trimmed and did another run of pulling mint out of my deepest square foot garden bed. Onion and parsley I planted last November are coming up. A bonus, a peach pit that had been composted, sprouted in another of my garden beds. I thought it was a weed at first until I realized the pit was still attached. It has transplanted nicely into a small container where I will try and keep it alive. A friend gave me a small container of mystery tomato seedlings, just getting their first set of new leaves. She had no idea which seedlings were which and at this stage they’re pretty hard to differentiate. However, I selected six seedlings at random spots in the container, hoping I get six different tomato plants. I’ve passed the seedlings on to another friend. There’s no sense in us buying seedlings when we have free ones available.

My book signing on March 21st at the Scoops Ice Cream store here in Payson was slightly disappointing. However, I did sell 3 books and garnered 3 sign-ups for my newsletter. My mom came with me and we had a chance for a nice chat.

The month has progressed quickly. I can’t believe it’s already the 23rd. I’ve prepped my scene cards for April’s Camp NaNo. I’m starting it with the 3rd book in my Brown Rain series. Then I’ll move on to cleaning up random stories I have started but not finished.

The Payson Book Festival planning is moving right along. You can see the information on www.PaysonBookFestival.org if you’d like. Kick-off pricing on author tables is now over. There’s still time to sign up for a table, though. You can share a table, too, to make your costs less. Fill out the Author Registration and get that in to us so we can reserve you a table. Author registration closes at the end of April so we can put the program together. You’re not an author? Then mark your calendar to come to Payson for July 25th to meet us. We’d love to chat with you.

I submitted my short story, After Math, for line editing. I’m looking forward to getting it out to emagazines.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Lost Rainbows released January 25th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Monday Blog Post: Starting a New Year

New Year, New Year's Eve, Snow, Lighted Tree

New Year’s Eve Snow by Randy Cockrell

Happy New Year to you and your families. The holidays are over, we’re still digging tinsel out of the carpeting and the new eating and exercise plan is still operational. Whew. 2014 was a tough year for a lot of my friends and family. I’m hoping 2015 is much, much, better. One way I’ve found to help me make my year move along on an even keel is to have a plan. Yeah, I know, but I’ve used goals for decades to help me organize my thoughts about what I need or better yet, want, to get done during the year. Additionally, it’s great to look back in December and go, “Whoa! Look what I’ve accomplished!”

Here are the major writing things I want to accomplish in 2015.

– Publish 6 more books

– Turn my wordpress blog into a full-fledged web site

– Participate in the April and July Camp NaNo’s and the November NaNo

– Complete the Holly Lisle World Building class and the How to Write A Series Expanded class

– Submit short stories to contests on a schedule I’m developing.

– Increase speaking appearances and opportunities to sell my books

– Participate in the Payson Book Festival as an author

I know, it looks a bit overwhelming. I didn’t talk about continuing to produce a flash story every Friday for my blog, or any personal stuff like travel, gardening, projects, volunteer work, you know, life stuff. All of that has to be done as well.

Goals help me plot out a work/life balance. If I see I’ve really scheduled a lot of writing stuff, I can back out on the plan at the beginning of the year and cut myself and my hubby some slack for running off and going camping or travelling.

What do you do to plan out your year? Just take it as it comes or jot down some things you’d like to accomplish? Go ahead and share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

The Downtrodden: a Brown Rain Story released November 22nd! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Merry Go Round Blog Tour: December and Where Are My Goals for 2014?

Hit the Target, Grunge, Digital Art,

Hit the Target by ns-dante via www.deviantart.com

My list of goals for 2014, by the month, was extensive. Last year this time I went through the list as though I were reporting accomplishments to my commanding officer. This year, I’m going to be a little less obsessive-compulsive.

What’s been most important? I put six books up for sale. One every other month. This is the 2nd year in a row I’ve done that. Pretty good stat considering I just started writing in 2011.

I’ve been studying the craft. I have a world building class, still in progress and a class on how to write a series, extended version that I have been taking from Holly Lisle. https://howtothinksideways.com/login/  I signed up to take the World Building class then the Series Extended class opened. I’ve been doing the latter and the poor world building class has suffered. I’ll correct it soon, I promise. I also am still struggling through the 2013 Two Year Novel course. I’m tracking the lessons as they come in but I’m woefully behind the curve. The story still isn’t written and most of this year’s lessons are about editing and publishing. I’m not throwing my hands up. My story isn’t bad, it’s just not what I envisioned. I add words to it whenever I get a free writing day and the need to get words on screen is too much to bear. I need to finish it as it’s planned then wait and let it rest. Somewhere out there is the story I actually wanted to tell. It’ll come to me.

I’ve been working on my social media program. Since I publish independently I must work my own advertising/marketing program. Some people think this is a sacrilege. I can only say this. If it isn’t a sacrilege for Stephen King, James Patterson, or Nora Roberts to use the full weight of their publishing houses to advertise their work, why is it a sacrilege for me to use Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to advertise my work? Anyway. I keep plugging away at making my marketing effective. I’ve taken 2 classes in the last 2 years. This year’s class offered some more detailed instruction. Some of it has been interesting, some seems like spam, some may be useful. I plan on turning my wordpress blog into an actual website in 2015. So beware, there are changes coming.

I am working hard at writing. This is the most important thing to me since my marriage and my daughter’s birth. I want this to work and I want this to be professional. I’m making this claim publicly for the first time since I started writing. I don’t consider this to be a hobby. I’m serious. I’m working hard to improve my writing skills. I hope my followers will help me by participating when I offer chances to interact with me. I’m serious when I ask for your opinion. When I make an offer, take me up on it. It’s real. My goals? I want to be a professional author. Help me make it happen.
The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara

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Candy Making Madness

Christmas, Chocolates, Peanut Butter Cups, Home made

Christmas Chocolates – Homemade peanut butter cups by Connie Cockrell

I’m in full Christmas swing. The outside decorations are up and have been since the 1st. I like to send candy and cookies to family and they need to be in the mail soon! So, I’ve made peppermint patties, peanut butter cups and truffles. Today I’ll make the cookies. They’re my daughter’s favorite and go by a few different names depending on your cook book. They’re snowballs or Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Tea Cakes. They’re easy to make, ship well and are very tasty.  I’m hoping to get them in the mail by Wednesday.

The garden has to wait so I can get the candy mailed out. It looks so sad out there. I promise, poor garden, that I’ll get you cleaned up soon.

My book, The Downtrodden, book two of the Brown Rain series is up on Smashwords and it’s  up on Amazon, Apple and Barnes and Noble. I’ve just put it on Kobo as well. All of the links are below. I’m still featuring a special for newsletter recipients. Sign up for my newsletter and tell me you’d like to do a review and I’ll send you a free ebook. Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. If you’re already a newsletter recipient and you’d like to review a copy, drop me a comment or an email and I’ll send you the secret code!

I have moved the loveseat into the garage so there’s room for the Christmas tree. I still need to get all of the totes full of interior decorations down from the garage shelves and into the house. Right after I get the candy mailed.

I’ve been talking to my Mom nearly every day. We’ve painted her room a light lavender, hung the curtains, and shampooed the carpet. I’ll paint the chest of drawers I got for her today and we still need to get her bed assembled. It arrived a few days ago. Eight days to go!

I talked to my daughter today. She lives in Flagstaff, AZ. With any kind of luck she’ll be able to come here for Christmas. That will be good. I won’t have to mail her gifts. She’ll be here to open them. I’m standing by for further developments.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

The Downtrodden: a Brown Rain Story released November 22nd! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Cover Reveal and an Update on Where I’ll Be

Cover, Downtrodden, Brown Rain

The Downtrodden, book 2 of the Brown Rain series Cover Reveal

That’s my cover for the next book in my Brown Rain Series: The Downtrodden. I may tweak the back cover blurb but it’s essentially done. What do you think? It’s going through final edits now. I hope to release it by the end of November.

I updated my Where I’ll Be page on my blog. http://conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com/where-will-i-be/. I’m scheduled to talk to the Soroptimist Club meeting on December 10th at Tiny’s Restaurant on Highway 260 at noon. The meeting is open to the public so come on by the hear me and check out this wonderful organization.

I’m still doing more words per day than necessary on my National Novel Writing Month challenge. I’m well ahead of the daily goal though I’m nowhere near the number of words some of my other writer friends have done. They get into it and really produce, some of them two or even three in the month.

I’m getting ready for my mom to come and live with me. We’re painting the room that will be her bedroom, buying curtains, and furniture. We’re going to have a lot of fun once she gets here.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Sewing, Cooking, Planning for NaNo, Writing, and Christmas Cards?

H Ween002

Hubby and me, Bad Witch and Good Witch, photo by Randy Cockrell

Saturday my hubby and I attended a Halloween party with a lot of our hiking friends. That’s the pic, there at the top of the post. We had a lot of fun. I went as a good witch and made my own costume. That’s where the sewing part came in. I had to modify hubby’s costume as well so, more sewing there.

The planning for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo) proceeds down to the wire. I still need two stories for the 14th and 28th of Thanksgiving.  My outline for my Cozy Mystery, working title, Mystery at the Fair, continues with difficulty. I have 45 scenes. I seem to toss more than I write new. I keep going through the cards, wondering where I can insert more trouble for my main protagonist, Jean Hays. I’m starting to wonder if I need another plot line. I have 4 days to figure it out.

I’ve also been thinking about the cover for Mystery at the Fair. Since I want to write these as a series, I’ve been contemplating the theme that will continue from book cover to book cover. My first thought is to have the same background color on each book. I’ll keep you posted on what the unifying element will be. If you don’t know, NaNo is a writing challenge. Every November thousands of authors, new and experienced, try to write 50,000 words or more in the month. It turns out to be 1667 words per day, minimum. You can go to the website and check it out. www.nanowrimo.org/en/sign_in It’s free to join and there are forums to visit to talk with others about writing.

I’m well into the final edits for the second book in my Brown Rain series. It’s at the editor’s now and I expect I’ll have it back from them in the next day or two. I’ll make the final corrections and start the formatting process. I finished the cover for it. It looks great. I think I’ll do the cover reveal next Monday. Stay tuned for that.

That thyme? Still on the drying rack. Sigh. I’d better hurry up and get that down and the rosemary and sage up on the rack.

Oh, and the Christmas Cards? I have made my own Christmas Cards for several years. It’s so much fun to pick a design and then the paper and colors and make all the pieces for assembly. The problem is that I send out about 60 cards, it’s a big family and we have a lot of friends. Unfortunately, it’s the end of October and I don’t have anything planned. Then there’s NaNo taking up a lot of time in November. So, I’ve decided that there won’t be homemade cards this year. I’m a little bummed but relieved that I can put that stress away to concentrate on writing. So, to my friends and family used to getting a homemade card, I apologize, but something has to give.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Fun Times In August

Revolution: last book in the Gulliver Station Cover Reveal by Connie Cockrell

Revolution: last book in the Gulliver Station Cover Reveal by Connie Cockrell

My friend Selena Laurence is releasing her new book, Buried, today. A picture of her book cover is below. You can find it at:
B&N –> http://bit.ly/1qXpeyt
iTunes –> http://bit.ly/1ra0NeJ
Goodreads –> http://bit.ly/1kQkPpw
#JuanAndBeth — with Selena Laurence.

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We had a wonderful rainy thunderstorm on Saturday. The air cooled down, the rain fell, the plants became very happy. Yay for rain!
Well I completed Revolution’s formatting and put it up on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, CreateSpace and Smashwords. I’m very excited. I have a good deal for you if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter. Want to get on it? Sign up in the next five days and I’ll get you in on it too!
The Northern Gila County fair is in a month. We’ve been working with the printer to publish the Fair books and I’ve been updating the website, www.NorthernGilaCountyFair.com, to correct out of date information. The site is still a work in progress but at least the information is correct. LOL! Do you attend your local county fair? What do you like the best about it?
Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.
I have an in depth interview on my Smashwords Author page. You can read it here. Don’t see information about me you’d like to know? Leave me your question in my comments and I’ll try to answer it.
Revolution: A Gulliver Station Story released August 1st! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Flash Fiction Friday: Defiance

Defiance by astra888 (hattori-hanzo) via www.DeviantArt.com

Defiance by astra888 (hattori-hanzo) via www.DeviantArt.com

Jennie stood in the middle of a gaggle of High School graduates watching her classmates. They were hugging their parents, getting photos taken; many of the girls had plastic wrapped bouquets in hand. Her white cap slid from her head in the warm June breeze. She unzipped her gown and took it off. No one was going to take her picture and it was too hot anyway.

Her Celtic dragon tattoo glowed green and gold in the sunlight. Missy Chamber’s mom scowled when she saw it over Missy’s shoulder as they hugged. Little did she know Missy had a tat on her left butt cheek, a tiny pair of pursed lips. “So my Mom can kiss my ass,” she told Jennie the night she got it. That was during winter break, right after Jennie had the dragon done.

“What about your parents, aren’t they going to be mad?”

“What do I care,” Missy hiccupped. They were drinking Colt 45 from brown paper bags in the park in the center of town. Jennie had hooked them out of the fridge. Her parents had been drinking since mid-afternoon, they’d never miss the two beers.

As she walked to the door of the school, she passed Carl Chu. His parents had given him a new Porsche for graduation. He winked at her as she passed by. They’d dated briefly last year, a fling on the wrong side of the tracks for him. He’d invited her to his house a few times, his parents watching her every second, afraid she’d steal something. It didn’t matter. As soon as she’d put out a few times the challenge was gone and he’d dropped her over summer vacation.

Her father had backhanded her across the room when he found out. Her mother took her to the clinic to have the baby aborted. She complained to every nurse and doctor about how Jennie was a big disappointment. On the way home her mother told her, “Don’t come begging for a second chance. This was it. Next time get the bum who got you knocked-up to pay for the clinic.”

Jennie kept quiet. You’re no prize either. But she held her tongue. Her mother could hit like a line backer.

In the hallway leading to the classroom where they were to drop off the caps and gowns, she passed a clot of girls surrounding Emily Little. She’d just gotten her acceptance letter to Brown. Jennie remembered going to grade school with Emily. They played together on the playground; Emily too shy to play with anyone else. She was smart then, Jennie remembered. No wonder she’s the class Valedictorian.

Emily nodded to her so she nodded back. Jennie was barely past the group when the whispering began. “Her parents didn’t come.” “Did you know her parents are drunk every night?” “My Dad had her father as a client in a domestic violence case.”

Jennie stood up straighter. She knew the girl’s lawyer father. He tried to pick her up every Saturday night at the diner where she waitressed. What would she think if she knew about her perv father.

She turned in the cap and gown, taking the tassel off and tucking it into her short shorts pocket. At least she’d graduated. That was a miracle in itself. Her parents called her stupid, looser, waste of space, every day of her life. Jennie ground her teeth together. Two years ago she’d retorted, “Takes one to know one.” Her father knocked her across the room and broke her arm and three ribs. Since then she’d said as little to them as possible and stayed out of the house as much as she could.

Andy Coulter stopped her in the hall as she neared the exit. “Hi, Jennie.”

Angry about the girls and her parents, she almost blew by him. She knew he had a crush on her, after all, she was pretty good looking, why shouldn’t he? So she stopped. “Andy.”

He blushed. “Uh, you going to a party or anything?”

“Nah,” she stuck her hands in the pockets and shot out her left hip. “Too lame.”

“Yeah,” he stuttered. “Lame.” His eyes darted around the now bare hallway; all of the posters and announcement sheets had already been removed by the janitors. “You going to college in the fall?”

Jennie stood up. “No.” She swallowed. “Couldn’t decide where to go.”

“Oh,” his face fell. “I got accepted to Ridgeway. Maybe get a degree in electrical engineering.”

“I heard Ridgeway’s good.” Jennie was glad for him but it ticked her off that she would be staying in this dead end town, working for crap wages and tips.

His face brightened. “Maybe you can go to the Community College. It would give you the basics while you figure out where you want to go.”

Jennie dug her fingernails into her palms. “Maybe. Look, I gotta go home and get ready for work.”

“Sure, Jennie. See ya.”

She moved past him to the door. “Yeah, see ya.”

She fumed all the way home. Community College, wh’s gonna pay for that? Not her. Not unless she got a better job. When she came in the front door her parents were in their recliners, beers in hand and cans on the floor watching a movie they’d seen a million times.

Her father called out. “So, you’re graduated?”

“Yeah.” She inched toward the stairs to go to her bedroom.

“Don’t go thinkin’ you’re better’n us. You’re still a stupid twit who’ll never amount to shit.”

She raced up the stairs. Oh, yeah? Andy’s comment about the Community College leapt to mind. I’ll see about that. She threw on her diner uniform and left the house. She had just enough time to run over to the college before work.

 

 

The End

962 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: July – Mid-Year Goals Check-In

I Must Reach My Goal by Farcry77 via www.deviantart.com

I Must Reach My Goal by Farcry77 via www.deviantart.com

Six months worth of goals. Ack! It has been a whirlwind year for me in my writing world, to be sure.  I completed all of the goals for January, February and March which to be honest, was a struggle. I just felt behind the whole time. April was tough, though I did get the cover for Hard Choices done and revealed in April. Hard Choices finalized in May right on schedule and was published. It’s always pretty exciting to send another book out into the world. I did also get some planning done in April for the May Story a Day challenge which took a little of the production pressure off of my shoulders. So in May, I managed my goal of 10 new short stories written. I love that! I signed up for the Holly Lisle world building class only to let it languish and I signed up for her How To Write A Series expansion which began in June. I’ve been keeping up with it so far.

Unfortunately April’s Camp NaNo (where I got a novella finished, a short story written and a novel started) and May’s Story a Day did nothing to instill a daily writing habit. Sometimes editing, cover design, and just plain life get in the way of sitting down to write. I know, if I make it a priority it will happen. Count me as counseled.

I submitted a story to Writers of the Future in May, called After Math, a story set in my Gulliver Station universe. I also submitted a story, Room with a Knife, to the Crew Contest in May. The Garden State Contest received, Eavesdroppers in early May; a poem, Rest, went to the Contrary Magazine in April; and after another revision, Someone Else is Living Here, went to the Southwest Authors contest mid-June.  A new story will be needed for Writers of the Future before the end of September, but that’s a whole ‘nother part of the year! In June I began the editing process for Revolution. At the time of this blog, it’s just about to be put up on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Kobo. I also write non-fiction and I submitted articles for the January, March and June quarterly issues of Vision: an ezine for Writers.

Not on the goal list was a clean-up of my website: www.conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com. The Books tab especially was an embarrassment. I had a web-savvy friend of mine help me straighten it out. She also changed the banner at the top of the page. It looks so much better now.

July is Camp NaNo and I’m in the thick of writing a new novella, or perhaps it will stretch into a novel, who knows. And that’s one writer’s half-year. So what about you? Did you set goals at the start of the year? How have you done?

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara!

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