Indie Christmas Shopping

IMG_0193Christmas music in my ears, a pencil sharpened to make a list, eggnog at my elbow…wait, no…more like tapping notes on an iPad and trying to escape the Christmas mania by hiding out somewhere with a good read and coffee. I’m also thinking books make a nice gift (you’re welcome for the idea) or an Amazon gift card where a reader like me can go pick up a few novels that I have had my eye on throughout the year.

 Why am I tossing out ideas? Because I pose extra difficulties having a December 24th birthday. I usually feel like I kickstart the celebrations, or try to, but it makes for an extra burden on my holiday gifters. My family has at least twenty birthdays between November 11th and my husband’s, which is January 9th. So you see why I hide out this time of year, paralyzed and overwhelmed by all that needs to be accomplished.

 However, I did still find time to squeeze in some reading for this blog. Couldn’t let you guys down. My recent guilty pleasure is an Indie novel that has made a big splash at Amazon, mostly through word of mouth. Jennifer Wells confesses to attempting little promotion, which makes me insanely jealous, because I love marketing so much. (You did hear the sarcasm there?) I am still trying to figure out what I should do on the marketing side.

 So write a really good book, and sometimes the word will get out. At least, that’s step one. I’m certainly trying that approach at the someones_clone_front-cover_v2_finalmoment. Someone’s Clone was just published in paperback and Kindle. It took a year to write. As an introductory offer, I am putting it on KDP Select Countdown starting December 18 (.99) and it will run through December 25. I’m thinking it’s a good story to load onto a gift Kindle or iPad for holiday reading. Before or after Christmas?? I’m not sure which is best. I’ll let you know.

The story I picked to read is an Indie publication (Blue Bedlam Books), at least I think so. I have seen it promoted on Amazon as one of the top read books in science fiction for 2014. I read the blurb and it sounded interesting.

 Fluency is a story of mind to mind contact with an alien. Jane Holloway is an expert on ancient languages. Actually, she easily learns most any language as she has an affinity for understanding the written and spoken word.

 FluencyNASA has been monitoring an alien dormant spacecraft secretly for years, attempting to develop the technology that would enable humans to investigate it.

Because of her ability to understand language of all kinds, NASA recruits Jane to be an astronaut on a mission to explore the ship in case of alien first contact.

 When the mission finally reaches the ship, they discover the ship is not lifeless, but houses an unseen alien mind that soon communicates telepathically with Jane. At first, she is the only one of the five on the mission able to do this, and not everyone is convinced it’s not an act.

Problems start to happen in the alien ship, and the mission commander begins to doubt Jane’s independence from the creature’s influence and the creature’s positive intentions toward them. He claims the alien’s intentions are malevolent while Jane points out the creature helped save their lives. As events unfold, the remainder of the crew vacillate in their opinions. They are torn between wanting to believe Jane’s argument in favor of the alien’s good intentions and the captain’s accusations that it is dangerous.

As a reader, I wondered myself.

The story progresses, and a romance builds between Jane and Dr. Alan Bergen, an engineer and crew member…just to complicate things further.

Fluency is a good first novel by an Indie author who is already working on a sequel. The action builds as Jane and the others become involved in life or death problems on board the alien ship. Is the alien really on their side or just setting them up? The character of Jane and her feelings for Bergen, as he is called, make a nice counterpoint to the other interactions of the crew. The mission members soon discover that the ship carries a dangerous virus. The human explorers find that all former life on board are dead, except for the alien brain who controls the ship and invades Jane’s mind. Eventually, Jane discovers the alien does have an agenda, but not what anyone ever suspects.

An interesting story with an intriguing concept of interaction with an alien and first contact.

Happy Holidays, Jingle Bells…lock the door on your way out.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, Comets, ebook science fiction, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Science fiction thriller, space ship, space travel

Military Science Fiction Series

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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Most people are either knee deep in relatives, eating turkey and cheering on their football team or battling it out in the stores, scooping up door busting deals.

With most of my family on the East Coast and my daughter in sunny Puerto Vallarta (shed a quick tear for her…no wait), hubbie and I will be munching a hot turkey sandwich and cheering on a favorite football team. Maybe check out a sale.

With Someone’s Clone in final proof, I am now turning my attention over to the next book…named…?? Well, Gosh, I have no firm title so far.

So I thought to engage you, my blog readers, to help me. Tell me which title you would be most likely buy to read.

Saving Angels

Factoring Fate

Angels in the Equation

Angels and Equations

The Grandmother paradox

If there be Angels

The Fate Factor

Shaping the Future

Killing Time

(Your suggestion..not a published title)

There will be a prize for those selecting the winning title.

A quick note on my Countdown Deal. After blogging last week, I went to list Touching Crystal and found that I had not enrolled it in the KDP Select program yet. The rules state that you must be enrolled at least thirty days prior to scheduling a Countdown. So I listed Space Song instead and confused everyone.

My apologies.

I will set up a Countdown for Touching Crystal when it becomes eligible and let you know ahead of time.

Ark RoyalAs promised, I read Ark Royal and was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it. It was well written and well edited. Christopher Nuttall is very prolific with several military series ( Ark Royal, The Empire’s Corp, Martial Law, The Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire) and fantasy series also. (Schooled in Magic) Okay, more books than I have room here to mention. He has over thirty-five published on Amazon and is an example of how an author can do very well self-publishing.

What I was curious about was his reviews for Ark Royal. He had 1518 reviews total for this book. That was amazing. 751 were five star, 505 were four star, 153 three star, 69 two star and 40 one star. I was intrigued by how many reviewed his book, and then at the wide variety of opinions. Some loved it, “A fun read” to those who called it bad, “Space Karaoke.” Getting reviews is painfully hard for me, or else I don’t know the secret sauce. Nuttall’s wide range of comments prepared me as a writer to understand how subjective science fiction stories can be and that every writer, no matter how good, gets a few bad reviews. For such an enjoyable story, some were brutal.

This is the first book in a series of three. Ark Royal is the name of a lumbering and aged space warship put aside in the shipyard and barely functioning. What keeps her functioning is an alcoholic captain, Ted Smith, who cobbles together her outdated systems and tenderly cares for her as he drinks himself senseless, mourning a dead wife.

Then aliens attack a Russian settled colony world along the space tramlines, and when Earth sends her best and brightest to defend her territories, the aliens tear through all those sleek new warships in an eye-opening rout. The Ark Royal, because of her heavy dense hull and projectile style weaponry, becomes the lone ship able to resist the enemy’s firepower.The Nelson Touch

Of course, a young, ambitious, newly-graduated Lieutenant, James Fitzwilliam, uses his family’s friendship with the Spacelord to try to take command, but Captain Smith’s knowledge of her idiosyncrasies just barely enables him to hang onto his command while karma makes James his XO. The Spacelord asks the young XO to keep an eye on the shaky captain and report any slip-ups.

The two are sent out to confront and delay the alien enemy until Earth can build the ships it needs. Also on board for this dangerous mission are a ragbag crew and a group of obnoxious embedded reporters. The mix is volatile and the pressures both inside and out would be enough to drive even a teetotaler to drink, much less a vulnerable captain who swears he’ll stay sober through the war.

The Trafalgar GambitThe inevitable space battles are nicely balanced with a crew who fight their own internal battles and put a human face on war. Also interesting is the process of trying to figure out how the aliens might think, what they might look like and what technology and society they might have developed.

Sometimes first contact can get outright deadly and dangerous.

 

 

 

 

 

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Indie and Legacy: A Reader’s Choice

IMG_0174Sound the trumpets, wave the banners…Someone’s Clone is now available in ebook form through Amazon. The paperback version will be out around Thanksgiving. Time travel, clones, mystery, a space station, main character with a computer in his brain, adventure, romance…it’s all there.

Writing a 350-page book has taken a year, mainly because I work with a writers group of five other authors that meet twice a month. We critique twenty pages at a go. So it takes time, but it’s well worth it. And then, I offer an advance copy to three or four Beta readers who make excellent suggestions on how to make that better. someones_clone_front-cover_v2_finalSometimes, I employ an independent editor, particularly if a certain section is in question, or I have extra funds sloshing around in my book account

As an incentive, I am offering Touching Crystal, the previous book (6), starting November 21 to the 28th through Amazon’s Countdown Deal. So the best price (.$99) is at the earliest date and goes up a dollar every few days. This can be read as a stand alone, as can Someone’s Clone, but both are richer if the reader is familiar with the earlier books. Needless to say, this is the first time ever I have discounted Touching Crystal…and it won’t last long. So mark your calendar. There’s a deadly comet in it.

touching-crystal-thumb-1I recently attended an Author’s Seminar at Jan’s Paperback in Aloha, Oregon. If you are in the area, and like to read from the physical book, just call Debbie or Jodie at 503 649 3444 and I’ll provide a signed copy of any in the series for you. (Give a bit of lead time).

I watched the broadcasts about the Rosetta Project and saw the Philae Lander successfully hop onto a speeding comet. Science fiction becomes science reality. It was exciting. (See previous blog for more)New Image of Comet ISON

This week I’m reading The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter Hamilton. Hamilton’s civilization has advanced far into the future where humans regenerate, clone themselves, have embedded technology that enables telepathy, and live practically forever. Space travel has wormhole technology, but there is a barrier separating a region in the universe known as the Void where the physics is different…time is different.

Bored humans become eager to risk their lives for new discoveries and unknown adventure. So several expeditions venture forth to Abyss Beyond Dreamspenetrate and explore this region.

Hamilton has established his credentials as a foremost science fiction writer with several other series and novels, which I have enjoyed. (see previous blogs) At over 600 pages, I am still reading this one, but the going is lumpy.

An action-packed start bogs down with detailed science and description. Laura Brandt is “tank yanked” when things go wrong on an expedition to the Void, which lies at the core of their galaxy.

For those scifi readers who like hard science, Hamilton’s description of physics is interesting, but I wanted to move on after a bit. The stories start with the mounting disasters faced by the shuttle scientists as they explore an alien formation of crystal “trees” circling a planet’s atmosphere in the Void. The trees carry “eggs” that soon attack the crew and attempt to absorb them. Interesting non-stop action runs for eighty-eight pages with no chapter breaks until book two.

Now, you’re in a different story, but the same universe. This story concerns a wealthy, powerful, and long-lived human, Nigel Sheldon, who clones himself and entangles his thoughts with his clone as he prepares to send his doppelgänger on an expedition. The book ends as the clone’s ship slips past the boundary and into the Void.

The next section or “book” begins in a military unit on a planet presumably inside the Void. This is full of action and an interesting alien that drops onto the planet in an egg shape, lures in humans with thoughts and emotions, manipulates, and devours them.

I plan to keep reading because Hamilton’s world building is intriguing. He challenges the reader with mind-bending concepts and offers a peek into a possible far future. He stretches the ideas of what humans may become and what they possibly could do. He throws in heavy science, but also includes some dramatic action.

Ark RoyalNext blog, I plan to talk about Ark Royal by Christopher Nuttall. Christopher Nuttall writes an extensive military science fiction series that is getting noticed. This series was recommended to me by an avid military scifi enthusiast. So when Nuttall put the first book in the series at a nice discount, I snapped it up and slid it onto my Kindle shelf. Now, I plan to check it out for you and pass along my impressions.

I think a novel is selected because of the story, combined with other people’s recommendations, whether it be on a list or in person. I didn’t check the publisher first to see if I wanted to read either book. Peter Hamilton’s book is published by Del Ray, an imprint of Random House…one of the Big Five publishing houses and was on some list of “new books to read.”

Christopher Nuttall’s came as word of mouth and is published digitally by Amazon Digital Services and in print form by CreateSpace.

I think the readers of today select what they read from a variety of places. How nice to have both the tried and true authors from legacy publishers to choose from and, also, the new, exciting, emerging self publishing authors.

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Comets and Book Clubs

IMG_9503We are landing on a comet tonight! This is a momentous event. After ten years of chasing, using gravity assist, the Philae Lander, a robotic spacecraft, will catch up to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, or 67P, and anchor itself there for hopefully a year long ride.

The Rosetta project, led by the European Space Agency with contributions from NASA and others, will be studying this comet in order to better understand the composition of comets, thought to bring water to primitive Earth, and possibly life itself. Eventually it will be within 180 million km of the sun and expelling water and gases because of intense heat.New Image of Comet ISON

Find more at: CNN.com: Rosetta Landing or www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta

This is the ESA’s official website, where you can find the latest news, images and animations on the spacecraft and its lander .

touching-crystal-thumb-1Why does this intrigue me? My sixth novel, Touching Crystal deals with the impact of a comet against Alysia’s moon, Thanos, and the resulting consequences to my world of Alysia.

Science will now explain what was once mystical, a harbinger or omen for humans. Although it took ten years to get close enough to land, the idea that we can interface with a moving comet offers hope that we may be able to divert any future threats to Earth from this type of cosmic threat.

Although, we certainly didn’t see the meteor that crashed into Russia last year and took us by surprise. We were too busy staring at a passing asteroid.

NeuromancerI am currently reading Snow Crash, as it is a selection of my Powell’s Book Club and we meet tonight. It is a Hugo winner classic from 1992 and is very different. Think William Gibson and his Hugo winning book, Neuromancer, which created the sub genre of Cyber-punk in the early 1990s and you have an idea of the story.Snow Crash

The Powell’s book club is a rowdy group of fifteen to twenty-five or so science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts who have been meeting for over ten years at the world famous bookstore of Powell’s in Beaverton. They are awesomely intelligent about science fiction and not shy about offering opinions.

Makes for lively discussions, so I need to be prepared.

Abyss Beyond DreamsI also plan on reading The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter Hamilton, and will report on that new offering in the next week or two.

someones_clone_front-cover_v2_finalBut first, I have my proof for Someone’s Clone in my hot hands and expect a November 20 publication date. Until then, I’ll be working feverishly to put the final touches on it and conquer the format and download monster.

Check out Amazon for this exciting new adventure, one of my best to date. A murder, a mystery, time travel, romance, aliens…this one has it all…so stay tuned.

 

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Costume Ideas from Science Fiction

 

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Halloween is coming, so get ready! Do you have your costume yet?

What Urban Fantasy book could you enjoy and get lots of ideas?

Why, that would be Skin Game by Jim Butcher, the latest in his Harry Dresden Series.

Jim Butcher writes Urban Fantasy, and although I’m not usually a reader of the genre, I am a fan of this series.Skin Game

Throughout the first several books, Harry has dealt with Vampires, Werewolves, the Fae, Chicago gangsters and every fantasy creature imaginable, including his faithful Foo dog and Bob, a genius spirit that resides on a shelf in a skull.

We have watched Harry develop from a sketchy, part-time detective, cooking up amateur potions in his underground basement, to becoming a full fledged wizard that gets killed and returns from the dead. He is now a warden of the White Council while serving as Maab’s Winter Knight…

A juggling act if ever there was one.

And when he yells, Forzare, Disperdorius, Lumios, or Artispinae, step back because powerful magic is about to happen.

Now in Skin Game, Maab, Queen of the Fae, lends him as her Winter Knight to assist Nicodemus Archleone of the Blackened Denarius as payback for a favor. Nicodemus pulls together a team that he plans to take into The Underworld in order to steal the Holy Grail. They have to blow up a Chicago mobster’s vault and pass through the three gates of Hades: the Gate of Fire, The Gate of Ice and the Gate of Blood.

Ghost StoryThe team consists of: Hannah Asher, expert of fire, Anna Valmount, safecracker extraordinaire, Goodman Grey, fantastical shapeshifter, Genoskwa, Bigfoot style monster who can go invisible, Binder who controls an army of men that leap from the ground and dissolve back into dirt, Deirdre’s, Nicodemus’s demonform daughter, Karrin Murphy, ex-cop and weapon obsessed sidekick to Harry, and Harry Dresden, wizard. Harry is traveling in dangerous company, most wanting to eliminate him from this world all over again, so he has to watch his back at all times.

However, Knight of the Cross, now retired, Michael Carpenter, takes up his sword again for Harry’s sake, and the Archangel Uriel makes an appearance, along with several other familiar Dresden characters, including Kris Kringle also known as Santa Clause and Hades, Greek god of the Underworld.

Plus, Waldo Butters…who?…well…you’ll just have to read the story.Summer Knight

In spite of the fantastical creatures that populate Dresden’s world, the story contains real human emotion as Harry and Michael struggle to protect their family and the world against evil.

Storm FrontIt also provides an array of imaginative creatures, any one of which would make a great Halloween costume.

So now, you have some ideas.

I have seen the power of offering free books. I’ve read where many believe that free or discounted books, once downloaded, sit somewhere on readers digital bookshelves, collecting digital dust where they never get read. So it was interesting to see the blog: Eleven Things You Don’t know About Bargain Ebook Buyers from Bookbub that indicates otherwise. Keeping in mind that Bookbub provides discounted and free books, I still found the information worth mentioning. Follow this link: http://unbound.bookbub.com/post/87615381745/11-things-you-dont-know-about-bargain-ebook-buyers for more specific data and information, but here’s the top eleven conclusions concerning Bargain Ebook Buyers.

  1. They are Power Readers
  2. They read everywhere: at home, while traveling, in bed, at work,
  3. They read primarily on Tablets
  4. They don’t just read e-books but read paperbacks and hardbacks also
  5. They have higher than average income
  6. They are genre readers: mysteries, thrillers, romance
  7. They buy full priced e-books
  8. They read the books they download
  9. They try new authors
  10. They become loyal fans
  11. They recommend the books they like.

As an ebook author, it’s food for thought I wanted to share.

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Beta Readers

Beta readers: solid gold

That make you cry

If they’re doing their job right

 

IMG_0193I haven’t been able to do much reading because my Beta readers are helping me put the final touches on my behind schedule novel, Someone’s Clone. Seems that a Masters degree in English doesn’t make me a grammar expert.

Au contraire…it’s a humbling experience, and often the computer doesn’t help as it auto corrects ridiculousness. I try to explain that I really know it’s from its. Really.

What I don’t know, as one reader pointed out, is how to pour a drink. One of my favorite readers corrected the manuscript, saying that you don’t pour the drink before the ice cubes go in. (As I wrote in the book) To pour a drink properly, you must put the cubes in first and then pour the drink over it.

So heads up out there all you drinkers.

My Beta reader from Zurich, Switzerland, (how cool is that?) just had an adorable little girl. Her pictures are yummy. But, one of my main characters is a thirteen year old teenager who is an only child and is used to getting her way. She wants to go to an event with her mother and when mom says “No,” it goes like this:

“You said I could go with you to fix Kayse,” Tempest protested indignantly.

“I said no such thing. Besides, we’re not ‘fixing’ him; we’re just going to alter a few things to make him look a little different.”

“You promised,” Tempest wailed, a stubborn expression developing on her face. “You told me I could go. I remember you saying it. You’re just getting old and forgetting things,” she grumped.

Elise inhaled sharply. Her voice tightened as she said, “I promised no such thing, and I don’t forget! My memory is functioning just fine. Finish your breakfast. Amy’s due any time now.”

“Getting old and forgetting stuff I tell you. You’re scaring me,” Tempest muttered under her breath.

Elise glared at her. She looked like she might burst into flames at any moment.

 

The new mother was upset with Tempest’s behavior. But this was taken from a real life conversation between me and my teenage only child. Babies act adorable to bond mother and child together, but teenagers are a whole other program. Nature makes them that way so when they’re ready to fly the nest, you’re there holding the door open.

 

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In my novel there is a lot of flying around in “Helios.” Another picky Beta reader took me to task when I dubbed the cyclic a “control stick,” and she proceeded to inform me that the cyclic controls the forward, left, and right action of the helicopter while the collective on the left controls the up and down motion. Pedals manage the spin. Smoke doesn’t fly through but would clear a path as the prop wash pushes air down and away rather than drawing it in. She concludes that if she, as a fifty some year old woman, knows this, a lot of readers might also.

While this is all true, I’m not unfamiliar with flying. I have logged many hours as copilot to my husband during the years we owned or partnered in over five various planes. In fact, the crash in Touching Crystal is taken from an actual experience when we crashed in our Mooney over New York State. I have soloed in a Cessna and rode tandem in our sports Citabria during spontaneous acrobatics when husband got bored flying “straight and level.”

I didn’t know it was called a cyclic, would you know that? However, I am impressed with her accuracy (confirmed by pilot husband) and knowledge, yet I doubt most women or even most men would know that the stick that flies a helicopter is called a cyclic.

But…would someone on another world use that exact label? It’s so specific that I doubt it would be called the exact same name, and maybe they might have labeled it a control stick…or perhaps I should make up a name.

To what extent should an author use Earth names and labels when writing about another world? I know I will never try to change Earth measurements again. I have readers confused on what a rotation is (day), cycle (ten days), annual (year) and other measures. While it makes sense that an alien world would not name measurements the same way we do, your readers will get in an uproar trying to figure out what you mean. And once you start, you can’t stop.

Don’t do it. Take my advice.

My Beta Readers are precious and smart and real sticklers for how I write.

And you, dear readers, are the beneficiaries of such great care.

 

 

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Military Science Fiction and Time Travel Shows

IMG_0165Time travel. Seems to be an “in” thing lately. Why do I say that? Because I’m currently enjoying the series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I was impressed with the job the producers did of translating from book to television. My first book Caught in Time has a very similar flavor, and revolves around a beautiful woman who is sent back to a more barbaric past and has to learn how to survive. In my case, Rowyna struggles on an Earth colony planet in an English style setting. So, it’s right on trend. Outlander

Also, the new series Forever about an immortal who is a medical examiner is a pleasant surprise. Not quite as good as Sherlock, the main character teams up with a female cop, but has the same sharp mind when it comes to solving crimes. And there’s the added twist that if he’s killed, he comes back again. And he does, more than once, naked and wet.

1076x560(9)If you’ve cut the cord, but are a Netflix fan, Continuum is a great time travel series to check out. After watching the first episode, I did some binge viewing. This series is also about a female cop, but one from the far future that is thrown back into our current present along with a band of terrorists determined to change that future. Some neat special effects and switching from present to far future make it interesting.

So there’s a few science fiction shows I wanted to call to your attention.

One of my more popular blogs was on military science fiction. I read Robert Buettner’s Orphan’s Series and liked it, so when I saw he had a new Orphan’s Legacy Series, I quickly checked it out. Overkill is the first in this series with Undercurrents the second and Balance Point the next. Actually, it was the 2014 announcement in Amazon of Balance Point that tipped me to the series, but I read Undercurrents because it was available.

UndercurrentsJazen Parker has left the military and runs a most-of- the-times quiet bar. That is, until the King of the Spooks, Howard Hibble, tempts him back into duty by offering Jazen a way to find out more about his mysterious father and rescue a captured past lover. Curiosity this time might kill the officer as Jazen parachutes into a politically interdicted planet in order to save the kickass spy he still loves and uncover a secret operation on a supposedly low tech planet. He’s running out of time with little resources. An eleven year old girl and a ragtag band of rebels led by a beautiful young duchess join with him to rescue his not forgotten love and uncover a secret operation that could threatens the peace of five hundred planets.

Robert Buettner throws in a lot of goodies. From a high altitude parachute dive to a wild ride on rapids, he keeps the action coming. Balance PointThrow in a captured and tortured beautiful spy who he still loves, and you’ve got a mixture of romance, danger and military espionage. I particularly liked the wisecracking young girl who kept Jazen off balance, and who knew far more of death and war than an eleven year old should.

OrphanageBuettner keeps his chapters short, so I kept reading just one more chapter before quitting…and then maybe another…and another. His style is clear and easy to understand. It isn’t necessary to read his previous books, but you just might want to.

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