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Author Interview: Ben Hale

Ben Hale author photoBen Hale, author of The Second Draeken War series and The Chronicles of Lumineia series joins us so we can dig a little into the psyche of a writer.

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Let’s join Ben in this author interview.

  1. Is there an author or book that inspired you to write, whether to become a writer or just to write a specific story?

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Not one specifically. However, when I was a kid I read a lot. One night as I fell asleep I decided to come up with my own character. It turned out to be a relaxing way to fall asleep so I kept doing it. (Twelve year old problems are so stressful, I know.)  This practice became a habit that continued for almost fifteen years. By then I was married and my wife asked me why I fell asleep so fast. I responded by telling her I had a story I thought about. At her request I began to tell it. It was the first time I had voiced the ideas, and I was quite surprised to realize how much there was. In spite of her prompting to write it, I did not feel that writing was within my skill set. Fortunately she overcame my hesitation and the next thing I knew I had started Elseerian. Because I’d imagined it in such detail it was easy for me to write, and within a month I realized that the story I’d thought of would not fit in one book. The Chronicles of Lumineia began with a single idea and now spans ten books, two series, and ten thousand years.

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  1. What is your last story and what made you want to write it? What was the inspiration, the drive that started the idea for it?

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The last story I wrote was The Forge of Light, the end of my second series, The White Mage Saga. It could be compared in some respects to Percy Jackson or Harry Potter but there is a marked distinction in its scope. I always liked the stories of magic being hidden in our world, but was curious what would happen if it became public. What could compel mankind to believe that magic was real? Who would be strong enough to unite the magical world with the normal world? I also wanted to explore a blending of a fantasy book with real world military elements. The series contains mages that fly and stunning magic, and yet characters that are navy SEALs and a former marine sniper. The combination is hopefully unique and fun to read.

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  1. It is the age-old debate: scene setters vs. seat writers. What is your writing process like? Do you outline extensively, carefully mapping out your story ahead, or do you just go with the flow writing as it comes to you?

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I am certainly a planner over a blurter. My outlines span thousands of years, multiple series, and hundreds of characters. If I didn’t outline it I would lose track, and the story would ultimately crumble. I also practice what I call layered writing, which means there are more layers to a plot than are first visible. For example, one of my more subtle plots will ultimately span several multi-book series before finally being tied into the overall story. Hopefully it will make the story exciting on subsequent reads as readers discover hints and connections they had not noticed before.

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  1. We all know names hold a certain amount of power to give us all a pre-judged idea of what a person is like. You want to hate someone just for having the same name as a despised ex, a strong sounding name makes you think they must be strong, and a name like Poindexter, well you get the idea. How important are your character names to you? What resource would you recommend for someone having trouble finding names?

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A term I frequently use is, “The impression given is more important the text used”. The name does not matter as much as the connotation of the name. I choose names that inspire images of innocence, evil, or morality, to name a few. Since coming up with names on the spot can be difficult I have become a collector of names. When I need one, I go to my list and look for one that fits the character. Google and a thesaurus are always good backups.

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  1. Each writer has their favorite type of scene, the kind of scene that just flows naturally for them. Is there a certain type of scene you find hard to write?

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When I started writing, conversation was difficult for me. It was hard for me to write it so it did not feel stilted. Writers that excel in conversation can bring tension and intrigue without drawing on the conflict in the scene, but that was not my strength from the beginning. Part of my problem was due to a lack of vocabulary. As my vocabulary has grown I have found that writing conversation is easier. Now I’m happy to say that writing conversations are much easier after ten books.

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  1. If you could give only one piece of writing advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

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Write, write, write. Set a goal to write every day and stick to it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a couple hundred words or a few thousand. Consistency is what matters. Professional writers maintain a pace. Also, if I was to choose a second most important item it would be to edit, edit, edit. My first book I edited 24 times before I published it, and I still think it’s not as good as I would like. It’s good to remember that there is just as much creation in the editing as there is in the writing.

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  1. What is your best do or don’t marketing tip?

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Time is the most precious commodity for a writer, so don’t waste it. I’ve met authors that are engaged in endless marketing of a single book, and end up writing very little. The more you write the more you have to sell, and the more your marketing efforts matter. Keep your marketing time to a minimum by remembering one thing; a book release is the biggest marketing event you can have.

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  1. What is your pet peeve when it comes to writing? It could be about any part from the writing process to publication, marketing, fans, etc.

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The perception that it is free. With indie publishing it is now possible to publish for free, but that does not mean the preparation is. Invest in an editor, cover designer, and if needed, a book coach. It costs money to do it right because you are investing into something. The lack of knowledge and quality can cost you a career as a writer.

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  1. Reviews can drive writers to distraction; looking for them, yearning to get them, and scared of getting them. At the same time it takes a certain kind of reader to put themselves out there and actually post a review. How do you go about encouraging your readers to rate your books or stories and post reviews? How do you respond when you get a negative review?

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I make an effort not to solicit reviews. That said, I do request one if someone has said they liked my books. The unfortunate truth is that reviews carry a lot of weight—especially the negative ones. Some reviews are given because the reader didn’t like you, or they read a couple of pages and tossed your book aside in favor of another interest. The good news is that reviews tell you things, and you should listen to them. Even the bad ones give you an idea of how your writing is perceived. Again, perception is more important that the actual words—and far more important than the idea itself. Your idea as a writer may be stunning, but it will not matter unless it is perceived as such.

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  1. And finally, the question every author’s fan wants to now: What are you working on now? What is your next published project going to be?

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I haven’t announced it yet, but I have started a new trilogy in the Chronicles of Lumineia. I will say it follows a fan favorite, and that he is a rock troll. Feel free to post a guess on my facebook page! I hope to write and publish his trilogy this year. With five kids and starting a Masters program, it’s going to be a busy 2015 for me. Good luck to all of you in your own works, and feel free to contact me if you are looking for a book coach.

.Assasins Blade Ben Hale

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You can find Ben Hale and his books on his Amazon author page. .

Visit Ben Hale’s website at The World of Lumineia

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.Eiseerian Ben Hale

Your Life With Rhuematoid Arthritis by Lene Andersen

Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis by Lene Andersen is raved as an insightful resource for people living with rheumatoid arthritis.

Check out this review  of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis written by Wren on RheumaBLog

Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo books, iBooks, Smashwords, CreateSpace

L Andersen author photo

Lene Andersen blogs at

The Seated View
Lene and her book can also be found at:

Lene’s Amazon Author Page

And

The Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis website

I’ve noticed a new breed of phishing scammers lately. They’ve gotten more sophisticated in their attempts to trick, cajole, and outright scare you into falling into their trap. The emails are written by someone fluent in English and are even doing a pretty good job of mimicking the company they are pretending to be.

 

The scammers of old seem to have fallen away, those all too predictable and obvious pathetic attempts with poorly spelled words, atrocious grammar errors, and the glaring obvious that they know very little of the English language and are completely oblivious or just don’t care.

 

As published authors we have to put ourselves out there, always marketing and schmoozing online like the girl at the young teen dance who so desperately wants to be asked to dance, but no one seems to notice her in the corner behind all the other girls desperate to be asked to dance.

 

The problem with making yourself visible to as many others as possible in the hopes that just one or two might actually buy your book, is that you are also making yourself visible to the spammers, phishers, and hackers.

 

Apparently a phisherman of this newer breed noticed me on Amazon. I suddenly am getting all these urgent messages that my Amazon account is in dire peril.

 

How do I know it phishing? It’s not that hard to figure out, really. Just be smart and stop and think before you panic and click that link or give any information. And when in doubt, just back out. Stand up and take a step back and close that email. Picking up a phone to call customer service (if they have one!) will sort it all out. If they have no real people working for them, then go to the actual legitimate website and contact them with all the details. They will no doubt tell you that you just got phished.

 

Keys and tips to protect yourself from phishing:

  1. Don’t make your email public. Really, how many of your “fans” need to email you? There are safer ways to do set that up. Do you think Stephen King put out his private email to the public? Not a creepy clown down the sewer chance! Of course, that’s sometimes easier said than done whenever media site defaults to publishing your email.
  2. Use multiple email accounts. Use a spam email for social networking sites where you know you are likely to get spammed by the site or phishing scams. Never use the same email that you use for banking and other important business.
  3. If the email is asking for personal information, bank account or credit information, passwords, or for you click a link to log in securely – IT’S A PHISHING SCAM! As soon as you log in through their link they have your username and password, giving them full access to your account.
  4. It doesn’t matter what the account is: your bank, Facebook, Paypal, Amazon, etc they will never contact you asking for you to click a link and provide information that gives access to your account. They will instead direct you to visit their legitimate site to access your account securely or contact them.
  5. Check the IP or senders email. Big red flag: all the Amazon’s calling and your account is in grave danger and has been shut down emails are coming from “noreply@amazon.ca”. Now here’s the dead giveaway: the sender’s email shows up as “noreply@azon.ca“. But that is almost Amazon you say? Yes, but do you not think a multi billion-dollar corporation would get that right?
  6. Did it even come to the right email address? I’ve had plenty of warning that my bank accounts are in imminent danger. Usually the first giveaway is that it’s a bank I don’t have an account with, or sent to the wrong email.

 

The phishermen may have gotten smarter and more sophisticated, but common sense is pretty smart and sophisticated too.

Michael John Sullivan The Greatest Gift-Book CoverThe Greatest Gift is the final installment of the trilogy that started with Necessary Heartbreak, followed by Everybody’s Daughter.

 

In Everybody’s Daughter we were left hanging with Michael Stewart and his daughter Elizabeth still missing after being transported back to ancient Jerusalem when it was a dangerous world ruled by Roman soldiers and brutality. Elizabeth was murdered by a Roman soldier who owned Michael’s beloved Leah through fear and became obsessed with owning Elizabeth too. The only way to rescue Leah and Elizabeth had been to kill the soldier, but it was too late for Elizabeth. Michael and Elizabeth were miraculously reunited when she was brought back to life.

 

Michael and Elizabeth still had no idea how they could possibly get home to their own time.

 

Back home in the present time the desperate search is still on for Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished, and for her father Michael, who is the prime suspect in her disappearance. While his sister Connie and his friend Susan both refuse to believe Michael could have had anything to do with his daughter’s disappearance, the FBI has a very different opinion and are convinced his later disappearance only seals his guilt.

 

 

The Greatest Gift continues the story …

 

Still trapped in ancient Jerusalem, Elizabeth is pulled into greater danger just as Michael finally had her returned to him alive. His beloved Leah, who lives in that time, is rediscovered and lost to him all at once, having found someone else and married in his absence. But now Leah and Elizabeth are charged with the soldier’s murder and Michael must do everything he can to save them. Posing as a Roman soldier, he travels with them and finds himself helping an Apostle by writing part of his Gospel, an act that does not go entirely unnoticed back home in present day.

 

In the present, Connie and Susan are at odds with each other, disliking each other immensely as the tensions of Michael and Elizabeth’s disappearance drove a wedge between the two who could have been allies with their shared goal.

 

Special Agent Hewitt Paul is as determined as before to find Michael and charge him with his daughter’s disappearance. And now he believes Michael’s friend Pastor Dennis is somehow involved and possibly hiding Michael. For him everyone is a potential suspect in knowing something that might reveal Michael’s whereabouts.

 

Pastor Dennis is the only one who believes Michael’s claims before his disappearance that he had travelled to ancient Jerusalem and back.

 

Somehow Michael must rescue Leah and Elizabeth and return to the present with his daughter. Meanwhile Connie and Susan are pulled together against their will against a bigger foe, the FBI agent who wants to put Michael away. They must try to avoid Special Agent Hewitt Paul while also searching for Michael and Elizabeth, but Hewitt Paul is not so easily avoided.

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Gift brings us to the conclusion of a paranormal story of faith and sacrifice where the unbelievable is the only answer. Michael John Sullivan gives us an enjoyable mix of hope, desperation, and drama that all readers can enjoy.

 

 

The Greatest Gift is published by The Story Plant.

Everybodysdaughtercover4-206x300

 

Michael Stewart is obsessed with finding something that was hidden in the basement of an old church. He also faces his own demons, worried he isn’t being a good enough father to his teenage daughter Elizabeth and punishing himself for his belief he failed his wife before her death.

 

Unfortunately, nobody else seems to believe this hidden secret exists. And how could they? They believe he is crazy, his talk about travelling to the past through a tunnel in the church basement the delusions of a man who is not coping with reality. But Michael knows it is real because he has gone through it before.

 

 

When Michael re-discovers the hidden passageway through time he vanishes. Realizing what happened; Elizabeth is determined to follow her father. Elizabeth finds the passage and emerges in Jerusalem centuries in the past just as she hoped, but her father is nowhere to be found.

 

Michael returns to the present to find Elizabeth missing. He can only guess what happened to her, that she had followed him through the tunnel. The world that was Jerusalem centuries ago is a dangerous world ruled by Roman soldiers and brutality.

 

Michael immediately realizes the danger his daughter in. He has to find the way back. He has to find her and bring her back!

 

But the tunnel has vanished and Michael cannot find it. Complicating things more, he is everyone’s suspect in the disappearance of his daughter Elizabeth. The three women in his life make it even more difficult. His deceased wife’s friend blames him for her death and is convinced he is to blame for his daughter’s disappearance. His sister and a woman who seems caught between being his friend and wanting more are both torn between his craziness, being unable to decide if he is guilty or innocent, and the need to help him find his daughter.

 

With the FBI investigating and following him, and the three women holding him back, it doesn’t seem that Michael will ever find his daughter. The more Michael tries to convince those around him that his daughter is trapped in time; the more convinced they are that he is crazy and has done something to her.

 

His only real ally is his friend Dennis, the priest of the church who has his own reasons to believe this passage to the past exists.

 

While Michael fights his own battles in the present, desperate to find a way to return to Jerusalem in the time of Christ, Elizabeth faces the greatest danger of her life centuries in the past. She reconnects with Leah, a woman she and her father met on their previous visit to Jerusalem in the time of Christ. With no one who can save them the two women fight for their lives against a sadistic Roman soldier determined to own and control them both in his prison of savage cruelty.

 

 

Everybody’s Daughter mixes religion with the paranormal in a blend of miracles and sacrifice and the lesson that faith in the unbelievable is sometimes the only answer. Michael John Sullivan treats the reader with a story of hope and despair, and finding salvation, all in a story that any reader can relate to.

 

Everybody’s Daughter is published by The Story Plant.

 

 

Today I am pleased to present a guest to the blog.

 

Joan De La Haye

 

Fellow author Joan De La Haye joins us to in a blog interview. Pull up a chair and your favourite cup of tea, glass of wine, or whatever, and let’s join Joan for a few questions.

 

Joan has written Burning, Requiem In E Sharp, and Shadows.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Is there an author or book that inspired you to write, whether to become a writer or just to write a specific story?

 

      That’s a tough question. I grew up in a household full of books. Both my parents were avid readers and I grew up with a love for books and stories. My Grandmother once said that I was writing stories before I could even walk properly. Writing was something that I always wanted to do. When I was about 12 or 13 I wrote a fairytale and forced everybody in my class to read it. But I couldn’t really tell you who or what really inspired me to be an author, I think it was just every book on the shelf that I read and loved that made me want to be able to take others on those sorts of journeys as well.

 

 

  1. burning-cover-1What is your last story and what made you want to write it? What was the inspiration, the drive that started the idea for it?

 

      My last story is called Burning. It’s about a witch who takes drastic and dangerous steps to improve her love life with deadly consequences. It started off as my failed attempt at writing something romantic and erotic, because everybody kept telling me that I should. So I did and failed. Burning ended up being anything but romantic. My publisher did however come up with the label ‘erotic horror’ for it, so I guess I at least did succeed in writing the erotic bit, just not the romantic bit.

 

 

 

  1. It is the age old debate: scene setters vs. seat writers. What is your writing process like? Do you outline extensively, carefully mapping out your story ahead, or do you just go with the flow writing as it comes to you?

 

         I don’t map my stories out at all. I start off with a basic idea of how the story starts and where it might end up. But it just builds from there. It’s almost like watching a movie in my mind which, unfortunately, sometimes hits the pause button while my brain and the characters argue about where the story is going to go.

 

 

  1. We all know names hold a certain amount of power to give us all a pre-judged idea of what a person is like. You want to hate someone just for having the same name as a despised ex, a strong sounding name makes you think they must be strong, and a name like Poindexter, well you get the idea. How important are your character names to you? What resource would you recommend for someone having trouble finding names?

 

      It all depends. Sometimes people will ask me to name a character after them. Sometimes I name a character after an ex-boyfriend, like in Burning (although he did ask me to do that). Sometimes I’ll name a character, especially a character that’s going to die really badly, after someone I really, really don’t like. And then there are times when I’m at a complete loss and I have to consult a baby name book which also gives you the meanings of the names which comes in handy when trying to figure out if a name will suit a specific character or not.

 

 

  1. Each writer has their favourite type of scene, the kind of scene that just flows naturally for them. Is there a certain type of scene you find hard to write?

 

      Sex scenes! I find getting the balance in them just right is a little difficult. You don’t want it to be just a boring blow by blow sort of thing and you also don’t want it to end up being overly flowery, romanticised twaddle that won’t turn anybody on and will only result in uncomfortable giggling.

 

 

Requiem Cover

 

6.    If you could give only one piece of writing advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

 

      Just focus on writing that first word, then the first sentence and the next sentence. Before you know it you’ll have the first paragraph and then the first page. Writing is sometimes like walking, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Also read extensively in all genres.

 

 

 

  1. What is your best do or don’t marketing tip?

 

      Don’t spam. The thing that will stop me from ever buying an author’s book is if they friend me on Facebook with the sole purpose of messaging me to tell me to buy their book or getting me to like their author page. If you haven’t bothered to interact with me on any other level there isn’t a snowballs chance in hell that I’m going to rush out and buy your book because you begged me to do so on Facebook or twitter.

 

 

  1. What is your pet peeve when it comes to writing? It could be about any part from the writing process to publication, marketing, fans, etc.

 

      It’s the self-entitlement that I’m seeing amongst some newbie and aspiring writers that gets to me. The fact that they think other published authors owe them something confuses me. If you want to get published write a good story and submit it and keep submitting it. You have to pay your dues like the rest of us. You don’t just private message a published author and say ‘Hey! I want to be a writer, so you have to help me.’ We don’t have to do anything of the sort. There are plenty of books and online resources available for newbie writers; they really don’t need to demand it from other writers who have deadlines to meet and books to write. And what really gets to me is how rude some of them are when demanding it. One so-called aspiring writer even went so far as to try and get my home phone number so they could harass me at home. That kind of attitude boggles my mind.

 

 

  1. Reviews can drive writers to distraction; looking for them, yearning to get them, and scared of getting them. At the same time it takes a certain kind of reader to put themselves out there and actually post a review. How do you go about encouraging your readers to rate your books or stories and post reviews? How do you respond when you get a negative review?

 

      I must admit I’m rather bad at getting people to review my books. I try to every now and then put a little note up on twitter or Facebook to ask that if they read the book and enjoyed it, that a review would be greatly appreciated but I don’t hound people for reviews, which is probably why I don’t have that many reviews on Amazon.

 

      As to how I deal with a bad review … well … I think it depends on just how bad the review is and whether it’s constructive and fair or not. If it’s a fair review I process what the reviewer said and implement it in my future works. And by process I mean glug a glass of red wine and eat a slab of chocolate. But if it’s just a particularly nasty one where you can see that the reviewer wasn’t actually interested in writing a fair review or if it just wasn’t the sort of book, no matter how well it was written, that they would enjoy there’s not all that much I can do about it. Those sort of reviews you have to just shrug off, hard as that may be, because those tend to be more about the reviewer than about the book.

 

 

  1. And finally, the question every author’s fan wants to now: What are you working on now? What is your next published project going to be?

 

      I’m busy working on a full length novel called Fury which is due for publication in June 2016 by Fox Spirit books. I’ve also got a couple short stories coming out in anthologies. The first of which is European Monsters due out in November.

 

Thank you Joan for joining us.Shadows cover

 

 

 

You can follow Joan and her writing here:

Website: http://joandelahaye.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoanDeLaHaye

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Joan-De-La-Haye/e/B002CJBAWY

 

 

The Trouble With Self Promotion

 

where the bodies are

After years of work, a great deal of time spent writing, re-writing, abandoning, taking up again, and endless rounds of editing, self doubt, and convincing myself that no one will like it, I finally took the big plunge and queried, accepted a contract, and had a book published.

 

Now what?

 

Self promotion, that’s what.

 

No matter the size of the publisher, or if you go the traditional publisher route, small independent press, or self publish, nobody is going to know about or buy your book without promotion and a lot of it. The smaller the company, the smaller the promotional budget they’ll have. But regardless of the size of the company the bulk of the promotion will fall on the author’s shoulders. It’s expected that you will take up that burden and run with it. After all, who has your self-interest at heart more than you? That means you, the writer, have to do a lot of work to promote yourself as an author and your book.

 

My first attempt at bulk/multi self promotion can be summed up with one word. It’s not a good word so we’ll just say “Oh crap!” and leave it at that.

 

The trouble with self promotion, my trouble to be specific although guaranteed I’m not alone, could probably have been helped a great deal with being more prepared and organized. But in such a big task it takes a lot of time to be prepared and organized in that huge world of promotion and, like writing a novel, that will be an ongoing work in progress.

 

Anger and frustration. Those are two good words to describe my experience. The biggest challenges working against me: poor internet connection, a less than stellar working mouse (okay, its more dysfunctional than functional), and starting out already tired and frustrated, with an overdose of wild hyper kids to reduce any attempt at concentrating to a slathering glob of damn I wish I had a glass of wine and a quiet place.

 

So this is lesson one in How To Be A Writer – Promote Yourself & Your Book:
– Distractions are a killer just as much here as when you are trying to write
– Tired and grumpy? Let’s find our happy place before we start.
– Preparation and organization ahead, yeah let’s work on that.
– A good internet connection and reliable computer are huge pluses, essential even.
– Spending four hours or more fighting with the internet, computer, distractions, et al to post a measly 8 quick past and post attempts to promote your book sucks the big one and was probably a huge waste of time.

 

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre ?

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre ?

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