Archive for the ‘Recommended Reading’ Category



Top 10 Things to Keep in Mind when Writing About Ghosts

My upcoming book They Stay is about ghosts. I spent two years designing, implementing, and writing about my ghost world, and so I learned a lot about how to worldbuild using ghosts.

This is a list of the 10 most important questions you need to ask yourself when building a ghost world. There are many different types of worlds you can build involving ghosts. You can write a horror story about ghosts who terrorize a family. You can write a story similar to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Bookwhere the ghosts are friends to your main characters. You can write a story where ghosts are an allegory for mental illness or another type of trauma. Before you even get into this list of questions, you need to figure out what you want the purpose of your ghosts to be because that is going to inform your answers to the rest of these questions.

The more readers know about your ghosts, the less scary your ghosts will be to them. Creating a cast of terrifying ghosts requires you to make your characters powerless against them and ignorant of how your ghosts function, and make your ghosts powerful and able to do brutal things to your characters. If you want your ghosts to be friends, write them as you would any other character. Regardless of how much information you want to give your readers about your ghost, here are the top 10 questions you need to answer about your ghost world before writing.

  1. Do ghosts stay on earth forever after dying?

Or do they fade away? Is the earth populated with the ghosts of everyone who has ever died roaming around everyone who is currently living? Or do they go somewhere else?

  1. Does everyone become a ghost?

 Are there just some people who don’t become ghosts? What determines whether or not you are going to become a ghost?

  1. Does becoming a ghost change the way you act?

 In a lot of horror movies, ghosts can act pretty erratically. Do only erratic people get turned into ghosts? Or does being a ghost take your normal brain and twist it into an erratic version of itself?

  1. What is life like as a ghost? Is it miserable? Is it ok?

Having to live a miserable existence would make my brain pretty twisted, to be honest.

  1. Can ghosts move through things?

If so, are there any materials that they can’t move through?

  1. Do ghosts retain their physical appearance on earth, when dead?

 If they died in a house fire, does their ghost look all burnt? Do they take on the physicality that they had at their Prime? Do they look like the age they were at when they died?

  1. Can ghosts affect the physical world?

 Can ghosts kill people? Can ghosts make books all off of shelves? Or do they just pass through stuff? What kind of ghosts can affect the physical world, and what kind of ghosts aren’t?

  1. Can anything kill, deter, or summon ghosts?

 Does salt or iron deter ghosts? Are there any incantations or weird spells that can summon ghosts? Do Ouija boards work?

  1. Can ghosts move everywhere or are they bound someplace?

 Are ghosts bound to objects that were important to them in real life? if you get rid of that object, does it get rid of the ghost? If you move the object, does the ghost move with it?

  1. Is there a place where ghosts go after they become ghosts? Do they stay ghosts until the end of time?

Does an afterlife exist? If so, what does it look like? Do all ghosts go there, or do only the people who are rejected from the afterlife become ghosts?

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I have made a YouTube video about worldbuilding with ghosts which can be found here. I run a YouTube channel called Write with Claire Fraise  where I share specific and actionable writing tips that helped me make my own writing better.

They Stay
Claire Fraise
(They Stay Series, #1)
Publication date: October 12th 2021
Genres: Supernatural, Thriller, Young Adult

For fans of Stranger Things comes a suspenseful YA mystery about a missing kid, a girl who can see ghosts, and a horrifying crime only four outcasts have the power to stop.

What if the only person who could help you find your missing brother was dead?

Nothing is as important to sixteen-year-old Shiloh Oleson as her little brother Max. So when the six-year-old goes missing without a trace, a heartbroken Shiloh refuses to believe nothing can be done and sets out to find him.

When one of Shiloh’s classmates says she knows where Max is, Shiloh hesitates to believe her. Francesca is creepy. She says she can see ghosts, but everyone knows ghosts aren’t real … right?

But Francesca says that Max is going to be murdered.

And a ghost told her where he is.

As the line between the dead and living begins to blur, Shiloh starts to think Francesca might not be as crazy as she believed. One thing is becoming clear. Someone has gruesome plans for Max, and Shiloh must confront her worst nightmares to find him before it’s too late.

THEY STAY is the first book in the They Stay Series. Read on if you like ghost stories, plot twists, enemies-to-friends, creepy circuses, budding romance, and unlikely heroes.

Content Warnings: This book contains death, kidnapping, domestic abuse, references to suicide, bullying, and mild adult language.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

 

Author Bio:

Claire Fraise earned her B.A. in English from Tufts University. She is also the author of YA dystopian novel Imperfect (winner of the San Francisco and Beverly Hills Book Festivals), which she published when she was 16. When Claire’s not writing, she likes crocheting amigurumi animals, reading, and hanging out with her dogs. Even though it goes against every introverted bone in her body, she is on social media. Connect with her on Instagram at @clairefraiseauthor, on YouTube at Write with Claire Fraise, or visit her website at clairefraise.com.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / Youtube / Pinterest

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GIVEAWAY!

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Murder Worth the Weight by D.M. Barr Banner

Murder Worth the Weight

by D.M. Barr

September 13 – October 8, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Murder Worth the Weight by D.M. Barr

Whenever Terry Mangel’s body acceptance revival meeting rolls into town, local diet execs and “fat shamers” turn up dead, often in grotesque, ironic ways. All single murders in small suburbs, no one’s noticed a pattern, until rookie investigative reporter Camarin Torres takes a closer look.

Torres is a crusader against discrimination. She reluctantly accepts a job offered by handsome publisher Lyle Fletcher, a man with a vendetta, who sees the recent college grad as salvation for Trend, his fledgling fashion magazine. Torres, however, detests everything the publication stands for, and joins solely to transform its judgmental, objectifying content.

As an unexpected romance blossoms, the overconfident, justice-hungry reporter defies orders and infiltrates Mangel’s world, only to find herself in the crosshairs of a vigilante group targeting the $60 billion diet industry. To this vindictive mob, murder is definitely worth the weight. But as Torres soon learns, unmasking the killer may save her life but shatter her heart: every clue seems to implicate Fletcher, her mercurial mentor and lover, as the group’s mastermind.

Previously published as Slashing Mona Lisa

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Romantic Suspense, Psychological Suspense, Women’s Fiction
Published by: Punctuated Publishing
Publication Date: 08/09/2021
Number of Pages: 340
ISBN: 978-0-9977118-6-8
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

CAMARIN TORRES PEERED down the tracks again, as if repeated checking would cause her delayed train to magically appear. It was a warm April afternoon, but the unexpected heat did little to lift her spirits. She was heading back to her apartment after yet another unsuccessful interview. If this kept up, she’d be the only one of her NYU friends graduating next month without a job lined up. How ironic not to be able to afford the food she wouldn’t allow herself to eat anyway. She checked her watch a third time. The 5:03 from White Plains to Grand Central was already ten minutes late.

Camarin heard a voice a few feet behind her softly exclaim, “Dammit!” Curiosity aroused, she spied a girl in her late teens standing by the vending machine, fervently searching through her handbag.

Camarin stared, mesmerized by what could have been a mirror image of her late twin sister Monaeka. Long, dark hair partially obscured her tanned, pretty face, and despite the temperature, she’d draped her two-hundred-plus pound body in an oversized raincoat. But as Camarin well knew, yards of fabric didn’t really fool anyone. The girl hunched over slightly, a stance her sister Monaeka had perfected, a sign of deference to a world demanding an apology for violating their arbitrary standards.

Camarin felt a familiar tug of compassion as the girl plunked a few coins into the machine and then searched for more. Looking on, she debated the merits of acquiescing to her own desire for a late-afternoon sweet. What’s really the harm? Cam reached into the pocket of her dress and pulled out three quarters, which she held out toward the stranger as she walked toward her.

“Want to share something?”

The girl tensed and gave her a quizzical look, but after a moment her shoulders relaxed. “That’s so nice of you. Thanks.”

Camarin winked and pushed the quarters into the machine. One click and clunk later, she retrieved their prize—a Kit Kat bar. One of Monaeka’s favorites. As she held it out to the girl, a slim, stylish woman clad in black came out of nowhere and snatched the chocolate bar right out of her hand.

“You don’t need it,” she said. “You’ll thank me later.”

The girl’s face turned bright red, but she said nothing, just watched in shock as the thief continued down the platform.

Camarin felt the blood rush to her temples. No matter how many years and miles she’d put between herself and her past, the critical voices kept seeking her out, today in the form of this interloper. Enough, she decided. She set down the briefcase containing her resume and clips and tore after the woman, grabbing her arm and pulling her around so they stood face-to-face.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Camarin yelled.

Heads turned. Conversations ceased.

“What’s it to you?” the offender shot back.

Camarin pointed at the girl, whose eyes were wide in disbelief. “That girl happens to be a friend of mine, so I’m asking a second time… what are you doing?”

“Saving her from herself, that’s what. Your friend is huge, and it’s unhealthy. If she can’t control herself, she needs others to do it for her.”

“Well, Miss High-and-Mighty, since you know everything about everyone, did you ever consider that my friend…Sabrina’s…size might have nothing to do with self-control? Could it be the result of…the lithium she takes to control her bipolar disorder? Are you a psychiatrist who has a better suggestion for more appropriate meds that don’t put on weight?”

“Well, no… no,” the woman stammered, as if the rush of passion suddenly drained from her, leaving her feeling exposed.

“You know what I think?”

The fat shamer glared back but remained silent, so Camarin summoned her courage and repeated herself, a few decibels louder. “I said, do you know what I think?”

“No. What?” The woman sneered.

“I think you should go over to Sabrina and apologize.”

“Apologize for helping her get thin?” Her voice dripped with indignation.

“No, apologize for sticking your big nose where it doesn’t belong,” interjected a young, beer-bellied man in overalls a few feet away. A Joe’s Plumbing patch was embroidered on his chest pocket.

“What exactly do we have to do to be accepted by you people? Why can’t you just leave us alone?” screamed a plump, older woman with perfectly coiffed hair and a fitted suit.

“Give her back the Kit Kat bar,” hollered a man clad in military garb, who then started chanting, “Kit Kat, Kit Kat, Kit Kat…” Others joined in, and the cacophony grew stronger.

“You may have grabbed a Kit Kat, but you ended up with Snickers,” said Cam with a smirk. “Maybe you want to just hand over the candy, so we can forget this whole ugly incident?”

The woman spat at the ground in front of Camarin and defiantly threw the chocolate bar on the tracks, eliciting loud boos from the small but agitated crowd. Then she ran down the platform, heading for the stairs that led to the parking lot.

“Good riddance,” the plumber called after her.

Camarin stood for a moment, shaking from the encounter. Then she returned to the now teary-eyed girl. “Sorry I made you bipolar,” she whispered. “I needed to make a point, and it was all I could come up with on the spur of the moment. Hi, I’m Camarin.”

“I’m Lexie,” the girl said. “No one has ever stood up for me before. Thank you.”

“Hey, I know what it’s like. I used to deal with jerks like that all the time.”

The plumber pushed a run of quarters into the vending machine and took out two Kit Kat bars, handing one to each of the women. Others on the platform clapped and cheered. The sound was slowly drowned out by the roar of the oncoming 5:03 PM train.

As the doors opened, Camarin noticed Lexie and the plumber now chatting animatedly. Not wishing to intrude, she entered the next car over. It was practically empty, not unusual considering most people were traveling in the opposite direction at this hour. A perfect opportunity to relax after an upsetting confrontation. Perhaps savor that chocolate bar. She could always purge later.

Given the plethora of unoccupied seats, she was surprised when a handsome man in an expensive-looking suit asked if the spot beside her was taken. She guessed he was in his early forties, since his face was too young for the silver in his hair and beard. He spoke with a confidence so lacking in her gawky college-boy contemporaries. She felt a shiver as the silk of his sleeve touched her bare arm as he settled in.

She wondered what clever icebreaker she could use to engage her attractive new neighbor in conversation. Nice weather, huh? would be too lame. Seconds passed. Other passengers shuffled by. Soon, the moment would be lost.

Then, to her delight, he leaned in covertly, as if sharing a private confidence. “Nice going. You’d never seen that girl before in your life, had you?”

She pulled back and studied his expression. Affable or accusatory? His smile assured her of his friendly intentions.

“What gave me away?”

“Nothing. Just a hunch. One you just confirmed.”

Camarin twisted her mouth, irked at having been so easily played.

“Do you always go around tricking strangers into confessing their secrets?” she asked.

“Probably as often as you go around defending the underdog.” The man winked. “Nothing to be ashamed of though. Quite the opposite. As I think you’ve already figured out, life is just a series of bluffs.”

Camarin considered the comment as the train rumbled along the tracks toward Scarsdale.

“And do you bluff much?”

“Funny you should ask. These days, it’s all I do.”

Grateful for such a provocative opening, she pressed forward. “That sounds intriguing. Care to elaborate?”

“Thought you’d never ask,” he said with a smile. “Up until a few years ago, I’d spent my entire career practicing law. Then my circumstances and interests changed, and I decided to become a redeemer of lost causes. I just purchased a failing magazine, which I intend to make profitable again. If that’s not the bluff of the century, I don’t know what is.”

Elegant and he owns a magazine? Camarin’s heart skipped a beat.

“That’s such a coincidence. I’m just coming from an interview with a magazine.”

“Some might call it a coincidence. I call it kismet,” the man said as he held out his hand. “Lyle Fletcher, fledgling publisher.”

Chapter 2

AS THE TRAIN rolled down the tracks toward Manhattan, Camarin sensed her future suddenly lurching ahead as well. “Camarin Torres, journalism and prelaw major. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

She reached out to shake his hand, eager to see if his grip would be as firm as she imagined, but the conductor interrupted, asking to punch their tickets. There was no way to try again without looking awkward, so she swallowed her disappointment and returned her hand to her side.

Fletcher broke the pregnant pause. “So, there must be many professions out there for someone as bold and beautiful as you. Why journalism and law?”

Camarin’s face grew warm. Had anyone else handed her that line, she would have regarded it as a come-on. But he seemed sincere, so she felt comfortable opening up. “All my life I’ve seen bullying and discrimination. As a child, I felt helpless to stop it. But as an adult, I can make a difference.”

“Bullying because of your ethnicity? You’re… ”

“My mother’s side of the family comes from Guam. But no, fortunately, I’ve encountered very little bias because of my roots. Maybe it’s because we live just outside Los Angeles, where I’m part of a large Chamorro community who share an intense sense of cultural pride. In fact, I think my background may have worked in my favor, that push for diversity in colleges and all.”

“So, discriminated against as a woman?”

“No again,” she said, reluctant to share too much of her past with a stranger, no matter how charming. “Let’s just say I’ve seen how cruel people can be to those who don’t quite fit in, no matter how hard they try. I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else ever again.”

“You’re going to personally end intolerance?” Fletcher seemed both dubious and amused.

“Well, at least make a sizeable dent in it,” she said with a smile. It wasn’t the first time that people had appeared incredulous at her idealism. “You’re speaking to the world’s first female Chamorro anti-discrimination crusader. After graduation anyway. And eventually law school, when I can afford it.”

“Lofty ambitions. You’ll need them in a world that doesn’t always cooperate with people’s dreams. Again, I’m impressed.”

“Thank you,” she said, her face growing even hotter. A charismatic publisher thought she was impressive. A once-disappointing day was rapidly metamorphosing into something magical, like a child’s giant, colorful carnival balloon.

“Have you interviewed at my magazine, Trend?”

Pop! Camarin did her best not to cringe with contempt. Trend represented everything in the world she’d come to hate: the brainwashing of women to fit into narrow, permissible roles dictated by fashion designers and greedy advertisers. And this man, appealing or not, was one of their leaders. Camarin paused, trying to formulate a polite and diplomatic response.

“You have heard of it, right?”

“Yes, of course. But no, I didn’t interview there. No offense, but as you said, it’s failing. As a matter of fact, I turned down an unsolicited offer from one of your competitors, Drift. I’m just interested in more…serious publications.”

“No offense taken,” he said with a grin. “I realize that up to now Trend has just covered style and gossip—total fluff. That’s what I’m planning to change. In your words, go in a more serious direction.”

She wondered if the comment was authentic or if he was just another jerk and this was an excuse that allowed him to live with himself. They remained quiet for a bit, and then curiosity got the better of her.

“I didn’t realize Trend is based in Westchester.”

Fletcher’s face clouded over. “No, it’s in Manhattan. I was out here today because…my late wife owned a condo in White Plains that we’d been renting out. I was just meeting with the real estate agent I might hire to sell it for me.”

Cam looked down at her pumps, annoyed at herself for bringing up such a sensitive subject. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Of my wife or the condo?”

She glanced back, astonished. He started to laugh, and she felt the earlier harshness of her judgment soften by a smidgen. He really was quite charming—for a body shamer.

“Are you ever serious?” she asked.

“Oh, when I am, you’ll definitely know it. Like now. How many years of college do you have left?”

His tone switched from whimsical to all business, and something about the way he commanded control sent a shiver up her spine. Hot as hell. Dammit. “About a month. Then I’m done.”

The conductor announced that they would soon be arriving at Grand Central Station, their final destination, and the windows grew dark as they entered the tunnel.

He reached into his suit pocket and pulled out a business card. It read Trend Magazine, with a fashionable NoHo address, close to her own apartment.

She held up her hand. “That’s kind of you, but I really don’t think—”

“Hey, I can see you’re not enamored with our current format. Nevertheless, I’d still like you to come in, show us your work. Allow us to describe the magazine’s revamped editorial direction. I think it may surprise you. I can use someone with your guts and ambition to develop our investigative-reporting beat. That is, if you have any interest.”

She took the card, slipping it into her jacket pocket. “If you’re really serious about moving away from your current focus, I’ll try to keep an open mind.” After all, a job was a job, and up to now, no one else but Drift had made an offer.

“Call tomorrow and speak to Rachel. She’ll set everything up. You’re going to be a superstar. Of that, I’m already certain.” He reached out to shake her hand. It felt as forceful as Camarin had imagined earlier. She didn’t try to read anything into the almost imperceptible squeeze he added at the end. Until proven otherwise, he was still the enemy.

As he rose and headed for the exit, she waited a few beats longer before also joining the crowd jostling toward the platform. By the stairs a newsstand featured the latest issue of Trend. Hating herself, she slapped down her $3.50 for a copy. Magazines like this were part of what had driven her sister over the edge, but she needed to see if there was anything redeemable within its pages. The jury was still out until Lyle Fletcher had proven himself a reformer, and not an enabler.

***

Excerpt from Murder Worth the Weight by D.M. Barr. Copyright 2021 by D.M. Barr. Reproduced with permission from D.M. Barr. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

D.M. Barr

By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire. My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy. The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, unlike as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings. As a yo-yo dieter, I’ve never offed anyone at my local diet clinic. While I’m a bit paranoid, I’ve never suspected my husband of wanting to murder me for my inheritance. Well, that’s not entirely true, but let’s go with that for now. And while I’ve volunteered at senior centers, I’ve never mastered the hula hoop. But that’s not to say I haven’t wanted to…

Catch Up With D.M. Barr:
DMBarr.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @DMBarr
Instagram – @authordmbarr
Twitter – @authordmbarr
Facebook – @authordmbarr

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
09/13 Review @ Wall-to-wall Books
09/14 Guest post @ Novels Alive
09/15 Review @ Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
09/16 Review @ Quiet Fury Books
09/17 Review @ Novels Alive
09/17 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs
09/18 Review @ Booking With Janelle
09/20 Interview @ I Read What You Write
09/22 Review @ 5 Minutes for Books
09/23 Showcase @ The Bookwyrm
09/24 Showcase @ Nesies Place
09/25 Showcase @ I Heart Reading
09/28 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
09/29 Review @ Avonna Loves Genres
10/01 Review @ Books with Bircky
10/04 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
10/05 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
10/06 Showcase @ 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS
10/06 Showcase @ Im All About Books
10/06 Showcase @ The Authors Harbor
10/07 Showcase @ nanasbookreviews
10/08 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty
10/08 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
10/08 Showcase @ Reading Authors Network

 

 

Join In:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for D.M. Barr. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs September 13 through October 10, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Join us for this tour from September 7 to September 27
 
Book Details:
 
Book Title:  Our Moon Festival by Yobe Qiu
Category:  Children’s Fiction (Ages 3-7),  30 pages
GenreChildren’s Picture Book 
Publisher:  Yobe Qiu LLC
Release date:  January 2020
Content Rating:  G
 
Book Description:
 
“Our Moon Festival” is a beautifully illustrated children’s book celebrating the unique ways the Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese communities celebrate the Moon Festival. The story highlights different families and their traditions as they observe Zhong Qiu Jie, Tết Trung Thu, and Tsukimi!
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
 
Yobe is an educator, entrepreneur and mom who lives in NYC. As an educator, she focused on teaching families to embrace love, diversity and different cultures. Through the years working in the classrooms and closely with other educators, she noticed the lack of multi-cultural resources that represented children of color. That is when Yobe decided to create multicultural children stories that feature Asian children, families and cultures! Yobe loves spending timewith her daughter, reading to children and taking long walks during the day!

Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

 
Tour Schedule: 

Sep 7 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / giveaway
Sep 7 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book review / giveaway
Sep 7 – Kam’s Place – book review
Sep 8 – Splashes of Joy – book review / giveaway
Sep 8 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review / giveaway
Sep 9 – I’m Into Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 10 – Writer with Wanderlust – book review / giveaway
Sep 13 – fundinmental – book review / giveaway
Sep 14 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Sep 14 – The Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife – book review / giveaway
Sep 15 – Chit Chat with Charity – book review / giveaway
Sep 15 – She Just Loves Books – book review / giveaway
Sep 16 – Deborah-Zenha Adams – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 16 – Bound 4 Escape – book review / giveaway
Sep 17 – Nighttime Reading Center – book review / giveaway
Sep 20 – Fictional Vixen – book review
Sep 21 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – book review / giveaway
Sep 21 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 22 – 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS – book spotlight 
Sep 22 – The Momma Spot – book review / giveaway
Sep 23 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / giveaway
Sep 23 – Laura’s Interests – book review / giveaway
Sep 24 – Westveil Publishing – book review / giveaway
Sep 27 – The Phantom Paragrapher – book review

 
Enter the Giveaway:
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