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Posts Tagged ‘InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship’

By the time this blog appears live, I will have been and gone to my favourite annual writer’s conference: InScribe. It’s a treat I look forward to every year, and this one’s accessible; I can drive there or ride with a friend.

Conferences are superb confidence boosters, in that our association with other writers helps us to believe we really are writers too.

Conferences are comfortable places for introverts to network! We’re most of us—but certainly not all—introverted types that gather at writing conferences. We spend a lot of our time in solitary, with only our computers as companions, and mostly, we’re okay with that. But from time to time we need more than virtual input. A conference is a time when we can reach out to others who understand our boundaries. Maybe we can find someone who can fill a gap in our writing life: a story editor, a cover designer, a formatter. And just maybe we can fill a gap in someone else’s writing needs as well.

Conferences are memory makers. We meet people we’ve met before and renew our acquaintance. We meet people we’ve never met before, and often our personalities will click. Or we meet people we’ve heard of but never met, and find out they are accessible and normal folks. We feel surrounded by friends of like mind.

If there’s a conference in your area, save up your bucks through the year and take advantage of it. You won’t regret it.

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Whether introvert or extrovert, a writer often requires long periods of self-imposed isolation in order to create an ever-expanding body of writing. But every now and then, we need INPUT—remember Johnny-Five in “Short Circuit”—and one of the best places to find it is at a writing workshop or conference. Besides being a solitary species, we are also often misunderstood by non-writers. Finding renewal and refreshment from like-minded individuals is very likely to happen at writing events.People attending a Congress

One of the suggestions I offer new writers is to join writing groups, either online or in person. We often hear about workshops and conferences through memberships in various writing groups. As a Canadian who writes from a Christian worldview, I hold membership in The Word Guild. TWG offers many offshoot groups including listservs, editing groups, conferences, workshops across the country and contests.

Another of my memberships is with InScribe Christian Writers Fellowship. ICWF offers similar events to TWG, and their annual conference is geographically closer to where I live, so I can afford to attend most years.

A couple of years ago I also rejoined our provincial writing association, the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild. SWG offers me excellent financial support for author readings and workshops that I present, as well as exposure to local groups seeking a writer/presenter.

Besides these Canadian groups, I also belong to the American Christian Fiction Writers, and one of their affiliates, International Christian Fiction Writers.

Once you choose your path (obviously, mine is primarily Christian fiction), there are many opportunities to continue to learn, grow, teach, market, and generally find support from other writers.

Organizers, promoters and presenters spend much time and effort preparing for these writing events, and we, as attendees, should also be prepared. Here are ten simple tips:

  1. Book travel in order to arrive in plenty of time to settle in before the conference begins
  2. Book accommodations near the conference venue (there are often discounts for attendees)
  3. If possible, share travel and accommodation costs with other attendees
  4. Study the schedule, analyze all information and decide what best suits your needs
  5. Study up on presenters and their areas of expertise; if possible, read some of their work
  6. If you have publishing credits, prepare a one-sheet
  7. Bring business cards to distribute as you meet other writers (make them yourself to save on cost)
  8. Check if there are opportunities to sell your books. Inquire as to selling fees.
  9. Prepare manuscripts for hands-on workshops, or for readings, or for editor / agent interviews
  10. Get enough sleep before the conference, and take time to review everything immediately after the conference, with plans to follow through on your commitments.

So join, listen, plan, prepare, attend, and look forward to some great INPUT!

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Ruth L. Snyder

Ruth L. Snyder

Janice: Hi Ruth. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me. I look forward to getting to know you better.

RUTH: Thanks for the opportunity to chat with you and your readers. I appreciate the invitation.

Janice: From my knowledge of you, you’re a very busy woman. Tell us some of the things / people that make up your daily life.

RUTH: My relationship with God is my top priority. Kendall is my “Mr. Fixit” husband (he’s a mechanic) and God has blessed us with five children, Grace (17), Luke (14), Levi (14), Jayson (12) and Dorothy (6). Besides being a wife and mother, I enjoy writing, teaching private piano lessons and Music for Young Children, volunteering in our community (right now we’re working on upgrading playground equipment in the village of Glendon), playing the piano and leading the choir at church, and providing leadership to InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, a writing organization for Canadian Christian writers.

Janice: How do you balance your personal life with your professional responsibilities?

RUTH: This is a constant work in action for me. I try to make decisions based on my priorities – God first, family second, and then other opportunities and obligations.

Janice: With all the busyness in your life, why do you write, not to mention how?

RUTH: I write because it’s enjoyable, challenging, and I’m not content if I don’t write. Sometimes I almost feel driven to express myself through writing. As a Christian, I believe God gifts His children with responsibilities and abilities. Writing is one of my abilities that I try to use to bring honor to God. I also see writing as a ministry. You never know who will read your writing or what affect it will have.

Janice: Is that your writing goal?

RUTH: My goal in writing is to write in obedience to God’s promptings, clearly communicating a story or idea to my readers. If my readers experience emotions or are moved to change something in their lives because of what I wrote, then I will consider myself a successful writer.

Janice: Do you write well in busy surroundings or do you prefer quiet? Do you write with music in the background? A specific place?

RUTH: I prefer to write in a quiet surrounding, but I’m learning to write whenever I get the opportunity, e.g. while my children are watching a movie or exploring books at the library. Sometimes I’ll put on classical music or other music without words while I write. Although I do have a desk and computer where I do some of my writing, I prefer to write on my iPad, because it’s portable and it doesn’t have as many distractions as my computer.

Janice: I’m with you in the “music without words” thing. Tell us about how you write—your process.

RUTH: When I’m brainstorming, I’ll often use pen and paper. For instance, when I’m working on a story I’ll jot down an overview of the plot, and then come up with what happens in each chapter of the story (in point form only).

Once I start the actual writing, I prefer to use the computer or my iPad. (For non-fiction writing like blog posts or articles, I use my computer, but for my fiction projects I’ve found my iPad a better choice.)

During the school year, I usually get up at 5:00 or so to spend some quiet time thinking, reading my Bible and praying. By 6:00 I’m writing so that I get 30 minutes of writing in before breakfast. Usually I can write 500 words in this time frame, which isn’t a lot, but over time it adds up. Many of my blog posts are written in that 30-minute slot before the rest of the family gets up. My other writing is generally done during the day between throwing in loads of laundry, cleaning, etc.

I’ve just started experimenting with Scrivener, which is a wonderful program. My only frustration is that there’s not an iPad app for the program yet. (I’ve heard they’re working on it, though!)

Janice: I love Scrivener. I’m glad you’re enjoying it too. What genres do you write and why?

RUTH: I enjoy a variety of genres. Devotionals are one of my favourite genres because I get to share what I’m learning in my personal walk with God. Articles are enjoyable, especially when I get to share how to do something. I’ve been told I’m a teacher through and through, Lol. For fiction, I enjoy writing historical fiction because I think we can learn a lot from what has happened in the past. I’ve also written contemporary fiction in the romance genre. I think most people (especially women) enjoy a good love story.

Janice: How do you approach research? What’s your favorite source?

RUTH: I’ll usually do some preliminary research when I put my outline or plot together. Sometimes I’ll go to my local library and read through magazine articles or books. However, most of the time Google is my best friend when I’m researching. I’ll often research as I’m writing so that the setting or facts are accurate.

Janice: What do you like most about writing? What’s the most difficult aspect?

RUTH: I enjoy the challenge of using specific words to convey the ideas in my mind. Often I’ll ask myself what the character is experiencing with his five senses – what does he see, smell, taste, touch, hear? Also, what are the physical reactions he has to show his emotions?

For me, the most difficult part is getting that first draft down. Editing is something else I enjoy. It’s not too bad once I have something to work with, to shape and hone and embellish.

Janice: Well said. I’m in the same camp. Do you always write with a specific audience in mind? What’s your favorite audience?

RUTH: I try to write with an audience in mind so that I can use language, descriptions, and topics that are interesting to my audience. One of my favorite audiences is women from 30-50.

Janice: What are some of your social media connections and which do you consider the most efficient/effective?

RUTH: My favourite social media sites are Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate the opportunities to share and interact on Facebook. Twitter provides a great way to meet people with interests common to mine, to gather current information, and to share my own news. Both sites are great places to share my latest favourite photos or quotes.

Janice: What do you like to read? What are you currently reading? Digital or print?

RUTH: I read both fiction and non-fiction. Often I’ll read fiction when I want to escape or relax while non-fiction is to keep myself informed to help me learn something new. Most of my fiction is read digitally on my Kindle app on my iPad. Non-fiction I prefer to read in paperback or hardcover so that I can make notes, circle ideas, highlight, and even turn over the corners of pages I want to come back to at a later date.

Non-fiction:

  • Total Recovery: Solving the Mystery of Chronic Pain and Depression by Dr. Gary Kaplan, D.O.
  • Holy is the Day: Living in the Gift of the Present by Carolyn Weber
  • 40 Day Devotional Challenge by Kathi Macias
  • Am I Messing Up My Kids and Other Questions Every Mom Asks by Lysa TerKeurst
  • Launch by Jeff Walker

Fiction:

  • Neighbors Series by Tracy Krauss
  • Sun’s Parting Ray by Mishael Austin Witty
  • In Time of Trouble by N.J. Lindquist

Janice: Do you edit your own manuscripts or do you have input from others?

RUTH: I always go back and edit my own manuscripts several times. However, I also ask for feedback from other writers and I’m working with a professional editor for my full-length novel.

Janice: What advice would you give to beginning writers?

RUTH: Make time to write every day if possible. Learn as much as you can and allow yourself to try new things. Seek God’s guidance in all you do, do what He tells you to do, and trust the results to Him.

Janice: Thanks for joining me today, Ruth. God bless you in your writing career as well as in your personal pursuits.

RUTH: You’re welcome, Janice. I appreciate your support and encouragement.

Ruth L. Snyder was privileged to spend the first 10 years of her life in southern Africa where her parents served as missionaries. From there her family moved to Canada, settling in Three Hills, Alberta. Ruth enjoyed her years as a “staff kid” at Prairie and is grateful for the biblical grounding she received there. She now resides close to Glendon (the pyrogy capital of Alberta, Canada) with her husband and five young children. Ruth enjoys writing articles, devotionals, short stories, and Christian fiction. She is a member of The Word Guild and The Christian PEN. Ruth currently serves as the President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.

Ruth’s children have taught her many things about living with special needs. She is a strong advocate and spent several years serving on the local public school board.

Ruth loves her job teaching Music for Young Children. She is fascinated by children’s imaginations and enjoys helping young children learn the basics of music through play.

In her spare time, Ruth enjoys reading, crafts, volunteering in her local community, photography, and travel. Several years ago, Ruth and her family traveled through 28 States in 30 days! Find out more about Ruth and her writing at http://ruthlsnyder.wordpress.com

 RUTH’S SOCIAL MEDIA ADDRESSES:

Website: http://ruthlsnyder.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRuthL.Snyder

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wwjdr

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RuthSnyderAuthor/posts

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ruthlsnyder/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7578211.Ruth_L_Snyder

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=109478227

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Let’s begin our interview with Marcia’s photo and bio:

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I was raised on an island off the north shore of Lake Huron, ran away to Alaska and then the Yukon, had a “road to Mayo” conversion in 1982, leaped by faith into Briercrest Bible College with my husband in 1985 and landed in the “promised land” of central Alberta in 1988.

I’ve also had the privilege of living a few miles south of the Arctic Circle (Dawson City Yukon) and a couple of degrees south of the equator (Papua New Guinea).

I suppose that’s why my writing is steeped in the imagery of winter with the odd palm tree thrown in.

For the past thirty some years, I’ve been a pastor’s wife, mother of three girls, caretaker of two dogs, two cats and sundry fish, and oh, yes, a freelance writer.

The writing began in the attic of my parent’s house where I wrote stories for my dolls. None of them complained, so I kept it up. The Lord has abundantly blessed, challenged, rebuked, healed and restored me through the process of writing and being involved with writers. I now have two award-winning novels in print as well as three devotional books. My ebooks are available on www.smashwords.com and some on Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc.

I am honored to have served on the executive of Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, been a long-time member of The Word Guild and American Christian Fiction Writers, and been privileged to teach for some of these groups.

I am also a sought-after speaker for women’s retreats and one day events. I have spoken widely for Stonecroft Ministries.

Janice: Hi Marcia. Welcome to my blog. Glad you could stop by today. Marcia (pronounced Mar-SEE-ah), you are a multi-genre writer, as well as being very involved in Christian ministry. Tell us a little about your various involvements and how they came to be.

MARCIA: Well, it seems that the Lord often just drops things into my lap. I began writing for publication when we first moved to Alberta. My husband took over as the senior pastor of a good-sized church and one of the things he was told he had to do was write a faith column for the local newspaper. He was already overwhelmed with everything else on his “to do” list so asked if I would do it. I put together a short piece and took it to the editor. He was happy with it and that was the beginning of writing for local and provincial papers for more than 20 years. About that same time I sent off my first short story to a magazine and received a cheque in the mail. Then began writing short stories for Sunday school publications and my hobby became a career.

I have always been very involved in women’s ministries since becoming a believer at the age of 32, so when I heard about Stonecroft’s Christian Women’s Clubs it seemed a good fit. I took their speaker training and began travelling around Alberta and Saskatchewan, speaking to women. That has led to invitations to speak at retreats and other events. I’ve since had further training under Carol Kent. I love speaking and teaching and God has blessed me abundantly with this ministry.

Janice: How do you balance your writing and personal life?

MARCIA: It’s not always easy. When my kids were young I spent mornings doing housework etc and most afternoons at my keyboard at a small desk in our living room, until the girls came home from school. As they grew that time increased and now that they are grown I am able to spend as much time as I like writing. My husband has become very supportive over the years. I’m blessed to have family who understand and support my ministry. I am quite active in our small church as well, so there are days when there aren’t enough hours, but I love being busy. My challenge sometimes is learning when to say no, when to take time to just be with the Lord. In 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent the next two years in treatment and recovery, a time that was a blessing in many ways as the Lord taught me to draw close to Him. That time changed my perspective on many things and helped me to see the importance of being still and focusing on Jesus.

Janice: When did you first take an interest in writing and what sparked that interest?

MARCIA: I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I was always scribbling something or other, leading my mom to say she thought I was born with a pencil in my hand. But at the age of eleven an aunt gave me a copy of Emily of New Moon, by Lucy Maude Montgomery. As I read it I was thrilled to discover that you could actually call yourself a writer and determined at that time that’s what I would be. I was blessed to have some wonderful teachers who encouraged me in that pursuit. When I became a believer it was another blessing to realize that I could write for the kingdom of God.

Janice: What prompted you to branch out from non-fiction to fiction?

MARCIA: I had always written fiction – mostly short stories and poetry when I was young, but I knew you couldn’t make a living doing that, especially in Canada, so I decided to go to Carleton University to study journalism. I discovered fairly quickly that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life, but I received some good training there that has come in handy over the years. I did a fair bit of journalistic writing for local newspapers when we first came out to Alberta, while still writing fiction on the side – mostly children’s short stories. Fiction really was my “first love” as far as writing was concerned, so it was a dream come true when I won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award and One Smooth Stone was published.

Janice: You’ve had interesting experiences with regard to publication. What have you learned on the journey?

MARCIA: A great deal! Some of the highlights:

1 – the industry is always changing and you have to try to keep up by following blogs and staying in touch with other writers, editors and publishers.

2 – when you view publication as a ministry as well as a business, you begin to realize that it’s not all about selling books. It’s about relationships. I’ve been blessed to have developed some wonderful relationships that have made the journey a joy.

3 – you never know when a door may open so you need to be ready and willing to jump through it. For instance, when the Sunday devotional columnist at Novel Rocket.com had to quit, I emailed the woman who owned the blog and offered my services (with fear and trembling I might add!). I’ve been writing for them for several years now and that has opened doors for me with people in the industry. The blog has been on Writers’ Digest’s list of best 100 blogs for writers for some time.

4 – never “despise the day of small things.”(Zech. 4:10). A small thing in God’s hand is a mighty sword.

Janice: What social media do you use and which do you find most effective?

MARCIA: I love Facebook and have made some good connections there. I use twitter a bit, but probably not as much as I should and am now investigating Google + and Goodreads. I think as far as marketing goes it has really helped to do a lot of guest posts on other blogs besides my own. It’s been a thrill to see some of my posts picked up by people in the industry who have huge followings. I try to keep in touch with members of writers’ groups, comment in forums etc.

Janice: When you begin a novel project, what comes first: characters, theme, plot?

MARCIA: Usually the characters and often one or two single scenes will spark a project. The theme emerges as I write, as does the plot.

Janice: What prompted you to write One Smooth Stone and A Tumbled Stone? One Smooth Stone A Tumbled Stone

MARCIA: A woman from a local crisis pregnancy centre was speaking at our church. I chatted with her afterwards and she said something that stuck in my mind: “Can you imagine what it would be like for someone to discover his mother had tried to abort him?” I did imagine, and the character of Alex Donnelly in One Smooth Stone emerged.  When I came to the end of that book I wasn’t ready to let go of the characters so talked with my publisher about a second book and wrote an epilogue that led into it. The character of Andrea, Alex’s sister, formed quite quickly. A Tumbled Stone had a rather drawn out journey to publication and there were many times when I thought it would not happen, but the Lord had a plan and it was an exciting day when that book arrived on my doorstep.

Janice: I have to tell you, I loved your Christmas short story, An Unexpected Glory. It’s such a “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” kind of tale. How did you come up with the idea?

MARCIA: I’ve always had a soft spot for Christmas pageants (you can read a bit about that here) and I like playing with the idea that God’s “economy” is so very different from ours, so when Kathi Macias asked me to write the novella, I jumped at the chance, even though I had a few other things on the burner at the time. That story seemed to almost download itself into my brain. I had a lot of fun writing it and have been really thrilled that so many people have referred to it as a “Christmas classic.” Many have mentioned the Best Christmas Pageant Ever when they refer to An Unexpected Glory and I’m kind of ashamed to say I’ve never read that story – but I plan to! 🙂

Janice: What kinds of books do you most enjoy reading? What format do you read in most?

MARCIA: I love a good story, no matter the genre and I tend to read quite widely across genres. I tend to like books that are more ‘literary’ in style, with strong characterization and setting. If I had to pick, I might say the mystery and fantasy genres are my favourites.

I won a Kindle a few years ago and got to really like it, especially for travelling. I now own an ipad mini so use it for reading at times, using a Kindle app, but I love the feel of a real book in my hands and do most of my reading in a comfortable corner of our living room.

Janice: What hobbies or special interests do you have and how do they affect (or not affect) your writing?

MARCIA: I’m intrigued by technology and science, but that doesn’t seem to have affected what I write – though I love sci-fi and may write a novel in that genre someday. I also love horses but have never written much about them, other than a few children’s short stories for Scripture Press that were set in cowboy country. My main hobby is reading and I do enjoy watching some TV, which I think has made my writing more visual and fast-paced.

Janice: How important are writing conferences, in your opinion? Writers’ groups?

MARCIA: Essential. If you are serious about a writing career I think it’s vital to join a writers’ group, connect with other writers and attend conferences whenever you can to meet editors and publishers. I have been an active member in InScribe for many years and have gotten to know many writers across Canada through The Word Guild as well. I attend both of their conferences each year.

Janice: From your perspective, what is the most difficult aspect of writing? And the best?

MARCIA: The most difficult for me has been the isolation and facing the lack of understanding from some Christians in our churches who don’t realize that writing is my ministry. I have faced a frustrating lack of support from some churches who seem to look on a writing career as something frivolous that has no value.

The best part is hearing from people whose lives have been changed in some way by what I’ve written. I’ve had some amazing emails, letters and phone calls from all over the world that tell me that God has a purpose for what I write and He often uses it in powerful ways. That keeps me going.

Janice: How do you write? Are you an outline person? Do you work better alone or in a busy place?

MARCIA: I’m in the ‘seat-of-the-pants’ category – I jump right in and then outline a bit as I go. At some point I’ll stop and do a bit of a time-line but that’s about it.

I know writers who do their best work in Starbucks, but I need a quiet place with little distraction. That’s been a challenge since we planted the church we are in now, because my husband and I share an office in our home. We are literally back to back so it can be interesting. 🙂

Janice: How do you research your books? What is the importance of research, in your opinion?

MARCIA: My two novels did not take a lot of research since they were set in places and dealt with things with which I was very familiar. But I do try to be careful to get the details right. I think it’s vital to the credibility of a story. For instance, when I was writing One Smooth Stone I woke in the middle of the night in a panic because I realized I had to check some details about the use of radio phones and cell phones in the Yukon. We had used a radio phone a lot when we lived there but I had to find out if they were still used and if it were possible to connect from that to a cell phone. I had no idea where to find that information so I simply called a telephone operator and asked to be connected to a Yukon operator. She was very helpful and gave me all the information I needed to know. I’ve read stories where those kinds of details are wrong and they really throw me off the story. I edited a romance once that was set in the north. The writer had the heroine walking along a sandy beach in the Yukon, staring at the stars with her romantic interest. The problem was that there are very few, if any, sandy beaches in the Yukon and it’s impossible to see the stars in the middle of the summer due to the twenty-four hour daylight. Those kinds of mistakes are deadly. Research is important.

Janice: If you were to give three writing tips, what would they be?

MARCIA:

1. Write every day, even if it’s just for a few moments squeezed into a busy schedule.

2. Read widely and read good writing.

3. Never quit, even in the face of discouragement. God has a purpose for your work.

Janice: Thanks so much, Marcia. I enjoyed visiting with you today, and I’m sure my readers will also. All the best in your future writing career.

MARCIA: Thanks for having me, Jan. It was fun. 🙂

Connect with Marcia at the following links:

Website & Blog – www.marcialeelaycock.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/marcialeelaycock

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/MarciaLeeLaycock

Blog for Reviews – www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca

Twitter – @marcialaycock

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Last weekend I was privileged to present a workshop on “editing for submission” at our annual His Imprint Christian Writing Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I used an idea from a workshop I’d attended at the InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship in Wetaskiwin, Alberta this past September, and revised it for my purposes (with permission from the original presenter, Susan Roberts Plett).

The objective of the class was to help participants understand the rationale behind editors’ decisions so writers could learn to submit more successfully. For the first few minutes we discussed the importance of editing as well as practical ideas about how to implement effective edits before submission. In the second portion of the class, I distributed packets of submissions I had gathered—articles, short stories, inspirational thoughts and poems—tweaked to fit my purposes (again, with the permission of the original authors), and a brief list of guidelines to work from. The participants’ job was to choose the best prose and poetry under the specific guidelines, and to do so in a limited time and for a limited print space.

As the participants shuffled through the packets, the rustle of paper and the occasional soft self-whispers floated to me like music: the music of the working writer. To those of us who have given ourselves to the world of words and the expression of ideas, the rustles and whispers are a sweet counterpoint to the clacking of keys or the scratch of a pen. We hear the heart of the universe in the semi-silence.

Writers are a breed apart from the ordinary man or woman. We breathe the same air and walk the same ground, but our heads are often caught in a world between, one of shifting papers, scampering words and phrases, constantly changing manuscripts, new and creative ideas. In the words of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau, “If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.”

For me, the take-away value of the workshop was the connection of minds in the room, the realization of sharing time and talents with kindred souls, and that we work to the subtle sound of rustles and whispers.

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