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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: fiction, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,172
26. Call for Submissions: Segue

Segue, the online literary journal of Miami University Middletown, is accepting submissions of high quality fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and cover art for its 2014 issue, to be published in August 2014.Submission deadline is April 30, 2014.

First published in 2002, Segue's dual mission is to serve as both a high quality online literary and as an educational tool for faculty, students, and writers everywhere. To that end, Segue publishes multimedia of its authors performing their work, authors’ essays about the writing process behind their work, and more. Past authors include Terese Svoboda, Denise Duhamel, Diane Glancy, Brian Kiteley, Katherine Haake, Rich Murphy, Edward Byrne, Lafayette Wattles, Ren Powell, and many more.

Visit Segue for full submission guidelines, free past issues, and other intrigues.

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27. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e April 4th, 2014



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Make Submitting Work Your Superpower (Jane Friedman)
http://janefriedman.com/2014/04/04/submitting-superpower/

Women’s Fiction, Book Club Fiction, Literary Fiction: Interchangeable Terms? (Kathryn Craft)
http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2014/04/womens-fiction-book-club-fiction-literary-fiction.html

My Too-Practical Maybe-Blunt Advice To Writers (Natalie Whipple) Jon’s Pick of the week
http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-too-pratical-maybe-blunt-advice-to.html

Presenting to School Students: top tips (Juliet Marillier)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/03/presenting-to-school-students-top-tips/

The Author-Agent Partnership: Finding the Right Fit (Mary Keeley)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/author-agent-partnership-finding-right-fit/

10 Tips about Process (Brunonia Barry)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/03/31/10-tips-about-process/

Is your project ready to submit? (Janet Kobobel Grant)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/project-ready-submit/

Think Like an Editor, Sell Like a Pro (Jennifer Brown Banks)
http://elizabethspanncraig.com/1950/freelance-writing-think-like-editor-sell-like-pro/

Is Writing Success Like a Lottery System? (James Scott Bell)
http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2014/03/is-writing-success-like-lottery-system.html

The Short Life and Strange Death of Entranced Publishing (Victoria Strauss)
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-short-life-and-strange-death-of.html


If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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28. Call for Submissions: Hyphen Magazine

Hyphen magazine, an Asian American magazine based out of San Francisco, is looking for submissions by APIA fiction writers and poets for Issue 29: Health. Deadline is May 15.
Full guidelines on our website.

"Health" can be interpreted however you like (physical, medical, spiritual, mental, emotional). While adhering to the theme is strongly preferred, it is not necessary.

One-two poems (from the same writer) and one story will be selected for publication. The issue will be published in December.

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29. Body Language: Gestures

Gestures are not random. They have purpose. They illustrate. They convey the words we do not speak. They confirm, deny, or emphasize what we say. People "talk with their hands."


Gestures vary from person to person and culture to culture. People can have nervous ticks. They can have "tells" that indicate they are lying, anxious, or unhappy. Use gestures wisely.

If a gesture begins before the words, it is a sign of honesty.

If a gesture lags after the words, it's considered a sign of dishonesty.

A gesture can be involuntary but squelched by the character. This is especially true if he is angry with someone he cares about or fears.

Gestures include: 

air kisses 

averted gaze 

bared teeth 

biting cuticles, hair, lips, or nails 

blowing raspberries 

bowing 

chewing inside of lips or cheek 

crossing ankles 

crossing/uncrossing arms 

crossing/uncrossing legs 

curtsey 

cuticle picking 

elbow bump 

eye rolling (or eye-ball rotating) 

eyebrows lift 

eyebrows wrinkle 

finger curling 

finger pointing 

fist shaking 

fist swinging 

flapping hands 

flicking fingernails 

fingernail tapping 

genuflecting 

grasping elbows 

gripping hands 

hands behind back 

hands over face 

hands over heart 

hands together 

hands wide 

hat tip 

index finger raised 

kowtow 

lip curls or purses 

looking down 

looking up 

looking to the side 

lowering arms 

lowering hands 

middle finger raised 

mooning 

mouth purses 

mouth tightens 

nodding 

nose thumbing 

nose wrinkles 

pointing 

pouting 

raising arms in the air 

rubbing earlobe 

rubbing fingers 

rubbing hands 

scratching 

scratching chin, ear, nose, or throat 

shaking head 

shrugging 

sneering 

sticking out tongue 

swinging legs 

slash throat with hand 

smoothing hair 

tapping fingers or toes 

tucking legs under 

thumbs up 

thumbs down 

thumb to the side 

tightening fist 

tugging clothes 

tugging an ear 

tugging hair 

saluting 

sweeping hands 

waving 

Keep this list handy and add to it. 

When revising, cut repetition and make sure the gesture is used for a good reason at the right time.

Next week, we'll discuss eye contact.

All of the information on body language can be found in Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers.

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision/dp/1475011369

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision-ebook/dp/B007SPPL68

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30. Gone Girl

Gone GirlI’m probably the last person in the universe to getting around to reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, so let me preface this blog with: I finally got round to reading it after (and despite) being subjected to its enormous hype.

I’m also an aspiring book writer, so commercially and critically successful books invoke in me a complicated mix of envy and awe. Suffice to say, I wasn’t an entirely objective Gone Girl readerer.

The Cliff Notes version of this blog is I will concede Flynn is eminently talented and Gone Girl is fantastically wrought. It’s definitely worth a read. But does it warrant such breathy discussion as it’s inspired? My jury’s still out.

That annoying twist that everyone eludes to before saying, ‘But I can’t say any more without spoiling it’? I spent at least half the book going: Is that the twist? Because if it is, it’s not that great. Is that the twist? Because if it is, that’s not that great either. When it came about, I have to admit I thought not about how clever it was, but: Finally. Then: It’s not that ground-breakingly spectacular.

Had I not had so much forewarning there was a GIANT TWIST coming, I might have been gushing like everyone else did. Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not. I wouldn’t put this book quite in the hype-worthy, game-changing realm of something like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. But it was solid in the way that solid is a compliment.

Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even, are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood (Tony Kushner, The Illusion) is the epigraph setting the book’s theme. I rarely go back and re-read epigraphs, but Gone Girl’s was apt and striking, especially by the time I reached the book’s final page.

Flynn has an undeniably excellent way with words:

When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily. I’d know her head anywhere.

It’s an ominous opening in a book that we know involves a woman going missing and her husband, the narrator, being suspected of having something to do with that disappearance.

My eyes flipped open at exactly six a.m. This was no avian fluttering of the lashes, no gentle blink toward consciousness. The awakening was mechanical. A spooky ventriloquist-dummy click of the lids: The world is black and then, showtime!

It’s a recognisable and yet fresh way of describing a way of waking up. So is: ‘Sleep is like a cat: It only comes to you if you ignore it.’

But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you are, like me, coming late to the book, here’s what you need to know: Man (Nick) and woman (Amy) are married. They’ve relocated from New York to small-town Missouri, his childhood home, because his mother is terminally ill.

Native New Yorker Amy isn’t enjoying the move, and their relationship begins to fracture. Then she disappears the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. All clues point to Nick as the guilty husband. Except he’s not guilty (at least, that’s what he’s telling us).

Flynn uses the old unreliable narrator technique, which is one I’ve long found a little annoying. So I’ll not deny I wasn’t entirely involved in the plot—more aware of the practices she was using to red herring us readers and keep us tenterhooked. Likewise, the Amy-as-muse-for-books and warped effect that infused her relationship with her parents seemed a little contrived.

But I sound like a positive grump. I will say Gone Girl is smart. The cover art is minimal and great. The title is memorable and intriguing. Flynn’s writing is exquisite. The kind of cut-above that makes any and every other writer feel more utterly inadequate than usual.

She uses such words as ‘uxorious’ and, not packing it in my everyday vocabulary repertoire, I had to via a dictionary remind myself it stands for having, or demonstrating, a great or excessive fondness for one’s wife. I mean, with that definition, it is the most impossibly perfect word for this book. Which is why Flynn’s book is attracting the attention it is.

The Secret HistoryGone Girl isn’t the first time Flynn’s writing has been lauded. Her first novel, Sharp Objects, won two CWA Dagger Awards and was shortlisted for both the CWA Gold Dagger Award and for an Edgar.

Her second, Dark Places, was a bestseller. So she released Gone Girl to a relatively established and rather rapturous audience. Not having read her previous two books, but basing it on the hype I’ve witnessed, I’m guessing this is her best work yet (feel free to correct me if this isn’t the case).

With passages like the below, I’m inclined to admit I’m impressed with Flynn’s writing (and impressed enough to want to check out her previous two books):

The camera crews parked themselves on my lawn most mornings. We were like rival soldiers, rooted in shooting distance for months, eyeing each other across no-man’s-land, achieving some sort of perverted fraternity. There was one guy with a voice like a cartoon strongman whom I’d become attached to, sight unseen. He was dating a girl he really, really liked. Every morning his voice boomed in through my windows as he analysed their dates; things seemed to be going very well. I wanted to hear how the story ended.

Flynn exquisitely captures the in-fighting and the gradual wearing away of each other that occurs in marriages. She blends that with the in-jokes and resentments and us-against-the-world-ness married life brings. ‘Who are you?’ the book asks. ‘What have we done to each other?’ They’re invaluable questions as the book reveals it’s possible to both know and not know the person you’re supposed to know better than anyone else.

I felt the backstory build-up to the big twist was too great, although my are-we-there-yet knowledge that the twist was coming up probably contributed to that. For others, it may have offered an enthrallingly detailed examination of a complex marriage between complex people.
Either way, Gone Girl inspires discussion beyond the page, which Flynn and her publisher oblige, offering bookclub questions at the back of the book—and solid, thought-provoking ones too. It also provides a Q&A with Flynn on her insights into the characters and tale and why she wrought them as she did.

Hindsight makes you a smart ass, but I have to say I’d probably have picked the twist even had I not been forewarned there would be one. Still, it’s not enough to temper my agreement that Flynn is a talented writer and Gone Girl—if you are, like me, in the not-yet-read-it minority—is one you should brave the hype and attempt to lower your expectations for, as you’ll likely find you really quite like it.

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31. Bad Houses: Review Haiku

Love among the ruins:
estate sales and hoarding,
graphically told.

Bad Houses by Sara Ryan, illustrated by Carla Speed McNeill. Dark Horse Comics, 2013, 160 pages.

0 Comments on Bad Houses: Review Haiku as of 4/4/2014 7:53:00 AM
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32. I Started a Small Press (and Then Things Got Weird)

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The author in repose.

BY J DAVID OSBORNE

I tried retail for a while, and that was fun, in the way that puking on yourself at a family gathering is fun: you have a story. After a time, though, it stops being a story you laugh at and starts being one that you cry over. Usually into a beer. Next came moving furniture. For a time, that was good, physical work. I genuinely enjoyed it. And the stories I heard there, man, the meat of my second novel is mostly that. My imagination’s not that good. But then here comes nature and that heavy time and all of a sudden my back is in ruins and I got sick of carrying marble armoires up three flights of stairs. Then came restaurant work. That was fun.

Through all of this, I wrote. My first novel dropped in that weird interim before I started the moving job, when I was living in my car. The second hit and I was getting these royalty checks, but aside from the first one (which paid my rent), it wasn’t paying my rent. It hit me: “I’ve gotta find a way to make a living off of words or I’m going to die.”

I’ve been a fan of crime fiction since before I can remember. It started with Ellroy. I read White Jazz and threw my hands up and hollered. You can say this much with so little? I was hooked. I got the classics in, then I got voracious with it: Mosely, Sallis, Willeford, Pelecanos, Westlake, Parker, on and on.

I loved the opportunity crime fiction presented to peer into the human condition, and the (usually) clipped, no-bullshit delivery. What I didn’t like were the formulas, the staunch sexism, the rampant racism. I really wanted to carve something out that could represent everything that makes crime fiction beautiful, minus the stuff that made me cringe. That, and I didn’t want to sell hot dogs anymore.

I gathered a nice group of brilliant writers, who for whatever reason decided to hook me up with some manuscripts. I started a Kickstarter (pause for groans) in which I detailed five books my new indie press would put out, and—wonder of wonders—people thought it looked cool. I got the money and I was off to the races.

Sort of.

The books were edited and designed and off to the printers. They dropped, and then there I was. Floating.

There were many times I’d go out to my porch and smoke a cigarette and my house would shake as the trains rolled by out across the road, and I’d wonder what I could do to actually get people to look at these titles, to pick them up. I’d gotten a massively talented artist (Matthew Revert

) to do all of the covers for them, and they really popped. I’d sent out some review copies to places I thought would dig them.

Still waiting to hear back from most of those places.

I got tired of sitting on my hands. I took the books and grabbed a friend and hit the road. We went from Oklahoma to Wichita to Denver to Salt Lake City to Boise to Seattle to Portland to Sacramento out to the Bay to Los Angeles to El Paso. We performed in punk squats and abandoned warehouses and bookstores and back alleys. At one performance we lit a mannequin head on fire while I paced the floor with paint on my feet, tracing a chalk outline of an eye, rambling about a cyclops. At another I read the audience the end of my first novel and ripped out each page and burned it as I went. Though I didn’t sell copies at every stop, I talked to as many people as I could about the books. And I noticed an uptick. We live in an age of social media noise and rampant void screaming. There’s only one way to get things going, especially if you live in Oklahoma: you have to get out there and talk to people.

You have to ask them to dance.

There are other things you have to remember, too. Running a small press, it’s important to utilize social media, despite my prior assertion that it’s a dying medium. You have to be a person online, first. I see folks every day, inviting me to their “book releases,” which are really just Amazon launches of e-books. That’s annoying. You’re more likely to see me posting pictures of my dog, or complaining about how I could really go for a cigarette (quitting is tough, but, hey! nine days) than you are to see me talking about the books or writing or editing. The first reason is that places like Facebook and my blog are my escapes. The second is that you just turn into a spambot and fade into the background, and good luck swimming out of that lagoon.

Another thing: finances. Be careful. Keep your receipts. Where I live, there are crazy tax breaks for small businesses. Make sure you know exactly what you owe your authors. If you don’t pay them right, everyone will know, and you will be ostracized. And rightly so.

On the topic of writers: they are, for the most part, a funny bunch. They care about this stuff. So they’ll have things to fix, last-minute requests, bizarre neuroses. You have to learn to bend, to understand that your voice is not the voice. And if they want changes, you make them. Mark Twain once said that a novel is never finished, only abandoned, and I think that’s true, but Broken River authors abandon their children with a packed lunch (complete with smiley face note written on napkin), surplus army jacket, mace, a Swiss Army knife, and one of those flashlights you put on your head. And a ‘mommy loves you’ and a peck on the cheek. God love them for that. They care. And you have to, as well. If you don’t, well … you know.

I’m not a father so I don’t really know what I’m talking about here, but I’m assuming there’s a feeling you get when you hold a baby for the first time. Does it get real? I figure it gets real, then. When you spend months and months eating tuna from a can and pecking at a keyboard and making sure the kerning and keeping and hyphens and headers look right in InDesign, and then you send it to a printer and they send you copies and they are physical, real objects, resting there, looking up at you, you can almost see these big blue cartoon eyes, these helpless things that need you. So, you start to feel an obligation.

When you start a small press, you lack resources, usually. And that should make you hungry. You need to provide for these babies. Your authors, they spent years writing these things, invested their lives into them. Now here they are. Your responsibility. You’ll want to quit, lord I know you will, because the whole thing is so big, like pressing your body up against the edge of everything. But you have to get out there, you have to keep your mind right, and you have to make people sit up and take notice. You didn’t pull a sword out of a stone; no one ordained you the Chosen One. You chose you. It’s your responsibility. So go do it. If you love something, take that big Christmas dinner in your heart and break it down into MREs and dish it out to every person you meet, in small, manageable doses. They’ll feel it. They’ll know you’re down.

And then, you ask them to dance.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

brb

J David Osborne lives in Oklahoma with his wife and dog. He’s the author of two novels, a freelance editor and the editor-in-chief of Broken River Books. Please query at jdavidosborne@gmail.com.

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33. You

You Charles Benoit

You're a largely misunderstood kid that everyone thinks is a troublemaker. You know better but they don't, so sometimes you just go with it. It's what they expect of you anyway. It starts with the blood, something gone horribly wrong. It ends there, too. The in-between is the girl you like. The in-between is the new kid who likes you for some reason. You like him too, until it's all gone wrong. So very wrong.

Overall, it's an enjoyable read. The quick pace of the plot and the second-person narration help drive the reader to turn the pages quickly and draw you in. I liked it but didn't think it was anything special. And then someone pointed out that's a retelling of Othello and my mind exploded. Because it totally is. It's a Shakespeare retelling that will appeal to struggling and reluctant readers-- a fun read with some source material that's really subtly woven in (and then once it's pointed out to you, all you can do is shout OMG DUH and feel stupid for missing it.)

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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34. Writing Competitions: The New Guard

MACHIGONNE FICTION CONTEST: $1,000 for an exceptional fiction in any genre. Submit up to 5,000 words: anything from flash to the long story. Novel excerpts are welcome if the excerpt functions as a stand-alone story. We do not publish illustrations.
 

Submit to both contests online.

Judged by "Letters to Wendy's" author JOE WENDEROTH.

KNIGHTVILLE POETRY CONTEST: $1,000 for an exceptional poem in any form. Three poems per entry. Up to 150 lines per poem.

Judged by National Book Award Finalist and author of "Fast Animal" TIM SEIBLES.

THE NEW GUARD VOLUME IV contest readers are looking forward to reading your work! You can submit online via this submissions manager. The entry fee is $15. We no longer accept submissions by postal mail.

We accept .doc or similar files–no PDFs, please. We do pay strict attention to word and line count. We accept previously unpublished work only. Any size print run or online publication (including blogs and/or social networking) disqualify an entry. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, provided we're notified upon publication elsewhere. If we accept your story or poem for publication, we trust you will remove that story or poem from all other contests upon our acceptance of your work.

Contest winners and all finalists get one free copy of The New Guard, and each submission will be carefully considered for publication. Final judging is blind.

TNG retains standard first publication rights; all rights immediately revert to the writer upon publication. We are presently accepting contest submissions only.

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35. Call for Interactive Fiction: Inky Path Literary Magazine

Inky Path Literary Magazine is now accepting interactive fiction pieces for its second volume.

Inky Path is seeking new and previously published works of interactive fiction, stories where readers make choices. These are traditionally choose-your-own-adventure pieces and parser-based fiction, but since it is such a new genre we're open to other experimental pieces that fall under the category.

We're seeking everything from choice-based poetry to gamebook epics, so we look forward to seeing what you have!

Inky Path's website.

Inky's Submission Guidelines.

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36. Call for Submissions: Sliver of Stone

Call for Submissions: Sliver of Stone

Submit online.

Sliver of Stone's 8th issue is now available online.

We are a bi-annual, online literary magazine dedicated to the publication of work from both emerging and established poets, writers, and visual artists from all parts of the globe.

Authors featured in this issue include J. Michael Lennon, Yaddyra Peralta, and Dave Landsberger.

Check out our past contributors, such as Lynne Barrett, Kim Barnes, Joe Clifford, John Dufresne, Denise Duhamel, Allison Joseph, Winty W. Moore, Matthew Sharpe, and many talented others. Past interviews with Edwidge Danticat, Dean Koontz, Susan Orlean, Les Standiford, and Mark Vonnegut.

We're now looking for submissions for our 9th issue!

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37. Call for Submissions: Lake Region Review No. 4

We Seek
Quality fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry by writers in Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas, especially from those with a personal connection to this region. Your submission does not need to be grounded in this region, though we admit a fondness for seeing it represented in creative and engaging work.

New Work
Your submission must not have been previously published.
Your submission must not be simultaneously submitted elsewhere.
Deadline: June 1, 2014


Limitations
You may submit in more than one category.
Poems – Up to three poems, submit each poem separately.
Fiction – One story up to 3,000 words.
Nonfiction – Memoir, essay, travel – one entry up to 2,000 words.


Format
Be sure your name is entered as you want it published.
Use 12 point font size.
Times New Roman font is preferred. No script or exotic fonts, please.
Double-space and paginate all prose manuscripts.
State word count in upper left-hand corner of the title page.
Submit each piece separately in .doc or .docx files.

Submissions
Submit here.

Review
The editorial team includes experienced writers/educators from the Board of Directors of the Lake Region Writers Network who recruit writing teachers and accomplished authors to assist in the review process.

Notification
Contributors will be notified about the final status of their submission by August 1, 2014.
For additional information, go to our website.

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38. Writing Competition: The Bellevue Literary Review


Bellevue Literary Review Prizes in Fiction, Nonfiction, & Poetry
The Bellevue Literary Review Prizes recognize exceptional writing about health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body. First prize is $1,000 and publication in the Spring 2015 issue of the Bellevue Literary Review.

$1,000 Goldenberg Prize for Fiction (Judged by Chang-rae Lee)
$1,000 Felice Buckvar Prize for Nonfiction (Judged by Anne Fadiman)
$1,000 Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry (Judged by Major Jackson)

Deadline: July 1, 2014

Prose should be limited to 5,000 words. Poetry submissions should have no more than three poems (max five pages). Work previously published (including on the internet) cannot be considered. Entry fee is $20 per submission. For an additional $10, you will receive a one-year subscription to the BLR.

For complete guidelines, visit our website.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions: 
 
infoATBLReviewDOTorg (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

The judges:

Chang-rae Lee is the author of the novels Native Speaker, A Gesture Life, Aloft, and The Surrendered. His newest book, On Such a Full Sea, is was published in January 2014 by Riverhead Books. Native Speaker was awarded the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, and an ALA Notable Book of the Year Award. A Gesture Life won the Anisfield-Wolf Literary Award, the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, and the NAIBA Book Award for Fiction, and was cited as a Notable Book of Year by the New York Times, Esquire, Publishers Weekly, and the Los Angeles Times. Aloft was a New York Times Bestseller and Notable Book. The Surrendered won the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a nominated finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He has also written stories and articles for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Food & Wine, Granta, and many other publications.


Anne Fadiman is an author, essayist, editor, and teacher. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, her account of the crosscultural conflicts between a Hmong family and the American medical system, won a National Book Critics Circle Award. Her best-selling essay collection Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader is a book entirely about books — from purchasing them, to reading them, to handling them. Fadiman’s most recent collection is At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays, in which she discloses her passions for (among other things) staying up late, reading Coleridge, drinking coffee, and ingesting large quantities of ice cream. Her essays and articles have appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, among many other publications, and she has won National Magazine Awards for both reporting and essays. Fadiman has also edited a literary quarterly, The American Scholar, and two essay anthologies. She is currently working on a book titled The Oenophile's Daughter due in Spring 2015.


Major Jackson is the author of three collections of poetry: Holding Company, Hoops, and Leaving Saturn, which was awarded the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. He is the editor of Library of America's Countee Cullen: Collected Poems and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, and many other periodicals. Major Jackson has received awards including a Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and an honors from Witter Bynner. He was an arts fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Jackson is a core faculty member at the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the Richard A. Dennis Professor at University of Vermont. He serves as the poetry editor of the Harvard Review.

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39. Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing David Levithan

After Tariq is beaten for being gay, Craig comes up with an idea, and his ex-boyfriend Harry is the only one who can help. Craig wants them to break the world record for kissing.

Tariq is filming and live-streaming it from multiple angles, so no one can question it. They’re doing it in public-- on the lawn of the high school.

We also have other stories woven through-- Peter and Neil, who live a few towns over and have been dating for over a year, Avery and Ryan, who meet at a gay prom the night before the kiss begins, and Cooper, who is closeted and struggling when his parents find out.

The kiss itself is the central plot-point, but what I found most powerful about the book is the narrator-- a generalized “we” of the gay men who died of AIDS in the 70s/80s. It was devastating and made me unexpectedly sob. I wonder if teens will find it as moving as I did, as they leave a lot unexplained. They mention how no one cared until a movie star and teenage hemophiliac died. When talking about the hate and violence, they mention the 19-year-old strung up along the highway. These are small, passing references to things I know and remember. Ok, I don’t remember Rock Hudson dying and he never meant much to me, but I do remember Ryan White. I remember his advocacy and his death. I most definitely remember Matthew Shepard's murder. I know what a huge effing dealPhiladelphia was when it came out. Do teens? And this isn’t to say they won’t “get” the book, or enjoy it, but just that the emotional impact readers of a certain age are getting won’t transfer over.

I love love love love that there’s a trans character. I love that while it creates fear and uncertainty in his life (well, I don’t love that bit, but it’s realistic) it’s not a big deal for the narrators. They never question that Avery is a boy, that he’s a gay boy. They just feel for him that much more because he’s carrying around that much more. Handled so well.

And, let’s just talk about the cover, shall we?

Two boys kissing. You know what this means.

For us, it was a secret gesture. Secret because we were afraid. Secret because we were ashamed. Secret because it was story that nobody was telling.

But what power it had. Whether we cloaked it in the guise of You be the boy and I’ll be the girl, or whether we defiantly called it by its name, when we kissed, we know how powerful it was. Our kisses were seismic. When seen by the wrong person, they could destroy us. When shared with the right person, they had the power of confirmation, the force of destiny.

If you put enough closets together, you have enough space for a room. If you put enough rooms together, you have space for a house. If you put enough houses together, you have space for a town, then a city, then a nation, then a world.

We knew the private power of our kisses. Then came the first time we were witnesses, the first time we saw it happen out in the open. For some of us, it was before we ourselves had ever been kissed. We fled our towns, came to the city, and there on the streets we saw two boys kissing for the first time. And the power now what the power of possibility. Over time, it wasn’t just on the street or in the clubs or at the parties we threw. It was in the newspaper. On television. In movies. Every time we saw two boys kissing like that, the power grew…

Every time two boys kiss, it opens up the world a little more. Your world. The world we left. The world we left you.

And now there are two boys kissing on the cover of a major release book aimed at teens.


Book Provided by... my local library

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40. Shutting it Down

After six months of writing this blog, I have been issued a court order from The State of New Hampshire to cease and desist using the name Portsong. It seems that an official in the city of Portsmouth got hold of my fictional history book in which I poke a little fun at Yankees during Sherman’s march to the sea. The Honorable Thomas Lankin has taken umbrage with my depiction of Union soldiers from his fair city.
image

 

The letter looks official. I haven’t had the chance to get it to a lawyer and quite frankly don’t have the wherewithal to do so. This means a great deal for me, though. I’ve built whatever brand I have around the name Portsong and the characters within. The support I’ve garnered and readership I’ve built will be subject to loss when I rename everything. I find this turn of events quite disheartening.

Until I can sort this all out, I will have to go silent and shut down this blog. Obviously, there are some folks up north who will be happy with this. The Southern boy in me would like to make a Yankee joke about it, but I’m not up to it right now. I find it sad that a little guy in Georgia can’t come up with an idea and build a dream without being prosecuted. Where’s the justice in that?

So, goodbye, friends in my blogging community. Until we meet again, let us hope and pray that some people develop a sense of humor. The world would be a much better place – especially on this, the  first   day    of     April……

 

****Since April 1st is over, I will admit this was a gag. I think a successful one judging by the admissions below.  The best was my sister’s text of concern all the way from California where she was vacationing. Once a little brother, always a little brother.

 


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41. Review – Redeployment by Phil Klay

9780857864239What an amazing book! This is a firm candidate for my book of the year already and it is beyond doubt the best collection of short stories I have ever read. I literally could not put this book down but at the same time wanted each story to last as long as possible. I went into total procrastination mode today before reading the final story because I was not prepared for this book to end but resistance was futile.

I first read the title story of this collection in last year’s Fire & Forget. It was one of the standout pieces in a standout collection. I knew at the time reading Fire & Forget that the contributors in the collection were destined for big things. And Phil Klay not only reaffirms that but announces himself in a massive way with his first book.

I have blogged a couple of times here that short stories are not usually my thing. Often there is a story I wish there was more of or a story that leaves me unsatisfied. But absolutely every story in Redeployment was spot on. This was writing as close to perfection as I have ever read and I want to read the book again right now.

I am a big reader of war fiction. They are stories I am drawn to, that seem to resonate with me more than any other fiction. What I loved about Phil Klay’s collection was that each story resonated in a different way. One of the unique aspects to Klay’s collection are the different points of view he conveys in his stories. It is impossible for me to highlight one story and I don’t wish to go through each story one by one because that would spoil the magnificent reading experience.

Klay covers stories about soldiers in action and soldiers coming home. Soldiers wounded in action and soldiers haunted by the fact they saw little or no action. We read about a Marine chaplain, a Marine in Mortuary Affairs, a Foreign Affairs officer sent to Iraq to help rebuild. And through all these stories Klay shows the war in all its messy permutations and consequences, the good and the bad, the humanity and the inhumanity. He even explores the art of telling these stories and the different ways stories can be used and told, hidden and untold.

Every story packs an emotional intensity not only rare in short stories but rare in longer fiction too. Imagine the emotional wallop of The Yellow Birds with the frank and brutal insight of Matterhorn distilled into a short story and you get close to the impact each of these stories makes on their own. Put together as a collection and you have something very special that will be read (and should be read) by many long into the future.

Buy the book here…

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42. The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing: Review Haiku

They would've gotten
away with it if it weren't
for those meddling kids.

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage. Dawson/Putnam, 2014, 368 pages.

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43. Call for Submissions: Flycatcher


Through writing and visual art, Flycatcher strives to explore what it means—or what it might mean—to be native to this earth and its particular places. To that end, we are interested in work that engages the themes of empathy, ecology, and belonging, or that struggles with a lack of the same.

We are currently open to submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Full guidelines--as well as the current issue, back issues, an extended mission statement, publication schedule, award nominations, and more--can be found here.

We are also on Facebook.

We look forward to reading your work!

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44. Fiction Magic: Kickstart Your Writing with Deb Lund

Sometimes writers need a good kick in the pants.

Wouldn’t it be great to have your own personal writing coach by your side every day to get you moving? She could whip the sheets off you each morning, bugle reveille in your ear, even toast  you an Eggo while you shower.

Eh, who am I kidding? Writers don’t shower!

Anyway…

Author Deb Lund brought together her 20+ years of teaching experience in a magical way—with 54 surprising writing prompts, tips and tricks for you to apply to your work-in-progress whenever you’re feeling stuck. It’s like having that writing coach right there with you, only a lot less annoying. It’s “Fiction Magic”!

Fiction Magic Title screenshotMagicalDebLund

For years, Deb taught 4th- and 5th-grade students how to write, and she wanted to make it cool for them, so she developed these cards. Her real “aha” moment came when she realized that she could teach adults the same way she taught children, using the same FUN strategies. ABRACADABRA! These “magical” cards act as triggers to pull something out of your head that you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to coax out.

At the Oregon Silver Falls SCBWI Writing Retreat, star agent Jen Rofé of Andrea Brown Literary Agency attended Deb’s session and then exclaimed, “I want all my writers to have your cards!” Yep, she was that impressed. The only problem? Deb’s cards were a prototype that cost her $200 to produce. How could she make them for a dozen writers? A hundred? A THOUSAND?

Enter Kickstarter. Deb’s Fiction Magic campaign is on right now and it’s 94% funded already! But with just 10 days to go, she needs your help. And believe me, you want her help, too!

Let’s do a few tricks right now, shall we? Whip out your WIP and see if these magical remedies help!

.

AGREE TO A BAD DEAL
Your characters must make some bad choices along the way. They may even have to negotiate for something they need or want with people they loathe. Characters may know they’re agreeing to bad deals but feel they have no choice. Or the deals appear good, but fall apart later. Or time factors make the deals even more ominous. Make the stakes of bad deals so high it’s difficult for your characters to back out of them.

When you feel stressed by all that’s on your plate, be gentle with yourself. Let your characters agree to bad deals, but the only agreement you need to make with yourself right now is to write, no matter how bad the writing may seem.

.

REVEAL A SECRET
Secrets can be powerful tools or sources of trouble. Or both. What information could your characters unwittingly slip out to the wrong people? Characters could be in danger because of secrets. Other characters could reveal secrets that affect your lead characters, whether the secrets were theirs or not. In trying to cover up secrets or escaping from those trying to conceal secrets, what could go wrong? Who will be angry? Hurt? Feeling betrayed? Put in life or death situations?

Do you keep your dreams secret? Sometimes they need protection, but when you’re ready and the time is right, reveal them to others who believe in you.

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THROW IN AN OBSTACLE
If you’re lucky, you’ll pick this card over and over, because this is Key. Your characters are on quests. Delay them. Interrupt their journeys. Who or what could step in to make your characters stop in their tracks? The interruptions may be people, objects, circumstances, thoughts, feelings… Send your characters merrily down the road, and then run them into roadblocks. Keep tossing them unending hardship. Warm up your pitching arm and let it rip. Throw after throw after throw.

As a writer, you have plenty obstacles. For each one you throw at your character, remove one from your writing life! Where will you start?

.

fictionmagic

There are 51 more Fiction Magic tricks for you to try. But only if you help Deb reach her goal.

Check out her Kickstarter and create your own magic! (Even if that includes the bugle call. But that’s not for me. I am NOT a morning person!)


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45. Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

9780091956134This was of the funnest books I can remember reading in a long time. Gripping, funny and told in a totally original and authentic voice you can’t help but be hooked in by this part-Apollo 13, part-Castaway survival story.

Mark Watney is an astronaut, part of the third manned mission to Mars. Six days after landing on Mars a fierce dust storm forces Mark and his crewmates to abandon the planet. However during the evacuation Mark is left behind. Now he must work out how is going to survive on Mars until the next resupply mission. In two years time.

The majority of the book is told via Mark’s log entries detailing his survival. The log is written in a beautifully sarcastic tone where outright panic is only a hair’s breath away. There is plenty of self-deprecating humour and the log format works perfectly in detailing Mark’s day-to-day survival.

Mark is completely stranded. He has no way of communicating with his crewmates or NASA. He only has enough food and water to last half the time he needs. Mark puts to work his skills as an engineer and botanist to figure out if he can survive. The how is one of the most entertaining reads you will come across. Full of insane (but practical) problem solving you are glued to the book wanting to find out how Mark gets himself out of each new predicament he finds himself in. I defy anyone to be able to put this down once they start!

Buy the book here…

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46. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e March 28th, 2014



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

The Ebook Market + Big Five Survival (Jane Friedman) http://janefriedman.com/2014/03/27/smart-set-1/

Book Proposals Mean Business (Mary Keeley)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/book-proposals-mean-business/


Using foreign language in your story - the balancing act! (Juliette Wade)
http://talktoyouniverse.blogspot.com/2014/03/using-foreign-language-in-your-story.html

Platform Isn’t Enough (Rachelle Gardner)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/platform-isnt-enough/

Must a Writer Go Hybrid for a Higher Income? (Elizabeth Spann Craig)
http://elizabethspanncraig.com/1933/must-writer-go-hybrid-higher-income/

Why Poets Should Not Seek Literary Agents (Victoria Strauss)
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2014/03/why-poets-should-not-seek-literary.html

Agent Braggadocio (Wendy Lawton)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/agent-braggadocio/

Building Emotional Anticipation (Mary Kole)
http://kidlit.com/2014/03/24/building-emotional-anticipation/

7 Things I Learned from the World’s Best Marketers (Tiana Warner)
http://janefriedman.com/2014/03/24/7-things-learned-worlds-best-marketers/

Creating Your Character’s Backstory (Heidi M. Thomas)
http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2014/03/creating-your-characters-backstory.html

Who Are Literary Agents and Editors Anyway? (Kathryn Craft)
http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/who-are-literary-agents-and-editors-anway-turning-whine-into-gold/


If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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47. Body Language: Facial Expressions


There are myriad muscles that control the brow, chin, eyes, jaw, nose, and mouth. Some people can wiggle their ears. Different cultures utilize different expressions. Looking away may be deceptive in America, but indicative of respect in Japan. The important part when revising for body language is to note when and how you relate facial expressions and to avoid repetition and purple prose. One should not wriggle one's eyebrows while leering.


A character cannot control fleeting micro-expressions, the initial emotional response, but he quickly recovers from them. Facial expressions reflect our feelings about what is done and said, sometimes more eloquently or more obviously than we intend. Someone told me that there were only two true emotions: fear and love (or pleasure and pain). All other expressions stem from those two. The micro-expression field of study acknowledges seven. Love isn't one of them.

Unless the character is a professional interrogator, he is not going to hook Dick up to a lie detector, register his body heat and pulse, or measure the dilation of his pupils. There are, however, emotional triggers and signs that humans register in the space of a second. Most of your characters aren’t trained to recognize them. There are several personality types that pick up on nonverbal cues exceptionally well. If you want your detective to be a natural lie detector, pick one of them.

If you pay attention to what is happening in the body when a heightened emotion is experienced, you can make your characters believable. Highlight the places in your manuscript where you discuss emotions. Take a careful look at the choreography and word choices.

Anger: The jaw clenches. The lips thin and lift in a snarl. The nostrils flare. The eyebrows draw together. Aggression is a response to fear or a response to boundary violations. When Dick is angry, he may puff himself up to appear larger and stare his opponent into submission. His brow furrows. His blood pressure rises. The stress triggers a neurochemical cocktail in response to the fight or flight instinct. He flushes and clenches his fists. His sweat glands kick in. His muscles are primed to strike. He may shake his fist or point his finger. He may drift forward slightly, or step forward deliberately, depending on how much of a threat the opponent represents. His tone either lowers in warning or rises, depending on the circumstances. His anger may continue to simmer after the altercation. He usually vents to other people or indulges in a physical action to release it.

Anger can be expressed passively. After the initial response of jaw, nose, and lips, Jane may turn silent and look away. She may mutter under her breath or fake smile. She has the same physiological response, but her conscious instinct is to hide it. Passive people who are angry often cry when furious. As her throat closes and her blood boils, she becomes incoherent. She goes into wait and watch mode. Her anger simmers but she holds onto it. She is more likely to gossip and indirectly sabotage the person she is angry with. Temperament plays a role in how anger is expressed.

Contempt: A corner of the lip tightens and lifts. Contempt is in response to an intellectual boundary violation. Dick may make scornful or sarcastic comments. He may consciously override his initial response in an attempt to hide his disdain. He could state his true feelings in the matter. Contempt is in response to something or someone he does not believe, agree with, or like. He may deny his contempt, but his face betrays him.

Disgust: The nostrils clench and upper lip lifts. Dick may frown and pull back. He may flinch or purse his lips. He may utter exclamations of disgust in response. His heart rate slows. Disgust is in response to something he fears or abhors at gut level. His body retracts. He may put out his hand or wave someone away.

Fear: The upper lids and eyebrows lift. The lips stretch wide and pupils dilate. Fear is in response to a physical or emotional violation. Dick can react with mild fear or outright terror, depending on the stimulus. His response is instantaneous and involuntary. Dick's senses go on high alert. His fight or flight response is triggered. He either freezes or retracts. He may gasp. His muscles prepare to escape or avoid. He sweats. He shivers. The hair shafts stiffen. His pulse rate increases. He may go into shock, depending on the stimulus. His flesh may feel cold as the blood rushes to prime the muscles in his hands and legs and fuels the brain. He may step back or turn to run. He may cover his face and head with his arms. The rush of neurochemicals leaves him feeling shaky after the stimulus is dealt with.

Happiness: The corners of the lips lift, the teeth may show. The cheeks plump. The muscles around the eyes are engaged and wrinkles appear. The eyes may widen, or narrow if the nose wrinkles. Jane's posture relaxes and expands. She moves toward someone or something. Her body language is expansive. Neurochemicals induce a high. She may laugh. She is verbal and inclined to touch. She may be mildly delighted or completely overjoyed. Her focus may broaden to take in others. She wants to share her feeling.


Sadness: Pupils narrow. Upper eyelids droop. Corners of lips turn down. Sadness is a response to loss or hurt feelings. Jane's body language closes in protectively. She may cross her arms, lower her head, or turn away. She may grow quiet and have trouble speaking. Her throat feels constricted. Her eyes and nose prickle and water. Her chest feels heavy. She may become more aware of her pulse and breathing. A strong stimulus can feel like a blow to the viscera. She may gasp, cover her abdomen, or bend over. She may transition to shock. Sadness may be followed quickly by anger. With extreme grief, she may scream or yell. Her body may crumple to the floor. She holds herself and rocks back and forth. Crying can be soft and silent or guttural and loud. It can pass quickly or go on for minutes. The initial blast may be followed by softer gushes as Jane calms down.

Surprise: The eyebrows lift and eyes open wide. The forehead furrows. Surprise can be a response to something positive, negative, or neutral. Jane can have a quick startle or a longer shock wave. The reaction can be followed immediately by fear, joy, or confusion. Depending on the stimulus, the jaw drops. Surprise is usually quick and over, but the stimulus sometimes makes Jane ruminate on it for some time. She may share her surprise with others in an attempt to understand it.

Next time, we will take a look at gestures.

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48. Call for Submissions from Community College Students: Painted Cave Literary Magazine

Painted Cave Literary Magazine is accepting submissions from community college students nationwide for its inaugural issue May 2014. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.

Painted Cave is the online student-run, faculty-guided literary journal of Santa Barbara City College. We publish the work of community college student writers in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. Painted Cave reserves First North American Serial Rights. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.

Paste your submission in the body of the email to:

paintedcavesubmissionsATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

Please indicate whether you are enrolled in a community college.

In the subject line include the genre of the submission, title(s) and your name (Fiction, “Born Too Late,” Mary Mullins)

We accept the following genres:

Flash Fiction: 1-3 pieces, no more than 750 words each.

Fiction: 1 piece, no more than 5000 words.

Poetry: 3-5 poems, no more then 50 lines each.

Creative Nonfiction: 1 piece, no more than 5000 words.

Flash Creative Nonfiction: 1-3 pieces, no more than 750 words each.

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49. Writing Competition: Fairy Tale Review

Fairy Tale Review is thrilled to announce the debut of an annual contest, beginning this year with Prose & Poetry awards.

We’re interested in poems, stories, and essays with a fairy-tale feel—mainstream to experimental, genre to literary, realist to fabulist. Sarah Shun-lien Bynum will judge prose; Ilya Kaminsky will judge poetry. Both contests will award $1000, and all submissions will be considered for publication in The Mauve Issue.

Reading fee: $10.

Submit online or to:

Fairy Tale Review, c/o Kate Bernheimer
Department of English
University of Arizona
Tucson AZ 85721

Deadline: July 15th, 2014

Awards: $1,000 each

Eligibility & Procedure

All submissions must be original and previously unpublished. For prose, please send works of up to 6,000 words. For poetry, no more than five poems and/or ten pages per entry. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but please withdraw your manuscript immediately upon acceptance elsewhere, and note that the reading fee is nonrefundable. Multiple submissions are acceptable, but please note that you will need to pay a reading fee for each submission.

Submit to the Poetry Contest.
Submit to the Prose Contest.

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50. Poetry and Fiction Competition: River's Edge Literary Magazine

River's Edge Literary Magazine will hold a poetry contest and fiction contest with a $1000.00 prize for each. There is no entry fee. All submissions in these two genres will automatically be entered in a contest. The deadline for the contest and fall issue is May 10th.

Please submit here. to riversedge.submittable.com

River's Edge is a national literary journal of the southwest edited by members of the MFA faculty at the University of Texas Pan American. We are seeking the best unpublished short fiction, poetry, scripts, art work, creative nonfiction and graphic literature. Our editors accept work in both Spanish and English and everything in-between.

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