Writing Prompts for February 2016

Wow! How did it get to February 5th without my noticing that I hadn’t created any writing prompts for February 1st? I’ve had my head in every other place but this blog, and here’s where it’s been.

coloring cover imageLaunching a new book. Yes, I finished a coloring book for writers, and it’s now available at Amazon. It was a fun project, and I hope my fellow writers enjoy it. I love coloring books myself, and having learned how to play with some new software called Kaleidoscope Kreator, I couldn’t wait to create a whole coloring book just for writers. No how-to-write tips or places to write, just pictures accompanied by quotes from other writers who have “been there, done that.” The pictures vary in complexity, because for me, there are times when the ones with tiny spaces to color are just too much work. And since coloring books are supposed to help relieve stress, all those fiddly spaces seemed a bit counter-productive on the relaxation side.

Working on a new book. Last year I put together a journal to help people get into the daily writing habit in 66 days, Write Every Day: a journal for building your Daily Writing Habit. I’ve just completed working on a similar book, Journal Every Day: Inspiration and Prompts to Build your Daily Journaling Habit, Journal cover png (2)to help people get into daily journaling in 66 days. I journal almost every day and have found it to be very beneficial to my creativity and also a great place to leave my troubles behind, or to make my to-do lists, or just to say ‘thank-you’ for the good things in my life. I’ll be uploading the journal today or tomorrow, and hope that it will be available at Amazon early next week. And, yes, it has some coloring pages, too.

Learning how to create an online course. I’m currently enrolled in Joseph Michael’s Easy Course Creation program. It started in earnest on Wednesday, but there were a few pre-course assignments, plus my brain has been focused on what kinds of courses to offer and who my audience might be. The course will be writing related, and if you think that there’s a gap out there where a writing course should be, please let me know.

Anyhow, that’s what I’ve been up to and that’s what distracted me from writing my first-day-of-the-month writing prompts, until this morning. Here you go:

WRITING PROMPTS

Choose one, some, or all of these words to write a story or poem:

a) wonder, snow, crystal, sky, glow, footprints, run
b) number, frame, sharp, cold, red, wire, slump
c) rise, platform, cries, thunder, stone, path, danger

Use one of these opening sentences to create a story:

a) “This is the last straw!”
b) Henry looked guilty.
c) Helen looked up from her reading and her book fell from her lap.
d) I’d always wondered what real fear felt like. I was sorry I found out.
e) Monday was supposed to be the worst day of the week. Today had it beat by a mile.
f) We all felt the cold before he entered the hall.
g) Breathing at this altitude was harder than I thought it would be.
h) “Are you sure he’s here?”

Try one of these titles to inspire a story or poem: Winter Chill, Runaway, Danger at Dawn, City Nights, Gone Wrong, Box of Dreams, Winner Take All, It Only Takes One, The Call, The Text Message Murders, When Winter Comes, Helen Goes West, Love and Apples

See if these lines of dialogue help you see a scene or story.

You guys are fighting over a book?
You don’t know what’s in it.

When do you think she’ll be done?
She finished an hour ago.
Then why isn’t she here yet?

I’m not ready to go.
Well, when will you be ready?
How about never.

But Chris is Henry’s best friend!
He didn’t behave like it this morning.

Don’t bother explaining it again. I’ll never get it.
But it could save your life.
That’s what you’re here for.
And what if I’m not here?

What would your character write in his/her journal in reply to these prompts?

a)   What annoyed me today.
b)   What made me laugh today.
c)    The news story/Facebook post that made me smile.
d)    How I feel about thunderstorms.
e)    Music that brings back memories.
f)     If I could live at any time in human history, it would be ________ because ….

Have fun with the better-late-than-never writing prompts, and I wish you lots of fun and every success with your writing projects!

 

Publication for Young Writers

51fSKVUK2lL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_Here’s a list of new locations where young writers can be published. I’ll be adding these to the Where to Get Published tab, too.

10 Publication Opportunities for Young Writers:  Writers like Françoise Sagan, Sonya Hartnett and S.E. Hinton demonstrate that youth doesn’t have to be a barrier to literary success. Here is a list of 10 magazines, journals and websites that are committed to publishing young writers and that champion the work of those just starting out.   http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2015/03/26/publication-opportunities-for-young-writers/

Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats. http://canvasliteraryjournal.com/submit/

New Pages Young Authors Guide: Where young writers can find print and online literary magazines to read, places to publish their own works, and legitimate contests. Some publish only young writers, some publish all ages for young readers. For specific submission guidelines, visit the publication’s website. This is an ad-free page; publications and contests listed here have not paid to be included. This page is maintained by Editor Denise Hill, a teacher who loves to encourage young writers.   http://www.newpages.com/writers-resources/young-authors-guide

YARN (Young Adult Review Network):  YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices…including teens. http://yareview.net/how-to-submit/

The Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland, Maine, dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Focused on young writers ages 6 to 18, we seek to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for our students. We believe that the power of creative expression can change our communities and prepare our youth for future success. Places to Publish:  http://www.tellingroom.org/get-published/places-publish

Writing Prompts for January 2016

IMG-20130709-00210inspirationHappy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday with family and friends and that you’re ready to tackle whatever the new year brings.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Are you good at keeping them? One thing I have to keep reminding myself is that everything I resolve to do doesn’t have to be achieved by the end of February. Way too much pressure—and way too easy for someone like me to give up at that point. (I have a lot of experience with that!)  At this time of year, I like to think about what I hope to achieve next year. I don’t have resolutions exactly, but instead, I have an ongoing, ever-in-revision to-do list that serves as a daily reminder of what my year’s goals are. And yes, if you check my last post, I did go out and buy a new journal to help me keep track of everything.

For my own health and sanity, weight loss and more exercise are on the list–starting with a standing desk–plus I’m working on a plan plan to go out more often with my husband. (I’ve already bought the concert tickets!) I’m also looking for one thing to do each week to help fill the creative well that so easily gets emptied when you’re a busy, creative person.

For my writing, I have a lot of goals to reach this year—more books and journals and, at least, one online course. The last will be a challenge. Like most people, I don’t like the sound of my voice on tape, but I’m finally ready to take the risk and work on this project that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a couple of years now.

I’m also going to attempt to learn to read Latin this year. I know that’s a weird goal, but I’ve written a couple of books set in the Middle Ages (not published) and have ideas for more–one involving a person who illuminates manuscripts. I’ve always wanted to actually read the words on the medieval manuscripts I’ve seen so often while doing my research.  And, since my mom bought me a set of how-to-learn-Latin DVDs for my birthday, I no longer have any excuse!

I want to thank you all for dropping by the website to check out the resources or to say hi over the past year. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be adding some new sites and information for teens who want to get published. Visitors drop by from all over the world, and I’m humbled that so many of you find inspiration for your writing or your classroom here. Whether you make resolutions, or set goals, or just let life bring whatever it brings, I wish you every success, and a healthy and happy 2016.

P.S.

draft cover for journalIf one of your goals is to write every day in 2016, research shows that it takes 66 days to develop a habit. There are ample writing prompts on this site to feed a 66-day, habit-building plan many times over. If you need something a little more structured, check out the journal I created last year and see if it has the solution you’re looking for.

 

WRITING PROMPT

1.See if you can use one, some, or all of the words in one of these groups in a story or poem.

a) cup, danger, blue, fragile, reach, high
b) book, scratch, far, wonder, red, end
c) curtain, lights, remember, warm, close, fear

2. What story can you create that begins with one of these opening sentences?

  • Henry said, “Do not wish me a Happy New Year.”
  • Helen dropped the last of his photographs into the trash.
  • Why wasn’t I surprised that the light switch didn’t work either.
  • I hoped they remembered the old adage, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
  • We’d never make it before dawn.
  • They were not her people. Helen realized she was lucky to still be alive.

3. Can you think of a story to go with one of these titles?
Winter Solstice, The Offer, Sonata in Screams, Haunted, I Hate Love Stories, Blue Wednesday, Rodeo, The New Year’s Mystery, A Dog for a Day, I said No, Fire Place, The Witch Next Door.

4. What scenes can you imagine around these lines of dialogue?

Turn on the light.
I did—and I checked the bulb. There’s no power.
That’s not good.

Why did you leave Harry?
I didn’t. He left me.
That’s not what he said.

I’m sorry for your loss, Helen.
Believe me. It was no loss.
But how can you say that?

I thought robots were supposed to do what they were told.
Not when they’re told something stupid.

What’s in the bag?
Groceries.
The stores closed an hour ago.
Okay then. I liked.

Have you ever seen any creatures so disgusting.
No.
Should I say something?
You should say, thank-you. They saved our lives remember.

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful 2016!

A Holiday Gift for Yourself–A Journal

IMG_4436I just discovered a wonderful post on the value of journaling: 9 reasons why writing in a journal should be your only resolution in the new year. In this post, author Lori White looks at how journaling can benefit all areas of your life and help you reach your goals, and she offers links to other articles to back up her premise that keeping a journal can “improve your health, your happiness, your goals, your love life … everything! And for those of you thinking, “Whatever diaries are dumb,” try thinking of journaling or freewriting as PRODUCTIVE MEDITATION.”  

Now, I’ve done daily journal writing for short periods, like a month, but I’ve never made a longer commitment to the process. I will definitely be working toward making journaling a daily habit in 2016. Lots of the areas of life that journaling can impact are areas that I’m looking to improve, so it’s time to decide that I’m worth 15 minutes a day with pen and journal. My own research has taught me that it takes 66 days to create a habit, so that’s my first goal–to stick with journaling for 66 days. If I can find time for Facebook or FreeCell, I should be able to find 15 minutes a day to write in a journal–and I’ll have the fun of buying a new journal, too. I hope you decide to join me and make daily journal writing your resolution for the new year. If you’re already a journal writer, please drop a note in the comments to tell us about your experience with journaling. How does it benefit you?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday and I’ll be checking back on New Year’s Day with your first writing prompts of 2016!

 

December 2015 Writing Prompts, New Book, Goodreads Giveaway

I hope that those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving last week had a wonderful time with family and friends and are enjoying your leftovers. If you were part of NaNoWriMo, I hope that you made your word count goals, and if not, made progress on your project that will carry on to completion soon.

My NaNo plans were prompted by a workshop that I was to be running at the local library. Sadly, participation was too low and the workshop was cancelled. Since my motivation for NaNo (wrapped entirely around working with and encouraging a group of young writers for a month) fell through, and so did my “novel.” Instead, I finished the project closest to my heart, A Journal for Teen Writers.

51fSKVUK2lL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_The journal is filled with blank writing pages, encouraging quotes from writers, brainstorming pages, coloring and doodling pages, and 50 new writing prompts. I’m very happy with it, and especially happy that it’s been #1 in it’s category of new releases for the past week at Amazon.com. It might have been there longer, but the first day I looked at it was last Tuesday. Take a peek here. My next challenge is creating journals for genre writers. I’ve started working on one for mystery writers, but until a freelance contract and my teaching semester are done, that one is going to be on hold until the new year.

My anthology of short stories for boys, written with my co-author Jean Mills, is part of a Goodreads giveaway until December 8th. Drop by Goodreads to enter to win an autographed copy.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dude! by Heather Wright

Hope you have a wonderful month ahead. If you have time among the holiday prep to do any writing, I hope these writing prompts give you the inspiration you need.

Use one, some, or all of these words in a story or poem:

  • music, jar, creature, forest, wise, fear
  • jump, stress, sunshine, shadow, left, wind
  • sun, photograph, last, shine, memory, river
  • rhythm, race, share, joy, defeat, call

Here are some opening sentences for you to try:

  • Stop! I can’t keep up.
  • Today Carol’s hair was blue.
  • I’d only been here ten minutes, and already I wanted to leave.
  • When I asked Henry what was new, I inwardly prayed for some positive news.
  • Where did that map come from?
  • I fell through a wall that wasn’t there.
  • I’m an astronomer. I know the skies and night–but not tonight.
  • It’s 7:15 and Henry is never late.

See if one of these titles inspires a story:
The Winder, King’s Ransom, The Fan, Bookworm, Mountain Mystic, The Club, The Story of Two Dreams, When One Door Closes, The Cats and I, Race, Tornado

See what scenes you can create from these lines of dialogue:

I’m so proud.
Of what?
Resisting the urge to scream at you right now.

Whose dog is that?
What dog?
That one.
Oh.

You don’t believe in dragons, do you?
No. Why?
I think I’ve found a way to change your mind.

Have you seen Helen’s new boyfriend?
No.
Well, neither has anyone else.

Writing Prompts for November 2015

If you’re starting NaNoWriMo today, I wish you every success. I’ve drafted a bit of a plan using tips from this extremely helpful blog: 6 Tasks You’ll Love Yourself for Checking Off Your NaNo Pre-Writing List. I know I’ll be going back to it as I work through my story. I’m fully prepared for my final NaNo word count to be nowhere near the 50,000 words of a winning NaNo novel. My life (and a recently acquired freelance contract) are going to make that impossible, so, if I can cobble together a detailed novel draft this month, I’ll be extremely happy.

What are your plans for the month? Are you writing? Are you preparing for Thanksgiving? Are you glued to the World Series or football or curling or …? Whatever you are up to this month, I hope you have a creative 30 days and lots of good times with family and friends.

To keep your creative side ticking, here are the writing prompts for the month.

  1. Use these random words to create a story or poem:
  • Cold, grey, mark, trail, storm, silver
  • Frame, glass, pen, square, white, words
  • Card, circle, phone call, strong, blue, why
  • Fire, wind, photo, black, strange, wall
  1. See where these opening lines might take you:
  • Don’t ask about my day.
  • Henry pulled goggles over his eyes and waited for the signal.
  • They say never start a story with the setting, but I think that, if you think you’re going to drown in it, it’s as good a place as any to start.
  • Helen/Henry woke to the sound of yells and crashing swords.
  • I think that magic should only happen on stage, or on a screen, and a safe distance from me, but apparently, not today.
  • Helen handed the flowers back to the delivery man. “Give them to someone else,” she said and closed the door.
  • The woman in the photo on the gallery wall looked just like my mom, except the photo was taken in Paris twenty-five years before my mother was born.
  1. Try one of these titles and see what story or poem appears:

Agent Fear, The Crystal Mountain, Summer Storm, The Prisoner, What Next?, Babies and Blue Jeans, Jake Plays the Blues, No Limit, Robot’s Curse, The Island

  1. What scenes do these groups of dialogue lines suggest?

I’m sending you to New York.
Why?
I thought it was about time you met your mother.

That will be $200.
For this?
For that. Plus my guarantee that it will always do your bidding.

I don’t know why you put up with Henry. You hardly know him.
He’s not so bad.
Why don’t you just dump him?
I can’t until I can explain that he’s my brother.

Put the box on the table over there.
Okay.
Now open in.
What are you afraid of—a bomb or something?

It’s too dark. I can’t see.
Let me help.
How did you do that?

  1. What’s your character’s secret? What is the one thing that he or she never wants anyone to find out?
  2. If your character is just ticking along in your story, play “what if” for 10 minutes and come up with as many things as possible that could make your character’s life a lot harder right now. A broken leg? Abduction by an alien? A meeting with an old flame or an old enemy? Play “what if” until you find something that ups the ante for your character and adds some more suspense to your story.

Colouring Pages for Writers

2015-10-04 22.41.37I’ve been having some fun with some new software. These are some early attempts at creating mandalas and colouring pages for writers. You can find them here: 6 COLOURING PAGES. Pass them out to your writer’s group, make them available to your students, use them yourself for a few moments of quiet time.

The following is an excerpt with a couple of links from one of my upcoming journals that explains why colouring, stress relief, and creativity are a good combination. I can say from my own experience that even just five or ten minutes of focusing on which colour to choose and which area to colour next will calm the brain and help creativity flow. “William Brennan wrote in the April 2015 issue of The Atlantic: ‘Research suggests there might be something to the idea of coloring as a means of stress relief. A 2012 study in the journal Art Therapy found that art activities such as coloring mandalas significantly reduced anxiety.’ (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/04/big-in-france/386249/) In a HuffPost article, psychologist Antoni Martinez explains that he recommends coloring ‘as a relaxation technique. We can use it to enter into a more creative, freer state. We can also use it to connect with how we feel … I myself have practiced that. I recommend it in a quiet environment, even with chill music. Let the color and the lines flow.’
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/13/coloring-for-stress_n_5975832.html)”

Have fun!

 

October 2015 Writing Challenge and Writing Prompts

2015-09-20 11.40.17
My September Weekend Writing Place

October is a busy month here: two birthdays, a wedding anniversary, the trailer closes, the boat comes out of the water for the winter, two freelance deadlines loom, and because we’re in Canada–Thanksgiving!

AND I’ve decided to run another daily writing challenge over on my Facebook page because, well, of course, I’m going to have lots of time to write every day. It’s the routine of the writing rather than the word count that I’m working on. Small daily writing goals are the key, and I mean small–maybe 100 words–so that, if I’m having a challenging day (which will be every Tuesday with 7 hours of classes followed by choir), I will still feel successful if I only write that 100 words. And steady daily success is the plan because I want to start building the habit of writing that will take me through November, too. Kristi Holl (author of Writer’s First Aid and More Writer’s First Aid) introduced me to the ideas of small goals and building mini-habits here.

On my Facebook page, I’ll be posting encouragement, links to interesting blogs, and I hope, some humour to keep myself  and you writing every day. To participate, all you have to do is post the word “done” in the comments under the daily posts, and we’ll know you met your writing goal for the day.

I hope that the writing prompts below will help you find a story idea if you need one. Some of today’s writing prompts come from the collection I’m preparing for my next set of journals for genre writers.

Have fun!

Opening Sentences

  • Mira felt danger in her skin. I saw it in her eyes.
  • Sometimes Henry’s smiles were warm and kind. This wasn’t one of those times.
  • Helen strained to see the sails on the horizon more clearly. Friend or enemy?
  • I knew one thing about my new job. Henry was going to be a pain in the neck.
  • Predictable could get you killed.
  • For the third day in a row, Henry knew he’d been followed.
  • Red flashing lights were never a good sign.

Random Words

  • clouds, wind, cry, shiver, grey, hurry
  • campfire, fear, scream, hidden, red
  • leaves, gold, broken, pond, clear
  • stones, sun, blue, carry, escape
  • city, rain, climb, smell, green, alone

Titles

The Fallen, Unbroken, Trust Not, Generous to a Fault, Road Trip, Last Chance, Love Waits, The Enemy Within, Strange Music, Kept

Dialogue

You’re Henry, aren’t you?
So?
So, Max is looking for you.

 

I want to go home.
You know that’s not possible.
But–
No buts. This is where we’re safe, and this is where we’ll stay.

 

Why didn’t you tell me you were hiding here?
There wouldn’t be much point in hiding then would there.
Very funny. You know I can help.

 

It’s awfully steep. I’m not sure.
Can you see another option?
No.

 

I’m sure Henry has it.
You’re lying. It’s you.

If you’re still stuck for inspiration, check these out, too. Just click on the covers for more information.

201 journal cover

 

 

September 2015 Writing Prompts and Vacation Reflections

2015-08-16 20.55.29Well, I’m back from a lovely vacation and immersed in deadlines, contracts and school prep. That lovely vacation vibe is sliding away far too quickly, but this year, I’ve decided to do something about it. I’ve thought about the things I enjoy about vacations and how I can fit them into the days and weeks ahead to give myself a necessary break from the stresses that start September 1st and last for the rest of the semester. It’s not that I don’t like what I do, but I tend to charge at things head down without taking time to feed the other things that are important to me. My language becomes all about the “have-tos”, and this time, I’m determined that include in my life moments that recharge my batteries and my creativity.

This year has been incredibly productive with 11 new books published (more about that later), so I know that I can get a lot done when I have to. (There are those words again!) But I also took time this summer for other things, like watching part of an old movie in the middle of the day, or reading, or meeting friends for coffee, or sometimes, just having a nap. And the work got done. I’m learning to be more productive during ‘work time’ and learned that walking away from it all for a while is okay.

What changed was me deciding that I didn’t have to wait to take a break until I’d earned it. That meant that a break could only happen at the end of the day when everything was checked off the to-do list. That’s not when I needed the break, which was clear from the number of Facebook checks, games of solitaire I played, and cups of tea that I made—all of which were telling me to walk away from the screen for a decent period of time and regroup. If I walked away for an hour, that hour was probably less time away from the work than I spent frittering with other distractions. On the days that I took a real break, my productivity was better and my spirits were better, too.

So, that’s my lesson learned this year. I’ll keep you posted on my success in continuing this strategy through the next semester. What have you learned about staying energized while working? Do you take long breaks or a series of short ones? Do you give yourself rewards for your accomplishments? How do you fit in exercise? (That’s my next challenge!)

Slide1The two writing prompts journals that I mentioned in my last post are now available at Amazon, and will eventually be out and about at Barnes & Noble and Chapter/Indigo. Each journal contains the complete text of the book it was derived from plus over 100 lined pages so you can play with the writing prompts and suggestions in the books. The last book of my Better Business Communication series also saw the light of day last week, too. It’s available as an ebook only.

Now, to keep you writing for the next month, here are your writing prompts:

  1. Use one, some or all of the words in these groups to write a story or poem.

Sign, grey, fog, horizon, posts, sky

Clear, field, inside, tall, burn, patch

  1. Here are some opening lines to try.
  • The swish of the wind turbine’s blades filled the night.
  • A line of scraggy pines marked the path.
  • I didn’t recognize the footsteps in the hall.
  • If anyone needed a guardian angel right now, it was me.
  • Henry threw the newspaper on the floor and reached for the phone.
  • Henry swore this would be the last time.
  • Helen was late again.
  1. Maybe one of these titles will inspire a story or poem:

The Mist, Dear Diary, A Light in the Window, The house on Planet X, Bad Blood, Captains Outrageous, Fire in the Heart, Death on Page One.

  1. What scenes can you imagine taking place before and during these lines of dialogue?

I told you I didn’t do it.

But can you prove it?

 

Look  behind you.

Seriously? You expect me to fall for that old trick?

Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

The wind is changing.

Yes. I can smell it now.

Let’s go.

 

But I thought you left Henry in charge.

He thinks I did.

 

Something’s the matter.

How can you tell?

Helen’s quiet.

 

Happy Writing!

Write Every Day

Well, as usual, things don’t always work out the way you hoped–especially in the self-publishing world. What I thought would take a week, took a little longer. The journal is up and ready at Createspace and Amazon(more about that below) and the grammar book is still a work in progress. Of course. the delay was a result of my own distraction. Once I sorted out how to design a cover on Canva, I realized that I actually had two more journals just waiting to be created–so I did those, too. Now 201 Writing Prompts and Writing Prompts and More are journals, too! I’m just waiting for my next batch of ISBNs and then I can get those in print, too.

I wanted to get the Write Every Day journal out in time for writers who might like to get in training for NaNoWriMo, and I just squeaked under the wire. Goal accomplished–though the journal is really for any writer, any time.

The idea for the journal began after reading that it takes approximately 66 days to create a habit. That’s a long slog on your own, so Write Every Day: a journal for building your Daily Writing Habit (158 pages) gives you 66 writing prompts, some needed encouragement along the way, an extra 50 writing prompts in case you’re just not in the mood for the one assigned, plus a few coloring images that you can use to colour your way to creativity. I hope you check it out if  you need to work on a daily writing habit or if you know a writer who needs a creative boost.

I’m planning to enjoy my last two weeks of freedom before prep for school starts again. I hope you’ve been enjoying your summer. I’ve certainly been enjoying mine, but part of me is an autumn person. I like the changes and the idea of starting something new–new students, new challenges, new colours in the leaves, new freshness in the air. Maybe it’s because I was born in October, or maybe it’s just part of my DNA, but fall is when I like to start fresh–a bit like the New Year but a few months early. What about  you? Is the fall a time for new beginnings for you? Or do real changes happen after New Year’s Eve?

Whatever your timetable, I hope that writing and creating are still at the top of your to-do lists!

Oh, and here’s a sneak peek at the new journal covers.

Writing Prompts and More journal210 journal cover

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