Story Behind the Story: Michelle Somers

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Today I’m delighted to introduce you to the lovely Michelle Somers, who is a bookworm from way back. An ex-Kiwi who now calls Australia home, she’s a professional killer and matchmaker, a storyteller and a romantic. Words are her power and her passion. Her heroes and heroines always get their happy ever after, but she’ll put them through one hell of a journey to get there.

Michelle lives in Melbourne, Australia with her real life hero and three little heroes in the making.

Michelle, please tell us about your story behind the story. 

I’m often asked why I write what I write. Why pair the warm fuzziness of romance with the deadly chill of suspense? And then there’s my debut novel, Lethal in Love – how and why did the story come about?

So many factors influenced my decision – my need – to tell Jayda and Seth’s story.  

Growing up, I fed my imagination on a steady diet of Sweet Dreams, coupled with The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. From there I grew into Harlequin and the likes of Harlan Coben, Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwall and so many others.

I loved the diversity and richness of these stories and their characters. Loved that reading romance allowed me to fall in love during every single story. Loved that reading suspense and detective stories led me to experience places and situations I could never and would never imagine visiting outside the pages of a book.

My imagination soared, as did the thrill of escapism, and the ability to feed both by immersing myself into the world of fiction.

Psychology has always fascinated me. The whys and wherefores in a person’s mind. Why do they act the way they do? Why if you drop two people into an identical situation, will they react differently? What is it in their psyche that makes this happen?

With such an avid interest in what makes a person tick, as well as a love for the written word, is it any wonder that romance became my genre of choice, closely followed by suspense?

My novel, Lethal in Love, and its sequel, Murder Most Unusual, were born of my equal passion for both genres. And little by little, layer by layer, the story evolved.

Conflict is the lynchpin of any great story, and the age-old idea of pitting detective against reporter intrigued me, especially if that detective was female, sassy, no-nonsense and had damn good reasons to dig her heels into her anti-reporter stance.

Next came the decision on setting. How could I not choose Melbourne? A city of great beauty and diversity, that became my home when I met and married my husband.

Finally, I reached my story’s pièce de résistance – the Night Terror. A serial killer terrorising young women in the streets of Melbourne. What a deliciously evil piece of fiction – almost… To delve inside the mind of my serial killer meant delving into the minds of real-life examples, of which the internet holds a plethora, sadly. It wasn’t long until I lost myself in the world of psychopaths, a place where I found the perfect ‘role model’ for my fictional killer – Theodore Robert Bundy.  

Ted Bundy – to me – is the epitome of serial killers. Attractive. Smart. Charismatic. And one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history. More dangerous for his ability to mimic emotions he had no capacity to feel, and his inability to understand or feel compassion – factors that when combined, made him a ruthless and deadly predator against young women.

But what turns a seemingly well behaved, attractive teen with so much promise into a monster? This was the question that fascinated me most of all. So I delved deeper, first into Bundy, then into the Night Terror. I discovered the cold calculation. A past containing a trigger after which there was no going back. And then it was time to build the killer back up from ground zero.

I’ll take the words from Ted Bundy himself.

“We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere.”

I hid my killer in plain sight then crafted a story I hope did him and the rest of my characters justice.

Let me know if you agree.

And if you’ve yet to read Lethal in Love, I have some exciting news – in August this year, Penguin Random House will be releasing the story as a single title ebook!

More about Lethal in Love:

Homicide detective Jayda Thomasz never lets her emotions get in the way of a case. So when a serial killer re-emerges after 25 years, the last thing she expects is to catch herself fantasising over the hot, smooth-talking stranger who crosses the path of her investigation.

Reporter Seth Friedin is chasing the story that’ll make his career. When he enters the world of swinging for research, he never imagines he’ll be distracted by a hard-talking female detective whose kiss plagues his mind long after she’s gone.

Past experience has shown Jayda that reporters are ruthless and unscrupulous. But when the murders get personal, will she make a deal with the devil to catch the killer? How far will she and Seth have to go? And do you ever really know who you can trust?

BUY LINKS (book one):

AMAZON

AMAZON (Aus)

iBOOKS

KOBO

GOOGLE PLAY

eBOOKS

head shotMore about Michelle:

For exact dates, an exclusive cover reveal and any other news, visit my website www.michelle-somers.com and sign up for my newsletter. A newsletter will only hit your inbox when there’s an announcement or freebies to give away, so I promise it’s worth it!

And for day-to-day news, follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Under the Spanish Stars – cover reveal and preorder!

Wow, it’s been a busy couple of days! I am delighted to reveal the cover for Under the Spanish Stars, out with Kensington Books 6 December for those outside Aus/NZ. (If you are an Aus/NZ resident, please click  here. for your version).

Here goes …

Amid the vivid beauty of Granada, a woman entrusted with unraveling a family secret will discover the truth about her heritage—and the alluring promise of love…

When her beloved grandmother falls ill, Charlotte Kavanagh will do whatever she asks of her—even if it means traveling to a country that broke her abuela’s heart. Can an unsigned painting of a flamenco dancer unlock the secrets of her grandmother’s youth in Spain? To find the answers she needs, Charlotte must convince the charismatic and gifted musician, Mateo Vives to introduce her to a secluded gypsy clan.

The enigmatic Mateo speaks the true language of flamenco, a culture Charlotte must learn to appreciate if she wants to understand her grandmother’s past—and the flamenco legend that has moved souls to beauty, and bodies to the heights of passion. As Mateo leads her into the captivating world of the music and the dance, Charlotte embraces her own long-denied creative gift and the possibility of a future rich with joy…

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Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m one lucky gal, indeed! I’m very much looking forward to sharing the story of Charlotte, Mateo, Katarina and Raul with you. 

You can pre-order your copy below:

AMAZON

Google

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

 

 

Midnight Serenade – cover reveal and preorder!

You may recall I signed a three-book deal with the wonderful Lyrical Press (Kensington Books) so my books will soon be available outside Australia and New Zealand. I’m happy to announce my first book MIDNIGHT SERENADE (Luna Tango in Aus/NZ) will be available on 5 July with UNDER THE SPANISH STARS is coming out on 6 December. Book three is likely to come out mid 2017. The first two books are now up for preorder!

For book reviewers, MIDNIGHT SERENADE is currently up on Netgalley.

So, without further ado, I will treat you to the cover of MIDNIGHT SERENADE today with UNDER THE SPANISH STARS to follow in the next day or two. 

For those living outside Australia and New Zealand, these books will be available worldwide, so if you have any friends or family who may be interested in my stories, please feel free to send them the link to the books. 

Ooh – and keep an eye out for Goodreads give away AND a way to unlock some special material prior to release day!

Drumroll, please …..

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Isn’t it beautiful? I absolutely love the pose of the dancers with Buenos Aires in  the background and my gorgeous heroine, Dani, with her blonde hair and luscious red lips. 

Here’s a rundown on the story with pre-order links:

On the sultry streets of Buenos Aires, the daughter of a world class tango diva searches for answers about the mother who abandoned her—and uncovers decades of lies and deception…

After twenty years of wondering why her mother chose tango over her, Dani McKenna finally travels to Argentina. What was it about this beautiful, mysterious land that enticed one woman away from her own child—and broke another’s heart? As a journalist, Dani may have the opportunity to find out. And an enigmatic tango dancer may hold the key to her quest—if she can break down his defensive walls.

Carlos Escudero had been Dani’s mother’s protégé. Tragedy ended his career and he refuses to be interviewed. But he will give Dani some insights, on one condition: she must agree to his tango lessons. As the two begin the intricate dance of passion, Dani’s quiet, logical world is exchanged for one of music, motion—and mystery. For the clues to a dance legend’s murder may lead Dani to the truth about the past and its impact on her family—and free her to move toward a future she can claim as her own at last…

You can preorder through (please check your ebook seller in your country for links outside of the USA):

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

KENSINGTON BOOKS

AMAZON

IBOOKS

KOBO

BARNES & NOBLE

Baby name winner!

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Image: Pixabay

Wow, I am absolutely astounded by how popular this baby naming competition was! Thank you so much to everyone who entered on this blog and on my Facebook page. I found it incredibly difficult to choose as there were so many wonderful suggestions and I was going to go for a lucky dip but then this particular comment pulled my heart strings and I knew we had a winner. The name sounded right and the reason behind it even more so.

From Helen Boreham:

Isabelle – a name that is passed on through generations. A name worthy of a small child or a great-grandmother and that suits any nationality. A name I gave my gorgeous girl. I dedicated this name to your God-child in the new book and to my girl who is on a difficult journey and one that’s finding herself through reading.

Congratulations Helen (and Isabelle!). Please get in touch through my contact page with your postal details so I can send your prize of a Spanish fan. And your name will be added to acknowledgments when the book is released. 

Thank you again to everyone who entered and I’ll be sure to run another contest in the not so distant future to name another character. 

Happy reading!

 

Behind the Story: Alison Stuart

Alison-8112-LR-Color.jpgToday, I’d like to welcome the lovely Alison Stuart who is an award winning Australian author. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full length novel was published. Alison has now published seven full length historical romances and a collection of her short stories.  Her disposition for writing about soldier heroes may come from her varied career as a lawyer in the military and fire services. These days when she is not writing she is travelling and routinely drags her long suffering husband around battlefields and castles.

Take it away, Alison!

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today, Alli.

Rather than talk about a single book I thought I would talk a little bit about my English Civil War series GUARDIANS OF THE CROWN.

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An early piece of Alison’s writing – age 15 years old

Firstly, why the English Civil War?

If I had a commercial bone in my body I would NOT be writing stories set in the English Civil War. Don’t think enough people haven’t told me that. I’ve heard it all… ‘great story, fabulous characters, can’t sell the period’. I have a small glimmer of hope that over the last few years a few more writers are venturing into this hitherto unknown territory and together we are building interest in what, for me, is the most interesting period of English history.

Because I love it… it has been my passion for nearly my whole life. It began with my father, who loved history and passed on his passion to me. In the days before television every Sunday afternoon he would read to my brother and me. The thing about my father – he loathed ‘children’s’ stories. Even when I was sick in hospital with meningitis, he sat by my bed for hours on end reading Hiawatha. One of the books he chose was Daphne Du Maurier’s The King’s General… and that was it, I was hooked on roundheads and cavaliers. The passion was sealed with the film CROMWELL (Alec Guiness, Richard Harris and a very young Timothy Dalton as Prince Rupert).

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Alison in a civil war Pikeman’s helmet

What is the attraction?

Here are the reasons why I love this period….

  • What’s not to love about men in large hats with feathers, lace collars, bucket top boots and large swords…? It is pure swashbuckling… every pirate fantasy you ever had (without the pirates!). Think THE MUSKETEERS…
  • Family legend has it that I am descended from a “regicide” (one of the men who signed the death warrant of Charles I). While no evidence has been found to support that claim I did recently discover another twiglet on the family tree with blood on his hands. Anyway who ever let fact get in the way of a good family legend!
  • The very idea of a Civil War throws up so many possibilities for an over active imagination: father against son, brother against brother, friends destined to become foes! Intrigues, plots, assassinations, revenge… What about the families… the wives, the mothers…the lovers?
  • Just the sheer drama… a King executed! Unthinkable and yet to be repeated 150 years later during the French revolution. What did this mean for the ordinary people of England?

What about The Guardians of the Crown?

This trilogy is not set during the war itself but in the ten years that followed the King’s execution (called the ‘Interregnum’) when England toyed with republicanism and Cromwell and his puritans ruled. 

The series takes the fates of three young men, bound by a friendship born on the battlefield of Worcester (3 September 1651). They will pay a heavy price for their loyalty to the King, Jonathan Thornton (BY THE SWORD) will be a hunted man in his own country, Kit Lovell (THE KING’S MAN) will sacrifice his honour to save someone he loves and his brother Daniel (EXILE’S RETURN) will endure years of imprisonment, torture and slavery. Their only hope is the restoration of a monarchy. And of course… the women who love them… Kate (BY THE SWORD), torn by her loyalties to the parliamentary cause and the man she loves, Thamsine (THE KING’S MAN) abandoned, penniless and friendless on the streets of London and Agnes (EXILE’S RETURN) whose love for her sister’s children will drive her to risk everything to save them.

And they say a picture speaks a thousand words…

Click here to see Youtube trailer

 

Guardians of the CrownThe first book in the series is BY THE SWORD

From award-winning author Alison Stuart comes a stirring historical trilogy about soldiers, spies, and the strong women that love them.

England 1650: In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war. The country will be divided and lives lost as Charles II makes a last bid to regain his throne.

Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family. To protect the people she cares about, she will need all her wits to restore its fortunes and fend off the ever-present threat of greedy neighbours.

Jonathan Thornton, exiled and hunted for his loyalty to the King’s cause now returns to England to garner support for the cause of the young King. Haunted by the demons of his past, Jonathan risks death at every turn and brings danger to those who love him. Finding Kate in his family home, he sees in her the hope for his future, and a chance at a life he doesn’t deserve.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester, Jonathan must face his nemesis, and in turn, learn the secret that will change his life  forever. But love is fragile in the face of history, and their lives are manipulated by events out of their control. What hope can one soldier and one woman hold in times like these?

AMAZON LINK… click HERE or visit Alison’s WEBSITE for full details.

Connect with Alison at her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or subscribe to her newsletter for exclusive free reads, contests and more…

 

 

 

Behind the Story: Joanne Dannon

profileToday we welcome the delight Joanne Dannon to tell us about her story behind the story of Falling for Mr Wrong. Joanne writes to give her readers the experience she still loves to savor—indulging in a sigh-worthy-happily-ever-after, being swept away from the everyday by diving into a delicious romance novel.

Welcome Joanne and please, tell us your story!

The Story behind the Story is perfect for my book, “Falling for Mr Wrong” which was published in 2015.

I started this book a few years back and got stuck around the 30K word mark. After much soul searching, I put the manuscript aside and wrote The Alex Jackson series. The first two books are now available – click here to find them.

In July 2014 I was selected to attend a dynamic women’s conference in Israel. I arrived early and spent 3 days exploring Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Although the conference was based in Jerusalem time was spent in of Tiberias and Tsfat.

I heard inspirational talks, met interesting people and had the opportunity to immerse myself in the country’s history and culture.

After 12 incredible days, I returned to Melbourne, opened my laptop and rewrote “Falling for Mr Wrong”. The words flowed as I poured all the amazing experiences I had just enjoyed into Tilly and Nate’s story.

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The Dead Sea – opening scene in Falling for Mr Wrong

Rather than just basing the story in Jerusalum, I took Nate and Tilly to beautiful northern Israel. Whether you’re religious or not, you can’t help but feel inspired by the places and events that occurred there.

Tsfat, the home to Jewish mysticism has amazing artists living there and you can immerse yourself in art and visit galleries.

In Galilee, Christians visit the places where Jesus performed his miracles, Jews visit the tombs of the Rambam and other great sages. And for the not so religious visitors, there are stunning walking tracks and hot springs to indulge in. 

The country is steeped in history and everywhere you go, there are monuments and remnants of the past that have been meticulously preserved.

I’ve loved the feedback I’ve received where readers have not only enjoyed the romance, but also the setting.

I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to go on the conference. There was a long waiting list of women, however I’d mentioned to one of the leaders that I had a valid passport and could travel last minute. Barely four weeks before the group were to leave someone had to cancel and I got their place. How lucky am I?

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Joanne in Jerusalem

GIVE AWAY – UPDATE:

The very lovely Joanne has kindly offered to send each of the commenters a copy of her e-book, Falling for Mr Wrong. Congratulations everyone and thank you so much, Joanne, for your generosity. 

Joanne is giving away an e-book of “Falling for Mr Wrong” to one reader. To enter, simply tell Joanne something wonderful that has happened to you lately. It could be seeing a burst of spring flowers or hearing positive news from a friend. Joanne will randomly give the prize to one person who comments. Give away closes Sunday, 10 April, 11.59 pm (AEST).

FallingforMrWrong-Joanne-Dannon-200x300-200x300Falling for Mr Wrong

As a nanny, Tilly Walker is more comfortable with her young charges than dodging the English press. But that’s exactly what she has to do when unwittingly caught up in a marriage scandal with a highly regarded Minister of Parliament.

Fleeing to the safety of her great-aunt in Jerusalem, the last person she imagines becoming involved with is an undercover reporter who follows her all the way from England.

Lone wolf Nathaniel Morgan-Young is a political journalist who must break Tilly’s story to vindicate past injustices, deceiving her to get the information he needs. But when Nate unexpectedly falls for the very real woman behind the Naughty Nanny scandal, he desperately wants her to know the truth.

Will he be able to convince her to trust him again, once he has his story? Can he find the right words to make her come back, mend his wounds from the past and make him whole again?

Praise for Joanne Dannon – “A handsome, mysterious Englishman; a feisty nanny and an exotic setting – what more could you ask for? Joanne Dannon delivers a sexy, emotional story with a relatable heroine and a hero worth falling for.” – Leah Ashton, RITA Award winning author.

BUY LINK FOR JOANNE’S BOOK: http://joannedannon.com/mrwrong/

Joanne Dannon is a happily married mother of two heroes-in-training who loves spending time with friends and family.  She can be found on Facebook and her website www.joannedannon.com chatting about reading, writing, cooking, vintage-inspired dresses and all things romantic.  She loves to hear from readers.

And the #shelfie winners are …

Thank you to everyone who entered the Under the Spanish Stars #shelfie contest. There were many fabulous pics spread across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Your enthusiasm for putting our lovely heroine, Charlotte, in some interesting positions kept me entertained! Because I had so many great entries, I’ve decided to give away an extra Spanish fan.

To see the compilation of entries set to some cool music CLICK HERE

But of course, you want to know who won the Spanish Stars mug and Spanish fan,  don’t you?

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And the winner is … drumroll …. JAN VAN ENGEN!

This is the entry that was drawn out of a hat (very technical way of doing things, I know).

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And the winner of another Spanish fan is … LEANNE MCFADYEN!

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Congrats Jan and Leanne thank you to everyone who entered. Happy reading!

 

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Magic On A Table

I came across this video of a couple dancing tango on a table and it mesmerised me. I hope you enjoy watching this amazing couple – not only are they talented dancers, they have incredible balance and trust in each other to perform such a dance on a tiny piece of wood high off the  ground!

Video by Fakundo Amaya and dancer Tamii Borda. Music is La Cumparsita performed by Feliciano Brunelli

Mi Helado Es Su Helado (My Ice-cream Is Your Ice-cream)

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Photo by Simplicius (wikimedia commons)

When the plane touched down at Ezeiza International Airport, Buenos Aires, I had a backpack full of climbing gear and a head full of dreams about summiting Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. I hadn’t expected to land in Argentina for the first time and feel like I was finally returning home. At the airport, Spanish with an Italian lilt blasted over the speakers and women with legs like spaghetti paraded in short, tight mini-skirts. Dark-haired men that could easily have been models sauntered through the airport, comfortable in their own charm and sex-appeal.

By the time I hit Buenos Aires proper I’d decided that this was the place of my heart – and I hadn’t yet tried the ice-cream. Half the population of Argentina comes from Italian heritage, easily identified by their passion for coffee, cakes and ice-cream. Argentines have a great love for “lunfardo” (slang), as do Australians which was one of the first things I found we had in common. Slang and wine, but that’s a whole other post.

It took me three visits to Argentina before I finally took the plunge and moved there. The first friends I made in Argentina were through bonding over homemade ice-cream. It’s not uncommon to find ma and pa shops on every street corner, a rainbow of frozen flavors just waiting to be devoured. Plastic chairs and tables are set up on sidewalks and locals gather to eat, laugh and gossip. It didn’t take long to find my favorite ice-cream shop, and I set about trying to fit in. Boy, that was a lot harder than I expected. I thought my love for Argentina would give me an automatic “in.” Here was a single woman who uprooted herself, moved to their country and had fallen in love with the people and culture. But wariness lined their acceptance. When I was asked “Boca or Riverplate?” I thought they were talking about political parties. I had no idea which football (soccer) team you barracked for could have such an influence on how people view you.

Often, I was asked why I would choose Argentina when I could live elsewhere. I never found it difficult to answer. The language, warmth of the Argentine people, astounding scenery and lifestyle all added up to something I couldn’t resist. Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of amazing places in the world, but for so many reasons, Argentina captured my heart. But no Argentine could understand why I would want to live in their country, even though their patriotism is amongst the strongest I’ve ever experienced. Fortunately, my Argentine friends embraced me and my flawed Spanish, inviting me to family functions, including weddings and milestone birthdays. I learnt how to tango (very badly), eat asado (Argentine BBQ) without looking like I’d just had a bath in a tub of fat and I perfected how to swill copious quantities of Mendocino wine without falling over. Life was good and it didn’t take long to adjust to my new country.

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Design by Soprani

In the early days, though, especially when my Spanish was worse than a toddler’s, I felt left out. The gap between languages left me floundering, especially in large gatherings and I felt like an imposter. I desperately wanted to be “one of them” yet my accent gave me away every time. But the harder I tried to learn Argentine ways and their Spanish, the more accepted I became. When people realized I wasn’t just flitting through, they took me more seriously and went out of their way to help me negotiate customs and language challenges.

When the economy in Argentina took a dive in 2001, many Argentine’s couldn’t escape their dire circumstances. And even though it was never mentioned, I know many friends and colleagues were thinking that the gringa could go back to her life outside the financial shambles of Argentina at any time. I wasn’t privileged by any means, but because I came from a non-South American country, people naturally assumed I was rich. But man, I was far from it. Although if you measure richness by experiences and the depth of friendships made in Argentina, I was richer than all the Spanish galleons put together. But I stuck it out, protesting right alongside the nation. That single action changed how I was viewed forever and finally, I felt I was amongst my people.

And in case you need to know, my answer is Boca.

What have you found in common with people from other cultures? Did that commonality help build friendships? * Originally posted on Novel Adventurers

BOOKLUST, WANDERLUST: Best of 2014 in expat books

For those looking for some interesting reads from 2014, this blog post from The Displaced Nation has a list of books that are centred around travel and other cultures. Enjoy!

The Displaced Nation

Best of Expat Books 2014Kindle Amazon e-reader by Unsplash via Pixabay (CC0 1.0)

Seasons greetings, Displaced Nationers. That special time of the year is here again, when we publish our selection of this year’s books with meaningful connections to expats, Third Culture Kids, global wanderers, and others of us who have in some way led “displaced lives”.

Having assembled this list on my own in years past, I am pleased to be joined this year by Beth Green, our BOOKLUST, WANDERLUST columnist, who has also graciously agreed to sign over her column space for the month.

Let’s give Beth the floor:

Happy holidays, all! Preparing for this yearly special, I went back through all of the books I’ve read since January—not such an easy task; I read a lot!—and realized that I hadn’t actually read all that many that were published in 2014. I just now took a look at…

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