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Top 5 Email Questions [About Blogging] Answered

I get emails… once in awhile. And they usually contain the same questions. So today, I’ve decided to answer them publicly! If you’ve thought of sending a similar enquiry as the ones below, you don’t have to any longer. But if you still want to drop me a ‘hello’, please do – I love hearing from you.

#1 How Do I Grow My Blog?

SS asked, “What are the ways in which I could gain more readership? I would love people to comment on my work and tell me how I’m doing.”

I answered, “My tip for gaining more readership is simple: visit other blogs, read their content, and leave a comment. The blogosphere is a community, so you have to put yourself out there. Greet others first and introduce yourself. Don’t do it just to promote your blog, but do it to make other bloggers feel ‘read’. In return, most of them will pay your blog a visit.”

This is a question I get asked a lot. In order to give a complete answer, I addressed it in a separate post awhile back. You can read it HERE.

#2 How Do I Sell ‘Stuff’ On My Blog?

LF asked, “You gave me a great idea to sell my music on my blog and I was wondering how I could do that.”

I answered, “I use a platform called Gumroad. I upload my e-books on their platform and they handle the delivery to my buyers. They only take a small cut from the sales as a fee. You can sell your music on Gumroad too.

“Being that you’re not allowed to sell anything directly on a free WordPress blog, I customised my bookshop page to look like a store. The ‘buy now’ link leads readers to Gumroad. You can do the same for your blog.”

#3 What Should A New Blogger Do?

BD asked, “Any tips for a newcomer?”

I answered, “I always tell new bloggers the same thing: be yourself, have fun, and visit other blogs in the community – that’s how you slowly build an audience.”

#4 How Does One ‘Copyright’?

DV asked, “Could you please guide me as to how I could make the site copyrighted?”

I answered, “The only copyright you can put on a blog is a copyright statement, like what I do with my posts (the copyright symbol and the year). Unfortunately, that’s as much as you can do on free blog sites.”

#5 Can I Request For Feedback?

AA, EO, AS, RR, RC, SG, and BA asked, “Would you check out my blog and let me know what you think?”

I answered, “Sure!”

I won’t turn down requests to visit your blogs. However, I will decline requests to read your novel. As I’ve been asked a few times, I’d like to explain why.

Reading a novel takes time. And giving constructive feedback takes an even longer time. Hence, I only accept beta reading requests from authors I have personal relationships with. I also only ask for beta reads from people I’m close to. I’m honoured and flattered that you’d like my feedback, but I suggest you do the same. Why? Because…
… you’ll accept blatant truth more easily from those closer to you.
… family and friends who say ‘yes’ will give 100% of their attention to your work.
… you can trust them not to steal from you – I don’t plagiarize, but you don’t know who will.

That being said, if you want me to read a post or story you’ve published on your blog, feel free to ask! I’ll be more than happy to drop by.

Hopefully, I’ve answered some of your outstanding questions. But if you have more, you can drop me an email. As I’ve mentioned, I love reading your emails. Whatever the content may be, a message from you is a gem to me. Wow, that was cheesy… it’s the truth though – I have no reason to lie.

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Posted by on October 19, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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The 5 Quirks Of A Creative

First and foremost, I’m not claiming these are the 5 general quirks all creative people have. By a creative I mean this creative; me. And I’m sure, even if you have a more analytical mind, you probably share some of these quirks too. I just thought, ‘hey, why not show people how weird I am, and find others who’re like me. I can’t be the only one talking to myself, right?’

If you have any of these quirks, do shout it out in the comment section. Let’s make – what is sometimes considered – weird, normal.

#1 Audible Monologuing

“This pillow smells nice. I’ll put this here, and this here, and this here. Mhmmm, cake. I like cake. No, you cannot eat that. But why? Ugh, I want it so badly. Ah, the moon is round tonight. What am I doing? I shouldn’t close the curtains, it’s not the weekend. Now, for the eggs. Wait, where’s the vanilla extract? Gotta have it ready.”

I talk to myself. I talk to myself aloud. I talk to myself aloud a lot. I’ve talked to myself to a point where I question if I’ve subconsciously vocalised my internal thoughts in public like a mad person. Once, my brother walked past my bedroom and back-paddled to ask, “Are you talking to yourself?” I’ve never scrambled for a reason so desperately before. But I think he knows now – his sister talks to herself.

#2 Thoughtless Shading

There are times where I’m required to be creative, but my brain is full of grey matter. So, I’d grab a piece of paper and a pencil and start shading. I would draw shapes and shade them. I’ll sometimes write random Korean words because they’re shape-y. If I have a colouring book nearby, I might do some colouring. But only using a single colour pencil – adding more than one colour requires creativity, which I have little to spare.

My thoughtless shading is almost a figurative act, of dumping my dull ideas onto paper to make space for livelier ones.

#3 Midnight Role-playing

You know how you’d occasionally have an awesome dream you wish didn’t end? I have those too! Who doesn’t, right? But because I sometimes don’t want these dreams to end – when I’m awakened for no apparent reason – I’d continue them in my head. I wouldn’t return to sleep. I would play out the rest of the story. This isn’t lucid dreaming, guys. This is midnight role-playing, which results in regret – experiencing lethargy for the rest of my day.

#4 Imagining What Will Never Be

I like playing pretend. I may act like an adult, but inside I’m a child. Some days, I pretend I’m a YouTuber. I pretend to be vlogging about my life. I pretend to be live streaming a game. I pretend to be shooting a cooking video, while actually baking a cake. I can do all these in real life. But nope, I’d rather pretend. It’s fun with no real work required.

Then there are days I pretend I’m friends with that famous actor. I pretend we hang out, go to the gym, and… fall in love. I pretend to be stuck in a burning building, only to have him rescue me. I know, it sounds silly. Merely typing this paragraph is embarrassing itself. So if you’re reading this paragraph, know it has required some courage on my end not to delete it.

I like imagining what will never be. It’s an escape from reality, and a form of priceless entertainment. You do it too – don’t lie.

#5 Imagining What Could Have Been

Now, on the other end of the spectrum, I like to imagine what could’ve been. It’s one of the reasons why I love visiting historical sites. The storyteller in me wants to imagine what life could’ve been years ago. I may not know what happened, but I can imagine what could’ve happened. I may not know who was present, but I can imagine who could’ve been present. Still in the past, I like to imagine what my own life could’ve been too.

I don’t regret my life. Given the opportunity, I wouldn’t change the past. However, the could haves make a good story. And as a writer, a good story cannot go untold – at least to myself.

Yes, to some of you I’m weird. But I know, some of you find my quirks relate-able. There are many of us in this world – people of creative and analytical nature – and we’re all unique in our own way. But we do share many similarities. We have common oddities. And it is through this mix and match that we connect – a mix and match that brings us together while being different in nature. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

So the next time someone calls you weird, know you’re not alone. To someone out there, you’re pretty normal. But if normal sounds boring to you, know there’s someone who thinks you’re weird (they just haven’t mentioned it yet). That’s the irony of being uniquely you – you’re both weird and normal at the same time.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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The Story Behind ‘Grace’

My name is Jeyna Lim Sue Chen. It’s the name on my birth certificate and my identity card. And, as you may have noticed, there’s no ‘Grace’ anywhere in it. So, where did ‘Grace’ come from? Why is my name Jeyna Grace on most of my social media platforms? And why the word ‘Grace’? What’s the story? As I’ve been asked quite a number of times, I’ve decided to tell its tale. And it starts… in the beginning.

In the beginning, there was science.

At the start of my authoring career, I learned that names aren’t just names – that names have the power to make or break. They can paint images without adjectives and explanations. And they should be chosen wisely. This is especially so on the cover of a book.

As I’ve discovered, there seems to be an unintentional stereotype on non-English names. There’s this subconscious preconceived notion that people without English names aren’t from English speaking countries. Thus, an English book by a non-English named author isn’t up to par with English books by English named authors. It led me to believe that English names sold better. And having a pen name to distance oneself from a certain background was considered ‘wise’. Hence why I now have one.

However, times have changed. I now hear that publishers are looking for more diversity in their author pool, and having a foreign name increases one’s chances of getting published. But, I don’t know how true that is. And I don’t think it changes anything with existing stereotypes. Still, I believe readers have a varying approach to foreign names – whether positive or negative, it is individual. But back then, I wasn’t taking the risk.

So, how did I come about ‘Grace’?

Before I continue, I need to say that I’m not a fan of The Heroes of Olympus. I’ve heard of the books, and I’ve watched that one Percy Jackson movie, but it’s not something I plan on diving into. It’s just not my genre (anymore). Therefore, my pen name being Jeyna Grace – mirroring a fan pairing of the characters – is completely coincidental. I had no idea it was a ship name. And I only learned about it when readers asked if I were a fan. If you’re wondering the same, I hope this clears things up. Jeyna is my real name after all, and I chose Grace because of faith. Yes, you read correctly.

I chose ‘Grace’ because of faith.

I believe in God. I’m sure some of you don’t, and I’m not here to preach anything to you. However, God is the reason why I chose ‘Grace’. Personally, I don’t believe I can accomplish anything without Him. What I have today – my skill, talent (?), and passion – is because of Him. Many of my stories – on this blog and as books – are inspired by Him. And the novels I have in-store are made possible because of Him (not excluding all those who have supported me – I couldn’t have done it without you too).

Putting ‘Grace’ into my pen name is a reminder to myself that I’m nobody without Him. It keeps me humble. Whenever I look upon the covers of my books, I’m instantly reminded that it is all by His grace. Pride has no place when I reflect on His guidance and blessing in my life. And it is through my belief in grace that I rest in His good and perfect plans.

I guess, the story behind ‘Grace’ is pretty uneventful. I simply wanted to make a good first impression with readers, and I needed to remind myself to stay grounded.

If you’re considering on a non de plume, I suggest finding a reason and a meaning to the name. Your name shouldn’t only appeal to your audience, but should hold value to you. You want a name that speaks to you directly and drives you to keep pursuing your passion. Don’t pick a name just because it sounds cool – you can do that with your characters – but pick a name that paints an image you want to see. Let it empower you in your darkest times. And let it break any stereotypes the world might have upon you.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Bottle | Page | Mindful

My story began many years ago, when my people fled from civilization. They boarded great single-masted ships with a hundred oars, rowing themselves to an island I called home. As part of the nescient youth, I didn’t know the reason for their departure. The real cause of history skewed through generations, with many echoing old wives’ tales. However, I did know one thing. Constantly reminded by my mother and grandmothers, I knew to never leave the island.

The island was a beautiful place. We had lush greens, tall shady trees, and peachy beaches. The surrounding prodigious ocean unveiled the sun in the morning, shimmered at noon, and mirrored the universe by night. Our kingdom was magnificent, with wooden walls bound by flowering vines. It stretched across a valley and reached toward the peak of Gloria – the tallest of the three mounts. I loved the island and the sun-kissed people. It was home – a perfect abode. So, I embraced my ignorance. I wasn’t mindful of the past, until I found a glass bottle at the north beach.

I was on my return from a night’s work at sea. The sky was in its traditional hue of grey, gracefully transitioning to blue upon day’s arrival. Hauling my catch, I passed the bedrock by the narrow, sanded pathway leading toward the kingdom. It was there I found a corked, clear glass bottle secured in a crevice. Inside was a crisps, rolled piece of parchment. Mildly curious, I yanked the bottle free and carried on with my day.

As a fisher, my days often ended a couple of hours past noon. I would usually retreat to my wooden house – absent of my family, as their day had only just begun – to sleep till the moon clocked in. That evening however, I decided to stay up past my bedtime. Uncorking the bottle and retrieving the parchment within, I was alike a child eager for an adventure. But to my dismay, there was no treasure map. The parchment was merely a page, seemingly torn from an old diary. And though the writing was in my language, it was nonsensical. There was no message – nothing about it worth my initial excitement. Did someone lodge the bottle in the bedrock as a joke? If it was gifted from across the sea, did a child toss it in a game of make belief? Those were my thoughts.

We ate from the mouths of beasts. ran On fire. from Which the creatures of the sea have not birth. nothing We did meant anything. tangible They said it was. but Not without illusion. the Sky was more real than dreams. fear More elusive than hope. of Those who were ignorant. change Came for mankind.

We found the nest in the west. couldn’t See the light beyond. embrace The hidden jewels within. unity Of the people – we Found our treasure. secluded However, were the many souls. ourselves Beings of detached nature. from Then till now. the Creature ruled. world Was his.

We couldn’t grasps our freedom. didn’t Find the star. believe They kept saying. in Time the creature would free us. acceptance Of fate was reality. so Loss and lost and lose. we Died a many years. indoctrinated Through the imaginations of the truth. our Eyes can no longer see. young And fearless in obscurity.

We cannot live anymore. must Is only a word. arise From darkness is no man’s call. now A broken race without spirit. Leave no one ever said. the Ravings of madness in those words. ways Of the past is the future. of Many, many more. discrimination Is faith. and Acceptance is weakness. learn Not from the creature. to Live is not in light. love, Love, love only the night.

For two days, I left the page crumpled at the corner of my room. Then on the third day, I picked it up. I planned to toss it among the logs, set ablaze in the chilly weather. But before I did, I read it once more. And upon that read, I noticed something odd. The writing remained senseless – a poor attempt at a poetic adventure – but so was the structure. I was no writer, let alone poet, but I was educated. Calling out the repeated errors, I unintentionally uncovered the message in the bottle. It was a message I’ve heard before – a message that costed a young farmer his head.

That very night itself, I returned to the north beach. Along with my fishing nets, I brought the page – nestled in its glass home. I couldn’t share the truth, but I could pass it on. Perhaps another would find it in the bedrock. Perhaps more would uncover history. Perhaps then, we could change the future. But before such a time arrived, I was going to search. There was more to the farmer’s declaration. And I knew, I could never leave the island – not until I’ve read the entire book.

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Bottle, page, and mindful were words given by Vela June. There’s some ‘reading between the lines’ for this one, so do share what you’ve discovered – I hope this story isn’t as nonsensical as the message in the bottle.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. Also, to complete this year’s 3 Words 1 Story collection, I need two more sets of random words. I know, throwing the oddest collection of words into a comment can be quite a challenge. But don’t think too hard – just leave whatever comes to mind. Thank you in advance!

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in Original Works

 

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What (The Heck) Is Developmental Editing?

“What does developmental editing entail?”

Perhaps you’ve once asked this question. If not, you’re now probably wondering what it is. So to answer, allow me to share my most recent experience with you.

First and foremost, I’m certain dev editing varies from book to book. However, the approach taken by a dev editor is the same. And from the perspective of The Slave Prince, I’m sure you’ll grasps its function. Let’s get to it!

My dev editor goes by the name of Matt. Matt took two weeks to read my manuscript. After which, he sent me a developmental letter alongside comments on my manuscript. The comments were secondary to the letter, but both addressed key issues in my book. What were they?

#1 Descriptions

Matt told me my novel was sorely lacking in descriptions. And here I thought, I did a pretty decent job! I was wrong. Before my latest rewrite, I failed to picture the named ships. I fell short on the kingdom and palace layouts. I also didn’t establish racial differences, facial features, and physical changes over a 3-year time jump, for my characters. With dev editing, this issue was brought to light. And out of the 6000 words of new material, a chunk went to descriptions.

#2 Characters

When it came to the characters, Matt said their needs and wants weren’t clearly established. I had to reevaluate my protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters. I needed to make it clear in writing – establishing their former desires and the changes that occur. And through this process, I made a major shift in my protagonist’s behaviour. Clear on his goals, he’s now more human than before.

#3 Plot

Matt asserted that one of the key subplots in the book made my protagonist unlikeable. He then suggested an alternative, saving Thom from the hate he would possibly receive from readers. As I struggled with this particular subplot in my earlier edits – somehow knowing it would ruin the book – I’m grateful Matt saw a way to change it without altering it completely. What I once couldn’t resolve, has now found a resolution – what a relief!

#4 Magic

Talk about cliche, Matt stated that the appearance of magic in The Slave Prince was over done. The white tree in a snowy cave reminded him of A Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings. He advised me to change the entire scene. And, after much re-imagining, I did. The white tree, rooted in snow, no longer exists in the book – a new, more awesome scene, has taken its place. But don’t worry, this post contains #nospoilers.

#5 Language

Both in dialogue and prose, Matt pointed out that the language I used was sometimes anachronistic. To align the writing to a medieval setting, I was told to remove modern day phrases and words. Idioms such as ‘throwing in the towel’ and words like ‘awkward’ didn’t belong. And so backspaced I went… on all of them.

So, what does developmental editing entail?

I hope these five points helped you understand the fundamentals. Of course, what you’ve just read is merely surface level – what I can share without spoiling the story. There was more in Matt’s dev letter, including additional suggestions on how to add value to the book. And aside from his comments, Matt also worked with me on a rewrite outline to address the present issues. It’s safe to say, developmental editing made The Slave Prince a denser book – it helped build three-dimensional characters, and establish a richer and fuller world.

The next question you’d probably ask is if developmental editing is worth undergoing. Well, if you have a publisher, it’s usually a part of the publishing deal. If you don’t, and are on a tight budget, candid beta readers can sometimes act as dev editors. But if you have the funds, getting a professional dev editor is advisable. You might need to spend 56 hours rewriting – like I did – but you’ll end up with a better book.

Do note, that approaching any form of editing requires a realisation that editors exist to help you. You may be offended by their claims – it’s normal, your book is your baby – but know that their honesty will make it better. And hey, if you don’t like their suggestions, it’s fine! You don’t have to incorporate their ideas – dev editors cannot force you to do anything. But sleeping on their words will definitely help. After all, it’s their job to see things you cannot see and work toward fixing them.

With all that said, I’m excited for my next stage of editing. Matt is currently reading my rewrite. And if he thinks I’ve tackled the issues well, The Slave Prince will enter copy editing! Having gone through copy editing before, with The Battle for Oz, I know what to expect. One can only hope I’ve improved in skill that will result in a swift pass.

Now, to plug my book! If this post has piqued your curiosity, click HERE to learn more about The Slave Prince. Then, consider joining over 300 other readers as they become the first to receive the book before it hits the shelves! That would make you so very cool… in my starry dreamer eyes.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Two Weeks, No Post?

For those who’ve been following me for a while, you know I don’t skip posting unless I’m on vacation. Hence, my absence is pretty unnatural. And unfortunately, if you read my recent post on my book, it’s due to a broken promise. I said I’d still be posting while I worked on my novel. However, while I rewrote The Slave Prince, I realised my attention couldn’t be directed elsewhere. So, I’m sorry.

As I’m transitioning to a new day job, I needed to complete my book rewrite before September began. My rewrite outline was confirmed on the 23rd of August. That meant, I didn’t have much time before September rolled around. So I wrote, every single day. I spent a total of 56 hours rewriting my novel, adding close to 6,000 words of new material. And, I’m still not done. Yesterday, I sent my rewritten manuscript to Inkshares. If there are no issues with the book, it’ll enter copy editing. But, if there are cracks I failed to notice during my rewrite, I’ll have to revisit the manuscript. Hopefully, it isn’t the latter.

Now that the workload isn’t as arduous, I hope to start posting again. I plan to share my experience on developmental editing next week, as it has been a pretty interesting process. Of course, once The Slave Prince enters copy editing, I’ll be sharing that experience too. And, on top of that, the book will come with a kingdom and realm map. I’m looking forward to see my world charted, and would share that whole process as well. But for today, I’d appreciate if you accept this post as a post. Forgive me for not sharing anything substantial for three weeks. Trust me, I tried. But when your book calls for you, alike a needy toddler, you have little choice but to attend to it.

With that said, if you’re new to my blog, thank you for hopping on board – I was surprised to find new subscriber emails in my inbox! Rest assured, my truancy isn’t habitual. It’s just writing season. And with readers waiting on The Slave Prince, I’ve got to get it done.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2017 in Others

 

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A Royal Pain

It’s been awhile since I posted something like this. I assume you have to be famous to write such a post regularly. Alas, I’m not. But no matter the frequency, to be able to write this is a blessing. Hence, here I am – on this rare occasion – to make a public update regarding The Slave Prince. And if you supported the book during the contest, or have pre-ordered it, this will be good news.

As of this month, The Slave Prince starts production. Yes, the ball is rolling! But despite the celebration, I have my work cut out for me. Unlike The Battle for Oz, The Slave Prince is receiving extensive developmental editing. This means I’ll be rewriting and editing the content a whole lot. With the first dev letter being 14 pages long, one can assume there’d be more where it came from. So… I guess it’s time I book a room in Alpenwhist. After all, it would be a while before I leave.

Since it’s just the start of production, I’ve spent the past few days responding to the general issues present in my book. At the same time, I’ve drafted a rewrite outline to be discussed with my dev editor. Also – hoping to get the book in your hands sometime in 2018 – I’m putting the writing of the sequel to my trilogy on hold. I can’t juggle two novels at the same time. But have no fear, my blog will still be here – I’ll be posting as usual.

So with all that said, it looks like everything would be smooth sailing… right? No, I joke.

Writing and producing a book isn’t easy. You probably know this. But often times, we forget. In fact, after I’d completed my countless edits of The Slave Prince, I naively thought I was done. I heaved a sigh of relief. Then, I received my first dev letter. Then, I realised I wasn’t done. And I know, I still won’t be done once I pass developmental editing. Copyediting will include another series of rewrites and edits. It would be another season of change for the book. And when I finally let go of The Slave Prince, it would be publication day. From that day on, I can only hope my hard work pays off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all these to deter you from writing. You know me – I’m an advocate of chasing your dreams. My reason for sharing this is to cheer you on. It’s tough – I feel you, bro. But we can do it – we have the strength to trudge through every phase of writing. And, it will all be worth it. Whether our book sells by the millions or the mere hundreds, the act of bringing them into fruition is worth our blood, sweat, and tears. We just need to stay focused and don’t lose heart. With the finish line in sight, let’s give our very best in every leg of the race.

Now, if you’re a reader, I’d like to drop you a message too. I know not all books are great – I’ve read some pretty dreadful ones. But if you could give writers some slack, that would be wonderful. If you could be kind with your reviews, we would appreciate it. I know hard work doesn’t excuse horrible writing. And I know, you have every right to dislike and leave as many 1-star ratings as you deem fit. Personally, I’m fine with that. But, you can also be kind. Go easy on your words and encourage writers to be better. Choose to build dreams instead of tear them down. Because who knows, your 1-star review might just birth the next bestseller.

As I’ve said before, writing is a journey – there would be ups and downs, easy days and hard days, great sales and no sales, fans and haters. But, we don’t choose our craft because it’ll be smooth sailing from start to finish. We choose our craft out of passion. No matter where we are – no matter who we are, whether writer or reader – let’s live with passion. It gives us a purpose, and it makes life so much more interesting.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2017 in Others

 

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