Cover Reveal for THE VAMPIRE’S WITCH

I have next to nothing to do with how NineStar Press’s Natasha Snow creates covers for my novels. I provide the basic story elements and somehow she produces a piece of art that encapsulates everything about my novel. One of my favorite moments in a new novel coming out is when I receive the cover art! And so . . . without further delay, here is the cover for this month’s release of The Vampire’s Witch!!! I LOVE IT!!!

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THE VAMPIRE’S WITCH – Blurb Reveal!

The Vampire’s Witch comes your way in less than a month! The third in my Realm of the Vampire Council series, The Vampire’s Witch sits between The Vampire’s Quest and The Vampire’s Protege, already published! Not to mention that The Vampire’s Witch includes Jaret Bachmann from The Bachmann Family Secret! But you can read it as a stand alone, too! So, what is this latest gay vampire/witch novel all about?

The Vampire’s Witch welcomes readers back to the world of vampires, witches, and magic. Jaret Bachmann’s life spins out of control after a handsome stranger saves him from an attack along the bike path on Lakeshore Drive. His estranged high school sweetheart stalks him, the enraged ghost of his ancestor destroys his family, and his bike path savior-cum-lover abandons him after learning Jaret is a powerful witch, all of it sending Jaret into deep depression. Struggling to find his way afterward, Jaret searches for comfort in the unlikely friendship of a secret vampire community. Xavier, Thomas, Anthony, and Catherine return in this, the third book in The Realm of the Vampire Council series and a sequel to The Bachmann Family Secret. Over time, Jaret’s friendship with the vampires strengthens and he forges a new family connection with Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine.  But he and Anthony are estranged and though their souls are entwined, there hearts are another matter.

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HARRY F. REY stops by for a visit!!!

Hi, All! I’m so excited today because a fellow NineStar Press author dropped by for a visit and to share his writing with me! Please check out Harry F. Rey’s Siege Weapons and Altered Tides! Please note: buy links and links to other information about Harry are at the end of this post!

Siege Weapons by Harry F. Rey, The Galactic Captains Series #1 (of 7) – NineStar Press

Captain Ales is a lonely smuggler at the galaxy’s Outer Verge, and the last of his people. He’s been trying to move on from a life of drugs and meaningless sex, but finding love in this forgotten corner of the galaxy is difficult.

When he’s sent on a mysterious smuggling mission to a world under siege, he’s enticed by promises of the domination he craves. But soon Ales finds himself entwined in a galactic power struggle that could cost him everything.

Extract

Alone at the space station bar, I checked the screen on my wrist-tech for the hundredth time. The smooth silvery material as thin and flexible as a flower petal contoured perfectly to my bumps and scars. The device came alive, but still no message from him.

He wasn’t late anymore; he wasn’t coming. I sighed and pushed away the plate of imported meat I’d picked through for the last three hours. I didn’t know why I’d even wasted the money on it. When I’d arrived at Baldomar, this crummy little flank-yard station orbiting a dead star, I’d been horny, not hungry. As the hours went by, my anticipation had turned to anxiety, then nervousness, and finally, a dejected state of knowing I’d been right all along. He never was going to come, and I was stuck footing the bill for an expensive dinner I didn’t want and a shitty room I wouldn’t sleep in. Plus, I was at least eight hours away from where I needed to be.

The bar curved around the station’s front edge, the long window displaying a view of a black starless nothing. It was busy, but I happened to be the only homosapien here. Finding someone else to keep me occupied in this array of tentacles and translucent eyeballs was out of the question. Call me a racist, but I was only into humans. Besides, I doubted there would be any humans at all out here, let alone male ones interested in me. This was heterosapien space. They didn’t like that term, but with hundreds of thousands of sentient, space-faring, nonhuman species in the galaxy, there was no way anyone could remember, let alone pronounce most of their native names. So since forever they’d been lumped together as heterosapiens, hetero meaning different, as opposed to us homosapiens.

The dark expanse of the Outer Verge was the most isolated and sparsely populated place in the galaxy. But to be sure, I checked my wrist again. No messages. Again, I conducted a pointless scan of who might be around. As the wrist-tech searched for any homosapien male who’d registered at least a passing interest in the same sex, alerts flashed and danced around the screen. The more annoying ones swerved around the screen to the back of my wrist before I could swipe them away.

Free ship repairs with a room booking on Rastel Station. I saved that; my own one-person transport ship was older than me and held together with little more than hope.

Mineral ore prices continue to plummet. That would hurt those bastards over at Galactic Shipping Co., my ex-employer.

Trades Council rules against Jansen in galinium mining dispute. Jansen was a planet at the edge of the Verge, beyond the slipstream, and a place I couldn’t even pretend to be interested in.

There are no users matching your requirements on this station.

Same as five minutes ago. I dragged my fingers across the screen and expanded the search.

There are no users matching your requirements in this system.

Shit; not one dick in the whole damn system. I sighed again, harder, waving my wrist at the infra-ceptor for another drink of something strong and orange that burned my throat. I turned on my stool away from the crowd of ever-rowdier heteros. I’d entertained their squealing for hours and was beyond sick of it.

“Eat enough of that stuff and you’ll lose your hot body, mister.”

I immediately recognized the fake, sickly sweet voice of an AI. Rent a bot for one night and they’ll follow you around forever.

“Heard that line before,” I said without even turning.

“Well, with an ass like that you can have anything you want. Feel like buying me a drink, mister?”

Out Now from NineStar Press!

Also, here’s a bonus excerpt from the first in the series, Altered Tides:

It slid itself across the bar to get right in my face, flexing fake muscles under a poly casing and fluttering cheap plastic eyelashes over its visual receptors. It disguised itself as a hot young blond guy, pecs poking through a black mesh shirt, thick legs encased in tight shorts showing off a butt big enough to dock a ship in. All this happened to be pretty much my type — well, my conventional type at least. The other things I liked could only be provided by a select few, with Ukko being the only one in the whole damn Outer Verge I knew of right now.

“It’ll fry your circuits. Now buzz off before I shove an EMP up your ass.”

Its elbow lifted off the bar with a faint electronic snap and it slinked away. The bot scanned the rest of the place, no doubt after some leaky data to go code itself into the next unsuspecting soul’s metallic fantasy. Although there’s fat chance with this crowd of heteros. I didn’t even want to imagine what sick sexual thoughts went through their minds.

With a beep, a new message displayed on my wrist. Finally.

Hey Ales, couldn’t make it, had to jump. Something came up, you know how it is. I should be on Targuline next week; maybe we can get a room there instead? See you. Ukko

I waved for another drink and slammed my fist on the bar. Why did I believe him? We’d met once, totally random, in a system I couldn’t remember. We’d fucked in his ship, a security patrol vessel. It’d been everything I’d fantasized about, and the best thing to happen to me in a long, long time. I could get what I needed in any pleasure palace in any major world or even a decent-sized station. But, like renting a bot, it only gave the illusion of gratification. Ukko had given me what I wanted, what I craved.

We’d met, chatted. He’d made me laugh, bought me a drink. His job made it more exciting, more dangerous. We’ve got to use your ship, not mine, I’d told him, as he might’ve arrested me if he’d seen what I had stored in my hold. Of course, I hadn’t been joking. Ukko worked in security, or what passed for it here in the Outer Verge; the loose band of a few hundred self-ruled systems occupying the spiral ““arm” that juts out from the rest of the galaxy. We were too insignificant and too isolated to attract the machinations of galactic power. Out here, we operated under our own rules.

Prospering meant being the smartest, quickest, or strongest, and I was none of those. Across the vast distances of the Outer Verge, to venture beyond the atmosphere of your own world was to wrestle with smugglers, gangs, and astronomical phenomenon that wasn’t found in any training manual or weather forecast.

The danger also gave rise to opportunity; no tolls, no tariffs, no taxes. Only Ukko flying around collecting bribe money in between his busy schedule of fucking everyone who wasn’t me, apparently.

I downed my drink, not caring about its cost anymore. As soon as my boss got his tentacles on me, I’d be in major shit. Enough time and fuel had been wasted to end up nowhere near the last delivery or the depot, so there was no reason for me not to get drunk.

All because what seemed to me as a solid promise wasn’t even a second thought from Ukko. I meant nothing to him. Was nothing to him. And the worst part was I couldn’t even blame him. It was my fault, trying to turn a sly encounter into a lasting relationship. I considered my response. Sending a snarky message or even showing him what he’d missed, but what would be the point? Stuck somewhere between unrequited and unfulfilled, Ukko was the story of my love life over and over again. Never fulfilling enough to gain any real satisfaction, but never unrequited enough to be able to let it go.

My scalp suddenly itched, probably from this cup of orange engine fuel, which on second thought maybe wasn’t fit for homo consumption. My fingers dug through thick black curls, cursing the fact I kept any hair at all. The thought of shaving it all off frightened me. Perhaps the fear that someone from my distant past wouldn’t recognize me if I did. I shook my head at how ridiculous that was, and I caught the itch. Finally came the soothing sensation of nail on skin.

Where was he, my rescuer? The one who would fight through life with me, make the pain of past dissipate to mere atoms.

Out of the din of unfamiliar languages came a shriek at the other end of the bar. Followed by the sound of a wet and heavy thing hitting the floor. I tried to ignore it. Normally I’d love to watch a good hetero fight. Or even join in. But I couldn’t enjoy the spectacle in this depressed state.

I cracked my neck, the closest thing to satisfaction I’d get now, and it shot through me like a syringe full of Kri. Maybe there would be some of the bright blue drug on the station. I brought my wrist halfway up, thinking about searching for a vial, and ordered another drink by accident from the infra-ceptor. On second thought, Kri on my own was no fun. Without an orgy to go to, all that nano-induced energy went to waste. The bar-bot refilled my glass, and I knocked back the extra drink. I tried to stand. Drunk again. This time, I pushed myself against the bar and made it all the way up.

Shit. Guess I’d be using the room after all.

I stumbled along to the exit, almost holding it together. It was so much easier to fly drunk than walk. I glanced over to check out the fight’s aftermath. A gaggle of blobby and tentacled heteros were huddled around whichever one had gotten injured. I couldn’t figure out if it had lost a vital appendage, but it seemed like they were trying to scoop a blob off the floor and reattach it. Seriously, what was the big deal with losing one glutinous blob if your entire body was literally glutinous blobs? I didn’t know if they were crying or laughing. Damn heterosapiens.

Something beeped, another message. In the hazy moment before my eyes adjusted, a spark twitched in my trousers. Perhaps this trip wouldn’t go to waste.

Ales — get your scrawny black ass back to the depot nows. I gots a jobs for you.

Javer still hadn’t learned plurals. My boss, the dumb-fuck tentacle dick. How did he even know my skin was black if his globby-ass species had sniffers for eyes? There were certain places his type couldn’t even set a blob in, let alone order around a homo. Us skin bags might dominate most of the galaxy, but out here was cold, hard equality. Part of me so wanted to hit back at Javer. I reminded myself I’d come to the Outer Verge to get far away from that sort of oppression, any sort of oppression. Plus, I wasn’t exactly captain of the week. The last job dropped my punctuality rating to less than 50 percent, well below the firing threshold.

The truth was I didn’t want to go back. I was done, beyond done. I couldn’t take another yelling from him, or another job basically smuggling contraband. Javer didn’t even pretend the planetary import licenses had anything to do with the cargo anymore. He didn’t care about the moments of terror I faced while bribing or blagging my way through another delivery. The free-trading worlds of the Verge were his opportunity to sell anything and everything that would bring a profit.

A sudden stab of pain hit my lower back, the muscle memory of my last delivery gone wrong; twenty-four hours chained to a wall in a customs prison on Kerjan. All for what? Another planet; another lonely bar, another fruitless search for satisfaction at the lost edge of sentience. Another message.

Get backs nows.

The elevator took me to the right corridor, and my hands ran along either side of the fluorescent-lit wall, steadying myself while avoiding condensation drips from the ceiling. I tried to figure out how long I might reasonably expect to live if I ever decided to fuck it and run.

The room had a chill, the kind you only get in deep space. I stumbled, still couldn’t figure out how to get the lights on. Ukko wouldn’t have been impressed anyway. Probably a good thing he’d never showed after all. The promise of sex was usually better than the real thing, I’d come to learn. I pushed off my boots and, seconds before collapsing, carried out my nightly ritual.

“I believe in the continuity of existence, in the eternity of our people. That the glory of our past will never be forgotten and the greatness of our future will always be remembered. Oh victorious one, conqueror of the universe, restore us, your faithful army. Oh merciful one, mother of all, deliver us from exile. May your people grow strong and numerous, as in the days before. May we sweep across the stars, and may tomorrow herald the coming of your dominion over all worlds.”

I fell onto the bed, my mind full with the heavy despair of many years and the memory of many deaths, and I was the only one left alive in the galaxy who knew these words.

The Bachmann Family Secret – NineStar Press

About the author

Harry F. Rey is an author and lover of gay themed stories with a powerful punch. He writes sex-positive stories that explore realistic queer lives and loves, whether in deep space or wearing a crown.

From contemporary to historical, romantic to dramatic, his books are packed with love and heartache, action and adventure and gripping characters which range from erotic shorts to galactic space operas to tender gay love stories. Harry strives to deliver plot-twisting, action-packed, edge-of-you-seat queer stories he wished he had growing up gay in Glasgow.

Website | Twitter | Amazon | Author Page

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Personal Update, as Promised!

Back in December, I promised to reveal a significant update about myself. I anticipated doing so soon thereafter, but circumstances beyond my control delayed the announcement . . . until now! So here goes:

Today I am happy to announce I have become a full-time writer! For those of you who do not know me personally, I had a dual career for almost nineteen years: I worked as a full-time professor and as a writer in my limited free time. As of January 2021, I dropped the professor role and will concentrate on my writing. I am so very excited about this massive change in my life, though as with almost any narrative, the backstory contains both good and bad in bringing me to this moment.

This change came about because I and a number of my colleagues were laid off despite having tenure. The journey to this event contains a long and complicated story. In a nutshell, I can tell you that the institution for which I worked became more conservative and released a gaggle of faculty to better align its people with a new mission. While I never wanted to leave on these terms, its new direction and I would have been incompatible, anyway. And thus I found myself on the chopping block but not necessarily despondent about the situation.

Perhaps my last paragraph leaves you wondering how on earth I could follow up with good news?! Well, Paul (my husband) and I had a plan in place for me to retire from said institution and devote myself to my writing full time within the next three to five years. We intended to go in this direction because I sensed the changes coming to my place of employment and because I have so much writing in me that I wanted to concentrate on- I needed time to get these stories out of my head! While I adored teaching and loved my students, my life more and more called me in a different direction. While a bit earlier than we intended, we figured out that we can institute the plan immediately, and so we shall!

Part of the time I will continue to write academic history. I write my fiction under a pen name, my academic history under my actual name. If you’re interested, google David E. Settje for those works. My last two manuscripts came out from New York University Press. In the past, I had to keep the two identities separate but can now let you all know the relationship between David and Damian.

I will dedicate most of my time to the business of writing my fiction as Damian Serbu! I want to concentrate on better marketing and outreach to readers, which I admit is not my strongest area. I should have more space and energy to do so now, as well as the time to research best practices and expand in this area. And I hope to crank out my stories even faster than before! Writing what I do and how I do it means I really don’t make money as a fiction writer. I hope to alter that reality a bit, not necessarily by making millions but by at least making a bit of profit from time to time.

Life threw Paul and me a curve ball in December. I know now the universe was telling me something, the universe wanted to push me forward. Thank you for indulging a narcissistic mini-biography today. I appreciate your listening.

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Interview with RebellionLit.com!

Hi, All,

Super excited to share with you an interview I did over at RebellionLit.com! Please check out questions about my latest and past novels, as well as writing questions in general. And - while you're there - check out some of the other cool author interviews! Click the link below:

Damian Serbu's Interview with Rebellion Lit!

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THE VAMPIRE’S WITCH – COMING SOON!

Time to start revving up for the release of THE VAMPIRE’S WITCH! NineStar Press releases this one, the third in THE REALM OF THE VAMPIRE series, in April!!! Here’s the blurb, to wet your appetite and get you ready:

The Vampire’s Witch welcomes readers back to the world of vampires, witches, and magic. Jaret Bachmann’s life spins out of control after a handsome stranger saves him from an attack along the bike path on Lakeshore Drive. His estranged high school sweetheart stalks him, the enraged ghost of his ancestor destroys his family, and his bike path savior-cum-lover abandons him after learning Jaret is a powerful witch, all of it sending Jaret into deep depression. Struggling to find his way afterward, Jaret searches for comfort in the unlikely friendship of a secret vampire community. Xavier, Thomas, Anthony, and Catherine return in this, the third book in The Realm of the Vampire Council series and a sequel to The Bachmann Family Secret. Over time, Jaret’s friendship with the vampires strengthens and he forges a new family connection with Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine.  But he and Anthony are estranged and though their souls are entwined, there hearts are another matter.

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Rick R. Reed Visits My Blog!!!!

One of my favorite LGBTQ authors for quite a while has been Rick R. Reed! And - wait for it - he's stopping by my blog with a guest post as part of his new release celebration!! Please take some time to read his thoughts about how an author releases their work to the readers after they finish. And then go check out his latest release, The Q!!! Seriously, I am soooo excited to be participating in his release and honored he visited me today! Not only does Rick write great stuff, he is the most down to earth and sweet author I have ever met.

Letting Go

A Guest Blog by Rick R. Reed

It takes two to tango. And it takes at least two to make a book. Just like a play needs an audience to fully come alive, a book needs a reader for precisely the same reason.

One thing I have to constantly remind myself as a writer is that, once I have written the words, ‘the end’ to a story is that I must let go. As much as I labored over the book, dreamed about it, had conversations with myself about it, agonized over word choice, character hair color, continuity, repetitive words and phrasing, the time comes when the book meets the public which signals that it’s time for me to step aside.

A book is a conspiracy between a reader and a writer. The reader has to bring it to life through his or her imagination. The wonderful thing about that whole process is that my story can become so many different stories when filtered through each reader’s unique frame of reference. I have no doubt that no matter the care I take in describing characters and setting, each reader sees them differently because each of them come to the table with different experiences, biases, and memories. All of those things have a bearing on the triggers my words pull in a reader’s mind.

It’s really quite a lovely process when you think about it. And maybe the readers out there reading this never really considered the vital work they play in every book’s success or failure. Writers provide a roadmap, signposts, but it’s really up to the reader to run with it, to make of it something real, a mind movie for one.

What’s my point? I guess it’s to share with you a little of what motivates me as a writer and what, for me is both a blessing and a curse. See, when I am working on a book, which is almost always, I am alone with those characters, immersed in their little world, consumed by their passions, their fears, their desires, their comedies of errors. I have never been one for sharing much of my unfinished work with anyone else. That would somehow be wrong, at least for me. In order to create, I need to be able to slip into a world inhabited only by my characters and me. It’s always a bittersweet moment when I write the words, ‘the end’ and know I am moving on. Sure, there will be editing, the thrill of seeing the cover design, the agony of trying to help craft the blurb, but once you type ‘the end’ it means just that. You’re giving your characters and their world away.

I think it’s very difficult for some writers to realize that once they’ve ‘given birth’ to a book that it really no longer belongs to them. It belongs to the readers, the reviewers, the world. If you create with publishing in mind, it’s a harsh reality to accept—your book no longer belongs to you alone, but it’s gone off into the world, much like a child finally moving out of the house. Once you let go, you also must let go of trying to control what happens (same for books, same for kids).

And that’s hard. You hate to see your book suffer at the hands of people who don’t understand it, you celebrate it when someone ‘gets’ what you were trying to say.

But you must let go. The book is a piece of the world now and takes on a life of its own. Remember what I said earlier? A book is a conspiracy between a writer and a reader and the reader, each in his or her own way, makes the story his or her own.

I guess what prompted all this was a discussion recently at one of my publishers’ forums wherein authors were discussing, once again, how to respond to negative reviews and downright nasty ones, and the prevailing wisdom, at least to my mind, was with silence. I agree.

It’s harsh but true: writers must let go. Your stories are no longer your stories. If you’re very, very lucky, they are many people’s. Take comfort in that.

Buy Rick's latest release, The Q, here: THE Q by Rick R. Reed

About the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband.

 

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New Year 2021 Round Up

Before I launch into the reason for this post according to its title, I acknowledge I promised an announcement of some import in the new year. I will still follow through on this pledge, but circumstances beyond my control have delayed it a bit more. I anticipate letting all of you know about this personal change in my life in February, so please sit tight!

Since my personal news has been delayed, I thought you may like to have the most recent “writing round up” for me!

First and foremost, my editor at NineStar Press and I are plugging along with THE VAMPIRE’S WITCH – with a planned release this April!! The third in the Realm of the Vampire Series, the novel also serves as a sequel to THE BACHMANN FAMILY SECRET! I will tease more about it and give more updates through the winter and spring.

My writing time otherwise is dedicated to the following novels:

THE VAMPIRE’S WAR: I am in the middle of writing the fifth in the Realm of the Vampire Series. Writing this one gets most of my time. THE VAMPIRE’S WAR will follow in the footsteps of THE VAMPIRE’S ANGEL, THE VAMPIRE’S QUEST, THE VAMPIRE’S WITCH, and THE VAMPIRE’S PROTEGE. Of the vampire novels, this one involves the most characters and plot twists, so takes extra care to keep the story accurate and focused. I am having so much fun with it! A bit of a spoiler: Jaret Bachmann joins your favorite gay vampires, Xavier, Thomas, Catherine, Anthony, and Harriet as they face the biggest crisis in vampire history . . .

THE EASTER BUNNY IS A WEREWOLF: if you thought Simon the Elf’s story ended once Santa manipulated him into helping tell Santa’s true story in SANTA IS A VAMPIRE, well, you underestimated both Santa’s evil designs and Simon’s will to survive. He has another tale to tell . . .

UNTITLED YA NOVEL: With THE BACHMANN FAMILY SECRET, I introduced my first YA novel. I enjoyed the experience so much, I began pondering another YA story. Against my will and without any prompting, a story flooded into my mind in the last two weeks. Yeah, for those wondering, the muse is alive and well in me. I am beginning this novel and will let you know about it, once I can get my mind wrapped around it, and after I gain some control over the story from the muse.

More soon! Peace and happiness to you all.

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Happy Holidays

Hi, All,

I like to send a holiday missive each year. So, Happy Holidays to all of you! Whether you celebrate something, endure the festivities by holding your nose, or something between, know that I wish you the very best!

I don’t think I need to add to the litany of proclamations about how 2020 has tried all of us in a million different ways. Which is an understatement. I send my best energy to all who are suffering through this difficult time. Know you are loved.

In the new year, I have a blog for all of you about a major change in my life. Nothing morbid, but I want to keep the details private for now. Which is why I end with emphasizing: Happy Holidays to everyone. I wish you peace and joy in whatever form possible, and despite whatever turmoil may me invading your lives this year. Know I care about you, whether we have met or only know each other through my writing.

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Holiday Horror!

Horror fans know – too many people dabble in horror for the month of October and then retreat to happy frilly stories once the holidays hit. But what of the horror fan who wants a good scare year round? And – what if that horror enthusiast prefers a gay main character or twist?

Here’s your holiday reminder: Simon the Elf came out and revealed the truth about Santa a few years ago. Settle back and enjoy a tale of death, horror, and dark humor in Simon’s satirically horrific story about the true Santa:

Start with: Santa’s Kinky Elf, Simon!

And then move to: Santa Is a Vampire!

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