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Memo Monday: Eat It

July 22, 2014

(PSA: Please disregard this message if your health prevents you from safely consuming candy.)

(PSA: Please disregard this message if your health prevents you from safely consuming candy.)


 


 
(Also, my apologies for this one being a day late! Just pretend it’s Monday? :D?)

Memo Monday: Expect More. >;D

July 14, 2014

Memo Monday - 2014-07-14

Update: @RainbowCon_2015 & “Blood Embrace”

June 27, 2014

Oh, my. I’m just terrible at keeping my promises to you guys, aren’t I? Can you see me hanging my head in shame? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing.
 
It’s the end of June, and the last few months have been a complete whirlwind. In April, we had our first ever Rainbow Conference here in Tampa. The event when without any major hitches, which is a huge blessing with how hard everyone was working to keep everything enjoyable for the ~175 attendees that came out for the event. Geoffrey Knight was an amazing Guest of Honor, and really hit one out of the park by giving an opening speech on the fly for us that really spoke to uniting in the genre as supporters of GLBTQ fiction, and I felt like we were able to get topics out in front of people that really matter, in fiction and in life. We’re already planning the 2015 event, and it’s going to be awesome. The official charity is the Big Cat Rescue down here in Tampa, and we’re running with the Big Cat theme through several panels having to do with fiction, fandom, and television/film. We’re also having a themed Masquerade along with a Dinner + Drag Show and a field trip out to the Big Cat Rescue so some of the attendees can see the big cats up close and personal. I can’t wait!
 
If you’re curious about RainbowCon, definitely click the name there to go to the website. The entire schedule is up there along with a list of the authors already signed up. Registration is OPEN. I hope anyone interested in a 4-day conference filled with nothing but QUILTBAG-centric content will join us July of 2015! :D
 
In other news, a new anthology out through Storm Moon Press has a story I co-wrote with S.L. Armstrong! Blood Embrace brings together 4 stories taking a unique approach to vampires. Our story, “Of the Flesh”, centers around a priest who has been hunting down a particular vampire since his brother (and fellow man of the cloth) was turned and disappeared. It’s a religiously and sexually charged piece that I hope everyone enjoys. I gave the story prompt to Saundra (S.L. Armstrong), and she really went above and beyond, bringing all the themes that I’d envisioned to a wonderfully dark, moody piece with some edge. I fully give Saundra credit for this one, since she did a lot of the leg work getting it written. It might have originally been my idea, but she enhanced it and really delivered with wording that made me giddy as a schoolboy while we collaborated. Check it out along with D.K. Jernigan’s “Red Filter” story, which I had the pleasure of reading while it was being written. Fantastic story with psychic vamps and an artist who isn’t afraid to take charge when he realizes what is haunting his artistic haze. Highly recommended!
 

 
In yet other news, I just started a new massage job a couple weeks ago, and I’m going strong. After a while not being in the business, it’s great to return and feel like I’m doing some good and helping people manage their aches and pains.
 
At the moment, I’m organizing a promotion tour for RainbowCon, but Saundra and I will also get writing again soon on a short story to be included in the Devout anthology, which will be all about priest kink. We might have just written a priest with a vampire, but this new short will be a minister’s encounter with an angel, so it’ll be quite a different story. ;)
 
I hope everyone has a great July! With how busy I am at the moment, no promises for regular updates, but I’ll do my best!

Small Update: Sweethearts & Seduction

March 16, 2014

Hey, everyone! I know it’s been a couple months since I last posted. Life has been more emotionally taxing since Dorian’s passing. Some days are better than others, and I know the grief is most severe for Saundra, who was, by far, the closest to Dorian. Basil and Victor (the latter being our newer black kitty we took in from the streets) have both taken on a couple of Dorian’s habits, which is really sweet, but it’s also kinda bittersweet. He’s missed every single day.
 
The last two months have been full of change. There’s been the ongoing adjustment of the household to being without Dorian, a lot of vet visits for the other pets, a new job for me (night shifts, make-up & heels required. GAH!), and finally writing a piece featuring a transman.
 
With the help of Kathleen Tudor/D.K. Jernigan, SMP put out a Valentine’s Day anthology pretty much at the last minute. The premise behind Sweethearts and Seduction is very simple: gay romance with a high fluff factor. Kathleen practically begged me to be part of the anthology, and though I had a vague idea in my head for a solo piece, it was incredibly difficult for me to write following Dorian’s passing. (Still is, truth be told.) She therefore tempted me by writing the opening to a story that she thought would be fun to co-write. This… was definitely a new thing for me. I’ve co-authored almost constantly as an author, having been pulled into writing and pretty much mentored by S.L. Armstrong (Saundra), but this was the first time I’d co-authored with anyone else. It was incredibly low stress and a lot of fun. Kathleen is pretty laid back, doesn’t mind improving some of what I write if it doesn’t strike quite the right tone, and when I was having difficulty, she was there to help. She also fully encouraged me to create Zane, my first transman character. He’s the love interest of Troy, a cis-gendered man who decides to propose to Zane even though it might put his roller rink business at risk. It’s a sweet story and was a welcome challenge for me, since I wanted to make Zane trans* without bashing the reader over the head or getting preachy.
 
Zane’s life in no way mirrors my own life, but there were certain elements of his character that I pulled from my own experience as a genderqueer individual. I did my best to keep him down to earth and focused on his own life rather than getting soapboxy about his state of being. This is a fluffy anthology, after all, so it wouldn’t have been appropriate for him to angst to that degree. I think he’d moved past that by the time we see him in “The Best Thing on Eight Wheels”. ;) Zane presents male and both binds and packs, though that isn’t spelled out in such plain terms in the short story. In my mind, he isn’t on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) because of a sensitivity to testosterone… but again, this isn’t explicitly stated in the short story. XD He’d happily get top surgery, but that’s an expense he can’t afford, especially with his partner’s business on the line. He has insecurities about his body and the way it still looks feminine in some ways, but he manages that with the support of family, friends, a loving partner, and someone whom I like to imagine is an excellent therapist. Do all trans* people need such things? Not necessarily, and many to varying degrees. But in my head, therapy and having a good support structure was the way he could deal with his transition at his own pace and doing only what he is comfortable doing.
 
So! I hope everyone checks out the Sweethearts and Seduction anthology. There are some really fun stories in it, and my personal favorite is Erik Moore’s “Sold!”, which has a fantastic mix of humor and seduction to it. Go check it out!
 

 
Coming up on the blog (soon-ish… I hope), I’ll be doing a random facts sort of meme, and I’m determined to write a post about underwear. No. Seriously. Underwear. You’ll see what I mean when I finally manage to get it written. It’s been bouncing around my brain since just before Christmas, so it’s long overdue. XD I hope everyone has a great St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow! Get your Irish on!

A Sad Day – R.I.P. – Dorian

January 18, 2014
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on…

 
Today, after a months-long struggle, our sweet kitten, Dorian, left this earth for the Rainbow Bridge. He died surrounded by those who loved him dearly, and we will all miss him terribly.
 
Throughout the decline of his health, we all weren’t sure what was ailing him, but the vet who saw to him at the end gave us a diagnosis that, now that we’ve researched it, explains every single bit of his illness. Dorian had Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which was brought on by the feline Coronavirus. We did all we could have done to prolong his life and give him a happy and healthy one to the very end, but there is no cure and no treatment for what he had, so when the time came, we had to say our goodbyes and let him go.
 
There’s a Dorian-shaped hole in all our hearts here at the Armstrong-Piet household. Dorian was the sweetest little kitty I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing and loving. He was very much Saundra’s cat, as you’ll see in the photo below. My roomies have two yellow Labradors whom I often walk in the evenings, and tonight as I walked them, I looked up at the sky and honed in on the moon and the constellation Orion. Dorian lived through the holidays and through Saundra and Roger’s 16th wedding anniversary (which was yesterday). He also lived through the full moon. It seems as the moonlight began to wane, so too did he, and it was as swift as the scorpion bite that killed Orion in Greek Mythology. I know all of that doesn’t take away from the grief of losing Dorian, but those are the things that went through my mind tonight as I walked. Dorian lived an amazing life, and he squeezed every moment of loving out of everyone in the household, especially Saundra. We’re just sad that his life with us was so very short.
 


The last photo we took of Saundra with Dorian – November 2013
 
Dorian
May 2012 – January 2014
 
Our sweet kittle skittle. You’ll always be treasured in our hearts and spirits.
 
*************
 

Best of 2013 + Bring on 2014

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year, everyone! First off, let me wish you all a safe, healthy, and productive 2014. :) I hope you and yours are able to celebrate and reinvent and thrive as we move into the new year. Face those challenges and triumph in 2014!

In 2013, I think I only met one of my New Years Resolutions (to see 3 movies in the cinema), so this year, I’m saying fuck that shit. I just want to celebrate what I loved best about books I read in 2013 and what I’m looking forward to in 2014. Just keep in mind that this is my personal list. I’m not magnificently well read, so I’m sure there are plenty of amazing titles outside of Storm Moon Press that I didn’t read or didn’t know about. ^_^
 

KRIS’ 2013 FAVORITES

 
 

Favorite Freebies:

  1. Rhys Has a Crush by Melanie Tushmore
  2. An Invitation to Love by Blaine D. Arden
  3. In All Your Ways by Cari Z

Rhys Has a Crush is a wonderfully informal short with a rocker boy pulling a ploy to try to approach his crush via texting. Hilariously put together; I just loved it. An Invitation to Love is another example of Arden taking fantasy settings and running with them. This one involves language barriers as well as a ménage à trois, which is just full of win. Lastly, In All Your Ways (technically a 2012 book, but I read it in 2013) is an awesome love story taking place in the angels/demons mythos. It also ties into Cari Z’s Cambion series, so it’s definitely worth reading. Yay for freebies!
 

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Favorite YA Book: Sinews of the Heart by Cody L. Stanford

Really, was there any other choice for me? No. I can’t shut up about this book, and you all have probably seen my proper review of it already, so I put it at the top here so you can just see that OF COURSE it makes my list… and you can move on to the rest. For those who haven’t seen the review, this is a trans*/genderqueer YA book in a post-apocalyptic setting with anthrotigers. It’s an exquisite read. ^_^
 
Favorite Short Story: Gift of Self by Kathleen Tudor

This trans* piece blew me away in the best way possible. Tudor really deals respectfully with the themes. Discovering the extent of your trans identity is tough enough alone, but there are even more things to consider when in an established relationship… especially one involving kink like the one between Jeffrey/Jessie and Athena. Weaving all those elements together takes a master hand, and Tudor has done just that with care and respect.
 
Favorite Novella: Thornless Rose by T.C. Mill

What can I say? This is an awesome sci-fi adventure story with an inhospitable alien planet and a bit of a romance tied into all the action. Sabotage and intrigue are tucked in there, along with some really fun linguistic details. When you have technology that translates for you, it’s nice to have a nod to the way things don’t quite translate between languages. Some words and meanings are inevitably lost or misunderstood, and I like that Mill took the time to recognize that when dealing with various alien races communicating with one another.
 

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Favorite Novel: Cambion: Dark Around the Edges by Cari Z

This was released as a serial novel, and this ‘season’ was some of the best fiction I’ve read in a long time. I was gripping the edge of my seat and wanting to strangle Cari Z for making me wait to read the next bit in the serial. Now that it’s all compiled, others won’t have to go through that suspense, but it’s a great book filled with awesome supernatural/paranormal elements, plenty of action, and steamy scenes between the protagonists. I can’t wait to read more as the series continues, be it with the main characters or a number of the minor characters, who are equally engaging. :D
 
Favorite Anthology: Legal Briefs

It’s rare to get a mixed-bag anthology of various orientations/identities that jives well with me. Like most anthologies, not every story resonates with every reader. With Legal Briefs, I was overjoyed that three of the six stories are trans* and each of those three are completely different from one another. The authors involved with this anthology are excellent, and the fact it’s a charity anthology just makes it even better to me. The proceeds go to Lambda Legal, so if you’re looking for legal-themed erotic works, this anthology goes toward a great cause!
 

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All the above were drawn by Nathie. Are we surprised? XD

 
Favorite Drawn Covers:

  1. Dracones Anthology
  2. The Forester II: Lost and Found by Blaine D. Arden
  3. Forgotten Menagerie Anthology

The Dracones cover is easily my favorite this year. The color scheme is vivid, and I love the way Nathie worked the dragon in with a half-naked guy without any of it looking the least bit campy. The details in The Forester II‘s cover are exquisite, and I love that those covers for that series are from scenes in the stories themselves. And Forgotten Menagerie just makes me happy because there are shifters on the cover that are actually in the stories of the anthology. I just love that our authors got really creative when we told them to write unorthodox shifters! Nathie’s execution of our crazy themes never ceases to amaze me, and I will always be a huge fan of Nathie’s work.
 

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Favorite Photo-Manip Covers:

  1. The Harvest: Taken by M.A. Church — Art by Lou Harper
  2. Bound by Ink by Kimber Vale — Art by ThinkSentient Ltd
  3. The Devil’s Midway by S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet — Art by ThinkSentient Ltd

Come on, the cover for The Harvest: Taken is just plain PRETTY! It’s everything I love about those science fiction covers with planets and hints of alien life on them. That it’s a wrap-around cover in the print version makes it even better. Get yourselves a copy of this book, guys. Seriously. And the other two covers are examples of the single releases we put out at the press. ThinkSentient Ltd did cover art that was then personalized for each story in a given anthology so they share the same basic covers but have their own titles visible. I love the multi-colored smoke in the covers for Written in Flesh, and the color scheme and demonic symbol layering in the covers for Devil’s Night really bring the ambiance for erotic demonic fiction. So happy with all these covers!
 

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Favorite Upcoming Piece: “Red Filter” by D.K. Jernigan (aka Kathleen Tudor)

This story is to be included in the Blood Embrace anthology coming out from Storm Moon Press this year, and OH MY GOD. You guys, seriously. Psychic vampires with some power play and bondage. It’s sexy and amazing and did I mention sexy? I can’t wait for this story to be published, and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I have in pre-production. Am I wicked to tease you all? YES! But you’ve gotta read this when it comes out. It’ll knock your socks off… right along with your pants, hopefully. ;)
 

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That’s my round-up for the new year! As for me, I’m just going to try to keep my head above water this time around. I have a lot of new things in the works, both personally and professionally, and I know I need to hit the ground running this year. I hope a lot of great things come of my efforts. ^_^ Have a great 2014, everyone!

Queer Romance Blog Hop – K. Piet

November 29, 2013

Welcome to the Queer Romance Blog Hop, where queer writers and readers of queer romance share their thoughts on the genre, as well as a few recommendations for books to read! Everyone participating in this blog hop identifies as queer and also reads and/or writes (or edits, or reviews!) queer romance. For our purposes, queer romance refers to books with:

1. LGBTQ+ main characters
2. In romantic relationships
3. That have a happy ending. (No Brokeback Mountain here, folks!)
 
Hey, everyone! K. Piet here, and I wanted to bring this particular blog hop home with me because the subject of queer fiction is one I’m very passionate about, not only as a writer but as a publisher. When I first heard about the blog hop, I thought Heidi Belleau (the originator) was looking solely for reviewers/bloggers who read trans* and queer romance in a broader sense than just gay romance. When I discovered I was wrong about that and I could potentially participate with the other authors who identify queer? Well color me surprised and delighted! I hope everyone has enjoyed the month of interviews and perspective from my fellow authors and bloggers, and I hope my contribution will be enjoyable. :D Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty together! (Or just get down. That’s nice, too.)
 
1. Let’s start off with the getting-to-know-you stuff: How do you identify, and what does that mean to you? Whatever level of detail you’re comfortable with, of course!

Followers of my blog likely already know (or newly learned) that I identify genderqueer. I actually wrote a post about exactly that just before hearing that it was Trans* Week and that this blog hop was happening. Great timing! I present female, wish that I presented more neutral or male, and my identity skews a bit more male than female, though I don’t mind anyone using female pronouns so long as I look female. In my head, though, my outward femininity is more like being a flamboyant gay boy who enjoys crossdressing into the feminine realm, so I’m all up in that gray area, and I’m happy here. It makes for some awkward situations and conversations, especially where dating is concerned, but I’m lucky enough to live with incredibly accepting and supportive room-mates, and my immediate family might not understand my identity, but they don’t give me a hard time about it or make attempts to change me.
 
2. What’s your preferred “flavour” of queer romance (e.g. trans*, f/f, m/m, menage with queer characters, etc.) Why?

When it comes to writing, I primarily write gay and bisexual fiction, though I’ve been caught writing a couple lesbian short stories in the past as well. I love the entire spectrum of sexuality and gender identity, and even though I haven’t written trans* fiction as of yet, it’s so on my to-write list. When it comes to reading, I love gay, bi, and trans* fiction, and I’ll get exceedingly giddy over a book with trans* characters that I feel are exceptionally well written (e.g. see my thoughts on Sinews of the Heart by Cody Stanford). I also have a soft spot for openly bisexual men in fiction. They make my heart go pitter patter because it makes me happy to see men embrace both masculine and feminine qualities either in themselves or in others. I feel that broader range of love is something a lot of people could learn a thing or two from in the general sense of loving and accepting people as they are.
 
Cover Artist: Nathie3. Do you write/read/review? Do you think being queer affects your participation or platform in romancelandia?

I primarily write, since my reading time is miniscule these days outside of the reading I do in the production process of books coming through Storm Moon Press, the publishing company I founded with my co-author, S.L. Armstrong. Being a queer writer doesn’t truly change my participation in the genre — or at least it hasn’t affected me negatively so far, which renders me a bit more blind to it, I suppose. My identification as a genderqueer/trans* writer hasn’t disabled me from writing whatever I’m passionate about, and while I know several authors who identify like me have come under fire in the past, it hasn’t happened to me. I’ve always been pretty open about my identity, even as I was still discovering it, so I think that honesty has gone a long way.
 
4. What drew you to queer romance?

Fandom. I’m not afraid to say it. ;) I met my co-author in the Tolkien fanfiction community ages ago, and after a brief foray into fanfiction, the original ideas sprouted en masse, which has set us up for decades of writing and publishing rather than returning to fandom. We like our original ideas and find them very fulfilling to write. I remember being drawn to gay fiction because I saw something of myself in it in a way I couldn’t with straight/het romance. I love me a good love story, regardless of orientation/identity, but certain aspects of gay fiction clicked with me… and later on, trans* fiction had the same effect. When I feel I can relate to the characters in a way that makes me think, “God, I wish I’d read this back when I was in high school because it would have made me feel less alone”, it’s a very powerful thing. I just hope the fiction I write ends up having that same effect on other readers down the line.
 
5. What do you love about queer romance in general, and/or your specific subgenre?

I love the endless possibility of it. While the genre can still be very formulaic and cling to tropes, there is also a greater chance of finding fiction that challenges the status quo and goes where more ‘mainstream’ fiction dares not go. You’ll find everything from tentacle-filled science fiction/fantasy to fluffy contemporary to mind-fuckery faerie non-con. It can really be a wild ride, and I love that variety is often viewed positively rather than negatively in the genre.
 
6. What’s your pet peeve?

Steadfast, willful intolerance. People insisting women don’t belong in gay fiction, men don’t belong in lesbian fiction, trans* or bisexual characters don’t exist and, therefore, don’t belong in any fiction… Oi. In particular, the intolerance in the gay romance genre surrounding female genitalia or characters who are openly bisexual ‘onscreen’ just really gets me fuming. I also get riled by anyone saying any group of people is inherently incapable of doing justice to a certain type of character or a certain subject matter. Only in this genre do a significant number of people make it a point of knowing what lies between an author’s legs. It’s degrading and seeks only to alienate and silence people rather than encourage tolerance, understanding, and the free exchange of ideas on any given subject.
 
7. What growth would you like to see in the genre, going forward? Any ideas on how to accomplish that?

On a more superficial note, I’d love to see more bisexual, polyamorous, and trans* fiction out there, and that can’t happen until authors write it and submitting for publication (or self-publish it), so I hope writers with a passion for such topics will take the plunge and write about those characters or continue doing so. ^_^

For the genre in general, there are certainly a lot of points I’d make to combat the issues that are my petpeeves.

Quit it with the exclusion. Let people tell their stories and connect with their audiences, whether they share borders or cross-pollinate with your own stomping ground. While having personal preferences is expected and perfectly fine, don’t use it as an excuse to delegitimize others’ fiction. Disagree all you like, but don’t delegitimize, dehumanize, or dehumidify. We like it hot and sticky more often than not. ;)

Stop questioning the existence of one group of people in another group of people’s fiction. Men, women, and those identifying in between all exist in real life. Therefore, they all have a place in fiction. The levels just vary from one story to another. The generalizations about this group or that group have to stop, and we should all appreciate the vast variance that is life and the limitless nature of the imagination as it is showcased in fiction.

Know when things are none of your business, respect it, and don’t pry. A person’s identity and self-expression are intensely personal, and it isn’t everyone’s business to know every detail of a writer, reader, or bogger’s life. I might be a-okay sharing about my identity and experiences, but not everyone is, and that should be treated with care and respect. When someone is uncomfortable sharing information about themselves on a personal level, pestering them only causes tension. Be kind and decent to one another. It leads to a better environment in the reading/writing community as a whole.
 
8. Do you seek out other queer authors when you read?

Not really, to be honest. I typically learn about an author’s queerness long after reading their fiction. Those whose fiction is exceptional and connects with me are those I tend to seek out again in the future. It’s always a treat to see more genderqueer/neutral/fluid authors in the genre, but I don’t really give preferential treatment. I just looking for great fiction, regardless of the author’s identity on the sexual and gender spectrums.
 
9. How do you feel, in general, about straight peoples’ participation in reading, writing, and reviewing queer romance?

Doesn’t bother me at all. Again, it’s not about the identity of the people enjoying the fiction; it’s about the shared passion for the genre. That said, I don’t like people who dictate how queer romance should work based on their various levels of privilege, but that’s certainly not restricted to straight or cis-gendered peoples in the genre. :)
 
10. Rec us 3 titles in your chosen subgenre and tell us why you love them.

Gladly! I’ll stick to trans* fiction on this one, since I’d love to see more readers giving trans* fiction a try.

Sinews of the Heart by Cody Stanford

This book is many things that somehow manage to meld together into a brilliant read that I simply can’t recommend enough. Young adult fiction set in a post-apocalyptic world where anthros and humans attempt to co-exist. The main character is a trans* anthro-tiger and goes through a lot of self-discovery when it comes to identity while coming of age in the post-apocalyptic setting. A truly amazing novel, and one I wish I’d read when I was younger for a plethora of reasons!
 
 
Legal Briefs Anthology (edited by S.L. Armstrong)

Apart from this being a charity anthology to benefit Lambda Legal, this anthology really showcases the spectrum of identity and sexuality, which I just adore. Three of the stories are trans* pieces, and not one is like another. They range in both genre and subtlety in a way that I really appreciated. Everything also has a legal theme, which is a heck of a lot of fun. A great anthology with proceeds going toward a great cause.
 
 
Gift of Self by Kathleen Tudor

This short story was the trans* contribution to the Milk & Cookies & Handcuffs anthology (linked above), but will be coming out on its lonesome on Christmas Eve this December. It surrounds a loving relationship tested when one character comes out as being MTF transgendered and asks to begin expressing themselves differently in private. It’s a touching story and is crafted with exceptional care by an author who took a chance and wrote trans* fiction for the first time in that anthology. Bravo!
 
 
And that’s it from me! I hope everyone has an amazing holiday season filled with family, friends, and community where the love and acceptance of self is paramount. Also, if you are interested in any of the three books above, Storm Moon Press has a 30% off sale this weekend from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, so it’s great timing if you’d like to pick up those trans* titles! Give a little love to the authors if you’re so inclined, and have a fantastic holiday!

Thanks for reading and for following the tour! Be sure to use the links below to check out more great posts from our participants!

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