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One of the reasons I write is to explore contemporary issues through different perspectives. For example, in Book 3 of the Mattie Saunders Series (yet untitled), I’m researching the #MeToo movement and the issue of sexual harassment through the eyes of Mattie, my protagonist.

This investigation that included watching Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and hearing the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford made me reflect on my own behaviour. Did I ever cross the line, that line being the use of force or intimidation to have sex with a woman?

The answer is an emphatic no. Why am I so convinced? To understand, you need some context.

Between the ages of fourteen and nineteen, I tried to have sex with every woman I dated. It was just what you did, and, it seemed the girls I dated expected me to, not that they were all cooperative.

It was a game we played in the backseats of cars and in dark rec rooms.

The necking would start, and hands would search out clasps to undo, pants to slide down or dresses to pull up. There were three inevitable outcomes. The girl would get up and go home, the girl would break off go to the washroom, come back and re-engage only to break off, etc.,  the girl would go all the way.

Despite the outcome, I didn’t feel different about the girl, though the ones who walked out never dated me again.

I don’t think I was too different, or indifferent than most guys my age at that time, except for me when it came to sex it wasn’t so much the destination, but rather the journey.

Women had to want to have sex with me, that was whole the point. It was all about being cool, attractive and desirable. If I got turned down, and I did, a lot, I told myself it was their loss. I may not have been a nice guy, but I wasn’t a misogynist.

The idea of using anything but charm, appearance and style combined with a confident, cavalier attitude was unimaginable. In fact, intimidation, coercion or force were the antipathies to what was trying to be achieved.

The times have changed dramatically in fifty years, I’ve matured, and my attitude regarding many things has undergone a paradigm shift. What hasn’t changed is my view that using force to achieve your goals is the way of idiots and cowards, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish.

Not surprisingly, Mattie feels the same way.

Keep calm, be brave, watch for the signs

30

 

Author’s  Amazon Page for the Mattie Saunders Books 1 & 2, The Rocker and the Bird Girl and Cold-Blooded

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1808910/my-metoo-moment

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Review:

 

 

Residential schools operated in Canada for a hundred years and about one hundred and fifty thousand First Nations children were forcibly removed from their parents and their communities and sent to them. The philosophy of these institutions was to kill the Indian in the child so they could better assimilate into white society.

 

It’s been well documented, indeed even Prime Minister Trudeau has apologized for the physical, sexual, emotional, and spiritual abuse these children endured for the ten years they were enrolled.

 

What isn’t understood is that as well as losing a normal childhood they also lost coping mechanisms, trust, a sense of safety and belonging and future parenting skills. For generations there was a cycle of remove children from their family, culture and support systems; shame, punish and abuse them; and then return them to parents who had undergone the same treatment.

 

If you don’t have this information, and other information about the cultural genocide perpetrated by the Canadian government, supported at least indirectly by the Canadian people than you cannot begin to understand the struggle of First Nations people in Canada.

 

I didn’t and now I do, thanks to Lynda Gray’s book, First Nations 101.

 

In a readable and dispassionate voice, Gray, a member of the Tsimshian Nation and Executive Director of the Urban Native Youth Assoc. in Vancouver, Canada, lays it all out and it’s horrific, unjustifiable and unresolved.

 

Chapters include identity, social control, community issues, fairness and justice, taxation, health and wellness and arts.

 

Apologies and commissions aside, First Nations still struggle with poverty and discrimination which are born out by statistics including Indigenous adults representing 4.1 percent of the of the total Canadian adult population — but 26 percent of adults in federal custody.

 

As they begin to recover from the effects of our assimilation policies and decades of intergenerational trauma all they ask is that they receive justice and fairness and for us to get out of their way so they can get on with the healing and rebuilding of their culture.

 

At the end of the book, Gray describes what needs to be done by the Canadian government and Canadians individually, and First Nations themselves if both sides are really interested in truth and reconciliation.

 

Reading First Nations 101 is a good first step.

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1806061/a-dispassionate-factual-account-of-cultural-genocide-against-first-nations-in-canada

East Van Saturday Night - Rod Raglin

I want to thank Artsy Ally for pointing out a typo on page 15 in my new release East Van Saturday Night – Four Short Stories and a Novella (EVSN). It has since been corrected on all digital platforms and in paperback. Unfortunately, if you purchased the book in either form before September 28, 2018, you’ve got one with the error in it and maybe a few others that have yet to be discovered.

 

 Artsy Ally, a.k.a. Ally Robertson, is content producer and social media director of Access Television, a non-profit organization that airs “community stories from Vancouver, BC, with a focus on marginalized voices. Produced by volunteers and neighbours.”

 

 I reached out to her to see if she’d be interested in reviewing the above mentioned new release.

 

 The response was interesting.

 

 Robertson asked for a digital copy and said she would “hand it off to someone who may read and review it. If they decide to do a review, we will have you come into the studio for a short interview.”

 

That sounded encouraging, and I sent an e-pub version immediately. The following day I received her response.

 

She began by saying “Your stories have merit and I enjoyed the memories they stirred in me. I really enjoyed the chapters with Chris’s attempt at crossing Canada. … I found East Van Saturday Night to be more like a one story novella with chapters, as the stories are of the same character.”

 

Robertson then proceeded to tell me she too was a self-published author “at the moment,” and she would “highly recommend you have people proofread your work before you publish. I am trying not to be highly critical, but as a former book publisher who published over 60 authors, I have some experienced suggestions for you. I found there were some issues with the book I just couldn’t overlook.”

 

Robertson said the book contained “plenty of grammatical errors” as well as “simple spelling mistakes.” Other issues she “just couldn’t overlook” included “un-announced dialogue switching” and “proper scene changes” which the book “desperately needs.”

Her suggestion was to have “a good proofreader go over it and you re-edit.”

 

I have an incredibly thick skin. I look at constructive criticism as a way to improve my writing. Accordingly, I sent the following response to Artsy.

 

Dear Ally,

 

No offence taken, in fact, thank you for your suggestions.

 

Scene changes can also be indicated by adding an additional blank line space, which I prefer over asterisks. However, I realize this style works better in print than in digital as the formatting may diminish it or eliminate the space altogether. I plan to take your suggestion and revise the manuscript inserting asterisks to indicate scene changes.

 

When errors are pointed out, I fix them and upload the corrected manuscript to all my digital and print publishing platforms. New readers will find one less mistake, though unfortunately, that doesn’t help those who have purchased my book with the typo.

 

When I write, I have two computer programs (Grammarly and ProWritingAid) filter the work. After a minimum of three revisions, I send the manuscript to three beta readers. Despite this rather thorough process errors are still overlooked.

 

Excuses and expenses aside, I will endeavour to do better.

 

Rod

 

Robertson replied saying I might be able to “find a student willing to do it (proofread) for $1.00 per page.” She was lucky enough to have her novel, Epic Crazy Love “go through 3 editors and a proofreader long before I re-published it myself.”

 

So now that you’ve got context let’s draw some conclusions.

 

Apparently, Robertson doesn’t think three beta readers, two computer editing/grammar programs and the author have the editing prowess of a student paid a dollar a page. Maybe she’s right.

 

More importantly, though, I’m interested in how well her novel is doing considering it went “through 3 editors and a proofreader” before it was self-published.

 

Epic Crazy Love was published in April 2017. Here’s the blurb accompanying the book.

 

Can two reunited soul mates conquer deceit, begrudged malice, extortion, multiple mental and physical traumas and maintain an intense, lasting, abiding love?

 

To date, Epic Crazy Love has one, five-star review. Here are its rankings on Amazon.

  • #18011 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Westerns
  • #27965 in Books > Romance > Western
  • #159502 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Contemporary
  • #3,393,001 overall on Amazon’s Paid in Kindle Store

“I did love the story (East Van Saturday Night) itself,” Robertson writes, “but reading it, it was difficult to overlook all of the little things that threw me off as a reader. Paying someone to proofread will really kick it up a notch and make your work great.”

 

Or maybe not.

 

But here’s the kicker, Artsy Ally, didn’t pass along my book to the reviewer saying, “Due to the adult content I don’t think it’s a good match for us to review for you, I don’t think it would be something Susan would enjoy reading so I won’t pass it along.”

 

Add censor to Robertson’s list of accomplishments.

 

Some days…

 

Stay calm. Be brave. Watch for the signs.

 

 

Access Television https://www.facebook.com/ACCESSCOMMUNITYTV/

Ally Robertson

 

http://ArtzyAlly.com

 

Epic Crazy Love

https://www.amazon.com/Epic-Crazy-Love-Ally-Robertson/dp/1770650717/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538433910&sr=1-2&keywords=crazy+epic+love

 

Author Amazon Page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1798536/the-case-for-not-having-your-manuscript-professionally-edited

Review:

Set It Off - Myanne Shelley

JJ Carlisle is the worst kind of spoiled; a grown adult with a sense of entitlement and a family that indulges it. Surprisingly, he’s done well or did well. Computer savvy, he hooked up with a tech startup and scored big only to lose it all in the economic crash.

 

Of course, the downturn in the economy is not his fault; neither is the fact that he never saved a penny of the hundreds of thousands of dollars he made. Now he’s broke, angry and looking for someone to blame.

 

Participation in Occupy Oakland is the perfect outlet, and during a demonstration, he’s arrested for assault.

 

Set it Off by Myanne Shelley sounds like it could be an interesting story with contemporary issues, action and politics. It isn’t and here’s why.

 

Rather than start the story with an action-filled inciting incident – the demonstration and the arrest, Shelley chooses to begin with JJ being bailed out by his sister, Jackie, and step-sister, Karen.

 

The next few chapters flash back to the three character’s childhoods. It’s backstory and not very interesting at that, though there’s a bit of character development and the reader gets a sense of the relationship between the three.

 

Then we’re back to the present, and everyone is gathering for their father’s eightieth birthday. There’s lots of reflection but no drama; not even a family feud.

 

Occasionally, JJ meets up with his pals from the Occupy Oakland movement, but they’re hardly radical and more philosophical than violent.

 

I kept anticipating something would happen, but nothing does. The story just peters out.

 

Shelley writes well. Her dialogue is authentic, and her characters are well-drawn, the problem is they’re unsympathetic. Besides being boringly normal, they’re timid and whiney.

 

But what makes Set if Off so lacklustre a read is the fundamentals of storytelling are missing: Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

 

The goals of the three main characters are so vague as to be non-existent. Without goals there’s no conflict. How can there be conflict when everyone is more or less satisfied with their situation, or at least too unmotivated to do anything about it?

 

Add to that Shelley’s passive writing style – the author prefers to have the characters explain what happens than have them actively engage in the events.

 

These deficiencies represent lack of craft – beginner’s mistakes. They would have been easily identified by peer writing groups or instructors in writing courses. Reading books on how to write fiction can also be helpful though nothing takes the place of an honest, constructive critique by a writing professional.

 

To date, Shelley has published six books (all free except one at http://www.smashwords.com). Set if Off was one of her earlier works published in 2013.

I’ve certainly improved as a writer since I published my first novel, Saving Spirit Bear. I wondered if Shelley had? I decided to find out.

 

 

Already Gone is Shelley’s most recent work published in November 2017.

 

Glen and Rachel Voight, a married couple in their fifties, are on a brief vacation to New York City. After a day of sightseeing, Rachel has returned to the hotel to gather her energy while her husband continues to sightsee.

 

She’s waiting for him to return when she learns of a terrorist attack at a nearby nightclub. A man entered the club, sprayed the room with bullets, doused it with gasoline and then ignited it by blowing himself up.

 

When Glen doesn’t return to the hotel, Rachel’s anxiety mounts. When survivors identify her husband as being present at the time of the attack, and a surveillance camera backs it up, Rachel fears her worst nightmare is a reality. His jacket, found at the scene, confirms it. Because many of the bodies are burned beyond recognition her husband’s death is assumed, though never actually confirmed*.

 

Weeks after the attack, Nick, Glen’s brother, finds evidence Glen’s laptop has been used after it was assumed destroyed along with Glen in the fire. Was it stolen from the crime scene before the attack? When further anomalies are discovered including links to secret accounts, Rachel is left to wonder if Glen is dead or has just used the opportunity to disappear?

 

Author Myanne Shelley realistically portrays the emotions of someone thrust into these tragic circumstances while at the same time gradually sowing seeds of suspicion. But her unfolding of the plot takes too long, and in the end, nothing is resolved.

 

As in the previous novel I reviewed, Shelley does not include any dramatic action scenes; she seems to avoid them, preferring to spend the majority of time in her protagonist’s head replaying the events. Though this may be what traumatized individuals actually do, it doesn’t make for exciting reading.

 

Shelley writes well with good dialogue, characterization and realistic relationships between her characters, but her story lacks intensity. The other problem that becomes more glaring as the narrative unfolds with the absence of any startling revelations is the lack of motivation.

 

Why would Glen choose to disappear in such a dramatic way? Why would he inflict such pain on his family and sever ties forever with those he loved? There is no crushing debt, no illegal manipulations of client accounts; no harridan of a wife, nothing that is inescapable.

 

Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier in every way just to walk away from the relationship? People do it all the time.

 

After reading both these novels I’d say in the span of five years, Shelley’s writing has not improved.

 

Not too long ago I read and reviewed Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maas (you can still find the review in its entirety on this site).

 

Maas had a few good ideas, but the basic premise was “go big or go home.” Write big stories about larger than life characters in life-altering situations.

 

Face it, most of us lead mundane lives, at least I do, and when we read a book we want to escape from it and be entertained by charismatic heroes challenged by and intriguing plots. As an author, if you’re not prepared to offer that you’ll have no commercial success, likely no success whatsoever. I’d recommend Shelley read Maas’s book.

 

But even if she isn’t motivated by sales, she should endeavour to learn the fundamentals of storytelling.

 

Whether she writes to validate her interpretation of the world, seeks the fulfillment of connecting with readers, or simply to appreciate the satisfaction of producing a well-written story, she needs to hone her craft to achieve these goals.

 

 

Myanne Shelley has the potential to be a better author and writer; it would be a shame to see it squandered by lack of commitment. Remember what Nietzsche said, “Art is the proper task of life.”

 

I’d give both Shelley’s books three stars with credit for their evocative covers as well as being professionally produced and edited – error-free.

 

* Evidently, charred bodies can be confirmed through DNA if there is some idea of who the victim might be so a comparison can be made.

 

 

 

 

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1797574/comparing-novels-written-four-years-apart-shows-author-s-lack-of-improvement

What people are saying about East Van Saturday Night:

 

“… your writing is fresh, visceral and intuitively captures the rawness of youth and the dark energy of East Van…” and “…chronicles the past so authentically…”

– Al Forrie of Thistledown Press, an independent Canadian publisher since 1975

 

 

“Your stories have merit and I enjoyed the memories they stirred in me. I really enjoyed the chapters with Chris’s attempt at crossing Canada. … I found East Van Saturday Night to be more like a one story novella with chapters, as the stories are of the same character.”

– Ally Robertson, Content Producer and Social Media director of Access Television

 

Enter to win one of fifty e-book editions at

 

 

Author Amazon Page

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1797265/win-a-e-book-edition-of-east-van-saturday-night-on-booklikes

EVSNebookCover09032018

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.

Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

– Oscar Wilde

 

East Vancouver has become gentrified and at the same time romanticized. It was neither when I was growing up on East 4th Avenue in ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Indeed, it was the neighbourhood you hoped to get out of rather than move in to.

A low-income, blue-collar neighbourhood, adults spent their evenings and weekends in the Legion while their kids were raised on the street. They left home in the morning, showed up for dinner, and were gone again until “the gun” sounded at 9 p.m. I was one of them.

During the time away adventures were undertaken, friendships were forged, and character was created. East Van Rules was not only meant as a challenge, but also a code to live by.

East Van Saturday Night – Four short stories and novella, highlight coming of age events during that era; a ten-year-old playing for the elementary school softball championship, a teenage tough strutting his stuff at the local dance, a hippie youth hitchhiking across Canada during the Summer of Love.

Watershed moments told from a perspective that explains why you can take the boy out of East Van, but you’ll never take East Van out of the boy.

Now available in E-book or Paperback at

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

East Van Saturday Night - Rod Raglin

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.

Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

– Oscar Wilde

 

 

East Vancouver has become gentrified and at the same time romanticized. It was neither when I was growing up on East 4th Avenue in ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Indeed, it was the neighbourhood you hoped to get out of rather than move in to.

 

A low-income, blue-collar neighbourhood, adults spent their evenings and weekends in the Legion while their kids were raised on the street. They left home in the morning, showed up for dinner, and were gone again until “the gun” sounded at 9 p.m. I was one of them.

During the time away adventures were undertaken, friendships were forged, and character was created. East Van Rules was not only meant as a challenge, but also a code to live by.

East Van Saturday Night – Four short stories and novella, highlight coming of age events during that era; a ten-year-old playing for the elementary school softball championship, a teenage tough strutting his stuff at the local dance, a hippie youth hitchhiking across Canada during the Summer of Love.

 

Watershed moments told from a perspective that explains why you can take the boy out of East Van, but you’ll never take East Van out of the boy.

 

Now available in E-book or Paperback at

 

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1791818/four-short-stories-and-a-novella-depict-coming-of-age-in-east-vancouver-during-the-50-s-and-60-s

MapleLeavesVeined_IMG_0005.jpg

Three months ago, I responded to a free offer from Bublish to use their “e-book Author and Discovery Platform” for two weeks.

Bublish claims they can help you “promote your work and build your brand” with, among other things, “book bubbles,” excerpts of your work shared across social networks. These bubbles also allow you to share “the story behind the story,” similar to a director’s rough cut which Bublish claims “is a powerful way to build social proof with readers.”

I already had a Bublish experience shortly after it was launched a few years ago. I quit using the platform then because despite encouraging numbers regarding bubble views, profile views and conversions there were no sales.

When I logged in I was surprised to see previous bubbles for my novels Forest, and The Big Picture still on the site.

Since I was launching Cold-Blooded, Book 2 of the Mattie Saunders Series, that’s what I began promoting, but after a month, and still having free access to the site, I decided to repost the bubbles from The Big Picture.

Bublish provides a daily update of social metrics for the past 90 days on a member’s dashboard. I’ve just completed my current 90 day run posting almost every day and here are the results:

Bubble Views – 4891;   Profile Views – 47; Conversions  (which retailers users are visiting from your bubbles) – 161

My use of Bublish did not result in a single sale, and neither did it generate any additional activity such as page views on Smashwords or visits to my author website over the three month period.

Today’s enhanced Bublish costs $99.00 a year or $9.99 a month. For a paid subscription you receive the opportunity to upload unlimited books, an author profile, social metrics, e-pub creator, exclusive programs (deals from their corporate partners) premium resources (tutorials, videos, etc.). You can also sign up as an Emerging Author and upload one book and post unlimited book bubbles free.

With the exception of posting unlimited books on Bublish, you can get everything else Bublish offers from other sites free.

The only benefit I gleaned from Bublish then and now, was condensing scenes into author insights (bubbles). It really hones your focus.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

https://www.bublish.com/

Amazon author page  https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1790442/enhanced-bublish-delivers-the-same-results-none

Full Disclosure: A Novel - Beverley McLachlin

Jilly Truitt is a young, ambitious criminal lawyer making a name for herself.

 

When a wealthy businessman, Vincent Trussardi is accused of murdering his young wife, he reaches out to Truitt to defend him. This will be a high profile case with a significant retainer and Jilly is eager to take it on even though the evidence overwhelmingly suggests her client is guilty.

 

Full Disclosure is Beverley McLachlin’s first novel after retiring as the longest Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada for seventeen years, the first women to hold that position and the longest-serving Chief Justice in Canadian history.

 

As a jurist, McLachlin is formidable, as an author she’s just a beginner, and it shows.

 

There are a number of plot points in the book that stretched this reader’s suspension of disbelief nearly to the breaking point, but I hung in there expecting some insights regarding the Canadian legal system, the professionals involved and those they prosecute or defend.

 

There weren’t any. In fact, the lack of originality had me wondering if I hadn’t read this before. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it. The story takes place in Vancouver, Canada, my hometown and hers, and it was fun recognizing the restaurants, landmarks and neighbourhoods where the scenes unfold.

 

Unfortunately, as the novel draws to an end, and with many questions still unanswered, the author (out of desperation?) resorts to the old, tired technique of having her protagonist goad a suspect, Perry Mason style, into confessing. Of course, this confession is taped on a recorder hidden in her pocket and is used to exonerate her client. See what I mean about lack of originality.

 

Though it didn’t have any real bearing on the novel, I was surprised and disappointed at the author’s treatment of a First Nation person in her story. Though a very minor character, when this young woman is challenged by isolation and unhappiness her choice is to become a drug addict and support her habit by prostitution.

 

With so many other positive possibilities out there, why did someone of the McLachlin’s stature and presumed sensibilities choose this clichéd depiction of our Indigenous people?

 

Despite the efforts of the best editors Simon and Schuster employ, I doubt Full Disclosure would have been published had it not been for the author’s significant profile which, like all books written by celebrities, assures at least some sales.

 

The real test will be McLachlin’s next novel.

 

 

 

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1785568/harsh-judgment-for-full-disclosure

The only way I have been able to sell my books is in person, directly to a potential reader.

 

When I did the math, I realized that I could order my books, mark them up and sell them cheaper than someone could buy them from Amazon, when you factored in the cost of shipping.

 

Here’s and example: For me to order a copy of Local Rag costs $4.40 CA, plus $2.43 shipping = $6.83 For anyone else to buy a copy of Local Rag from Amazon Canada costs $13.29, plus $4.98 shipping, plus GST 91¢ = $18.95 The difference is $12.12 (I don’t have to collect the GST because my sales are under $30,000 annually).

 

My royalty on an Amazon sale is about $2.86. That leaves $9.26 to do what I please with. I can knock $2.00 off the price and still make more than $4.00 more than I get from a sale on Amazon.

 

About a year ago, I started researching venues where I could sell my books in person. I rejected flea markets and other events unrelated to literature and soon found opportunities to participate in public readings and talks. You speak briefly about your book or a related topic and sell your work after the event while mingling with the audience.

 

I took it a step further and developed mini-seminars in self-publishing and memoir writing which I conducted free. The audience was very sales friendly. This system worked at book fairs as well, but since the table rental had to be taken into consideration, I had to be a little more aggressive.

 

In sales, it’s essential to engage the customer, so you have to get out from behind the table and chat up the passers-by. I printed up cheap bookmarks to give away, had them fill out an entry form (don’t forget their email address) for a free draw of some of my books, and talked about the event, even the other authors.

 

I’ve made a living at direct sales so this is second nature to me, but even so it was exhausting and not a lot of fun.

 

After six months I had a decision to make. I now had lots of opportunities to speak, teach and sell my books, but I needed to invest in more stock. If I ordered more books, I’d have to get out there and flog them.

 

I decided I’d had enough.

 

So what have I learned?

 

Selling a book is a lot like writing one. There’s no easy way,

 

and nobody can do it for you.

 

Too bad.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

 

Amazon Author Page (still the easiest way to sell books)

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1785255/author-as-a-salesperson

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