Interview With the Creators of the Sit & Write: A Writing Master Course

Saturday, September 24, 2022


I'm so excited to interview Claudine Wolk and Kate Brenton, creators of the Sit & Write: A Writing Master Course. It's a course for writers who know they have a book in them, but don't know where to start or how to meld it into their mission. 

Kate Brenton, author and inspired teacher, joins book marketing expert, Claudine Wolk, in this class that combines the spiritual and analytical sides of writing to get your mission and your message into the hands of those who need it. Community calls, video lessons, and one-on-one calls combined with the unique insight of Kate (spiritual) and Claudine (analytical) will provide pieces of what is needed for your book to get written and seen.

Find out more information about their course by visiting their website. Use WOW2022 for an early bird discount! Registration ends 10/15/2022.

Before we get to my interview, get to know a bit more about Kate and Claudine: 


Kate Brenton, published author and inspirational teacher, will help you work through the structure and cadence of your story, refine your voice, and reach your audience. Kate has an uncanny knack of intuitively following a thread and unearthing resistance that clouds a writer’s voice. Writers will receive 3 one-on-one calls with Kate to review material, work through voice, or another writer-selected topic on the creative process.


Claudine Wolk, published author and book marketing muse, will help you to identify your book’s message, audience, and hook - the building blocks to determine the viability and focus of your book idea and later marketing materials. You will receive 2 sixty-minute-one-on-one calls with Claudine to flesh out your book idea and get your questions answered on good publishing practices. Claudine will also teach on the art of pitching your book (because it is an art and you get to practice.

-- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: I can't wait to find out more about this course! What can people expect from taking it?

Kate & Claudine:
With full committed participation, Sit & Write will be the space where you create the first draft of our book and learn the first, most important steps to successfully market the book.

WOW: That's fantastic! Why do you think people have a hard time disciplining themselves to write?

Kate & Claudine: It's the discipline and time management, coupled with standing your ground against resistance and doubt, which inevitably arrive. Sometimes we doubt the content as a facade for doubting ourselves or we can be so close to what we are creating that we cannot truly see it. The beauty of writing is that it's you and the word, but that is also the difficulty.

WOW: So true, conquering that doubt is such a challenge. Kate, you work with writers on overcoming their doubts while also helping them structure their novel. What are the roadblocks do you notice writer's struggle with the most?

Kate: Accepting that they have 1,000 things to say but there is only room for 10. So, a writer has to trust their intention and the scope of what they have set out to write to maintain a coherence and elegance for the reader. What the writer wants and what the reader needs can sometimes be a dance in creation.

WOW: It is a dance! Claudine, you teach a lot of what goes into the marketing of the book. What do you think are the most important parts of figuring out how to market your book?

Claudine: Number one is to learn the publishing options available so that you understand the correct timeline of the important promotion opportunities available to give your book the best chance to be seen and sold. Marketing starts while you are writing your first manuscript! Number two is to identify your message, audience, and hook.  Message, audience and hook are the fundamental building blocks that will inhabit every part of your media kit and marketing plan.

WOW: Yes! I don't think people realize that marketing starts while you are writing. It takes time to build a plan. Kate, what kind of resistance do you see writer's struggle with when finding their voice?

Kate: For some writers there is an un-learning that needs to happen. As in so many areas, they have assumed a voice that is needed rather than trusting their own. This can look like a journal prompt flowing more easily than a significant chapter. Rectifying this is acknowledging how the writer feels (mindset) when they write in that natural voice and leaning in there, until it becomes the voice. 

WOW: Getting out of our own way is definitely challenge. Claudine, how do you help writers plan out the marketing method to your book?

Claudine: After a discussion of publishing choices and making a publishing decision, we engage the writer in exercises to identify their message, audience, and hook.  Writers come away from the exercises with an elevator pitch for their book and the backbones of a book proposal and/or query.  We review the pitching process with tips and suggestions.  Once the fundamentals are in place, we discuss book marketing options and how to narrow an author’s focus to what is actually doable from a financial and time management standpoint.  Book distribution and book promotion opportunities are discussed for further research. 

WOW: That is an exciting but difficult process! Why is the spiritual and analytical side of writing important to consider?

Kate & Claudine: Both are needed. If you are more guided internally you may hide from the marketing thinking that you can't do it or it's not necessary, but it is; not only for book sales, but to strengthen the reach or hook for the reader who does not know you. The analytical side helps take your book and provides the accessibility for your readers to find it! Likewise, if you are completely analytical in your writing and focusing only on the transaction of writing, you aren't allowing your reader the joy to sink in and unfurl to the fullness of your piece or your voice, fiction or non-fiction. For purpose-driven writers you need both.

WOW: So true! Can you share any success stories with us? Either through this class or through one-on-one work you've had with writers?

Kate & Claudine:
For some of our early birds on this round, their first (free) consultation call gave them a call to action. For one writer, she decided to go with her gut and broaden her depth in her book and she is already writing before we begin! 

Another author, between their intake call and signing up, chose to convert a class curriculum to a book and has also begun writing with a clear directive and a loose structure. 

Both writers benefited from the intake assessment for Sit & Write: A Master Writing Course that both narrows the focus and asks the questions to illuminate the true intention of what is being written. 

We are both published authors and know what it takes to write, publish and market a book.  More importantly, our work with authors over the years, Kate as teacher/mentor, Claudine as book marketer/editor, has only heightened our desire to help authors get their message out there.  Why should a writer’s message be stymied because he/she can’t get it out onto the page or because they were not aware of the book marketing steps that from the beginning of the process would have made the difference in getting their book seen and sold?  We aim to change that circumstance with this class.

WOW: That's exciting! So much action happening so soon. I am can't wait to see what comes out of this course for people. Thank you again for your time today.

Again, find out more information about their course by visiting their website. Use WOW2022 for an early bird discount! Registration ends 10/15/2022.

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Listen for the Music in Your Writing

Friday, September 23, 2022
By Barbara Noe Kennedy

I’m a travel journalist, so it seems incongruous that poetry might have anything to do with my writing. On the contrary, poetry has everything to do with my writing—after culling the best ideas, of course. And this goes for any type of writing, whether you’re penning a novel, a food-related story, even a business article.

Think of the English language as a musical instrument. You are using that instrument to create great music. While the meaning of every word you use is imperative, you can be like a poet and complement that meaning by choosing words that provide accompanying sounds, whether to signal peace, discord, fear, love, disgust, or whatever. Poets, after all, are masters at being as concise and succinct as possible in their writing. So why shouldn’t you?

For example, if you are describing a peaceful rainy scene, think about using words with the “s” sound to convey the rain, using a rhythmic cadence: Small drops of water spilled from the sky.

Or, perhaps the scene is stormy, filled with thunder and lightning. In this case, you would want to choose words that are harsh sounding—hard consonants—and make the sentence more choppy: Rain fell, lights flashed, I glanced around the street for cover.

Here are some more poetic techniques to add to your writing tool chest

Perfect Rhyme: Two words rhyme in such a way that their final stressed vowel and all following sounds are identical; e.g.: power and tower, mouse and house, cat and hat. The use of perfect rhyme creates a harmonic, melodic effect, suggesting that everything is good.

End rhyme: The end of the sentences rhyme, such as: Star light, star bright. This rhyme is probably the most common in poetry. If you use it in your prose, you are drawing attention to the scene by creating a certain, expected rhythm, along with creating a sense of harmony.

Slant rhyme (also called near or imperfect rhyme): The last syllable rhymes, such as find and friend; and bottle and fiddle. Poets use slant rhyme to introduce a sense of the unexpected, to entice the reader to pay closer to attention to the words. Emily Dickenson was a pro.

Eye rhyme: This is where you have the same spelling but different sounds, such as wind and bind; love and move. Poets use eye rhymes to appeal to the sense of sight, not hearing, to make for a more melodic read.

Read your writing out loud, and listen to the sounds of your writing—the music. Are the sounds enhancing the mood you are creating? Do they help with pacing? By carefully picking the right words—and the right sounds—you can bring you writing to a whole new level.

***

Barbara Noe Kennedy is a former longtime editor with National Geographic Travel Publishing. She currently works as a fulltime freelance travel writer, with credits including Fodor’s, Lonely Planet, London Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC Travel, The Points Guy, and more. She also teaches travel writing and creative nonfiction and leads tours.

--Barbara is also a WOW! Women on Writing instructor, with several webinars starting soon: TRAVEL WRITING 101 WEBINAR (October 5th), THE POWER OF STORYTELLING 101 WEBINAR (October 12th), and THE PIZZAZZ OF WRITING 101 WEBINAR (October 26th). For information and enrollment, visit our classroom page.  
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Fall Into Reading Giveaway

Thursday, September 22, 2022

With an unbearably hot summer behind us, we're excited at WOW! to see the signs of fall leaves and cooler weather just around the corner. This time of year is perfect for cozying up with a good book and listening to the rain patter against the window.
 
Since it's the first day of fall today, we're excited to reward our readers with our newest giveaway: Fall Into Reading! (#FallintoReading) This is our third big giveaway, and we can't wait to tell you about the authors and their books joining us today. 

A few details:

Much like our last giveaways, we will have three winners. One grand prize winner will receive the grand prize of our $150 Amazon gift card, free entry into one of WOW's writing contests (each contest has over $1200 in cash prizes!), and a large collection of books that will supply their reading habits for the entire fall season and beyond. Two winners will receive the same collection of books as well and free entry into one of WOW's contests too!

This giveaway is only open to US readers, and we'll be sending out physical book copies to all winners. 

To enter this giveaway, scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter the Rafflecopter form. The giveaway ends October 6th at 11:59 PM Central. We'll announce the winners the next day!


Our First Place Winner Will Receive:

$150 Amazon Gift Card
One free entry into either one of WOW! Women on Writing's writing contests
Faking My Fall Crush by Michelle Cornish
Hiding Out on Halloween by AJ Kormon
The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo
A Child Lost by Michelle Cox
Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning
From Promising to Published: A Multi-Genre, Insider's Guide to the Publication Process by Melanie Faith  
The Eternity Knot (Celtic Magic series) by H R Conklin
Take a Chance on Me by Megan Byrd
The Kiminee Dream by Laura McHale Holland
The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning
The Right Address by Patricia Gable
& the sequel The Right Choice by Patricia Gable
Obsessed By A Promise by Sandra Warren
The Silence in the Sound by Dianne C. Braley
Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding by Linda Jämsén

Our Second & Third Place Winner Will Receive:
One free entry into either one of WOW! Women on Writing's writing contests
Faking My Fall Crush by Michelle Cornish
Hiding Out on Halloween by AJ Kormon
The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo
A Child Lost by Michelle Cox
Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning
From Promising to Published: A Multi-Genre, Insider's Guide to the Publication Process by Melanie Faith  
The Eternity Knot (Celtic Magic series) by H R Conklin
Take a Chance on Me by Megan Byrd
The Kiminee Dream by Laura McHale Holland
The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning
The Right Address by Patricia Gable
Obsessed By A Promise by Sandra Warren
The Silence in the Sound by Dianne C. Braley
Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding by Linda Jämsén

Let's talk about some of the books you will receive in this amazing giveaway:

Faking My Fall Crush by Michelle Cornish

Felicia Ellway has always had a flair for the dramatic. So when her friend Kit dares Felicia to tell her family she’s engaged, she doesn’t flinch. But when her family books the next flight to see her, she’s scrambling for a plan. Felicia convinces her best friend Marshall to act as her fiancé for the weekend, but when Marshall sees Felicia’s walls start to crumble, he enlists the help of Felicia’s little brother to win her heart for real.

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can also find out more about the author and her other books by visiting her website.


Hiding Out on Halloween
by AJ Kormon

Avery is the first person to borrow the latest Minecraft hacks book from the school library, much to the dismay of the school bully Becky. When Avery accidentally splashes Becky with an invisibility potion he learned from the book, she not only disappears from Minecraft, but from the real world too. 

Trying to ease his guilt about Becky’s disappearance, with the help of his friend Jordan and a black cat who appears to be stalking him, Avery sets out to find Becky. 

What he discovers is worse than he ever imagined. 

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can find out more about the author and her other books by visiting her website.


The House on Linden Way
by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo 

While passing through her hometown a decade after she left, Amber Blake impulsively revisits her old house on Linden Way. She only means to stay a moment, to show her three-year-old daughter Bee the place where she grew up. But when the kindly new owners invite them inside, Amber cannot resist.

Soon Bee is missing, the owners have disappeared, and Amber finds herself in a houseful of ghosts. Time takes on new meaning as she loses herself in living memories and a past that does not wish to be forgotten.

As Amber fights the powerful lure of a childhood she’d long left behind, her tenuous hold on the real world slips further from her grasp. Is it merely nostalgia she’s battling, or something far more menacing? Who haunts the house on Linden Way, and where are they hiding her child?

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can find out more about the author and her other books by visiting her website.


A Child Lost
by Michelle Cox

A spiritualist, an insane asylum, a lost little girl . . .

As a favor to Henrietta's younger sister, Clive and Henrietta agree to attempt to find a missing German immigrant woman.  Their search leads them to Dunning, a notorious Chicago insane asylum, where Henrietta begins to suspect dark deeds may be happening.  When Clive doesn’t believe her, she decides to take matters into her own hands . . . with horrifying results.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can find out more about the author and her other books by visiting her website.


Hawthorn Woods
by Patrick Canning

Summer, 1989. Sick and tired of a divorce she can't seem to get over, Francine leaves San Francisco to visit her sister in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois: an idyllic slice of Midwest suburbia that looks like the perfect place to relax and recover. But it doesn't take long before strange occurrences in the neighborhood enliven Francine's natural passion for playing detective. The dark mysteries hidden in Hawthorn Woods might just give Francine a path back to being herself, assuming they don't kill her first... 

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can find out more about the author by visiting his website.


From Promising to Published: A Multi-Genre, Insider's Guide to the Publication Process
by Melanie Faith

You've been writing and honing your craft for months or years and are curious about seeking publication for your latest project. Perhaps you wonder about the next steps in the process. Look no further!

This book has a little something for every writer interested in expanding their audience and sharing their writing with readers, from pre-writing and writing your drafts to choosing your market and the writing life before, during, and after publication.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author by visiting her website.


The Eternity Knot
by H.R. Conklin

The Celtic Magic series is a unique tale connecting modern-day California to the Scotland of centuries ago. Join Mairi during a life-changing year in this eco-heroine's journey, following the Celtic wheel of pagan holidays through the seasons. In The Eternity Knot, humans and faeries are working together like never before to dispel deadly faerie magic. Now Mairi must put all the pieces together before time runs out for human life on Earth, and for once she's starting to feel worthy of the task. Join Mairi and friends in this exciting epic adventure!

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.


Take a Chance on Me
by Megan Byrd

Rachel Price has nearly given up on her dream of becoming a published author. Tom Haynes knows all about the thrill of living out your dream, along with the devastation of having it yanked away from you. Both Tom and Rachel must choose to overcome past hurts in order to step forward into a new chapter of their lives, and possibly find love.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.

 
The Kiminee Dream
by Laura McHale Holland

In Kiminee, Illinois, lilacs bloom in winter, and the river sings as it wends through town. But this is normal for the tight-knit community, so when Carly Mae Foley reads fluently at age two and masters multiplication at age three, the locals take it in stride and embrace her with pride. But all is not well in Carly Mae’s family, and when a twister roars though, it decimates far more than their home. Several citizens come to Carly's aid, but not everyone is rooting for her, and when an appalling crime occurs, long-held animosities boil over. Will the good folks of Kiminee pull together—or be torn apart?

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.


The Colonel and the Bee
by Patrick Canning

The Amazing Beatrix, with no home or family, suffers an abusive ringleader as an acrobat in a 19th-century circus. After a harrowing escape from her tormentor, Beatrix encounters the daring adventurer Colonel James Bacchus, and the unlikely pair team up. Flying to safety aboard the Colonel’s miraculous four-story hot air balloon, they begin a grand quest to find the most precious gem in the world, The Blue Star Sphinx. Perils await them, however, as they must outmaneuver deadly treasure hunters, escaped convicts, and endless double-crosses. If they succeed, they might discover the great treasure, or better yet, a true sense of belonging.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on his website.


The Right Address
by Patricia Gable

When Annie hears that her foster parents are going to send her little brother to another home, she convinces him to run away with her to another town. Adventure awaits as they hide in a dark alley to avoid the police. Is there anyone who can help them? Who can they trust? Will they ever find a forever home?

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.


Obsessed by a Promise by Sandra Warren

The lives of two homeless depression-era brothers are changed forever when the oldest, after promising his dying father he'd keep his little brother safe, loses him to the Orphan Train movement. From then on the compulsion to find his lost brother and rectify what he perceived as his personal negligence, permeates his existence to the detriment of his marriage and his relationship with his future son. Fifty-years would pass before the oldest brother would find resolution allowing him to finally let go of his obsession.  

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.


The Silence in the Sound
by Dianne C. Braley

On the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard, an ailing celebrity novelist's famous book about a choice helps his young nurse make a heartrending one of her own. 

Fiery city girl, Georgette's memory of a childhood trip to Martha's Vineyard Island with her father is one of the few good times. Her father was an alcoholic, and her enabler mother chose to stay with him; his addiction was the center of their world. Georgette fled home as soon as she could; years later, as a nurse, she's going back to the island to start her life over. There, she becomes the private nurse for the ailing prize-winning novelist, Mr. S., whose famous book about a choice helps her make a difficult one of her own as she loses herself in a relationship with the mysterious Dock, who leads her down a road of denial and impossible choices she never thought she'd have to face.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.



Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding
by Linda Jämsén

When Linda doesn't receive the marriage proposal from her partner Hank on her 41st birthday, she reluctantly visits a psychic, Angelica, who predicts she will soon leave him for a romantic and classical music-filled Odyssey in Europe. There, a "Russian icon" will lead to Linda's future husband, a "tall man with glasses." Eager to reignite her passion for music and find The One, Linda leaves for Budapest, where she sings in a chorus and teaches English. Soon, sparks are flying in and out of the classroom with several attractive men who meet Angelica's description. Is one of them her intended? And, where is the Russian icon to guide her?

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.



***** FALL INTO READING GIVEAWAY *****

Enter the Fall into Reading Giveaway! (#FallIntoReading) For your chance to win a $150 Amazon Gift Card, and all the wonderful books above, please enter using Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on October 6th at 11:59 PM Central. We will pick three winners randomly via Rafflecopter, and follow up via email the next day. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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What's in a Domain Name?


Years (and years) ago, I had a feature on my blog called “What NOT To Do.” The concept referred to my early days as a writer, when I had a lot to learn. Sometimes, I did something I shouldn’t have and other times, I didn’t do something which I should have. 

And even after making a ton of mistakes, I am still learning lessons the hard way. Recently, I tackled domain names. 

Again. 

So a little backstory, friends. A dozen or so years ago (Eek!), I decided to create a website for my freelancing business and I’d need a domain. A quick search brought up about 2 gazillion Cathy Halls and so I opted for Cathy C. Hall, using my middle initial to differentiate myself from the pack. Luckily, no one had my name and so cathy-c-hall.com was my first domain (and website). But after a few years, I decided to combine my freelancing and children’s writing; I was not so sure how I’d do that. I canceled my website and allowed my domain to lapse whilst I gave some thought to my writing future.

You know what happened, right? When I went to get my domain name again, it had been bought up, along with a LOT of iterations. See, I SHOULD HAVE renewed my domain name. Which is why I now have c-c-hall.com. 

I learned then what NOT to do: if you have a domain name that’s unique to you and/or your business, keep renewing it, even if you’re uncertain about your future plans. It’s a relatively inexpensive price to pay for continuity. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Before I could go any further in my book cover design search, I needed to decide on the name I’d use in the adult fiction market. You’d think Cathy C. Hall but I wanted a name and a domain that would match. But I also wanted to take advantage of any name recognition I’d built. Easy, right? Not so much. 

First, just for a lark, I checked Cathy C. Hall again. Still not available. A foreign company apparently has an auto renewal on my name for infinity. (GRRR!) So I figured maybe I’d go with C. C. Hall (since that’s my current domain and website). But a quick search of C. C. Hall goes to a whole page of CC Hall and the Italian American community’s hall or a restaurant or whatever. 

 As lovely as I’m sure the whole CC Hall is, it’s not helping me if someone just types in my author name as C. C. Hall. And besides, I didn’t think I could suddenly start referring to myself as C.C. So then I thought I’d go retro and check the availability of CathyHall.com. It was available! It was a Friday night and I decided to mull it over till Monday. 

You can guess what happened on Monday, right? What I SHOULD HAVE done but DIDN’T do was buy the domain name for ten bucks the minute I saw that it was available because, of course, some bot had bought it up. Seriously?? 

So what NOT to do if you’re checking domain names and there’s any chance you might want to use a name? BUY IT WHEN CHECKING. You can always toss the name (s) later and keep the one you like.

After a bit of fussing (using some rather unladylike words that made Libs the dog blush), I continued searching. I now have a domain name that will match my author name and I hope draws on my present name recognition. I should have a contest…like “Guess My Author Name and Win!” 

Ooooh, I’ll think about that this Friday night. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping my current website for a (long) while, just to avoid another domain name What NOT To Do. (Ugh.)
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Is AI Created Material Really Art (or Real Writing)?

Wednesday, September 21, 2022


It started out with someone I connected to on Facebook — and forgive me for saying so — who all of a sudden shared art that surprised me. Why did it surprise me? It was fantastic. And I didn't know her to be an artist (of course, it was possible she had this low-key amazing skill that she all of a sudden decided to reveal to others). 

Secretly, though, I wondered, where on earth did she get such talent and why has she waited to share it until now?

Finally, a few posts of hers later, I complimented her art, and asked: how did she do that? It looked so real and professional and creative. I had to know. What was her medium? How did she make these images?
She told me: an AI-art program.

AI (or artificial intelligence) art doesn't come without controversy. Recently, an AI artist won an art contest that left people feeling pretty mad about it. Other artists have become unhappy at the thought their style is being mimicked in AI programs. And some AI art has been sold at an auction for a hefty sum.

But I confess: the idea of creating AI art drew me in too.

I joined a program called Night Cafe and played around with it. It's not as easy as you might think, especially if you are trying to create something in particular. While I'm mostly trying to recreate images from stories I've written, it's been fun to simply play around and see what I could do. (If you are curious, here's what I have attempted so far).

Then a conversation at work made me wonder about this whole subject. My boss was talking about the 2023 Q1 budget and mentioned they were considering an AI-writing program. I wasn't too surprised, and considering the level of content we had to create as a department, it could be a helpful tool. However, I wondered, could it eventually AI-write me out of a job?

If we had a tool that could use Mary Shelley's writing voice to create a new novel about some other monster, is that real writing? If we used J.K. Rowling's writing voice to create a new Harry Potter novel in the Harry Potter world, is that a book that should be sold? If we had a program that could mimic the Hitchcock-style of moviemaking and create new film noirs and mysteries based on that style, should those films be released in theaters? 

This has become a morally ambiguous question that I'm not sure about the answer to anymore. We're all inspired by certain writers' voices, but we don't mimick them in our creations. Sure, certain styles may seem similar, even in published material from a real writer. You'll see certain books as being great fans of "fill in the blank" because of how similar they were in nature.

Movies can be that way too. If you're a fan of Lifetime movies (and I am) there's a certain formula to each one that makes it so wonderfully terrible and amazing at the same time. Outside viewers can criticize the films, sure, but fans like me love them.

As technology advances, it's getting harder to deny a computer's role in our creative world. Is it only art or creative writing if there's a real person behind it that has produced the material?

What do you think about AI-created art or writing?


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Interview with Tara Campbell 2022 Spring Flash Fiction Runner-up

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

 


Tara’s Bio: 

Tara Campbell (www.taracampbell.com) is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse, and graduate of American University’s MFA in Creative Writing. Her publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Wigleaf, Booth, and CRAFT Literary. She’s the author of a novel and four multi-genre collections including her newest, Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection. 

Connect with her on Twitter at @TaraCampbellCom

If you haven't read Tara's story, "The Loveliest Thing," click through and then come back to learn how she created this winning flash fiction.

-----interview with Sue Bradford Edwards-----

WOW: What was your inspiration for “The Loveliest Thing”? 

Tara: This story, as so many in the flash world, was born in a Kathy Fish workshop. I was visiting family in Seattle, sitting in a café trying to figure out what to write for the “object” prompt, when I noticed I had a view through the window of a dress I’d been tempted by in a store down the street. It had been made and worn decades ago by a friend of the shopkeeper, and if you’re wondering what it looked like, you’ll find the exact description in the story. After I wrote my first draft, I went back to the store and bought it. And true to the story, it didn’t fit, and I had no one to give it to, but for $15 it was too good to leave behind. 

WOW: How did this story change during the revision process? 

Tara: I don’t think it changed much in the revision process because most of its evolution was in the drafting process. I began with the visual image of the dress, and my longing for it even though I knew it didn’t fit. As I sat in that coffee shop, still able to see it, I knew I’d be sorry if I didn’t go back for it. That’s the emotional core I was working with: longing, regret, wanting to go back and make something ill-fated work. The parallel to the main character’s past came from those emotions. Rather than revision, per se, it was a matter of building up the layers by fleshing out the circumstances around those emotions. 

WOW: What an interesting way to build a story. Speaking of emotion, there is so much emotion in this story. As someone who also teaches writing, what instruction would you give your fellow writers on creating an emotional response in their readers? 

Tara: I encourage students to start with something that interests them, whether it’s something they’re already obsessed with, or something they don’t know that much about but have a lot of questions about. In addition to the emotions I was working with for this story, I also had questions: how had something that had taken so much time and care to create wound up sitting in a consignment shop, on sale for a pittance? I just kept thinking about what might have happened between that initial fascination of making and wearing the dress, and the later letting-go of it. 

WOW: You’ve won or placed in three WOW! flash fiction contests. What advice do you have about making sure your story is ready to enter? 

Tara: Many writers would say a story is never really finished. I’m sure we all have writing out in the world that we would tweak if we had the chance. In fact, I once watched a novelist make edits to their own work during a reading—straight into the newly-published hardcover! I rarely send a story out until it’s been through one of my writing groups—having other eyes on it is crucial. What you do with the feedback is up to you, but you have to know how other people are seeing it before you can decide whether or not it’s doing what you intended it to do. 

WOW: Being able to gage reader reaction is so important. In addition to flash, you’ve written a novel and four collections. What are you working on now? 

Tara: I’m just finishing edits on another novel, which I never thought I would say. I don’t consider myself a novelist, even though that’s what my first published book was. The first novel, TreeVolution, was fueled by questions, and this new one was born of short stories that wound up being part of a larger world. In both cases, as with my collections, books seem to be things that sneak up on me while I’m following my curiosity in another direction. 

WOW: What an interesting thought – that a piece such as a novel might sneak up on you while you are writing other things. Thank you for sharing your writing process with our readers and hopefully we’ll see more of your work soon!
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The House on Linden Way Blog Tour: Interview with Author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and Book Giveaway!

Monday, September 19, 2022
We are excited to announce the WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour with author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and her book The House on Linden Way

The book is a ghost story with elements of horror and Gothic suspense. A perfect fall season read! Here's a bit more about The House on Linden Way:

While passing through her hometown a decade after she left, Amber Blake impulsively revisits her old house on Linden Way. She only means to stay a moment, to show her three-year-old daughter Bee the place where she grew up. But when the kindly new owners invite them inside, Amber cannot resist.

Soon Bee is missing, the owners have disappeared, and Amber finds herself in a houseful of ghosts. Time takes on new meaning as she loses herself in living memories and a past that does not wish to be forgotten. 

As Amber fights the powerful lure of a childhood she’d long left behind, her tenuous hold on the real world slips further from her grasp. Is it merely nostalgia she’s battling, or something far more menacing? Who haunts the house on Linden Way, and where are they hiding her child? 

Categories: horror, gothic suspense, haunted house, ghost story, magical realism, thriller
ISBN-13: 979-8809149051
ASIN: B0B74ZSXZM
Pages: 178 pages
#thehouseonlindenwaynaranjo

The House on Linden Way is available for purchase as an ebook and in print at Amazon. Add it to your list at Goodreads.

About the Author

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo is the award-winning author of The Fourth Wall (WiDo Publishing, 2014). Her short fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in Brevity Magazine, Superstition Review, Fractured Lit, The Portland Review, Hunger Mountain, Hospital Drive, Reservoir Road, Literary Mama, Motherwell, and a few other places. Her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best American Essay, and Best of the Net. All links to Elizabeth's work can be found on her website at elizabethmarianaranjo.com.

Twitter: @emarianaranjo


---- Interview by Crystal Otto


WOW: Welcome, Elizabeth! I've missed you since we originally met with your tour for your novel, The Fourth Wall. We are thankful to have you back. How was The House on Linden Way born? 

Elizabeth: I’ve missed you too, Crystal! I am so happy to be back with Women on Writing for The House on Linden Way blog tour. 

Here’s the story of Linden Way: In the summer of 2017 I was stuck for hours at a Toyota dealership waiting for a car repair, and I began scribbling ideas for a short story. My debut novel had been published three years before, my last one had been written two years before, and I kept trying, and failing, to write another. I’d decided to focus on short stories. That was fine; I liked writing short stories, and anyway I had a great idea for one. It was about a woman who revisits her childhood home and loses her young daughter inside. She tries to look for her but keeps getting pulled into memories. It would be like a haunted house story, but infused with elements of nostalgia and melancholy instead of straight-up horror. 

Long story short (heh), the story became a book. Not only that, it became the book of my heart. I pursued traditional publishing for a while, but Linden Way was too short, it wasn’t in first person, no one knew how to sell it, and on and on. I eventually decided to publish it myself, and here we are!

WOW: What an inspiring journey, and I just love it when a short story begs to become a book! Your book's premise is fascinating and I honestly had so many emotions while reading it - I felt like I was experiencing these events! (you are SO talented) -  Are there bits of personal truth written into The House on Linden Way? Where did your characters come from and how did you develop them so incredibly intimately?

Elizabeth: There are bits of personal truths written into most of my fiction. What’s true in Linden Way is my enduring enchantment with my childhood home, which really is on a street called Linden Way in my hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming. The house retains a mystical quality to me because when I was thirteen I had to leave it, something I have no memory of. When I was twenty I left Cheyenne altogether, and I’ve only returned once, when my daughter was three years old. Like the first chapter in the book, I visited my childhood home and asked the owners to take a picture of my daughter and I in front of the house. Unlike the book, I did not go inside. Everything from there on is fiction. 

The character of Joey is based on my brother. We were very close growing up. He really did, as a teenager, have black curly hair and an electric guitar. I think Joey’s a more accomplished player than my brother ever was though, haha. 

I wanted to write a story about nostalgia that focused on the strongest bonds I’ve known—the bond between mother and child, and the bond between brother and sister. I developed Amber by giving her strong relationships and forcing her to face loss and difficult choices. 

WOW: That photo scene is so vivid, and the familial bonds are compelling! Your book is a page turner. Now that you've let us in on some of your secrets, what is your writing routine and how does journaling plays a part in it?

Elizabeth: My writing routine changes year to year. While writing Linden Way five years ago, I wrote in fits and starts, bursts of creativity followed by fallow periods that could last for months. I don’t recommend this. I had too much time on my hands back then; my children were both in school and I worked very little, mostly on weekends, so that I could always be there to take them to school, pick them up, and be present on their vacations and holidays. Having entire days at home in which to write made writing harder. 

In 2019 I began working part-time during the weekdays, which left me a specific ninety-minute period in the morning for writing, and that’s when I began writing daily. In one year, I drafted three books. Now I work full-time as a classroom teacher, and I have even less time to write, but I’ve come to realize that five hours a week is all I need for drafting.

As for journaling, I got in the habit of journaling through every project when writing my book of short stories, What Was Never There, in 2015. It started as just a quick summary in the email I would send to myself with the day’s work attached. Now I work either longhand or in Google Docs and don’t need to email myself copies, but I always have a separate doc of the journal for that project. The journaling takes mere minutes and is so helpful because I’m able to look back at what I accomplished on any given day and what I struggled with. What’s really fun is looking back after a year or several and having the entire journey of that project preserved. 

I really got this idea from reading John Steinbeck’s journal of writing The Grapes of Wrath. It’s incredible. He journaled every day he wrote and we now have a historical account of his process writing this great American classic. He struggled mightily with imposter’s syndrome, he had days of elation and total despair, and it’s just so relatable and inspiring. It’s also a good reminder that while writing can feel magical, it is not magic—it is simply consistent, hard work. 

WOW: That's so interesting that the less time you had to write, the more productive you became! I believe this is true for many writers. I'm going to check out Steinbeck's method, and you're so right about it being consistent, hard work. What about your writing space? What is absolutely necessary to inspire you?

Elizabeth: I’ve learned to write pretty much anywhere. Right now, I’m sitting in my car writing on a lap desk in the parking lot of my local library. The sky is stormy and gray; it’s seven in the morning on a Saturday, and I’m stealing this hour of time before anyone realizes they need me. By then I’ll be walking back through the front door, probably with donuts. 

My preferred writing spot is in a coffee shop, where I draft by hand. All I need is a notebook and a pencil and some earbuds. When the world shut down in the spring of 2020 and I no longer had my coffee shop, I got used to writing at home again. I hung a sign on my bedroom door that said I was working from 8:15-9:45, the same time I would write at the coffee shop. Later that summer, I switched to my daughter’s room in the early mornings, where the house was quietest. I spread out a quilt on her floor, brought my pencil and notebook, and wrote bleary-eyed the first draft of my middle grade book, Halloween Eternal.

Now that I’m working full-time, I write in my car after dropping my son off at school and before going into work. I have about 45 minutes a few days a week, and then on weekends an hour or two. The key for me is not where I write but when, and using time blocks to maintain focus. I need a start time and, more importantly, an end time. Within that narrow structure I can always produce a few pages, and there’s a sense of urgency that was missing when I had all the time in the world.

WOW: I love that you can write anywhere and admire your dedication, Elizabeth! (I've been known to come up with fantastic ideas while waiting to pick up children from sporting events - so this speaks to me!) Who has been most influential in your writing career and what have you done to thank them? 

Elizabeth: The person who has been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration to me is my friend Carrie Ann Lahain. We met in an online marketing class called Launch Your Email Newsletter back in 2014 when we were both promoting our debut novels. I read her book, she read mine, we admired each other’s work and became critique partners. Carrie inspires me not only because she’s an amazingly gifted writer, but because she is strong, brave, and consistent. She’s self-published all of her books and confidently writes across genres—historical fiction, horror, mystery, contemporary romance, fantasy, you name it.

About three years ago, Carrie and I started a weekly email exchange we call our accountability emails. Every Friday we send each other a quick summary of what we did (or didn’t do!) that week, and it keeps me on my toes. She was the first person to read Linden Way, and she’s read every draft for the last five years, so you can see how much I owe her! I thank her by letting her know time and again how much I appreciate her, and also that I’m her biggest fan.

WOW: Having an accountability partner and reader is so important, and I bet she's just as thankful for you, too. So tell us, what's next for you?

Elizabeth: So I started writing a YA cozy mystery series three years ago, and I’m currently drafting the third book. I plan to write five in the series and begin publishing it next summer. The first book, Murder by Milkshake, is available on Kindle Vella, Amazon’s serialized fiction platform, and has done pretty well on there. I have a post about that coming up! But it’s not the same as having a print and ebook available, and I’m looking forward to self-publishing those starting next July. I already have the cover for the first book, and it’s so gorgeous it’s hard not to share it right now! 

I also have a middle grade horror and another novella, written in the same literary style as Linden Way, that need editing. My book of short stories, What Was Never There, is something I plan to self-publish soon as well. Finally, I hope to refocus soon on my shorter fiction and creative nonfiction and continue publishing those in literary magazines.  

WOW: Wow, that's so exciting, Elizabeth! It sounds like serializing your work and self-publishing is really working out for you. I'm going to sneak in one last question. What's your advice when it comes to self-publishing vs traditional publishing now that you've experienced both?

Elizabeth: I’ve had great experiences with both! I personally prefer self-publishing though. 

Self-publishing suits me because it takes away the feeling that my book has to sell a certain number of copies to justify the investment an agent and/or publisher put into it. I have ridiculously high standards for myself, which bodes well for my creative work but not so well when it comes to something as ambiguous and out of my control as book sales. I’d always feel like a failure; I’d always worry I was disappointing someone. I’d rather bear the costs of publishing and not have that pressure. The joy for me is in creating, not selling. 

I’m not sure this works well as advice, because it really depends on why someone writes. As a creative pursuit? Or to sell books? Or to see your book on a bookshelf at Barnes & Noble? My advice is to ask yourself why you write, and then find the publishing path that best suits your needs. If your path is traditional publishing, know it’s a long hard road, but there’s a wonderfully supportive writing community out there, and dreams do come true. 

WOW: Excellent advice! Thanks so much, Elizabeth, for taking time to chat with us today and for your generous answers. I can't wait to check out all your stops, and wish you the best of luck on your tour! 

The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo Blog Tour


-- Blog Tour Calendar

September 19th @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the launch of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Crystal interviews the author about her book and also gives away a copy to one lucky reader.

September 22nd @ Deborah Adams
Today, The House on Linden Way is in the spotlight at Deborah Adams blog with a guest post written by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo titled: "Exploring our Deepest Fears Through Speculative Fiction."

September 23rd @ The Faerie Review
In today's spotlight at The Faerie Review is Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's latest book The House on Linden Way. Readers will be thrilled to learn more about this fabulous read!

September 26 @ What is That Book About
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo is in the spotlight at What is That Book About as readers learn more about Naranjo's thriller: The House on Linden Way! Don't miss this blog stop on Naranjo's WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour!

September 27th @ Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire with Mindy McGinnis
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo pens today's guest post at Mindy's blog. Learn more about Naranjo's latest book The House on Linden Way as well as today's topic: "Traditional vs Self Publishing and My Experience with Both" as Naranjo offers some insight into her stories!

September 30th @ The Faerie Review
Hear some of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's favorite October stories as she pens today's guest post at The Faerie Review. This is also your chance to learn more about her latest thriller: The House on Linden Way. Don't miss this opportunity!

October 1st @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion
Linda at Boots, Shoes and Fashion shares her thoughts after reading Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's latest book called The House on Linden Way. This is a thrilling read and we can't wait to hear what Linda thinks! 

October 2nd @ Word Magic with Fiona Ingram
Fiona from Word Magic is hosting Elizabeth Maria Naranjo today. This is a great opportunity for readers to learn about Naranjo's latest book: The House on Linden Way as well as read her guest post titled: "The Lingering Ghosts of Our Childhood Homes." Readers will be thrilled to hear from Naranjo! 

October 3rd @ One Writer's Journey
Sue Bradford Edwards offers her review of The House on Linden Way by fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Find out what Sue thinks and learn more about this thriller!

October 3rd @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles of WOW! Women on Writing offers a thoughtful review of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo - readers won't want to miss the opportunity to learn more about this thrilling book and it's talented author!

October 8th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion
Linda interviews Elizabeth Maria Naranjo about her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way! This book blog tour is one readers won't want to miss - it's THRILLING!

October 10th @ Girl Zombie Authors
Chris at Girl Zombie Authors shares her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's The House on Linden Way - will it be too thrilling for this fellow author? Find out TODAY and be thrilled! https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com/

October 10th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Today's post is titled: "Tips For Getting Unstuck While Writing Your Novel" and it's penned by none other than Elizabeth Maria Naranjo as she just released her latest thriller The House on Linden Way. Find out more today!

October 11th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina puts fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo in the spotlight today as readers learn more about The House on Linden Way - this is a book blog tour stop that will thrill and delight! 

October 13th  @ Knotty Needle Creative
Judy reviews The House on Linden Way for readers at Knotty Needle Creative. Find out more about this thriller and it's talented author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo!

October 16th @ Literary Quicksand
Jessica from Literary Quicksand reviews The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo - what will she think? Will fellow author Elizabeth be able to thrill Jessica? Stop by today to find out! 

October 18th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina reviews the work of fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and offers his thoughts about The House on Linden Way!

October 20th @ Reading is My Remedy
Chelsea from Reading is My Remedy offers her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's The House on Linden Way for readers of her blog. This is a thriller and we can't wait to find out Chelsea's take on it! 

October 23rd @ Literary Quicksand
Jessica from Literary Quicksand interviews Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Learn more about this talented author and her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way!

October 25th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo pens today's guest post at fellow author Anthony Avina's blog with the title: "The Art of Brevity; Writing a Novella." Hear from Elizabeth and find out more about her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way.

October 27th  @ The Frugalista Mom
The Frugalista Mom offers her review of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Find out more and stop by today!

October 30th  @ Wildwood Reads
Megan from Wildwood Reads offers her review of the thriller, The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo! Stop by and get in the mood for tomorrow!


***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****

Enter to win a copy of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends October 2nd at 11:59pm CT. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget the next day and follow up via email. Good Luck!


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Interview with Rosie Schaller, Runner Up in Our Quarter 3 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest with "Exposed: Impoverished Beauty"

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Congratulations to Rosie Schaller and "Exposed: Impoverished Beauty" and to all of our contestants in the Quarter 3 2022 Creative Nonfiction Contest!

Rosie's Bio:
  

Rosie Schaller is a qualified counsellor, writer and mother of two. She grew up on the Island Jewel of Australia, Tasmania, and after six years away on the central coast of mainland Australia, she returned to her beloved Isle to be with extended family and friends in December 2021. Rosie’s written inclination is towards articulating the observed actions and ideas in the comings and goings of society. She enjoys writing in long poem form or short essay style and usually has a humorous bent to her stories. She is currently pursuing a small business idea that involves her love of writing and human interaction.

If you haven't done so already, check out Rosie's award-winning story "Exposed: Impoverished Beauty" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in the Q3 2022 Creative Nonfiction Contest!  Thank you for writing this essay - what is the take-away you'd like readers to gain from Exposed; Impoverished Beauty?

Rosie: The takeaway is to look at humanity with an open and curious mind, to observe the variety of people around you and to wonder about their lives; what has shaped them to become who and how they are – especially when the way they are is confronting to yourself. The people described in my essay were in my street and together we demonstrated the mosaic of society. 

I also think humor is the medicine of life and to write in a way that makes someone chuckle is a goal of mine, however, I always endeavor for the humor to be used as a tool that connects rather than divides. My intention is never to laugh at people or circumstances but to recognize the funny in behavior or situations, and to tie that in with an authentic experience.

WOW: That's a great way to look at things - thanks for the special insight. Tell us more about your process - Where do you write? What does your space look like?

Rosie: I write at the kitchen table, the couch, or on my bed. It depends when the moment presents itself and what the environment is like around me. If there’s sun shining on the couch I like to sit there, if the kids are playing loudly, I’ll close the door to my room. However, I find when all have gone to bed and the world is quiet – that’s when my mind and fingers really flow in unison.   

WOW: Sounds familiar as far as writing space goes and after reading your essay, I can say your fingers and mind support one another beautifully! Now, let me ask, who is your support - what have you found to be most supportive in your writing life as well as in life in general?  

Rosie: When people learn that I enjoy writing and have entered various competitions as a way to hone the craft and execute my ideas, I find them to be really supportive. My dad surprised me the other day when I told him about this essay making it to the top ten and he suddenly blurted that he’s always wanted to write a book and has a title in mind! This made me smile and it reiterated to me that when we share our creative sides, it often allows others to express that side to themselves too. He then checked in with me almost every second day to see if I’d heard about the final result. His enthusiasm was encouraging!  

WOW: How encouraging is that!! Other than helping your dad with his book idea, what’s next for you? What are your writing goals for what's left of Summer 2022 and beyond?

Rosie: Well here in the Land Downunder, it’s winter, which is a mixture of cool, crisp blue days, or as I like to say – pearler days! – and also grey, overcast, squally weather. My goals are to continue to find moments of time to work on various writings I have going on - mainly a few more creative non-fiction essays.

WOW: You mentioned contests as part of your craft - what is your history with writing contests?  - tell us what prompted you to submit to this particular contest? What would you like to tell other authors concerning contests and submitting their work?

Rosie: What prompted me to submit Exposed: Impoverished Beauty? The characters presented themselves; I listened and observed, my mind was ticking. I was aware of my interpretations and the humor that I sensed amongst the comings and goings of our street, which lead me to start writing. Then I simply felt it was a story worth sharing. There’s so much diversity in our lives, so many polarizing opinions and perspectives and I wanted to give a voice to how we can be so different and yet connected. And this competition provided the space for a piece like this. 

My advice to other authors submitting works to competitions – read your piece out loud, read over, and read again, polish it and then take the plunge and press send (after reading all the conditions closely ;) ). Pay for the critique – it’s so worth receiving another’s interpretation of your writing as it can provide validation, awareness of what needs clarifying, what needs improvement – it’s all valuable to help you hone your craft! 

 

WOW: Such great insight - thank you immensely! I'm sure we will be hearing more from you in the future!

Interviewed by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto who is busy raising kids and cattle amongst other odd jobs - follow her in instagram 
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