Changing Book Title and Cover

by Ashlynmathews on July 12, 2017

After contemplating the move for a while now, I’ve decided to take the plunge so to speak and change the title and cover of one of my paranormal romances. When I sold this book to my publisher back in 2013, Elise and Xavier’s story was entitled, My Fallen. The cover back then didn’t quite tell the story of a vampire slayer and the sexy demon who tempts her with his charm and Alpha ways.

When I received the rights back and republished the book in 2014, I changed the cover and the title to Never Forget Always Remember. Yes, the title is a mouthful. As an author, I believed the title would make sense to readers. The old blurb gave readers a hint of what Elise goes through in the book. She will never forget the deaths of her friends, deaths she feels responsible for. And she’ll always remember the horrible things that had happened to her and other kids in a foster home a decade ago. However, the blurb and the title doesn’t convey Elise and Xavier’s story. When I wrote this story, I hadn’t realized I was actually writing an erotic romance. No, not an erotica.

What is the difference? According to Sylvia Day (one of my favorite authors), erotic romance is “stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline. Happily Ever After is a REQUIREMENT to be an erotic romance.” Erotica “is NOT designed to show the development of a romantic relationship,” and “Happily Ever Afters are NOT an intrinsic part of erotica though they can be included.”

The blurb gives a hint of why Fallen is an erotic romance. The sex (or lack of) is the appeal of the story and the development of Elise and Xavier’s relationship. How can she trust a creature like her father who had abandoned her mother? Can she trust herself not to go all the way with X? If she did, she can possibly hurt or even kill him with her Slayer energy. The most important question is can she trust Xavier, a Fallen, a demon knight? Period.

I hope by changing the title and the cover, I can entice more readers to download the story. Elise and Xavier’s story is near and dear to my heart because these characters are strong yet vulnerable in their own way, just like we all are in real life. One of the benefits of being an independent author is being able to rewrite the blurb and to change the title and the cover. I hope you like the new title and the new blurb. Fallen is exclusively sold by Amazon. The new title and cover (ebook and paperback) should be available in 48-72 hours. To celebrate the new cover and title, Fallen will go on sale the first week of August for 0.99 cents.

Fallen:  Universal Law

Fifteen years ago, at the beginning of the Third World War, Others—demons, vampires, werewolves, and everything in between—made their existence public on live broadcast, plummeting the world into turmoil. Four bloody years later, the war ended, governments banded together, and universal law came to be.

A sexy, selfish demon knight. A courageous vampire slayer.

The job seemed straightforward enough. Hunt and bring in a Fallen’s vampire-turned friend for reconditioning. What vampire slayer Elise Castle didn’t expect is for the vampire’s friend and boss to be so dangerously seductive.

After her Fallen father had left her mother for a woman with money and power, Elise vowed never to get involved with a Fallen. After her cop boyfriend was killed by her Slayer energy during their first time having sex, Elise swore never to sleep with a man again.

Xavier Doom could have her breaking her promises.

As a man, he’s dangerous to her heart with his charm and willingness to protect her at all costs. As a Fallen, he might be strong enough to handle her half Fallen, half Slayer energy. Falling for the dangerous, rich and powerful demon knight is the last thing Elise needs in her complicated life.

When an alliance is revealed that will guarantee Xavier more money and power, will he stay true to his feelings for the stubborn, loyal and fierce Slayer? Or will he break her heart and go after what he is born for? Fallens are known for their insatiable appetite for women, money and power.

Lives are at stake and loyalties are put to the test. Danger closes in around them, and Xavier and Elise must work together to discern who is a friend, and who is the true enemy.

 

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Love, Actually Live

by Ashlynmathews on June 27, 2017

Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue) “dropped” today at all major retailers: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iTunes, and Smashwords.

The story is near and dear to my heart for the setting. My husband and I lived in the Bay Area for a year. He was transferred there while serving with the Coast Guard. When he was home, we would explore the Bay Area. I love all of the nearby cities– Berkeley, Oakland, Sausalito, and Alameda, to name a few. A couple of years later, I missed the area so much, I “kidnapped” the hubby and we boarded a flight for San Francisco. He thought we were going local (Seattle) for a romantic dinner. Little did he know…

Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue) is the last book in my Willowbrook series but the beginning of a new adventure, Club Forsaken. Secondary characters, Ink and Theo, stuck with me long after I wrote, “The End,” to Love, Actually. Ink and Emery’s story will be told in Breaking Emery. Theo and Grace’s story will be told in Saving Grace. The release dates are TBD. I hope you pick up your copy! Here’s a sneak peek PLUS a cover reveal for Breaking Emery.

 

 

Sneak Peek:  Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue) ~ Available Now!

After pouring our drinks, he hands me my glass. I sip. Smooth, sweet, delicious. Warmth settles in my belly. I down a bigger mouthful. My head spins, and my body tingles.

Across the center island, he eyes me with that intense interest of his. I put my drink down and stare back with a forwardness I wouldn’t have had if not for the wine or the mask. This man can destroy me with his money and his connection to my messed-up past.

“Back to my question—”

“I’m under protective custody.”

“Try again, darling.”

“Lightweight.”

He pushes my drink toward me. “Give me another answer, Lightweight.”

God, I miss this back and forth teasing we’d once had. I take a drink and another. It’s easy to do with my wired nerves and the electric awareness of him as he comes over and stands in front of me.

He takes my drink and sets it on the island. “Tell me something?” He skims his fingers over my bare shoulders and down my arms.

I long to close my eyes and brand his feather-light caresses to memory, but I need to look into his eyes. Is there recognition in their depths? Or is what I’m seeing pure lust? I nod at his question.

“Why would a beautifully dressed woman, who thinks an old Victorian house is magical, request a low-key entrance to a party where everyone hopes to get a piece of the spotlight? Even the mask you wear is plain compared to the other women’s.”

He cups my hips, and his fingers press into my skin through the dress. Jaxson wants a straight answer. Just when I think the situation can’t get more dangerous, he tugs me to him, plastering me against his tall and muscular body.

Between the alcohol in my system and the heat from his body, I can’t think straight. I cover his hands with mine. His hands are big and capable of doing wicked things. Or choke the life from me once he realizes who I am.

My heart beats faster. I look up. He lowers his head. What’s happening might be insta-lust to him. For me, being held by Jaxson without animosity or bitterness is… I turn from him and inhale a quiet breath.

Peace is something I’ve searched for since Sarah’s death, but to find it in the arms of a man who hates me? It’s pathetic to think Jaxson can give me the one thing I can’t find within myself.

But I can hope.

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The Story Behind Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue)

by Ashlynmathews on June 17, 2017

The story behind Love, Actually began in 2012. The story is dark. It lived in my head and heart for a long time. The premise of the story came from a series of questions. What happens when the heroine makes a bad decision in her teens that severely affects her life as a young adult? What if the bad decision indirectly leads to her best friend’s death? What if she’s so guilt-stricken she cuts her face and has a mental breakdown?

As an author, how do I write a love story of forgiveness when my heroine is so broken, and the hero is hell bent on getting his revenge on her for causing the car wreck that killed his little sister?

By the time I finished writing Love, Actually, a message emerged that I hope will resonate with readers.

We all make mistakes. We’re only human. Bad decisions don’t make us bad people. And making bad decisions doesn’t mean we’re less deserving of love.

Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue) releases June 27th and is available for Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and Nook. I hope you download your copy!

 

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Echo Available

by Ashlynmathews on May 23, 2017

I’m so excited to announce the release of my fourth book in the Extinction series, Echo. Echo and Rourke’s story began in 2011. Over the years, the heroine, Echo and the hero, Rourke, have gone through many transformations as their motivations changed. After Luminescence, I had a better idea of what their struggles and past hurts are. I think that’s the hardest part of writing. To better understand our characters and their motivations. What drives them to do what they do? What keeps them for going after their happily ever after? What is it about the guy or girl they fall for that changes them, hopefully for the better? When I wrote Echo, one particular line said by Echo in response to her friend, Cage Steele, hiring a bodyguard for her, stood out. She said, “I can never ask anyone to KILL for me.” Why? What happened in her past that she would say that? Then, as I kept writing to the finish line of, “The end,” the line changed to, “I can never ask anyone to DIE for me.” And that’s when I had the aha moment. Someone died for her to keep her alive, and that is why she keeps insisting that her bodyguard, Rourke Summers, rescind his contract. She realizes he stands between her and the assassin sent after her. She’d rather sacrifice her life than have someone else lose their life for her. Who died for her, and why? The answers was as surprising to me as I hope it is to the readers.

Echo is available at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Nook.

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Cover Reveal~ Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue)

by Ashlynmathews on May 22, 2017

I’m so excited to reveal the cover for Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue), hopefully releasing Fall 2017. Here’s the blurb:

My remorse is skin deep.

 I live paycheck to paycheck, call the apartment on the scary side of the city my home, and have no life outside of working two jobs. When given the chance to crash a masquerade party in the rich part of town, I readily agree. What I didn’t expect is to be escorted to the party by Jaxson McCallister, a man from my past who holds a dark grudge against me. A man who doesn’t have a clue it’s me beneath the mask. Or does he?

 I’m unwilling to forgive her.

 The law was too soft on her, and she knows it. I can’t forgive or forget Tavi Gabriel for her role in my little sister’s death. When she drops into my life again after going MIA, I’m determined to make her pay for getting off easy with community service. But when I see the pain and remorse etched on her face as a deep scar, can I forgive and forget her? Or will I demand a penance that will test my long-buried feelings for her?

Want password access only to more of Love, Actually? Consider signing up for my newsletter and I’ll send you the password!

 

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New Releases and Promotions- My Strategy

by Ashlynmathews on May 20, 2017

May is busy, busy, busy. Last month I released my contemporary romance novella, Stay. This month, I released my paranormal romance, Echo. Echo is available at all retailers except for Amazon. Release date for Echo on Amazon is May 23rd. While I’m busy writing the next contemporary romance, Love, Actually, and the next book in my Extinction series (Seeker, a novella), I’m also juggling promotions and sales. How to stay organize? Before I get into organization and expense/income reports, let me just say promoting in 2017 is different from promoting in 2012.

As some of you know I started writing in 2010 after I took my boys to see the Disney movie, Tangled. For some reason the story of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider jump started my muse. I even have characters in my Extinction series named after the hero. Flyn is the main character in Protector. Ryder is the little boy in Luminescence who happens to be the son of a very important princess. Anyways, back to the subject of promotions, lol. In 2011, I sold my first book to a publisher. That same year, I self-published the short story, If Only. Maybe it was the blurb, the cover or the fact that it was FREE soon after it’s release date around Thanksgiving but the release did very well. If Only shot up to #6 on Amazon’s top 100 free books. In a span of about a month, If Only had over 12k downloads on iBooks.

Well, I can say that was then and this is now. Five years later, the competition is fierce. It’s harder to find readers, and easier to self-publish a book. Don’t believe me? Go to Amazon and peruse the book section. Under Romance, there are 812k titles. There’s a gluttony of books out there for FREE and for 99 cents. And don’t forget sites such as Wattpad where readers can read books for FREE. There are days when I do wonder why I write. I definitely don’t sell in the thousands. My book income monthly can buy a round of one cup of 8 oz coffee for a small group of people :). Writing also takes me away from spending time with my family.

On days when I’m close to quitting writing and shutting down, I realize I’m doing a disservice to the characters in my head that are still waiting for their stories to be told. I’m curious as to what kind of life they’ve lived and of what life lesson is waiting for them at the end of “The End.” And when I start a new story, new characters are introduced that want their story told, too. I tell you it’s a never-ending cycle. But I don’t mind. And I also don’t mind that I don’t sell in the thousands. Sure, it’d be great. But I know the stories that I tell aren’t for everybody. My books are a bit melodramatic (yeah, I can admit it), lack an emotional tug (yeah, I know I need to work on that, too. I’m just not a very emotional person), and can be confusing. World building in my head doesn’t always translate well to paper. WRITING IS HARD.

So back to organization, expense/income reports and a strategy for new releases and promotions that I’m trialing this year. After I was published and had self-published a few more titles, I made the mistake of not keeping track of my expenses and income and what book promotion sites worked well for me. Fast forward five years, and I have a better handle of at least my expenses. Every year, I attempt to spend less money and stick to a budget. Most of my expenses is for my website. If I’m spending the money to keep the site alive, I better start blogging, right? I keep an excel spreadsheet, and even if I’m only paid $1 for the month (I’m exaggerating), I put it on my spreadsheet. The strategy I’m trialing this year for new releases and promos is this:

  1. Have a permafree book with excerpts from the next book in the series. This would be my older book, If Only. The first two chapters from the next book in the series, What If, is at the end of If Only.
  2. Price and promote a new release for 99 cents. This would be Stay. In the back matter, I mention If Only is FREE at all retailers, thereby directing readers to a FREE book, a chance to read an older title of mine free of risk. Hopefully if they download If Only, they might continue on and buy What If. I also put excerpts from Near Perfect (another 99 cents book) at the end to entice readers to continue with my contemporary romances.
  3. For the release of Echo, my paranormal romance,  I decided to keep the price at $2.99 but I lowered the price of the third book, Luminescence, to 99 cents. Why? I find that when I do a promotion for Luminescence, readers bought the prior books because of the secondary characters in Luminescence. For Luminescence, I put excerpts at the end for Echo. In Echo, I put excerpts at the end for Luminescence. There are many sites that promote 99 cents books, and in order to reach readers, I believe it’s a good idea to do a big push promotion at least twice a year. Here’s a blog post that lists some really good free and paid sites. http://www.selfpublishingx.com/list-sites-promote-free-amazon-books/
  4. The above is a lot of work but I LOVE IT! I love formatting my own books. I use Jutoh. One of the best books that helps with the step-by-step process of self-publishing is from one of my favorite people, Maggie Lynch.

At the end of the year, I’ll give an update as to how this strategy worked for me. I think the best indicator of a successful promotion is to have organic sales of books WITHOUT promoting. My 2 cents. Okay, back to writing. For my writer friends, what promotion strategy works best for you and what was the least effective? For readers, how do you discover new to you authors? I’d love to hear from you!

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The Story Behind Stay

by Ashlynmathews on April 11, 2017

Can I just say I’m ecstatic? It’s been almost 2 years and finally, I’ll be releasing a new book. April 25th to be exact. I love how Stay turned out. The story wasn’t meant to be released. The story of Brooks and Violet began as a way to get me out of my writer’s block. I read somewhere that starting a story without any expectations or fixation on editing while writing (guilty) can help jumpstart the creative juices flowing again. And that’s how Stay started. Brooks’ and Violet’s story began October 2015. The original title was Beyond Repair. Then changed to Bared to Him. The page count stayed stuck at 30 pages.

In August 2016, I received an email from one of my favorite cover designers. I had signed up for her mailing list, and I’m so glad I did. Thank you, Marianne (premadeebookcovershop.com). That’s how I found the cover for Stay, changed the final title to Stay, and found Brooks’ and Violet’s story deep in my mind. Their story is heartbreaking yet hopeful. Don’t we want the best for the people we care for? I love Brooks’ and Vy’s story and I hope you do, too. Their story should be available for pre-order soon at major book retailers. I hope you enjoy the preview!

“You drive me crazy with your sweetness and your hotness. Stay near you and I’ll want to be full on you. Don’t you understand? I can’t resist you.” ~ Brooks Hunter

The elevator doors open and I back inside. He pushes the down button then sidles in next to me.

“Let me give you a ride home.”

How does he know I don’t have a car?

“Your friend Natalie says you’re not keen on taking the bus.”

I inhale a quiet breath. I was right. Natalie had an ulterior motive for the promise she guilt me into making.

“Wouldn’t your girlfriend or wife mind?”

“No.”

I glance sidelong at him. “No, as in you have a girlfriend or a wife?”

Or both? I blow at a loose strand of hair falling over my eye. It’s just my luck the first guy that interests me in a long time is spoken for.

“No, as in life is complicated at the moment. Can I plead the fifth?”

What kind of bullshit talk is that?

“Go along with me for now, Violet.”

The seduction in his voice promises hot and steamy sex. I can’t remember when I last had sex. Keeping my knees together, I edge away from the dangerous heat of his ripped body.

“Thanks for the offer, but I don’t mind taking the bus.”

I refuse to be another mark on his headboard. Or whatever men used these days to keep count of the women they’ve slept with.

“Is the bus warm?”

Not the one I take. I can only describe the temperature as arctic.

“Is the bus fast?”

Not when there are people getting off at each five stops before mine.

“What the bus has,” at this hour, “is room for personal space. It’s what you and your car can’t offer.”

“I’m offering a warm space and a fast but safe ride. Sit as close to the door as possible. I promise I’ll keep my hands to myself.”

The elevator doors open and he follows me out. I put the cleaning cart away and lock up, mulling over whether to accept his offer or not.

“Are you or are you not in a serious relationship at the moment?” I ask with my arms crossed.

He uncrosses my arms and tucks a finger beneath my chin, tilting my head until our gazes lock. “You hesitated when I asked if you’re married. Are you in a serious relationship?” His gaze is penetrating.

I wet my dry mouth with my tongue. His eyes follow the movement.

“My best friend is a guy,” I stammer. “But he’s just a friend.”

“Are you certain?”

I flick his finger off my chin. “I’m ridiculously aware of my emotions, okay?”

“I figured as much.” He shoves his hands in his pants pocket. “No, I’m not in a serious relationship.”

Not yet are the unspoken words that linger in the air between us.

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Cover Reveals

by Ashlynmathews on November 30, 2016

2017 is going to be a busy year for book releases! Stay, a contemporary romance novella, and Seeker, an Extinction novella, will release in May. In June, expect Echo, an Extinction novel, to be available. These stories have been in my head for the last three years. Finding the time to write, along with having writers’ block, put me further back than I’d like in regards to book release schedule. I hope by putting out the pre-orders, my readers will have a good idea of what to expect for 2017. Thank you for your continual support. These past two years have been busy for myself and my family, but also a time of respite and reflection along with just taking the time to enjoy LIFE! I hope everyone is doing the same and ending 2016 on a grateful and happy note.

Stay

STAY ~ Releasing May 2017

Violet Harris has three compelling reasons not to get involved with the new guy in the building. One, he’s too good looking, and good-looking guys are nothing but trouble. Two, he looks at her as though she was once something special to him, and that can only mean trouble. Three, his eyes are familiar in a manner that can only spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Those eyes… she shouldn’t stare too deeply into them. The unusual color, light green with flecks of gold, reminds her of a man from her past. He continues to haunt her dreams and her nightmares.

Who is Brooks Hunter? The more time she spends with him the more she suspects all isn’t right in her safe world. When he reveals the unbelievable truth, will she demand he take a much-deserved hike? Or will she ask him to stay and help her piece together the missing memories lost from her assault?

 

 

Seeker

SEEKER ~ Releasing May 2017

“One love. One breath. One heartbeat. In this lifetime and the next I will always follow your soul.”

Demon hunter London Takahashi never imagine the words she whispered to the sexy Lucas Maserati in the heat of passion could bind her heart and soul to a creature she is born to hunt and kill. And never in a million years could she have predicted she’d marry the legendary demon, known for his fierce fighting skills and unwavering commitment to duty above all else, including matters of the heart.

But she did whisper the words, secretly married the demon, and he isn’t too happy with the arrangement.

“Never in a thousand lifetimes would I have thought Fate would choose my mate.”

Priding himself as a loyal Protector and one of the great Elites, Lucas never wanted matrimony, blissful or otherwise. He is raised to value duty over love, not play the part of a dutiful husband, and to a young hunter who believes in fairy tales and a forever-after love? Yet when he discovers London has a zero chance of surviving her next mission, he’s ready to show her enemies Hell has no fury like an overprotective husband. Will London and Lucas set aside their stubborn pride and hurt feelings long enough to work together, surviving insurmountable odds? Or will a family secret destroy their chance at a happily-ever-after?

Echo

ECHO ~ Releasing June 2017

“As my pain is your pleasure…”

Demon hunter Echo Wren doesn’t mind the status quo. She’s content living underground, guarding the tunnels that stretch up and down the west coast. Isolated from others, she can’t hurt them with her touch. And living a solitary life safeguards her greatest secret and shame—she’s the daughter of the most hated and feared demon, Vicious. But when she is the target of a kill order, will she risk exposing her true identity and trust the man assigned as her bodyguard? Or will Rourke’s past—filled with dishonor, dark deeds and a need for revenge—put her life and her heart in danger?

“My darkness will be your life’s light.”

 Operative Rourke Summers isn’t pleased with his latest assignment or the conditions of the contract. First off, don’t touch Echo’s bare hands. Equally important, avoid Echo from midnight to sunrise. What the hell kind of terms are those? The misbehaving and disrespectful kid is already covered in black, from head to toe, his hands gloved, his face concealed beneath the head gear and his voice warped by a modifier. Unless Echo is hiding a secret, one that can destroy Rourke’s sole purpose for existing—finding and killing Snow, Vicious’ murderous daughter. When circumstances beyond their control forces them to face the truth of their entangled past, will Rourke protect Echo’s life at all costs? Or will he surrender to the darkness of what he’d once been—a chosen executioner?

 

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Writer’s Block

by Ashlynmathews on April 10, 2016

Writer's BlockI want to release a book or two sometime this year. However, there’s two obstacles I need to overcome. Time, I can’t control while writer’s block is a struggle I’d rather do without. Can anyone believe it’s mid-April already? Where has time gone?

I try not to dwell on the fast pace of time, or at least my perception of how fast time is moving. Otherwise, the pressures of releasing a book dampens my creativity. Stress and doubt is a serial killer of creativity. Can I write another book? Will it take me years rather than months? Will anyone find and read my books? There are millions of books out there.

I can’t control time but I can attempt to think myself out of my writer’s block. The self-doubt and pressures (put upon by myself) contributes to my writer’s block. Rather than sit my butt on the chair and writing the first thing that comes to my mind, I’ve been editing and rewriting past scenes until I doubt the scenes’ usefulness. Some writers plan out their entire book. I’ve tried but have accepted the creative truth that I’m a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants.

With my past books, the scenes come to me organically. The characters speak and I type their words. The characters feel and I attempt to capture their emotions by putting on paper the mental image in my head of that moment. Yet in the past month or two, the scenes aren’t coming together so easily and neither are the words and the emotions.

I’ve tried different things to get past the writer’s block– walks, listening to music, daydreaming, exercising, working on another manuscript, reading, and watching a lot of television. But when I return to the manuscript, again, the words aren’t flowing.

Today, as I’m writing this blog, I realize why. For Love Actually, the pantser part of my writing has gotten my heroine into a jam that is unrealistic. Or at least, I find her situation not relatable. As a reader of romance, I’d like to somehow relate to my characters. Am I scared of what they’re scared of? Do I want what they want? Have I feared and wanted what they fear and want?

Tavi is scared of being vulnerable. She was once a funny, bright and courageous woman but because of something that had happened to her in the past, she’s now wanting to never be vulnerable again. Unfortunately, the unrealistic plot twist that had somehow made it onto the pages (the pitfalls of being a pantser) doesn’t explore this side of her.

In Echo (Extinction series), I’ve come to the conclusion that the hero I picked might not be the right hero for my heroine. Going back to the drawing boards (written pages) and writing new scenes while putting to rest the old scenes is difficult. Yet, I’d rather go forward with a story that feels right than a story that prolongs my writer’s block.

I’m not certain when I’ll be releasing the next book or which series the book will be in. But I’m certain of one thing. I’d like to enjoy the journey of writing a story, of immersing myself in the characters’ emotions and words and the complexities of their world. And that enjoyment hopefully will translate into a better story for readers. Here’s to conquering my writer’s block :).

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