New Release from Renee Scattergood

Dark FAntasy: Shadow Stalker

This fast-paced and exhilarating adventure will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Auren longs for the freedom that comes with adulthood and wants to celebrate her coming of age with her friends on a distant island. When her strict foster-father, Kado, says no, she sneaks out, determined to prove she can take care of herself. But her forbidden excursion turns into a nightmare when the island is overrun by the Galvadi Empire forces. Worse, she learns that she is their main target.

Drevin, Emperor of the Galvadi people, is convinced she will enslave the people of the Serpent Isles and wants her dead. 

When Auren learns she is a shadow stalker, someone who can travel between the physical and spirit worlds, and that she is the only one who can stop Drevin, it’s more than she can take. Her whole world is turning upside down and instead of adulthood bringing freedom, she is instead overwhelmed by a greater undertaking than any one person could possibly overcome. It seems hopeless.

However, if she can defeat Drevin, maybe she can have her old life back. More than that, the people she cares about would be safe to live their lives, and the people of the Serpent Isles would be free of the Galvadi forever.

Free Download
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Renee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a storyteller by George Lucas but didn’t consider writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark speculative fiction.

She is currently publishing her Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, A God’s Deception. 

Aside from writing, she loves reading (fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and watching YouTube Videos with her daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6):

Goodreads Author Page:
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Silicon Jones Rides!

Adventures of Silicon Jones

Jones tours the City of Gold, and meets 7 deadly dwarfs, 3 baby dragons, and his dead ex-girlfriend.
Mature Audiences Only

Silicon Jones is one of my favorite characters from the Maven Fairy Godmother universe, and he is, in fact, Maven’s first antagonist in what will probably now be book three. His real name is Brewster, but as a computer wizard, he goes by Silicon. He is always jonesing for something, a good time, Tulip, or more beer.

Unlike the previous books in the series, this one is aimed at mature audiences, at least PG-13 although probably only steam level 2.  It’s definitely not for children. It is not erotica but does include sex scenes

These three short stories that will give a reader familiar with Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil an understanding of why Tulip fell for him and what he’s been up to since then.

“The City of Gold” shows how Silicon Jones is able, unconsciously at times, to move between dimensions, sometimes remembering what he learned there, and that for him, time is always linear…he can’t go back to his previous self. Probably a good thing at that.

In “Adventures in Dragon Sitting,” our hero, still a child at heart, must rely on his “uncle” skills to escape being eaten by three toddler dragons while convincing their mother that he can give her a bit of self-care time. Mama Dragon expects the kids to eat him, but they are all surprised at the solution to his escape.

Escaping with his skin intact is often the theme to Jones’ life, which leads him to meet “Seven Deadly Dwarfs” all  of whom are female and lacking in male companionship.  He’s in great demand, especially by his dead ex-girlfriend Red and her new minions, the Deluge Ions. Here he has a cross-dimensional challenge which is the prequel to a novel which is in the planning stages.

Give Silicon Jones a look on Smashwords or your favorite ebook retailer. And if you like him, please leave a review.

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Child of the Night Guild by Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin‘s Child of the Night Guild, first in a new series Queen of Thieves, is released today. Available at Amazon,  Amazon Canada,  Goodreads,

Vicious, ruthless criminals are made, not born. Child of the Night Guild
—an insight into the transformation from innocent child to thief and killer.

Child of the Night b y Andy Peloquin

Child of the Night b y Andy Peloquin

Excerpt of Child of the Night by Andy Peloquin:

We’ve been at this for hours! When will he let us rest? Mind numb from hunger and fatigue, Viola placed one weary foot in front of the other. Blood dripped from cuts in her hands, arms, and forehead.

Master Velvet refused to let up. “Your past is gone, your families forgotten. You have no names, no identities. You are nothing more than a number until it is deemed fit to give you a name.”

The children called out as one, “Yes, Master Velvet!”

“Everything you are, everything you will be, you owe to the Night Guild. We are your masters, your creators, your gods.” The tirade had repeated for endless hours, but Master Velvet never seemed to have enough.

“Yes, Master Velvet!”

Master Velvet’s voice cracked like a carter’s whip. “Disobedience will be punished harshly. Obedience will be rewarded well. Learn this and you will flourish in the Night Guild.”

Viola’s legs wobbled, her shoulders ached, and her arms shook from exertion. “Yes, Master Velvet!”

“Forget everything you know. Forget life outside this room. You eat, sleep, and shit at my command.”

“Yes, Master Velvet!” Viola’s voice cracked from thirst and fatigue. She wanted to lie down, to close her eyes, to sleep.

Master Velvet snarled in her ear. “You live and die at the pleasure of the Night Guild. You belong to the Guild mind, body, and soul. What are you?”

“We are tyros, Master Velvet.”

He crouched beside her. “And what are tyros?”

“Lower than dirt, Master Velvet!”

Child of the Night b y Andy Peloquin

Child of the Night Guild by Andy Peloquin

A satisfied smile spread across his face. “Empty your buckets and set them on the floor beside the barrels. Double speed, my drudges.”

Viola tried to move faster, but her feet refused. By the time she reached the barrel at the far end of the room, only one other child remained. The boy, barely taller than her, had yet to empty his bucket. He strained to lift his heavy load. His hands trembled uncontrollably—a permanent condition that made even eating and drinking difficult. Water splashed down his tunic, turning the dirt to mud.

Emptying her pail, Viola dropped to the sodden ground with a half-sob, half-groan of relief.

“Get up, tyros!” Master Velvet would not let them rest.

Tears of exhaustion and frustration streaming, she climbed to her feet. Though her back protested, she forced herself straight when Master Velvet approached.

Stand tall, no matter what. Mama’s words echoed in her thoughts. I’m trying, Mama, but I’m so tired!

“Chow time, my drudges. You’ll find that table over there loaded with delights to fill your little bellies. Eat. You have done well.”

Someone had piled the table high with fruits, sweetmeats, and treats. She’d been too exhausted to notice. The scent of fresh bread, cinnamon rolls, and pastries wafted toward her. Her stomach rumbled in anticipation.

>Master Velvet placed a hand on her shoulder. “Not you, Seven. You were the first to fail, so an example must be made.”

“B-But…” Viola couldn’t put up more than a weak protest.

“Off with you, Seven. To your bunk and reflect on your weakness.” His dark eyes held no kindness. “Pray to the Watcher for strength to survive.”

“Y-Yes, Master Velvet.” She turned away to hide her tears.

“Perhaps you’ll try harder tomorrow, Seven.” He spoke without a trace of compassion or pity in his voice. “If you want to have any hope of survival here in the Night Guild, this will be the last time you fail.”

Hunger gnawed at Viola’s belly, but it could not outweigh the bone-deep weariness. She forced herself not to look at the other children, to block out the sounds of their eating. Feet leaden, she turned to the tunnel that led to their sleeping quarters.

Tears flowed in earnest once she reached the darkness of the passage. Sobs of anger, desperation, and frustration washed over her, shaking her body like a leaf in a whirlwind.

Slamming the door shut behind her, she threw herself onto her bunk and buried her head in the thin pillow. She didn’t care that her clothes were soaking wet or that she hadn’t had any water to drink for hours. She wouldn’t allow any of the others to see her cry.

Bright Lady, hear me and protect me in my hour of need. Her parched throat refused to form the words.

The prayer had comforted her in the past, but now it felt empty. The hunger, exhaustion, and thirst remained. Minutes ticked by in silence. Nothing happened.

She balled her fists and swallowed the ache in her belly. Down here, she was all alone. The Bright Lady can’t hear me.

Why would she? The goddess of healing hadn’t heard when she’d prayed for Mama and baby Rose. The gods were far away, if they cared at all. Mama was gone and Papa had left her here. In this place, she was the only one she could count on. She had to be strong, just as she had been after Mama died.

I will get through another day. Just one more.

Get your copy today–only $2.99 for Kindle

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Deconstructing…Talkin’ Bout My Generation

Deconstructing My Personal Myth

Charlotte Babb profile

2013 -You don’t know how you look until you get your picture took.

I am a product of my cultural heritage, as everyone is. I was born in 1951, part of the baby boom that was a reaction to the horrors of two world wars punctuated by the Great Depression. The reaction was fueled by the cultural upheaval of the industrial revolution, the women’s suffrage movement, and the suburbanization of the middle and working class. The Boomers, as we are called, was  the largest age-group in the history of the world until the Millennials caught up, and in America, we have shown that the rules and customs of previous generations are neither adequate nor valid for the present.

In America at the end of WWII, the great impulse was “back to normal.” Women left the workforce as the men came home—although my grandmother and most of the women in my family had worked in the cotton mills since they had opened in the early 1900s. Women’s clothing became almost as restrictive as in the 1860s with corseted waists and crinoline skirts—not the quasi-military suits of the 1940s. Many women had large families, 3, 4, or even 5 children, much like the large families of my grandparents, who had 8 and 10 siblings each.

The mechanization of the 20th century helped to collapse the extended family typical of my grandparents’ generation—people who had no electricity or running water until they moved into the mill villages built in the 1920s. They bought cars, driving them to church on Sunday, but walking to work every day. As people got used to the idea of driving, and as cars became easier to drive, and roads were built, people were willing to go further from home to work. My parents commuted over 30 miles one way through most of my childhood, leaving me and my brother at home after school or with a baby sitter—one of my cousins or a black woman. This was the 1960s, when many other kinds of work were not open to blacks, especially women.

The many labor-saving devices invented in the late 1800s and early 1900s gave women not only different tasks, but more of them, just as the invention of the sewing machine made possible the extreme ornamentation of women’s fashion in the 1870s and 80s. The

In one generation, my grandparents went from large, farm-based, extended families  with no electricity or running water, to the small, nuclear family that depended on industrial work for money. My parents helped turn the mill community into a bedroom community as they drove to the city to work, and eventually moved there—losing all knowledge of how to live on the land. My generation was raised on TV, and we became the first generation of children to be a demographic group for advertising. We were the first group of children to be raised in the shadow of global destruction from “the bomb.” I personally did not expect to live to be thirty.

  • Charlotte Ann Henley

    1953 – Looking into the cmera

    When I was 4, (1955) Sen. Joseph McCarthy was interviewed by Edgar R. Murrow, ending McCarthy’s witch-hunt of communists. The power of TV was born,  and a simple campaign slogan won the day: “I like Ike”.

  • When I was 7 (1958) we watched the manned first rocket launch at school! Fidel Castro took power in Cuba in the Bay of Pigs and remained in power many years, though he died this year.
  • When I was 9, (1960), the youngest president was elected; John Kennedy was 43. He was also the youngest president to be assassinated.
  • When I was 11, (1962) we nearly had WWIII with the Cuban missile crisis.
  • When I was 12, (1963), Kennedy was murdered, which ushered in Johnson’s Great Society and the Vietnam War.
  • When I was 13, (1964), the most successful ad campaign in music was processed: the Beatles came to America. How innocent we all were then—long hair indeed. Lyndon Johnson started the Great Society, legislated for civil rights, and turned the military industrial complex loose in Vietnam. Boom times.
  • When I was 15 (1966), half the people in America were under the age of 25–it was the end of the baby boom and the beginning of the Summer of Love.
  • When I was 17 (1968), Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were murdered, and Richard Nixon was elected president.
  • When I was 18 (1969-70), men landed on the moon, the Mets won the series, the Beatles broke up, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix played Woodstock, and then both died of overdoses along with Jim Morrison. I could buy liquor and beer legally because of Vietnam.

Charlotte Henley Bbb

1969 mini skirt innocence

  • When I was 21 (1972), we lost the war in Vietnam, although we had never lost a battle.
  • When I was 22 (1973), the Arabs nationalized their oil fields and gas prices went from 25c a gallon to $1.50 in six months. I started teaching that year, making $8,000 a year. Minimum wage was $1.60 an hour, which in 1968 would purchase $8.85 of 2005 dollars.
  • When I was 23 (1974), Nixon resigned rather than be impeached, and we had a president who had not been elected—Gerald Ford. There are those who say that the 1960s did not start until 1964 with the Beatles, and did not end until 1974 with Nixon’s resignation. The 70s only lasted two years—like disco—with Gerald Ford, and the 80s started in 1976 with Jimmy Carter.
  • When I was 30 (1981), I was amazed that the world had not ended, and had a surge of hope that we might survive after all, even though Ronald Regan was inaugurated as president,  and George Harrison was ordered to pay $500k for unconsciously plagiarizing the melody to  “My Sweet Lord.”
  • When I was nearly 31, (1982)  I gave birth to my brilliant daughter and learned the true meaning of post partum depression. On a brighter note, ET phoned home.
  • I don’t remember much of the next six or so years. I was teaching English at a small county high school, fighting depression, and spending about three weeks in the psych ward. They said I needed marriage counseling, which we tried, but I met another man at OA, and broke the first rule of 12 step programs…don’t get involved with others at 12-step programs.
  • At 39, (1990) I earned a Master’s degree, filed for separation and divorce. Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and Imelda Marcos was found not guilty of racketeering despite her 4000 pairs of shoes.
  • AT 40 (1991) I remarried, bought a house, lost my teaching job, and Bush, Sr, invaded Iraq…ironically, the first war televised, with camera footage of drone strikes, and in March, the president announced that the war was over. He lied.
  • Four years later at 44,  (1995) I was widowed, working as an adjunct at a community college 35 miles away, while Timothy McVey blew up a government building in Oklahoma City.
  • When I was 50 (2001),  the World Trade Center was destroyed by two hijacked jets. My life was pretty much same stuff different day.

    Charlotte Babb is happy

    Grinning like a donkey eating briers.

  • At 57, (2008) I received a second master’s degree, for which I am still paying off student loans, and the housing market tanked–my student loan interest is higher than my mortgage, but I was hired full time for the first time in 17 years as a web designer  for a small college.
  • When I was 60, (2011),  my first novel was accepted for publication in 2012, and the Arab Spring began, which now has turned into the Winter of Discontent for much of the Middle East, especially Syria, and the many countries dealing with refugees and migrants. I’m working on another book, but have published a number of short story collections.
  • At 65, (2016) I declared bankruptcy (after losing my job in 2015),  started receiving social Security at -7% for early retirement, and The Donald was elected president.

What a long strange trip it has been. I don’t know what to expect next, but my tarot reading today indicates that American has received a wake-up call. I hope we don’t hit the snooze button.

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Maggie Smith: The Lady in the Van by Choice

 Many Faces of Maggie Smith

Many faces of Maggie Smith, not just an old lady or a 50s It-Girl.

Maggie Smith is one of my favorite actresses, but I watched her last weekend in one of the slowest movies ever shot: The Lady in the Van. The good thing about watching a slow movie is that it gives me time to think.  I began to think of how Miss Shepherd was like Lady Violet of Downton Abbey,  both women who  managed their lives as much as possible given their circumstances. It’s a typical story line for several of her movies, such as Travels with My Aunt, the story of a man who learns that his bad girl aunt is really his mother, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brody, about a teacher whose unusual teaching methods and politics ostracize her from her peers.

Maggie Smith as Elizabeth I

Maggie Smith as Elizabeth I

An Inspiration for Everyone

Maggie herself is a remarkable woman, working on the Harry Potter movies while being treated for breast cancer. Her acting career spans decades, starting just after the year I was born. She’s a year younger than my mom.

So as I watched the movie with my mom, both of us feeling less than up to par on her 84th birthday, I got to thinking about having control over my own life, and whether I would choose to live such a crappy life just to some control.  In some ways my life is not ideal. I can’t quite make it on social security, so I am still teaching part time, but that does allow me to live a fairly middle class life.

The Lady in the Van

The Lady in the Van

My internet, my house, my car, my smart phone, and especially my own bathroom with hot running water and a toilet are important to my happiness. Despite my lack of gentry  privilege, my life is much more like Lady Violet’s than Miss Shepherd’s. I hope I am less abrasive than either of these characters, yet both of them stand up for their own perspective of life.

Queen to Bag Lady

The lady in the van has the mistaken idea that she murdered a biker who ran into her car, and she has escaped a mental institution, after being rejected as a nun. One of her quirks is that she can’t abide to hear music. When the reasons are revealed, we learn what was taken from her,  leading her to give up everything else except her marginal freedom.

Professor McGonigle

Professor McGonigle

Like Professor McGonigle, I want to be able to transform my life, to make my life magic. The professor makes her choices, and I make mine, and each choice leads to a change in my life.

I am choosing more of a crap life than is necessary, not just out of ornery contrariness I hope, but out of a sense of doing things my way, which might be just a rationalization for contrary orneriness.

Maggie Smith, inspiration

Maggie Smith, inspiration

What Choices to Make

The more I think about this movie, the more I think about living my life the way I want, not in relation to other people’s expectations. Looking up to Maggie Smith and her continued acting career, unusual for anyone her age, and for her excellence of craft, I can continue to work on my craft of writing, despite my age (65) and my relative lack of interesting experiences to draw on. I can make my priorities my own, doing what I must to keep the cash coming in, but doing what is important to me to live my life on my own terms. My choices, either conscious or by default, are my choices. Thanks, Maggie.

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J. A. Cipriano: Jet-My Brother’s Keeper

JA Cipriano: Jet My Brothers Keeper

JA Cipriano: Jet My Brothers Keeper – a novella

J.A. Cipriano’s Jet: My Brother’s Keeper reads like  Nikita  of Division met Agent Melinda “The Cavalry” May of S.H.I.E.L. D. and their love child, Jet, is Ziva David  of N.C.I.S. Oh, and she has a brother. Separated as young children, she’s in Moussad, and he’s in college.

Murder. Death. Kill.

If you love non-stop action and mayhem,  you will love this novella of a bad-ass agent with sibling issues.  I think she takes out three dozen assailants in the same number of minutes it takes to read the novella.  Much kicking of various body parts glosses over the less well-developed plot and characterization issues.

As  a teaser for a longer piece, or maybe as part of a series, it works. All action-adventure requirements and tropes you could ever want fill this novella. Christian Kane couldn’t take out this chick.

Not a lot of Characterization–Typical of Genre

I prefer to learn more about why the character does what she does, worries about going soft, and risks everything. It’s either a bit too long or half the length it needs to be to tell the salient part of the story. I think the whole first chapter could come out. I’m used to action novellas, but I still want to know who she is and why she cares.  Not satisfied.

Cipriano  writes well, with well described, logical action for the main character, with only a few spellcheck typos. The POV stays in place well after the first shift that comes after the teaser opening. I’d rather see it all from Jet’s POV. How did she get into this predicament ? Why is her long-lost  trust fund brother worth it?

Fast paced, quick read, all action. If that’s your bag, you and Cipriano may be new BFFs.

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Guys, Dresses and White Male Privilege

Sam and Al

Sam and Al-who looks sillier?

Guys. Dresses. Why Not Share the Experience?

Netflix is a magic window into the past, the present, and maybe, the future. My most recent binge was Quantum Leap, a show from the 90s with Scott Bakula (as Dr. Sam Becket, a boy scout) and Dean Stockwell (as Al, the womanizing been-there-done-that guy).

In case you are too young to remember, or if you never watched it (I hadn’t), the premise is that Bakula “leaps” into the lives of various people who need to have their lives changed, mostly people in the 1950s and early 60s. He shows us a nostalgic America, with some of the grit left in, and in the last season, played some real people, from Elvis, to Lee Harvey Oswald, to Dr. Ruth (They were running out of ideas and needed better ratings…it didn’t work).

Such a pretty face

Such a pretty face–not happy though…where’s the smile?

The Premise

Each show deals with some social issue: college hazing, racism, the Cuban Missile Crisis, mainstreaming adults with Down syndrome, rape, sexual harassment, single parents, chain gangs, mental health, children’s TV, rock-n-roll, even experiments on chimps. About one of nine leaps, the character is a woman. Bakula never plays the character as being in drag, just as a female character. To be fair, Al (Stockwell) wears much sillier clothing, glam-metrosexual-on-steroids, while spouting  the most sexist and male chauvinist pig drivel that a five-time married character could imagine. Think Elmer Fudd when Bugs Bunny is in drag. Al is a foil to Becket’s caring gentleman, as well as supplying advice from experience and the AI named Ziggy. But that is where male privilege shows up, although in a light-hearted, and totally-sensitive-guy way.


Beefcake manliness…

At first it was odd and mildly amusing that a man was in a dress, wearing 60s makeup, struggling with stockings and heels–the usual comedy stuff, though played more for drama. Bacula wore dresses tailored to fit him, and he wasn’t bra-stuffed or padded. As you can see, he has the pecks to need a bit of darting in the bodice–B cup easy. By the end of the first female leap, I started to wonder why men didn’t wear makeup and dresses. He looked attractive and adorable, if a bit sad. What do women want?

Thinks that make you go hmmmm

Thinks that make you go hmmmm

Historical Precedence
for Guys in Dresses

There’s no logic to women’s clothing vs. men’s clothing except we just don’t do it that way right now.

Men have worn sheets, robes, kilts, loincloths, tights and heels, brocade, plaid, buckskin, wigs, makeup, long hair, short hair, beards, clean-shaven, ties, overalls…. Prince and Johnny Depp showed us how adorable a bit of eye shadow is, not taking their masculinity away, but adding that same mystique as smoky-eyed women have. Kohl, anyone? So it’s not the dress…but what makes the male outlook?

Emperor Wu of Jìn, by Yan Li-pen (600–673)

Emperor Wu of Jìn, by Yan Li-pen (600–673)

Louis XIV of France By Hyacinthe Rigaud

Louis XIV of France By Hyacinthe Rigaud

Former 3rd Duke of Fife wearing a traditional Scottish kilt. (1984) By Allan Warren

Former 3rd Duke of Fife  (1984) By Allan Warren


In the first woman episode, Dr. Becket  actually solved the sexual harassment problem by telling the harrasser that he was, in fact, a man, which grossed out the bad guy. America is still very homophobic, at least to a lot of men, an interesting take on the subject,  I thought.

What Price Gloria?

What Price Gloria?

In another episode, as a 15-year-old black girl, he kicked a local tough across the sidewalk, saving not only himself but the girls with him. He shooed them down the street like a mother hen, keeping them literally under his wings. He was in deep trouble when he went into labor as a pregnant teen. Lucky for him, he leapt out just as he was in the stirrups. He could not lie and deliver.

As the show went along, I saw more and more that he didn’t get what it was like to be smaller, weaker, less educated, marginalized by clothing, expectations, and opportunities. He was always so relieved to get out of the shoes and the bra. Aren’t we all?

gratuitous Boob shot

Gratuituous boob shot

But the show’s premise also included the idea that the actual person was in the future, in a waiting room. While Sam Becket appears to be the person, he is physically present in his (yummy) male body, with his height, his martial arts training, some of his knowledge from his MD and several PhDs. He also acts like an alpha male, protecting the weak, defending himself, and generally acting like an alpha male in his own culture.

Comfortable in his skin, he is aware of the rights and privileges of citizenship, which he often forgets that the person into whom he has leapt does not enjoy…hence, the changing of history in a better direction.

Pink Sequins

Pink sequins make everything better

The Thrill is Gone…

The binge is over, and I am still in that post-binge phase of looking for the next show, and missing the characters just as if I had known them. I’m sure there’s some kind of “opathy” or syndrome associated with Netflix binge-watching, so maybe I’ll withdraw for a few days. Or I could go back and watch Enterprise again.

I am still thinking about how blind, insensitive, and unconsciously offensive I must be to minorities. Whitesplaining. I hope that I am becoming more conscious and aware, and that I am using my white female privilege for good….like Sam Becket. And maybe Scott Bakula, too. He is just so darn cute…when will NCIS:NOLA be on Netflix?

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