Posts Tagged 'Bold Strokes Books'

BSB Author Interview with C.A. Popovich

By Connie Ward



What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

 I was one of the few of my classmates in school who enjoyed writing book reports. I kept a diary, and to this day, I journal. I wrote articles for a self-help magazine, and I wrote the real-life story of my parents’ immigration to the United States—all nonfiction stuff. In the summer of 2009, I found myself living on unemployment and ensconced myself in a friend’s enormous collection of lesbian fiction. To say I was hooked would be an understatement. I discovered a connection, a familiarity, and recognition of myself in the work. From that point on, I’ve been working on acquiring the skills to become an author of lesbian fiction, specifically romance.


What type of stories do you write?  And why?

 I write romance stories with happily-ever-after endings. It’s what I love to read. I’m fascinated by the chemistry between couples. What draws a woman to one particular woman? Why not to the one standing next to her? Or to her best friend? Why the one running the cash register at the grocery store? In my opinion, there is so much pain and suffering in the real world that, when I read, I want to remove myself from all of it. I hope what I write will give readers the same escape, even if only for a few hours.


What do your family/friends think about your writing?

 My family/friends are supportive of my writing. What do they think about my writing? I guess I’ll find out when they read my first novel. My ninety-one-year-old mother has read the “mom” version and liked it. We’ll see what she thinks of the final version.


Where do you get your ideas?

 I’ve often found inspiration from country music. There are so many interesting story lines interwoven in the love songs. I also have found bits and pieces that come out of the news. One day I heard a report about a man offering a million dollars to any man who could sweep his lesbian daughter off her feet. Mostly, I’d say that I gather ideas from snippets of real life. I mingle them in my imagination and try to figure out what sort of conflict might arise.


How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

 When I set out to write Edge of AwarenessEdge of Awareness 300 DPI, I figured I’d outline and plan it all out, because I tend to be organized. I found that didn’t work out so well. I suppose the artistic side of me wanted attention, because I discovered I was able to put scenes down on paper much easier if I wrote them without planning. I gave in to that but tended to write the scenes that were foremost in my mind, so I ended up having to rearrange quite a few of them. But I believe it was Nora Roberts who said, “You can’t fix a blank page.”


What makes Edge of Awareness special to you?


Edge of Awareness is special to me because it’s my first published romance novel. The writing and editing process was a tremendous learning experience. I’ve heard several other authors say that their first will always be special. If you’re referring to the content, I’ll say it was special because it’s based on a blend of several individuals I know, who’ve struggled to reconcile their Christian faith with their sexuality.


How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

 I’ve found that Sam’s Club is a superb place to find inspiration for characters, so all the characters in my book are figments of my imagination. Having said that, I know real men and women who have, and still do, struggle with trying to figure out where they fit into God’s plan as homosexuals. I believe all writing is filtered through the eyes and ideas of the writer. I have life experiences, prejudices, opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints that influence the words I choose and the way I use them. I suppose my characters are a conglomeration of all the people I know, ever have known, and who shop at Sam’s Club.


Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite

of this author(s)?

 I can’t remember the author of the first lesbian romance I read, but I can recall the first one that inspired me. Radclyffe. Radclyffe was the first author I felt I could trust to deliver a happy ending. I grew to trust that one of the main characters that I’d fallen head over heels for wouldn’t die at the end. I knew immediately that I wanted to write those kinds of stories. My partner tells me I have a hard time hurting my characters. She’s right. I’m working on it. I go back and forth with my Radclyffe favorite, but I’ll settle on Love’s Masquerade. Maybe because it’s about romance writers or because I believe Haydon Palmer is one of the most romantic characters she’s written. I just love it.


Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

 New writers need to keep writing. I found it difficult sometimes to keep my butt in my chair. Especially when I wasn’t sure where the next scene was going or coming from. I’ve developed a solution that works for me. I make myself write something, even if I end up deleting it later. Every November there is an Internet event called NaNoWriMo. Google it. I found it to be a wonderful way to get myself in the habit of writing. I turned out fifty thousand words, most of it crap, but some of it was good.


When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

For fun, I read. I enjoy walking outdoors too. I go to a little park nearby and watch the birds and squirrels as I hike around the path. When I really need a diversion, I watch Law and Order, Special Victims Unit.

What’s in a name?

BY C.A. Popovich


I started my first serious venture into writing romantic lesbian fiction with short stories, and I wrote them as Carol P. When I finished writing my first novel, Edge of Awareness, Edge of Awareness 300 DPII pondered the author name I would use. It would be, after all, forever and always on the cover of this and subsequent books.

I made up different pseudonyms and asked other authors why they chose the name they did. I contemplated using a fictitious name with two syllables. Then I came up with one with three syllables and one with four. I thought of the names of all the talented Bold Strokes Books authors, and I fretted. I searched the BSB Website for any that had five syllables and determined I might be all right.

I decided that I would just use my real name. It has been my name since I was a year and a half old. My last name came from my now deceased, father, whom I loved and respected. My parents were Jugoslavian immigrants after World War II and became citizens shortly after settling in Michigan. Their story is one of courage and perseverance, and I’m proud to be their daughter.

My first name came with me when I was adopted, and my parents chose not to change it. I considered using my birth name to write under, which would have been only four syllables. It’s pretty much all I know of my birth parents, other than that they were married, and my birth father died before I was born. I also know that they had other children. I had two male siblings and one female sibling. I don’t know their names, but I know mine.

I have yet to set up a a website, but you can contact me at and on facebook at CA Popovich.

Twitter: C.A. Popovich

BSB Author Interview with Emily Smith

By Connie Ward


What made you decide to become a fiction writer?


I guess I’ve always been a fiction writer, or something like it. I remember being as young as eight or nine and writing short stories I’d loosely base on things that happened to me (a childhood illness, a new pet, a crush), and then changing the names and places. For a long time, that was “fiction writing” to me. In college, I took a couple of great creative-writing courses, where I finally learned how to actually create characters and situations that weren’t necessarily true to my life. I loved the sense of escape I got from building these characters and these story lines. It’s addicting. I don’t think I’ll ever stop.


What type of stories do you write?  And why?


Since coming out, I’ve found that most (okay, all) of my fiction pieces are lesbian romance. I started reading Rad’s books years ago and loved finding a place in the print world where I could go and see myself represented. It’s so important to me to both read and write stories that represent lesbian relationships, where those who don’t usually see themselves in mainstream culture can do so. I also have a soft spot for medical drama. Because I’m in school to become a physician assistant, and have been working in healthcare for a long time, a lot of what I know of the world is the ER and the hospital. I think a lot of people are really interested in the lives of doctors, first responders, etc. and it can add to the book’s appeal.


What do your family/friends think about your writing?


This one is tough. My mom is incredibly supportive. She’s been my biggest fan both in life and in my various careers for as long as I can remember. For just about a decade now she’s been pressuring me to try to get published, so she was obviously thrilled when I was taken in by the BSB family. She’s not a lesbian… But she reads all of my work and always offers encouragement and feedback. My partner is also incredibly supportive. She jokes that she’s my “hype man” because she’s always talking me up to strangers we meet—“This is Emily. She just wrote a book. It’s being published by Bold Strokes Books.” I honestly wasn’t sure how she would take it when she found out I was writing lesbian romance novels that aren’t without their steamy scenes in them. But she’s been amazing. Most of my friends and family are great about it, although I think my Evangelical father would have a difficult time if he knew the theme of Searching For Forever!



Where do you get your ideas?


It depends. The idea for Searching For ForeverSearching for Forever came years ago, when I was working in the ER and had a sort of ridiculous crush on a much-older, straight doctor I worked with. It was just enough to plant a seed in my head, and these fictional characters were born from it. Most of the medical scenes in the book are taken from real life—either things I lived personally or stories from my coworkers. I think this makes the medicine more authentic. The more I’ve continued writing (I’ve recently submitted my second book with BSB), the more my ideas are hatching out of sheer imagination. I do like to take situations and challenges I’ve faced and try to let them transform into something unique. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.



How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?


Searching For Forever came slowly. I was twenty-five when I started it and twenty-eight when it was finally submitted. I never intended for it to get published. It was just something fun to do that helped me escape from some difficult personal relationships I was dealing with. It took years, because I’d go six months at a time without touching it while I was taking all of my pre-med classes. Then, I’d pick it up again and work on it for a while. My second book, Same Time Next Week, took about two months to write. I didn’t know where it was going or how it was going to end. I just kept writing. I find it easier to just let the scenes and storyline move themselves along instead of outlining everything, although I always have a rough sketch in mind.



What makes Searching for Forever special to you?


For starters, it’s my first book. What’s not special about that? There’s no feeling that can compare to opening that box with your first advance copies in it and seeing your work printed! But aside from that, I’m really attached to these characters. Especially Charlie. They became extensions of me over time. I wrote Searching For Forever, at least in the beginning, as a way to lose myself in this fantasy world where I could have my dream job, my dream partner… It was intoxicating. And I wrote it at a very pivotal time in my life. Your early twenties are full of change and self-actualization, and this book sort of represents all of that to me.


How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?


I always say that Charlie is everything I wished I were at twenty-five. She’s brilliant, attractive, charming, tough, and, of course, able to win over every woman who comes her way. I certainly wouldn’t be bold enough to say I think of myself as Charlie! But I would say she was exactly who I wanted to be when I was younger—sort of an idealized version of myself. Charlie is a paramedic trying to go to medical school. I was an EMT trying to go to medical school. I also tend to use people I know as outlines for my characters, although over time, they definitely morph into something else.


Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?


I swear I’m not saying this because she’s my “boss.” But when I first came out, one of my older lesbian friends suggested I read one of Radclyffe’s books that was based in Provincetown. Because I’d just been to P-Town for the first time, I figured why not. I actually bought the first book in Rad’s P-Town series at Womencrafts right on Commercial while I was there that summer. I read it the entire three-hour ride home. Since then, I’ve read dozens of Rad’s books. She is definitely the one who inspired me to write Searching For Forever. And I was pretty thrilled that I ended up published by BSB.



Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?


So much of the LGBT work published by BSB is incredible. I also really got into the Best Lesbian Romance series. However, most of what I read these days comes in the form of a heavy textbook or medical journal!


Do you have any suggestions for new writers?


Don’t sell yourself short. I never believed my mom when she told me I could get published one day. And submitting to BSB was a complete crapshoot. Write what you know, write what you love, and the story will unfold on its own. Also, don’t be afraid to put something away when you’re having writer’s block. I’ve been working on my third novel for months now and just can’t seem to get past a certain point. I find that when I force it, there’s a very obvious lack of both flow and quality. Come back to it at another time. It will still be there.



When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?


Well, “fun” might not be the right word! No, really. I spend most of my time these days studying medicine. To me, that is fun, but probably not what you mean in this context! Writing is my hobby. But when I’m done with school, I’d like to get a motorcycle again. I’ve also been known to dabble in guitar, and I play a (very) little hockey in the winter in an all-women’s league (where I’m the youngest by about ten years).


(Whether we write it or not)

by Juliann Rich


I lay on the floor with a throbbing knee and two still-squealing dogs and blinked into the darkness.


How the heck had a simple trip to the bathroom gone so wrong?


I replayed the events in my mind, delaying the inevitability of moving for a few more necessary seconds. The awakening to the awareness of need. The throwing off of covers in the past-midnight darkness. The swinging of one leg and then the next over the side of the bed. The standing. The first squeal as one foot landed on fur. The instinctive jerking away. Ah, yes, that’s where things began to go awry. The stumbling. The second squeal after another brush with fur. The spinning. The collision with the small staircase that allows the littlest of the fur-babies to access the bed. The tangling of feet and legs in stairs.


The slow fall, all the while praying not to land on the four-legged bodies darting in and out beneath


The crash. Knee on carpet. Shoulder on floor. Head into the closet door.


Sigh. I didn’t even need to go to the bathroom anymore.


End of story.


Or…was it?


I settled back into bed at two am on a Sunday night in August. My knee still throbbed beneath the Bandaid, but the damage was relatively minimal. The pups were scattered around the floor like little landmines waiting to explode while I eased into the cocoon of sleep.


Then, my cellphone rang. I may have answered it swearing. I can’t be sure.


“Mom?” My favorite voice shattered the darkness and all hopes for sleep. “I need help. I think I’m in trouble over here.”


My pulse didn’t trip or flare or surge. It froze as it translated my son’s words. Over here was China where he had flown days before to begin his job as a professor of English at a university. Trouble could be a million horrible things, but in this case it was pressure to accept a different job (without being able to review a contract first) since his job had “suddenly” become unavailable. My son was caught in a classic bait and switch scam and nearly seven thousand miles separated us.


Project Get The Kid Out of China began immediately and two nights later, I held him in my arms. It was a prayer and not a swear that sprang from my lips on the night when the sequel to Sunday night finally ended.


Sequels. They’re damn hard to write. They’re even harder to live. But such was the dilemma I faced when my first book, Caught in the Crossfire,Caught in the Crossfire 300 DPI concluded. I had brought Jonathan on such a difficult journey as he moved from repression to acceptance of his sexuality. Like me, he’d landed on the ground in a heap (more than once!) and taken a few moments to try to make sense of things before he needed to move on. Now here’s the truth. It would have been easy to leave Jonathan in the car, driving home with his mom whose silence stretched further than the horizon of Lake Superior. We could have believed that they would find their way to each other through the love they shared. We could have dreamed about Ian visiting Jonathan in Minneapolis, strolling hand-in-hand through bookstores and sharing a strawberry rhubarb pie at a little café. On days of extreme optimism, we could have even imagined the guys sitting around Jonathan’s house while Ian and Jonathan’s mother got to know each other.


But dreams (and sleep) often elude us when the story continues. Such was the case with Searching for Grace. Searching For Grace 300 DPITo all who had hopes for good times and easy transitions for Jonathan Cooper, I apologize, but sequels—like real life—are infinitely capable of tripping us up when we least expect it.


Juliann Rich’s second novel, Searching for Grace, came out with Bold Strokes Books on September 1st, 2014. The prequel, Caught in the Crossfire, released in June 2014. The final installment in the Crossfire Trilogy, Taking the Stand, releases in April of 2015.


Juliann lives with her husband and two chronically disobedient dogs in rural Minnesota. Her son is now grown and recently returned from a turbulent but short trip to China! Juliann is a PFLAG Mom who writes affirming young adult fiction and is particularly drawn to stories that shed light on the conflicts that arise when sexual orientation, spirituality, family dynamics, and peer relationships collide. You can read more about Juliann on her website at


By Connie Ward



What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

Stories are a constant part of my life. I love to find new and creative ways to interpret the behavior I see around me. Sometimes, those small stories catch fire in my imagination and I build entire worlds around them.

I’ve known some amazing people, folks who would be suspect in non-fiction because they’re so fabulous.  I read a lot of romance, much of it mainstream because that’s the bulk of what’s published, and I rarely saw my friends and lovers represented.

I write because I love stories. I write romance and erotica about queer and trans* people because I want us to see ourselves in loving, sexy stories set in a world just a little bit better than the one we live in.

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

I started getting published with short-story erotica. The anthologies out there come to being through calls for submissions, which are wonderful writing prompts. The process of completing a story, polishing it, and submitting it was good practice for dusting off an old manuscript and giving it a new look.

I’d written the first draft of Blue Water Dreams a few years before as a proof of concept. Could I finish an entire manuscript? I chose romance because it comforted me to know how the book would end – with the happily ever after! I also value love stories, the exploration of how people will respond to their own emotions and those of other people. I find it rewarding to put together a couple of people I love (because I do fall in love with them) and helping them find their own ways over their hurdles.

So yes, I could finish a manuscript. Could I sell the book?

The first draft of Blue Water Dreams BSB-BlueWaterDreamswas going to be a book about two straight people. I was thinking of the big romance publishers at that time. And then one of them became queer. And then they both surrounded themselves with queer and trans* folk who wouldn’t be rewritten! The book was static, stale, and confused in that draft, because I was forcing myself to write for the greatest commercial appeal and failing.

The short stories I’ve had published have been about my communities, and Blue Water Dreams didn’t take flight until I let the characters become the people I wanted them to be. Making Oly a trans man blew away all the compromises I’d made in writing the first draft. The sex scenes got hotter and more fun, the community scenes made more sense, and the entire book got real.

I write queer and trans* folk because I love our stories. I love how we navigate the world, work together, support each other, and put together lives we find fulfilling. Even though we don’t manage all these things all the time, the queer and trans* communities inspire me to tell stories of joy and growth and power and love.


What do your family/friends think about your writing?

My life has been a series of never-ending coming-outs. Queer, kinky, poly, and so much more, and in every stage and phase, my parents have been staunch supporters. When I told them about my writing, they encouraged me to dedicate myself to it strongly, sure that I could succeed if I put my heart into it.

My primary and long-term partner, James, has been with me since 1996. He’s done more to encourage my writing than anyone else, bringing it up when I let it slide, praising my work and my potential to write great things.

Many of my friends come from the sex positive, feminist sex toy world. I sold sex toys for eight years at Babeland, and I learned so much about the breadth of human sexuality there. Even those friends who aren’t tied to sex toys or my social justice circles know that sex is one of my favorite subjects. Many of them are charmed that I’ve gone the romance route rather than something raunchier, but they’ll see when the book comes out. Love and romance don’t preclude major heat!

Where do you get your ideas?

Some real-world thing will catch my attention – a challenge or opportunity, a machine or organization, a rule that seems hard to follow. Then I imagine the people who would be faced with the situation and how different people would respond. I make note of the most interesting scenarios and what kinds of characters would be strongly affected by them. My book ideas list is long!

How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

An outline helps me get a grip on the rhythm and pace of a story. I will usually know the main beats of what will happen, but I don’t let a plan get in the way of inspiration.  My first drafts aren’t so great, though, and I make detailed plot summaries to help me rewrite a more purposeful, deeper, and effective second draft. I’m not the writer who wants feedback right away, either. No one sees the first two or three drafts. I need to create, then shape, then polish before I’m ready for a reader.

What makes Blue Water Dreams special to you?

Blue Water Dreams rose from the dead. It was not good enough – not for me or for anyone else. This book taught me what it means to write honestly and from the gut, without consideration for commercial appeal or social acceptance, and succeed.

How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

Tons! People who know me are sometimes jarred by the aspects of Lania that are unlike me, because she cares about all the same things I do. She has her own worries and concerns, her own path, but she is motivated by things that also motivate me. Oly and the other characters all have aspects of real-world friends, right down to stealing cool names. (Even Lania’s last name, Marchiol, came from a Babeland customer who said I could use her name.) Where I started with a real person, though, each character grew into their own being during the writing and rewriting. I don’t think anyone will recognize themselves.

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite

of this author(s)?

My life, my desires and hopes and dreams and needs, made more sense to me after reading the early works of Patrick Califia. In the late 1990’s, I was shaping my life to provide the most fulfillment possible, and his works like Macho Sluts and Public Sex were huge for me.

Lately, I’ve devoured Sheree Greer, V.K. Powell, and Clifford Henderson. I’m a fan of erotica, and especially anthologies edited by our very own Radclyffe, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and Sacchi Green.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Write all you can and read ten times as much as you write. Write to the gaps in what’s out there – if you want to read sweet romance featuring thrash metal band members and can’t find any, write that.  Keep criticism in mind, but take praise to heart.

When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

I’m a real-life sailor. I’ve lived aboard boats since 1999 in Seattle, and have made my way through some of the planet’s most beautiful waters. Living aboard means working on the boat, but I consider that fun too. What’s life without a couple paint splatters?

Reading is a passion for me, and I love romance, science fiction/speculative fiction, and any stories that are windows in to world-views I enjoy sharing.

I am a cycle-commuter and love to explore new towns by bike.

I move often and getting to know the restaurant options has gone beyond hobby into art. I also tend to find the kinky community wherever I go for some sense of togetherness.

Last but not least, I spend time with James. Anything we do is elevated by how we love and enjoy each other. It’s a good life.


The Amazon Trail

By Lee Lynch

Fort Stage Park

Fort Stage Park


The Last Holiday


Why are we celebrating the obligation to toil most of our lives? Seriously, why is Labor Day an American holiday? Is it an excuse for one last blowout before – before what?

I’m tempted to research the origins of Labor Day, though I have no doubt that I learned all about it back in fourth grade. It’s never made sense to me to get a day off to celebrate work. Of course it’s never made sense to me that we have to expend so much of our energy to make money so we can spend money on such things as celebrating something with which most of us have a love/hate relationship: our jobs.

Even as a kid, Labor Day was no picnic for me. My parents might travel from Queens to see family in Boston, and we might fill a carload or two with parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws. In the trunks would be coolers of iced liquids, sun tan lotion, towels, pails, shovels, diapers, beach balls, inflatable swimming gear, flippers, masks, snorkels, lawn chairs, and the rest of the paraphernalia required to have a few hours of fun, in our case, at sunny Stage Fort Park in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The ocean always turned out to be too cold for swimming, and the site was too windy for sunning, but there were some climbing rocks and a small playground, an ice cream stand and, for me, activities to help me forget I had to go back to dreaded school.

Today, I live in a seaside tourist town. Here, we celebrate Labor Day for a unique reason: the tourists go home. In season we can barely break into the thick traveling traffic to leave the house. Once headed toward town, the out of state and inland drivers are completely bonkers. It’s like bumper cars in an amusement park. They speed through congested areas, dodge in front of other cars to gain an inch, text and smoke with their windows open, rev diesel engines, and cause collisions off and on all day. I know: I have a police scanner. There is something desperate in these visitors who come at the end of summer.

I understand. I dreaded every day I ever worked. That’s no way to spend one’s existence, but given that my life’s work is writing (and much needed gay-centric writing at that), leaving my home to earn money made me furious. Work was nothing to celebrate, but retirement is! Finally I am free to write my little heart out. But, oh, how hard it is to watch my sweetheart rejoin the labor market.

It’s been a treat having her at home with me, in the next room while I write, beside me when I take a break, and spending time together whenever we want. We walk on the beaches weekdays when they’re empty. We go for rides to explore back roads. We’ve had time to travel a bit of America. My sweetheart unpacked almost all of our too many household goods, arranged the furniture, filled the cabinets, hung the pictures while I finished up at my job and wrote. And she’s been perfectly content being a homemaker.

But she’ll need to retire someday, and our plans are bigger than our wallets. She’s been applying for jobs and getting interviews, networking and disseminating resumes. I try to help with my 30 odd years of experience as a vocational counselor. After all, I lured her out West.

My sweetheart looks like a power femme all dressed up for the job hunt. She charms and impresses interviewers. Yet small town hiring is kind of quirky. Everyone who is already working knows everybody from high school or church or the bowling club. When openings come up, it’s usually someone with deep roots in the community who is hired. My sweetheart in many instances clearly has more to offer an employer than some fledgling, but the known quantity may seem the safer bet or the hiring manager may have some tie that binds. There are not a whole lot of employers here, especially understaffed employers. Worse, maturity is not the selling point it should be.

Fortunately, we have lots of support through the hunt. When our friend HML saw a picture of my sweetheart all gussied up, HML joshed her about the dressy little purse she carries to interviews and promptly named it Beulah. Now my sweetheart never has to attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting, drop off resumes, or endure interviews alone. She has Beulah with her.

Maybe we’ll go to a secret local beach for a picnic on Labor Day to create good magic. The water will be too cold to swim and the winds too strong to sun. The tourists will be racing back to work after partying with desperation. Beulah can stay home to guard the resumes. She likes her job.


Copyright Lee Lynch 2014




An American Queer cover 3 14 Lee Lynch’s most recent novels, The Raid and Beggar of Love, are published by Bold Strokes Books. She is the namesake and first recipient of The Lee Lynch Classic Award for The Swashbuckler.  She’s been honored with the Golden Crown Literary Society Trailblazer Award, the Alice B. Reader Award, induction into the Saints and Sinners Literary Hall of Fame, the James Duggins Mid-Career Award, and, for Beggar of Love, the Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Award, the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award, and Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews.

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