What the Sea Wants

I have to admit that every year kind of creeps up on me. What with moving interstate again at holiday time (what a joy it is to be home!), 2016 was particularly tough. Now that my little possum is starting prep school, is to (hopefully) spending a bit more time writing (both to publish and here, about writing, editorial tips, and my life in general).

And with that … I’d like to announce to those of you who haven’t been following my Facebook Page, that What the Sea Wants is finally here.

What the Sea Wants has been a massive eye-opener for me. It’s my first foray into a new genre (contemporary YA romance) but it was such an obstinate little tale that refused to be squeezed into one genre alone, so it also has paranormal elements.

There is a great deal of me in this book. And while there is me in all of my books and all of my characters, in What the Sea Wants, it is the town and landscape that is the me part. I grew up in or around several small country towns, some coastal and some inland, and while Willow Bay in What the Sea Wants doesn’t actually exist, many towns like it still do, here in Australia.

I’m also very nervous about this book — probably because I’m out of my fantasy comfort zone. I hope you enjoy it, even if it might sometimes challenge readers as much as it challenged me!

What the Sea Wants is currently available for preorder on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo for just 99c. Release date is 29 January, and the price will rise to $4.99 twenty-four hours after release, so if you want to try a YA contemporary romance that is a little different, I’d suggest checking out the preorder.

Here’s the blurb and cover…

WTSW-final-cover-ebookJuliette Brewer can’t face the truth. 
Ash Gordon can’t bear another lie. 
A passion for surfing brings them together, 
but will the sea, with all its sorrows, tear them apart? 

“There’s something about me you need to know—something I’m not sure I can tell you.” 

Juliette Brewer has always been different. From the age of four, she’s endured frequent premonitions of tragedy, but the one thing she never saw coming was the thing that would send her under. When she catches the ocean-coloured eyes of surf-lifesaving heartthrob Ash Gordon, Juliette’s life changes for the better … until a tragic accident destroys their dreams. Everyone else has given up, moved on, and put Ash’s loss behind them, but Juliette can’t—and perhaps she shouldn’t. Not all who are missing are lost, but if she refuses to accept reality, will the sea claim her sanity as well as her lover’s life?

Also, if you’re not on my mailing list, you won’t always get updates on special deals or releases. It’s free to join my list and I promise you won’t receive constant spam from me, only the occasional release info or special offers. So sign up today.

Wishing you a wonderful 2016. May this be the year all of your dreams come true.

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Posted by on January 25, 2016 in Uncategorized


I Totally Saw That Coming

My author friend Deb Nam-Krane, who writes contemporary romance, asked me to be part of her #ISawThatComing blog hop to discuss  whether being a writer ruins all sense of suspense, given there are only a certain number of plots in fiction and screenplays.

I’m usually too busy writing and editing to watch a great deal of TV and I’m a shocker for multi-tasking through movies, so I’m going to concentrate on novels—specifically on how I use foreshadowing to work to create suspense in my own writing, and how my subconscious mind often totally sees things coming in my own novels long before I do. It is true that many good novels follow a hidden formula, and most can be boiled down to a few standard plots or tropes. As an editor, it’s part of my job to detect where a novel is heading and to ensure that each scene follows a logical and interesting path to that place; or, conversely, that a novel deviates so markedly from its purported path that it will shock or surprise readers, taking them to places they never anticipated. It takes sleight of hand to successfully generate suspense in a novel: the old magician’s trick of making a reader focus in on something else while you slip the rabbit in the hat for later. The connotation of words, semiotics and symbolism and foreshadowing are the tools writers use to create a false sense of security, or to drop hints in their novels.

Box set flat for apple 2If you’ve read my shorts Cage Life and Crows & Other Beasts, and especially if you’ve read the Dark Guardians trilogy, you’ll know that I’m a writer who likes to throw in a number of twists and turns. Readers have often asked me if I plan or plot out my books in great detail, and while I do plot, mostly only briefly to work out major plot points and to have the sense of an ending. Often, the twists and turns in my work appear organically, and sometimes the ending changes as a result. In other words, I often don’t see my twists coming myself until I write them. But how, readers ask, could they appear out of the blue when there are little clues throughout your text? The answer is that those scattered clues and nods toward motif  are foreshadowing that is added in a very calculated way. I insert them at second draft to provide the reader with signposts.

The motif of the swans in Creche was very much like that. When I started writing, I didn’t know Skylar would lead me to a nest, and I certainly hadn’t conceived of the link to the Sibylim. The idea actually came from out of left field as I watched a ballet performance of Swan Lake on the television. It worked so well that it seemed as if it should have been there from the moment I first started writing Cruxim. I had needed a good explanation for how there were so many Cruxim, given their strange lifecycle, and the story of the swans worked beautifully and tied into the creation of the harpies I knew I wanted to introduce in Creed. Sometimes, solutions just fall into your lap! Many twists in the Dark Guardians trilogy were the same—ideas that leaped out at me as I ate breakfast, or tried to sleep, or as I watched something totally random and seemingly disconnected to my work. In knowing the motivations of my characters in Cruxim, I was also able to slip in words or phrases that would become more significant later, such as Beltran’s goading use of  familial terms in scenes between him and Amedeo, some of the terminology used by Basil in Cage Life to hint that things might not be exactly what they seem with that narrator, or the snake imagery and sense of growing foreboding in Crows.

When I get that building sense of suspense, I like to let it carry me along with it. I knew very early on, for instance, the relationship between Beltran and Amedeo, and that the incunabulum had a role to play in bringing them together somehow. I also knew that there was a black hole in Skylar’s story before she found Amedeo on the beach. How did she know about him? How did you just “happen” to be there?  I used that “black hole” in which I knew Skylar’s actions and no one else did to later make her a more sympathetic character. That enabled me to manipulate Amedeo’s impression of her, and thus the reader’s impression and create a love-hate dichotomy early in their relationship. In a way, I made Ame a slightly unreliable narrator, and Skylar one too. In Ame’s case, it was not because he wasn’t honest, but because he honestly didn’t know about his past. In Skylar’s case … well, it was all of those secrets. A girl’s got to have secrets, after all. Using unreliable narrators is a great way of manipulating suspense. It worked brilliantly in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, as the reader first came to trust Nick and then saw him exposed by Amy or by his own foibles, and vice versa. It is only later that the reader sees just how manipulative each character really is, and sees Gillian Flynn for the exceptional puppet master she is in setting up the whole sordid story.

Some readers were critical of Cruxim for my holding back. They felt it was an oversight to not explore the nature of Amedeo’s character in detail, rather than a deliberate mechanism to keep him in the dark for now. But  I knew that I could not divulge information Ame himself did not yet know (at least not without slipping out of his point of view) and that withholding that information from him and from the reader would enable me the element of surprise later, when I wanted to reveal who he was and how he had been born and raised. I also wanted that information to come as a shock to him as much as anyone else. Because he could then react to it in exactly the way I know Ame would have, with anger and doubt and self-loathing.

Of course, withholding information from the reader doesn’t always mean they won’t guess it either. And that is what #ISawThatComing is all about. One of my favourite beta readers guessed something big I had plotted out for the end of Creed while she was beta reading Creche. She totally saw it coming,yet as far as I know, from reviews and reader feedback, no on else has commented on it being obvious. If you’ve read Dark Guardians, please do stop by and comment on anything that you  totally saw coming. If you didn’t see anything coming, I’d love to know what was your biggest surprise.

Also, hop on over to the other blogs to see what they had to say about #ISawThatComing.

Deb Nam-Krane– 4/21
Caroline Fardig– 4/24
Jami Deise– 4/28
Kerrie Olzak– 4/30
Tracy Krimmer– 5/4
Deb Nam-Krane– 5/5
Erin Cawood– 5/7

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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Uncategorized


More weirdly named literary tricks to add season and style…

Some time back, I wrote a post on literary devices and techniques that bestselling writers often incorporate in their novels. At the time, I meant to go on and do a second post, and maybe even a third or fourth, but, as is often the case, life (particularly one little three-year-old life) got in the way. So when I finally snatched up another child-free day, I knew just how to spend my time: writing another post on literary devices, this time focusing on ones that sound extremely peculiar. So here you go … enjoy.mgyTQ2o CAESURA. Derived from the Latin, the name of this device comes from the same base as the word “caesarian,” so it is associated with “cutting” or “slicing” off part of a sentence or a rhythm (in poetry) into two distinct parts that still remain intrinsically joined. In modern fiction, you are most likely to see caesura used with an em dash (—) or exclamation mark to create a long pause at the “departure” point. Such a pause adds dramatic or emotional intensity, and is especially effective to convey surprise.

For instance, “Gone!—yet his bed was still warm.” In poetry, caesura follows the patterns of speech and is the breath we usually take in the middle of a line (known as a “medial” caesura in those instances, although it can also occur the beginning or end of a line). It is usually represented by // in poetic works. In Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “Mother and Poet,” initial caesura is introduced at the first line.

“Dead! //One of them shot by the sea in the east”

Caesura is said to be feminine if the pause follows an unstressed syllable, and masculine if it follows a stressed syllable.

CATACHRESIS. From the Greek for “misuse,” as a literary technique catachresis can be said to be a hodgepodge of devices that serves to create impossible imagery. Think mixed metaphor, but with hyperbole and metonymy thrown in. Poet e.e. cummings often used catachresis, jumbling together various senses. For example: “The voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses.”

Of course, eyes don’t have a voice, so this is classic catachresis. It has the effect of making you stop and think about the words, which means you focus on the words voice and deeper. Coupled with the overwhelming imagery of eyes and roses, it has a powerful pull, even if eyes don’t really have a voice, strictly speaking.

Shakespeare also used catachresis rather frequently, such as “to take arms against a sea of troubles” (a sea can’t be fought with weapons) and “I will speak daggers to her”—both from Hamlet. Although entirely figurative, because you can’t literally speak daggers and a sea doesn’t really have “troubles” (a case of personification), readers have no problem imagining what is meant. For the most part, you want to use catachresis sparingly, but in some instances, particularly if you’re using it in confusing action scenes to give a jumbled emotional effect or to portray conflicting or confused emotions, or even just to create vivid but unusual metaphors (again, sparingly or it will seem like you’re a serial metaphor mangler), it can work very well.

CHIASMUS. It sounds more at home in a list of mythological beasts, but chiasmus is a combination of two parallel yet inverted phrases or concepts. Usually, words or phrases are repeated in a reverse order in chiasmus, which accounts for the device’s name: referring to the Greek letter chi, represented as a “cross” in Greek, which is indicative of the “crossover” nature of this device.

For instance, Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” or Byron’s “Pleasure’s a sin, and sometimes sin’s a pleasure” are both examples of chiasmus. And, of course, there’s always the ever-sassy Mae West with, “It’s not the men in my life, it’s the life in my men.” (Go, Mae!)

Often overlapping with antimetabole (which will feature in another such post on some other day, when I can eke out time), it doesn’t always require an identical swapover, only a certain parallelism. For instance, “Naked I rose from the earth; to the grave I fall clothed.” Even spoonerisms can sometimes be used to create the effect of chiasmus, such as in this Randy Hanzlick song, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me/Than a frontal lobotomy.” (And so would I, thank you very much!)

LITOTES (pronounced Li-to-tees) are negative expressions of affirmation, and are sometimes more simply known as ironical understatement. More often than not, they are used to soften something that might otherwise have a negative connotation. E.g. “She was not a bad poet” also implies that she wasn’t a very good one, but the former is far kinder.

In today’s vernacular, you might commonly hear litotes such as: “How are you today?” Answer: “Not bad.” Litotes such as this are very common in Australian English, and Aussie comedian Carl Baron performs a skit about Strine (the Australian language), which you can watch here if you’re so inclined. The language “litotes” part starts at about 1.44.

One of the most famous of all litotes is the Rolling Stones song “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” which is a double negative that of course, really means they’re likely getting plenty of satisfaction—and with Mick and Keith’s track record, who can argue? So there you have it. Four weirdly named devices to think about as you edit that first draft. Watch this space for more posts on literary devices coming soon, including antimetabole, anastrophe, hyperbaton, and zeugma. Happy word-smithing!

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share any of your own examples of the above devices in the comments. Also, the first book in my fantasy Dark Guardians series, Cruxim, is currently free on Amazon, Apple, Kobo and B&N, in case you want to read it and point out my own uses of caesura, chiasmus and the like. 😀

Cruxim, Book I in the Dark Guardians series.

Cruxim, Book I in the Dark Guardians series.

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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


From darkness to light …


My latest release, Creed, is the final instalment in the Dark Guardians Series.

Back in 2011, when I first dipped a toe into the world of self-publishing, it was as an experiment, a test to see how easy it really was to self-publish in this brave new digital world. I saw it as a natural progression for someone like me, having spent most of my career in the publishing industry. It was a chance to learn new skills—skills that weren’t being taught to me in my day-job, because the publishing industry, at least here in Australia, was largely ambivalent about the rise of e-books. Most publishers either didn’t see e-books as taking off or were determined to suppress digitisation in favour of doing things the traditional way. I guess, rather than seeing digital technology as an opportunity to modernise the industry, back then they saw it as a threat, and one to be suppressed.

Have things changed all that much for trade publishing companies between then and now? When I read about Hachette’s argument with Amazon, and when I see how few trade-published books are available as e-books affordably in Australia, or sell in any great numbers, I’m not so sure. Maybe those dark ages aren’t quite behind us, although some publishers are starting to see the light. Certainly in Australia, we haven’t seen the rapid growth of the e-book market that the US experienced from 2009 to 2012. Certainly many publishers still see a decline in print sales in physical bookstores as a threat, even if online sales either make up or surpass that shortfall in many countries at the moment. Is a more widespread digital takeover coming to the Great Southern Land? Maybe, albeit more slowly, one e-reader or smartphone at a time.

But I do know that even if things haven’t changed a great deal for Australian publishers, they have changed a lot for me. I now have eight self-published titles (Cruxim, Creche, Creed, Crows and Other Beasts, Cage Life, Growth, Hey, Little Sister and Pancakes on Sunday), published under my own imprint, Indelible Ink Press. I’ve finished a dark fantasy trilogy, the first book of which, CRUXIM (which is free at the moment on Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Noble) has spent some time as the number one paid bestseller in gothic romance and dark fantasy on Amazon, and has mostly five-stars reviews. I’ve learned how to format and generate e-books, how to distribute them through various channels, and how to market them. While I may not yet be raking in the big bucks, I have the flexibility to publish when I want, and how I want, and my earnings continue to creep up. More than that, I’ve made some wonderful friends among the indie publishing community, all around the world, and I’ve spent the better part of the past three years editing for some incredibly entrepreneurial, dedicated, and talented authors—again, from all around the world. But by far the best change is the overwhelming gratitude I feel when a reader in Zagreb, or Paris, or Maine, or London writes a review or sends an email or a message letting me know that my book made them happy, even if only for several hours (and even if my dark fantasy is hardly super cheery). It is such a privilege to receive thanks for doing something that you love to do, from people who love the same things you do: reading, writing, and examining ideas about the world in which we live, or worlds beyond this one.

But even though I love it, I know that sometimes it is still hard being an indie author. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t brain surgery by any means. It remains a great privilege and a passion. But the pressure to write quickly, to release frequently, to hit algorithms, to promote, promote, promote, and to lose yourself in a world of writing that sometimes draws you away from the real world (and real people) around you, is ever present. Sometimes, things have to fall by the wayside or be jettisoned, and this blog has, at times, been one of the projects that didn’t make the list of priorities. At times, the pressure of running the show myself has made me think I won’t succeed, because I am not a fast writer; because I struggle to write to fit a specific, narrowly defined market; because I find it hard to balance the demands of motherhood and freelancing and being a good wife and sister and friend with the necessary seclusion of writing. At times, it has made me downright depressed and anxious and has left me wondering whether I must try to write in a more popular genre, or whether, despite years of writing, reading about writing, and telling others how to enhance their own writing, I’m just not good enough, or certainly not as good as I want to be. Sometimes, it has made me wonder whether I should give up my dreams of being a full-time novelist, even if I have been a full-time author, one way or another, since 2007. And then I remember that the best novelists are rarely those who are always happy, or always melancholy, or always calm, or always anxious, but those who mine their own unpredictable, sometimes untameable emotions for stories and use their own experiences and empathy to create a diversity of characters.

So, while there is still some way to go before I can say that I am a true indie success story—and while there are still at least five half-finished manuscripts on my hard-drive, just waiting for an ending before they can be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world of onscreen readers—I feel as if the path is starting to become less hilly. The flower are blooming by the roadside, and if I take the time to smell them, I hope my fans will forgive me. Best of all, in the distance, an ocean of words is stretching out before me, beckoning to me. And I will not drown in it, like so many little-read books and little-known authors have, but surf its peaks and troughs, and know that even if I sink for a time, there will always be another wave, another book, waiting to carry me back up.

Cruxim is currently FREE, but to thank fans and readers for their support of the series, I’d like to give away copies of Creche and Creed to two readers who respond in the comments. All you have to do is tell me your favourite beach. Finishing the Dark Guardians series (yes, it got a new series title, I hope you like it!) feels almost like the end of an era. Although I am happy that the loose ends in that world are tied up neatly for now, I shall miss them, and perhaps one day, another thread will unravel, another feather will fall…  For now, my current work in progress, What the Sea Wants, moves away from dark fantasy and, in some ways at least, toward the light. I haven’t set a deadline for its release, because I don’t need that kind of pressure, although I hope to finish it this year. It is a contemporary romance YA novel set in a small coastal community in Australia. Of course, most Australians have a natural affinity with the ocean, and I think most people do too, so please comment and tell me about your favourite place to sit and be at peace with the sea.

To be the first to hear about the release of What the Sea Wants, and to get it at a special discounted price on release, sign up now for my mailing list at  I only ever mail out when I release, and since I’m not a fast writer, you won’t be inundated with my updates. 🙂  I’ll be posting excerpts of What the Sea Wants soon. Thanks again for reading.



Posted by on August 23, 2014 in Uncategorized


It’s that time of year again

No … not Christmastime, you duffer. Although that is fast approaching (too fast! I’m yet to do any shopping aside from a Tramampoline for the little one). I mean Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the online event of the year. As always, this digital extravaganza has ebook authors like me slavering over potential sales, so this year a bunch of exceptional authors, including some really BIG sellers, have collaborated to bring you a four-day Black Friday to Cyber Monday sale with all novels priced at just 99c.

Yes, you heard right. More than 30 professional authors from around the globe all making their books available at bargain basement prices for four days only. If you haven’t bought Cruxim yet now is your chance to grab it for bottom-dollar. If you have, then grab Creche (I’ve been remiss in posting about its release here, but it’s doing well. This book mama is very proud). AND make sure you check out this awesome list. These authors make up part of my very supportive inner circle of indies, and I can totally vouch for them. They’re awesome, and lovely, and fabulous. Buy their books and check out their Facebook pages, you won’t be disappointed.

Black Friday through Cyber Monday Four-day Sale! All novels just 99c. Visit  for more information. 


Snag these best-sellers for just $.99 each!  Includes some awesome boxed sets! image


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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


So, I’ve finally set a date to release Creche. Here’s what I’ve been up to today

So, I've finally set a date to release Creche. Here's what I've been up to today

Making a ‘real purty’ little teaser. I hope you like it.


Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


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WOW! What a great response to the hop

I’m thrilled with all of the comments that have come from the Summer Splash Blog Hop regarding print books.The only problem is that now I have a really tough job picking just one winner. So, because I am naturally quite indecisive and because you’ve all convinced me to put my paperbacks in storage rather than get rid of them, I have decided to give away three copies of Cruxim, rather than just one.


And the winners are …

Crystal C.

Savannah Miller

Kimberley Mayberry.

I will be in touch via email to find out your postal addresses. For the rest of you, do keep following my Facebook page because I often do giveaways over there too, and you can even sign up to my mailing list to be the first to receive notice of a new release

Thanks so much to all of you for dropping by and commenting, and I hope you enjoyed the blog hop as much as I did.

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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Uncategorized


Hop On into Summer – With a Splash!

So it’s not summer here in Brisbane, but it sure feels like it some days with the thermometer still hovering at around 25+˚C most days. Regardless, for the many talented US and northern hemisphere authors I have come to know and love on my self-publishing journey, it IS summer, and they’ve been kind enough to let this little pale-skinned, hairy-legged, wintry Aussie into this years Summer Splash Blog Hop.


There are many things indie published authors can do to help promote, but few are as fun as a blog hop. The idea is that prize-seekers and booklovers, and even the hop participants themselves, visit all of the pages of those involved to go into the draw to win some fabulous giveaways, and get to know some truly awesome authors in the process.

To find out which authors, visit and then hop along from one to the other to find out what prizes they’re giving away. Prizes include loads of Amazon gift cards,signed books, cookie and goodie hampers, jewellery and even manuscript editing! So make sure you check it out.

Also, I’d like to give you guys a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Cruxim. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me why you love paper books, because let me tell you, as someone who is likely to be packing for a move 2500 odd kilometres away into the dusty Australian outback, I’m eyeing my packed bookshelves askance. 🙂

But hey, at least it is ALWAYS summer in Darwin! Happy (fake) Summer, folks. Enjoy the hop.


Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Blog Hop


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Living the Fantasy

Sci Fi Promo Event Marketing Banner2

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved reading fantasy novels. There is something freeing about both reading and writing in this genre, something that enables the author and the reader to exist in realms beyond the imagination, places that seem so real and yet so surreal simultaneously. Currently, I’m working on edits for Creche (add it to your TBR list on Goodreads today), the sequel to my dark fantasy novel Cruxim, and I’m seeing even more fantastical elements creep in as I recreate the world of my Cruxim and their backstories (now that my POV character, Amedeo, has learned a little more about his past). If you want advance notice of Creche’s release, as well as a special introductory price for mailing list members, please sign up for my mailing list at

Nowadays, of course, the lines between fantasy and science fiction and swords and sorcery are blurred, and of course, it would be remiss of me to mention the genre without a nod to the greats, like Tolkien, CS Lewis, Mervyn Peake, Raymond E. Fiest and Frank Herbert. But I’m also inspired by the success of more modern fantasy authors and by many fantasy books from my childhood that still resonate with me as a reader. Among them are Robert O’Brien’s The Silver Crown, Maurice Gee’s Halfmen of O, and The Seventh Princess.

As a result, when Tim Flanagan approached me to see if I wanted to be part of the Science Fiction and Fantasy “BIG COMPETITION” Blog Hop and Book Sale, I jumped at the chance. There are some truly wonderful science fiction and fantasy authors participating, and ALL of their books are available for just 99c for 13 and 14 July. Check out the complete list at

Sci Fi Promo Event Poster

There are also fabulous prizes and giveaways over on the blog page, including Amazon giftcards, signed paperback and other great prizes, so do be sure to enter. I’d also love to hear about your favourite science fiction or fantasy novels in the comments.

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Posted by on July 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


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A little taste of what is coming soon …

A little taste of what is coming soon ...

I’ve signed on to this fabulous sci-fi and fantasy book sale, starting on the 13-14 July. Heaps of excellent fantasy and science fiction books for just 99c, as well as some great prizes for participating. Coming soon

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Posted by on July 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


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