Tag Archive: Maine

Since I am interested in the paranormal and write in the paranormal genre, I thought I’d share the books and movies that have had the most influence on my beliefs and my writing. Why? Because sharing the things that have influenced me in this field might be of interest to others who are curious-about or are interested-in paranormal subject matter. More and more people are becoming fascinated with this mysterious supernatural element of our lives. And why not? Someday we will be a paranormal entity ourselves when we transition over to “the other side” of life. Since it’s a place (more like a state-of-being) we are all headed, I figure the interest is quite warranted!
Now, those of you who have read my blogs know that I used to live in a haunted house. I moved into it when I was seven and moved out of it when I was fourteen. Although quite a bit of paranormal activity occurred in the house, other things have happened throughout my life to convince me that there really, truly, without doubt IS a life for us after physical death. So, obviously one of my earliest influences was the haunted house experience. Apart from reading any and all non-fiction books I could get my hands on (Linda Goodman‘s books and anything dealing with Edgar Cayce being two of my favorite), I’ve also been influenced by FICTION books and movies. Now, the thing about fiction is…the stories had to come from somewhere, right? Sure, sure…the imagination but what influences that? Where do those ideas actually come from? A connection to the spiritual world maybe? There is truth in fiction and fiction in truth. So with that, I’ll get on with it.

My first exposure to the paranormal was probably the soap opera Dark Shadows. I was pretty young at the time but I remember it well enough. At least, I remember that although I didn’t always understand the adult nuances of the show, I understood the spooky stuff well enough to be scared (yet fascinated enough that I couldn’t NOT watch it!). An interesting aside here…Dark Shadows is purported to have been influenced by my hometown! Truly! I lived in Bucksport until the age of seven (when we moved into that haunted house in the next town over) and Bucksport is the influence for Collinsport (the fictional town in Dark Shadows…in fact, Bucksport was often mentioned in the soap!). Why? Probably, because its town founder, Jonathan Buck, was supposedly cursed by a witch he was rumored to have put to death! In fact, this legend influenced my writing Hidden Voices which was published in paperback on the 23rd of August 2012 and in ebook today (24 August 2012)! Bucksport has a few other spooky mysteries as well and I’m hoping to explore those a bit more with my Tess Scafer-Medium book series!

One of the first books I can remember reading that truly started influencing my beliefs was The Amityville Horror. I read the book and saw the movie and both of them scared me to freakin death! I think what really added the scare element was the fact it was supposed to be based on a true story. The part where the little kid sees red eyes in the window truly got to me because my family and I experienced a similar event in our haunted old house! (see Living With Ghosts Part II for the “red eyes” story). Now I have to tell ya, I think a lot of the stuff depicted in the book was a little far-fetched and the movie even more so, but I’ve no doubt that SOME of those paranormal instances occurred and it’s those parts that scared the crap out of me! It didn’t matter that I didn’t know which elements to believe or not, the fact is…SOME of that scary crap might have happened and that was enough.

Another book that had a lot of influence over me was The Shining by Stephen King. Now, I grew up in Maine about a half hour’s drive from where Stephen King lived and because he is the King of Horror and Maine’s most known celebrity, I was naturally interested in anything the man wrote. But The Shining really grabbed my attention and activated my imagination on many levels. I mean, really. Here’s a book about a haunted hotel (hmmm…sort of like the haunted resort in my first book Be Still, My Love!) and lots of scary, ghostly crap happened there (just like in that haunted house I lived in!). Now, the horror part of it…you know where Jack goes berserk and tries to kill his family…that sort of stuff I don’t like. Horror, per se, does not interest me. I can’t handle all the blood and gore. I am attracted to spooky, scary…and that’s IT. Despite that, I couldn’t put the book down and I honestly felt sometimes that reading the darned thing was attracting spirits to me!  And speaking of that…I think the more we think about this stuff, the more it DOES attract otherworldly occurrences! So, if you get a chill while reading this or suddenly feel someone standing behind you…well, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Another book that really got me going was Audry Rose (it was also made into a movie and actually stayed pretty true to the book). Man oh man! Suddenly I’m thinking about reincarnation and wondering how that fits into our lives and then I’m having weird dreams that seem too real to be dreams. After reading that book, I started wondering if I was actually dreaming about my past lives! Seriously, Audrey Rose totally influenced my writing No Matter What about a little girl (Clara) killed for witchcraft and whose spirit becomes trapped in our world. To save her lost soul, her spirit is reincarnated into another little girl who ends up moving into the house and befriending her (synchronicity of the universe at work on that one!). Compounding Clara’s problem (and her fears) is the fact that those who killed her have reincarnated as well! One way or another they all become mixed up with each other. I totally found the whole evolution of that book fascinating…how all the characters’ present lives were affected by their past lives and what they needed to do to get over it. That book will be out in October and I can’t wait to share it with you!

When The Entity came out, I was just starting my military career. I went to see the movie while attending technical training school (in Colorado which is where I’d wanted to go ever since seeing The Shining!) and it fired up all the stuff I’d been interested in and experimented with before entering the military.

Busy and fully engaged as I was with my military life, I had to let my paranormal interests drift off to the wayside for awhile. The never-ending itch to write, however, was strong within me and I continued to start story after story (never finishing a darned thing!). Then I saw the movie “The Changling“. Wow. That one really got me going! Talk about a spooky, haunted old house and scary crap happening! That one made me think about Automatic Writing (which was done in the movie) and I even dabbled with it for awhile with great success mind you. Really, if you like a good ghostly movie, this one is pretty good and should fit the bill.

Of course it goes without saying that Poltergeist fired up my imagination. I thought the movie was pretty good until it got crazy…you know, with the creature thing coming out of the closet and all that. What really worked in that movie was the creepy stuff that happened before all the horror crap took over. Honestly, what is creepier than a jester doll sitting in a chair staring at you, then suddenly its NOT in the chair anymore! Nothing used to scare me more than thinking something was under my bed! Seriously, I just got the willies thinking about it.

When The Sixth Sense came out, I really got fired up (again). By some odd coincidence (which I believe is actually the universe working in synchronistic brilliance), my old notebook that contained the No Matter What story (begun when I was 17) was laying on my bed when I came home from work one afternoon (it was around the same time I saw this movie so I was primed to write again). I took it as a sign that I needed to finish that story and a dear friend of mine at the time, Teresa, totally encouraged me to do it. I bounced my ideas off her and she was so enthusiastic and supportive of the story that I kept going with it. She died while I was pitching it around to various literary agents. Breast cancer is a real bitch. Now, thanks to the advent of the glorious ereader, I’m going to publish the book myself and dedicate it to my dear friend now residing in spirit. What I totally loved about The Sixth Sense was the fact it was a great ghost story! No one died (other than all the spirits haunting that poor kid of course) and it didn’t get crazy toward the end either. In fact, the ending blew me away and I had to go back to watch it again. You know…I went to see that movie with Teresa and it scared the crap out of her. I think my arm took a few days to recover from all the clutching she did! (smile) Gosh I miss her.

Another movie that got me thinking was Defending Your Life and even though this isn’t a ghost story and it isn’t creepy, spooky in any way, it deals with the afterlife and I found it interesting. Certainly I think this movie has influenced my thinking on what might happen after we experience physical death. Another movie along these lines is What Dreams May Come. That one, too, deals with life after death and reincarnation. I was quite intrigued with that movie. And since I’m on this particular kick, Only You, oddly enough, got me to thinking about just how important coincidences are! In that story a girl named Faith is playing around on the Ouija board with her brother and she asks it who she’s destined to marry. Her brother, bored with the game, manipulates the planchette to spell out Damon Bradley. Not long after that, she goes to see a psychic and asks the same question … who is her soul mate? Now, her brother, not wanting to waste time dealing with silly psychics, pays the woman to give his sister the same name he gave her on the Ouija board. Convinced now that she must marry a man named Damon Bradley, Faith waits for him to show up in her life. A few years later, she gives up on this dream and settles for someone else. But, on the eve of her wedding, a man calls to leave a message for her fiance and his name is none other than Damon Bradley! She sets off to find him (in Italy which is where I was living when I saw the movie!) and so the story goes. The fact is…the name was made up and yet it is Damon Bradley who helps her find her soul mate. This movie really made me think about how all things affect each other. And I can’t not mention Frequency when discussing fate! This is a great movie. A son contacts his dead father on an old ham radio by connecting to him from 30 years earlier and ends up changing his entire life! That movie truly is a powerful story in my humble opinion. I marvel at the person who thought it up (or perhaps channeled it from spirit?).

I was editing No Matter What (again) when I watched The Others and that movie just helped me focus more on my own story. Why? Because it so intrigued me I wanted to write a story that would do the same thing…intrigue people! I just knew I was on the right track with my book after watching that movie. Also, I looked into the Spiritualist church right after seeing it and so I guess you could say it had a pretty strong impact on my life by pointing me in that direction. The movie got me to thinking about that stuff (ghosts, life after death) and when talking to someone about it (I was running a campground at the time and was chatting with a camper), she told me I should check out the Spiritualist church in Augusta (Maine’s capitol and not far from where I live!). I did so, had my grandmother come through (they do readings from spirit during the last portion of their service) and she told me to get going on my book. So I did!

Of course many other books and movies have added to my paranormal influence, but these are the ones that stick out the most. What about you? What books or movies have you read/watched that influence your thoughts on the paranormal? I’m always up for a good spooky read or a good scare-your-socks off movie!

Until next time, blessings to all and Peace Out!

Cover of "Stranger Than Fiction"

Cover of Stranger Than Fiction

Not too long ago I interviewed Tess Schafer, a medium who also happens to be the main character in my book “Be Still, My Love“, and got her perspective on a few things.  I truly enjoyed connecting with Tess and chatting with her.  Yeah, I know, rather bizarre when you think about it…me interviewing my character…which means essentially, me having a discussion with me!  (smile)  Still, we flushed out a few things concerning the story and I enjoyed the chat.  It truly felt as if Tess were right here with me.  In fact, for the most part, I do think of her as someone separate from myself.  When we authors develop a character, that character becomes somewhat real to us in our minds.  I know that once the story gets going, my characters drive the telling of it and I do nothing more than go along with the flow.  If I try to go MY way on something, it won’t work, the words eventually fail to come and all progress grinds to a screeching halt.  It’s like they (the characters) stop talking to me.  It’s an interesting process.  I find myself fascinated by it.  Often, when this sort of thing happens…the complete-story-halt scenario…I go back and do what the character wanted to do in the first place.  Lo and behold, the words come, the story flows and I am amazed at what develops!

I am going to show my age here but when I was young, I loved The Carol Burnett Show.  One skit she performed on that show really made quite an impact on me.  To this day…so many years later…I still think about it.  The skit consisted of Carol being a character in a book which Vickie Lawrence (a regular on the show) was in the process of writing.  As Vickie typed the story, the characters…Carol and the other two cohorts on her show Harvey Korman and Tim Conway…acted out the scene.   It really hit me upside the head as I thought about all my own creations.  “Oh God! What if in another reality, the stories are really happening?”  Sort of freaked me out a bit.  I suddenly felt responsible for “real” people.  It made me take note about what I was writing concerning them.  Conversely, I now felt sad when something bad happened!  I don’t like writing sad stories and yet life is filled with sadness isn’t it?  I know this much…I better feel uplifted when my story ends.  At the very least, I better feel like the characters are going to continue on with a great life.

One movie that really had some impact on me as an author was “Stranger Than Fiction” with Will Ferrell.  In that movie, Will is a character in an author’s book and one day he suddenly starts hearing her thoughts as she writes his life.  This means he also hears the omniscient narration that tells him he is going to die in the near future.  Will doesn’t want to die so he sets out to find “the voice” so he can beg her to let him live.  This movie just expanded on the skit in The Carol Burnett Show.  “Delirious” with John Candy operated on the same premise.  In this movie, he had a magic typewriter that allowed him to control the lives of the characters who lived in an alternate reality!  The Neverending Story is another example of this story-being-real concept.  As an author, the creator of characters, I feel responsible for the “people” I bring into being.  The life they live and the life it is suggested they’ll live after the book ends are now resting on my shoulders.  What a responsibility to shoulder!!

I’ve been watching a television series called “Once Upon A Time” in which all the storybook characters ever created are real and have been banished from “story land” (or wherever it was they existed) by an evil queen (Snow White’s Step-mother, the witch!).  Of all places in the world…where do you suppose the evil queen banished those poor characters?  To MAINE!!  (smile).  Yeah, my home state.  Oh the horror!  Those poor, poor dears.  I have to wonder why the writers of that show decided that Maine was to be the place of banishment (I mean, seriously, it isn’t that bad a place to live!)?  So anyway, back to my point.  In the last episode I watched, one of the characters, the Mad Hatter, tried to convince Snow White’s daughter Emma that the storybook her young son Henry claims is a factual document (he’s only one of a few who knows the truth) is in fact just that…a true accounting of all their lives (the poor dears also lost all memory of their former storybook lives).  Those “tales” are true, the Mad Hatter tells Emma.   She doesn’t believe him.  He tells her, (paraphrasing here) “Where do you think stories come from?  The imagination?  And where did THAT come from?”  The very point I’ve pondered for most of my writing life!  The stories I write just develop on their own.  I honestly feel like I’m taking dictation.  They run like movies through my mind and I type what I see.  Am I tapping into a true life story that exists in an alternate reality?  Oh come on, suspend disbelief and go with it.  Mind-boggling though it is.  Hey, writers have to be a little out of touch with so called reality in order to create the worlds, characters and stories they create!

So here’s the thing.  Right now I am writing paranormal stories involving ghosts.  My books Be Still, My Love and it’s sequel Hidden Voices (to be published in May) both focus on the life of the character I mentioned earlier…Tess Schafer.  She regularly talks to her spirit guide Sheila and she attracts spirits to her  wherever she goes.  Mediums do that, you know, attract spirits to them like cows attract flies (poor things, I always feel bad for them…the cows not the mediums!).  If the stories I create are actually alternate realities, then it stands to reason that I’ve tapped into a paranormal world that actually exists!  Could it be possible to bring that world into ours?  Why wonder such a thing, you might ask?  Well, while I was writing those books, strange little things happened.  My grandkids’ toys activated.  I heard knocking noises that even made the dogs bark (so it wasn’t just my imagination!).  I saw blinking little lights (like bright twinkles).  I can’t say how many times I thought someone was with me…to the point that I’d get up and go have a look around!  I’d detect a movement out of the corner of my eye and turn to look…no one there! I felt cold drafts, chills down the spine…yeah, yeah, it could just be my very active mind playing tricks on me but still.  It makes me wonder???

I recently gave Hidden Voices out to a couple family members to critique for me and both of them had a strange experience happen to them while reading it!  For one, the printer attached to her computer suddenly came on and randomly started printing stuff.  For the other, all the lights went out just as a seance in the book was getting started.  Could be coincidence, certainly.  But here’s the thing…I don’t believe in coincidence.  Our world is carefully orchestrated to operate ON PURPOSE.  All things that occur in life do so by divine design.  Nothing is by chance or coincidence.  Nothing! There’s a reason and purpose for every single thing, no matter how small and insignificant it might appear to be!  The stories, movies, shows, arts, songs…everything that is created was channeled from somewhere.  It existed THERE, and now it exists HERE.

Pretty thought provoking, isn’t it?  We live in a bizarre world!  We really do!  Okay, I’m done for now.  I’ve another story to channel! (smile) Thanks for stopping by and reading my rambles.  Until next time…blessings to all and Peace Out!

Scrooge's third visitor, from Charles Dickens:...

Image via Wikipedia

I write what interests me.  Ghost interest me.  Why I have a fascination for dead people, I don’t know…but I do.  My first encounters with the paranormal scared the crap out of me.  I lived in fear.  Nightmares plagued my dreams.  The best way to conquer fear is knowledge.  It’s often the unknown that scares us.  But I have to say, knowing something is “there” and not being able to see it…that’s pretty freaky too!  I needed to understand hauntings and so I set out to learn what I could about this mysterious phenomena.  There are as many people who don’t believe in ghosts as there are people who do.  I say this…once you’ve encountered one, you believe.  No, you don’t just BELIEVE… you KNOW.

For seven years I lived in a haunted house.  I was pretty scared of the spirits who shared my home although they never hurt us or did anything harmful.  They took things, they played with the lights and other electrical equipment, they opened doors, they moved things, shook our bed, teased our dog, but they didn’t hurt us.  Given that, I’m not sure why I was so terrified of them.  Times have changed.  Now I go looking for them.  Yeah, I’ve done a complete “about face” on the whole thing.

I joined a Spiritualist church a few years ago.  For those that don’t know how Spiritualist services work, the first part is always a healing session, the second part of the service is the inspirational message of the day and the third part is messages from “the other side” as channeled by the visiting medium.  On my first visit to this church, my uncle came through via the medium conducting the messages that week (this very gifted medium also happened to be the church’s pastor and he’s since channeled several other family members from beyond!).  My uncle was described to me so specifically that the medium was either the best psychic ever or he was communicating with my uncle.  It was my uncle.  I KNOW it. The following week, my grandmother came through.  Same scenario.  The visiting medium was too specific about things concerning my grandmother to be “lucky”.  Nana was there.  I KNOW it.

I started experimenting with spirit communication many years ago.  First with a Ouija board, then automatic writing and finally on to channeling.  At first I did wonder if these communications were all coming from my imagination but then things came through that I couldn’t have possibly known.  That got my attention.  Suddenly I’m thinking this was the real deal and not just an interesting exercise.  It’s amazing what can come through from “beyond” when you put your ego aside and let go of your inhibitions.  Yeah, I know, its all hard to believe but that doesn’t mean it’s unbelievable.

I am also very interested in reincarnation and hope to have another book out based on this concept in the late summer.  I became even more interested in this subject when my 2-year old son started talking about when he was a man and asking where his wife was because he missed her!  I posted about this previously.  See: Reincarnation or Freaky Coincidence

I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to put words together so it is only natural that I write stories that interest me.  Otherwise, I’m not going to write them.  Ghost stories interest me.  Not gory horror but honest to goodness ghosts needing help in some way or another.  Most ghost do, you know…need help.  It makes for great story telling!

I wrote Be Still, My Love because I started doing the “what if” game.  What if a medium suffered a horrible tragedy?  Would she be like “Oh darn, my loved one is in heaven now, guess I’ll have to communicate spiritually” or would she grieve?  Would she get mad and if she did would that anger interfere with her ability to talk to the dead?  How would she deal with it all?  Would she ever love again? Voila, a story is born.  Since I live in Maine, I decided to place the story where I knew best.  Besides, the rocky coast of Maine offers great backdrop to a spooky story!  I read an article a few years ago about a medium who liked to travel to inns and do readings and I thought, what if I had a medium go on vacation to a haunted resort?  The story just grew from there.  I didn’t plan it out, I just started writing and a story evolved.  The title came from a moment in the book where the medium tells her dead husband to “be still” and fret over her no more.  He, in turn, tells her the same thing. I truly wanted the hurt and anger my characters suffered to “be still” and bother them no longer.  In the end, I think I achieved that.  For the most part.

As I was nearing the end of Be Still, I found that my character had more to give.  I didn’t want her story to end.  I was curious to see what she’d do next and so a sequel began to form.  I grew up in Bucksport, Maine and we have a local legend there that our town’s founder Jonathan Buck was cursed by a witch and the proof of it showed up on his gravestone, see A Supernatural Mystery if you are curious about this interesting legend!  I thought to myself “I should have my character go to Bucksport and figure out that curse!”  And she did!  You can find that story in “Hidden Voices” which will be available next month.  I can’t wait to find out what she comes up with next but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with that ghost she met at the tomb!  Bucksport, it seems, is teeming with ghosts.  It’s a great place for a medium!

They say that life imitates art imitating life.  What a circle huh?  If you are going to be an author, you should write books that you love to read.  That’s what I’m doing.  I’m writing books I love to read.  After all, I’m the first reader of my own story.  If I don’t like it, it’s not going to get done and nor should it!  Luckily, I love Be Still, My Love and I love the sequel just as much, if not more.  Probably because I’m becoming pretty fond of my character and her gift.  I hope she stays with me for awhile and tells me more great stories!

So that’s my story.  And I’m sticking to it!  Blessings and Peace Out!

The "cursed" Jonathan Buck Monument

A new mystery is sparked by an old one!  Let me explain.  In December, I published my first book “Be Still, My Love“.  It’s about a medium, grieving over personal loss, who goes on vacation at a haunted resort on the coast of Maine.  Now, before I go into how the mysterious sequel was sparked, I have to lament a bit about my difficulty in properly identifying the book’s niche.  In which genre does it belong?  The story has supernatural elements (ghosts) which are also considered to be paranormal and there’s a romance involved though it’s not a romance book.  There’s also a mystery element to the story because medium Tess Schafer (the book’s heroine) must discover the truth behind the resort’s haunting.  Because of Tess’s special ability, there are occult elements involved because of Tess’s communications with “the dead”: she conducts a seance, she channel’s spirits, “sees” into the past.  Also, a lot of paranormal activity takes place throughout the book.  So, where does this put the book when it comes to genre placement?  These days, Paranormal books are considered something that involves werewolves and vampires (for the most part).  Supernatural books are similar but also include demons and such and are considered “horror”.  The Horror genre used to include eerie or spooky stories that weren’t necessarily horrifying.  Nowadays, thanks to the over-the-top dramas of Hollywood, horror is, well – horrifying.  I don’t consider my story to be horrifying, although it does have some spooky moments.   Given that, I’d call it a spooky mystery but there’s not really a genre for spooky mysteries.  So, there it is.  A dilemma. What do you think?  I really would like to get an answer on that one!

I am now working on a sequel to Be Still.  The story takes place in Bucksport, Maine.  It’s a real town.  It also happens to be my hometown.  There’s a supernatural mystery attached to Bucksport’s founding father Jonathan Buck.  You see…he has the stigma of a tombstone cursed by a vindictive witch! (it’s not really his tombstone but his monument but everyone refers to it as a tombstone so I’m just going to stay with the status quo).  It was Colonel Buck’s sloop that was chartered to carry settlers to newly awarded parcels of land.  One of those parcels (what is now called Bucksport) was awarded to Colonel Buck.  Now, in my research, Colonel Jonathan Buck was often referred to as “a Revolutionary War hero”.  I’ve yet to discover exactly what sort of heroic acts he committed but no matter.  The fact of it is, Jonathan Buck was responsible for the town of Bucksport getting settled and becoming a town.  A few years after he died, his grandchildren commissioned a stone monument in his honor and had it placed a few feet from where he is buried.  Soon after that, the outline of what looked like a booted leg appeared on the stone’s surface just below his name.  Legend has it that the stone was replaced three times and each time the outline appeared.  Family members were also rumored to have tried scrubbing it off but to no avail.  The image remained stubbornly in place.  Stories sprung up…as stories will…and Bucksport’s Witch’s legend was born.  The basic story is that Buck had a local woman condemned to death for practicing witchcraft and on the day of her death she cursed him and his family (even the town was condemned in some of the accounts).  Many stories sprung up, some suggesting that Buck was having an affair with this woman and when she threatened to expose their relationship (he was a married man with many children!), he had her proclaimed a witch and condemned to death.  Macabre storytellers made up even more bizarre stories to explain the “witch’s foot”.   I won’t mention them here for they don’t have much merit to their claims.   Besides, they are easy enough to Google!

Who knows why the image is on the monument.  It could be purely coincidental.  Scientific explanation is that it’s simply a flaw in the stone.  Whatever.  I don’t believe in coincidence.  There’s a reason for everything.  I’ve pondered over the mystery of that famous “tombstone” for most of my life.  I wonder.  I wonder.  Because my book “Be Still” took place on coastal Maine in an area not far from Bucksport’s location and because such a mystery would interest a person like Tess, I decided to include the bizarre tale in my own story.  An idea germinated from that.  What if I have Tess go to Bucksport and check out that tombstone?  I wonder what she’ll dig up? (no pun intended)  The world works in mysterious ways.  Maybe I’ll figure out what those markings (there’s also the distinct shape of a heart on the monument’s stone surface) really mean.  Maybe I’ll channel something through during the writing of the book!

I don’t plan out my stories.  I get an idea and then I start typing.  The story develops from there.  I honestly don’t have a clue what’s going to happen until I type it.  Already an interesting development has occurred!  I’m quite eager to get this story out.  And then I’ll be eager to share it!!  So, it seems I shall begin 2012 with some sort of supernatural mystery.  I love this process…the things that spring up during writing.  I even had Tess make discoveries in a similar fashion in “Be Still”.  She was inspired to write a story and by doing so, she learned a lot about Sea Willow’s secrets.  Maybe I’ll do the same thing and discover something about Bucksport’s cursed tombstone as I write about Tess’s adventure there.

Will keep you all updated on things as they develop!  Until then, many blessings to all and Peace Out!

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