Wednesday, March 31, 2010

As Young As We Feel

Sometimes a book I've signed up to read doesn't make it to my door in time, or maybe not at all. This one was one of them. It looks like a great premise and I was looking forward to it, but I have plenty of other books to read, so I didn't chase it down. I hope that some of you Pixels will decide to read it and let me know what I missed.

Next week I plan to post reviews of a couple of other books that strayed. We've already posted the tours, but I didn't read them in time to write a review. So when you read the reviews, please use the link to look for more information about them.


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

As Young As We Feel

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)


Melody Carlson


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


Is there room in one little hometown for four very different Lindas to reinvent their lives … together?

Once upon a time in a little town on the Oregon coast lived four Lindas—all in the same first-grade classroom. So they decided to go by their middle names. And form a club. And be friends forever. But that was forty-seven years and four very different lives ago. Now a class reunion has brought them all together in their old hometown—at a crossroads in their lives.

Janie is a high-powered lawyer with a load of grief. Abby is a lonely housewife in a beautiful oceanfront empty nest. Marley is trying to recapture the artistic free spirit she lost in an unhappy marriage. And the beautiful Caroline is scrambling to cope with her mother’s dementia and a Hollywood career that never really happened. Together, they’re about to explore the invigorating reality that even the most eventful life has second acts … and friendship doesn’t come with a statue of limitations.

If you would like to read the first chapter of As Young As We Feel, go HERE.

Watch the Video:

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Novel Writing Step by Step – Part Six

Manuscript Layout and how to Write a Synopsis
The writing process is complete and you’ve edited and polished until your manuscript is shining. The next step is to make sure it is correctly formatted for submission to a publisher or agent. If you have a particular publisher in mind, check their website for formatting guidelines. Otherwise, this is the generally accepted way to lay out a novel manuscript:
· Times New Roman 12 point
· One inch margins all around
· 1.5 or double spaced
· Left justified

Synopsis Writing
A synopsis is a one or two page condensation of the vital points of your story. Many authors struggle with this but it is not difficult if broken down into steps. Try writing a couple of sentences to summarise each chapter. Then join these together and expand them into a synopsis. You may have to add in a few lines and delete others but make sure that all the important points are mentioned. Here are the important facts about writing a synopsis:
· Times New Roman 12 point
· Write two pages unless stated otherwise
· Single spaced with a break between paragraphs
· No indentations

Submitting the Manuscript and Synopsis
When the manuscript and synopsis are ready, write a cover letter and read the guidelines for sending your package. Some publishers only accept email submissions while others prefer snail mail. Then pray and send it on its way. Many writers procrastinate at this point, worrying about the story, the dialogue or the synopsis. Your work will never be 100% perfect, so take a deep breath and send it on its way!

Next week is the last in our novel-writing series and I’ll be including plenty of links to Christian publishers and self-publishing companies. Don’t miss this one – come back next Wednesday and have a look.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One Special Book - Two Fun Contests

Today, I'm honored to share with you a beautiful gift book that you'll want to keep handy for times when words just don't suffice.

Words of Comfort for Times of Loss, written by Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison, serves a two-fold purpose: it helps you know what to say (and what not to say) when someone is grieving, and it provides a precious comfort to anyone in the midst of grief. The stories within are personal, relevant, and heart-warming. The illustrations by Michal Sparks are so beautiful you can't tear your eyes away.

About the book:

Through great personal loss, authors Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison have gained insight to share with others who are going through uncertainty, depression, and loneliness after losing a loved one. They also offer advice for those comforting someone who is grieving.

Among comforting paintings by artist Michal Sparks, brief stories, personal experiences, and prayers offer a meaningful path toward healing for readers when they:
  • feel alone and lost in their grief and want to reconnect with others and to life

  • seek to make sense of their loss alongside their sense of faith, purpose, and God
  • want to honor their loved one without clinging to the past in unhealthy ways
Readers are given gentle permission to grapple with doubt, seek peace, and reflect on loss in their own way without judgment and with understanding and hope. A perfect gift for a loved one dealing with loss and grief.

About the Authors:

Liz Allison was married to NASCAR driver Davey Allison until his tragic death in 1993. Widowed at 28 with two young children to raise, Liz faced the long journey of pain, loss, and grief with great faith. Committed to encouraging others, she returned to her work in TV reporting, has published eight books, and hosts a weekly radio show. Please visit

Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grief, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.

Why We Write About Loss

On the morning of July 12, 1992, my husband, Davey, left home like any other morning—he kissed my forehead and hugged our kids.That afternoon I answered a knock at the door, sensing something wasn’t quite right. When I glimpsed the faces of Davey’s two best friends—they didn't have to speak—the looks on their faces said it all.

That day, after lunch with his race team, Davey had hopped into his helicopter and taken an unplanned trip to the nearby Talladega Superspeedway to watch a buddy practice. Attempting to land in the infield, he had lost control of his helicopter and crashed. Although paramedics airlifted Davey to a Birmingham hospital, sixteen hours later he was pronounced dead.

Immediately following Davey’s death, I had to work through my grief enough to plan his funeral and make hundreds of small-but-significant decisions, all while maintaining the time and energy to care for our two young children, ages one and three. Well-wishing friends hovered around me and frequently asked, “What can I do for you?

Most of the time, I could only respond with a blank stare. Looking back, my friends could have done many things for me, but they didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know what to tell them.

I hope the insights I have gained during the aftermath of Davey’s death will help you as you struggle with your own grief. —Liz


Two weeks after my father suffered a ministroke, a massive stroke took his life. On the day of his funeral, my older brother, Ray, died of cancer. Over the next eighteen months, I lost two brothers-in-law and my mother.

On the Sunday after Dad’s and Ray’s funerals, a parishioner rushed up to me, hugged me, and said, “Pastor, I heard about the deaths. Were they saved?”

I honestly don’t remember what I answered, but I wanted to shout, “Does it matter right now? I hurt. I’m so filled with pain that I’m not sure I can handle the worship service today!”

In 2007, our house burned down. Our son-in-law, Alan, died in the fire. The next day, a neighbor pulled up in front of our burned house, got out of his car, and started to look around. “Where did he die?” he asked.

Through the years, I’ve met many like those two people. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. Perhaps they were so focused on what they cared about that they were unaware of my pain. Instead of helping me, those comments made me feel even worse. What I needed was compassion. I didn’t get that from either of them, but I can offer it to you.

That’s why we’ve written this book. —Cec

We have two contests this week.

First, the authors and Kathy Carlton Willis Communications, are giving away a beautiful Grand Prize Basket.
The Grand Prize Giveaway includes:

Words of Comfort for Times of Loss

Heaven Is Real Gift Edition

90 Minutes in Heaven



Potato soup

Oyster crackers

Dove silky smooth milk chocolate

Dove silky smooth dark chocolate

Ultra-plush spa socks

Large gel eye mask

This special grand prize giveaway is designed especially for someone going through a difficult time. The winner can keep or pass along to someone who could use the pick-me-up.

Then, here at Pix-N-Pens, we're giving away a copy of Words of Comfort for Times of Loss.

To enter both contests, you just need to leave one comment below. In your comment, share one tip for dealing with grief. You can share a verse of Scripture that comforts you, or something you do to help someone else. And be sure to leave your e-mail address so we can contact you if you win.

You must leave a comment by next Thursday, April 8th, to qualify.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Spiritual Simplicity

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Rewards of Simplicity
By Pam & Chuck D. Pierce

Living more simply is a concept that appeals to me. Without intending to, I tend to accumulate possessions, responsibilities and relationships. The more I do, the more complicated my life gets. In their book, The Rewards of Simplicity, Pam and Chuck Pierce address some of the spiritual means of simplifying one’s life.

The first half of the book, written by Pam, addresses practical areas of life that can be simplified. These include loving others, rest and recreation and possessions. In the second half of the book, Chuck addresses the causes of anxiety and scriptural ways to overcome it. Their collaboration is unique, with half the book written by each of them. But the book is coherent. They have similar styles; they both use their own stories and a lot of scripture to make their points. They also refer to each other's words, each building on the points the other makes.

The book is substantive, but not too long, and uses a chatty narrative style that draws the reader in. Pam begins with a story about a flood in their house that caused them to live in temporary quarters with very few of their possessions. She also tells stories about how they stopped watching television and movies and how they taught their children to value more than gifts at Christmas. But her stories are merely illustrations of deeper points. She teaches these points using scripture and the writings of other Christians. Her main theme is that simplicity requires faith, focus and function.

Chuck also uses personal stories, but his section is a narrative of his battle against anxiety. Using scripture, he tells how God has taught him to trust Him and overcome stress. As he explains the scriptures, he offers the reader a choice between anxiety and simplicity.

Whether you are looking for help in simplifying your life, or just looking for a good Bible study to help you learn a new attitude about some of life’s stresses, you will find it in The Rewards of Simplicity.

Pros: Easy and personable style with good lessons based on scripture.

Cons: You won’t find specific ways to simplify your life, such as how to clear out closets or eat more healthily.

About the book:
In today's fast-paced and technology-driven times, Christians feel stressed out and overly busy. Many are left longing for simpler days, unaware that these days are within their grasp, made possible by getting rid of spiritual and material clutter.

Respected prophetic leader Chuck D. Pierce and his wife, Pam, remind Christians of the rewards of living simply. Together they weave biblical teaching
with practical tips that will help readers answer questions like these:
How can I...

• clear out unnecessary clutter in my home?
• overcome anxiety?
• rely on God for my sustenance?
• get free from too much technology and/or entertainment?
• preserve a Sabbath rest?
• free myself from the stronghold of materialism?

Sharing their insights to help readers break free of anything that enslaves them, Pam and Chuck empower Christians, both materially and spiritually, to live a clutter-free life.

About the authors:

Pam and Chuck D. Pierce are ordained ministers and have been married for 36 years. Chuck serves as president of Glory of Zion International Ministries in Denton, Texas, and vice president of Global Harvest Ministries in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He coordinates prayer for many major gatherings around the world and has authored and coauthored many books. Pam has ministered within the Body of Christ much of her adult life. She homeschooled their five children and is currently a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher. She maintains the lively Pierce household, which includes four dogs, a cat, two birds, and a lizard.

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Need Help with Dialogue?

We have an awesome line-up of WIES Workshops for April - and today (Monday) is the registration deadline for one of them!

Dynamics of Dialogue is a four-week course taught by the incredible Eva Marie Everson.

What are today's readers (and editors!) looking for when they thumb through your book? White space. Simply put, white space is dialogue. Formatted properly, it shows the reader with one glance that this will be a quick, easy, entertaining read. And this is exactly what they are looking for. But dialogue is an area of writing both fiction and nonfiction that screams, "Amateur!" faster than anything else. Editors today are amazed at how little potential writers know about writing dialogue properly and in such a way as to pull a reader into a scene rather than making him want to scream as he runs away!

In this four-week course, allow Eva Marie Everson to show you the dynamics of writing dialogue. From tag lines to staggering tags, from adding action and voice inflection, you will learn it all in a fun, hands-on workshop. By the end of four weeks, writing dialogue will come to you as naturally as ... well ... speaking!

Instructor: Eva Marie Everson

Course Dates: April 5, 2010 - April 30, 2010

Cost: $100

Read what students have to say about this course.

Today is the deadline to register for Dynamics of Dialogue - register here!

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Editing Tip #27: Getting Published continued

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.


Here are six more truths about becoming a published author (in addition to the six from last week.)

7. Writing is a career. Book publishers are not looking for "one-shot wonders." They want authors who are serious about their craft and can prove they have the potential to write several successful books. They cannot afford to put their time and marketing efforts into someone who just writes one book and then quits. First-time book authors can gain credibility with a publisher by showing a long list of shorter pieces they have written, rewritten, marketed to publishers, had accepted, etc. If you plan to write a nonfiction book, writing articles about that topic will increase your marketability as a book author in a publisher’s eyes. It can also prove the marketability of your topic.

8. Writing is powerful. When someone reads a book, his or her mind is often changed, if only by being expanded. A reader's outlook, attitude, and perspective is affected by what he or she reads. A successful book can reach thousands of people. A magazine article, however, is read by millions of people. So if an aspiring writer desires to have the greatest impact with a particular message, he or she can do so far more efficiently with an article than with a book.

9. Writing is long-lasting. Although millions of people will read a magazine article, few of them will keep the article for any length of time. A book, however, stays in print virtually forever. Few people will actually throw a book in the trash. Most will either put it on a shelf or give it away. Therefore, an aspiring writer would be well advised to learn the craft on smaller pieces that will be thrown away by everyone except the writer and his or her immediate family. Your writing will improve over time, if you put in the effort, and you will likely be embarrassed by your earlier attempts.

10. Writing is not for everyone. Yes, it is a skill that can be learned, but it is also a talent to be nurtured. Each individual has his or her own unique talents. Not everyone has an innate talent for writing. If you don't, the best way to find that out is by trying your hand at something small. If you discover that quickly you can more easily move on to something you have more of a talent for.

11. Writing is hard work. Most people think writing for publication is easy ... until they try doing it. Writing, especially books (and even more especially novels) takes a lot of time. The process is slow and the results often frustrating. The rewards are few and far between (and financially miniscule), especially considering the number of hours required to do it well. A very tiny percentage of writers can actually make a decent living at it, and that only happens after years of unrewarded toil. The only people who make it in this business are those who love it so much they cannot imagine doing anything else.

12. Writing professionally involves more than just writing. Many people think that authors just sit at home in front of their computers all day and create manuscripts. But book publishers today expect authors to do as much marketing as they do—usually more. Many publishers will not accept a manuscript, even if they think it’s good, if they don’t believe the author has specific ways that he/she can sell multiple copies of the book. This may entail a “platform,” a topic the author is uniquely qualified to talk about at speaking engagements, book signings, media interviews, etc. They expect the author to have a Web site and to send out promotional materials to potential buyers. If you’re not comfortable with public speaking, becoming a published book author may not be right for you.


NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail


Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a full range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Ode To Spring


I had the most glorious spring day. You know the type of day where you have nothing to do but sample what the sun and the air and the colors of the earth have put on display. It was as if I awakened from a cold, brown dream to find my yard dressed for a holiday.

Unknown Grass Blossoms
Unknown Grass Blossoms

So I went for a stroll and sat amongst the wildflowers. Intent, I listened as a distant mockingbird sang and sang and sang, his sweet trill joining chorus with the peep-peep of smaller warblers, the knock of a woodpecker, and the far away cry of an eagle.

The sun put on its gentle side and held hands with the breeze to caress my face.


In those moments I became as the flowers were. Underneath an effervescent blue sky, the flowers and I sank into the soil, softly turning our faces in the direction of the wind. United, we paused and watched the world swirl around us.

Tiny insects crawled and climbed animated by the warmth and light. A few early flying creatures flitted by, spinning from flower to flower in celebration.


In peace I sat there. Things were so alive. Moving and growing and blossoming, somehow when I wasn't paying attention, life had aroused from its slumbers and begun a great work.

Flatwood Plum Blossoms
Flatwoods Plum Blossoms

* You can view the entire album of these images at this link.

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stories and Poems

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

On The Road Home

Port Yonder Press; 1st edition (March 3, 2010)


Terry Burns


Terry has over 30 books in print, including work in a dozen short story collections and four non-fiction books plus numerous articles and short stories.

His last book Beyond the Smoke is a 2009 winner of the Will Rogers Medallion for best youth fiction and a nominee for the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. He has a three book Mysterious Ways series out from David C Cook, and Trails of the Dime Novel from Echelon Press.

A graduate of West Texas State he did post graduate work at Southern Methodist University. Terry plans to continue writing inspirational fiction as well as working as an agent for Hartline Literary Agency. Terry is a native Texan Living in Amarillo, Texas with his lovely wife Saundra.


In our sound-byte society, short stories and poems will always have a place, especially when they've been penned by the likes of Terry Burns. This, the first of four in The Sagebrush Collection, is a compilation of fictional, autobiographical, and fiction-based-on-fact shorts and poems.

Through fluent cowboy-speak, author Terry Burns shares his heart with these sometimes somber, often humorous, always engaging glimpses of life. From short stories about time machines and troubled marriages to poems of roses and hauntingly cold winds, you’ll find much to savor on the pages within.

A born storyteller, Burns style is natural, conversational, and above all real. He’s a fifth generation Irish tale-weaver and a fourth generation Texas Teller of Tall Tales. Storytelling comes as natural to him as breathing.

Come along with Terry as he journeys “On the Road Home”. You’ll be glad you did.

To read the first chapter of On The Road Home, click HERE.

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Novel Writing Step by Step - Part Five

Polishing and Editing a Novel
This week we look at how to get your novel ready to send to a publisher or agent. This means getting it to be the very best that you can. Before polishing and editing, it is a good idea to put the manuscript aside and leave it for a week or two. Errors are often easier to pick up after a break from your work.

Polishing your Writing
Polishing writing means to bring a shine to it. This is the process of checking for feeling and emotion and the right word choice. Does your writing sparkle with life or is it stodgy and hard to follow. Reread passages that don’t sound right and try rearranging or substituting words.

Editing your Novel
Editing involves the structure of your novel. Check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, consistency and flow. Most word processors have basic spell checks and some also correct grammar. They are not always right so make sure you agree with them before making any changes.

Should I Polish and Edit as I go or at the End
The answer is both. After writing a scene or chapter, go through it and correct errors and then leave it. The story may change as the novel progresses so it is not worth spending hours fixing a chapter, only to find you delete or rewrite it later. Once the book is complete, read it through and polish and edit. Some writers do both at once while others prefer to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Is a Professional Edit Necessary
If you are serious about finding a publisher, it is a good idea to get your work edited by a professional. Our own Tracy Ruckman is an excellent editor. She has been through several pieces of my writing and improved them greatly with her suggestions. Never be afraid of editing as it can transform a good novel into an excellent one.

Next week we’ll be looking at how to write a synopsis and present your manuscript to a publisher.

Read Part One here

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Enter to Worship - Exit to Serve Author Interview

Enter to Worship - Exit to Serve
by Ronald K. Gray

What is the book about? While the book’s title puts it in the praise and worship section in book stores, the book is more about the total life of the believer. Nehemiah10:39 is the core scripture for the book’s teachings. Nehemiah had gone to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and also rebuilt the temple, restoring worship to the people. Worship was centered around sacrifice. I use the different groups pictured in Nehemiah to talk about fundamental areas of the believers life. The scripture says they would not forsake the temple of God. We have forsaken the house of God today. We are so busy with our agendas, we have left the true reason for worship. God is looking for something real from our lives, not just our words.

Why Enter to Worship and Exit to Serve? The life of the believer comes from our life in God. We bring to Him a sacrifice of our monies, our gifts, our fruit and lay it at His feet. The premise for most Christians today is what can God do for them instead of how can I worship God with all that is within me. The scriptures teach us that everyone has something to offer. When we worship in the fullness of our lives, God then fills us to be able to affect our world. We then exit to serve God through proclaiming His Word, serving those around us and exalting His name in all the earth. Everything we do in church is to help us fulfill God’s calling on our lives in the world.

Why do you talk about money? The very first thing that was brought into the temple was an offering of grain or corn. This is symbolic of money. I go to Kenya every year and they trade their corn for other items such as meat, oil, etc. God is interested in our money. He speaks of money more than He does either prayer or heaven. I think there has been a lot of negative about money and there has been a lot of error through the years. I hope that what I teach in the book is balanced. Many pastors have said this teaching has helped their churches understand the truth about tithes, first fruits and seed offerings.

What do you think is the most important chapter of the book? In over 35 years of full time ministry, I have never heard anyone else teach about porters. In Nehemiah 10:39 it lists porters between priest and singers. I thought that was very interesting and researched porters. It is basically a janitor. So between priests and porters are janitors. Servants that do the basics. People who do ordinary things to keep ministries going. God wants servants. That is a concept that is lost in the big time world of church ministries today. Jesus came to serve. I believe that we can make a difference in our community, our neighborhoods, and our world if we are willing to lay our lives down to serve God.

What do you hope to accomplish with your book? I hope that ordinary believers will recognize they have something to offer. We can bring our monies and touch the nations. We can bring our gifts and see the power of God touch people and their needs. We can offer our fruit and not wait for the pastors or elders, but be instruments to bring life to those around us who are seeking a relevant relationship with Jesus. The five fold ministries of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher were never supposed to do everything in the church. The church is supposed to be equipped for ministry. Everyone should be able to proclaim the message and everyone should have praise for the God we serve. That should not happen just on Sunday mornings between 10 a.m. and 12 noon. We should be able to give God praise in our homes and throughout the week. I truly believe this can be the church’s finest hour.

Where are these resources available to purchase? You can obtain this book and many other resources on my web site at

Are there other available resources connected with this book? Yes, I taught my book at a conference and had it professionally recorded on video and audio. These sessions are great for small groups and Bible studies. There is a Study Guide to help the leader go through the sessions. The book and the video provide different insights that will help people to grow into maturity.

About the book:
This book is intended to help the local church realize its destiny. There has been a severe deterioration in our worship and the Church's place in the world. The Body of Christ is struggling today in many places. This is not God's plan for His church! These Biblical principles from the book of Nehemiah can help us grow into the people God intended us to be. I urge you to read and allow the Holy Spirit to make these truths real to you. Apply them in your life and the life of your church and you will see God bring restoration to your life, just as He did to the walls and temple in Nehemiah.

About the author:
Ronald Gray serves the Kingdom of God through sharing the uncompromised Word of God. He has been faithful to his call since 1974. He is on the board of International Outreach Ministries and Charles Simpson Ministries. He is the Director of Mission Growth for IOM leading short-term teams to various countries in the world. Ronald began his ministry with Gulf Coast Teen Challenge in Pensacola, FL. He has served as an Associate Pastor and Senior Pastor. Ronald and his wife Sharon, have lived in the Mobile, AL area since 1995. He and Sharon have two daughters and four grandchildren. Ronald has traveled extensively in the United States and in over 38 countries, spreading the message of the Kingdom of God. Many people have received salvation, healing, restoration and deliverance in their lives.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Sweet World War II Love Story

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

A Distant Melody
By Sarah Sundin

My first thought about A Distant Melody, was that it is a sweet love story. The main characters are like the boy and girl next door, and their budding romance is cute, funny and wholesome. They have a few obstacles to overcome, but I was sure they would be resolved and the two would live happily ever after. The book turned out to be so much deeper than that. The themes, plot twists and good writing make it hard to believe that it’s Sundin’s first book.

Allie and Walt connect as soon as they meet, but they have several large obstacles to overcome before their potential romance can blossom. Allie’s parents have already chosen a husband for her and she thinks she has to be an obedient daughter, even though she doesn’t love him. Walt is an Air Force pilot, about to go overseas to fight Nazi Germany. They agree to pray for each other and to write while he is gone. A deep friendship develops through their letters, but neither is honest with the other about their feelings.

Dishonesty is one of the main themes of the book, along with obedience to God. Both characters struggle with these issues and in the end, God blesses them for submitting to Him. Even though the themes are woven into the fabric of the story, you won’t find yourself pondering them. Instead you’ll be rooting for Allie and Walt to do the right thing. You’ll be surprised by some of their actions and you’ll like them more as you see them mature.

Read it for the love story, and enjoy it for the unexpected depth of character.

Pros: Complicated story with compelling characters and an authentic World War II setting.

Cons: I really can’t think of any.

About the book:

In A Distant Melody, readers meet two young Americans, about to be separated by an ocean during World War II: Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

A Distant Melody is the first book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World
War II.

About the Author:

Sarah Sundin is an on-call hospital pharmacist and holds a BS in chemistry from UCLA and a doctorate in pharmacy from UC San Francisco. Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.

Available March 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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Editng Tip #26: Getting Published

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.


Most people have little to no idea what’s involved in being a published author. The general public thinks it’s merely a question of stringing a few words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into chapters, and voila! A complete manuscript. Send it to your favorite publisher, who will print it, advertise it, and place it in bookstores, then get ready for a call from Oprah.

The reality is that being a published author is considerably more complex. Below are six truths about becoming a published author. (Six more will follow next week.)

Becoming a Published Author

Most successful book authors did not start out by writing a book. Almost without exception, they all cut their teeth on smaller pieces: magazine articles, short stories, devotionals, play scripts, curriculum, etc. Why?

1. Writing is a craft. It is learned by practice. Short pieces allow an aspiring writer to gain experience.

2. Writing is a business. Getting short pieces published provides an aspiring writer with a résumé to send to a book publisher.

3. Writing is an industry. Getting short pieces published helps a writer get to know people in the industry and make contacts that will be valuable when the time comes for him to start pitching his book-length manuscript.

4. Writing is long-term. It usually takes months to write a good magazine article, short story, etc. It then takes more months to find a publisher that will accept it. Then it takes several months to actually see what you wrote in print. A book, however, takes years to write, years to find a publisher, and years to get into print.

5. Writing is personal. Before you send a manuscript to a publisher, you will have to show it to other people, including friends and family, a critique group, a professional editor, all of whom will have different suggestions for how your manuscript can be improved. Seriously considering the suggestions you receive helps you look at your work more objectively. Your manuscript will eventually have to be sent to an acquisitions editor, who will either accept or reject it. Far more often than not, you will receive a form rejection letter. That’s the nature of the business. Starting off with shorter pieces helps you learn how to deal with rejection. Revising those pieces and resubmitting them will enable you to develop persistence. Eventually getting pieces accepted will allow you to build confidence in yourself as a writer. This, in turn, will improve your writing.

6. Writing is a profession. Like any other profession, it requires skill, even if you are only doing it part time and/or freelance. Learning any new profession requires time, training, determination, persistence, and discipline. This is true of any kind of writing, but far more so with book writing than with shorter pieces, and even more so with novels than with nonfiction.


NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail


Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a full range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why I Take Photographs


I came across a video posted on You Tube that set my thoughts in motion for this article. I don't know anything about the person who created it, nor what their inspiration was. I do know that it exemplifies the reason behind every photograph I take.

Nature Time Lapse III By Mockmoon *
Give the video time to load and then watch it full screen.

I have been following this person's work for quite some time now. Sometime last year I set out to try it for myself. Each morning for an entire week, I sat on my front stoop, my camera on a tripod, and every 10 seconds or so, took a photograph. Below are my results.

My own time lapse video comes nowhere near the quality of work of this other person, but I found in my attempt something deeper, the essence of which keeps me returning to my camera again and again.

There is nothing as profound as realizing you are there at one of those rare moments when everything has fallen into line. The photograph you take at that instant becomes much more than just a picture or a memory. Instead, it holds in it something unfathomable which changes you somehow. These times are few and far between, and yet I think even knowing that they do come is what keeps a photographer coming back.

Years ago before I ever was really "into" photography, I took a trip to the beach with my husband and my daughter. One evening as we stood on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico and watched the sun set in the sky, I had one of these moments. The light around us was simply magical, encircling. Everywhere we turned the colors were greater and more fantastic.

The photograph below, which I took on that evening, stands out for me now as a measure against which every other sunrise or sunset image I attempt to take is compared. I have taken many since then, and I am happy with a lot of my results. But with one exception, they don't hold me the way this one does.

People at Sunset, Longboat Key, Florida

It "holds me" because it has become in my photographic portfolio not just another visual image, but an entire experience. I experienced that moment. I knew when I was there that there would never be another like it.

I had this same feeling standing at the top of Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains one summer. I wrote in my journal later that evening, "I stood today with all the world beneath my feet." It is more than the fact that the view was fantastic. It is that I had at that place in time my own epiphany. Suddenly, I knew how big the earth really was and how small my part is in it.

Across the Miles, Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee

It doesn't take having a camera, or even being a good photographer, to have one of these moments. I think all of us can recall special minutes in our lives. For me, it is that these minutes keep me creating images. These times are why I so admire the work of other people, like the Timelapse Video by Mockmoon. They keep me stirred up and inspired. Because of them, because I know another one could happen on any given day, I continue to take photographs. It is like being on a quest where each supposed treasure is different and better than the last.

Silence in Stone, Slocum's Water Garden
Silence in Stone, Slocum's Water Garden, Winter Haven, Florida

* This video is not a true video per se. It is time lapse photography, that being a series of digital pictures spanning hours of time sequenced together. This makes the results all the more amazing.
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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Could Win a Kindle! Details Inside ...

Just a quick note to tell you about a fun new contest where you could win an Amazon Kindle and a $25 Amazon gift card.

Trailer to the Stars wants YOUR opinion. Help pick the best book trailer video, and you're entered to win.

Head on over to Misty Taggart's site to vote for your favorite book trailer. Each voter gets an entry for the grand prize giveaway- A KINDLE! Hurry- midnight (PST) March 23, 2010 deadline.

Just in case the logo won't click like it should - here's the direct link:

Have fun! And be sure to let us know if you win!

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Where you go...

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Here Burns My Candle
By Liz Curtis Higgs

The second half of Here Burns My Candle is full of suspense and unexpected heartbreak. Through it, two women, Elisabeth and her mother-in-law, Marjorie, learn to trust God and love each other. God speaks to them through His word, then patiently waits for them to respond in the midst of trials.

Unfortunately the reader has to be patient too, because the first half of the book moves very slowly. Higgs creates a real picture of 16th century Edinburgh in the midst of the Jacobite rebellion. We meet Marjorie, who loves only her sons and her gold, and Elisabeth, who is having a crisis of faith. We also meet Marjorie’s sons and her other daughter-in-law, all of whom have their own issues. But they are very interesting people leading very boring lives. Even when the sons join the Jacobite campaign, we are left behind, watching Marjorie still hoarding her gold and Elisabeth still questioning her faith. The only suspense I felt, was wondering what would happen when Bonnie Prince Charlie lost his attempt to win the British throne for his exiled father.

In fact, the real story starts when the Prince’s campaign heats up. From that point, the two protagonists face one trial after another. Many of them are personal, but the climax of the story hinges on Prince Charlie’s defeat. The growth of the two women through the unexpected plot twists produces a heart wrenching story.

My favorite part of the book was when I realized that it is the retelling of a well loved Bible story. I’m a little dense and didn’t get it until almost the end. I’m sure you will recognize it much sooner than I did. Here Burns My Candle, is in fact, just the beginning of the story, so look for the next book which will tell the more familiar part of it.

Pros: Very well written story of God’s patience and provision. The historical world of Edinburgh and the Jacobite rebellion are absorbing and you’ll identify with the characters’ flaws and strengths.

Cons: The book has a very slow start.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Here Burns My Candle

WaterBrook Press (March 16, 2010)


Liz Curtis Higgs


In her best-selling series of Bad Girls of the Bible books, workbooks, and videos, Liz Curtis Higgs breathes new life into ancient tales about the most infamous—and intriguing—women in scriptural history, from Jezebel to Mary Magdalene. Biblically sound and cutting-edge fresh, these popular titles have helped more than one million women around the world experience God's grace anew. Her best-selling historical novels, which transport the stories of Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, and Dinah to eighteenth-century Scotland, have also helped her readers view these familiar characters in a new light. And her nonfiction book, Embrace Grace, winner of a 2007 Retailers Choice Award, presents her message of hope in an engaging and personal way, speaking directly to the hearts of her readers.

A veteran speaker, Liz has presented more than 1,600 encouraging programs for audiences in all 50 states and 10 foreign countries: South Africa, Indonesia, Germany, France, England, Canada, Ecuador, Scotland, Portugal, and New Zealand. In 1995, she received the Council of Peers Award for Excellence from the National Speakers Association, becoming one of only 32 women in the world named to their CPAE-Speaker Hall of Fame.

Feature articles about Liz have appeared in more than 250 major newspapers and magazines across the country, as well as online with, and She has also been interviewed on more than 600 radio and television stations, including guest appearances on PBS, A&E, MSNBC, NPR, TBN with Kirk Cameron, CBC Canada, BBC Radio Scotland, Rhema Broadcasting New Zealand, Radio Pulpit South Africa, LifeToday with James Robison, Focus on the Family, Janet Parshall's America, 100 Huntley Street and Midday Connection.

Liz is the author of twenty-six books, with more than three million copies in print.

Her fiction includes two contemporary novels, one novella, and four historical novels. And she has written five books for young children.


A mother who cannot face her future.

A daughter who cannot escape her past.

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

Watch the book video:

To read the first chapter of Here Burns My Candle, click HERE.

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Novel Writing Step by Step - Part Four

Writing a book sounds like an immense project and it can be if it is not broken down into manageable sections. Last week we looked at how to plan a novel by dividing it into rough chapter outlines. This week, we look at how to actually start writing the book.

There is no set Method to Writing a Novel
Writers have individual preferences and may use a number of strategies when putting together a book. Experiment and see what works best for you or try a combination of techniques.

Writing the First Chapter
A good place to start is with the first chapter. This sets the tone for the story and should captivate the reader in the first few lines. Avoid writing a page of background and rather jump into an action scene that leaves questions lingering in the reader’s mind.

Writing Chapter by Chapter or Scene by Scene
Some writers find they have a few vivid scenes in their minds but are not sure how to join them together. It is quite acceptable to write these chapters first. Once they are down on paper, the inspiration often comes to write the chapters in between. Other people find it easier to start at chapter one and work methodically through to the last page of the book.

Researching the Content of a Book
There may be scenes in your book that require some research. Common areas include police, medical and legal procedures. It is tempting to do this before writing but some people get so into their research that they never actually write the book. It is fine to do some preliminary digging but finer details can be done during the writing process.

Don’t Force Characters into Unnatural Behavior
As characters develop and grow, you will get a greater feel for how they would behave. Be flexible with your outline and plot and if a character begins to display certain strengths or weaknesses, use these to further the story. Never make a character behave in an unnatural way as they will lose credibility with the reader.

How much to Write each Day
Writing a novel is a commitment and there will be many days when you won’t feel like writing. It can be fun to write dramatic scenes but tiring to fill in the story in between. Each person has different commitments and time constraints so work out what you can manage and try and stick to that. It is often better to set a target in numbers of words rather than time. I have found I can do 1000 words, polished and complete on an average day.

This is a brief overview of the writing process and there are many other factors to be considered such as where to write, what time of day to write and what equipment to use. Some of this is personal choice; other is forced on us by circumstances. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to get writing.

Next week we’ll look at doing a final polish and having your work edited.

Read Part One here
Read Part Two here
Read Part Three here

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dead Reckoning is a GREAT Read

Dead Reckoning by Ronie Kendig
Reviewed by Tracy Ruckman

My wait time for this book was almost as suspenseful as the book itself - I looked forward to the release of this one since the day I heard it sold, and it finally arrived this past weekend!

Ronie Kendig is a prayer partner - prayer WARRIOR - who has worked diligently for this debut release, and although experience has taught me to be cautiously optimistic about first novels, I'm thrilled that I can recommend this book whole-heartedly.

I've always loved stories of international intrigue, and this one didn't disappoint. The characters are real - not perfect, but perfectly heroic. The action left me breathless at times, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my chair. The settings transported me right into the story, and the tiny details made it a reading experience I'll remember. The romance was perfectly woven throughout, and gave us a deliciously satisfying, and unexpected, ending.

About halfway through the book, I realized it had the same flavor, same pacing, same intrigue as a book I read many years ago - Sidney Sheldon's best-selling novel Windmills of the Gods.

So grab a copy of Dead Reckoning and settle in for a GREAT read! And congratulations, Ronie, on an excellent first novel - I can't wait to read the next one!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dead Reckoning

Abingdon Press (March 1, 2010)


Ronie Kendig


Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series begins in July from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.


Underwater archeologist Shiloh Blake is consumed with passion for the water and inflamed at the injustices of life. When her first large-scale dig traps her in the middle of an international nuclear arms clash, she flees for her life.

When she spots a man trailing her, the questions are, Who is he? And how is he always one step ahead? Is the man trailing her an enemy or a protector sent by her CIA father?

Reece Jaxon is a former Navy SEAL and now serves his country as a spy. His life is entangled by the beguiling Shiloh Blake as he hunts down the sources to a nuclear dead drop in the Arabian Sea near Mumbai, India. The only way to end this nightmare and prevent a nuclear meltdown is to join forces with Reece. Will Shiloh violate her vow to never become involved in her father's web of intrigue and mystery? Will she reconcile with her past and with him? Will she allow God to help her throught this ordeal of danger, mistrust and uncertainty?

To read the first chapter of Dead Reckoning, click HERE.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Science and Terrorism

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Y Factor
By Liam Roberts

In the prologue of The Y Factor, a friend of the main character disappears in Cairo, Egypt. But the promise of exciting action is not delivered right away. The beginning chapters set the scene and introduced the main characters slowly enough to make me wonder if the book would be worth reading. It was. Once the action starts it continues to escalate as Eric Colburn uses his computer expertise to uncover a Muslim plot.

Roberts chose an appropriate plot for a Christian international intrigue novel. When the Christian protagonists uncover a Muslim conspiracy they have a lot of opportunities to compare the two worldviews. The premise is fascinating, although sometimes Roberts’ handling of both Biblical accounts and Muslim jihad is heavy handed. In addition he has to give the reader a crash course in genetics. He handles all of these fairly well, by inserting them into dialogue, but usually it makes one of the characters sound like she’s lecturing.

The book not only has plenty of action but I couldn’t help wondering why Eric didn’t get more support from professionals, such as the Department of Homeland Security. It seemed a little unrealistic that an amateur was on his own in resolving the biggest threat to the world since – well, I’ll let you read it to find out.

There is also a growing romance between Eric and his girlfriend, Alana. Alana is a strong Christian and Eric is a nominal one, although his faith grows as he confronts danger and is forced to rely on God to get him out of it. Roberts depicts both of their faith well, but I couldn’t help being disappointed in Alana. One of my pet peeves in Christian fiction is the committed Christian women who fall in love with unbelievers – or nominal believers. In real life, the guy too often doesn’t come to know the Lord. But aside from this, the book has a strong Christian message without sounding preachy.

Pros: International intrigue with a complicated plot. The author has clearly done a lot of work to create realistic events within an international scientific community.

Cons: There is a lot of specialized information in several different areas. Sometimes the book feels like a lecture and sometimes it uses technical language without enough explanation.

About the book:

In this medical and political thriller, two employees of The Genographic Project (National Geographic's attempt to map human genes to create a comprehensive family tree) have stumbled upon a plot by Dr. Ahmed Alomari. Dr. Alomari is convinced that genetic data will reveal Ishmael - not Jacob - the rightful heir to God's covenant with Abraham thousands of years ago.

When his plot is threatened, al Qaeda offers protection and provision: centering the two young TGP employees in their crosshairs.

About the author:

With two sons fighting al Qaeda as he typed the manuscript, Liam Roberts was wise to take precautions. Families of soldiers have been advised of the terrorist plot to threaten family members stateside, thereby impacting a soldier's ability to focus while at war.

So, we should tell you, Liam Roberts isn't his real name. The information in The Y Factor, though, well, we'll let you read it and do your own Googling afterwards.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Editing Tip # 25: Book Manuscript Format

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.



If you’re sending a proposal, type “A Book Proposal” at the top of the first page. One third of the way down the page, type the title of your book in ALL CAPS. If you have a subtitle, type that in Initial Caps on the next line. Two lines down from that, type “By” followed by your name (or your pen name, if you wish to use one). This should all be centered.

At the bottom of the page, left aligned, type your real name (not your pen name). On the next line, type your mailing address; on the third line, your city, state, and zip code. On the fourth line, type your phone number (with area code). On the fifth line, type your e-mail address and/or Web site URL.

Do not use the copyright symbol and year. Your work is protected by law from plagiarism regardless of whether you officially copyright it, and professional writers know this. So putting the symbol on your work brands you as an amateur. Reputable publishers wouldn’t dream of ripping off an author’s work, so it’s a bit insulting to suggest that you fear this.


Using the automatic header feature, on every page except the Title Page, flush left, type your last name, a slash, and your title (abbreviated if it’s long). In the upper right, type the page number.


Follow these standard guidelines:

Use 1- to 1-1/2-inch margins.

  • Double-space all text. Indent paragraphs using 1/2-inch tab. No extra space between paragraphs. Do not use automatic spacing between paragraphs.
  • Use Times New Roman, 12-point font. Do not use ALL CAPS, bold, or underlines for emphasis. If you must emphasize something, italicize it. But use italics for emphasis sparingly.

  • One space between sentences, not two.
  • Never bind your pages in any way.
  • Use left alignment, not full or centered. (Leave right margin “ragged.”) Block-indent (add an additional half inch to the left margin) quotations more than four lines long.


Start each chapter on a new page. About one third of the way down the page, type Chapter One (Two, Three, etc.), then chapter title (if applicable), both centered. Two double-spaced lines down and start text (indented and left aligned).


NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail


Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a full range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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