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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Spring time, romance, and cooking

by

Sloane Taylor

Spring is an amazing time of year and my favorite because that’s when the Earth comes alive. All sorts of beautiful things happen. Trees are budding, tender plants push through the ground, and romance is in the air and warm weather is just a few weeks away.

I am a romantic through and through. Always have been and with any luck I always will be. Romance is much more than a quick trip to tangle the sheets. It is about being with someone you love and doing little things to show them how much they mean to you. In my case I cook because I love it.

When summer arrives and the gardens are ablaze in color, I want to move the romance outside. So why not share a summer night with your someone special? What better way than with a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine, and music. You don’t need much to set the mood and turn your patio, balcony, or kitchen into a lover’s nook. Make your night special with great food because is the doorway to infinite possibilities.

A printed flat sheet is perfect for a festive tablecloth or set out placemats for the plates and serving dishes. Use plenty of candles in different sizes and a variety of holders scattered around the table to enhance the mood, but definitely avoid scented candles. Stemmed wine glasses sparkle in candlelight and add a festive feel to your dinner. Use your regular dishes or, for fun, mix it up with a number of different plates that don’t match but complement each other for the different courses. Experiment and have fun.

Now that you have the perfect location and setting for you and that right person, may I suggest you spoil yourself with an intimate dinner meant for lovers. It is easy to prepare, and leftovers make marvelous sandwiches. This recipe also works great in the oven.

Ask your butcher to dress the tenderloin. If he won’t, then you need to remove the excess fat and sliver out the silver strip along the side. Easy to do. Slide a sharp knife under the strip close to one end. Use a back and forward motion like sawing to ease your knife between the meat and the strip as you lift it away from the beef.

MENU

Marinated & Grilled Beef Tenderloin

Potatoes Baked on the Grill

Grilled Asparagus

Sautéed Mushrooms

Dry Red Wine – Valpolicella

Marinated & Grilled Beef Tenderloin

2 – 3 lb. (1 – 1.5kg) beef tenderloin

½ cup (120ml) olive oil

½ cup (120ml) dry red wine

3 rosemary sprigs or 1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried

6 thyme sprigs or 1 tsp. (5ml) dried

1 bay leaf

3 garlic cloves, chopped fine

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Oil to coat grill grate

Combine all ingredients in a long bowl or plastic bag and a shallow pan. Marinade in fridge 2 – 20 hours. Seems like a strange time span, but the longer the marinade the tastier the beef.

Remove meat from refrigerator 1 hour before grilling or roasting in oven. Meat needs to be almost room temperature.

Grill Instructions

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Pat tenderloin dry. Discard marinade. Add beef, close lid, and grill 15 – 20 minutes or until meat is done to your preference. Be sure to turn meat several times to avoid burning.

Oven Instructions

Preheat oven to 400° F (200°C).

Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Pat tenderloin dry. Discard marinade. Add beef to pan. Roast 30 – 40 minutes or until meat is done to your preference. Save the juice to moisten he meat when you serve.

Baked Potatoes on the Grill

1 russet potato per person

Olive oil

Aluminum foil

Butter

Sour cream

Chives

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat gas grill to medium-high.

Wash potatoes under cool water. Pat dry. Poke several sets of holes in each potato with a fork. This stops the potato from bursting as it bakes. Rub potatoes with a small amount of olive oil to keep the skin soft. Wrap each potato in a section of aluminum foil.

Place potatoes on upper shelf of grill. If you don’t have an upper shelf, then lay them at the outer edges of your grill.

Grill 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning every 15 – 20 minutes. Test if done by inserting a toothpick into the potato. It should glide in easily.

To serve, remove foil and then cut an X across the top of each potato. Using potholders squeeze the ends toward the center until the potato mounds.

Serve with butter, sour cream, chives, and pepper.

Grilled Asparagus

6 – 8 asparagus per person

½ cup (120ml) olive oil

2 tbsp. (30ml) lemon juice

½ tbsp. (7.5ml) garlic powder, not salt

1 tsp. (5ml) dried basil

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Trim, then discard, the tough bottoms off asparagus with a sharp knife.

Combine oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, basil, and pepper in a glass or ceramic dish. Stir well. Add asparagus. Stir gently to coat the spears.

Set gas grill to medium-high heat. Poke a few holes in a piece of aluminum foil then set it onto the grate. Lay spears on top. Turn frequently to avoid burning.

Asparagus are done when they color to medium brown, about 5 – 7 minutes.

Arrange spears on a dish and serve immediately.

Sautéed Mushrooms

6 – 8 mini bella mushrooms

1 tbsp. (15ml) olive oil

2 tbsp. (25g) butter

½ small onion, sliced thin

2 tbsp. (30ml) dry vermouth or white wine

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Clean mushrooms with a dry paper towel to remove bedding soil. Slice them in half lengthwise if medium or into thirds if large.

Over medium heat, drizzle a small amount of olive oil into a medium-sized frying pan and add butter. Stir in onions and mushrooms. Sauté until almost tender, 3 – 6 minutes.

Pour vermouth or white wine over the mushrooms and continue to heat.

To serve, grind pepper across the top and spoon into a warm serving dish.

This dish is best cooked and served on the same day. Leftovers are soggy.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

To learn more about Taylor go to her website. Stay in touch on Blogger, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Italian Style, Sizzling Summer, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available on Amazon.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A new recipe from Stella May who brings us her favorite cookie.

This is my hubby’s favorite cookie. I must admit it is mine, too. I hope you like them as well. My recipe makes 10 – 12 medium cookies or 7 – 8 large ones.

Almond Cookies

4 egg whites, right out of the refrigerator*

⅓ cup organic sugar, or ½ cup for a sweeter taste

1 tsp. almond extract

1 cup almond flour (I use super-fine blanched)

Almonds, slivered or whole

Pre-heat oven to 250° F.

Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Pour egg whites into a glass bowl. Set your mixer on high speed. Whip until whites are very firm.

Gradually add sugar, almond extract, and flour. Drop dough onto cookie sheet using a tablespoon or a scooper. Add an almond on top of each cookie, then set pan into oven.

Bake for 20-25 min, then turn off the oven, but leave cookies inside for another 40-45 min.

Remove and enjoy.

*Store the yolks in the fridge to scramble for breakfast the next morning.

Here is a peek at my latest time travel romance novel for your reading pleasure.

One key unlocks the love of a lifetime…but could also break her heart.

Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.

’Til Time Do Us Part is available in Kindle and Paperback at AMAZON.

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Tell Again Tuesday

A blog series where we shamelessly share posts from others that we have enjoyed.

 


 

World Building: Friendship

By Cindy Tomamichel

A social structure is part of many species’ daily interactions, and certainly a big part of what it is to be human, so it probably goes for aliens as well. To boldly seek out – new friends? What role does friendship play in novels?

If the pandemic and associated lockdowns have taught us anything, it is the value of . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Cindy Tomamichel’s blog

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Friday Features

Cover Reveal

A new Regency Romance Drama

by

Vonnie Hughes

Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press! Acclaimed author Vonnie Hughes has written another exciting Regency romance drama with just a bit of fluff and interesting facts sprinkled in. This is novel is destined to soar on the bestseller lists!

 

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Air conditioning
The invention we can’t live without!

What to you is the greatest invention in human history? The wheel? Sliced bread? Electricity (not exactly an invention)? The light bulb? The list is endless of the various inventions in human history, but only one that helps when the temperatures move beyond 90 degrees, can there be any doubt that our most amazing piece of technology is the air conditioner?

In 1902 Willis Carrier created the Apparatus for Treating Air for a Brooklyn printing company—a break-through that, as it developed and spread over decades, changed the human condition. Today close to 87 percent of U.S. homes have AC, but we’re old enough to remember when it was a luxury.

During heat waves, people barely moved or did anything. You would sit in front of fans of all sorts to try to stay cool. Some even used tubs of ice in front of the fan to blow cooling air. Nights were a sleepless ordeal, with sweat pooling in various places of the body. Then morning came and you had to wash the damp sheets. Did we mention we lived through this? Carrier set us free from such torment with his invention. Why is he not honored with a special day on the calendar?

Air conditioning is not simply a comfort but has now become a part of modern life. Without it keeping people and computers working when the mercury climbs past 90 all activity would slow or even stop. Would computers even operate? Air conditioning has made it possible for millions of people to live in the Sun Belt states that nature intended for lizards, not humans. As the world warms, the demand for AC grows ever greater. Currently consuming 12 percent of U.S. home energy expenditures, some climate change warriors suggest we all wean ourselves from Carrier’s invention. They argue for a return to a more natural way of life. Been there, done that, not going back!

Sorry, we’d give up about everything else before we went back to living without conditioned air. If they come for our AC, as the saying goes, they’ll have to pry it out of our wonderfully cold, dead fingers.

Now, if your AC is working, settle into a comfy chair and check out some of our hot books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Tell Again Tuesday

A blog series where we shamelessly share posts from others that we have enjoyed.

 


 

Using Core Wounds in Your Stories

By Jeanine Englert

In February I did a talk at my local writing chapter. My focus was on how to improve the first line, page, and chapter of your book. In it I discussed one of my favorite ways of doing just that by exposing layers of your characters a bit at a time by showing snippets of their core wounds.

So, what are core wounds? . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Soul Mate Publishing Author blog

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Friday Features

We talk about

Taking a free trip to Scotland

Many books require research, and The Mercenary and the Shifters was no exception. We had to research a bunch of things for this book, but our favorite was the Hebrides Islands in Scotland. It’s a lot of fun when your book requires you to visit other countries. In The Mercenary and the Shifters-Book Four of The Turning Stone Chronicles, our hero goes to the Hebrides in Scotland.

We have never been to Scotland, but it’s somewhere Catherine has always wanted to go, so we set off to discover these remote islands with our hero, Mike Corritore, who lands in Benbecula airport in the Hebrides in the early dawn.

From the airport we headed south for South Uist, crossing a causeway lined on both sides with white boulders. Back on land, the road periodically narrowed into a lane and a half, the bulged-out lanes barely big enough to hold a vehicle. Houses dotted the landscape, surrounded by fields of low, green grass. Squat, wire fences penned in white sheep, grazing contentedly. Along the edge of the road, bushes leaned into the pavement, the tips of the branches sporting white blossoms.

En route for Loch Baghasdail, we crossed a second causeway. Just past the end of the causeway, a series of small, deep blue lakes dotted the countryside. As the road moved inland the landscaped changed. Fewer houses appeared along the roadside. Bleached, white boulders jutted from the ground like cemetery markers. The flat, slightly curvy road became straight, with low, rolling rises. Gray mountains, their tops ringed in matching gray haze, lay against the horizon on the left. The scenery was beautiful, bucolic, and stark at the same time.

Do you want to know the best part about this trip? It didn’t cost us a dime.

We went via Google Maps to the Scottish countryside. Ain’t the internet wonderful?

Maybe someday we’ll get to see the Hebrides in person. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy our hero’s trip to Scotland, the exciting action-packed story, and the results from the fun research we did for this story.

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The heroine of our book, Son of the Moonless Night, with ten facts about her.

One of the fun things about creating characters is coming up with quirks, personality traits, and interesting tidbits about their personal background. Katrina Romanovski is one of our reader’s favorite characters. We’ve already been asked if she is going to appear in another book. Much to the reader’s dismay, we wouldn’t reveal the answer.

Here are ten interesting facts about Katrina Romanovski, the heroine from our new book, Son of the Moonless Night-The Turning Stone Chronicles, book three.

    1. She is from Transylvania but not Romania. We do solve this mystery in the book.
    2. She hunts paranormals. Hates vampires. And swears by Count Dracula.
    3. She wears a huge Celtic cross as a talisman against vampires.
    4. She not only hunts paranormals, but she’s had her share of paranormal boyfriends. No zombies please, they’re just too creepy.
    5. She is a blonde version of NCIS’s forensic scientist Abby but with a medical degree.
    6. She decided to leave her father’s paranormal hunting business because she was looking for normalcy in her life. Instead she found Owen, the hero of Son of the Moonless Night, a shape shifter.
    7. She is part gypsy, on her father’s side. Her mother is British. Prim-and-proper breeding war with Katrina’s gypsy walk-on-the-wild side. The gypsy usually wins.
    8. She has traveled the USA as an FBI agent but now likes Cleveland, the mistake by the lake.
    9. She loves Italian food but has trouble cooking it, especially when Owen is around.
    10. She spends a lot of time in alleys.

Here is a little more about Katrina from the book:

A crash in the alley stopped Katrina Romanovski mid-stride. Like the October mist swirling in off the lake, her gypsy blood stirred sending her intuition into high gear. Something unnatural was happening.

Go see what’s wrong. She heard her father’s voice as clearly as if he stood next to her.

On the heels of his words came her mother’s pragmatic warning in clipped British tones. You know what curiosity killed. Katrina pushed the ever-present warning aside. Mom never approved of Dad’s supernatural hunts and even less of his drawing her into them.

Pulling the oversized cross she always wore out from under her shirt, Kat looked around for a weapon. Please, not a vampire. I hate vampires! A piece of wood sticking out of the trashcan at the front of the alley caught her eye.

Grabbing it, she broke the end off into a sharp point. The mist-filled air filtered the light from the single bulb over one of the alley doorways. The wind swirled the loose trash around making a quiet approach difficult. Sidestepping the paper, with the stake in one hand and holding the gun she took from her purse in the other hand, she crept into the alley.

A roar echoed against the buildings, the sound nearly sending her running. That roar wasn’t a vampire. It sounded more like an animal. Kat inched closer. In the yellow pool of light from the back door of the building, a black bear, over seven feet tall, reared on its back legs and swung its paw at the man standing at the edge of the light. He crashed to the ground, shirt torn open from the slashing claws. Blood covered the fabric, and he clasped his left hand over his shoulder to stem the flow. The bear bent toward him, teeth bared in a smile. A wicked smile.

Kat aimed her gun, but before she could pull the trigger, a shot rang out. The flash of gunpowder lit the face of the injured man. The blast reverberated against the buildings. With an enraged bellow, the bear staggered backward against the wall. Shaking his head, the animal dropped to all four paws. Weaving like a drunk, he lumbered toward his attacker. The man took aim again, shooting the animal between the eyes. Animal and human collapsed on the dirty, littered pavement.

As she started to move forward, Kat’s gypsy senses crawled over her skin like angry red ants. As she slipped back into the shadows, the bear shed fur. Changing size. Then, finally, turning into a man.

Shape shifters. Her stake wasn’t any good against them, and her bullets weren’t silver. This one appeared dead anyway. Had the wounded man seen the shift? Tossing the stake aside, she paused by the shifter and quickly moved to the wounded man. Out cold. Still human.

When she touched him, his eyelids fluttered open. “Did I get it?”

“What?”

“The bear.”

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Tell Again Tuesday

A blog series where we shamelessly share posts from others that we have enjoyed.

 


 

How to Write a Novel: A 12-Step Guide

By Jerry Jenkins

You’ve always wanted to write a novel. But something’s stopped you.

Maybe you’ve tried before, only to get a few, or several, pages in and lose steam because:

    Your story idea didn’t hold up
    You couldn’t overcome procrastination
    You feared your writing wasn’t good enough
    You ran out of ideas and had no clue what to do next

You may be surprised that even after writing 200 books (two-thirds of those novels) over the last 45+ years, including several New York Times bestsellers (most notably the Left Behind Series), I face those same problems every time.

So how do I overcome them and succeed? . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

Jerry Jenkins’ blog

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Once again treading the boards

by

Anne Montgomery

My mom threw herself a 96th birthday party, thinking it would be her last project. But she was wrong.

Last year, my mother announced she would be throwing herself a birthday party. The event was a command performance, and since no one in the family wanted to tangle with Mary Anne, we all dutifully arrived at my mom’s independent living facility outside of Denver in July for the festivities.

My mother arranged all the details, right down to the devilishly delicious chocolate cake, since, like most of us, she carries the chocolate-addiction gene. When it came time for gift giving, she turned the tables, handing out presents to those in attendance: personal possessions she mostly wanted to give to the grand and great-grandchildren. She was 96.

That night, happy with her efforts, she went to sleep with every intention of not waking up. But the next morning, she blinked her eyes open. As she has every day since. Now it’s not that she’s depressed, it’s just that almost all of her friends are dead. And my dad died in 2019. Then the pandemic hit, leaving her mostly alone in her apartment.

In her defense, she rarely complained. “I read the paper,” she explained. “I watch the news. And I read books every day.” Still, she described the lockdown as worse than the Depression and World War II, times that were awful, but where one was not cut off from most human contact.

Which brings me to today. Though my mother thought her birthday party would be her last project, I now know that’s not true.

“I want you to play Eliza Hamilton,” she said on the phone.

I was half-listening at the time. “Wait. What?”

“I want you to play Alexander Hamilton’s wife. I’ll write the script.”

It seems the people at the home were putting together a series of events in honor of the Fourth of July. My mother had just finished reading Dear Mr. Hamilton, a fascinating account of the life of Eliza Hamilton, the Founding Father’s wife.

I wasn’t sure what to say. While I was in plays as a teenager, that part of my life had been packed away for a long time. That changed a few years back when friends talked me into auditioning for a community theater production of Steven Solheim’s Company. When I was offered the part of the acerbic, hard-drinking, thrice-married Joanne, a job that required singing two solos, a spot of tap dancing, and learning to smoke fake cigarettes, I was rather horrified. Still, when the final curtain call was over and my parents sat happily clapping in the audience, I was glad I took the shot.

“Don’t worry about anything. I’ve got a costume.”

“I’m a lot bigger than you, Mom,” I said grasping for a way to say no.

“And I’ll write your lines.”

I had no worries there. My mother earned a college degree from Penn State University, back when women just didn’t do that type of thing. She was a reporter in radio and print in the 1940s, and is the author of several books of historical fiction. Had my mother been born later, I believe she would have foregone marriage and childbearing and would instead be a governor, or a Supreme Court Justice, or President of the United States.

“You will play Eliza in her sixties, long after her husband died,” she said obviously assuming I wouldn’t say no.

“Um…” I could find no easy escape.

“The event is on June 24th.”

I was quiet for a moment.

Apparently, I will be playing an elderly Eliza Hamilton, at my mother’s behest.

“I need a project,” she said. “This will be the last one.”

I have the impression that, if all goes as planned and I don’t do something horribly embarrassing, she will once again take to her bed following the event, close her eyes, and—satisfied with her life—she will hope to drift off. Though, knowing Mary Anne, I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be more projects in the future.

In the meantime, I will put on my gray wig and 19th century bonnet and practice my lines.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here’s a glimpse at my latest women’s fiction novel for you reading pleasure.

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

In 1939, archaeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine-hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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