Tag Archives: Pat Bertram

The Story of a Cover

Despite my hesitation about writing a murder mystery starring my dance class (killing friends is a good way to lose friends) I wanted a cover for the as yet unwritten book to help ease me into the project. Grace, the woman who’d volunteered to be the victim, agreed to be the cover girl.

On Tuesdays, ballet comes first, then Arabic. One Tuesday, we were just finished practicing our final combination of ballet steps—glissade, arabesque, pas de bourrrée, assemblé—when Grace arrived, already dressed in her green and beige silk belly dance skirt.

I waved at the older woman. “I brought my camera. I need a photo of your corpse. Will you play dead for me?”

Grace laughed. “Sure. Where do you want me? Over there by the barre?”

I glanced at the corner of the studio she indicated, and shrugged. “Sure. Anywhere is fine.”

I’d expected to have to take several shots to get the pose I wanted, but Grace sank to the wooden floor as gracefully as she did everything else, and lay in the ideal pose.

Right then I knew I could kill Grace. She was just too damn perfect.

And now, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, my sometimes amusing, always riveting novel about fun and murder at an adult dance class is available on Amazon.

Click here to buy: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

***

Pat Bertram is the author of four other suspense novels: Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

I didn’t want to kill Grace—it was her idea. I’ve literarily massacred hundreds of thousands of people, so it shouldn’t have been difficult to do away with one petite older woman, but the truth is I couldn’t think of a single reason why I—or anyone—would want Grace Worthington dead. Though most of us humans frown on murder, we do grudgingly admit some folks are so villainous they need to be eliminated, but no one would consider Grace a villain. She is charming, kind, with a smile for everyone, and the ghost of her youthful beauty is still apparent on her lovely face.

Besides, killing a friend is a good way to lose that friend, and dance class would not be the same without Grace.

I was still trying to make up my mind about killing Grace when several of us dancing classmates met for lunch. After nibbling on salads and sandwiches, we rose and gathered our belongings. I’d hung my dance bag on the back of my chair, and I yanked the bag with more force than I intended. The bag swung out and narrowly missed hitting Buffy Cooper, a tanned, elegant blonde a couple of years older and a couple of inches shorter than me.

Buffy deadpanned, “I’m not the one who volunteered to be the murder victim.”

That cracked me up, and right then I decided I had to follow through with the project. I mean, really—how could I not use such a perfect line?

I turned to Grace. “How do you want me to do the deed?” Since she’d initiated this lethal game, I thought it only right that she got to choose the means of her demise. So much fairer than the way life works, wouldn’t you say? I mean, few among us get to choose our own end. Life, the greatest murderer of all time, chooses how we expire, whether we will it or not.

Grace laughed at my question and said she didn’t care how she died.

But I cared.

Death is often messy—and smelly—with blood and body wastes polluting the scene, and I did not feel like dealing with such realities, especially not at Madame ZeeZee’s Dance Academy.

So begins the story of Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, my sometimes amusing, always suspenseful novel about fun and murder at an adult dance class.

Now available on Amazon.

Click here to buy: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

***

Pat Bertram is the author of four other suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”  Like Pat on Facebook.

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“Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare” is Now Available!

Killing friends is a good way to lose friends, even if the murder is for play. When Pat’s adult dance classmates discover she is a published author, the women suggest she write a mystery featuring the studio and its aging students. One sweet older lady laughingly volunteers to be the victim, and the others offer suggestions to jazz up the story. Then the murders begin. Tapped by the cops as the star suspect, author Pat sets out to discover the truth curtained behind the benign faces of her fellow dancers. Does one of them have a secret she would kill to protect? Or is the writer’s investigation a danse macabre with Pat herself as the bringer of death?

Pat Bertram’s sometimes amusing, always riveting novel about fun and murder at an adult dance class is now available on Amazon.

Click here to buy: Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare

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Excerpt from A SPARK OF HEAVENLY FIRE by Pat Bertram

ASHFborderStraight from today’s headlines! In the novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram, hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death. In an effort to stop the disease from spreading beyond the state of Colorado where the disease originated, the entire state is quarantined. In this dangerous world, Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay.

Excerpt:

After an uneventful day at work, Kate hurried home through the silent streets. More than half the houses she passed had fluorescent orange dots splashed on their front doors indicating that someone had died within. Beside some of those doors were small shrines or memorials—artificial flowers, crosses, dolls, teddy bears. Other houses were unlit, mute testimony that entire families had died.

A white unmarked delivery van stopped in front of a house that already had one fluorescent dot on the door. When two men jumped out of the truck and ran up the porch steps, she knew that soon another orange mark would appear next to the first.

She could hear the men lamenting the loss of the Broncos while they waited for someone to answer their knock. It seemed strange that they spoke of such a prosaic matter. Shouldn’t they be crying, “Bring out your dead. Bring out your dead,” as their counterparts during the Black Death had done?

As she neared the house, she could see the door open. An old woman with bowed head and trembling shoulders stood aside to let the two men enter.

Kate had passed the house by the time the men emerged with their burden, but she could hear the thud of the body when they threw it into the van.

She thought of Greg and how he had cradled Mrs. Robin’s body in his arms as he carried her down the alley and how he had gently laid her under a tree.

And how he had said he liked her, Kate, very much.

***

Until November 23, 2014, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available at 50% off from Smashwords, where you can download the novel in the ebook format of your choice. To get your discount, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire and use coupon code ST33W when purchasing the book. (After you read the book, posting a review on Smashwords would be nice, but not obligatory.)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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Story Excerpt From “Second Helpings” ~~~~ The Gift by Pat Bertram ~~~~

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.

EXCERPT FROM:

The Gift
By
Pat Bertram

Monica Dryden hummed along with the Christmas carols on the radio as she pulled the chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. They were David’s favorite, and she’d baked them for him every Christmas Eve for as long as they’d been together—five years now—continuing a tradition his mother started when he was a boy.

Still humming, Monica transferred the baked goods from the cookie sheet to a plate she’d purchased for the occasion—white china with a cheerful holly border. Her family had been too poor and too indolent to do much for Christmas, so making the holidays special for David brought her extra joy.

David Hollister. Even his name seemed to promise holiday cheer.

She put the plate of cookies and a glass of milk on a tray, added a sprig of holly from the bowl in the center of the table, and bore her offerings to the living room where David watched television.

He didn’t take his eyes from the screen when she nestled against him, but he didn’t pull away either, as he sometimes did. She smiled to herself, thinking how pleased he would be with the burgundy sweater and pinstriped shirt she’d bought him.

“Do you have to do that?” David asked.

“Do what?”

“You’re humming.”

She clapped a hand to her mouth. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize—”

“Are those chocolate chip cookies?”

“Of course.”

He clicked off the television and turned to face her. “We have to talk.” He spoke the words softly, almost kindly, but still they chilled her.

“Talk about what?” she asked warily.

“It’s not working out.”

“What’s not working out?”

“Us. We’re not right for each other. You’re too . . . predictable.”

She stared at him as if he’d spoken in an alien tongue. “Predictable? Me? You’re the one who insists on my doing the same things the same way. Remember those throw pillows I bought? You said—”

“That’s the old me. The new me wants . . . change.”

Her head snapped back as if she’d been hit. David wanted change? Since when? She opened her mouth and said the only thing that came to her stupefied mind. “Do you want me to make you a different kind of cookie?”

“This isn’t about cookies. It’s about . . .” He looked at her, expecting her to supply the words as she often did. She usually knew what he was thinking and could easily fill in his missing words, but now she couldn’t even hazard a guess.

David’s eyes shifted from side to side as if he were searching frantically for a way out of the conversation. Finally his gaze settled on his hands. “I want a divorce.”

Monica froze, then, getting control of herself, she pulled her shoulders back and lifted her chin. “You can’t have a divorce.”

He jumped to his feet and all but screamed, “I knew you’d be difficult about this. Why can’t I have a divorce?”

“We’re not married,” Monica said evenly.

He gaped at her for a moment, then a grin that broke her heart spread across his face. “That’s right. I forgot.”

Monica slumped forward, elbows on knees, head in her hands. He forgot? How was that possible? Just last week they’d talked about getting married. No . . . wait. She’d talked about getting married. He’d nodded with a faraway look in his eyes that made her think he’d been seeing their future together but apparently only meant he hadn’t been listening.

David’s voice seemed to come from a long way off. “I’ll guess I’ll be leaving.”

Monica jerked upright. “You’re leaving? But this is your apartment.” And then, all in an instant, she understood. “Who is she?”

***

Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

 

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Top Ten Most Viewed Posts on the Second Wind Blog

The authors of Second Wind have contributed 1,340 posts to this blog. Since all of those posts are exceptional, each in their own way, it would be impossible to create a list of the ten best bloggeries. Thanks to WordPress statistics, however, it’s a simple matter of listing (in descending order) the ten that have garnered the most views:

Do Not Lean by Norm Brown gives simple and profound advice for navigating the curving roads of life.

Puppy Love by Claire Collins is a complete short story chosen to be included in the Second Wind anthology, Love is on the Wind.

Splish Splash, I was Taking a Bath by Sherrie Hansen rhapsodizes about water: too much water, not enough water, life revolving around water.

What is Your Character’s Favorite Color? — by Pat Bertram shows how to use color to help create colorful characters.

Writer Beware–POV Confusion/Character Overload by Juliet Waldron explains the dangers of too many point of view shifts.

One-eyed One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater by Claire Collins is a humorous reminder about how important it is to have the correct wording and order of words while writing.

Writing Outside the Box by J J Dare taps into our quirky side.

The Importance of Imagery–by Deborah J Ledford talks about how carefully crafted images will be ones your reader will not soon forget.

The lure of the dark-side – anti-heroes and anti-heroines by Mairead Walpole tells us what makes for a wonderful and well-rounded anti-hero.

To the women . . . by Claire Collins is a joyous tribute to motherhood.

We hope you will enjoy visiting (or revisiting) these wonderful posts.

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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques From Authors of Second Wind Publishing — Excerpt: Characters

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Authors of Second Wind Publishing is the 100th book published by Second Wind.  The book is dedicated to everyone who made this accomplishment possible: our authors, our readers, our friends, and our followers. Thank you!

EXCERPT FROM NOVEL WRITING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FROM AUTHORS OF SECOND WIND PUBLISHING

Creating Incredible but Credible Characters

By
Pat Bertram
Author of:

More Deaths Than One, Daughter Am I,
A Spark of Heavenly Fire, Light Bringer,
and 
Grief: The Great Yearning

People often tell me they feel they know my characters, as if my story people were a part of their lives, which is always wonderful to hear. It means I did my job. And it means the readers did their job. Incredible but credible characters are a combined effort. Characters are conceived in the author’s imagination, but they come alive in readers’ imaginations.

A character’s story begins with a gleam in her parents’ eye and ends with her death. The story we tell is but a fraction of that life, and where we choose to begin and where we, the writer, choose to end defines the story. If we begin with a crime and end with a resolution of that crime, we have a mystery. If we begin with a girl meeting a boy or a woman meeting a man and end with happily ever after, we have a romance. If we chronicle the rise and fall of the character’s fortunes, we could have a tragedy, a family drama or any number of stories.

The illusion of a well-told story is such that, whatever the genre, by the end of the book readers know the character as well as they know themselves and their friends. Readers know, or think they know, everything in the character’s life that brought her to crisis and how everything in the character’s life will work out after the story problem is resolved. By giving readers the essence of the character, we give them the means to continue the character’s story long after the book has come to an end.

How do we work this sleight of hand? By showing the character in action and in relationships. By defining the character through decisions in moments of crisis.

In the prologue of Light Bringer, Helen comes home from working a double shift at the hospital to find a baby on her doorstep. She shows her nurturing characteristics by taking care of the child, Rena. She shows the beginning of a metamorphosis from staid nurse to loving mother by putting off calling the authorities so she can enjoy the child bit longer. But what really defines her is how she acts in a moment of crisis. Rena, a magical child, or at least a precocious one, tells Helen they have to leave, that her invisible playmate says “they” are after Rena and when they find her, they will kill Helen. Helen doesn’t hesitate. She packs up her car and her life and escapes with the baby.

Helen’s decision defines not only her own character, but also the character of the baby, the character of the invisible playmate, and perhaps even the story itself. It is through such defining moments that we can create a character so real readers believe they know more about the character than was ever actually written.

In older novels, especially the classics, authors wrote page after page of character description, telling us who their characters are. Those authors dissected their characters’ motivations, told us their every thought, explained every feeling. Today’s readers, myself included, have no patience for such long drawn-out static passages. We want to get right into the heart of the story. We want to learn who the character is by what she does, who she knows, and how she acts and reacts.

Showing, not telling, is a basic axiom of writing for today’s market, but it is often hard to resist the urge to explain since you know far more about your characters than you can or should put in your novel. Still, by restraining yourself and letting readers be part of the creation process, letting them find their own explanations for what your characters do, you give them a stake in the characters and the story. And so your characters come alive.

***

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon (Print & Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Smashwords (all ebook formats including palm devices)

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Happy Middle-of-the-Month Day from Second Wind Publishing!

Are you in the humdrums because the month is only halfway over?

We can Help!

Here’s a sampling of Second Wind authors who are ready and willing to help you beat the middle-of-the-month humdrums:

 

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Murder in Winnebago County by Christine Husom

Slowly, meticulously, Sgt. Corky Aleckson is piecing it all together—the deaths of the judge, the public defender and the prosecutor are all connected. What she hasn’t figured out is who else the serial killer is after and why . . . or that her investigation has put her on the murderer’s list as well.

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 Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes

The year is 3032 and mankind has expanded far beyond Earth’s galaxy. Matilda Dulac is a member of the Galactic Mining Guild. With her lover, Marc Slatterly, she works in a small mining ship in deep space. Their well ordered life is suddenly thrown into chaos when one miner arrives with a load of Trimagnite, a highly toxic liquid ore.
Enter The Lone Wolf. Wil VanLipsig, known as the Lone Wolf, arrives to take the Trimagnite off their hands. Is it a coincidence for him to show up on Marc’s ship years after Marc thought he’d killed Wil? Or is this the beginning of something far more insidious?
“The Lone Wolf” is book one in this new sci-fi series by Dellani Oakes.

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A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram

In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Her new love, investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover the truth behind the red death until the cost—Kate’s life—becomes more than he can pay.

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Deadly Traffic by Mickey Hoffman

Girls are disappearing from Standard High while the local sex trade flourishes. Their absences are barely noticed in the worst school in Arbor City, CA, where turnover and truancy are facts of life. Kendra Desola, the only faculty member likely to care, is on a leave of absence.
After a student’s lifeless body turns up in a seedy part of Arbor City, an immigrant community leader contacts Kendra. What does she know about her missing students’ activities, their families’ illegal status?
Searching for the missing girls, Kendra enters a dark world where passports and flesh are currency. When a second murder puts her in the police spotlight, she is unaware a trap is about to close around her.

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One Hot January by J. Conrad Guest

My name is Joe January. I was a private investigator from the South Bronx, circa 1940. Was once described as an indignant Humphrey Bogart. Who am I to argue? The difference between Bogie and me is that I was the real McCoy.
In truth, I’m no Joseph Conrad, but I wrote every word on these pages. This is my story; but make no mistake, it’s anything but make believe. I know, it reads like science fiction, spanning two centuries and dealing with time travel and alternate realities, while the denouement is less than satisfactory. But such is life: a happily ever after, while often promised, is never a given. Yet given the chance to live life over again, avoiding the mistakes made during the first go-around, well, I found I couldn’t turn my back…

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Night and Day by Sherrie Hansen

It’s midnight in Minnesota and Jensen Marie Christiansen is dreaming of a rosy future. It’s daybreak in Denmark and Anders Westerlund is waking up to a world full of stark realities. When parchment paper and faded ink meet computer screens and fax machines, the old-fashioned magic of a great-grandmother’s letters sets the stage for a steamy Internet romance… and the unraveling of a hundred year-old mystery. Night & Day… Will fantasy become reality, or will oceans and time keep a second pair of lovers apart?.

 

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com

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Oh, No, It’s Monday. Beat the Monday Blues – Read a Book!

Grab a book from Second Wind Publishing and beat those Monday Blues!

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Water Lily by Sherrie Hansen

Once upon a very long time ago, Jake Sheffield and Michelle Jones graduated from the same high school. Jake can’t wait to take a trip down memory lane at their 20th class reunion. 
Will the murky waters of the past destroy their dreams for the future, or will a water lily rise from the depths and bloom?

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 Carpet Ride by Norm Brown

Sam & Lynn have just finished celebrating their honeymoon–the highlight of which was a long drive through the Oregon mountains in a RV. The trip would have been memorable, without almost hitting a rug and nearly crashing.The real surprise lays inside the rug, and in the chain of events which follow its discovery.

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Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram

When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents—grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born—she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians—former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. She meets and falls in love with Tim Olson, whose grandfather shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim need to stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret.

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Donations to Clarity by Noah Baird

The plan was simple: hoax bigfoot, then sell tours to bigfoot enthusiasts. The plan wasn’t brilliant, and neither were Harry, Earl, and Patch. The three chemical-abusing friends only wanted to avoid the 9 to 5 rat race, but their antics attract the attention of a real bigfoot. When the misogynistic Earl is mistaken for a female bigfoot by the nearsighted creature and captured; it is just the beginning of their problems.

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Snare by Deborah J Ledford

Native American pop singer/songwriter Katina Salvo’s career is about to take off. There’s one problem: someone wants to kill her. Katina and her bodyguard, Deputy Steven Hawk, are attacked during an altercation at her first live concert. Could the assailant be a mysterious, dangerous man from her youth? Or her estranged father recently released from prison for killing her mother?

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Hand-Me-Down Bride by Juliet Waldron

Based upon the story of the author’s great grandmother, who was a real life mail-order bride. Sophie agrees to marry a wealthy man she’s never met—but life has other plans.

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com

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Second Wind Publishing Celebrates September 9th, National Grandparents Day!

 In 1978, President Jimmy Carter recognized the Sunday following Labor Day as
National Grandparents Day!

Celebrate With Mommaw and Poppaw and a Good Book from Second Wind Publishing!

        

 The Phantom Lady of Paris by Calvin Davis

A suspense-filled love story, The Phantom Lady of Paris tells of American Paul Lasser and his sojourn to the City of Light, where he meets the mysterious Phantom Lady, Bonnie Silver, a woman who is more question marks than answers.

Why is she in Paris and why do the French police investigate her and her “person of interest” friends.  One friend, a flower child, overdoses on drugs.  Another morphs into a terrorist, bombing cafes.  Is a Communist agitator an associate of Bonnie’s?  Slowly Paul unearths answers, and even as they quench his desire to understand, they begin to haunt him

         ♣

 False Positive by J J Dare

Joe Daniels had tried for years to put his military, special op, mercenary past behind him. He married a beautiful woman and settled into a mundane job as a police detective. Then everything came crashing down around him. A terrible accident that nearly claimed his wife’s life not only opened the door to his past, but forced him to recognize all of his perceptions of the world around him were wrong. People he had known as friends were now part of a nameless enemy intent on stealing his life. He became a hunted and haunted man. As he traveled down the dangerous road to discovery and revenge, he uncovered realities that would shake the very core of his perception of the world. He discovered secrets buried in legend, secrets no man could even hint at without fatal consequences and would forever change everything around him. Say goodbye to illusions of the life around you and hello to an awful reality. Welcome to Joe’s world.

  ♣      

Light Bringer by Pat Bertram

Becka Johnson had been abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Chalcedony, Colorado when she was a baby. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has returned to Chalcedony to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? Why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? Who is Philip, and why does her body sing in harmony with his? And what do either of them have to do with a shadow corporation that once operated a secret underground installation in the area?

        

 http://www.secondwindpublishing.com

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