Interview with Francis H Powell

What genre do you write and why?

I write short stories. I submitted a short story a while back for a literary magazine and discovered I really liked working in this format. My stories are dark fiction with an element of wit.  They are very surreal and visual. There are also 22 illustrations that go with the stories (I am also an artist).

Interview with Francis H Powell
Tell us about your latest book.

My first published book is a collection of 22 short stories about misfortune characterized by unexpected final twists at the end of each tale. "With 'Flight of Destiny', I want the reader to squirm at the behavior of some undeniably despicable characters, be charmed by their wit under duress, and be totally drawn into the harrowing world of the oppressed, all while savoring these dark, surrealist stories," l. "'Into this anthology, I have injected my vast accumulation of angst and blended in my warped sense of humor."

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? 

I spend every spare moment on the social media, I am always looking for new outlets to spread my book as far and wide as I can. I try to put “Flight of Destiny” and Author Francis H Powell everywhere. I guess it is what writers need to do in this day and age.

What formats is the book available in?

It’s a soft back.

Who are your favourite authors?

Rupert Thomson and Roald Dahl, who influenced my style of writing, with twists at the end of each story.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Stick at it, don’t fall on the wayside.

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” (Oscar Wilde)

What's the best thing about being a writer?

Seeing a story progress, developing characters, storylines. Inventing devious sick characters. Thinking about ways of altering people’s perceptions of the world.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I suppose visit my website. http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/There are other interviews and some introductions to some of my short stories. I update my facebook page every day. https://www.facebook.com/flightofdestinyshortstories

Interview with Francis H PowellWho is you favorite character in your book and why?

There is a character in my book called Bugeyes. As you can imagine from his name, he has excessively large eyes (due to a genetic family fault).He is mocked cruelly and is rejected by his family from birth. There are other characters in my short stories like Bugeyes, I am heralding the underdogs, the oddballs, the outsiders of this world.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

Hopefully they will be gripped by the stories and want to get to the end of each story to find out how they conclude. I try to include a dramatic twist. I think there is quite a diversity in my stories, they are set in different time periods/different settings. Hopefully readers will relate to my wit and humour and diversity and richness of vocabulary and the descriptiveness of the stories.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Quite a number of years to write the stories and then three years to edit and polish. It has been a long journey to arrive thus far!

Who designed the cover?

I did. Again it took a lot of work, as well as help from my wife.

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?

Maybe not directly but I think my book is an out-pouring of a lot of my angst. Writing can be a very cathartic process.

Where can a reader purchase your book?

Amazon




                                                      
What are you doing to market the book? 

Everything I can, checking out any site I can put my book on.

Who inspires you?

For me many different creative people from different epochs.  I think Leonardo De Vinci, was an incredible person, almost well out of the era he was born into. Picasso was so prolific, Mozart blessed with a wondrous gift. I am really moved by the music of Phillip Glass.
People who stand up to adversity with great courage are very admirable, especially those who use non-violence to achieve their aims (Martin Luther King for example).  People who don’t follow the “herd” who are not afraid to be judged in a detrimental way, whatever the cost.

How do you research your books?

Sometimes I might go to websites to find out information.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.

At present my life revolves around promoting my present book. I hope in the future I will be able to have a follow up of short stories, in a similar vain.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?

It a good thing that technology has opened things out for more people, who perhaps might have the opportunity to get their work to a broader public.  However there is something magical about a book that you can hold.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I met the author Rupert Thomson, when I was a young student, he was writing his first book “Dreams of leaving” at the time. For a long time I had it in the back of my mind to do some writing. I had a “false start” while living in a remote village in Austria, then later once installed in Paris, I began to write short stories and got some published in a magazine called “Rat Mort” (translation “Dead Rat”). Later I started writing stories as well as poetry and had quite a lot published on various internet sites.  
Does your family support you in your writing career? How?

Not directly. I live in France and see my family intermittently. I am fearful they might be rather shocked by the subject matter of my stories.

What are you currently reading?

My time is eaten up at the moment. I have had to read a lot of university exam papers on British and American culture, which I teach.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?

As stated before Rupert Thomson and Roald Dahl are both influential in terms of writing, but no book or authors have directly influenced my life.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

When I have the chance I like to do many different things. I paint and make sculptures. I make music (electronic music) and make videos.



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Bash it out now, tart it up later.

“Bash it out now, tart it up later.” , guest post by Clea Simon
Bash it out now, tart it up later.” – Nick Lowe

These are the words I live by, and they are also the best advice I can share with aspiring writers. They come from Nick Lowe, the musician who wrote “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?,” so you wouldn’t necessarily think they apply to writing books, but they do.

In brief, what these words mean is that if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Regularly and with discipline. Even on the days when you don’t want to. Even when you aren’t “inspired.” You have to apply your tush to the seat, open the computer or pick up the pencil, and get the words on the page.

Why, you might ask? Isn’t it better to wait until you have a great idea? Well, no. First of all, where do you think great ideas come from? Sure, sometimes they strike in the shower, or in the middle of the frozen food aisle. But more often – and more reliably – they come about because you’re trying to write a scene that seems like it’s going nowhere, your characters are bored (and boring you) and then … suddenly, one of them stumbles across a body. Or a stranger. Or a cat who looks up and starts talking.  Because you have been making yourself do the hard work – putting words down on paper – you open yourself up to the new idea, the lightning strike. The inspiration.

Writing well is a skill, and like any skill it only improves with practice. Want to play an instrument and make music, instead of noise? Practice. Want to learn how to hit a softball so that it actually goes somewhere? Practice. Same with plot and characters. If you want them to sing – to sound right, if you want them to go anywhere, you have to have more than inspiration, you have to develop the basic skills. And the way you do that is by writing. Even when you’re not inspired, even when you have nothing to say.

I write every day, Monday through Friday. And as I work on my 19th mystery, I still have days when I don’t think I have anything to say. But by this time, I know that if I keep at it, I will. And then, of course, I will have to revise what I’ve written… but that’s a lesson for another day!

“Bash it out now, tart it up later.” , guest post by Clea Simon
A recovering journalist, Clea Simon is the author of 1mysteries and three nonfiction books. Parrots Prove Deadly is the third in her Pru Marlowe pet noir series. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband Jon and their cat, Musetta, and can be reached at:


Clea Simon's website Clea Simon's twitter Clea Simon's facebook


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Book Review: How To Blog A Book by Nina Amir

Title: How To Blog A Book
Author: Nina Amir

Book Review: How To Blog A Book by Nina Amir


Book description:

"Transform Your Blog into a Book!The world of blogging changes rapidly, but it remains one of the most efficient ways to share your work with an eager audience. In fact, you can purposefully hone your blog content into a uniquely positioned book--one that agents and publishers will want to acquire or that you can self-publish successfully.

"How to Blog a Book Revised and Expanded Edition" is a completely updated guide to writing and publishing a saleable book based on a blog. Expert author and blogger Nina Amir guides you through the process of developing targeted blog content that increases your chances of attracting a publisher and maximizing your visibility and authority as an author.

In this revised edition you'll find: 
  • The latest information on how to set up, maintain, and optimize a blog
  • Steps for writing a book easily using blog posts
  • Advice for crafting effective, compelling blog posts
  • Tips on gaining visibility and promoting your work both online and off
  • Current tools for driving traffic to your blog
  • Strategies for monetizing your existing blog content as a book or other products
  • Profiles of bloggers who received blog-to-book deals and four new "blogged-book" success
    stories
Whether you're a seasoned blogger or have never blogged before, "How to Blog a Book Revised and Expanded Edition" offers a fun, effective way to write, publish, and promote your book, one post at a time."

Reviewed by Jo Linsdell





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Successful Self-Publishing

We are fortunate to live in a time when the individual has the resources to bypass large institutions and realize an artistic vision on his or her own terms. Armed with the right knowledge and tools, the modern artist can bring his or her work to the masses and in some cases, even make substantial profit. This is true in nearly all forms of media including painting, movies, music and even books. Today’s author has a multitude of options for introducing his or her work to the public. One of these options is self-publishing.

Benefits of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing a book has many benefits over the traditional publishing industry business model.

The author has almost complete control over the design and layout of the book.

The author retains all rights to the book. Instead of accepting a mere five to fifteen percent of royalties, as is common in a commercial publishing arrangement, the writer gets to set the price and profit level for his or her work.

Large publishing houses can take months to finish a print job while a self-publishing company can deliver the finished product in as little as a few days.

Perhaps the best benefit of going the self-publishing route is the fact that the author no longer must convince some people in a corporate board room of the merit of his or her proposed work. If the creator believes there is significant interest in the subject matter then the creator can make the decision to introduce this subject to the consumer market.

Of course, not all self-published works need mass appeal. Books can be self-published that may be of interest only to a particular region or community. The author can even take this concept down one more level and publish books specifically for his or her club or family members. There is truly no limit to the creativity that can be expressed through self-publishing.

Types of Self-Publishing

The current variations of self-publishing in the industry can get really confusing really fast and an internet search may only serve to increase this confusion. Most of the frustration new authors face in this regard is due to how the companies in the industry misuse the terms associated with self-publishing in general. Hopefully this section can get right to the point and shed some light on the subject.

The terms one will inevitably come across while researching publishing options are commercial publisher, traditional publisher, subsidy publisher, vanity publisher, print on demand (POD) publisher, self-publisher and printer. That’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.

·         Commercial/Traditional Publisher

This is the standard big business publishing model. The books sold at Barnes and Noble were likely published through one of these companies. Commercial publishers make their money from the sale of books to consumers. They are selective as to who gets published. They handle all production and marketing costs and pay authors in royalties.

·         Subsidy/Vanity Publisher

These companies make money from the authors that pay for production costs as well as from the sale of books to consumers. They may include layout, editing and marketing services in the upfront costs or they may introduce these services as an upsell. There is generally no selection process; they will publish anyone. More often than not a subsidy publisher will retain the rights to the book. They pay authors in royalties.
 
The term “Vanity Publisher” came about because this industry got its start from authors that had been rejected numerous times from commercial publishers but were sure enough that their book would have mass appeal that they were willing to foot the bill for production themselves.

This segment of the publishing industry is rampant with scams. Be extremely careful and always read the fine print before going the subsidy publishing route.

·         Print On Demand (POD) Publisher

This is a form of subsidy publishing that also pays the author in royalties, however the contracts are less restrictive than with traditional subsidy publishing, so should the book be successful and the author be contacted by a commercial publisher, there will likely not be an issue with the termination of the current contract. This is because authors usually retain rights to their work.

Authors pay a fee for production but the fee is much less than a traditional subsidy publisher because books are typically only sold online and printed off one at a time as they are purchased by consumers. The flip side to this means that the retail price of the books will be higher which could hurt sales.

·         Self-Publisher/Printer

The term “self-publisher” can be misleading here. The self-publisher is actually the author. The self-publishing company is actually just a printing company but many of these companies refer to themselves as self-publishing companies. This is because they print books for self-publishers.

The author handles layout and design although some printing companies offer these services at extra cost. The author retains the rights to his or her work and sets the selling price and profit margin. The author handles all sales and marketing efforts. Printing companies can do small or large run orders with the price per book decreasing as the total number of books ordered increases.

It is not difficult for an author to post his or her work to online marketplaces. Books are small and can be stored in a spare bedroom. Shipping supplies are affordable when ordered in bulk. Ebay sellers have been doing this with a myriad of products for a long time. It is also not that difficult to convert a manuscript to eBook form. Hiring a printing company is typically the best option for independent authors looking to test the waters.

Self-Publishing Best Practices

The self-publishing world has exploded in recent years and continues to grow at an enormous pace. As with any new technology, the freedom and benefits it affords generally come with a confusing array of options and a prerequisite of technological knowledge.

Self-publishing companies have made great strides in their efforts to alleviate this confusion so that authors can focus on what they do best, but there are some things the budding indie author needs to know before pursuing an arrangement with one of these companies.

From here out this article will focus on printing companies and they will be referred to as self-publishing companies.

When preparing the manuscript for submission to a self-publishing company the best way to start is to go to a bookstore and look at a variety of books. Take notes or pictures with a phone and determine the best layout style for the book. There will also be certain style requirements that must be adhered to. An excellent resource for learning these requirements is Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style” at strunkandwhite.com.

A size for the book will need to be decided upon. The printing industry has some standard sizes that most companies utilize but for an extra fee it may be possible to have the book printed in an atypical size. Determine how many pages the book will need and what type of paper stock will be used. Whatever layout style is decided upon, keep in mind that the book needs to be easy to read. Stick with one or two fonts and do not go overboard with design elements.

The book will need a cover design. Often the self-publishing company will have pre-designed covers or a cover can be custom designed. A cover style will have to be chosen. This includes options such as hard or soft, glossy or non-glossy and rounded edges or square edges. Decide if the book will need illustrations or pictures.  Any images will need to be submitted in a print quality file with a minimum 300 DPI resolution.

Any type of preparation work such as editing, layout or design can be accomplished through three options. The author can perform the work, the work can be outsourced for what are usually reasonable fees to contractors on sites such as Elance.com or ODesk.com, or if the self-publishing company offers these services, they can do the work also for typically a very reasonable price.

Keep in mind that all of these options compile in the end to determine the final price per book. This means the fancier the book, the higher the cost. The cost goes down with larger orders so a book with a lot of bells and whistles may need a bigger print run to stay competitive. Market research will need to be conducted to ascertain the selling price of similar books.

What is an ISBN and Why is it Required?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. The ISBN is used by booksellers to keep track of inventory and as a solid identifier for a particular book as some books may have the same or similar titles. It is required for any book that will be sold at the retail level. There are exceptions but this section assumes the reader has the goal of writing for a living.

The EAN is the ISBN in barcode format. The ISBN and EAN must be on the back cover of the book. The ISBN must be on the copyright page of the book. Separate ISBN’s must be obtained for the same book sold in print and in eBook form.

There are only a few authorized resellers of ISBN’s. Often the self-publishing company can obtain one for the author at an extra fee. Most self-publishing companies will offer a discount on this service if the ISBN lists them as the publisher but generally it is in the author’s best interest to list himself as the publisher. Publishing companies buy ISBN’s in bulk which is how they offer them at a discount. An author buying them individually can expect to pay around $125 each.

Marketing is a Must

The one major caveat of hiring a self-publishing company is the author must perform his or her own marketing campaigns. For someone skilled at writing and not marketing this can be a challenge. Marketing can be outsourced but that can swiftly get expensive. Fortunately the same technology and societal shifts that made it possible to self-publish a book have also made it possible for novices to run a marketing campaign on a budget.

·         Post the book to every appropriate online marketplace.

·         Create a press release.

·         Mail a copy of the book to distributors, wholesalers and bookstores.

·         Schedule speaking engagements in the local community or nationwide if the author is already recognized as a professional in his or her field.

·         Offer to write content and do interviews on sites related to the book’s target audience.

·         Build a basic website capable of ecommerce transactions. This is not difficult but it can be outsourced for a reasonable price.

·         Determine the target demographic based on the subject matter of the book and drive traffic to this site with paid online and/or print advertising.

·         Collect emails from buyers and run email campaigns with a mix of valuable content related to the subject matter of the book and pitches for similar or future releases.

·         Make full use of social media and stay engaged with fans.

These are some of the lower cost marketing tactics available but the sky’s the limit if the budget exists.

The low barrier to entry in self-publishing means there is a lot of competition in the market so it’s vital for the book to stand out in the crowd. This can be tough but with patience and knowledge it can be achieved. The hit novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” started out as a self-published book. While rare, if the book is quality and the marketing efforts are efficient, it is entirely possible for a self-published novel to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Conclusion

Just remember that the self-publishing industry is a service industry. That means they exist to serve the customer which is the author. Comparison shop by reading all the documentation on the company website and talking with them on the phone for as long as it takes to gain a clear understanding of what will be required from the author and what the author can expect for his or her money. Self-Publishing a book can be a lot of work, but as most people know, few endeavors worth undertaking aren’t. In the end, the process is well worth the effort because as most aspiring authors will probably agree, nothing is more satisfying than the feeling of physically holding a professionally printed book with their name on the cover.

James Rose is a staff writer for InstantPublisher.com, a full-service self-publishing company with 100% of all work performed in-house. We have been helping authors realize their dreams for the past 13 years. Whether you're printing a novel, how-to book, manual, brochure or any type of book you can imagine, our step-by-step instructions make publishing your own book simple and easy.
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When Technology Is Against You

When Technology Is Against You: Protecting Your Files


Yesterday I had serious problems with technology. My mac just gave me a blank, black screen. My tablet the same. Even my smartphone was playing up. Apps weren't working. YouTube told me it didn't support my file format... since when does YouTube not support MP4?! Well actually it does. I finally managed to upload the same file later on in the day. The only thing I managed to do using my computer all day. Ever have a day like this? Do you sometimes feel like the technology fairies are plotting against you?

When my devices blocked my first thought was "What files will be lost if this doesn't reboot?" Luckily for me, I had a similar issue in the past and so took steps to make sure the important stuff would be safe.

I use Google Drive and One Drive to save important files. The stuff I would cry over if I lost it. I also sometimes email myself a copy of my work in progress. An "old school" method, but still an effective one. 

I also suggest backing up your files on a regular basis. You can find more information about how to back up your files at windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/back-up-files

  1. To back up your files
    1. Open Backup and Restore by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Backup and Restore.
    2. Do one of the following: If you've never used Windows Backup before, click Set up backup, and then follow the steps in the wizard.
What steps have you taken to make sure your files are safe? How often do you back up your files? 

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Book Marketing for First Time Authors

Book Marketing for First Time Authors, guest post by Marilyn Wilson
You've done it! The manuscript is finished, the editing process over, proofing accomplished and those first pre-release print copies have arrived. Perhaps you have a successful book launch behind you and have hit one of Amazon's best-seller lists. WOW! You've reached the finish line. Then it all crumbles as the next question arises – Now what?

This moment has happened to most first time author.  Every step of your journey to this moment was governed by getting through the process to launch, but no one prepares you for the void that looms once all the hype is over.

As a former magazine owner, editor and freelance writer, I thought marketing would be a slam dunk for me. All the work would be done ahead of time and Life Outside the Box would quickly go viral. I couldn't have been more wrong. After the cold shower of reality hit, the hard work began. What could I do within my very limited budget. 

The internet offers a world of possibilities to choose from, but not all are worth the cost. Be sure to have a way to evaluate. I chose to keep a daily listing of my overall ranking on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.  It's not the whole picture, but simple and quick.

1.    Social Media – If you aren't involved in Social Media, then you're in a very difficult position. It's an author's #1 access to a global readership and costs nothing but time. From the moment you conceive the idea for your first book, you should begin building a presence on your chosen sites and start gathering followers. I personally use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

2.    Fiverr.com – This website features a wide range discount services. Authors can access marketing, book reviews, interviews and SEO boosting. The one that garnered the biggest change in rankings for me was a blast out to top Facebook Kindle Reader Groups.

3.    Book Reviews – I was fortunate that I already had access to bloggers, so my first reviews were found here. You should start connecting with bloggers from the moment you begin writing as their posts have a global reach. Another option is a Virtual Book Tour where reviews are arranged for you and spread out over a set time frame. Don't forget to add the cost of sending out free print copies into your marketing budget and remember - an honest review will not always mean a positive one. Be humble and grateful for everyone's effort There are also sites like ReadersCircle.org (book clubs) and Goodreads.com you can list on.

4.    PR Agent – Most PR agents will require a pretty substantial budget if you are a regular client. However, there are many that now specialize in creating a one-time unique press release blast aimed at a target audience for a reasonable set fee. The downside? No follow up. Like all industries, you need to do your research to avoid scams. There are writer forums you can post questions and get honest feedback.

5.    Personal Appearances – No one can sell your book like you. Interviews on radio, TV and Youtube are fabulous, but harder to book. Fortunately they are not the only choices. Networking groups welcome new speakers and libraries are keen to feature local authors. Sometimes you have to get really creative in finding those opportunities, but the effort is well worth it. The Social Media followers you have been building since day one can help open a few doors.

6.    itunes – One of the most recent avenues I discovered from a fellow author was the large number of iTunes podcasts constantly on the hunt for new material. A link to categories is https://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/podcasts/id26?mt=2

My final note is to be sure and spread your marketing efforts out over time.  Be brave, be bold – spend a little time every day. And more than anything be patient as results usually take time.



Book Marketing for First Time Authors, guest post by Marilyn Wilson
Marilyn Wilson is a freelance writer, editor and author of Life Outside The Box: The Extraordinary Journey of 10 Unique Individuals. Over the last decade she has interviewed and written on the lives of over 150 people from all walks of life,  has co-owned an innovative fashion magazine from 2007-2012 and since 2006 has worked with Raine Magazine in NYC where her current role is International Associate Editor. Interviewing is a true passion for Wilson who believes it is the stories shared by REAL PEOPLE living REAL LIVES that will define our generation.


Twitter - @oliobymarilyn
Facebook – www.facebook.com/MarilynRWilsonWriter
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Changes to the KDP Program

You may have noticed people (mainly authors) getting their knickers in a knot over the latest Amazon KDP update over this past week. In today's post we'll take a look at what's changing and what it means for authors publishing through the KDP program.

Changes to the KDP Program #Amazon #KDPselect

So what's new?

This is what KDP announced this week:

"We’re always looking at ways to make our programs even better, and we've received lots of great feedback on how to improve the way we pay KDP authors for books in Kindle Unlimited. One particular piece of feedback we’ve heard consistently from authors is that paying the same for all books regardless of length may not provide a strong enough alignment between the interests of authors and readers. We agree. With this in mind, we’re pleased to announce that beginning on July 1, the KDP Select Global Fund will be paid out based on the number of pages KU and KOLL customers read. 

As with our current approach, we’ll continue to offer a global fund for each month. Under this new model, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read rather than their share of total qualified borrows. Here are a few examples illustrating how the fund will be paid out. For simplicity, assume the fund is $10M and that 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month: 

•    The author of a 100 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).  

•    The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

•    The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed 100 times but only read half way through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages)."

For further information (such as how they measure pages read) you can read more here:  https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A156OS90J7RDN.

KDP also said that "Authors have continued to renew their titles in KDP Select at rates in excess of 95% each month since Kindle Unlimited launched". Will this still be the case with the new system or will authors start to opt out? I personally don't see this new update as a bad thing. It makes no difference to the reader. They borrow the book just like they did before. The changes are only for us authors... and it could mean more royalties.

They are simply switching from paying Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners' Lending Library (KOLL) royalties based on qualified borrows, to paying based on the number of pages read. More pages read = more royalties for the author.

Before once a customer read more than 10% of your book, or a Kindle Owners' Lending Library customer downloaded your book, you received a share of the KDP Select Global Fund

Are you enrolled in the KDP program? Why/ why not? Do you think this new system will be better? 



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