Category Archives: Interviews

‘Water’ Now Available as an Audiobook

Very exciting news!  ‘Water, Book One of the Akasha Series’ is now available as an audio book via Amazon, Audible, and iTunes!  The rest of the series is already in production.  You can purchase or listen to a sample of ‘Water’ right here.

audio water picture

I want to send a special thanks to my narrator, Emily Gittelman, who was patient enough with a newbie to get me through the process, then take on three more books!  I am so impressed, I decided I had to share her with you all! Below is Emily’s interview – and seriously, let me know what you think about the audio book!

gittelman.e.72.2Terra:  Thanks so much for doing the interview with me!  I know you are busy – speaking of, what keeps you busy these days?

Emily: Audiobooks keep me very busy. I started out doing it part time last year, but it’s become my full time job. I’m also an actress, so I sometimes have auditions to go to and projects I’m working on.

T: Which job(s) do you enjoy doing best and why?

E: I’m lucky that I love all my jobs. I can’t think of anything better than making a living doing what I love: acting and narrating audiobooks.

T: As if being a narrator/actress/author doesn’t keep you busy enough, what do you do in your spare time?

E: I’m an avid reader, which is what drew me to audiobooks in the first place. I like to be informed, so I read four newspapers every day. I love to travel, though I haven’t been able to recently. I spent most of 2010 traveling in Europe. I lived in London and Prague each for four months and went on weekend trips to other countries for a total of 23 countries in Europe. I kind of miss it, but traveling that much is exhausting. I also spend time with my wonderful boyfriend, who lives with me in Los Angeles. And I occasionally LARP on weekends (I’m a bit of a nerd).

T: You are finished with narrating ‘Water, Book One of the Akasha Series’ and are gearing up for the rest. Maybe you can tell us a little about why doing audio books, even for Indie authors, is a good idea?

E: Well, I love listening to audiobooks myself. There’s something about having a book read to you that just makes it come alive (with the right narrator). For me, narrating audiobooks is just acting with my voice. I love scenes that are really emotional or dramatic because it allows me to really get into the moment and express the emotions the characters are experiencing with my voice.

T: Any advice to give authors when they are ready to do an audio book – or even what to keep in mind as they are writing their novels?

E: Make sure you find a narrator who brings your imagination to life. This is especially important with a first person narrative, where the narrator’s voice is the character’s voice. Also, if you can, try to put together a budget for your project. Most of the more professional narrators won’t do a royalty share unless the book is selling really well. For the sake of quality, it’s worth raising the money to pay for a decent narrator.

T: Now the fun stuff – tea or coffee, Coke or Pepsi?

E: Er… None of the above. I don’t drink caffeine or soda… sorry!

T: You live in New York (right?)? What is life in the Big Apple like, especially for your line of work?  Give us all the glamour and the down and dirty!

E: I grew up in NY, but I moved out to Los Angeles about a year and a half ago. I very much enjoyed living in NY. It has a certain energy to it that you can’t find anywhere else. And I loved being able to walk almost everywhere. The thing I miss most about NY is public transportation. Traffic in LA is awful.

T: Favorite TV shows/movies/plays?

E: I’m not a big favorites person. I don’t usually have one thing that sticks out above all others. HOWEVER, I do have a favorite TV show: Six Feet Under. It was on HBO from 2001 to 2005 and in my opinion, it’s the best show that has ever been on television. It’s heartfelt and profound, full of substance, while still having moments that make you laugh, and some that make you cry. It asks really important questions that leave you thinking for days afterward.  I wish there were more shows like it! (HBO didn’t pay me for that. Promise. Though they’re welcome to if they see this.)

T: Do you have any funny stories about narrating? Or even in some of your other jobs?

E: … Not that I can think of? Sorry. That’s so boring.

T: Finally, tell us more about your books!

E: Well, this question has two answers depending on what you’re asking.

I’ve narrated dozens of audiobooks. Mostly teen or young adult fiction. I’ve done a lot of books with author Morgan Rice, including books three through eight of The Vampire Journals series, books one and two of The Survival Trilogy, and books one and two of The Vampire Legacy series (which will be released soon!). The other books I’ve done have been mostly fantasy or romance (or a combination). Lots of vampires.

While I was in college, I co-authored a few books with my dad, Steven H. Gittelman. Literally since the month I was born (August 1989), my dad has been volunteering at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, NY. Because of this, I volunteered there from the age of eight until I moved to Los Angeles at twenty-two. Our life-long association with the museum inspired us to write several books about the Vanderbilts. The first two books my dad wrote on his own and I’m credited as chief editor. Those books were Willie K. Vanderbilt II: A Biography and J.P. Morgan and the Transportation Kings: The Titanic and Other Disasters. The former is a biography of the Vanderbilt who owned the mansion at which we volunteered. The latter details a conspiracy between J.P. Morgan, the Vanderbilts, and other tycoons to dominate global shipping and transportation circa the turn of the twentieth century. After, that, we wrote two books together. The first was Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt: The Unlikely Hero of the Lusitania. Alfred was Willie K.’s cousin, and his story is one of lust, power, and tragedy. He was basically a playboy who, at the age of 22, inherited a huge amount of money. For sixteen years he behaved like any playboy would, resulting in the tragic suicides of at least three women. Then, he gets on the Lusitania and spends the last eighteen minutes of his life saving women and children. It’s such a great story, I’m currently working on a screenplay version that I’m hoping to get produced. The publisher keeps pushing back the release date, but right now it’s set for June 24th. The other book we wrote together was a historical novel inspired by Willie K. Vanderbilt II’s second circumnavigation of the globe in 1933. That one is being privately published by the museum, and will hopefully come out soon.

The works I’ve authored, edited, and narrated, can all be found by searching my name on amazon.

About Emily:

Emily Gittelman grew up in New York and received her BFA in drama from New York University in 2011. Shortly after graduation, she moved out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting under the name Emily Lawrence. More information about her acting career can be found on her website at In the last year, Emily has narrated dozens of audiobooks, which can be found on audible and amazon. In addition to this, she’s also a published writer and editor of mostly non-fictional works. She writes creatively in her own time, but hasn’t worked up the nerve to publish any of it yet. Maybe one day!

New Adult Blogger Interview

navaeh photoTime for another interview with another great book blogger.  I met Navaeh through the New Adult Book Club on Goodreads.  Then…I met her in person. Crazy, right? But yes, in this virtual world of blogs and electronic books and uploads and downloads – we sat down and had coffee and talked face to face.

Neveah runs a New Adult Book Blog, be sure to check it out! Her book reviews are packed with wonderful extras; a sense of humor, songs that remind her of the book, pictures, short samples of text – I love perusing her blog!

Anyway – on with the interview:

Terra: First thing is first – how did you get into book blogging?

Neveah: I read a ridiculous amount of books and found that I needed an outlet to express my feelings about those books, as well as keep track of who’s who and what happened in which book. I also love to discuss books I’ve read and have few friends who enjoy the same type of books I do…now I have tons! Also, I wanted to get into the daily habit of writing so that I might actually get something published someday myself. I have found that it is a double-edge sword though; I am writing every day now, but mostly reviews and find little time for writing anything else. Hopefully, I’ll learn to balance my time better soon.

T: Tell me more about Nevaeh’s New Adult Book Blog.

N: The blog was borne out of my resolutions for the new year, and is one of the few that has made it all the way until March ;o). I realized that most of what I have been reading could be considered “new adult” (NA), and after reading about the rising popularity of books in this genre, I decided to focus my blog reviews here. Not that I don’t read some YA and adult literature, but unless it crosses over and can also be considered NA, I don’t review it on the blog. There are plenty of YA blogs out there, and far fewer NA blogs. Most of what I review is contemporary romance, but I love to throw in a little dystopian, paranormal, and fantasy just to keep it real ;o).

T: White wine or red?

N: Red, definitely. After living in Argentina, I grew to love Malbecs but love a good Cabernet as well.

T: OMG – Malbecs are my favorite!  I think it’s because they remind me of meat, and I am a total carnivore.

N: And that is really funny because I a vegetarian. A native Texan who lived in Argentina, both locales known for their beef, and I decide to go veggie. Go figure.

T: What is your favorite part of the ‘job’?

N: I have really enjoyed “meeting” authors, reading their work (many of which are debut novels), and sharing their work with others, who might not have seen or heard of their books otherwise. It feels good to be a part of getting the word out about those who are deserving of a chance to have their stories be heard.

T: What is your not-so-favorite part?

N: Technology. I am admittedly not tech-savvy and have no desire to be, but obviously that is part of the blogging “business”. I love reading and writing, but it’s definitely a challenge to make myself learn how to actually build a better blog.

T: I think the term is tech-tard. At least, that is how I refer to myself. It’s like we have to be multi-talented when we barely have time to use one talent. How many hours would you say you spend on reading? How many hours on reviews and your blog?

N: Way too many but also not near enough ;o). Between reading and writing the reviews, I probably spend at least five hours a day (most of which is spent reading). I’m a night owl and operate on very little sleep, and have horrendous self-control when it comes to putting down a good book.

T: Tell me about the New Adult Genre.

N: Although some argue it isn’t a genre, and maybe it isn’t yet, I do feel it should be. To me, there is an obvious distinction between NA and YA books. New adult literature tends to have more explicit sex, significantly more swearing (and use of “harsher” swear words), and often deals with extremely mature issues (ie. sexual and/or physical abuse, suicide, illegal drug use and abuse). Characters tend to be in the age range between 18-25, though sometimes one of the main characters is older or younger. In the libraries, these books are often mixed in with YA books (since there isn’t currently a New Adult section), and I hate the thought of 12 and 13 year-olds coming across them, when they really aren’t geared toward them. Fortunately, many authors of new adult books have been responsibly putting a warning at the beginning of their books, warning that the content is more suitable for ages 17+. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that younger kids aren’t picking them up and reading them anyways.

T: I have to say, I wasn’t aware of the NA genre when my books first came out (not sure if it was around then), but I’ve grown to love it. I feel like it’s what I’ve been looking for all along! What kind of book is worthy of five wine bottles?

N: One that I never want to end. One that tugs on my heart strings, makes me laugh and maybe even shed a tear or two. One where I prefer their reality over my own, even if mine is easier. One where I say to myself, “Damn, I wish I would have written that book!”

T: Perfect answer – I agree! Who are some of your all-time favorite authors and series? What about your favorite movies?

N: In the New Adult genre, I love anything written by Colleen Hoover (Hopeless, Slammed, Point of Retreat…all incredibly written). Rebecca Donovan’s “Breathing” series (Reason to Breathe, Barely Breathing, and the yet-to-be-released Out of Breath) is ultra-intense; definitely “five-wine bottle” books. Jennifer Armentrout (also writing under the name J. Lynn) is very good, as well as Jessica Sorenson, Jamie McGuire, Abbi Glines, and Tammara Webber.

There have also been some fantastic YA series (some that border on NA). For example, The Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare, Divergent series by Veronica Roth, the now world-famous Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and of course, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.

Let’s see…movies. That one is trickier because I’d pick a good book over a movie any day (and most often I do). Really anything with a good love story and a happily-ever-after ending. I guess if I had to pick a favorite I would choose Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version)….love that Mr. Darcy!

T: What is next for you?

N: I am hoping to concentrate more time on bettering the blog, both in appearance and content. I have focused almost solely on review writing and would like to do more interactive posts, with giveaways, interviews, etc. Outside of the blog, I’m also hoping to write something other than reviews and be published (self or otherwise) by the end of this year; that’s the goal anyway. I’ve been working on a book in the new adult genre and another novelette is begging to see the light of day.


Thanks, Navaeh for your time – it was wonderful meeting you in person and I look forward to many more of your blog posts!

Be sure to check out Navaeh’s blog!

Between the Covers – Final Segment!

We are wrapping up the series of talks between me and author Christopher Starr on how these writers write. If you haven’t already, be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Now – on to the fun stuff!

Terra: How do you handle reviews – the good and the bad?

Christopher: Oh reviews! The joy and bane of every writer’s existence. We write in solitude and then exist for feedback, praying someone loves what we tried to do or an at least appreciate the point we were trying to make. When they do and they grace us with more than a couple stars and give us those nuggets of opinion, it’s fantastic. Until we realize they didn’t like it. And resist the urge to respond.

Like everyone, I just want an honest review on the merits of the story. But it’s always a little more complicated than that; I’m sure you can agree. My subject matter is fodder for plenty of discussion; it’s only a matter of time before I get not-so-savory reviews. I handle negative reviews immaturely—at home. I’ll rant and rave and finger point and curse but I’ll never respond to a review on any medium. I’m pretty adamant about that. If I get a fantastic review from a blogger and we have a relationship, I’ll thank them. If it’s on Amazon or Goodreads, that review, positive or negative, belongs to the consumers. I figure I’m breaking some great author-reader contract by intruding on their playground.

Some reviews I incorporate or might comment more broadly in a blog post, particularly if the point is good. Someone made a comment about why some angels die and why others regenerate. I addressed it in the book I’m working on now. Another person talked about the world I’d created and it spawned one of the most introspective blog posts I’ve written in a while. Reviews have been good for me.

Terra: Reviews were one part of the job I was not prepared for. Of course, I knew I needed them. And of course, I thought I would be receiving nothing but 4 and 5 stars. In my eyes my books are awesome. So when some readers didn’t think my books were so awesome, I was pissed. Some flat out hated my books; and I was shocked. Heartbroken almost. I did the same as you; rant and rave at home. I was all ready to respond to reviewers and maybe explain some things they overlooked in my book. But then I followed the advice of my husband, and I let it go. Eventually, I was able to take some advice from bad reviews, and I believe my writing is better for it.

Christopher: How do you separate yourself from the subject matter you write? You have some pretty tough stuff in your books—did you have to take a shower just to wash it away and be normal? Or was it more clinical for you—just a day at the office? And, once you wrote, how did those closest to you react?

I can tell you I killed a character my wife was very fond of (the character was actually based in part on her). She’s been hot with me for a while, even said I have to add a new strong female lead to fill the gap. I laugh about it now but I cried about it when I did it. I liked her. And that why she had to go.

Terra: Writing is sort of a form of therapy for me. I have all these plots, scenarios, and characters running around in my head – I don’t know how they get there, they have nothing to do with my life, but they would absolutely drive me crazy if I didn’t get a chance to hash everything out on my keyboard.

I do have tough stuff in my books; and friends and family react differently. All are supportive of course, and all have their preferences. My mother-in-law helps me edit – she likes to cross out all the sex scenes. My husband tries to get through my stuff, but fantasy just isn’t his thing. My Catholic grandma calls my books page-turners and when I call her she’s like, “Why are you on the phone? You need to be writing. I have to know what happens next!”

Christopher: My grandmother’s the same way—best advice she ever gave me was “Be good. If you can’t be good, be careful. And if you can’t be careful, name it after me.

So, what’s next for you? New series? Are you staying in the same genre?

Terra: Yep, new series. Mermaids and werewolves! Though I have been experimenting a little with Sci-Fi (short stories and such), so we’ll see where that leads.  How about you?

Christopher: The plan is to finish the Heaven Falls Series before jumping into something else. That’s the plan, mind you. I’m in the middle of the second book right now and it’s going along so swimmingly that I consider a new project daily. Still I’d like to say I finished it and I’d like my readers to have the complete story before I move onto something else. I think I’d be mad if, instead of telling me if Darth Vader was really Luke’s dad, George Lucas did Red Tails.

After Heaven Falls, I have a number of ideas and series that I’m considering. And I’m sure I’ll switch genres—my goal is to be like Ray Bradbury and write some of everything before it’s all over.

Terra: That about wraps it up! Thanks so much for doing this with me, Christopher. It was by far one of the most fun interviews I have done to date. Let’s stay in touch and good luck with everything!

Christopher: This has been remarkably amazing and refreshing to me! Writing is such a solitary endeavor, It’s always good to know you’re not entirely crazy as a writer. That what we do and go through is a bit more commonplace. That helps. In spite of the myriad voices in my head, they all generally arrive at the same sort of consensus. My overall world view doesn’t change. it’s cool to see things from someone else’s point of view. Thanks so much for letting me peek in your head.


“Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?”–Thomas Daggett, The Prophecy (1995)

Michael the Warrior.  Lucifer the Fallen.

Gabriel the Watcher.  Raphael the Healer.

For eons, these princes of Heaven have done the Father’s will, His way.  From the war between the angels to the second coming of Christ, the Heaven Falls series is their stories in their words.

From the Beginning.  Until the End.

The Road to Hell: The Book of Lucifer by Christopher Starr

Between the Covers…continued!

This is part 3 of an ongoing dialogue with Christopher Starr and myself. Catch part 1 here, and part 2 on Christopher’s blog here.


Christopher: Here’s my other question for you: you’re a mother, a wife, a professional and somewhere in there, a writer. How do you balance all the demands on your time?


Terra: And that is the big question, isn’t it? Lots of people want to write a book. A few less eventually start a book. Significantly less finish a book – and very few people keep on writing after their first book. There are lots of excuses to stop writing; discouragement, health issues, work, kids….life. I try to look at it as little pieces at a time. Baby steps. Not to get all self-help on you here, but baby steps really do work. My consistent goal is 1,000 words a day. This comes out to about two pages, depending on how much dialogue there is. It is very manageable. My secret to making sure it gets done is doing it in the morning. I wake up by 5 am, and do it before anything else. Ok, I’m lying. I hit the bathroom and have coffee first. But THEN I do it before anything else.

I won’t even open e-mail, check twitter, or look at news or weather first. I ignore the mess in the kitchen. The dogs have to wait to be let out. I work until the kids wake up (anywhere between 7 and 8). If I hit 1,000 words and can keep going, I do. If I don’t hit 1,000 words I make it a priority to make that mark at another point in the day; even if it isn’t until 11:00 at night. It has turned out to be a good, sustainable habit. Most of the rest of my day is spent at my day job and soccer games or swim lessons for the kids. If I have extra time that is when I’ll do the marketing for my book. But writing always takes priority over marketing, at least until my first series is finished.

Christopher: 5am? Man…I’m having a passionate love affair with my snooze button at 5am. Curiously, given that I’m a night owl and you’re up at the crack of ass in the morning, and that I live in Seattle, I think we’re actually both up writing at the same time. And that, my friend, is synergy!

So for me balance is really about choices. I work at home so my big thing is getting outside at all. When my kids are in school, they get my time from when they come home until they go to bed. My wife does too. So does Game of Thrones. 1000-1500 words a day is pretty good but it’s not always on a book. I’ve learned a lot this year about the value of blogging and maintaining a consistent relationship between my blog stuff and my readers. I’ve been doing a series on villains for the last 6 months and that has really helped me improve readership and make relationships with readers. And provide focus. That gets me writing on a regular basis.

I tend to write in the evenings (well, at night) and am willing to sacrifice being sleepy in the morning for progress at night. But when I’m writing the books, I’m all in. They really do take over and I struggle to turn it off to focus on the rest of my life. This is my long-winded way of saying I have pseudo-balance. The image of balance. I’m still working on the reality.

Terra: That is funny, we probably are up at the same time. I tried writing at night for a month, but I kept falling asleep and my laptop took several falls to the floor. In the interest of saving my stories, I bought an external hard drive for back up, and I started writing in the morning.

I absolutely love Game of Thrones! Haven’t read the series, but can’t wait for Season 3 to come out. I’ve been told the TV series follows the books pretty closely, so I may just have to pick up a book instead of waiting until next spring.

Christopher: I haven’t read the series either but I did buy the first book to see if the fuss was worth it. I’m about halfway through it now. The fuss is worth it: it’s amazing. And the TV series does follow the nooks exceptionally well. Gotta give George RR Martin his credit: homeboy can spin a tale.



Thanks for hanging with us and check back in with Christopher next week to see the next installment!

Between the Covers







One great benefit to being an indie author is other indie authors. In general, the community is very open and friendly. During the Orangeberry Summer Splash Blog Hop, I crossed paths with Christopher Starr, author of ‘Road to Hell‘. He was kind enough to post his review of my book on his blog, then he started asking questions. I answered, then sent a few questions of my own. The exchange went on for more than a month and thus you have ‘Between the Covers’, a candid conversation in how writers write. Below is the first of five posts; be sure to follow Christopher’s blog to catch the next post later this week!


Terra: I wrote the first book not exactly planning on turning it into a series. Once it was complete, and especially after that cliffhanger, I kind of had to continue. I also never expected to enjoy writing so much. The first book was a work in progress for 10+ years, and went through many major revisions. The second book took only two months to write. The majority of the third was written in a month (thanks to NaNoWriMo), and I am now writing the fourth and final book of the series. So far, no breaks in between. How about you?

Christopher: It’s funny, our experience is surprisingly similar. It took me over 7 years to write The Road to Hell. And it went through about 4-5 rewrites, a change in main character, a change in POV, about 150 new pages and some pretty merciless cutting. Writing it was more an “I wonder if I can” process than an exercise in series writing. I do have an advantage though: I know which angels are going to live and the Bible gives me some pretty rigid plot points. I’m lucky in that respect.

Terra: Wow – a POV change must have been rough! First novels are always hard. I feel like I wrote a book – and THEN I learned how to write.

Christopher: I know exactly what you mean about writing a novel and then learning to write. The biggest thing is the discipline for me. I like to think that I’m all creative and the inspiration will strike me at some time and I’ll create this magical treatise the world will unite behind.

But that shit doesn’t happen.

So I learned the disciplined portion of it and the value of the rewrite. Get it out. Put words on the page. Advance the story paragraph by excruciating paragraph. Eventually, my right brain takes over and kicks in, finding pieces of the story I didn’t know existed. I’m learning that’s part of the process too.

How do you manage continuity?

Terra: I am laughing out loud right now because I really don’t think there was good continuity. Even after the first and second book were published, I was going back and making changes in order to fit the storyline of the next books. I really like to come full circle, so to speak, in my books, and make sure there are no loose ends. So in writing the fourth and final book (which has been probably the most difficult to write), I am trying to tie everything up. This means revisiting issues that maybe weren’t mentioned since the first book. And you?

Christopher: Continuity is, for me, a bitch. I figure the first book is set in stone—I can’t modify that story at all. What I keep doing is going back to the original, making sure I maintain the events or words. I never wanted to be one of those “spreadsheet authors”—you know the ones who build character sheets and plots through spreadsheets—but I understand the value of it. I guess it beats flipping back into my old book to try and remember what I said or the color of someone’s eyes. I’m currently working on my spreadsheet…


 Please post questions of your own!  Christopher and I will both be available to answer them!

Orangeberry Favorites

This month I am participating in the Orangeberry Summer Splash Mini Book Tour Marathon; 100 authors, and 100 blogs. Featured genres include fantasy, science fiction, historical romance, romantic suspense, mystery, thrillers and more.

The event is expected to raise awareness about the growing Indie publishing movement and offers readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how imaginary worlds and characters are created. The event includes interviews, book reviews, guest posts, a Kindle Fire giveaway and much more!

I finally got a chance to peruse the book tour myself and was excited over what I saw! Here are some of the highlights that stuck out for me:

Prettiest Participating Blog – Always a Book Lover

Once I clicked on Victoria’s book blogging website, I knew I had to include it on my favorites list.  Website design and the imagery bloggers put across their sites always amazes me, and  Victoria’s is straight out beautiful!

Favorite Participating Book – Two Moons of Sera by Pavarti Tyler

I had the chance to read this one a few months ago, and was instantly captivated by this world Pavarti created! I won’t rehash my review here, but check out the blurb:

In a world where water and earth teem with life, Serafay is an anomaly. The result of genetic experiments on her mother’s water-borne line Serafay will have to face the very people responsible to discover who she really is. But is she the only one?

Would Most Like to Read:

The book tour has a lot of interesting reads to offer; two in particular are at the top of the list for me:

Song of the Fairy Queen by Valerie Douglas and Bactine by Paul Krater

Best Author interview – Lisa Scott, author of 15 Shades of Pink

There are a lot of interviews to go around. Authors answered 20 questions or more from a list of hundreds, and there are also ‘twitterviews’ all throughout August. By far, I thought Lisa’s interview was the best – it had me laughing all the way through!

Best New Feature: Page 99 Test

Okay, not sure if this is exactly new to book tours, but I’d never heard of it before. The Page 99  Test is an excellent way for readers to judge the writing of a book before buying it. See page 99 for my book, ‘Water’, here.

Biggest Thanks

A huge thanks to Pandora Poikilos for organizing the Orangeberry Summer Splash, and for the twitter blasts and twitterviews (see them by following @PandoraPoikilos).

Pandora Poikilos is the international best-selling author of ‘Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out’, along with several other novels and short stories. She is also the founder of Orangeberry Book Tours, and a social media enthusiast (close to 150,000 twitter followers), who is passionate about blogging and finding her way around the virtual world.

Connect with Pandora via e-mail (, on Facebook or at Amazon.


Team Building at its Finest

Since joining the self-publishing community, I’ve come across a great group of people whose support and help rival that of the Mormons (I know this because I lived in Utah for two years).  Small press and indie authors alike have been large contributors to what small success I’ve had so far, and I couldn’t be more grateful.  One great resource is Ashley Barron, author of the Love + Family Series, a short story collection, and the upcoming Priya novel, Ava.  She graciously agreed to do an interview for my blog:

Q: You have a large presence as a blogger and on twitter.  A lot of your posts involve interviewing other authors.  What has this done for you?  Why did you choose this route?

Thanks for having me here today, Terra!

When I first set out on this journey, I didn’t know anything about the role of social media in self/indie publishing. I started my blog in June 2011, got a few posts out there, and soon realized no one but family and friends were reading it. In July 2011, I followed the advice of a smart man I like to call ‘The Godfather,’ and joined Twitter.

What a difference! Twitter opened a whole a new world for me, and for my writing.

All those links to people, information, and ideas inspired me to get serious about this process of self-publishing. I was open to learning, and I knew I had a long way to go, so I reached out to a few authors and asked if I could interview them for my blog. I’m an outgoing person, the type who likes to know everyone in the room, but even a more reserved personality would find many opportunities to form friendships on Twitter.

So don’t be shy! Put a little effort into it, take a few risks, and enjoy the rewards.

My first interviews were with Michael Hicks, Jon Merz, Chicki Brown, Richard Jay Parker, and Melissa Foster. I knew that each of them had sold a lot of books, but I didn’t yet have the context to understand the stunning significance of that achievement. Richard is the only one of the five who is traditionally published, but he works his social media with all the vigor and focus of an indie.

Forming these relationships early in my development was very helpful. As the interviewer, I was able to ask them questions that were of interest to me, personally. All five of those authors were supportive, prompt, and receptive. For a newbie writer, there is no greater encouragement than that of an author who is, in every respect, miles ahead, and who takes the time to stretch out a hand to help others move forward.

It’s team building at its finest.

As I say on my blog’s “About Me” description, I’m not on this journey alone. Nor would I ever want to be. I’ve learned from others, and now I’m passing on my own learning to help shine a light on the joys and challenges of the business end of self-publishing.

Q: The interview by author Stacy Eaton on your main character was an interesting twist, and a great way to introduce your novel.  Talk about generating interest!  Tell us more about your novel and the Priyas. 

Thanks! I adore Stacy Eaton! She is so motivated, so outgoing, you can’t help but catch the fever. She kindly offered to host an interview with me on her blog, and she gave me the option of responding as me, Ashley, or as my main character, Ava. I think I shocked us both when I chose Ava’s voice.

It was a fantastic exercise in getting to know more about a character I thought I already knew inside and out. Some of the answers “Ava” gave surprised me. I highly recommend doing one or two character interviews. I’m looking forward to future character interviews with the other Priyas.

The Priyas are the main characters in my romantic thriller series about a group of women who’ve grown up together in Washington, D.C. The first book is Ava, and there is a funny scene in it, a flashback, where readers get to learn how the Priyas named their secret society. Come to think of it, I might pull that chapter out and post it on my blog.

Bonner, the second novel in the series, has a planned release date of December 2012. I say “planned” because I had originally thought I would be releasing Ava in September 2011. When that didn’t happen, I rescheduled it for February 2012. Guess what? That didn’t happen, either.

I wasn’t ready. I didn’t feel as though all of the pieces were as evolved, as strong as they needed to be to support a book launch.

Remember, becoming a self-published author may begin with writing the book, but I would estimate that a completed novel accounts for only about twenty percent of the checklist. Your blog, your social media, your promotional materials (interviews, guest posts, free short stories, etc.) make up the remaining eighty percent.

If you skip any of the steps, you’ll have to go back and fix them at some point. Build them into your plan sooner rather than later. Yes, there are exceptions, always, and if you are one of them, a straight-to-number-one-make-it-into-a-movie self/indie published author, I sure hope you’ll do an interview on my blog.

Seriously though, for an author, marketing is all about building a readership. There are tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of people out there, readers, who want to know about your book. Get out there. Find them. Give them materials—links to your social media, samples of your work—both for themselves and to pass on to people they know who might be interested in your writing style, your genres, your plots.

Along those lines, always remember to reciprocate when a fellow writer or author gives you an opportunity. Always.

Q: Your novels are set in Washington, D.C. (as are you, I gather). Tell me about your experiences with the area and why you love and/or hate it!

There is a line in one of those old Judy Garland musicals, Meet Me in St. Louis, where a character asks the rhetorical question, ‘Wasn’t I lucky to be born in my favorite city?”

That’s precisely how I feel.

DC is an exceptional town. Everything is here, just on a smaller scale than in the big cities like New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, etc. Growing up, my brothers and I were constantly packed into the car and taken on day trips to museums, historical sites, plays, farms, restaurants, gardens, anything within driving distance that my parents felt would add value to our minds, hearts, and worldview.

The neighborhood in which I grew up is uniquely multi-cultural. We have Embassies, the World Bank, and the IMF here in DC, and spending so much time in the homes of neighbors from places like India, Greece, Iran, England, Argentina, and Germany was a glorious way to learn that we are all as alike as we are different.

The story of the Priyas could only be told here in Washington. Whatever you think you already know about this town, and its layers, the real twists and turns extend far beyond any one person’s ability to uncover. That makes it a ripe setting for fiction.

The idea of buried secrets is an underlying theme in the Priya series, with arcs that travel through several books at a time. The main theme, of course, is love. I write about love, first, last, and always.

Q:  Coke or Pepsi?

Tea! Hot tea, cold tea. Ice, no ice. Black, green, chai. Milk, no milk. Sugar, more sugar. My only requirement is that the cup or mug must be large. Very large.

Q: How long did it take you to build your current number of followers?  What techniques have you found to work the best?

I’ve been blogging for ten months and tweeting for nine months. I have invested real time in building up my Twitter community. I believe the authors, writer, and readers on Twitter are among the most engaged book lovers I’ve ever encountered.

At the very beginning, during my first week in this online world, I created a marketing plan. It wasn’t perfect; I look back at it now and realize how far I’ve come. But it was a starting point, a place to focus, to gather ideas and track results.

I cannot stress this enough: you need a marketing plan.

You need to know where you are now and where you want to be next month, in six months, a year. You need to update your marketing plan at least every few weeks. Why? Learning happens that much faster when you immerse yourself into a new culture, a new community. You will likely make changes to your marketing plan, some small, some large. If you stick to your plan, you will achieve some or all of your goals—as long as the goals are set in realistic increments, naturally.

One of my goals is to reach 10,000 Twitter follows and followers by the time I launch Ava, the first novel in my Priya series. It is working out that way, I’m happy to report.

One thing to note: I don’t generally follow people who don’t follow back. I don’t use auto-follow, either, as I’m interested in the exchange of ideas, not a one-way subscription to your tweets or mine.

When you walk into to the “room” on Twitter, give a shout out to a few people, whether you know them or not, and get the ball rolling. Ask a few questions, offer a few answers. Retweet. Original tweet. Share a favorite quote, a corny joke, a cool picture.


Ultimately, you are the one responsible for your own experience. You make your own success. Your attitude, your preparation, and your willingness to open new doors, and take new risks, will determine the level of your achievements.

It’s simple, really, and so unbelievably hard.

Q: If you can, share with us some of the best hints/tips you have learned from interviewing authors.

There are so many talented, giving, motivated, supportive members of our community. If one of the self/indie published authors you admire is a step in front of you, or fifty steps in front of you, read their interviews. Pay attention to their blog posts, their quotes. Ask to interview them for your blog, so you can get to the heart of the areas that you find most interesting, most helpful.

Here is great advice from some of the self/indie published authors I’ve had the honor of interviewing for my blog:

Terra Harmony:

“I learned a lot by publishing my novella first (formatting, marketing, etc.) that would have been hard lessons learned in a full length novel.”

Beth Elisa Harris:

When writers decide to publish, the game changes. That pure time spent writing the first book will never happen again, when your creative juices gush and there is no expectation beyond writing the next sentence. Once you decide to let others read what you wrote, you graduate to authorhood. The time you spend shifts to marketing and promotions. I think this reality is a shock for new writers, and it’s true whether you’re independent or traditional.”

R. S. Guthrie:

“Start working on your marketing NOW, regardless of where you are with the book. If you are not finished with the book yet, even better. You can’t get a large enough head-start on the marketing but you will always be behind, so work on it now.”

Micheal Rivers:

“Your cover is just as important as what is written on your pages. The cover will have a great influence on a lot of buyer’s choice, it tells who you are. Edit, Edit, Edit, and then edit until its’ perfect. Nothing will turn away a reader faster than a boat load of mistakes.”

Deborah Batterman:

“‘If you build it, they will come.’ This is not meant as glibness so much as a testament to tenacity and the belief that, yes, doing what I love is its own reward, and the incredibly gratifying reviews and responses to my collection continue to hearten me.”

Carl Purdon:

“As much as you think you can find your own typos, you can’t. After initially publishing, I probably uploaded corrections over a dozen times when my readers pointed them out to me. It was a very humbling experience and one I hope not to repeat.”

Q: For us readers, what can we expect from you next?

Ava debuts in a few weeks! It’s a moment I’ve been working toward for years. Literally. The day my first novel debuts will be a serious marker in my life, and a small celebration is planned. I might insist on reading a few pages aloud, with limited staging and full drama, just to annoy my brothers. That’s a temptation I’ve never been able to resist. Though, admittedly, it’s been duly reciprocated.

Also, I’ve just released the next short story from my ‘Love + Family’ collection. I have made ‘The Birthday’ and ‘Famous’ free in order to give readers an opportunity to sample my work.

A standalone novel is in development for 2013. One morning I sat down at my computer to work on the Priya series, and, before I knew it, was writing a whole new book. For me, becoming witness, storyteller, to the natural birth of an entirely new set of characters is my rarest and most prized moment as a writer.

A big thanks to Ashley for taking the time to do the interview, and for all the time she puts in interviewing other authors and sharing their wisdom with us!  Please be sure to connect with Ashley on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, B&N, or Smashwords.

Please be sure to check out her new novel; Ava!

A Book Obsession

Time for another awesome book blogger interview! Mindy’s site, Forbidden Book Reviews, was created by team members of Books Complete Me and Page Turners Blog as a way to showcase all things ‘grown up’. Mindy recently reviewed ‘Water’ – see her review here. After sharing such an ecstatic review, I couldn’t help but get just as ecstatic over Mindy! Okay, that sounded weird – let’s just get on with the interview, shall we?

Q: First thing is first – how did you get into book blogging?

I became obsessed with the Twilight series. Seriously obsessed! Through this LOVE of all things Twilight, I met an INCREDIBLE group of gals on a twilight mom site. That is how the name Mindy Fangedmom came about because when I first fell in love with Vampires, they had fangs (the Twilight vamps do not have fangs but I love them anyway)! Fangedmom was my screen name in many forums.

Once my twimom friends started branching out to blogging, I of course, followed them. After following many blogs and being opened up to a WHOLE NEW WORLD of books, I was blown away by the SHEER talent that is all Indie and Self Pub authors!

Cindy, owner of Books Complete Me blog, asked me to join as a blogger. I was so excited. When Forbidden Reviews was created, I jumped on the chance to be part of it too. I am now the main blogger of Forbidden Reviews and LOVE IT!

A dear friend I met online gave me the nickname Brook. As in ‘babbles like a brook’. I love to talk. What a more perfect “job” for me than blogging.

Q: So now I have to ask – Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Team Jacob for sure from the very beginning.

Q: Tell me more about Forbidden Reviews. The creation, the concept, the…wine?

When Books Complete Me started, it was mostly focused on Young Adult reviews. As more and more authors started contacting us, we decided that it was not right to have our YA books being reviewed alongside books of a more adult nature.

We decided to start a sister blog for all adult themed books. We voted on the name Forbidden Reviews. When one of the gals came up with the header (the gal in the bathtub with a glass of wine: SHEER GENIUS) our rating system was born. I personally LOVE a glass (or bottle) of wine!

Q: White wine or red?

White wine and it has to be cold!

Q: What is your favorite part of the ‘job’?

Having someone tell me they read a book because of my review and that they loved it as much as I did!!!

THE AUTHORS…THE BOOKS…THE AUTHORS…THE BOOKS…I am absolutely blown away by authors. I have been since I learned to read. To have these stories, characters, settings and events in your head just blows my mind! I love to read a good book. There is NO better escape for me. Since I started blogging, I have met the most amazing Authors and read the most amazing books! Indie authors and Self Pub are my favorite! There is so much talent out there that once I discover it, I want to share it with the world!

Q: What is your not-so-favorite part?

Sometimes I want to just read. I wish some days I could just put “READ THIS BOOK. It is incredible and just trust me” and move to the next book. I don’t get as much reading done as I want because I cannot always write my reviews and post my reviews in a timely manner. I am a full time working mom, wife and my husband is self-employed. I am a busy gal! I MAKE time for blogging.

Q: How many hours would you say you spend on reading? How many hours on reviews and your blog?

*gets out calculator…* I work 8-10 hours a day, sleep for 5-6 hours, that is approx. 16 hours so that leaves about 8 hours a day that I am “free”. So in those 8 hours a day, I try to devote at least 2 hours to reading and/or blogging. Sometimes those hours all blur together in a reading/blogging marathon. It is nothing for me to start a good book and stay up all night to finish it. I have been known to read all night, sleep for an hour and go to work (I work in an office environment). I can also sit down to blog and say “I will only be a minute” and my husband and kids GROAN because “Mommy minutes” are HOURS long!

Q: What are your favorite genres?

Paranormal and Supernatural. Hands down. If there are mystical creatures, magic, witches, vamps, were’s, wolves etc. I will read it.

I am NOT a fan of what used to be known as Science Fiction. I am not sure if that genre really exists today. The genres have really changed since I was a young reader.

Q: What kind of book is worthy of five wine bottles?

Everyone has a different idea of what makes a good book. I am not an editor and I am not an English teacher. Therefore, if there are a few typos or a few mistakes..BFD…I am just grateful you wrote the book and I get to read it!

To me, a Five Wine bottle review means that I would tell you to read it. STOP what you are doing and read it. I have been told that I have a “fan group” that follows my reviews and reads what I review (talk about the ULTIMATE compliment)! THAT to me means I am doing something right as a blogger.

Q: Who are some of your all-time favorite authors? What about your favorite movies?

OMG there is no way I can answer that question. NONE. Usually if I am asked what my favorite book is, I refer to the book I am currently reading. I cannot pick one. Just like I cannot tell you which of my children is my favorite. They are all special and unique to me. I love a lot of different styles of writing, content…just way too many different ones to pick.

Movies: Another hard one. I just watched the Rebound and LOVED IT! I tend to watch movies over and over when I love them (seeing this obsessed personality much)??? Stargate, Lost Boys, Men in Black, 13 Going on 30, Twilight series, Harry Potter series, Hocus Pocus (again…I ramble…too many to name. These are the ones that just popped in my head).

Q: Coffee or Tea? Coke or Pepsi?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening (iced of course) and Pepsi.

Q: What is next for you?

Next? Maybe a bigger house with a built in library for all my books? I would be more than happy to let someone build one for me *giggles*

Seriously…I love to blog and I love to read. I will keep on doing both for as long as I can. Meeting new authors and meeting their “minds” is an incredible experience for me and I am very happy doing it.

Thank you for taking the time to complete the interview, Mindy! Book bloggers are amazing to me and you didn’t disappoint!

Thank you to Terra for my very first interview where I answered the questions instead of asked them. You should REALLY read Terra’s Akasha series. ‘Water’ blew me away and I am getting ready to start ‘Air’!

Check out Mindy’s book and movie reviews at:


See?! Dreams Can Come True!

Tomorrow is the cover reveal of the next book in the Akasha Series, ‘Air’.  But for today, an interview with Air’s cover designer, Keary Taylor.  I am so excited to be interviewing Keary, she is a very talented graphic artist and indie author.  She created the button on the right, by the way – feel free to grab it! Keary recently released some exciting news that more than trumps my cover reveal – and I couldn’t be happier for her!  Keary is an indie author of the paranormal romance ‘Fall of Angels’ trilogy and the post-apocalyptic thriller ‘Eden’.  Now on to the news:

Q: Ok, I’ll just come out with it.  The film and TV rights to ‘Eden’ were just negotiated.  Wha- what?!  Talk about every author’s dream – or many author’s dreams, anyway.  How are you not bouncing off the walls right now?  Tell us how this whole thing came about!

Haha, it certainly is beyond exciting!  I was contacted by KK&P on November 1st so I had to keep everything a secret for over a month!  But yeah, Kami Garcia (co-author of Beautiful Creatures/producer) read Eden, loved it, passed it to Mark Morgan (producer of Twilight and Percy Jackson) and he loved it too.  So they contacted me, said they wanted to represent Eden for film.  We went through some contract stuff and here we are!  And amazingly enough, KK&P wasn’t the only production company to contact me about Eden!

Q: When did you first self-publish Eden?

In June of this year.

Q:  For us author types, what marketing strategies worked best?

You have to be pretty smart about your advertising.  Whenever I have a new book come out, I send ARC’s to book bloggers and do a bunch of interviews and giveaways.  I also promote on as well as Facebook ads.  Sometimes, you just get lucky I think and things take off.

Q: For us reader types, what can we look for from you next?

I just finished the first draft of a YA contemporary I’m hoping to release in the spring (I’ll be doing an announcement of the title and cover on my blog probably around the same time this interview goes up).  After that I have a science fiction I plan on working on.

Q: Will you send me an autograph movie poster of ‘Eden’, you know – when you have hit it big?

Haha, we’ll talk when it gets to that point 😉

Q: Ok – on to your graphic talents.  You’ve done an amazing job with your covers, my covers, and many other indie author covers.  Here are a few (more can be seen on Keary’s design page):














I’ve gotta say, ‘Awakening’ is my favorite out of the bunch – after ‘Water’, of course! Does design come naturally to you?  Do you have professional training in graphic design?  How did you learn the trade?  Is this a part of the ‘job’ you really enjoy?

I guess you could say it comes naturally to me.  When I started reading so much, I really started paying attention to covers, picking out things I really liked about certain ones.  I have to admit, I don’t have any professional training.  When I started self-publishing I just started playing around in Photoshop and watching different tutorials and just picked it up!  I loved it!  And so I started offering other authors to do it for them and soon I had people coming to me!  I don’t know if I’d call the graphic design a “job”.  While I do make a bit of money from it, I mostly do it for fun and to help other authors out.

Q: Tell us your thoughts on the importance of book covers.

Oh man, I can’t stress enough how important a good cover is.  Being an independent author is hard enough without a bad cover working against you too.  A cover is what people see first and even though they say “don’t judge a book by its cover” people always do.

Q: Have you ever won any awards for your graphic work?

None that I know of, lol.  But I do get a lot of compliments and the cover for my book Eden was listed on a TON of best of 2011 covers.

Q: And back to the film rights for ‘Eden’ (because I just can’t stop thinking about it).  What are the next steps?  Is there a timeline?  What info can you give us?

I really can’t say too much right now.  There should be some more news to share in the next six months or so.  As of right now it’s about getting a screenplay done, looking for actors, and studios.  It is certainly exciting though!  A total dream come true.

A big thanks to Keary for doing the interview and an even bigger thanks for all my great covers!  Please check back in tomorrow to see her masterpiece!

About Keary:

Keary Taylor grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she started creating imaginary worlds and daring characters who always fell in love. She now resides on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two young children. She continues to have an overactive imagination that frequently keeps her up at night. She is the author of BRANDED, FORSAKEN, VINDICATED, AFTERLIFE (Fall of Angels series), and EDEN. To learn more about Keary and her writing process, please visit

Jennifer is a Junkie

Jennifer is a junkie – a book junkie.  She runs a book review blog called ‘Can’t Put it Down‘ with close to 1,000 followers.  I love this lady – although I may be a little bias considering the glowing review she gave for both ‘Water‘ and ‘Gleaming White‘.  Find out for yourself what all the hoopla is about:

Q:  To start off, would you mind regaling us with the story of how your blog came to be?

Back in June, I had sent a message to author Tim O’Rourke on Goodreads regarding one of his books. After I had written a review he sent me a message that he had been following my reviews and that I should start a review blog. I was a little hesitant at first because I had tried keeping a blog for my family life but had a hard time coming up with anything to write about that family didn’t already know from my Facebook posts! I gave it a try and with almost 8,000 page views I haven’t looked back since!

Q:  Tell us more!  What’s in it for your blog followers?

Blog followers get sneak peaks into upcoming books.  I run lots of giveaways, and of course the scoop on the best books out there!  I also try to make things easy-peasy for my followers so I include the purchase links to the top three e-book vendors (Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords) and have just started including the purchase price!  There are also come cool events I will be apart of coming in 2012, but I’m not saying anything more about that 😉

Q: Give us a little insight as to what it is like to be a book review blogger.

Being a review blogger is hard work, to be honest. It is like having a second job but instead of earning a check, I get paid in free books! You have to keep up with your reviews and events. I have so many books on my TBR list that I feel bad because I can’t get to them quick enough! I also receive requests daily from authors to review for them. I have met some amazing and talented people, some who have become great friends!

Q: Coffee or tea?

Eh… coffee if I have a choice between the two but you better have lots and lots of sugar and creamer, and none of that sugar in the pink packets either, give me the good stuff!  What I would rather have is a Vanilla Bean Frappe from Starbucks or a Mocha Frappe from McDonalds! I am a total junk food junkie. Take me to the fanciest restaurant in the world and I’m scouring the menu for a well-done burger and fries!

Q: What are some of your all time favorite reads?

When I was younger I was all about the Baby Sitters Club books. I have almost all of them still, most the covers are barely hanging on from being read so many times. Ramona the Pest is still a fav. Right now, my favs would have to be the Kiera Hudson vampire series by Tim O’Rourke, Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey (if you want to be scared read Forsaken!), Believe Like a Child by Paige Dearth (this author has a touching personal story), and of course Water (tapping my foot impatiently for book two btw!) and Gleaming White! I’m a big fan of Amanda Hocking’s My Blood Approves series too!

Q: Tell us more about indie authors – where to find them, how they have changed the industry, and the pros and cons to buying indie.

Before starting my review blog, I didn’t even know what an indie author was. I was more into reading the Frankenstein series by Dean Koontz, Simon Holt’s The Devouring series, and anything I could get my hands on by Karin Slaughter. Then I start this blog and there is a whole world of unknowns out there just waiting to be discovered! How lucky can a girl get??  One of the best places to find indie authors is on If an author is NOT on Goodreads I suggest they join right away! I support indie authors 100%. All but one of my top 10 books read this year would be by unknown authors, with the exception of Gregg Olsen. Indie books are generally cheaper than best-selling author books. You can usually find them for free or from 99 cents to five bucks. I highly suggest Indie authors keep their prices low. Once readers get to know and love their work, they won’t have a problem paying a little more.

I’m a stickler for grammar and punctuation when I read so you sometimes find quite a few reads with some errors. Unfortunately, I’m the kind of person that once I find one I am looking for the next. I’ve started a sister site to help solve that problem. It’s called Extra Set of Eyes and I offer basic editing services.

I love finding that person who has written a great story and helping to get their name out there! Indie authors are changing the way readers read one book at a time. They are depending on bloggers to spread the word because a lot of them don’t have the money to spend on pricey advertising.

Q:  What’s next for you and your blog?

As I mentioned before, there will be lots of great events (giveaways, hops, book tours) coming in 2012. WordPress is a hard blog to get followers with because it doesn’t have the GFC like Blogspot does but I would love to get my follower number up! I’m also a Facebook junkie and can’t wait to reach that 1,000 ‘like’ mark (I’m almost at 700 now) on my blogs page. I’m excited for the new year to bring more book reviews and introduce more great authors to the blogosphere. I’m always open to suggestions and comments from my readers and authors!

Can't Put It Down...A Book Reviewer's Blog
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