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Indie Author of the Week

This week’s Indie Author of the Week is Christa Upton! This mother of three currently writes illustrated books for children and believe me when I tell you that she’s an author you don’t want to miss! I’m currently working with her on preparing her next release (something you definitely don’t want to miss).

Her current book, “The Library Thief” can be found for Kindle on Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B00CC2PUAY. Check out her site for more information or just to say hello: www.blackhillspicturebooks.com!

TGIF my friends! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Genre

I picked up a science fiction book in a used book store on Tuesday (one that I ended up buying). I normally don’t read much sci-fi however looking through it really made me think. I was thinking about how difficult it would be for me personally to write sci-fi. I’m more of a mystery, suspense, paranormal type of writer. My mind just doesn’t tend to come up with any good sci-fi material.

I’ve watched enough movies and television series that I’m surprised I can’t write within that genre. It really makes me wonder what makes us as writers, able to create stories within specific genres. Would I be able to write a sci-fi novel even if I tried?

I found an article written by Cliff Daigle on About.com (http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/genrefiction/a/How-To-Choose-A-Genre-For-Your-Novels.htm) and this was his perspective on choosing a genre:

“The choice of genre is a pretty straightforward process for some writers. They love writing one kind of thing, and that’s what they focus on. For the rest of us, this can be a difficult decision to make.

Why Choose?

The easiest choice to make is not to choose at all. By choosing to stay open to writing in any genre you are free to pursue any idea that grabs you. You could write a gothic horror novel, followed by a techo-thriller.

So why choose if by choosing you limit your options? It all comes down to marketability. When a publisher buys your novel what they are really buying is you, the author. They want to know that they can build a platform, a brand, around you and your writing. They need to believe that there will be more books, similar to the first, on the way. That means sticking to one genre.

Imagine pitching a fantasy novel to a publisher. They ask if you have other novels either finished or in-progress. You tell them that you also have a romance, a western, and a collection of hard-boiled crime stories. Does this help you sell your fantasy novel? Not at all.

If all your other books, stories and works-in-progress were in the fantasy genre, then you’d be that much closer to a sale. It might sound shallow, but it does make sense.

Other Benefits Genre Choice

Sticking to one genre has a few other advantages as well:

  • Constraints breed creativity. Sometimes having some rules to write by actually makes you more creative. When you can write about anything it can be difficult to know where to start.
  • You look more professional. It’s important for publishers to see that you understand the need to build a platform and that you’ve started on your own. The more confidence they have in your willingness to market yourself, the better.
  • You become known as an expert. The more you write in one genre the more people see you as an authority in that area.
  • It’s one less choice to make. As a writer building a career your life is filled with endless choices. Now you have one less!

How to Choose

The most obvious way to pick a genre is to write what you like to read. If you mostly read romance, then write romance. Most of us read in several genres, and that can make it tricky though. Do you choose the one that seems the most marketable? The one you think is the most fun? Flip a coin?

This is ultimately a personal choice, but there are a few techniques that can help you choose:

  • Make a pros and cons list. The classic decision-making tool. Write down the good and bad reasons to write in each genre and see how it shakes out.
  • Go with your gut. After thinking about your options for a while, sit quietly for a while and listen to your intuition. Forget about marketing, or what your friends will think, what does your heart tell you to write?
  • Pick the most marketable genre. This is tricky since it’s almost impossible to guess where the market is going. That said, you may be choosing between writing in a super-niche, micro-market, and something more mainstream. If you truly feel that they are equally-weighted in every other way, then maybe go with the one you think you can sell.

As you examine potential genres pay attention to the ones that attract you, but scare you at the same time. If you’re excited to write in a certain area, but afraid that you won’t be able to do it, then seriously consider choosing that genre. Often what you fear doing is what you need most to grow as an artist.

When to Choose

Do you really need to choose right away? It probably won’t hurt.

If you are writing in several genres, you will have to pick one once a publisher agrees to publish one of your novels. And since your off-genre novels won’t do much to help you sign a deal, you might as well choose as soon as you can.

Can I Change My Mind?

Sure. Once you’re established you can start to work in a new genre if you like. Many successful authors write in multiple genres. They didn’t start out that way, though. They mastered one genre at a time, building a fan-base and a catalog before moving on to something new.

Of course if you’re prolific enough to be shopping multiple books in multiple genres you can always use a pseudonym to brand each genre separately. It’s certainly not an easy way to start out though!

The Bottom Line

As critical a decision as this is, it’s important not to let it paralyze you. The worst thing you can do is use your indecision about genre as an excuse not to write. If you really need to write something off-genre, then go ahead. Just make the choice as soon as you can, and keep the words flowing in the meantime.”

Decisions, decisions (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Need Some Writing Tips?

Great! You’ve come to the right place. Here are 34 of them from Daniel Scocco (www.dailywritingtips.com):

A couple of weeks ago we asked our readers to share their writing tips. The response was far beyond the initial expectations, and the quality of the tips included was amazing. Thanks for everyone who contributed.

Now, without further delay, the 34 writing tips that will make you a better writer!

1. Daniel
Pay attention to punctuation, especially to the correct use of commas and periods. These two punctuation marks regulate the flow of your thoughts, and they can make your text confusing even if the words are clear.

2. Thomas
Participate in NaNoWriMo, which challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I noticed that my writing has definitely improved over the course of the book — and it’s not even finished yet.

3. Bill Harper
Try not to edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you’ll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time.

A really nice trick is to switch off your monitor when you’re typing. You can’t edit what you can’t see.

4. Jacinta
In a sentence: write daily for 30 minutes minimum! It’s easy to notice the difference in a short time. Suddenly, ideas come to you and you think of other things to write. You experiment with styles and voices and words and the language becomes more familiar…

5. Ane Mulligan
Learn the rules of good writing… then learn when and how to break them.

6. Pete Bollini
I sometimes write out 8 to 10 pages from the book of my favorite writer… in longhand. This helps me to get started and swing into the style I wish to write in.

7. Nilima Bhadbhade
Be a good reader first.

8. Douglas Davis
While spell-checking programs serve as a good tool, they should not be relied
upon to detect all mistakes. Regardless of the length of the article, always read and review what you have written.

9. Kukusha
Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don’t get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended even if you think it’s wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it.

10. John England
Right click on a word to use the thesaurus. Do it again on the new word and make the best use of your vocabulary.

11. Lillie Ammann
After editing the work on screen or in print, I like to read the text aloud. Awkward sentences and errors that slipped through earlier edits show up readily when reading out loud.

12. H Devaraja Rao
Avoid wordiness. Professor Strunk put it well: “a sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

13. David
Write as if you’re on deadline and have 500 words to make your point. Then do it again. And again.

14. Yvette
Sometimes I type in a large font to have the words and sentences bold before me.

Sometimes, in the middle of a document I will start a new topic on a fresh sheet to have that clean feeling. Then, I’ll cut and insert it into the larger document.

I wait until my paper is done before I examine my word usage and vocabulary choices. (And reading this column it has reminded me that no two words are ever exactly alike.) So at the end, I take time to examine my choice of words. I have a lot of fun selecting the exact words to pinpoint my thoughts or points.

15. Amit Goyal
To be a good writer is to start writing everyday. As Mark Twain said, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Try using new words. i.e avoid repeating words. this way we learn the usage of different words.
Do edit your previous articles.

Start with small paragraphs like writing an article for a Newspaper, and proceed from there.

16. John Dodds
Remove as many adjectives as possible. Read Jack Finney’s tale, Cousin Len’s Wonderful Adjective Cellar for a fantastical tale about how a hack becomes a successful author with the help of a magical salt cellar that removes adjectives from his work.

17. John Ireland
I set my writing aside and edit a day or two later with the aim of making it terse. It has trained me to be more conscious of brevity when writing for immediate distribution.

18. Jai
Try to write in simple way. Express your views with most appropriate words.

19. Mark
Read great writers for inspiration. If you read them enough, their excellent writing style will rub off onto your dazzling blog.

YOU ARE what you read (and write!).

20. Caroline
I watch my action tense and wordiness in sentences when I am writing my technical diddley.

For example, in a sentence where you say …”you will have to…” I replace it with “…you must…”, or “Click on the Go button to…” can be replaced with “Click Go to…”.

Think of words such as “enables”, instead of “allows you to” or “helps you to”.

If one word will work where three are, replace it! I always find these, where I slip into conversational as I am writing quickly, then go back and purge, purge, purge.

21. Akhil Tandulwadikar
Don’t shy away from adopting the good habits that other writers use.

Do not worry about the length of the article as long as it conveys the point. Of course, the fewer words you use, the better.

Start the article with a short sentence, not more than 8 words.

22. Julie Martinenza
Instead of adding tags (he said/she said) to every bit of dialogue, learn to identify the speaker by showing him/her in action. Example: “Pass that sweet-smelling turkey this way.” With knife in one hand and fork in the other, Sam looked eager to pounce.

23. Aaron Stroud
Write often and to completion by following a realistic writing schedule.

24. Joanna Young
One that works for me every time is to focus on the positive intention behind my writing. What is it that I want to communicate, express, convey? By focusing on that, by getting into the state that I’m trying to express, I find that I stop worrying about the words – just let them tumble out of their own accord.

It’s a great strategy for beating writer’s block, or overcoming anxiety about a particular piece of writing, whether that’s composing a formal business letter, writing a piece from the heart, or guest blogging somewhere ‘big’…

25. Shelley Rodrigo
Use others writer’s sentences and paragraphs as models and then emulate the syntactic structure with your own content. I’ve learned more about grammar and punctuation that way.

26. Sylvia
Avoid long sentences.

27. Mike Feeney
Learn the difference between me, myself and I. For example: “Contact Bob or myself if you have any questions.” I hear this very often!

28. Richard Scott
When doing a long project, a novel, for instance, shut off your internal editor and just write.

Think of your first draft as a complex outline waiting to be expanded upon, and let the words flow.

29. David
Careful with unnecessary expressions. “At this point in time” came along during the Nixon congressional hearings. Too bad it didn’t go out with him. What about “on a daily basis?”

30. E. I. Sanchez
For large documents, I use Word’s Speech feature to have the computer read the article back. This allows me to catch errors I have missed – especially missing words or words that ‘sort of sound the same’ but are spelled differently (e.g. Front me instead of ‘From me’).

31. Cat
Either read the book “Writing Tools 50 Strategies for Every Writer”, by Roy Peter Clark, or read the Fifty Writing Tools: Quick List on his blog. Then join a writing group, or hire a writing coach.

32. Suemagoo
Write the first draft spontaneously. Switch off your internal editor until it is time to review your first draft.

33. Lydia
If you’re writing fiction, it’s a great idea to have a plot. It will coordinate your thoughts and add consistency to the text.

34. Pedro
Edit your older articles and pieces. You will notice that great part of it will be crap, and it will allow you to refine your style and avoid mistakes that you used to make.

 

You are doing great! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Indie Author of the Week

TGIF, my loyal readers. Hope you have some awesome weekend plans in the works. If you’re like me, you are planning on getting out and enjoying some sunshine. At least I think the sun is going to shine in Oregon this weekend. Regardless, it’s the weekend so who cares?

Notice how I alternate between Indie Author of the week and Indie Book of the week? Indie “book” simply means that they have at least one book that rocks. Indie “author” means that I personally feel the author has some serious potential to make it big.

So without further adieu, my Indie Author of the Week is Mason McCann Smith. This guy rocks. Trust me when I tell you to purchase one or all of his books because you’ll be glad you did. I had the pleasure of discussing books and writing over a cup of coffee with Mason last week. He’s not only an amazing author, but a very interesting, cool guy. I started reading, “The Stained Glass Virgin” last night and let me say that I’m enjoying it.

I do want to add that he’s had a book published by Random House, so he’s familiar with the process of traditional publishing.

You can buy his books and find out more about him here: www.madscavenger.com. He also offers services for writers, so add him to your list.

Have a great weekend! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Are we born with our talents?

I’ve often wondered this and have decided to make this my topic of the week (something new I’m going to try!). It almost seems as if some of us have certain talents almost from the day we are born. I remember watching a talk show on which they had a little boy. I can’t remember his exact age, but I don’t think he was over 6. This kid could play the piano like he’d been playing for over 20 years. He was amazing. He’d had piano lessons but shouldn’t have even been close to the level he was playing.

It’s the same with writing or any other talent really. Are they learned or are we simply born with them?

I’ve read that we’d be shocked if we were to see some famous author’s writings pre-editing. That being said, maybe it’s just the good story telling that some of us have, while others have the ability to both write and tell a good story? Am I making sense here?

I’ll use myself as an example here. I’ve written and published articles. I’m also a short story writer. I can whip up a short story like you wouldn’t believe. I always excelled at writing, specifically creative writing as a child in elementary school. My professional background is filled with corporate writing types of jobs like technical writing, instructional design, marketing writing and so forth. I cannot, for the life of me, seem to write a novel. Was I only born with the talent to write short stories and articles?

What is your take and belief on all of this?

Curious minds want to know. (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Indie Author of the Week

It’s Friday! In addition to hearing me shout out a huge, “TGIF!” you get the gift of finding out who my Indie Author of the Week is. It is….*drum roll*….Michelle Proulx!

Taken straight from Amazon, “Michelle Proulx was born on the market moon of Vega Minor where she spent her formative years reading, writing, and gambling at illegal underground jsgarn fighting rings. While en route to Alpha Centauri, Michelle crash-landed her space yacht on the planet Earth. She now lives in Canada and divides her time between observing the local fauna and repairing her star ship.”

Visit her website — http://www.michelleproulx.com — to learn more!

Her début novel, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, is an award-winning Teen / Sci-fi / Romance novel. Check it out today, and get swept away in a galactic adventure of truly cosmic proportions!

Buy her book here: http://www.amazon.com/Imminent-Danger-How-Straight-into/dp/147596546X/ref=la_B00B5G0N9Q_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365171544&sr=1-1

Oh, and TGIF! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Amanda Hocking – An indie mega author

I would imagine that most of you have heard of Amanda Hocking. If not, stop what you are doing and Google her. Right now! You will find that she is an indie wonder and should be an inspiration for all of you who are working hard on your novels. Although this is an older interview (2011), I thought it would be a great read.

(Tonya Plank – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tonya-plank/meet-mega-bestselling-ind_b_804685.html):

Amanda Hocking is really something of a wunderkind. At only 26 years old, the Minnesota native has written a total of 17 novels. Since self-publishing eight of those books in April 2010, she’s sold over 185,000 copies, making her indie publishing’s latest star. Most of us are familiar with J.A. Konrath, who, after self-publishing several of his unpublished novels in ebook form and realizing how much more money he could make on his own than with a traditional publisher, became indie publishing’s most vocal champion. But many are quick to point out that Konrath had already been traditionally published when he decided to self-publish, so he already had an established fan base. Hocking, on the other hand, was an unknown, until April 2010.

Here is my interview with Ms. Hocking.

TP: You write a couple of bestselling series – young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Can you give us an overview of those series, what they’re about and their themes?

AH: I have three series out now – My Blood Approves is the first one I released, and it’s about vampires in Minneapolis. There are four books in that series, plus a novella. My other series, the Trylle Trilogy, has the first two books out now, with the third book coming out soon, and that’s my best selling series. Hollowland is the only book I have out now in a series about zombies. This one has a really tough heroine, but it’s still romance-y.

TP: You began self-publishing these series in April 2010, correct? How many copies have you sold at this point?

AH: As of Tuesday, January 04, 2011 at 9 PM, I’ve sold over 185,000 books since April 15, 2010.

TP: And are the sales a combination of ebooks and print books?

AH: Yes, they are, but the majority is ebooks through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve sold about 2,000 paperbacks since October, and prior to October, I sold maybe 20-50 paperbacks.

TP: Where all are your books available?

AH: All eight of my books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Several of them are available at the iBookstore and Sony ereader stores, but I have to upload them through Smashwords there, so it takes longer to get them uploaded there. All my paperbacks are available through Amazon only.

TP: How long did it take for sales to really take off?

AH: I published to Kindle in April, and I haven’t sold less than 1,000 books a month since May. So my sales took off somewhat quickly. They didn’t really start to explode until November. I published the second book in my Trylle Trilogy mid-November, and my sales really began to take off after that.

TP: When did you begin writing, and what inspired you to become a writer?

AH: I was always writing. When I was a little kid, before I learned how to write, I would tell stories. But as soon I as capable, I started writing. I filled notebooks and notebooks until I got my first computer when I was 11. It never really occurred to me that I would do anything else.

TP: Who are your favorite writers, or filmmakers or artists, or anyone else who inspires your writing?

AH: I think I draw most inspiration from writers like Richelle Mead and filmmakers like John Hughes. They both really understand the experience of being a teenager and how insistent and intense everything feels, but they’re also smart, savvy, and fun.

TP: Have you been published before or done any previous writing, or is this your first experience being published?

AH: This is my first experience being published. I did publish books through Lulu prior to going to Kindle in April, but I sold zero copies. I did it so I could get copies of my books for my mother to read, but I didn’t think self-publishing was a viable option. The first I ever sold a copy of anything I’d written was in April 2010.

TP: Do you have any “training” as a writer? Did you take any workshops or college classes?

AH: I’ve taken every writing class I’ve had available. I took classes in high school, and I took English and writing classes in community college, but I dropped out of college. I also attended a local writing workshop two years ago.

TP: What made you decide to self-publish? Did you try to go the traditional route at all or did you know from the get-go you wanted to be an indie?

AH: I tried to be traditionally published for about eight years. For years, I’ve listened to a lot of indie music and watched a lot of indie films. In high school, I was obsessed with IFC. But when it came to writing, I never thought it would possible to go that way.

Everything I’d heard about self-publishing is that it was impossible to make a living, reach readers, or produce a quality product. But last year, I heard about how some other authors like Joe Konrath and Karen McQuestion are doing well with ebooks. So I thought that I had nothing to lose. I’d written about 12 books when I decided to self-publish, and I thought it would be better than them sitting on my computer. Worst case scenario, nobody would read them, and that’s what was happening anyway.

TP: You’re so young and you have such an extensive body of work already! What is your daily writing routine?

AH: I don’t really have one, haha. I haven’t exactly figured out how to get into a writing routine yet. I’ve always kind of wrote when I wanted to. Once I get the idea in my head and get it outlined out, I usually just sit and write until it’s done.

So much has happened so quickly, it’s really hard for me to have established a routine yet. Most of my day is spent on the computer, though.

TP: Do you have a day job, or did you have a day job before you became a bestselling author? Or did you start writing right out of school?

AH: I worked full-time in group homes for people with disabilities for the past five and a half years, so the majority of my writing was done then. In high school and right out of high school, I worked as a dishwasher, and then I went to work at the group home. I always wrote in my spare time, but I had to pay the bills, so I had to keep my day job. Until August 2010. That’s the first time I made enough money off my writing that I didn’t need to work anymore, so I’ve been writing full-time since then.

TP: What has been your strategy for marketing and publicizing your books?

AH: I didn’t really have a strategy. I think one of the advantages I have is that stuff considered marketing is stuff that I do a lot anyway. I’ve been active on social networks and blogs for years.
I also send ARCs [advance review copies] out to book bloggers. Book bloggers are a really amazing community, and they’ve been tremendously supportive. They’ve definitely been a major force that got my books on the map.

When I first published, I did do a bit of promoting on the Amazon forums, but they’re not really open to that, so I haven’t really interacted there much at all in months. I hang out Goodreads, Kindleboards, Facebook, Twitter, and I blog. And that’s about it.

TP: How do you handle the editing? Do you hire your own editor or do you use beta readers?

AH: I’ll be honest – when I first started publishing in April, I thought my editing was fine. The first book I published – My Blood Approves – had been read by me about fifty times and also read and edited by about twenty other people. So I thought that all the grammar errors would be taken care of. But I was wrong.

Since then, I’ve tried to utilize beta readers and hire people. But so far, people are still finding errors. It’s not from lack of effort on my part, though.

I am now looking for a professional editor – as in the kind I would get if my book were to go through a publishing house. What I find most frustrating about editing and being indie is that everything else I can do myself. Writing, covers, marketing, etc. But I cannot edit properly myself. It’s just not possible.

TP: You’re now published by a traditional publisher in at least one European country, right? Have any of your books been released there yet?

AH: I haven’t been published yet. I’ve had some offers and some deals made, but the books haven’t officially been printed or put on the shelves yet. I am really interested to see how it all goes when it’s done.

TP: You’re now represented by a literary agent, correct?

AH: Yes, I am represented by Steve Axelrod. He became my agent in August, after I’d been approached by foreign publishers.

TP: What are your publishing goals at this point? Do you want to continue self-publishing here in the U.S. while your agent works on selling the foreign rights to your books?

AH: I don’t know what my goals are right now. Everything has already far surpassed my original goals, and it’s hard for me to figure out what can happen next. I do plan to continue self-publishing, but I’m not turning my back to traditional publishing.

As amazing as this ebook revolution has been, it’s still only 20-30% of the market, and I’m not going to ignore the possibilities to reach the other 70-80% of readers. However, it is hard to compete with what my books are already able to do with Kindle and PubIt.

TP: What are you working on now; do you have any soon-to-be-released books?

AH: The third and final book in the Trylle Trilogy will be out very soon (before January 15th). But that’s the only thing I know for sure right now. It’s really hard for me to set release dates, because I can publish whenever books are ready. So it just depends on how long they take to get ready. But I have many more projects I’m working on.

TP: What has been your most memorable experience in publishing so far? An early review or fan letter, getting contacted by the European publishing house?

AH: I’ve gotten several emails from wives and mothers whose husbands are gone because they’re soldiers and marines. Those ones I think really strike me the most. These people are sacrificing so much, and they’re using something I wrote to escape for a minute. And that really puts the pressure on me to put out something that’s worthy.

TP: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

AH: Write a lot, but read even more. Learn to be open to criticism. And research as much as you can before making a decision about where you want to see your writing career. The internet is filled with information that will help you become a better writer and make better decisions about publishing.

For more information on Ms. Hocking’s books, visit her website, or her author pages on Amazon and Smashwords. Her books are also available at Barnes & Noble.

You can do it too! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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