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Essential information

In our Essential Information section, you can find the answers to the questions we get asked most often at Writers & Artists, a selection of the best resources for writers on the web (other than on here, of course!) and information on events, courses and writing groups.

10 Things I’ve Learned From Getting My First Novel Published

The Zoo

It’s always been my dream to have a novel published. Recently the dream has come true and frankly, I’m loving every minute. It’s been an exciting, challenging, frustrating and emotional journey and I’ve learned a lot on the way. I’m painfully aware that there’s still a long way to go, …

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10 Writing Touchstones

No matter how many novels, plays, instruction manuals or poems you have on your writing CV, there are lessons about writing – some technical, others psychological – that benefit from regular rediscovery.

I teach creative writing from pre-school to post-retirement. Irrespective of age, …

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5 Things Every Successful Crowdfunding Campaign Should Do

Helen Young author

Author, Helen Young, is crowdfunding her novel, Breakfast in Bogotá with publishers, Unbound, but what is crowdfunding and where on earth should you begin? Here, she explains…

Crowdfunding is a fantastic route to publication. Unlike traditional publishers, Unbound provides a platform for authors …

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5 Ways to Build an Author Platform From Scratch

If you’re an aspiring author, you might have thought this at one point in your career: “An author platform? Publishers aren’t interested in that. They’re interested in reading my book.”

Whilst it's undeniable that the most important part is, well, the writing, publishers and literary …

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6 Simple Ways to Hack Your Crowdfunding Campaign

While self-publishing is an increasingly popular (and effective) way for authors to get their books out into the world, it can be a difficult process. Indie authors in particular face two unique challenges: 

● Bankrolling the book’s production, and 

● Selling copies without the …

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Adapt Or Die

After writing prime time TV drama for approximately one bazillion years, I'm delighted to find myself dubbed a ‘debut author’. My first novel, Without Trace, is the first in a series of psychological thrillers featuring Morgan Vine, a single mum and investigative journalist obsessed with …

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Becoming A Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer

In this extract from the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, Aliette de Bodard offers her experience in the special art of science fiction and fantasy writing...

I fell into writing much like how I fell into reading: at one point, browsing through the library, I found a How to Write Book, and realised …

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Being A Writer

When Jean-Paul Sartre was busy plagiarising his first novel – it was called For a Butterfly and he was seven – he would, ‘Now and then… stop writing. I would pretend to hesitate, I would pucker my brow, assume a moonstruck expression, so as to feel I was a writer.’ 

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Being Delusional: A Guide to Writing

Emma Chapman

Author Emma Chapman explores the doubts writers face when writing their first novels, and how important it is for writers to banish these doubts and carry on writing regardless.

Over dinner recently, my husband told me that he’d never thought my novel would ever be published.  I nearly choked …

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Books & A Baby: Three Writing Lessons Learned

Author Yoojin Grace Wuertz on the three things she took from becoming a mother and writing her first book at the same time.

1. Things are messy. It's normal.

Writing and parenthood are both messy, overwhelming processes. No matter how much you try to scaffold with lists, outlines, and plans for …

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Colum McCann On Writing

Writing advice from one of modern literature's most acclaimed authors, Colum McCann, taken from Letters To A Young Writer: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice.

There Are No Rules

Or if there are any rules, they are only there to be broken. Embrace these contradictions. You must be prepared …

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Crowdfunding: The Man Within

The Man Within

In July of 2014 I decided to crowdfund a book I had created, called The Man Within. It is a photographic book about Winston Churchill, featuring 200 exceptional black and white photographs, many never seen before. The photographs are woven together with Churchill's own powerful words to tell his …

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Editors Working with Writers & Artists

We work with a number of experienced freelance editors to ensure our editing services - and bespoke mentoring programs -meet the needs of your manuscript. Read a bit more about them below, or for an overview of our editorial services, click here

Cressida Downing

Cressida has worked in bookselling …

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Elizabeth Gilbert on Writing and Creativity

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Read this exclusive extract from Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

How Ideas Work

I should explain that I've spent my entire life in devotion to creativity, and along the way I've developed a set of beliefs about how it works - and how to work with it - that is entirely and …

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Emma Cox on Editing

Emma Cox

Emma Cox - children's author and winner of the New Children's Author Prize 2015 - continues to share her experiences of working with a publishing house for the first time as her debut, Malkin Moonlight, edges closer to publication.

It is through this first editing process that I've realised how much …

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Emma Cox On Editing And The Publishing Process

Emma Cox

Emma Cox - children's author and winner of the New Children's Author Prize 2015 - continues to share her experiences of working with a publishing house for the first time as her debut, Malkin Moonlight, edges closer to publication.

So many exciting things have happened in the life of my book since …

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Fairy Tales for the Aspiring Writer

The Ship

You’re an aspiring writer, and the world is conspiring against you. First, you had to move heaven and earth, as well juggling as your children/parents/studies/day job to write your novel in the first place. Maybe it’s your first, maybe you’ve notched up two or three or more. Now you’re …

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Finding Time to Write

Kate Hewitt

I always wanted to write a novel. It seemed like such an exciting and momentous thing, and the trouble was, I never had the time. I diddled and doodled for a while, writing opening pages or chapters, scribbling down notes for scenes or entire novels, but the actual writing of a whole book defeated …

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First Chapters

William Ryan

First chapters sell books. In fact, often, first lines sell books. Here’s an example from Elmore Leonard’s Freaky Deaky:

Chris Mankowski’s last day on the job, two in the afternoon, two hours to go, he got a call to dispose of a bomb.

Here’s another from Declan Hughes’ 2006 Ed Loy novel,

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Five Lies Creative Writing Teachers Tell

David Savill

David Savill - author of They Are Trying To Break Your Heart - debunks those phrases so often heard in creative writing classes across the world in 'Five Lies Creative Writing Teachers Tell'.

1) ‘Write What You Know’

Because Don DeLillo was in fact Lee Harvey Oswald, Kurt Vonnegut was visited by …

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Five Properties Of Creativity, And How They Can Help With The Writing Process

Philip Seargeant

In an exclusive piece for Writers & Artists, author and Open University lecturer Philip Seargeant considers five properties of creativity, and how they can help with the writing process.

Creativity is one of those abilities, like language, that you can have great proficiency in without any …

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Five Skills You Probably Already Have That Can Help Your Writing

In my last job, I worked in a coaching role where students would talk to me about math - how to study for it, and how to stay motivated while learning something that’s undeniably hard. At the same time, I was working on a draft for the sequel to my first novel, and was finding it, well, …

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From Idea to Agent: Writing My Debut Novel

If there are approximately 18,956 (pretty good) reasons not to start writing a book, only one compels so many of us to try. To be published. To have a book out there in the world. Your book. The book what you’ve written. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

I was born on a chilly …

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Getting Plugged Into the Writing Community

What a strange world writers inhabit.

We can live in a different country to someone who means so much to our work – an editor, an agent, a reader – have so much communication, even enter a contract with them, yet never actually meet them. It can all be rather, well…


But …

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Getting Published: Finding Out

New Children's Author Prize 2015

In a new series for Writers & Artists, Emma Cox - children's author and winner of the New Children's Author Prize 2015 - is going to be sharing her experiences as a debut children's author, from discovering she was the winner of the prize through to the finished book hitting the shelves. In the …

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How Many Hours Does it Take to Write a Novel?

Here’s the short answer: 736.

Well, for mine anyhow, from inception to publication. At 77,270 words, that’s a little under 105 words per hour. Ouch, I hadn’t thought of it that way. What was I doing, using my toes to type? Sadly not.

Here’s the longer answer.


When I finished the first draft …

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How Not To Write A Novel

Debut author Nell Stevens,who will be talking at our How to Get Published conference in Bournemouth on Saturday 28th April, shares her top tips on how not to write a novel...

Escape to a remote place  

As a permanently-distracted, city-dwelling twenty-seven-year-old, I decided that the key …

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How To Get Published: An Overview

Can I send my manuscript straight to a publisher?

This entirely depends on what you’re writing.

For a work of non-fiction, select the publisher you consider most appropriate for your subject and readership (see listings of book publishers in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, taking care to …

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How Writing Online Influenced My Writing Career

Emily Benet

I think these are exciting times to be a writer. Empowering times. The digital age has brought about a new kind of democracy for writers where we can each build a platform for our work, whether publishers want us or not. You don't have to be technical either. As long as you know how to copy and …

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Ian Fleming on Writing

The Man With the Golden Typewriter

The beginnings of Casino Royale and a lack of confidence as a writer:

'I really cannot remember exactly why I started to write thrillers,' Fleming recalled in 1956. 'I was on holiday in Jamaica in January 1951* [...] and I think my mental hands were empty. I had finished organising a Foreign Service …

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In It To Win It: Entering Writing Competitions

Diana Bretherick

‘Are you sitting down?’ 

I was asked this just before I was told that I had beaten 7,000 entrants to win the Good Housekeeping Magazine New Novel Competition of 2012. I think my reply was ‘Blimey!’

Until then I had always thought of competitions of all kinds as something that other …

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Keeping Up Morale

Linda Newberry

What’s the point of trying? Aren’t there too many books in the world already? What I’m writing is rubbish / difficult / not turning out the way I want – why bother?

Every writer I know – even those who are very successful – has times like this. It’s inescapable. And, in my opinion, …

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Launching A Writing Career Later In Life

Dinah Jeffries

Dinah Jefferies, author of The Separation, explains how she came to writing later in life, and how having a wider pool of experience to draw from helped inspire her work.

My life has been varied. I’ve been a mum and now a grandparent, worked in Theatre, in Education and broadcasting, been a …

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Letter to a Young Gentleman who Proposes to Embrace the Career of Art

In extract from his essay Letter to a Young Gentleman who Proposes to Embrace the Career of Art  featured in The Writer's Reader, Robert Louis Stevenson delves into the complexities and rewards of following a career in the arts...

With the agreeable frankness of youth, you address me on a point …

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Literary Sisterhood

'We think back through our mothers if we are women,' Virginia Woolf mused in her book-length essay A Room of One's Own. Female writers, she counselled, should look to the women who came before them when gleaning tips on their craft.

The same also holds true for wider aspects of the writing …

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Make Writing Your Friend

Before the Fall by Juliet West

Several years ago I signed up for a creative writing workshop led by the novelist Jill Dawson. We were a quiet group to begin with: pens poised, brows furrowed. Was I the only one feeling nervous? Looking around, I doubted it. 

Jill began by telling us: ‘Make writing your friend’. We should …

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Making Fiction From Reality

‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ is a common question asked of most writers.  I dare say, the vast majority of us who write in the crime genre have no difficulty in replying, but surely we can’t write what we know, because we don’t pootle around murdering people for research …

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On Process

The Last Pilot by Ben Johncock

The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of flying: 

“There is an art, or, rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, …

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Polish Your Manuscript Ready for Submission

Publishing is one of the most competitive industries in the world, so when you send your manuscript out on submission, you need to make sure it is as polished as possible. You also need to provide an insight into you as an author. A publisher or agent will be looking for talent, but they also need …

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Publishing Myths

Are you a writer looking to get published? Literary agent Juliet Pickering has some publishing world myths to address…

There are a lot of fictions (ironically!) shared about the publishing world and how we work. It genuinely frustrates and saddens me to learn of some of the strange untruths that …

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Reading The Prime Writers

The Prime Writers TBR pile

I joined the authors’ collective The Prime Writers in its early days, soon after the call went out on Twitter from founder Antonia Honeywell for those who’d had their first novel commercially published aged forty plus. Within a few months, we went from a lunch to a website and beyond, with lots …

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Reincarnation, With Wings

Elise Valmorbida

Years ago, 20 years in fact, I started writing my first novel. It didn’t start out as a novel. I had no idea it would actually be a book—an object—edited, designed, printed, bound, promoted and distributed by a proper publisher. 

What was I writing? A series of fragments. Little stories …

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Rejection Sucks… But No-One Got Published Without It

Author Beth Miller discusses why rejection is a rite of passage for all writers...

Question: What do these authors have in common? 

Agatha Christie, Dan Brown, Judy Blume, Beatrix Potter, William Golding, Stephen King, Alice Walker, JK Rowling, and Beth Miller*? 

* Yes, I put myself in the …

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Reviews: How to Keep Perspective

Sarah Jasmon

Reviews. Love them, hate them, one thing is certain: as soon as you become a published author, they will become part of your life. 

I can still recall, with clinical precision, the mixture of anticipation and dread I felt when I saw that I had my first review. Even now, six months on and …

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The Apprentice

Fionnuala Kearney

I left a perfectly good career because I wanted to ‘write a novel’. At the time, I imagined that it would grace high street bookstores that I’d visit and I’d run my finger along its spine... I didn’t imagine that it would take almost a decade from that decision to holding my book in the …

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The Benefits of Creative Writing MAs

Harriet Mercer

It was my own fault: if I had turned off wi-fi as part of my good-writing-practice, Hanif Kureishi would not have metamorphosed into the crumb that had me splattering my keyboard with choked-up cappuccino one March morning last year. Just a teensy peruse of the papers; you deserve a break, you’ve …

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The Internet is a Writer’s Best Friend

Black Lotus

Children's author Kieran Fanning shows you how to use the internet to your best advantage as a writer - and why it doesn't have to be the enemy of productivity. 

A lot of writers complain that the internet (especially Twitter) can be the enemy of productivity, and indeed it can become a time …

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The Journey To Publication

Some people know from a very early age that they want to be an author. They grow up telling stories, working on the school newspaper, studying English in university, and writing manuscript after manuscript because they just know it’s what they want to do. 

I was never one of those people.

As a …

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The Novel Démeublé

American writer Willa Cather explores stripping away the 'over-furnished' novel in this extract from her essay The Novel Démeublé, featured in The Writer's Reader. 

The novel, for a long while, has been over-furnished. The property- man has been so busy on its pages, the importance of …

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The Secret of the Bell

You’re smiling your way through carnival tents, neon tufts of cotton candy sticking to your palms, and you stumble across a game that looks like a thermometer for giant robots. A carnival worker beckons you over with siren chatter and promises of stuffed cartoon characters, and you step up to the …

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The Writing Process with Cesca Major

Cesca Major

Are you currently writing a novel, but feel unsure of how to start and - more importantly - how to finish? Writing can be a lonely process and, with that in mind, we've asked Cesca Major, debut author of The Silent Hours, to share her writing process with us as she writes her second novel. Covering …

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True Grit: What I Learnt Getting A Book Deal


After getting an agent I wanted to tell the whole world and her dog about it. Who knew if anything more would happen so I figured I might as well enjoy my moment in the sunshine. 

Ironically, all this excitement wasn’t good for my writing. On sitting down at the computer, I found my …

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W&A Recommends: London Writers' Cafe

From time to time, we like to recommend writing groups, events and festivals that we think offer a great opportunity for fellow writers to meet and share their experiences. One of these groups is the wonderfully lively London Writers' Cafe.

Started in June 2006 with just a few, LWC is now one …

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Websites for Writers

Whether you’re looking for advice, ideas, online tools or writers’ communities, you’ll find plenty of links to useful websites on this page.

Writing communities & information


ABCtales puts writers and editors together. The one can’t thrive without the other, …

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What Are The Secrets To Becoming A Successful Online Freelance Writer?

There has never been a better time to be a freelance writer. Freelancer jobsites like Upwork have made it easy to find work and to secure payment, and everyday there are dozens of new opportunities. In 2013 I had never even heard of these platforms, but by 2015 I was one of the most sought-after …

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What Has Writing Taught Me?

My first children's novel, EREN - a dark middle grade story about a boy who meets a monster who eats stories - is being read by editors in the UK and the US right now, submitted by my agent.

My second children's book, which is about two boys who mess with dreams and old gods, is now, …

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What I Learned From Writing My First Novel

Weathering by Lucy Wood

Author Lucy Wood began her career with a short story collection. Here, she discusses the lessons she learned from writing her debut novel, and shares her advice for writers working on their first manuscripts.

You have to write the novel in order to write the novel

This probably sounds like a very …

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Why Join a Writing Group?

William Ryan, author and course leader of our new writing course Your Novel, explains the benefits of writing groups...

I’m occasionally asked by aspiring authors whether I think writing groups are a good thing and my answer is always an unequivocal “yes” – and here’s why.

1. They’re …

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Why You Should Go To A Literary Festival

Way with Words Festival

Bethan Highgate-Betts reflects upon her internship at Ways With Words Literary Festival 

As one of four over-enthusiastic interns at the 2015 Ways With Words Festival of Words and Ideas, for the next month I will be sleeping, eating and breathing literature, or at least filing, tweeting and …

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Write What You Know: Rule or Tool?

Author Alexandra Oliva on coming to terms with the old adage of 'Write what you know.'

We’ve all heard it: Write what you know. It’s quite possibly the most ubiquitous piece of writing advice out there, and the first time it was told to me my hackles rose. I was in middle school, sitting in …

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Write What You Know? Not Necessarily…

Debut author Victoria Selman discusses how writing what you know can be interpreted by the author. 

“Write what you know,” is both the best and the worst piece of writing advice you’ll ever receive. 

In a world where Harry Potter still reigns supreme and readers can’t seem to get …

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Writers' & Artists' featured authors

Ever wondered who the featured authors are on the Writers' & Artists' newsletter banner?

Now's your chance to find out! Click on the names below for more information on each author, and scroll down for examples of their work.

Row 1

Alison Baverstock, author of The …

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Writers’ Groups & Writing Workshops

Writing workshops

I’m an enthusiastic member of a local writers’ group. Once a month we meet in the back room of a pub and lay out our offerings – poems, short stories, fragments of novels.  Last week it was my turn and I struggled to deliver what I hoped was a nuanced page of dialogue over the strains of …

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Writing An Epistolary Novel

I never intended to write How You See Me as an epistolary novel. In fact, I tried very hard not to. In a series of miserable exercises, I struggled to fit my story to a traditional third-person narrative, a dual narrative in the first person, or really into any other shape.  Needless to say, …

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Writing Festivals: A Must For The Aspiring Writer

Early in 2015, having recently finished writing my YA novel, Show Stopper, set in a deadly circus, I read an article in the Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook by Jenny McLachlan, author of, Flirty Dancing, about her journey to publication. In it, she mentioned the benefits of attending …

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