Tag Archives: writing

Paper Hearts: Tour Stop

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If you haven’t heard of the Paper Hearts series, today is your lucky day! NYT bestselling author author Beth Revis surprised us all late last year by releasing a trilogy of advice books perfect for those of us working our way into the world of authorhood. This week we’re celebrating Volume One: Some Writing Advice which Beth was originally posting over on Wattpad, where you can still check out some of the awesome entries from the finished product. And while there’s a lot of great content there, the final version of the book has expanded into every possible area of writing you could dream of, with a special focus on YA.

Not only is it easy to see why the Paper Hearts series would be a fantastic series to any writer’s craft library, but if you’re just starting to build up your reference books the Paper Hearts books are a great place to begin as there is so much great advice between the pages of these books covering the entire writing and publication process, right through to marketing your books after they’re out in the world.

And don’t forget to make your way all the way to the bottom of the post as there’s a great giveaway going along with the tour. Enter for your chance to win signed paperback copies of all three books in the series! And as an added bonus, Beth Revis has been sharing some great tips on writing all week, and now it’s my turn to take part. Be sure to check out the earlier tips as well as to keep following the tour for more writing tips, plus insights into both publishing and marketing. Let’s check out tip #4!

4

When building the world of your story, make it dirty. Add in history and scars—and then use those to develop the characters and the plot. Those extra world details can give you direction for your plot, or help you make your character have more background. Show scuff marks on the floor, and then later show how they got there. Show trash in the corner, and then show the character who threw it…or the one who cleaned it up after. Make your world lived in, and every aspect of your story will be richer.

Great advice! Every little detail makes the story just a little bit more real. It makes things come to life on the page for your reader.


 

Bird by Bird meets Save the Cat in this new writing advice book by NY Times bestselling author Beth Revis. With more than 100000 reads on Wattpad, this newly expanded and rewritten edition features 350 pages of content, including charts and a detailed appendix.
~~~
paperhearts1Fight the blank page.

When it comes to writing, there’s no wrong way to get words on paper. But it’s not always easy to make the ink flow. Paper Hearts: Some Writing Advice won’t make writing any simpler, but it may help spark your imagination and get your hands back on the keyboard.

Practical Advice Meets Real Experience

With information that takes you from common mistakes in grammar to detailed charts on story structure, Paper Hearts describes:

-How to Develop Character, Plot, & World
-What Common Advice You Should Ignore
-What Advice Actually Helps
-How to Develop a Novel
-The Basics of Grammar, Style, & Tone
-Four Practical Methods of Charting Story Structure
-How to Get Critiques and Revise Your Novel
-How to Deal with Failure
…And much more!

BONUS! More than 25 “What to do if…” scenarios to help writers navigate problems in writing from a NY Times Bestselling author who’s written more than 2 million words of fiction.

Learn more at BethRevis.com

Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice on Goodreads

Purchase Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice
AmazonKoboBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Follow along with the rest of the tour at the Paper Hearts Tour Headquarters, or follow Beth Revis on Twitter!

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Today I am an “Angry Feminist”

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Y’know what? There’s a reason feminists become “angry”. It’s because you wake up and check your facebook/twitter/news station and get smacked with another steaming hot face-full of sexism.
 
This morning it was some scraggly-bearded, hobo-turd in a tweed jacket saying that women aren’t as ambitious as men. That we aren’t “driven”. The only way we’ll ever be happy is marrying and having children.
 
We aren’t driven. Women. All women. That includes me.
 
This pushes me over into angry feminist territory, because I have spent the last five years of my life FIGHTING to achieve my goals, to not give in to the sucking vortex of hopelessness and stress and shitty jobs, while I struggled to write more and write faster and write better. I have been rejected and rejected and rejected and broken down and picked myself up over and over because I WANT THIS SO BADLY.
 
Lately I’ve been killing myself to meet two deadlines that fell on the same date. My house is in shambles, I’m eating out of Tupperware, I’m on the computer until eleven at night. The other day I edited for seven straight hours.
 
I mean, I am literally working my butt off (yes, literally, I forget to eat occasionally and dropped three pounds over the last three weeks). I look like a wizard trying to dress like a muggle because at this point I’m just putting on whatever is left in my closet.
 
So don’t you dare tell me I’m not driven.
 
I just sent off both projects last night and realized my house looks like a bomb went off, and I am a disgusting, unwashed mess and most of all I realized, I AM FIERCELY HAPPY. I love what I’m doing. For once in my life I don’t stand around and wonder, What the hell am I doing here? I don’t have times where I’m watching Netflix or lying around on my phone thinking, I feel like I should be doing something. Those feelings are gone when I’m fulfilled, when I know I’m right where I should be, doing exactly what I’m meant to do.
 
So don’t tell me I’m not happy.
 

My husband also makes me fiercely happy, he’s an amazing guy (and he puts up with the human disaster that is me) and it’s not like I don’t want to have a kid someday, but to have some dirt-bag yammer on about how women simply aren’t driven after all of this…well, it’s enough to make a gal angry.

And I’m not the only driven writer I know. I know loads of them, all balancing work and family with their writing, squeezing in time to write between feeding everyone and cleaning the house and working a full time job. They do this because they’re driven. Because they have ambition and passion and they’re not going to give up regardless of how much rejection they face, or how difficult the battle becomes.

So basically I have one last thing to say, and it’s not professional or eloquent in any way, but it needs to be said so…

Screw you neck-beard, dude. Screw you.

And that’s about it.

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The Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology

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As someone who’s written a book based on Norse mythology—which is something that Marvel has used very freely—I’m used to getting questions like, “Is this a fanfic?” and, “Did you copy Thor?”

The answer is no, and no again. And also, I thought I’d write you a blog post about Norse Mythology and how awesome it is.

Norse Mythology originates from the northernmost parts of Europe. Most of what we know today comes from medieval texts, written in Iceland for the most part. Marvel has taken it and added what they like to it (which is fine, so have I). For example, in most of the texts, Thor is actually a hammer-wielding ginger. Not a blond, as the movies portray him. Creative license can be used with mythology, since there are many interpretations.

If you’re very familiar with Norse Mythology, this will be old hat for you. But for those who are new to it, here’s a brief run-down of the nine words. A beginner’s guide, if you will:

Basically, the nine worlds are hanging out on this massive ash tree called The World Tree (or Yggdrasil, if you want to get fancy).

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  • Vanaheim

The Vanis are gods associated with fertility and nature, as well as predicting the future. Other than that, the ancient texts are pretty quiet about what kind of world Vanaheim was. We do know that they went to war with Asgard though.

 

  • Asgard

Most people have a passing familiarity with the name, thanks to Marvel. Asgard is the home of the gods. It’s where Odin hangs out. It’s also where the Vikings believed Valhalla was located. There are loads of details in the old texts about Asgard. Suffice to say, that a lot of drinking and partying went on there.

  • Alfheim

Alfheim is the home of the light elves. On the World Tree it sits right next to Asgard. Alfheim is actually only mentioned a couple times in the old texts, but we are told the light elves are “fairer to look upon than the sun”.

  • Svartalfheim

Pretty much the opposite of Alfheim. The dark elves are “black as pitch” and hate the sun. It’s unclear whether the texts make the occupants of Svartalfheim out to be actual elves (like in Alfheim) or Dwarves, as there is some reference to both.

  • Nidavellir

Home of the Dwarves. The Dwarves are master craftsman, and have gifted the gods with things like Thor’s hammer, a ship called Skidbladnir that fits in one’s pocket (very handy) and a golden boar that can run through air and water. There is some debate over Nidavellir and Svartalfheim. Some say they are joined, and occupied by two different races who share the lands.

  • Midgard

Midgard is the visible world. The human world. It sits right next to Jotunheim and under Asgard on the World Tree. When they created the world, the gods fenced Midgard off so the Jotun couldn’t get in. During Ragnarok (the end times), Midgard sinks into the sea and then emerges again.

  • Jotunheim

Clearly my favorite world. Jotunheim is also called “Utgard” in Old Norse, which means “Beyond the Fence”.  Jotunheim is described as an eternal winter, a place full of thick forests and towering mountains. It’s a little wild and a little dangerous. The perfect place to set a story!

  • Muspelheim

Realm of the Fire Giants. The loose interpretation of the word Muspelheim is “end of the world through fire”, and some think the Fire Giants are bound to cause Ragnarok, which is why the Queen in FROST has a mad obsession with killing off every Fire Giant in sight. During Ragnarok, the Fire Giant Surt (the black one) shows up with a flaming sword to slay the gods.

  • Helheim

The daughter of Loki, Hel, is the ruler of the underworld. It is under some debate if the goddess Hel is a personification of the underworld. She is said to live in a vast mansion with many rooms, and has the power to resurrect the dead (as she does with the god Baldr).

So Norse mythology is pretty badass. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Er…tree branch. If you haven’t looked into it much, I suggest checking it out. If that seems like a lot of work, you can always read FROST when it comes out.

By Thor’s hammer, that was a subtle pitch!

Frost Front Cover

 

 

Stock Photos:

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/12706161@N03/14094740756″>Canon EOS 60D – Harry Potter – Ice Palace</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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Why You Should Wattpad

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There’s a lot of buzz about Wattpad lately. On twitter, on people’s blogs, in Publisher’s Weekly. A lot of people are wondering what Wattpad is exactly, and more importantly,  As a writer, should I be on Wattpad?

As someone who has used Wattpad to build up a core of dedicated readers, and met thousands of awesome people who love books just as much as I do, I’m inclined to say yes. Heck yes, actually.

But there are a few things I always hear people say when they’re thinking of joining, concerns they have. I thought I’d cover a few:

Q) Is writing free stuff really going to sell books?

A) This is a valid question. The thing is, there’s no yes or no answer. I’ve had people tell me sales increased after they posted the first book in a series to Wattpad. I’ve also had people tell me they don’t think it’s working. It depends on the types of readers you get, it depends on what your book is like, it depends on the phase of the moon.

Okay, not that last bit. But you know what I mean. That’s a bit like saying, “If I publish a book, will people buy it?” Well, maybe they will. Hopefully. But there’s really no guaranteeing either way, is there? Some people might tell you putting your work for free on Wattpad won’t sell books, but I’m sure someone like Anna Todd would heartily disagree with them.

But should you throw your work up there expecting it to make the difference between working a full time job, and writing for a living? I’d advise against it. It’s about your mind set. Do it to connect with readers. To form a community, or just to boost your ego a bit (the reader comments can be really lovely) but don’t do it thinking you’re about to become the next NYT best seller. You’ll be disappointed.

But where are my stacks of cash?

                                          But where are my stacks of cash?

Q) Will people steal my work?

A) Good question. The answer is once again, not exactly what you want to hear. The answer is, “It’s possible”. I’ve had people take my most popular story (FROST) a number of times. It’s never actually people trying to make money from it (not that I’ve experienced). It’s generally teens who don’t seem to realize just how bad plagiarism is. And it’s been pretty easy to get them taken down.

Wattpad has a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism. If it’s someone on the site who’s taken your work, you simply report them and their account will be deleted, sometimes within the hour. If it’s off site, it can be a bit trickier, but my firm (but polite) emails usually work. When they don’t, Wattpad has been known to get involved. They don’t want to see people’s work getting ripped off either.

Should you let the possibility of theft stop you from posting your work? I don’t believe you should.

Q) If I post my manuscript on Wattpad can I still query it to agents?

A) Technically you can still query it, yeah. BUT (there’s always a big but, isn’t there?) for a lot of agents, once it’s out there, they consider it published. I would feel free to post the first chapter if you really want. But not much more than that if you want to be sure. If it’s a critique you’re after, there are forums on Wattpad where you can find another writer and swap beta reads with them.

If you don’t have a spare novel to throw up there, and you don’t have time to write a new one just for Wattpad, put up some old short stories. Or snippets of poetry. Some people even keep a sort of “blog” over there, like an online journal that people actually read.

There have been writers that have queried after they put their novels up on Wattpad, and went on to get book deals. Taran Matharu is one of them. But like so many success stories, he’s the exception to the rule. Not the rule.

So there you go, another wishy washy answer. For myself, I haven’t put anything up there that I intend to query later on. Y’know, just in case my dream agent decides that once it’s out there…it’s out there.

Why it’s Worth it:

My experience on the website has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve met some awesome people on there. The comments on each chapter are overwhelmingly supportive and positive. If I’m having a crappy day, I’ll read through them and find myself grinning like an idiot. I get messages over there, from people that tell me “You inspire me”. That still shocks me.

I’m not a “real” author yet. That would have never been possible a few years ago, before I joined Wattpad. There would have been no way to actually gain readers.

I’ve even become part of a group that hosts twitter chats every Monday. We (quite cheekily) call ourselves “The Wattpad4” and I pretty much talk to them every single day.

I wouldn’t have met them if it wasn’t for Wattpad.

So if you do sign up, here’s my advice: Don’t go into it to gain “fans”. Don’t make it a numbers game. Don’t make it about sales. Sign up for the community. Join the clubs, chat with people. And if you happen to sell a few books while you’re at it, chalk it up as a bonus.

I’m sure there are questions that I’m missing. If anyone has any, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Because I’m incredibly long-winded, this will probably turn into a two part post eventually.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/9731367@N02/7643873724″>100 Dollar Bills</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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What Does Your Muse Look Like?

 

Hopefully your muse isn't this terrifying, unless you're writing horror, then she should scare the bejesus out of you.

Hopefully your muse isn’t this terrifying, unless you’re writing horror, then she should scare the bejesus out of you.

 

What does your muse look like? What does he/she sound like? Do they have a tangible voice? Mine does. You might think me quite mad after this blog post, and I could hardly blame you. But my muse is a young man, he’s a bit earnest sounding, very British, and he talks while I’m trying to write.

It’s a bit annoying, actually.

But he does talk, and so I write it down and get on with it, or nothing would ever get done. It’s only been recently that he developed more of an actual “voice”, around the same time that literary agents began telling me that they loved my voice. The first time I’ve actually HAD a writing voice. Because voice is such a dastardly hard thing to pin down, isn’t it? It develops only when it wants to, and sometimes it seems, quite suddenly. Before that you’re confused, floating around, trying out first this voice and then that, like you’re trying on hats.

And then something clicks, eventually – sometimes years and years later – and you’ve found it. That sweet spot, that “just right” feeling, that place where the words actually flow instead of being jerked out of you painfully, one syllable at a time.

There are some of you who have woken up one day, and to your shock, found your muse fully clothed and substantial, standing at the foot of the bed, tapping her foot impatiently, demanding that you get up and write. Tell me, what does he or she look like? How do they sound?

Have you found him or her yet, or is your muse still a vaguely fuzzy blob that hovers over one shoulder as you try on hats?

I imagine mine looks something like this. And he likes tea and biscuits an awful lot.

I imagine mine looks something like this. And he likes tea and biscuits an awful lot.

 

 

If you know what your muse looks like, post a link to the photo in the comments below, or create your own blog post and let me know, I’ll link back to it in the bottom of this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/cedwardbrice/5929443754/”>CEBImagery.com</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

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Meet My Villain Blog Hop Contest

In honor of the spooktacular season of Halloween, I’m trotting out the Meet my Villain Blog Hop Contest! It’s a blog hop that is also a contest! Woah! If that didn’t blow your mind than nothing will. Below you’ll find the main blog hop part, and below that are the contest details.

And now, without further ado, something wicked this way comes…

 

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1) What is the name of your villain?
Nurse Daisy.

2) What motivates him/her?
Daisy, along with most of the others at the hospital, is driven by the need to “cure” young witches of their magic.

3) What is the villain’s relationship with the main character?
She both fears and hates Emmaline Black.

4) What is one thing your villain is afraid of? What is their weakness?
Failing. Also, spiders.

5) What is their greatest strength?
Manipulation and sweet talking. She also had a fearsome right hook.

6) Does your villain have any romantic entanglements?
Yes, a secret romance with a certain doctor.

7) List one random fact about your villain.
Nurse Daisy takes great care in her appearance. She won a beauty contest when she was eighteen, though she refuses to admit it to anyone.

 

Prizes:

Two lucky winners will get a five page critique.

How to enter:

Step One: Subscribe to the newsletter, or follow this blog.

Step Two: Comment below with a short (maximum 150 words) paragraph about your villain.

Step Three: This is optional (no pressure). Make your own “Meet my Villain Blog Hop Contest” using the questions above and tag me, or leave the link in the comments below and I’ll go check it out!

And now the blog hop part! To win more awesome prizes, hop on over to the next “Meet My Villain” blog hopper (and my partner in crime while planning this thing!) Kyra Nelson. If you don’t win a crit from me, you could win a crit from a real live literary intern! Woah!

Note: Contest closes October 31st.

Next stop on the hop:

Kyra Nelson

 

Kyra

 

Ya author and literary intern extraordinaire, Kyra is the next leg of the Meet My Villain Blog Hop Contest.

Check out her blog and enter the second part of the contest HERE.

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Meet My Character Blog Tour

I was tagged in the character blog hop by the wonderful Maya Goode, who you can read more about at the end of this post.

 

 

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1) What is the name of your character?  Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Her name is Emmaline Black, and as far as I know, she didn’t exist until I dreamed her up, but you never know. Spookier things have happened.

 

2) When and where is the story set?

In London, England. In a church called St. Clements Danes that was nearly burned to the ground in 1941 and then rebuilt again. The Sad State of Emmaline Black is set before the fire though, way back in the 19th century. I think I just mentioned the fire thing because I’m a macabre sort of person.

 

3) What should we know about him/her?

Emmaline is repeatedly accused of being a witch, which is rather inconvenient when Londoners insist on doing things like drowning and stoning witches at every opportunity.

 

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

The above, of course. And her temper, which flares up and causes her problem after problem.

 

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

When Emma hears a rumor that her long-absent mother was a hideously evil witch, she sets out to prove that it isn’t true.

 

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The Sad State of Emmaline Black is not available to read anywhere. Yet.

 

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

Sad State is a WIP (work in progress) so hopefully someday in the future!

 

I Was Tagged by Maya Goode:

Maya is a short story author, novelist and poet. Her first novel, Remigium Rising will be published in Spring 2015.

Website: http://www.mayagoode.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/quotidianlight

mayagoode

 

 

 

 

I’ve Tagged Rebecca Sky, Monica Sanz and Leah Critchton

Rebecca Sky

Law student by day and fantasy/ steampunk writer by night, Rebecca Sky spends her spare time haunting the aisles of her local bookstore or obsessing over her clock collection. She is represented by Molly Glick of Foundry Media.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheRealRSky
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RebeccaSky

RebeccaSky.128.171752

 

Monica Sanz

Monica is a writer and hopeless romantic who has been obsessed with words for as long as she can remember. Her word ranges from fantasy to paranormal, but there’s always romance.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MonicaSanzAuthor
Twitter: @MonicaBSanz

DistantDreamer.128.256345

 

Leah Crichton

Leah is the author of the official One Directions and Emblem3 fanfictions on Wattpad. She is obsessed with coffee and lip gloss, and spends most of the time in her own world.

Twitter: @LDCrichton
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Leah-Crichton/118346848194655

LDCrichton.128.759683

 

 

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Micro Tension: Why You Can’t Put That Book Down

A Little Mystery

A Little Mystery

 

It’s been a little while since I’ve been absolutely hooked on a book series. I think the last one was the “Shatter Me” series by Taherah Mafi. You know the feeling I’m talking about when I say “hooked”, right? That overwhelming impulse to keep turning pages, that eagerness to get your hands on the next book that becomes so strong that an emergency bookstore visit is inevitable, that desire to talk at length about the series to anyone that will listen.

That’s what I mean by hooked.

And right now I’m hooked again. It’s a beautiful feeling. I’m reading “Crown of Midnight” by Sarah J Maas. I read the first book on a road trip to LA, and it was only occasionally that I managed to tear my eyes off the page and take in the scenery. After I finished the book, my sister (who doesn’t read fantasy) stole the book and devoured it in one day.

Now as I go through Crown of Midnight, reading so fast I’m leaving little puffs of dust behind me like the road runner, I’m forcing myself to stop and consider exactly WHY I’m enjoying the series so much. I came to a conclusion, but I didn’t have a name for it until I looked it up. It’s a world that literary agent, Donald Maass talks about quite often.

Micro-Tension.

I got excited when I saw an article on this, because it was saying exactly what I’d been thinking, and there was an actual term for it. So what is micro-tension?

Micro-tension is that thin stream of electric tension running through each page of your favorite books, it’s what forces you to keep turning pages. The thing that has you asking “what happens next”? It’s called “micro” because they’re not earth-shattering things, it’s little things that keep you guessing, or worried about the characters you love.

There are lots of different things you can do with micro-tension, and lots of different kinds, but my personal favorite, and the thing that “Throne of Glass” and “Shatter Me” are both so packed full of, is Character Micro-tension.

I’m always one for examples, so here are just a few things that have me hooked on “Crown of Midnight”.

-Celaena is the king’s assassin, but he doesn’t trust her (with good reason). Every move she makes in his presence must be carefully calculated. Every sideways look he gives her might end badly for her.

-A few chapters in, Celaena meets a newcomer to the court, Roland. He’s a womanizer, and she instantly dislikes him when he shows an interest in her. She also thinks there’s something suspicious about him.

-Celaena’s friend, Nehemia, is a princess from a land that’s under siege, and she has her own very real motivations in this game. Her loyalty to Celaena was thrown into question in the first book, and though she proved herself, the reader still has doubts and questions in the back of their mind.

There you have it.

This tea party could end badly.

This tea party could end badly.

 

So you see, even though we’re in the middle of the book, and there hasn’t yet been any kind of climax, and these things I’ve mentioned aren’t even the main conflict of the book, they’re what keep the reader devouring page after page.

Think of it as a constant undercurrent of tension hidden in the background.

Much like the above picture, you might not see things brewing on the surface yet, but they’re simmering underneath. Your story can’t be all action and big fight scenes and obvious clashes between people, but that doesn’t mean there’s no tension. In fact, I’d rather read a scene of political or social tension, where things might end badly, than a full on brawl. It’s much more intriguing.

 

Keep it subtle. Weave that tension through the pages, and I’m your reader forever.

 

Manners can mask something deadly.

 

Do you use micro-tension in your writing? What’s the last book that totally hooked you, and why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/ap-photographie/11108703134/”>AP Photographie </a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

 

 

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