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Win A Free E-book!

I attended my first book launch party Sunday! My coworker and friend, Emily C. Reynolds, just released her debut novel, Picture Perfect. Enter for your chance to win! There are three ways to win an electronic copy of her novel.

1. Leave a comment here on everydaychick.net

2. Leave a comment on Facebook.

3. Share this post.

I asked Emily to tell us about herself and her novel.

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Tell us a little about yourself!

I grew up in a small town in southern Maine, about an hour north of Boston. I graduated from Gordon College in Massachusetts with degrees in English Language & Literature as well as Biblical Studies. The best thing that ever happened to me was walking into a coffee shop one morning and walking out, leaving my heart with the fine-looking barista working behind the counter. My husband Jason is the inspiration for my storybook heroes and my biggest cheerleader on this journey toward publication. We are blessed with a teenage son, two cats, and a dog named Boomer.

Can you share with us the storyline of Picture Perfect?

In Picture Perfect, a photographer and a martial artist partnered for swing dance lessons also become unknowingly pitted against each other in a real estate tug-of-war. As romance heats up, secrets from the past close in. Agendas collide, and when the truth comes out, one wrong move could trip them up for good.

Here’s a little of the story setup of Picture Perfect:

Extending the right hand of fellowship to church visitors probably doesn’t include sucker-punching the cute guy from pew seventeen. But when Lily recovers from being startled by him late at night, she realizes who he is. And wishes she’d hit harder. It’s clear Micah doesn’t remember her—or breaking her heart ten years ago.

Avoiding him becomes her best option. Besides, she has more important things to worry about—namely renovating her newly leased storefront so she can quit her job and take her photography full-time.

Micah is back in his hometown with plans to open a martial arts school and make a fresh start. But the past haunts him, and the present isn’t looking much better. The one girl he’s interested in hates his guts and he has no idea why.

When they get thrown together for swing dance lessons, romance heats up on—and off—the dance floor. As Lily gets to know Micah, she wants to believe he’s changed. But forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when she discovers they’ve both set their sights on the same piece of real estate. And a dark secret from Micah’s past is quickly catching up . . .

Any sneak peaks you can give us behind the scenes in the creation of Picture Perfect?

So many people give writers the advice “write what you know,” and I think it’s natural for our passions to flow into our stories in some form or another. Tidbits of my own life and interests are woven into the storyline of Picture Perfect.

A perfect example is the scenes relating to martial arts. Micah, the hero in the story, practices jujitsu. Lily, the heroine, studies boxing. One of the underlying currents of the story is the concept of self-defense and safety.

The summer before my freshman year, I asked a family friend (a police detective) if he would teach me self-defense. He showed me a few tactics, but I remember at the end of the evening feeling more worried, because as he showed me scenarios, my mind started to run. I realized how little I knew, and how many different ways a person could attack another person.

Fast forward a few years. Not long after meeting my husband, I learned he studied jujitsu. He asked if I wanted to learn. I said no. I wasn’t interested in jujitsu. I wanted to learn self-defense. So he invited me to meet his instructor, who was excited to teach me techniques geared for women. I started coming early, before jujitsu class, to learn. I learned about women’s areas of strength, about awareness and alertness, and the physics of the human body. I practiced palm strikes and knees to the groin until I developed muscle memory and instinct and earned the nickname “Lethal Knees.”

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Then my session would end, and jujitsu class would begin. It didn’t take long before I was joining them on the mat. ☺

Over the years, I’ve loved teaching women’s self-defense because I’ve seen wonderful things happen when a woman learns she really can protect herself physically. In my experience, learning self-defense helps develop confidence, and that’s something that has far-reaching effects–many women discover inner strengths they never knew they had and become “stronger” on different playing fields of life, whether it be work, relationships, communication, setting boundaries, the list goes on.

How much of your book was from personal experience, and how much was research?

A LOT of the scenes were inspired by incidents in real life, but I encountered several issues that required research. You’ve probably heard the warning about having a character do something that makes them “too stupid to live” because it alienates the reader.

In Picture Perfect, I had to create a realistic situation in which two people had apparent legal rights over the same piece of real estate. It was surprisingly difficult! In order to explore how to make that scenario work so that I didn’t get irritated responses from readers who understand property rights, I reached out to some friends in real estate. I asked a lot of questions and had to run several options past them, and then be careful to work within the confines of what they told me would—and would not—be realistic. As a writer, you might find out that a turning point that’s pivotal to the storyline isn’t feasible as is. You’ve got to learn how to think “what if…?” to find another option that might work instead.

Definitely don’t let your character do something that makes them TSTL. And don’t think you can get away with something that’s not factual. Readers are smart! It’s better to spend the extra time in research than get called on the carpet publicly later.

Any advice for writers?

Surround yourself with people who support you. I am blessed to have a fantastic critique group that helps me hone my stories, and a few brainstorming buddies who encourage me and help strengthen my plots.

Join writing groups. This was one of the best things I did for my professional development. I got connected to other writers, critique groups, and a storehouse of publishing information that I soaked up, realizing how little I really knew.

Be kind to yourself! Remember that everyone’s first draft is downright awful, so don’t let the ugly stop you. Keep going. Put the words down anyway, even if they make you cringe. As people say, you can’t edit what’s not there.

Accept who you are as a writer. I’m not a fast writer. The story doesn’t unfold in a straightforward manner for me. I’m much more “seat of the pants” than plotter. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s okay that the course is not charted; that’s part of the fun for me (I get to be surprised when a character does something). Only it’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s downright stressful. The story doesn’t journey in a straight line from start to finish. There will be detours and dead ends and “wasted” time. But that’s just how it works for me. I can choose to get frustrated and think I’m less of a “real writer” because of it, or I can choose to accept that it’s just one of the weird ways I work.

Thanks for letting me share a little about my writing journey! I hope you enjoy a few giggles and sigh moments reading Picture Perfect.

I love to connect with readers! Find me on Facebook under Emily C Reynolds or at my web site www.EmilyCReynolds.com.

Picture Perfect is available for purchase on Amazon

I Know an Author!

emily    A real live breathing author. Not the way I “know” Stephen King or Jodi Piccoult. I actually know her. If you can’t tell, I’m a little excited. My friend and co-worker Emily C. Reynolds has just published her first novel and I couldn’t be prouder! Any writers/bloggers out there understand this completely. One of our own made it! Yes!! A victory for us all.

Writers know so much rejection and disappointment that it is amazing any of us continue on. We reach out for some proof of success from other newcomers. We can taste their victory, sweet on our lips, like that latte macchiato we are hopped up on after breakfast.

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Emily’s published book is Picture Perfect, a Christian romance novel. I enjoyed it very much and Emily has been kind enough to offer a free e-book to one lucky everydaychick blog reader. You can enter by posting a comment on either of the two blog posts about Picture Perfect. Emily will also be entertaining questions and comments about the book. Facebook readers can enter too, by signing up for everydaychick.net and putting in a comment.

There are several ways this writing community can help support her.

  1. Buy Picture Perfect. It is only $7.99 and available in paperback at Amazon.
  2. Share this post. The more bloggers and writers support each other, the better!
  3. Go to Emily’s website emilycreynolds.com
  4. After reading Picture Perfect, write a review on Amazon.
  5. Share this on your Facebook page.

Come back to everydaychick.net later this week for an interview with Emily C. Reynolds and more about Picture Perfect, her debut novel!

One (Wo)Man’s Family

 

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Mom’s posse

 

I called my mom this morning to say hi. She tells me my niece Katelyn is over. While I’m on the phone with her, I hear this odd noise. Blaaaa, Blaaaa. I think maybe she’s watching tv and ignore it. My mom doesn’t say anything about it so we continue our conversation. Blaaaa, Blaaaa. There it is again. Mom is talking away, apparently oblivious.

“Uh…Mom? What is that noise?” I ask.

“Oh, that’s Lamby,” she says, and continues the conversation.

Blaaaa, Blaaaa

“Mom, are you kidding?” I ask. “Katelyn’s lamb is there? Why is she making that noise?”

“Katelyn left the room,” mom says and keeps on chatting, as if there’s nothing unusual going on.

“Ok, Mom, wait, are you being serious?” I ask.

“Yes,” she replies, nonchalantly. “She doesn’t like Katelyn out of her sight.”

“Why is Katelyn’s lamb there?” I say.

A little backstory at this point will be helpful. Katelyn’s parents, Mary and Marcus own Delk Farm. They have pigs, cows, horses, and now, lambs. They also have a collie, Fly. So on to the explanation from my mom.

“Mary and Marcus went to get another dog. They took the baby pig with them. They are getting another pig.” Mom explains.

“They didn’t take the cow with them too?” I joke. “So why do you have the lamb?” I ask.

“The lamb is a baby and needs to be fed often. So Mary dropped her and Katelyn off last night.” she said.

“So , wait, you had a slumber party with a lamb?” I ask.

“Yes,” Mom replies.

“Mom, you know this isn’t a normal family, right?” I ask. Mom chuckles.

Mom mentions that this would be a good blog story. So of course, I need to get the facts. “The lamb’s name is Lamby?” I ask.

“No, its Fudge.” Mom says.

“Why Fudge?” I say.

“Because she’s brown.” Mom answers, like I’m the odd one here.

More backstory: my niece, Stephanie, is having a baby next month. My mom has been around kids her whole life. She has 3 grandchildren, 5 great -grandchildren, and used to own a kindergarten. When we went to visit my friend’s baby recently, I teased Mom that she needed the practice with babies.

 

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Stevie and Gigi hanging out

 

“Mom, you know when I said you needed to brush up on your baby skills, I meant human babies, right?” I quip.

Another chuckle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Fabulous Reasons to Visit Switzerland

My husband and I went to Switzerland last year. It was not a county on my bucket list. When the opportunity arose, I jumped at it and I’m glad I did. If you have never thought about visiting Switzerland, think about it. Here are a few reasons why you should put it on your bucket list.

1.Swiss people are multilingual. Almost everyone speaks English, along with several other languages. No sooner will you mutter a “hello” and the locals will seamlessly glide right into English. By the end of my trip, I simply said, “English please” to anyone speaking German and they willingly obliged. As an added bonus that will make your life infinitely easier, most restaurants have menus in English. You don’t even have to ask for one. As soon as your waitperson hears you speak, he will give you the menu in your language. Spoiled American? Yeah, a little bit.  But it made our trip so much easier and they truly don’t seem to mind.

2. Swiss people are incredibly hospitable. Whether it is because they know how important tourism is to their country or because they live in one of the most beautiful natural settings in the world, they are kind and accommodating to foreigners. One passerby saw my look of confusion while I was lost in the train station. He stopped to ask if he could help direct me. Danke!

3. Where else can you hear someone play the alphorn?fav17 (2)

4. The Swiss franc (CHF) has a higher exchange rate than both the Euro and the British pound. American dollars can be easily exchanged at many train stations for a small fee. You may exchange your Francs back to dollars for free before you leave.

5. Trains, busses and boats, oh my! The public transportation system in Switzerland will get you anywhere you want to go, including other countries. A flex pass can be purchased for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days to be used within a month. This pass allows you to utilize the train, bus and waterway system with no additional charge on the days you use your pass. You simply write the date on your pass and all transportation is included for that day. The pass will also get you into museums on those days. If you choose to go on tours, such as a tram to Jungfrau, be sure to use your flex pass for 25-50% off the ticket price. You need to have your passport with you when traveling.blog2

6. The SBB app for the Swiss Federal Railways system will make travel in Switzerland easy for even the most directionally challenged traveler. This free app asks you for your starting and ending destinations. It then breaks down each leg of your travel step by step. It will tell you the train platform, which stop you will get off and if you need to get on another train or bus. It will also show you, in real time, where you at along the route. You can buy tickets through this app and receive notices of travel changes or delays.

Translate, a foreign language app is helpful for translating any language into English. Like most translation apps, you can type in the words to be translated. However, Translate also lets you hold your phone over the words you need translated and it will change those words to English right before your very eyes. Technology meets wizardry. It’s fun to use.

7. You can brush up on your German, French or Italian! Traveling through Switzerland is like spending the day at Epcot’s World Showcase. Switzerland is in the heart of Europe. It is bordered by Germany, Austria, France and Italy. When you travel to the southern part of the country, Italian is the main language. A day trip to Bellinzona will not only promise a lovely day looking at castles, it will make you feel like you stepped right into another country. Head west toward Lake Geneva and you can practice your French while touring vineyards in the Lavaux wine region. Of course, if you want to hop on the train and actually go to any of the bordering countries, you can do that too.

8. As if the beauty of the lakes, fields and mountains was not enough, the buildings in Switzerland will also take your breath away. Castles, churches and homes that line the streets of lovely towns like Lucerne and Interlaken have been around for centuries. These amazing structures have stories of their own. Be sure to stop and look at the carvings so painstakingly created before power tools could simplify the job. These buildings are part of the art Switzerland offers.fav2

9. The Swiss Alps, of course. The reason most people visit Switzerland is for the beauty of the country. Standing in town surrounded by 360 degree views of the most grandiose mountains is reason enough to visit. Several large lakes throughout the country glisten in front of the mountains in the background. You don’t have to be a skier to be drawn to the unparalleled beauty offered in every town. A visit to Jungfrau will put you at 12,642 feet above elevation. Not only will you feel on top of the world, (it is touted as “the top of Europe”) you will get a rare experience to wander through the ice cave deep in the mountain itself.IMG_1677

Whatever your reason for going to Switzerland, the beauty, people and musical sound of many languages will leave you wanting to return.

What Do You Do?

spineI am a Radiology Technologist. I perform x-rays and mammography. Every year at my workplace, high school students come to the healthcare clinic and spend some time in our department. Many of them have had an x-ray and they see the tech from a patient’s perspective. We tell them how to pose, we go push a button and send them on their way.

Next week we will be having students visit our department. Now we get to show them what really goes on in the life of an X-ray Technologist. Being a tech takes intelligence, people skills, communication skills, and problem solving. We learn anatomy & physiology, physics, radiation safety, and positioning. We are learning all the time. We keep up with changing technology and adapt our skills. We research new treatments so we understand what our patients are going through.

We are naturally curious. We are required to earn continuing education credits to keep our license. We are held to high standards, both professionally and personally. We have an ethics requirement we must fulfill. Mammography is especially stringent. We have inspections from the FDA, a physicist,  and the American College of Radiology. Our equipment, facility, quality assurance records, and images are inspected to make sure we are in compliance with regulations put in place to protect our patients.

We dispense radiation directly to the patient’s body in order to get an image that will help the doctor diagnose what is going on. Most people, even other health care workers, don’t think about radiation. You can’t see, hear, feel, or taste it. But it is there and it poses danger to the body. Radiology Technologists are aware of these dangers and know how to use as little radiation as possible to achieve the data we need. We protect our patients. We are the gatekeepers of radiation.

We also use good communication skills. We deal with doctors, nurses, physicists, and patients. Our patient may be sick, in pain, hard of hearing, scared, angry, confused, or have a language barrier. It is our job to take the time to explain what we are going to do, why, and what they can do to help us. We work as a team. It is also our job to listen. To their words, their body language, and their facial expressions.

Being a tech requires patience. A lot of it. Patients may be confused, combative or injured. Sometimes they take it out on you. Empathy and patience go a long way in this field. Sometimes it’s hard. After all, you may be a professional but you are also a human being. You have to bounce back and move on the next challenge.

So that is what we do, a part of it anyway. I won’t bore you with the details of scheduling appointments, taking phone calls, dealing with computer issues, inputting orders, coding and charging for exams, and advising doctors on what study will help give them the information they need. After all, the students are only with us for a day!

What are the behind the scene skills of your job that you would like people to know?

 

Bah Humbug!

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pixabay.com

 

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had no fewer than 5 people tell me they were really looking forward to Thanksgiving. And really not looking forward to Christmas. I understand. Thanksgiving seems to have kept its true identity. It is a time to be thankful for what you have, spend time with loved ones, and yes, eat. A lot. Over the years, that has stayed the same for most people. If you traveled back in time to the 1950’s and peeked at a family on Thanksgiving Day, you probably wouldn’t notice a big difference from a scene from Thanksgiving today. Except it would be in black and white. Obviously.

That shows that we are capable of maintaining and appreciating tradition, right? We can focus on what is important in our lives. We can keep it simple and family oriented. Right? So what happened with Christmas? All of these otherwise sane people who wish each other well on November 24th absolutely lose their @$#% on November 26th. Well technically, some lose it earlier, depending on when your holiday sales shopping starts.

I have a long standing tradition of my own. I started it many years ago, and it has served me well. I get at least 90% of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving Day. I have never, nor will I ever, participate in a Black Friday shopping event. Amazon.com is my holiday BFF. I may stop and grab a couple of stocking stuffers at the ol’ brick and mortar, but I do it quickly and grudgingly.

People show their worst side this time of year. People cut each other off, risk lives to get parking spots and forget every manner their mothers ever taught them the day after Thanksgiving and right through until December 26th. The reason for this tragic turn of events? Stress. And who puts this stress on you? You do. That’s right, you do it to yourself!

Your family does not need the most expensive gift this year. Your children do not need whatever ridiculous toy the toy companies have deemed hot and unattainable this year. You do not have to force yourself into debt for the first 3 months of the new year. And you will not ruin anyone’s life if you don’t get them a present. When you look back on your life, you are not going to remember what any of those gifts were. But you will remember whether or not you gave the people you love the best of you. Those are the memories that will stick.

So I challenge you to make your own tradition this year. Ask yourself what Christmas means to you. Then do at least one thing that will take away some stress from your holiday this year. And if it works, then pick another thing to try next year. Before you know it, you might actually enjoy Christmas again. Imagine that!

Let me know what you decided to try. It might work for someone else too.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year to you all.

 

 

New Lifestyle

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A new day! Ignore the soda. We’re holding that for a friend!

I’m sure you would all agree that sometimes, you can’t just dip your toe in the water. You have to jump in, all the way in, or go home. That is what my husband and I decided to do recently with our eating habits.

My husband has Diabetes and wants to lose some weight. I would like to reduce the over 40 spare tire that seems to be sneaking up on me. I work in healthcare and believe me when I say scrubs are very forgiving.

We went to see a nutritionist a few weeks ago. We decided we would commit to a big change, take her advice, and jump in. I think we both had the unspoken idea that we would be signing up for cardboard tasting and water. We have been incredibly surprised and happy with the results so far.

We saw Ela Nesbit of Get Healthy Nutrition. Ela is amazing. She explained the science behind how diabetics’ bodies work and process their food. We thought we had to cut out carbs. We love carbs! She said that was a common misperception. We had to eat different carbs: whole wheat, brown rice, beans. This makes a big difference in keeping my husband’s blood sugar regulated. It has helped me, too. I’m not on the warpath for unhealthy snacks all the time anymore. It is a wonderful thing.

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Goodbye old friends!

So back to that all or nothing I was telling you about. We went to the grocery store, armed with Ela’s list of recommended foods. We were there for 2 hours. We read every label and compared our options. This was our classroom for the day. When we got home we basically did a kitchen makeover. Out with the old (goodbye my sugary, non-nutritional friends), in with the new…lifestyle that is. We emptied and cleaned the cabinet, lazy susan and refrigerator. This is what healthy looks like.

 

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So it has been a few weeks. My husband has lost 12 lbs. I am down to the lowest weight I have been in 15 years. More importantly, Bruce’s glucose is the lowest it has been since he has been diabetic. He was 99 this morning! As an added bonus, we both feel this is a sustainable lifestyle. It is not a diet. Diets don’t work! We feel better, are not hungry all the time and don’t crave junk food like we used to. Do I still eat chocolate? Count on it. Do we still have deserts and go out to eat. Yes, but it is now a rarity rather than the norm. And when we do go out we make better choices.

If you are looking for a change of your eating lifestyle, I highly recommend seeing a nutritionist. You have to be really ready to change though. You will try some things that you just don’t like. And you have to make better choices every single day. It gets easier as your taste buds come back to your senses after years of over salting and sugaring them. At dinner last week my husband asked, “is it me or does everything taste better now? ” YES!!

 

Personal Sustainability

successI’m reading the book Mistakes I Made at Work, a compilation of successful women who talk about the most disastrous mistakes they have made on the job. This is a powerful book. As women, we are terrified of messing up. We know the delicate balance of life itself depends on us being perfect every day.

For these strong, professional women to open up and share their dirty little secrets(they’re not perfect, shhhhh!), makes us collectively breathe a sigh of relief. (It’s not just me? Who knew!) Men think differently. They respond differently. If they make a mistake, they recognize it, tell no one, plan to not do it again, and it is forgotten by lunchtime.

Women…not so much. We internalize it. We take it personally. We feel we have let people down, wronged them. We beat ourselves up for days and think we are not good enough. And unlike men, who keep it to themselves, we “confess”. Repeatedly. To anyone who will listen. Penance.

It doesn’t seem to occur to us that making mistakes merely makes us human. It is how we learn. We are forgiving of others’ mistakes. Just not our own. Sound familiar?

In the book, author Judith Warner talks about the drawback of looking for “external signs of success.” That could mean an “atta girl” from your boss, having a high number of followers on social media, or having a record number of sales. When you do that, Warner explains, you don’t take care of yourself, what she refers to as “personal sustainability.”mistakes

I love that phrase. Personal sustainability. What does she means by that? If you do what you do because you love it, it matters to you, you feel you are making a difference is someone’s life, you can have long term happiness and “success.” That success may be defined differently. You may not see as many sales or have as many followers. Maybe people at work aren’t giving you high fives in the break room. But instead of 70 likes on Facebook by people you’ve never met, you may get an email from one person thanking you for helping him. Is that not a better definition of success? Only you can answer that.

Have you found personal sustainability? How did you do it?

 

My Two Favorite Navy Men

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I’ve always had a soft spot for people in the military. Brave men and women not only put their lives on hold, but in danger, to make the world a safer place for all of us. I used to get  goosebumps when I heard Taps played. After my stepdad’s funeral, that haunting song now sends me into a crying jag. My stepdad served in the Navy. During WWII, his ship was torpedoed off the coast of Africa. He and most of the crew were able to swim to shore. Not everyone made it. And the saying is true, the captain goes down with his ship. My dad also served our country in the Navy. I am proud of both of them. Are they handsome or what!

 

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Dad today, notice his hat

 

I work in healthcare in a facility that serves many veterans. In the past, I might have gone about my business, swept patients in and out, and not thought about them at the end of the day. I’m older now. And you better damn well believe I’m wiser. Now I value the chance to talk to these amazing people. To find out their stories. What they have lived through. They are incredible people. In today’s society, many people put themselves first and don’t think about others. We live in a “what can you do for me” society. That didn’t used to be the case. People used to ask, “how can I help you? What can I do?” I agree with Tom Brokaw’s choice of The Greatest Generation.

I recently had a veteran come into our practice. He was very upset because the flag flying out front was worn. It was time to replace it. He had mentioned it at an appointment a couple weeks earlier and it had not yet been replaced. At the end of our time together, I said, “may I ask you a question?” He said yes. “Why, as a veteran, does it bother you so much about the flag?”

His answer was touching. “I served my country for 20 years. I placed flags on many gravestones. I don’t like to see my flag abused. That’s my flag. I fought for it. I fought for you too. And I’d do it again.”

This is the kind of person who steps up to fight in our military. So thank you to all veterans. You make this world a better place. And, yes, we have a new flag at our practice.

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The flag given to my mom at my stepdad’s funeral. I have it in my bedroom.

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