Addleton Heights and GWP

December 12, 2016 at 6:52 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

15319117_1073863462722883_5887181406873428498_nI had the honor of reading an advance reader’s copy of Addleton Heights by author George Wright Padgett. In addition to that honor, I got to interview him for the release celebration!

AddeltonHeights-Book.pngWho did the cover art? How did you find them?

God bless the internet. I discovered a fantastic Italian artist by the name of Michele Giorgi (http://michelegiorgiillustrator.com). I have a commercial graphic art degree and have done my covers in the past, but Addleton Heights was different. This novel is solidly situated in the steampunk genre, so I wanted a classic romantic image with all the flourishes. While I do plenty of layout and design, I’m no illustrator; it’s an entirely different discipline, so I sought out someone with those skills.

I came across Michele’s art on the internet when I was a third of the way through the first draft and fell in love with his style. He hadn’t had any book cover commissions at that point, but I took a chance and contacted him in the hopes that he’d try something different. I emailed him with highlighted samples of his work which struck the tone I was looking for.

Many of the Steampunk images I’d come across to that point were often dark and grimy. I love those murky atmospheres, but wanted to go a completely different direction in an effort to make the book stand out. The end result is an image of bright sunshiny day in January with the snow gently falling to the ground. It’s wonderful contrast to many scenes contained within.

Is there any possibility of a graphic novel using the same illustrator in our future?

That would be amazing! I’d love to see that happen someday. Michele, if you’re reading this, I’m 100% up for it.

How much research was involved with writing a Steampunk novel set in the turn of the century (1901)?

Believe or not, I found myself doing as much research on this novel as I did for the space clone mining novel Spindown (www.georgewpadgett.com/spindown)

I tend to get caught into these perfectionist cycles where I compulsively need to know everything about the subject before putting anything on the page. The idea being that the more that I can understand the world that the characters exist in, the easier it is for me to immerse the reader into the scene. The end result is great because I get to transport the audience into the center of wherever I’m taking them; the downside is it’s a slower process. For instance, because I tend to go overboard, I now know all about the migratory birds of the Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard area though there’s only two or three mentions of birds in the entire novel.

I’m not complaining; I love learning so the research was fun. A huge component steampunk stories is their connection to history/alternate history, so I spent time studying about the area’s whaling oil industry losing out to Pennsylvania coal as a source of energy, the use of immigrants for the transcontinental railroad, Queen Victoria’s death later in the month the story takes place, the Boxer Revolution in China, etc. Weapons play an important part of the story, so I spent time with weapons expert Drew Heyen to make sure everything was authentic. Hopefully there’s enough history in the book to satisfy the cravings of those that are looking for it, but not too much as to bog down the story for those that have come to it looking for a mystery-action experience.

How was writing Addleton Heights different than writing your other books?

First of all, it’s the first full-length work that I’ve written entirely in first person narration, meaning we only see what our detective hero, Kip sees and thinks. He tells us everything we need to know. He has this delicious deadpan sense of humor mixed with a bitter melancholy. Life has been hard on him and he’s developed all of these colloquial sayings that he spouts out when describing things. These ‘Kipisms’ (as I came to call them) were a blast to write.

Also, I wanted to be true to the genre while offering something enjoyable to those uninitiated to steampunk stories. While the steampunk genre doesn’t officially have any set rules, there are elements that help to frame the story. As the story developed, I sent chapter sections to a group of beta readers for feedback. Doing it while the novel was written, allowed for me to tweak it as I went to ensure everything was ‘firing on all cylinders’. As a bonus, one of beta readers, a fellow writer, Christian Roule was well versed in the genre. More than once, he’d respond to what I’d submitted to him by saying, ‘It needs to be steampunk-ier here’. He and others helped me balance the story and not overwhelm it until it became a gadgets manual.

cruel-devices-signingI love that you cross genres and have not pidgeon-holed yourself as a storyteller.  When did you first meet the world of Steampunk? Did you find the genre or did the genre find you? (Did you read something Steampunk that inspired Addleton or did Addleton birth itself in your brilliant brain that resulted in needing the Steampunk label post development?)

Years ago I was signing books at a science fiction convention with some other authors. We were sitting across from a friendly booth of steampunk ‘makers’. They were selling all of these fantastic clothes and enhancement components (cogs, gears, and whatnot). I asked fellow author, Leo King (www.foreverwhere.com) who was next to me ‘What this steampunk thing was all about?’ He proceeded to educate me in the ways of alternate Victorian history. It was such a fresh concept to me, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

As for the story of Addleton Heights? The concept that serves as the core mystery (finding the Jason character) was an idea that I when I was seventeen. I’ve carried the idea around with me all of that time until it found a home in this novel.

You write every sub-genre of the science fiction realm… are there dragons in our future? (I, for one, would love to see what you came up with involving dragons…)

Dragons, huh? Currently I’m hard at work on a kind of time travel hide and seek adventure called Drift Pattern, but I do have a rough draft for a story which involves dragons and people using them for transportation. The working title of this fantasy-ish tale is ‘Kern’. Maybe we’ll see that in a few years.

As a woman, I adore reading Janae. She’s bold and fierce, but not without flaws.  She is not flat, but dynamic. She’s not all wonderful, nor is she a ninny. Tell me about her and your experience writing her.

I’m fortunate to have a number of strong women whom I admire in my life. I wanted to pay homage to these ladies by avoiding writing some messed up ‘damsel in distress’ trope.

Enter: Janae Nelson.  She is a force of nature! She’s my favorite character that I’ve ever written. I spent a lot of time to achieve a balance within her of being strong without forfeiting her femininity. I was careful to make sure that no man ever rescues her in the story; that she would save herself. I attempted to turn the stereotype on its head by having the damsel do some saving of her own when the male lead gets tied to the metaphorical train tracks.

If Addleton Heights were to become a major motion picture tomorrow, who would your ideal cast be?

Oh this is a tricky one… When I write I do ‘cast’ the characters with actors from movie roles and people that I know (I even print out photos for reference as I’m writing about them).

The problem with sharing this type of thing with a reader is that it’s unlikely that we visualize the same exact ‘players’. If I envision a grisly Kurt Russell for an old sea captain character, but you imagine an unshaven Dustin Hoffman for the same part, then I reveal who I’ve chosen in the role, does it reduce or nullify your experience? As with painting, what’s on the canvas is a conversation between the artist and the person witnessing it. The viewer’s interpretation is neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’, but in the same vein, the creator of the art shouldn’t have exclusive say once the paint has dried. In that same spirit, I humbly must decline to answer here and leave that to the reader’s imagination.

ah-mapYou’re typically a one book storyteller, completing a story in its entirety at the first go.  But I’m dying for more Addleton Heights  – is there a continuing series in our futures?

Detective stories are typically based on a single event; if it’s a who-done-it the question is who the murderer is and possibly the ‘why’ of the mystery. One thing that’s nice about these types of novels is that once the case is solved there can be another one right behind it. So we may see Kipsey again someday.

How can readers order posters and prints of the book cover and map to go with their copies of the book?

By contacting my publisher, Grey Gecko Press (www.greygeckopress.com) or by visiting www.georgewpadgett.com

Warmest thanks for your interest and support of Addleton Heights.
GWP

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George’s steampunk detective masterpiece releases 12/13/16. Order your copy online from www.amazon.com , www.barnesandnoble.com , www.greygeckopress.com, and everywhere else that sells quality books.

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The Martian

June 24, 2015 at 10:09 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Book-Review-The-Martian

Title: The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Genre: Science Fiction

The Martian is freaking amazing.  Just as amazing, it seems, is the author Andy Weir, as I was just as entertained by his essay and interview in the back of the Broadway Books edition I was reading.

In addition to being clever and snarky, the book has a fun history.  Originally it was self-published on a website.  It got such a following that it was then released for kindles… and was so popular there that Weir got a book and a movie deal practically at the same time.

Oh, and, Weir loves Doctor Who, so there’s that.

I’m a little late to the game, I wish I had discovered him sooner so I could say something original and exciting about The Martian (I would have loved to interview him) – so this review will be short and void of spoilers.  But if you’re in the mood for some suspenseful comedy set in space, all MacGyver style with the science, you need some Andy Weir in your life.

I can’t wait to see what he writes next.  If you’ve already read The Martian, you might also want to check out the work of Heinlein and/or George Wright Padgett.

In case you haven’t seen it yet – here’s the movie trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue4PCI0NamI

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Doubles Match Before Bed

September 20, 2014 at 3:22 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

doublesTitle:Doubles Match

Author: Meb Bryant

Genre: Suspense / Short Stories

Format: Kindle Ebook

Doubles Match KILLED me! It’s so good!  I have to warn mothers, however, that little Emma reminds me so much of my kiddo that the kidnapping was a rip through my gut.

Spoiler: It works out in the end – read the whole story!

Definitely worth the 99 cents as a nightcap, although I admit I received mine as a gift from the author.  I’m enjoying my kindle specifically for these short gems that I’d otherwise miss.

 

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“This was wickedness, and it was fatal.”

June 29, 2014 at 10:47 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

A-Reliable-Wife“It was everywhere. Arsenic.  Inheritance powder, the old people called it.”

Title: A Reliable Wife

Author: Robert Goolrick

Publisher: Algonquin Paperbacks

Genre: Fiction

Length: 291 pages

Like so many others, A Reliable Wife was a freebie I acquired somehow.  A number one New York Times Bestseller that seemed to be everywhere at once, yet I didn’t know anyone who had actually read it.

When I was cleaning out my personal library to take donations to the public one, my hand was on it.  It almost ended up in the bag.  Something stopped me, I’m not sure what.  Most likely a hoarder’s impulse.  The copy was too pristine.  The train on the cover too gloriously mysterious.  Historical fiction written by a man, not a woman, which for some reason tends to make all the difference.

Maybe it was because of my post about my selection practices and my thoughts as to what titles concerning prostitution would be at my daughter’s fingertips.  The book is highly inappropriate, but it gives a thorough view of what turns people to bad decisions.  What makes someone become a person with poisonous intentions and morals.

How easily anyone could slip into this awfulness.

“Yet it was a dream he had held in his heart for so long that nothing could replace it, nothing made up for his loss and his desire for restitution.”

Who hasn’t suffered from the same sort of persistence chasing an idea that maybe should have been abandoned?

“This was wickedness, and it was fatal,” is the theme that runs through Goolrick’s riveting novel.  Maybe it’s the Baptist fire and brimstone in my veins that makes a story like this appeal to me, because I don’t mind wickedness when it is properly portrayed as something evil.  It’s when wickedness is disguised as something desirable that I have a problem with it in novels.

Goolrick’s novel is amazing.  I couldn’t put it down and I was so glad I chose to read it instead of placing it my library donation bag this week.  My husband, not much of a reader, now wants to know the story and read the book as well – suckered by the blurb on the back jacket as I was nose deep in the pages.  I’ve already encouraged a friend to purchase it as well.  She quickly found a copy in clearance at Half Price Books, well worth a spare dollar.

 

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My Favorite White Whale

December 5, 2013 at 3:05 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Harbinger of EvilTitle: Harbinger of Evil

Author: Meb Bryant

Genre: Crime Fiction/ Mystery

Length: 248 pages

I met Meb Bryant at her book signing at Half Price Books Humble in October.  She’s a lovely lady, sweet, professional, wonderful conversationalist.  She left with me a signed copy of her book to review for my blog.

I feel terrible that somehow the book ended up in my manager’s stash cube in the warehouse at the store (how completely unprofessional of me).  Yes,  a little bit terrible because I feel like I should have gotten a review ready for the author sooner – but mostly selfishly terrible because I denied myself this reading experience for two whole months! Words of wisdom, don’t do that… read Meb Bryant’s work NOW.

Between Dutton sending me Elizabeth George’s latest work, a very full Halloween month of book signings, and the general mood of my year – I’ve read a lot of crime fiction this year.  A lot more than usual, anyway, I think.  Bryant’s crime work is the best of 2013 – no exaggeration – and I’ve read some really good ones.  John Oehler is excellent, Elizabeth George always nails character development, Pamela Triolo has a grip on a genre all her own (healthcare mysteries with a registered nurse solving the mysteries), but Meb Bryant blew me away.

I adore Richard Mobey, aka Mobey Dick, he’s my favorite white whale.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him, watching him build relationships with the other characters in the novel, witnessing his snotty banter, and finally experiencing him unravel the mystery and put all the puzzle pieces together.

I love the back drop of the novel, there’s no exaggeration with the tagline: New York Crime Meets New Orleans Voodoo.  In all my reading history, this is my favorite ‘voodoo’ piece.   I can’t think of a better novel set in the French Quarter.

If I had my way Detective Richard Mobey would have a series longer than Inspector Lynley’s, but I have a feeling I won’t be getting my way.

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More Great Things from Chris Rogers…

May 18, 2013 at 4:36 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

slice of lifeTitle: Slice of Life

Author: Chris Rogers

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Length: 390 pages

The fourth novel in the Dixie Flannigan series, Slice of Life is actually only the second Chris Rogers book that I’ve read.  I usually keep strict enforcement of the rule that I read a series in order, but I had it on good authority (from the author) that even though each book follows chronologically, the stories stand completely on their own.

Having enjoyed Bitch Factor so much, I took a risk and decided to jump ahead to the book that was sitting there in my hands rather than wait to come across the in between titles.

I’m glad I did.  Rogers was right about her work, each story stands alone quite nicely.  Sure, a lot of things had happened since the first book, but they were briefly alluded to and I didn’t feel like I had missed anything at all.  Nor did I feel like she was retelling a previous story (like some authors do in their flash backs to prequels) when referencing occurrences from the first title.

Rogers has an effortless storytelling style that fits well in the mystery/suspense genre.  She’s a true artist.  And not just in storytelling.  If I remember correctly, when chatting about her books at the signing we had at the Half Price Books Humble store, she paints and designed the picture used in Slice of Life.  The book is set in the Galveston art scene with a bit of gambling and a few dead bodies, so I thought the cover suited the story quite nicely and really shows off the talents of the author.

Even though I have broken the cardinal rule and ‘skipped to the end’ I plan to go back and read the second and third books when I find them.  Rogers has hinted at some interesting history between the characters that I’d like to know in more detail, without giving away any previous tales endings.

DSC03253

Chris Rogers at Half Price Books Humble

 

 

 

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Bitch Factor

April 23, 2013 at 6:59 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

bitch factorTitle:Bitch Factor

Author: Chris Rogers

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Publisher: Bantam

Length: 293 page

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t normally pick a up a book called ‘Bitch Factor’ or even a book with bitch in the title.  I’m not morally opposed or anything, it’s just generally not my cup of tea.  Past my middle school years (when I was completely enthralled with all things John Grisham), I haven’t really been into many mysteries out side of cozy foodie/bookshop/coffeehouse kinds or the kind that aren’t always shelved in mystery like Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Kate Morton… literary awesomeness built in mysterious layers.

To be fair, Chris Rogers sucked me in with the cover of Slice of Life and her sparkling personality.  She is a fantastic lady, and I really enjoyed talking with her at the latest Half Price Books Humble book signing.  Getting a copy of Slice of Life made me a little leery, it’s a ways into the Dixie Flannigan series, and last time I did that was the Elizabeth George review for Believing the Lie and I felt like a fish out of water.  So I began Bitch Factor, the first of the series.

I DEVOURED IT.

I’ll put that in regular font so it’s easier to quote, if anyone is feeling quotey: Chris Rogers’ storytelling is so riveting that when I read her book, I devoured it.

Dixie Flannigan is a bad ass.  She’s a believable bad ass.  As a female black belt Kung Fu instructor, I get a little frustrated with women who think they can handle more than they can.  Be confident.  Be awesome.  Stay fit, stay trained.  But sometimes you have to acknowledge the fact that at 120 pounds and five feet tall, there are some limitations you may face when dealing with 180-200 pound men – like size and strength.  In those situations, you have to think your way through.  You have to be careful, aware, and plan in numerous contingencies.  Dixie Flannigan is awesome because, for once, she does just that… without whining.  Whiny, helpless heroines are worse than over confident unrealistic ones.  Dixie is perfectly balanced.

Rogers took a story of a female bounty hunter, inspired by a chat she had with a taxi cab driver, and ran with it.  Often compared to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, there are two things about Chris Rogers and Dixie Flannigan you should know: 1. Dixie actually knows what she’s doing, where (at least in the first installment) Plum seems to flail around until something happens. 2. Rogers’ writing isn’t tainted by a history of writing romance novels, it’s higher quality work.  Oh, and, now I shall add a third… I have nothing against Evanovich or Stephanie Plum, I’m just deeply surprised it’s the more popular series right now.

On top of that, Dixie Flannigan (like her creator) is from the Houston area.  It’s so refreshing to have someone write Houston well.  Dixie Flannigan isn’t just kick ass, she’s kick ass from my home town.  She pops in and out of Spring Branch, she visits The Heights, she drives down 59.  The familiarity of it all is a lovely break from all the many, many mysteries set in Detroit,  New York City, and Chicago… places I’ve never been.  Even if you don’t read mysteries, if you’re from Texas – this book is for you.

I have it on good authority that you don’t have to read these stories in order, so I plan to skip onto Slice of Life since it’s sitting on my nightstand (that’s typically a cardinal sin in my house).  I do plan to collect and read the whole series though, it’s too fantastic not to.

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Interview with Author Rhonda R. Dennis

January 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

bayou

Author of the Green Bayou Novels

July 2012 110

Rhonda on the right at HPB Humble last year.

I met Rhonda R. Dennis while booking her and Melinda McGuire for A Southern Saturday – an event we put on at the Half Price Books in Humble. It featured southern authors, southern goodies, and all around a lot of southern hospitality. We had a blast. Rhonda was friendly, donated a lot of her own books to raffle off to customers, and kept a professional attitude.

Another signing is the works now, with details to follow later.  But since I can’t quite have her in the store again just yet, I’ve arranged an interview! (So exciting! As I’ve said before, interviews and guest blogs make me feel like Oprah.)

  1. Your books are set in Southern Louisiana, and you’re also from there.  What were your favorite things about the state when growing up? What are your favorite things about living there now?

First, I want to thank you for having me as a guest!  I absolutely love reading your posts.

While growing up, I never gave much thought to how different my culture is to others.  I assumed that everyone ate tons of seafood, celebrated Mardi Gras, and had the innate ability to pronounce French names.  I started traveling, and realized that was far from true!  I love visiting new places and I have a huge appreciation for their traditions, but South Louisiana will always be home to me.  It’s definitely a place that everyone should visit at least once.

  1. Your books are Romantic Suspense/ Mysteries.  Is this the genre you typically read as well? What authors or books are on your ‘favorites’ shelf?

a-confederacy-of-dunces-by-john-kennedy-tooleI enjoy most genres.  My favorite book is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  I read it at least once a year and I’m always amazed by his genius!  I also love Charlaine Harris’ The Sookie Stackhouse Novels and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series.  I appreciate the work of many Indie authors, although several of them are now being traditionally published.  Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless left me sobbing and Marie Coulson’s Bound Together was scorching!  L.B. Simmons’ Running on Empty—phenomenal!  I tend to gravitate toward books that let you feel a range of emotions.  I like to cry one minute then laugh the next.  To me, that’s the mark of a truly great author—being able to take your reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

  1. Do you have play lists of mood music you write to?  If so, which artists/songs generally make the cut?

writing-and-musicMy music choices are even more eclectic than my reading preferences.  Depending on the mood of the scene I’m writing, I will listen to anything from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Bruno Mars.  I’ve been listening to a lot of 80’s and 90’s music lately, as well as the Les Miserables soundtrack. A lot of times, I have to turn the music off because I spend more time belting out tunes than getting my story down!

  1. What do you find to be the easiest part of the writing and editing process? What is the hardest for you?

unforseenThe easiest part is coming up with the general direction I want to take the story.  Generally, I type a skeleton version then rework it until I’m happy with the manuscript.  The hardest part is when I actually put it out there for the public to read.  I believe in my stories, my beta readers are generally enthusiastic about the books, but until I get that feedback from the readers, I’m waiting with bated breath.  Please leave reviews people!!  You have no clue how important they are to authors, not for an ego boost, but for validation that we’re on the right track. J

  1. When you complete a book and it goes to print, how do you celebrate?

It’s generally a quiet, personal pat on the back kind of thing.  Although, the series will be wrapping with book six at the end of the year, so I anticipate a book launch/series finale party for that one.

  1. I’ve met a lot of authors with drastically differing views on this… would you ever be interested in a TV or movie deal for your series?  If so, how involved would you want to be? (There every step of the way? Or hand it over and let the film people do their thing?)

I have so many people tell me that they strongly feel the series needs to be made into a movie/movies.  I’m all for it!  I’d love to have lots of control over it, but I’m realistic enough to know that that probably won’t be likely.  My only wish is that they would do the series justice.

  1. I’ve read in other interviews that you’ll write this series as long as Emily has stories to tell. Do you have any other projects in mind at this time?

I do have some projects lined up after the last book of The Green Bayou Novels series is released.  I want to branch out a little bit.  I have plans for a couple of stand-alone novels, as well as a book about local ghost stories.

  1. You’ve been featured on Melinda McGuire’s Southern Creatives segment of her blog, been involved in joint book signings, and contributed to a project she edited (Rich Fabric) [I’ll link to Rich Fabric].  How did you meet?

facebook_like_icon_blogsThat is one of the wonderful things about technology!  We met online!  I want to say it was the Goodreads website?  Anyway, being that we are both writers of Southern fiction, we instantly bonded, even though our writing styles are quite different.  She writes from a historical perspective, whereas my novels are set in modern times.  I’m pretty sure she’ll agree that we have a mutual appreciation of each other’s enthusiasm for all things Southern.  I’m a definite fan of her work.

  1. Every reader or writer has a favorite bookstore (and if you don’t, please don’t spoil my delusion!).  Now is your chance for a shout out!  Tell us who you love and what you love about them.

While I could easily spend loads of time and money in any Barnes and Noble store (or any other major retailer for that matter), I prefer the feel of the small Mom and Pop bookstores.  I love walking into a place where you know the staff is there because it’s their passion, not just a job.  We had a quaint little bookstore in Morgan City, but unfortunately, it shut down.  I continually hope that someone will try to open another one.
I should also mention that we don’t have any Half Price Book branches in Louisiana, but based upon the reactions of my husband and son when I had my joint signing with Melinda McGuire in Humble, we’d be spending lots of time in there, too!

  1. Outside of writing and Southern Louisiana, what are your passions?

I am very passionate about giving back to others.  I’ve donated many copies of my books, t-shirts, and other prizes to raffles and auctions to raise funds for injured or ill persons.  My favorite charities revolve around cancer research/children’s charities:  St. Jude’s, the Shriner’s Hospitals, American Cancer Society…  At this moment, I’m in the process of working something out for our local Relay for Life.

I’m also passionate about treating others the way I would like to be treated, and doing all I can to help make this world a better place for my son to grow up in.  I love to promote the good things that are happening around us.  I feel that we often get bogged down in the bad news.  Just as many wonderful things occur in a day, however, it’s not often considered “newsworthy”.

Rhonda Dennis

Rhonda R. Dennis posing for the St.MaryNow Franklin Banner Tribune fifteen months ago. Click on the image to visit the article.

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