Tag Archives: writing

Business Plan 2021

It looks like that time again. I try to prepare a business plan for my writing career every January. These have been some of my most popular posts over the years, but that isn’t why I write them. I feel like everything is better with a little planning.

I’m sure this is no surprise, since I’ve posted both here and at Story Empire about my storyboarding method for plotting out my stories.

Mostly, I write these to keep myself honest. I refer back to them throughout the year to see how I’m doing. Let’s dive into it.

A few years ago, I decided my best promotional move was to write my next book. I’ve gotten discouraged with advertising that fails to produce, social media that sucks time, but doesn’t seem to do much else, so I write.

Honestly, it seems to be working. I can’t explain it exactly, but if someone were to pull up my Amazon page, it appears that I’m somewhat seasoned and in it for the long haul. Perhaps people are more willing to take a chance on me more than someone who only has one book. No idea, but it makes some sense.

It’s not that readers pick up everything I write. If someone likes paranormal tales, I have a few. Same thing for science fiction and fantasy. Some are like me and read all those genres, but I can appeal to the specialists now, too.

For the last two years, I’ve published three books per year. It’s kind of a grueling pace, but it was worth it.

This year, my goal is two publications. I want to complete my Lanternfish trilogy and get it out the door. I’ve already started on the final volume, but it’s been slow going. Too many holidays and not enough quality time.

The other book I’m working on is a continuation of The Hat series. Since this is an ongoing series, I don’t feel as much pressure as I do with Lanternfish. I have a couple of storyboards for volumes beyond the one I’m writing, and a few solid ideas with notes started.

Last year, a couple of things changed for me, and forced me to make a decision. My cover art and Lisa Burton promotional pieces took much longer than I was used to. I kind of overwhelmed my critique group, too. My choices were to start another project while I waited to publish the completed ones, or take a break. I took a break.

I know this doesn’t seem like me, but I needed it and I imagine my critique partners appreciated the few months off, too. I didn’t exactly kick back during this time. I spent it getting ready for two extensive blog tours. I make all my promo stops unique, so writing ahead was a good idea.

Timing of publications continues to vex me. I would like to hit one right before school lets out in the Spring, and the other around Halloween sometime. I’m not sure I’ve ever hit the Springtime target before, but have been moderately successful in the Fall.

By publishing two books instead of three, maybe that will simplify a few things. Maybe not, because Grinders in late Winter went off without a hitch.

I intend to use any spare time I have drafting something new. I don’t know what that will be yet, but I could go on the African adventure, maybe the post apocalyptic piece that’s set in the swamp, or something set in outer space. That last one seems to want to be a trilogy again.

The idea of another trilogy kind of drags me down, and excites me at the same time. For one thing, I could do things differently this time. I could hold the entire thing back while I finish it, then go for quicker releases after it’s finished. This would make it my side project for a couple of years.

Lanternfish was only intended to be a stand-alone story. Comments and feedback convinced me to turn it into a trilogy. With one already on Amazon, the others have to come along as they can.

I need to make some decisions on how to promote Wreck of the Lanternfish. I could promote the book, the whole series, or a bit of both. I could go on two different blog tours; one for the book, then months later for the whole trilogy.

I might be able to use some discount days or free days to promote with, too. James is clearly the main character, but Serang has become a co-main character along the way. Her origin story has never been on sale and walks readers into the trilogy. I could do something similar with Voyage of the Lanternfish, or both.

Promotion is like dowsing to me. I’m open to suggestions here, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

Last year, my blogging goal was to post two to three times per week. This came after years of posting four times per week, because Lisa Burton Radio was always on Thursdays. With retirement of Lisa’s show, it should have been easy to meet. I failed completely.

This is the one thing I will blame on Covid. Many of my posts are a slice of life. With all the lockdowns, working from home, and all the rest, there wasn’t much life to share. I’ve been lucky to make a weekend post for the last few months. I don’t know if this will change, so I’m not setting a goal here. I will keep updating Entertaining Stories, and meet my Story Empire assignments. Anything beyond that will have to be an extra.

Then there is social media. During my summer break, I kind of bailed on it. It never really has produced anything for me, and I spent some time changing out my pinned tweets and all the rest. I changed it almost weekly when I promoted the Experimental Notebooks. My blog automatically feeds to most of them, and I still share all of your things when I can. I just stopped actively participating.

Prior to my break, I used to go through my feed and retweet all of your posts, share the bigger things on Facebook, etc. Now it’s mostly posts from your blogs.

Older rules were that we had to be active on social media, because that’s where readers find us. It made perfect sense, but I never really saw it function in real-time. Interest in blogs seems to be slowing down, too, but it’s about all I have left. It also seems to be the only thing that will sell books from time to time, so I’m all-in here.

My goals aren’t as severe this year. Two publications that I already have partial manuscripts for. Keep the blogs up, and dabble in social media. Spend any spare time drafting something new.

Weigh in today. Teach me your promotional tricks. Do you prepare a business plan every year, or is that just me?

They say all posts perform better with a picture, so here you go. Frankie likes to help Mom make the bed, particularly when the bedding is warm from the dryer.

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A Very Short Update

Old What’s Her Face is off this weekend. Even though the holiday gave me a three day weekend, I don’t see myself getting much writing done.

I did send out a critique section and already received some of the feedback.

A portion of my day was spent writing out my 2021 business plan. Today was a day for Happy New Year posts, and I didn’t want it to get lost in a sea of those. Although, a Saturday post probably won’t perform all that well either. The plan is usually one of my more popular posts of the year, so we’ll see.

Old What’s Her Face turned on a show called His Dark Materials early this morning, and the episodes have been on all day long. They’re still on as I type this out. Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with The Golden Compass, and it’s a deeper dive into those stories.

Even though I’m not into it particularly, it’s also distracting. I’ll probably start another storyboard for a future Hat story after I post this. I have a reasonable idea and some cool concepts. That’s where they all start, and maybe it will develop before time to write it.

Hope all of you started your new year on a positive note.

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Back to the Grind

That’s a wrap. We had a lovely small Thanksgiving. It was great visiting, and I even enjoyed having Jackson around. My daughter cut my hair while she was here.

She picked up supplies, then headed for home. I loaded my truck and went to the office to exchange projects for next week, since I’m still being quarantined. Old What’s Her Face has been cleared to return to work, but I have to stay home for two more weeks.

I’ve been writing along in the early hours while everyone else sleeps. I did the wrap up of Serang’s last battle and pointed her on the trail to her ultimate goal. I kind of want to write a chapter of my con-men, but it only amounts to about a page. That seems kind of short for a chapter. All this while Lanternfish is still in dry dock an ocean away. I need to launch that ship and get her into action soon.

There’s been another “murder” in the hat story. I have a theory how Lizzie is going to hunt this monster, but it conflicts with narrowing down its hunting area. It looks like I’m going to have to give them another month to start putting the more important pieces together.

I carried my coffee into the bedroom, closed the door, then sat down beside the bed. “I’m having some problems.”

A sound like rustling leaves came from under the bed. Dried cornstalks grabbed onto the frame and pulled something heavy closer. “Well, well, well. Look who’s back.”

“I know it’s been a long time. Work, family, the Muse keeps me hopping.”

“And now you’re stumped again. Is that it?”

“Yeah. I need monsters. Since you’re the resident expert, I thought I’d come to you. The cornstalks are a nice touch.”

“Yeah. I like to change things up. It’s Autumn.”

“How’s Missing-Sock monster?”

“She left me. Remember the “It” movies?”

“Yeah.”

“She became a roadie for him.”

“Bummer.”

“So what kind of monsters do you need?”

“It’s Lanternfish.”

“Still? Haven’t you been writing that one for years?”

“It’s a trilogy. Kind of yes, and kind of no. It’s just that I’ve spent so much time with sea monsters, I’m having a hard time adjusting to dry land again.”

“Why not stick with what you’re good at?”

“I will. I want to reuse the tortugators in at least one scene. It stitches the books together to a degree, but a lot of this story will occur on dry land. It’s a fantasy world, so I need to keep it similar, but fresh.”

“But these books aren’t about conquering the monster, are they?”

“No. It’s more of a global war kind of thing.”

“I might posit that you don’t want monsters. What you’re looking for are fantasy creatures to pepper your landscape with.”

“That’s exactly it. Why didn’t I think of it myself? I mean, I have the snubhorns. They’re horselike creatures, but they scavenge a bit of flesh to keep everyone uncomfortable.”

“I think you’re too close to it. Hunt your werewolf for a few chapters in the other story, then come back to it. What would the area look like in reality? You might have birds, bugs, a herd of grazing animals. Now redesign everything. You need something that flys, something that herds together, that kind of thing. They aren’t really monsters.”

“Thanks, Under-the-Bed monster. That really helps. Do you have any prospects lined up since your girl left?”

“Not so much. That little dog makes me play Nylabones when you’re gone. The big guy sleeps until you come back.”

“Yeah, Frankie is a little intense with her bones.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I kind of enjoy it.”

“Good for you. Just don’t become like a crazy cat lady. There’s a nice culvert across the park about thirty feet from here.”

“Yeah? Maybe I’ll check it out.”

“Get yourself out there. You never know who, or what, you’ll meet.”

“I think I will, and Craig?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t be a stranger. I enjoy our little conversations.”

“You’ve got it.”

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Writing along

I looked up from my desk at the writing cabin and decided to call it a day.

Lisa Burton walked into the office in full pirate regalia. “How did it work out? Did you have a good day?”

“It really was. 2700 words I didn’t have before. Add that to the 2000 from Wednesday and things are cooking along.”

“There’s a little coffee left before you leave. Do you want it?”

“Sure. I got through my con men on Wednesday and closed the loop on three concurrent stories. Everyone is on the page now. Today, James did what he had to as far as completing the repairs on Lanternfish. She’ll be ready to launch soon.”

“Don’t you think I’d look great in period costume breaking a magnum of champagne over her prow?”

“I’m sure you would.”

“Maybe you should write that one down.”

“It’s early in the story. There could be better things coming.”

“Then you don’t have to use it, but if you write it down you won’t forget.”

“You’re a computer. You remember for me.”

“You can bet I will. So, did the queen go along with James’s scheme?”

“Shh, that’s a spoiler. You can check out the draft later.”

“What are you planning tomorrow?”

“Don’t know. Serang still has some war to wage, but she ought to gather some clues along the way. I need her to discover some old secrets, too. I might wing some of that, or take a little time to think it through.”

“You mean you’d just waste a day to think?”

“Sure. This whole country could use more thinking before writing.”

Lisa smirked. “Uh huh?”

“If it doesn’t want to come together, I can always revisit Lizzie and the hat.”

“I kind of hate it when you do this to me. I never know how to dress for the day. Am I wearing cute performance outfits or being a pirate girl?”

“How about badass monster hunter outfits?”

“I know your style. It’s too soon for those, After about ten chapters you’ll get to them. So how should I dress tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. I have to go where the Muse leads me.”

“Fine. I’m going to put on some jeans and cowboy boots, add a Smithereens tee-shirt and fashion beret, then pull the Waltus armor on over the top. Maybe I’ll even buckle on a cutlass for good measure.”

“Do it and I’ll post a picture on my blog.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Of course I would.” I pointed to my head. “You don’t understand how this brain works.”

“From what I can tell, your processor runs on coffee, pumpkin beer, cheese, and crackers.”

“Actually, that’s pretty accurate. All I can tell you is that I intend to write tomorrow. If it’s Lanternfish, it’s Serang’s turn again. If not, then I’ll start the next Hat book.”

“Maybe I’ll just wear one of my polka dot dresses and some nice heels. Those make me happy.”

“There you go. I like those, too.”

“Enough to write me into another book?”

“Probably, but I’m not going to. You got a story just last year. I’m going to try revisiting Serang and see how that goes. That’s as much commitment as I can give you.”

“I’ll take it.”

“So, do we have some cheese and crackers?”

Yeah. And some dry salami. I’ll get you set up.”

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Running out of steam

Old What’s Her Face went to Nevada again. It’s just me and the dogs this weekend. My brother-in-law and his wife moved into their new house, and they’re throwing sod this weekend.

Dog sitting duty hasn’t been that hard, so I tried to use my time wisely. I’ve been mostly blogging all day.

That means sending out letters with proposed dates for tour hosts, then writing their posts as they respond. I still have one more to prepare and will try to do that before I call it a night.

I also marked up a critique sample for one of my group members and sent it out. I like to turn them around fast whenever possible. I only have weekends to work on things and others might be in that boat, too.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I wrote and scheduled my next Story Empire post. I spent far too much time monkeying around with the block editor, but I need to do that. It looks like it’s here to stay and being curmudgeonly about it isn’t going to help me.

I know the original editor wasn’t exactly self explanatory either and I messed with it for a long time before I found the things I actually use. I never did figure out what that tool that looks like a highway stripe actually does.

Somewhere between waiting on email, and writing posts, I snitched a little reading time. I’m not the proficient reader I was as a youngster, and take frequent breaks. I’m enjoying some quality time to dive into a good book, but I have to do it my way. Eye fatigue is part of the issue.

It got cold here overnight and I actually ran the gas fireplace to take the edge off. I spent about two hours watching the temperature parked at 58 degrees, then decided it wasn’t actually going to warm up. They promised us some rain today, but it only drizzled for a short while. I hope it was enough to settle some of this smoke. It feels like it helped.

Old What’s Her Face comes home tomorrow, and Monday is a holiday. It’s smart for me to accomplish all I can today. It’s relatively calm, but I’m starting to burn out. Maybe, after that last post is sent off, I’ll try to find something on television. I’m in the mood for something Halloween related, but not a slasher.

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Technological nightmares and extra work

I’ve been working on my storyboards in drips and drabs. Right now I have six in various stages of completion, and some are nearly complete.

There are two stand alone novels, the finale of the Lanternfish trilogy, and three future stories for Lizzie and the hat. I was feeling pretty good about the process. That’s when everything started failing.

The app I’ve been using is called Pinnic. It randomly erased one of my ledger cards. I tried opening and closing, even a reboot. That’s when I discovered another board had the same thing happen to it. Then it started throwing out a random index card that could not be edited or deleted. It also covered another card I would really like to read.

What happens is these developers stop updating their apps. It’s happened before. I used to use an app I really liked, but the developers stopped updating and eventually it became unusable. This one was so long ago that I don’t even remember its name. That’s when I switched to Corkulous Pro.

Corkulous Pro also went the way of the dinosaurs and I downloaded Pinnic. They haven’t had an update for a long time, but Apple has had many. You can see where this is going.

Lo and behold, a new developer bought Corkulous Pro about a year ago and resurrected it. It became a subscription based app. It’s like $1.99 per month, but half that for a year at a time. In theory, this is to allow them to keep it updated and trot out some new features on occasion.

Oddly enough, they refuse to tell you what the subscription fee will be in the App Store. I would kind of like that data prior to committing and it seems like the ethical thing to do. I even tried googling it to no avail.

Ultimately, I decided to download the free app and hoped to learn what the fee was. This worked, but I thought it might just be a blank check of some kind.

Something is lost and hopefully something is gained. I had a bunch of old storyboards on Pinnic that will be abandoned. I really don’t need them for books that have been published, but things like Yak Guy, Serang, and Grinders were in there. I see no reason to recreate them now.

I spent part of last night and all of this morning recreating the next six storyboards by hand in Corkulous. The split-screen feature in my iPad helped, but I was using two different apps with different controlling actions to accomplish that. There were many times I used action A on app B and it slowed down the process.

None of this involved a drag & drop, or a copy & paste, because they are different apps. It involved retyping everything I had.

I always got along well with Corkulous. There were features in other apps that it does not have. It has features the others don’t. Honestly, I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles. Give me some index cards, a few sticky notes, and I’m golden. It will allow me to attach images and I like to do that on occasion. My old images were sacrificed, but I may spend some time dropping a few into the new boards.

The downside is losing the time. I was supposed to be reading the next Lanternfish on an editing pass. I still haven’t started that task. Maybe tonight or tomorrow.

On the plus side, I have six storyboards that are pretty close to ready. I may have an app they will keep updated to the new operating systems. Does anyone else have problems like this, or am I the only one who uses apps when I create things?

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Chipping away at things

So far, I managed to make edits to a chapter of Lanternfish. This is the one my critique partners had recently. Good suggestions this time, and they improved the story quite a bit.

I got the next chapter ready for submission, then sent it off. They only have about a half-chapter left after that. I may add my back material and let them look at it, too.

The next Hat story has been languishing while I finished Lanternfish. I decided to read every single word of it this morning. Never added any new words, but it’s still progress. When I’m ready to write next time, I’ll be up to date.

It rained like crazy this morning. We have ducks swimming above the lawn in the park next door. That’s a lot of water. It’s also giving my Asian Pear tree fits. Fire blight spreads this way, and it has a touch of it. It kills whole trees, but this variety is pretty resistant.

Between projects, I decided to monkey with one of my old cowboy hats. This started life as a custom beaver blend hat. I was always disappointed in it, because it wasn’t quite what I expected. The crown was about 30 degrees crooked, and I had to reshape that myself. It was supposed to be a nice light brown, but arrived in a pumpkin color.

I’ve turned this hat into my lab rat over the years. Recently, I’ve been surfing the web looking for ways to artificially weather hats. They just seem to look better after they break in a little. Out comes my lab rat hat for a bit of experimentation.

I used the tea kettle to steam the crap out of the brim, then used an old round extension cord as a mold to put a kettle roll around it. It looks pretty darned good.

For my next amazing stunt, I used thick instant coffee in a spray bottle to darken it up. This one didn’t work as well as the Internet sold it. It knocked the pumpkin color out, and it’s kind of a buckskin now. (Not horrible) My question is whether it will remain color-fast. Meaning when it rains am I going to have cold coffee running down my neck?

I also spent a couple of bucks on something called fullers earth. This can be used to add some stains for artificial wear and tear. I haven’t tried this, yet. I’ll do it in conjunction with some salt water and olive oil so the colored earth will stick. My attempt will involve lightly using a soda straw to blow the color on in some key places, like the pinch point of the crown. Maybe where I normally handle the brim, etc.

Fiddling around with hats probably doesn’t sound as much fun as writing about root monsters and pirates, but it gives me something to do. Who knows, maybe this hat will be something worth wearing on a camping trip one day.

I still need to go through my short story one more time, but I have a few weeks yet. If there’s any time after I call my parents tomorrow, I will probably tackle a fresh new chapter of the next Hat story.

Hope all of you are having good weekends whatever you’re up to.

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And then Rusty showed up

I already posted about my 3500 words on Friday. I’m on the downhill slide of Lanternfish, and it’s getting fun to move toward the big event that ends book two.

Old What’s Her Face has to work all four days I’m off, so getting to the conclusion is a real possibility. I added 2500 more words on Saturday morning. This included the creation of another new creature called a snubhorn, who is basically a beast of burden.

I needed to think the next bit through, and turned to my short story. Normally, I would jump to Mrs. Molony, but the short story has a deadline. I wound up finishing it, but it needs a little something. It’s going to be a bit short for the desired word count, but I don’t want to lengthen it only for that.

Then Rusty showed up. My daughter decided to drop in for a visit, but she brought Rusty with her. This is the leftover from a litter of Rottweiler puppies her roommate had bred. Since nobody wanted him, she decided to keep him.

I’m here to liven up your life.

I love seeing my daughter, but Rusty is a handful. He’s a perpetual motion machine, and licks everything. As he walks he licks the couch, the footstool, the chair, my shoe, the wall, whatever is within reach. It’s cute, but weird. He also get’s Frankie pretty fired up, to the point of angry sometimes.

He’s also gangly. He slid across the dining room floor, into the kitchen with all four paws in the air. He impacted the pantry doors and I had to put them back on track.

I worry, because he’s an intact male Rottweiler. Otto is also intact, and I would like to see Rusty start staying in Sun Valley when our daughter visits. He’s twice as big as he was when he came in April, and while he’s cute, Otto doesn’t need that shit. I’ve been around a lot of dogs, and Rusty is going to be huge when he grows up.

My daughter took him to town for a few hours this morning, and I added another 1500 words to Lanternfish. It isn’t a lot, but it’s better than nothing. It’s important stuff, too, so that helps. Then she came home and gave me a haircut.

As I’m writing this, Old What’s Her Face took our daughter to the store. There was some talk about buying something for dinner, so I have a hunch Rusty will impact my Monday writing plans, too.

All told, there isn’t a downside. I get to visit with my daughter, got a haircut, and honestly get a kick out of this gigantic weird puppy. I just wouldn’t want a steady diet of him.

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Gotta write something…

It was a busy week at work. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. When you combine that with my short weekend, I didn’t get a damned thing accomplished on the writing front.

Next week is looking like it’s going to be just as busy, but I have a three day weekend at the far end.

I managed to dabble a bit, but it doesn’t amount to anything I can see. I marked up some work for a critique partner. I’ve been sitting on my own critiques for a week and finally addressed those. Then I sent out another section, but I wrote that two weeks ago.

I also hacked out my next Story Empire post, but it needs some work. Beyond that, I added a few words to my Jason Fogg short story in the evenings, and that’s it. This stuff counts, and it has to be done, but it isn’t the same as one of my 3000 word writing sessions.

Old What’s Her Face and I ordered takeout, then watched whatever we could find on television. That’s kind of boring, too. I’ve decided that most takeout doesn’t travel well. Sweet and sour chicken is great at the restaurant, but becomes a big dough ball by the time it gets home. Anyplace we’ve gone that comes with fries tends to work out the same way.

When it comes to take it and bake it pizza, or a bucket of chicken, that stuff works well. Maybe it’s because they’ve had decades to perfect the product.

Don’t lose faith in me. I intend to have two more releases this year, and inclusion in an anthology. Some weekends are better than others.

Looking forward to next weekend and maybe I can move one of my stories ahead. Hope all of you are safe and well. Those of you who write, I hope you had a productive weekend.

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Back to writing

Today was my flex day, and I intended to make the pixels fly. It didn’t exactly work out that way, but I’ll take it.

I decided to bounce back to Lanternfish. I’m right on the cusp of starting the end game of this book, which is the second of a trilogy. There were just a few bits of scene setting that I needed to address.

Don’t laugh, but I found a picture on Pinterest that relates to one of my characters. This will make a good Lisa Burton promotional poster, so I decided to write it into the tale. I even found some particular shoes this character needed. You never can tell what will inspire me.

Doing this gave me the opportunity for a root monster adventure, and I’m pretty happy with how that turned out, too. The downside is I didn’t crack 2000 words. I had a whole day, but it seemed to take forever to get all this down.

I’m happy with what I produced, and that’s what counts. I had the chance to write more, but quality matters and I feel this is good stuff.

I also ordered a cover and three Lisa Burton Posters from Sean Harrington. Both Lanternfish and Mrs. Molony are at about the same stage of completion. I had to pick one, so I went with Lanternfish. I sent Sean the ideas I have for the cover, and think it will look pretty cool. Now I need to wait patiently. I also have some great ideas for Lisa’s art, but those will have to happen after the cover comes.

In other news, I haven’t been on Twitter for two weeks now. I was a daily user, but it takes so much time. I’ve been tweeting out everyone’s blog posts and will continue to do so. I had some support over there and failed to reciprocate. I also had some new followers, and need to do something about all of them.

I checked in today and did what I could. I promise to try harder in the future. Twitter has been mildly productive for me, so I need to keep up on it.

I also sent off a promotional post for Grinders. It should go live by the end of the week, and I’ll share it here. I think it’s a good post and hope it draws some attention.

Tomorrow is another work from home day for me, so that’s about all I can manage. I got permission to take some time off at the end of the week, and may use some leave. I have hundreds of hours of leave available, and should use a little of it. It caps eventually. In that case, maybe I can move one of my stories ahead. That short story needs some attention and I should focus there.

Should focus doesn’t absolutely mean I will, but it kind of sounds like a plan. Sort of???

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