Category Archives: Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

It was overall a good hand, but not the cards I expected

So after putting lots of extra effort into Leaf work the previous couple of weeks the latest cycle of articles ended last week. I figured I’d make up for the lost time on personal project this week … but to my surprise, the new cycle started up Monday. As I like making money, I immediately started claiming Leafs, but it was a little disappointing. My work on Impossible Takes a Little Longer Monday morning really felt good and I wanted more. However for the moment it’ll have to wait as Undead Sexist Cliches, Questionable Minds and my Alien Visitors film book come first.

Unfortunately, my sleep Monday – Wednesday night was for shit. The first two nights may be the Zoom writing meetings — I’m beginning to feel there’s something to the idea being on computers/phones in the hours before bedtime interferes with sleep. Wednesday night Trixie, who’s been very restless of late, paced up and down for a bit, clacking her claws on the hardwood floor. That woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. As a result I didn’t get much done beyond Leaf, and some work on Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches (feminism destroys families, education and the workplace!).

I thought I’d make up for that today a little, but today I woke up sick and draggy. No, doesn’t appear to be COVID-19, most likely it;s allergy-based (possibly because that morning I was coping with Wisp and Trixie, I forgot my meds). I know from experience the best treatment is simply to do nothing all day, and so I did.

On the plus side, I’m seeing a marked improvement in my juggling this week, and much better focusing in my meditation practice. So at least something of my own is getting done. And I did make money, which right now is very reassuring.

I’ll leave you with this uncredited cover (though a friend of mine says the art is by Emsh). #SFWApro, all rights to image remain with current holde.r

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Say goodbye to July, hello August

So I accomplished 55 percent of my goals for July, though very few of them were writing goals. Between Leaf and Undead Sexist Cliches I got very little done on anything else. Next month I need to manage my time much better; I took Wednesday off precisely to think about what comes next.

  • Undead Sexist Cliches get top priority, though not 100 percent of my time. It’s the “eat the frog” approach — proofing it is the toughest job ahead and I’ll be happy when it’s done.
  • I need to start work on the Alien Visitors book for McFarland as it has an actual not-just-personal deadline. I’d hoped to finish Undead Sexist Cliches and Questionable Minds first, but as that’s not going to happen …
  • The final proof of Questionable Minds comes next.
  • The rewrite of Impossible Takes a Little Longer is third place.
  • And getting back to short stories comes after that.
  • I also need to read more on marketing and make some plans for my self-published stuff. The joy is in writing it, not promoting it, but if I don’t market, nobody reads and nobody pays me. Both would be desirable.

That may prove ambitious but I’m not setting my total accomplishment in any of those so absurdly high it’s unattainable. I have alternate goals depending when Leaf, which wrapped up the most recent cycle this week, starts up again.

To achieve them I really need to take breaks regularly during the day. It’s very easy to get locked in until I get just that one little extra section/chapter done, maybe five more minutes … and then I look up and it’s been an hour. I’d be fresher if I took the break with the section/chapter unfinished and came back to it. And fresher will make me more productive at day’s end.

I’m also spending some of my break time to pet Wisp. Sometimes she doesn’t want it and swats at my hand; other times she can sit there for five minutes, almost dozing while I stroke her. We’ll have to take her in to the vet next month; hopefully it won’t set back our relationship too much.

Oh, I did get one thing done I can link to: a post at Atomic Junkshop on sexy movies of my teen years. Like this mesmerizing poster.

To celebrate the ongoing struggle to finish stuff, I’ll wrap up with this Powers cover. Because it’s always good to include a Powers cover.#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

 

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Sometimes dogs snuggling in bed is not the cutest thing ever

Plushie, for example, has decided the solution for any stress during the night is to cuddle up with me and lick my face. Which is sweet … but not when I’m asleep. Trixie likewise came and snuggled with me one evening this week, but every time I drifted off that was apparently a sign for her to fidget and shift. One of my weaknesses is an inability to get back to sleep if I’m brought to wakefulness for more than a few seconds so this did not end well for me. I spent much of the week sleep-deprived, though I’ve made up for it today. Good thing they’re too cute to stay mad at!

My main accomplishment was doing a lot of Leaf articles. I’m not quire sure how many they’ll have to write in any given week so I did three extra this week, wrapping up today. In theory I can make up the time lost to other projects by doing less Leaf next week. That doesn’t always work because sometimes they have articles I just can’t resist writing. This week for example I had articles on how to join an actors union and how film actors get paid (every week, on Thursday — yes I did say more about it than that!).

I got a couple of chapters proofed on Questionable Minds, though I’m thinking of one possibly big rewrite of the “finished” draft. I’m honestly not sure I need all the villain POV scenes, which were meant to explain his seemingly puzzling crime patterns; it’s possible they’re necessary but it’s also possible nobody cares, or at least not as much as I do. As we get into the later part of the book I’ll see if I can wrap anything essential into some of the other exposition scenes.

I got partway through Chapter Five in Undead Sexist Cliches, which is one of the two chapters on rape cliches. I’d planned to work on Chapter Four but it’s much less tightly organized and in my tired state I couldn’t get anywhere with it.

My daily exercise routine has suffered since TYG and I started taking one dog each for morning walkies (my doctor is very clear that walking doesn’t get my heart pumping fast enough to make it the primary source of exercise). Normally, even in summer, I go out bicycling at least once a week but it’s too damn hot except for the early mornings, and those are for dogs. In theory I could make it up working on our stationary bicycle or doing some other sort of exercise later in the day, but somehow it doesn’t seem to happen.  I’m going to have to work to see that it does.

And we have begun putting out a pet carrier and leaving Wisp’s cat food inside it. Hopefully she’ll get used enough to it we’ll be able to trap her and take her in for her annual checkup soon.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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Filed under Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

I think things fell apart when I went to the library …

But I’m still glad I went.

The Durham Library recently reopened, though only for picking up books placed on hold (maximum of five). Which is disappointing — they just completed a massive remodel of the main library and I’d love to visit — but obviously the right thing to do. As my pile of new books is vastly shrinking (no used bookstores or library sales to visit) I reserved some books and picked them up Thursday afternoon, as they don’t open Saturdays. It went smoothly, with no major risk and everyone masked, though to my disappointment Ghosts of Manhattan turned out not to be the superhero novel of that name but a mainstream book about a stockbroker’s personal crises. I may read it anyway.

However, after I got back from the library I had to engage in some extra dog care and wound up getting very little done Thursday. Then this morning I took Plushie for his walk and for a change he was ready to go on a long one. We spent probably an hour, which is good — he really needs to get some weight off — but quite exhausting for me. I not only lost a chunk of writing time but it took me a while to get over the stiffness and focus on writing (I exercise plenty but walking wipes me out way more than most workouts. I’ve no idea why). This may happen again, as we’re now taking one dog each in the morning, which makes it easier to get them walked before the heat is unendurable.

I also made the mistake of dropping Thursday morning’s planned focus on Questionable Minds to do a little extra work on Undead Sexist Cliches and Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I think there are two ways to juggle multiple projects: allot each of them some time in your schedule and give them the time or make one project the priority and do whatever it takes to get that work done, even if it cuts into the time spent on others. I set my priorities based on option A — get something done on each of them per week — but then I wind up shifting them around. I still got work done in that time, but I’d be happier, I think, if I’d gotten some on all three big projects instead of skimping on my Minds final draft.

Oh, and I took Monday off, which was the right call. I’d let a lot of life stuff build up unfinished (paperwork, bills, checks to deposit, things to clean) plus my brain was slowing down from cabin fever some. That didn’t help with productivity either, but I’m glad I did it. Unfortunately the library doesn’t do appointments on Mondays or I’d have taken care of it then.

On Impossible I got through Chapter Three on the new draft which brought me up to a scene I had no idea how to fix, where Lahatiel (evil fake angel) attempts to kill KC (alias the Florida Panhandle’s superhero, the Champion). The old version didn’t work — it plays on fears and worries KC no longer has — but I think I figured out where to go with my current concept of her character. I’ll try it next week. And I posted Ch.2 to my writers’ group, as I’ll be reading it next week. Undead Sexist Cliches has the first two chapters done on the final draft. Questionable Minds … well, nothing, obviously. Plus I got some Leaf articles done (most interesting: “Do Physician Assistants Wear White Coats?” There’s more to the answer than I’d have thought.

For illustration, here’s a photo I took of someone’s broken lawn ornament recently. I’d like to claim it as an allegorical artistic statement on the ongoing statue controversies, but it’s just a photo.#SFWApro. Image is mine.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

It’s the weekend, let’s hit the beach!

Okay, probably a bad idea right now with Florida cases skyrocketing … but it does give me an excuse to post this whimsical Sheldon Mayer cover.This was a productive week. Not productive enough, but when do I ever say it was enough? But I did feel at times like cabin fever was interfering with my creative process; I may take Monday off just to clear my head, even though it’s not like I can go anywhere.

I got a few Leafs done, but we were on the wrap-up end of the current spurt. It’ll start up again next month, one reason I want to take Monday off when it won’t interfere with money-making. I made good use of the added no-Leaf time, finishing the introduction and first chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches. It was slow going because I rewrote more than I expected. Part of that was making the logic flow smoother, part of it just to tighten the material. I knocked 1,000 words or more out of Chapter One so I guess I succeeded.

I continued replotting Impossible Takes a Little Longer, including rearranging some of the sections for overall pacing and introducing some characters earlier. I’m still not sure whether it’s long enough and there’s one key scene, Champion’s first battle with Lahatiel, that I don’t have figured out. The original attack, which I’d thought would last into this version, doesn’t work; I have a vague idea what might work in its place but I’m not sure. I also wrote out the second chapter, as I thought I might be reading at Tuesday’s writer’s group. However that won’t happen until July 7 (a few years ago, TYG and I would have been at the Mensa national gathering but like so much else, that didn’t happen this year). I’ll give it another glance next week but I think I may have outlined as much as I can — I’ll continue with the next draft and wing it where I have to.

I finished a rough outline for the next draft of Oh the Places You’ll Go! and started on the next draft. It’s way stronger, but still needs some work. Right now I’m squeezing a ton of exposition in up front, just to make sure I get it in, but next draft I can spread it out. I have a feeling this will stretch out to substantially longer before I’m done.

I did not get anything done on the final draft of Questionable Minds. Bad me! Part of Monday will be figuring out just what I can get done and how fast, and which projects are top priority, etc. I hate to say it but I can’t do it all, at least not at once.

Oh, and a magazine called Overdraft accepted my reprint story Dark Satanic Mills so whoot! After getting so many rejections earlier this month, it feels good.

Have a great weekend everyone, and stay safe.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Everything in motion but nowhere near the finish line

On the whole this was a frustrating week, though part of that’s the cabin fever I was talking about this morning. However it did have one huge upside, which is that yesterday, TYG and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. This is, of course, a cool thing in itself, especially in the current crisis: I’m not alone and we don’t drive each other crazy, even with all the extra time we’re spending together. Plus I actually went out and got takeout from a local restaurant last night. We haven’t been out to eat since Valentine’s Day; my birthday and TYG’s were both spent safe at home. I’m a good cook so I don’t mind eating at home usually but it really felt good to indulge in a large pizza last night, followed by cheesecake (chocolate flourless torte for TYG).

So not such a bad week after all. And I did pet Wisp.

But things were still frustrating. For one thing I got two short stories back today. One was just a form-letter “no” which didn’t surprise me — I wasn’t at all sure my story was a good fit but I didn’t want to self-reject (as they say). The other was a disappointment: they’d told me back in December that I’d been shortlisted and I hadn’t heard since; I emailed them today to check and they wrote back (with apologies for not doing so sooner) that no, while they liked the story quite a bit, it just (drum roll) didn’t fit their needs. In some ways it’s more frustrating to come close and miss, though it’s happened to me quite a bit (nine times out of 10 getting shortlisted turns out to be the kiss of death).

The other source of frustration is that while I worked on several projects this week (plus some Leaf articles) and it was mostly productive, none of them are anywhere near finished. I’m editing the final draft of Questionable Minds but only part of the way through. I fixed the footnotes of the first two chapters of Undead Sexist Cliches and put them into a standardized format, plus starting the final draft but it’s barely a fraction of what has to be done. And I worked on redrafting Oh the Places You’ll Go! and I like the changes, but again, it’s slow going.

The biggest accomplishment was that I did some replotting on Impossible Takes a Little Longer and fixed, I think, a number of problems.

So not a bad week, but it would be nice to wrap something up or, you know, sell a story. Still, I’m better off than whoever lived here, so that’s something.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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Before Roe v. Wade and the limits of research

BEFORE ROE V. WADE: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling by Linda Greenhouse and Reva B. Siegel collects various speeches, articles, legislative statements and amicus curae briefs on the title topic. It’s a good addition to my reading for Undead Sexist Cliches but also shows there’s a point at which to stop researching.

The goal of the authors was to capture the period now 50 years gone when abortion was illegal in much of the country, activist groups helped arrange abortions (if you had the money, flying to Japan was one option) and reformers began to speak up. The debate over making moderate reforms was surprisingly different in the late 1960s, focusing on the right of doctors to give medical advice or the need to reduce population growth; it was only with feminism’s boom in the 1970s that the rights of women became the dominant issue.

On the right, nobody but Catholics focused on the life or rights of the fetus.For Phyllis Schlafly the issue was feminism: abortion was just part of the women’s libbers tricking women into giving up their god-given roles as mothers. Other conservatives saw abortion as a sign of society becoming more permissive about sex, which is why the Nixon campaign denounced McGovern (whose views on the topic weren’t very different) as the pro-permissive candidate of “amnesty, acid and abortion.” Nixon staffer Pat Buchanan (who would rant about feminism’s evils many times in his later career as a pundit) saw opposing abortion as a tactical move, a way to peel off Catholic working-class voters from the Democrats. It wasn’t until the end of the decade that “abortion is murder!” became the rallying cry of choice.

The authors conclude with an appendix in which they argue that contrary to some theories, the Supreme Court’s Roe decision did not spark a massive backlash against abortion rights which wouldn’t have happened if state legislatures had made the decision. At the start of the decade, several legislatures did liberalize their abortion laws, then the mostly Catholic opposition got organized and stopped further attempts. Unlike most pro-choicers, anti-abortion voters were single-issue focused, willing to vote against an otherwise favorable candidate on that basis alone.

This provided some useful context to my book’s chapter on anti-abortion cliches but not so much that I couldn’t have done without it. Which is my point about the limits of research: it’s not that I couldn’t learn more from other books, but I’m not going to learn so much that it’s worth the time to read them. I’m not sure it was worth the time for this one, though I did find it interesting (you can download it yourself for free, from a legit site, if you want). Seeking absolute knowledge is futile; at some point you’ve just got to jump in and start (and finish) writing. And with Undead Sexist Cliches, I think I’m there.

#SFWApro.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Politics, Undead sexist cliches, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

Have you ever thought about becoming an intracranial bleeder for fun and profit?

So about a year ago I did a video for Medscape as The Man With Low Testosterone (they’re training videos for doctors to learn how to handle various situations with patients). Today I did another one, as Herman, a man with horrible headaches (caused, I believe by intracranial bleeding, though Herman doesn’t know that) who doesn’t want to go to the E/R. We did this by Zoom so I spent a lot of time yesterday finding a spot in the house where I could film myself against a white wall. Eventually I settled on putting a step ladder in the downstairs bathroom doorway and putting my computer on top of it.

The taping went quite quickly (they were very pleased) and their direction was good; the biggest problem was that I woke up this morning with a slight headache and couldn’t get the idea I had intracranial bleeding out of my mind. That aside I feel as pleased as — well, a young comic book intern!Going over the script before the filming took up more time than expected but the pay is good, so I’m not complaining. Besides that, let’s see …

I got some more Leaf articles done. Last time I was working on them it was early in the pandemic and I found it a real slog. Apparently I’ve adjusted because this batch went down smooth.

I worked on rethinking both The Impossible Takes a Little Longer and Oh The Places You’ll Go! rather than just rewriting and pantsing yet another draft. Don’t get me wrong, the only way I can do early drafts is by winging it, but these have reached the point I need a thorough plot first. Both went well, though not as far along as I wanted.

I continued editing my hard copy of Questionable Minds and I finished the latest draft of Undead Sexist Cliches. Next week I start correcting in hard copy. Reading marketing material I learned I should have started on marketing about three months ago — but if I’d done that in advance I’d have finished the pre-book marketing and wouldn’t have the work ready. So hopefully this’ll work out.

And I posted on Atomic Junkshop about the Justice League’s first story and their use of snail mail as a way to find cases to work on.

I sent out two stories, one of which came back almost immediately. It will, of course, go out again, but it would be nice to get a sale from something besides Leaf. Leaf pays better than most fiction markets I submit to, and I’m pleased with the quality of my work, but getting fiction published is a lot more personal.

I’ll close with a shot of Wisp sleeping on the carpet from the previous week. I had to work so when I got up I hoped she’d join me on the couch but this is good too. If we do bring her inside on a regular basis we won’t be able to pet her all the time so having her relax on her own is good.#SFWApro. Photo is mine; covers are by Dick Giordano (top) and Murphy Anderson and all rights remain with current holder.

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Captain America, the Shadow and a Werewolf! Books read

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Captain America Lives Again by (mostly) Stan Lee and Jack Kirby collects the early years of Cap’s Silver Age series (leading up to the second collection, Coming of … The Falcon), plus his resurrection in Avengers and an early tryout story (Human Torch battles Cap, who turns out to be an imposter).  Like the second volume it’s worth reading but severely flawed, though for different reasons.

On the plus side we have Kirby’s dynamic art, plus a John Romita story (notably more romantic in tone than Lee/Kirby) and Gil Kane (I’m inclined to say more realistic than Kirby, though I’m not sure that’s the difference). We have, for much of the series, Lee’s intense, melodramatic dialog; coupled with Kirby’s art he creates the feeling this is not only the greatest battle of Cap’s life but the greatest battle of anyone’s life. And the following issue, they do it again. There’s also SHIELD agent Sharon Carter, one of the few love interests on the front lines in Silver Age Marvel, and much tougher than Invisible Girl and Wasp usually came across.

It takes a while to get to that point, though. First we sit through a half-dozen stories where Captain America has to defeat a dozen or so generic thugs, while informing them they have no hope of taking down a man with a lifetime of combat training. But Steve Rogers doesn’t have that: he became Captain America in 1941, when he was 19 (other sources may differ by a year or two) and went into the ice in 1945, when he was 23. As comics blogger Brian Cronin has said in some of his Avengers reviews, Lee frequently writes Cap as if the guy had stayed in action for the two decades since the war ended. In reality he’s only slightly older than Peter Parker (I feel a story idea in their somewhere …).

Stan and Jack then do some fun WW II stories (including the origin of the Red Skull) before bowing to reader requests and returning to the present. Now we get espionage, SHIELD agents, supervillains and Sharon. However the romance is really odd: even though they’re instantly attracted to each other, it’s still hard to buy Cap proposing on their first actual date (leading to a rather illogical twist in which he not only quits but reveals his identity). Overall, though this is fun despite the flaws.

The sixth shadow novel, THE DEATH TOWER, opens with psychoanalyst Dr. Palermo meeting a troubled patient in his penthouse — and having him strangled. This gets him the man’s priceless sapphire, after which he disguises himself as the dead guy to carry out another murder. This fools the cops but not the Shadow; however Palermo’s penthouse is a booby-trapped fortress and reaching him won’t be easy. This was excellent except for the handling of Palermo’s mistress, a nurse who kills for him; after the Shadow turns her, he ignores the murder and sets her free.

As I’ve mentioned before, buying my friends’ books is a little nerve-wracking, but  WOLFBANE: The Coldstone Files Book I by Jason Gilbert turned out to be a good read. The protagonist, James Coldstone has inherited money and lycanthropy from his father, but lives quietly due to Dad’s locally infamous murder spree. He does use his powers to help his cop best friend crack supernatural cases, but the one he takes on this book proves nastier than expected, involving an evil shapeshifter, a human-trafficking ring and a sexy werecat. And things get messy and very public … I’m not particularly a werewolf fan and urban fantasy is hit-or-miss with me, but this one was a winner.

Mary Beard’s WOMEN AND POWER is the print version of two lectures on the title topic. One, about women’s voices and they way they’re treated as unsuited to the public square (men demand or ask, women supposedly whine), was interesting. The other, on men’s control of the halls of power, covered stuff more familiar to me.

#SFWApro. Covers top to bottom by Jack Kirby, Kirby again and S.H. Roddey.

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Lo, there shall come furniture

I didn’t get anywhere as much done this week as I’d expected, probably about 3.5 days of actual work. Part of that was that the dilation drops from my opthalmologist Tuesday seemed to hit me harder than usual: I’d expected my eyes would be normal by afternoon but I wasn’t comfortable looking at the computer the rest of the day.

Then on Wednesday we got furniture. A few months ago, TYG had talked about replacing some of the old shelving she’s had since college with something new and pretty. I assumed she’d just given up with all the pandemic distraction but no, she hadn’t. Last weekend, a pantry arrived and we spent much of Saturday putting it together and rearranging the dining room around it.It was a lot of work, but I can’t deny it was worth it. The storage frees up a lot more space and our food stores are no longer taking up the table.

Wednesday, the second piece arrived. The good news was that it was only two pieces so we didn’t have much assembly; the bad news was that the upper half weighed more than 150 lbs so we sure as heck couldn’t put it up there ourselves. Fortunately our neighbor Eric, who’s bigger and stronger than either of us, came by (we all wore masks) and both directed us and did most of the heaving. With most of our pet treats, meds and food in the hutch (along with our small supply of booze) I was able to take some of the shelves that held that stuff and use them for my cookbooks and food-history books.I moved the plants that took up some of the shelving but I’m not satisfied with the arrangement below. I looked at ordering some shelving, but the creeping charlie is in a big, heavy pot and none of them are stable according to the reviews. As it’s hard to judge based on Internet reviews, I may just put them on a table until such time as I’m comfortable going to Home Depot or Target and checking them out physically (my ophthalmologist visit left me quite panicked so I don’t think I’m ready yet).So anyway, getting the boxes for the hutch in and putting it together consumed a lot of time, so I only had a half day of work Wednesday.

I got some more done on Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Apparently my mind has decided I should think this draft through carefully rather than just dashing it off as I usually do. I’ll trust I know what I’m doing. I also finished the redraft of Glory That Was so I’ll look for a market next week.

I went over more of Undead Sexist Cliches, prepping it before I print a hard copy for final proofing; finished a couple of Leaf articles as that source of income is back (yay!); wrote an article on Silver Age comics covers for Atomic Junkshop; and ordered the first of several reference books I’ll be buying as research for the Alien Visitors film-reference book.

Overall, pretty good. Plus I “sold” two more of the free copies of Philosophy and Fairytales (free until the end of the month, unless Smashwords extends the sale). Whoever you are out there, thanks for reading me.

#SFWApro.

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