Free Business Networking for Writers, Agents, Editors and other Professionals

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Social Networking - Where's the comraderie?

Cup your hands around your mouth and shout to the world, "Hey everyone! I'm over here! I have something to say, something to contribute to this dog and pony show called life!"

That is essentially what we are doing when we blog, join an online community, or build a personal website. I truly believe that everyone, no matter age or station in life, has something worthwhile to share with the world-at-large.

That's why DirectMatches Social and Business Networking has become a particular love of mine. I have met so many great people there and have had a really good time. I've even landed a few freelance writing jobs through my networking within the community!

The positive interaction between members, groovy site features, and loads of comraderie within the community are outstanding. However, where are the writers? How about the artists? Musicians?

Where are you guys and gals?

Sure, there are a few out of thousands of members. But where are all you folks who live and breathe this stuff?

Did you know that you can display a link to your website or blog on your profile for free? Or, that you can post an audio clip, video, and photos for free? How about the huge text description you can write about yourself, your art form, or freelance business?

Stick with me here...

I am a huge supporter of people who feed their artistic/entrepreneurial flame. I love to post well written short stories on my website,, to give aspiring writers that extra bit of exposure. I'll even post an associated piece of artwork with the short story if they have one.

One does not have to be just a writer for me to be a raving fan, bowing before the throne of their creative genius! Writers, artists, musicians, and even programmers (geek groupie alert!) impress the heck out of me and a whole lot of people I know.

That's why I want all of you to go put your free profile into the DirectMatches Social Networking community now! We fans/groupies need a central location to find you so we can keep up with the things you share on the internet!

And if you want to join in with the community activity going on around you...

Contact others through the safe, double-blind email system. No need to reveal more information about yourself than you want until you are comfortable with the person you are corresponding with. Burn up the chat rooms, message boards, and web-based instant messaging system with your thoughts and aspirations. Share your knowledge and experience with others.

You creative types need to throw us a bone! There is a new frontier to conquer - and that is the social networking arena!

Grammar Slammer -- English Grammar Resource

Grammar Slammer -- English Grammar Resource is the help file that goes beyond a grammar checker. Use it as you would any help file.

Here is a list of some of the sections it contains:

Style and Usage




Letter Writing

Common Mistakes and Choices

This is a link to the free online version. Enjoy and happy writing!

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Narrative and cognition in Beowulf

by David Herman, Becky Childs

This essay explores ways in which narrative functions as a "cognitive artifact," i.e., something used by humans for the purpose of supporting or enabling cognition. The essay grows out of our ongoing attempt to blend insights from several fields, including narrative theory, discourse analysis, cognitive science, anthropology, and literary studies. Synthesizing ideas developed in these disciplines, and using Beowulf as our tutor-text, we argue that stories provide crucial representational tools facilitating humans' efforts to organize multiple knowledge domains, each with its attendant sets of beliefs and procedures. (1) Relevant domains include not only those associated with social cognition, the mode of thinking that both enables and is shaped by social experience (see Fiske and Taylor), but also a variety of problem-solving activities extending beyond those connected with social life. More specifically, our essay uses Beowulf to show how stories afford resources for thinking in five broad problem domains, to be characterized below.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Simmering and Swooping: Creative steps before writing.

by Andrea O'Connor

Every serious writer has experienced periods when the creative flow abruptly halts. No ideas come forth or, at least, none that seem worth expressing and confidence plunges. An initial reluctance to sit down at the desk or word processor and write quickly develops into something akin to aversion. The wall between writer and words grows higher and thicker. It seems as if there is no hope for salvaging the situation. The run of words has ended.

The usual advice to writers caught in this downward spiral is to write through the block, and this works, usually. The discipline of putting pen to paper-or fingers to keyboard-somehow puts a crack in the wall, which eventually tumbles down as the writer moves more and more confidently into the writing. All is well; the crisis has passed.

However, writers experience other sensations related to their work. One such sensation is "simmering"; the other is "swooping." They are both essential steps in preparing for the creative task of writing. See if these are familiar to you.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

How to encourage your kids to write.

by Dave Marks

When I was teaching senior writing in a public high school, I wanted my students to do well so much that I marked everything I could find that needed improvement in every one of their papers. I even did this in red ink. Then I talked to each student and explained all the things they needed to learn for the next paper. When I think of those years I have to cringe with shame. What an awful thing I did to all those kids! It's surprising that any of them continued to do the papers I assigned.

This article asks you to look at how you're evaluating your children's writing and ask yourself the question, "What am I doing to my kids?"


Dave Marks is the author of the popular, award-winning homeschool writing program, Writing Strands. His interest in writing results both from an extensive education in the teaching of literature and writing and a long teaching career. He taught at the junior high, high school, and college levels for 30 years.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

On the Ergonomics of Character Development

by William Alan Rieser

Once you have names and descriptions for the heroes, villains and incidentals that populate your story, you realize that in order to achieve nuances, humanistic effects and interpretive insights it becomes necessary to flesh them out so that the reader can make certain identifications. Does one go about this systematically or randomly? If you are a formula writer and intend to repeat both venue and genre based upon successful prior efforts, then perhaps a system is not altogether the worst way to proceed. You might begin with certain stock questions that you know require answers within your tale. He is intelligent, so why does he err so often? She is aloof and non-committal, so why is she politically motivated? These are basically designed to show, not tell, why that particular clock ticks. The random developer prefers to do this within or near the more active moments, to keep behavioral reasons close in the mind of the reader rather than rely upon memory.

It is also useful to put your plot to work so that it enhances the character without your having to waste excessive narrative. Flashbacks and visions are common devices for bringing out unsuspected traits that you wish instilled. Interaction between individuals is probably the most lively and informative method of reaching specific meaning and if you can handle it with tight, memorable dialogue, it will assist you in gaining that illusory edge on the flow of ideas that all of us cherish. Another technique that aids a developer is the deliberate creation of curiosities that force characters and readers equally to respond, a real challenge if you've never done it and a rewarding one.

Then there are the various psychological questions pertaining to you. If you answer these truthfully, you've got a good chance to create something fresh that the reader will enjoy. Are you seeing this fellow as an extension of yourself or what you wish you were? Does this man represent the antithesis of what you believe? Is she so nondescript, that more words are moot or foolish? Are you trying to write about people that you thoroughly understand or are you guessing? Most importantly, will the reader emote as intended? Does he truly hate the son-of-a-bitch for his surliness or love her for her raw compassion? Finally, have you adequately conveyed all that is necessary to avoid confusion?

Granted, these little tips are obvious now that I've stated them. But it took me a long time to incorporate them well because tale telling is not entirely natural, considering how many weaknesses we all possess. Use them to make your prose clear and your dramas vivid. Good luck to all of you.

© 2001 William Alan Rieser

William Alan Rieser is the author of the Kaska Trilogy and The Zusalem Chronicles. Visit his website at

Friday, March 25, 2005

Alice In Wonderland - Free eBook

Our gift to you -

Download for free the eBook and read Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Compliments of Creative Perspectives and

Monday, March 21, 2005

Featured Fanfiction @

Have you read the Anita Blake - Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton? Do you enjoy fan fiction based upon that series?

Then go to Fanfiction @ to read Dark Desires or Petite Morte and get your fanfic fix! (Note: Truncated version of Petite Morte at - Extended version at

Both short stories are about a hot romance between Anita Blake and Edward, a sexy, stone-cold assasin.

Or, if you prefer reading about an original character living, fighting, and loving in the Anita Blake universe, then check out The Mara Series.

Grab a cup of coffee and visit Fanfiction @ now!

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

About Writing.Com - The online community for readers and writers.


Writing.Com is the premiere online community for readers and writers of all ages and interests. Whether you are a casual reader searching for a good story or an enthusiastic writer looking for the perfect place to store and display your masterpieces, Writing.Com is the website for you!

Free memberships are available to anyone who wishes to join. Each registered membership includes an online portfolio, numerous creative user tools, email services and the chance to meet and bond with fresh creative minds!

For The Authors

We encourage our members to showcase their talent by providing the necessary tools and support. Each member is supplied with a free online portfolio in which to store literary items. Adding items to portfolios is made simple through the use of online creation utilities. Authors are also provided with an easy-to-remember public portfolio URL, which can be handed out to publishers, friends and family!

Each Writing.Com Author contributes a great deal in his or her own way, whether by adding ideas into another's interactive story or enlightening our visitors with their own creative tales. We strive to recognize and promote those individuals with outstanding portfolios and positive interaction; these members are Preferred Authors and Writing.Com Moderators. If you have a question or need a helping hand, these members are a great place to start!

Writers of all skill levels are able to get a feel for their own style and how readers truly react to it. With the Writing.Com rating system, authors no longer have to rely on friends and family alone for encouragement and criticism. After reading an item, registered members have the ability to rate and review any rateable item; thereby, giving the author a completely unbiased opinion. If a writer would like to simply showcase an item without receiving feedback, that is also an option.

The constant exposure to opinion and constructive criticism can increase the quality of an Author’s writing on a daily basis. Authors will also find that reading and reviewing other members' items may further their own writing with new ideas, writing styles and topics. The flow of creative ideas within the community is both beneficial and inspiring!

Writing.Com also provides many advertising and exposure opportunities for Authors within the site itself using genres, item listings and the Sponsored Item section.

For The Readers

Where there are great Authors, there are great items to read! The enjoyment to be had by the Writing.Com reader is limitless on this site. The scope and breadth of the creativity posted here is truly phenomenal.

Writing.Com has thousands of wonderful short stories, poems, novels, articles and essays ranging from fiction to non-fiction, romantic to horror. Readers will also enjoy taking part in madlibs, word searches and interactive stories! Our readers offer great encouragement to the Authors by providing honest and constructive feedback when rating and reviewing their rateable items. And be sure to delve further into any Author's portfolio to find any of his or her unrateable items on showcase.

And besides the obvious enjoyment that reading provides, there is the added benefit of expanding one's own literary skills. As time goes on, readers may feel so inspired by the creative environment and community support that they actually create their own items and become Writing.Com Authors!

For The Educators

Writing.Com is a great resource for education professionals. Our Group item makes it easy and efficient to gather students in an online classroom! Teachers may set up Groups for each of the classes he or she teaches. Set up one group for Period One: English and another for Period Six: Writing 101. Teachers then enter the students into a Group using the Writing.Com username of each.

A few of the benefits for teachers and students are:

... bulletins to announce new assignments to the Group. If a student misses class, he or she has easy access 24/7 to classroom assignments and updates.

... message forums to discuss topics within the Group. This is a centralized area where Group members may respond to a topic or bring up their own.

... group email to send updates or new assignments quickly. Leaders have the ability to get emails out quickly and efficiently with one click of the mouse.

... consistency within student work. If each group member (student) posts his or her work on Writing.Com within his or her portfolio, checking and reviewing the work is made easy! Students (group members) use WritingML to post assignments and teachers use the review text box at the bottom to give feedback.

About The Business

Writing.Com is owned and operated by 21x20 Media, Inc. Founded in September 2000, this wonderful, creative community has grown to be the largest and leading online writing web site today! Each day hundreds of new members join in the fun and thousands of our current members welcome them with open arms.

Writing.Com Staff is readily available and monitoring the website almost 24/7. We interact with our members as much as possible and answer questions in a very timely manner.

All Writing.Com software is proprietary and written in-house. This allows us to provide customized features and cutting-edge activities such as interactive stories, survey forms, groups, madlibs, and user polls. The future holds nothing but creativity, inspiration and support.

We take pride in our efforts to encourage readers and writers to exercise their minds online. Writing.Com fuels creativity and ideas by providing an active and imaginative environment.

Explore your creativity... become a Writing.Com member today!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Revising made easy: Three steps.

Revising made easy: Three steps.
by Nicole Murphy

When you’re writing, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of producing the work. It’s also easy to believe that what you’ve produced is wonderful and send it out straight away. But few of us produce perfect copy first time, every time. We need to revise and edit out work.

Yes, I can see you cringing. You’ve just spent hours doing the work, you don’t want to spend hours revising it. But it doesn’t have to take hours. Go over these three things and you will ensure you send out quality work.

1). Answer the question posed by the work. Fiction or non-fiction, every piece you write is asking a question. It could be who done it, in the case of a murder mystery or how can you edit work quickly, as in this article. But if you don’t answer the question, your reader is going to hate you and no publisher will touch you. So skim read the piece, identifying the question asked at the beginning and make sure you answer it by the end.

2). Is every part of the piece necessary? During your research on cooking for a diabetic, you come across interesting information on the latest medication for diabetes. You’ve put it into the article, but now you have to ask, is it necessary? Of course, the answer is no. The same must be asked of the totally brilliant fiction paragraph you wrote, describing your heroine’s rose garden. Fabulous prose, undoubtedly but necessary? Read each section and ask yourself, can I take this out without ruining the meaning of the piece? Answer the question honestly.

3). Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Ergh, I hear you say. But there isn’t an editor in the world who will love your piece with bad spelling and you want the editor to love your piece. Run your computer spell check over the piece, then print it out and sit down to read it. The spell check won’t pick up things like homonyms. Read the piece aloud, and listen to where you need to take breaths. That’s a good pointer to where punctuation should be. And if the grammar is wrong, you’ll hear it because the sentence will seem clumsy or not make sense.

Do these three things and you’ll jump to the head of the pack.

-- Nicole R Murphy is a writer and copyeditor, who runs a copyediting and critiquing business at She hopes this article will help you put her out of business!

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Secret Structure Of Direct Mail Sales Letters

In copywriting, the structure of the sales letter is the key to producing powerful, results grabbing material. You are about to discover the "secret" structure or formula that successful copywriters, those who make six figures per year, use to write hard-hitting sales letters that make a lot of money for the companies they work with as well as for themselves. Read on to learn how you can apply this secret to your copy and set yourself on the path to duplicating the same success for yourself!

Subscribe to the Creative Perspectives Newsletter to access this article. Creative Perspectives provides discussion and how-tos on the subjects of creative writing and copywriting.

Monday, March 07, 2005

MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT has provided a comprehensive resource for self-learners worldwide. The service and materials are freely given for private use. Yet another reason to respect this fine Institute of Higher Learning.

From their website:

MIT OpenCourseWare - a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners around the world. OCW supports MIT's mission to advance knowledge and education, and serve the world in the 21st century. It is true to MIT's values of excellence, innovation, and leadership.


  • Is a publication of MIT course materials
  • Does not require any registration
  • Is not a degree-granting or certificate-granting activity
  • Does not provide access to MIT faculty

MIT OCW is a large-scale, Web-based electronic publishing initiative funded jointly by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and MIT.

MIT OCW's goals are to:

  • Provide free, searchable, access to MIT's course materials for educators, students, and self-learners around the world.
  • Extend the reach and impact of MIT OCW and the "opencourseware" concept.

MIT OCW would not be possible without the support and generosity of the MIT faculty who choose to share their research, pedagogy, and knowledge to benefit others. We expect MIT OCW to reach a steady - though never static - state by 2008. Between now and then, we will publish the materials from virtually all of MIT's undergraduate and graduate courses.

We will be continually evaluating the Access, Use, and Impact of MIT OCW over the course of the next five years. With 900 courses published as of September 2004, we are still in a learning stage of this MIT initiative and we will benefit enormously from your feedback, as we strive to make MIT OCW as rich and useful as possible for our users.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

A Writer's Rant and The Practical Application Of Stealth Teaching

We've been hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Blind-sided with a practical lesson within the entertainment we were offered!

As a Writer and an avid reader, I prefer to spend time surfing the internet and reading the works of others over watching an hour or two of mind numbing sitcoms on television. To me, reading is the best form of entertainment, because it engages the brain on many levels while recharging the creative battery.

Imagine my wild-eyed glee when finding a humorous post full of biting wit with an absolutely unexpected twist at the end. Gasp! The entire time I was reading and chuckling behind my hand, I was learning a practical, useful lesson! And, I had no idea what was happening until the end.

"Welcome to Stealth Teaching 101, kiddies! Your instructor today is Metro. Please point your browsers to metRo cReaTive sTudios and prepare to laugh your way to knowledge."

Many Thanks to Metro from
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To Outline Or Not To Outline

To Outline Or Not To Outline
by Mallory York

Ah, the age-old writer's debate--to outline or not to outline?

Outlines have proven quite effective for a lot of writers, and many of the famous stories we know and love--such as Star Wars--were outlined before they were fleshed out into a living, breathing story. (Well, metaphorically living and breathing, anyway.)

But many of the stories that touched us most--like real-life experiences--simply happened, no outlining was needed. Some stories just come to you, while others need some refining before they're ready to be written. The question is, which one works best for you?

I have always been a 'seat-of-the-pants' writer--that is, I've just sat down and written most of what I want to write, without any outlining or prior planning.

However, on several occasions I have actually written detailed outlines and come up with very rewarding and satisfying pieces of writing for my efforts.

Some people swear that they can't write a single sentence until they know what the end is going to be. Other people--like me--are the opposite. They can't write the ending until they've written the beginning. They have no idea how the story will end when they type in that first sentence. Some people even write an outline for each scene, number them, put them in order and then write them in that order, without considering which to write first--ending, middle, or climax.

For me, outlining in too much detail takes all of the spontaneity out of writing. It makes me feel like I've already written the whole story before when I sit down at the keyboard to start typing. I know from experience that if I outline scene by scene, going through every hand motion and every eye motion and every tilt of the head that my characters are making--it won't be as new and exciting when I'm doing the actual writing. And I will get bored.

Not being one to outline by trade, I sort of made up my own outlining style, and it is actually more of a summary than an outline.

For example, I have a 36-page 'outline' for a novel I want to write. Every time I sat down to write on it--excited about finishing this story and getting it published--I would read the first few lines of the outline, try to start where I left off last time, and fail miserably.

The outline was just too detailed--I felt that it took away all of the freedom I have as a writer. So I thought it over, and decided that an outline was just a tool, and we all use tools differently. Now, if I have an outline at all, I consider it a "rough draft" of the story, and so I can change things around if I decide it's better that way.

But you're asking, "Do you mean that the answer to 'to outline or not to outline' is not to?"

Not at all!

Outlining works for some people and it doesn't for others. I believe that everyone should write in whatever style works best for them. If you find yourself at a dead-end in your creativity (sometimes known better as 'writer's block') you might want to examine what an outline means to you.

If you usually outline and now find yourself at a dead end, try spontaneously writing something--without an outline. Anything will do. Write random scenes and keep them all in a folder or journal to read later--who knows, one might even inspire a new story for you.

For those who usually write spontaneously and are at a dead end, perhaps you should experiment with outlining. I used to swear I would never outline. But when I gave in and tried it, I did get some good results. If the outline seems too rigid, you might try what works for me--which is to put less detail into the outline.

I have a very detailed writing style, so it's natural for me to want to note every little thing in the outline. But that was a mistake. I've learned to write the outline with just enough detail so that I will know what will happen, when and how, and then move on to the actual story-writing.

So the answer to 'to outline or not to outline?', at least as far as I'm concerned, is 'to outline--loosely, and only if it works well for you?

In closing, here are some tips for writing a more flexible outline:

  1. Keep it simple. You don't need to write the outline with perfect grammar and punctuation, or from your point of view character's perspective. Remember, this is just a generalized guide.

  2. Try not to get too detailed about what happens in any one particular scene. Just figure out where they are in the beginning ('They're slogging along the roadside in the rain.') and where they are at the end ('They finally decide to stop and rest, so they make a tent out of the umbrella and blankets and go to sleep') and fill in the blanks when you actually write the scene.

  3. Write it in present tense. That seems to make it easier to feel more in the immediate "now" of the story, and seems more natural to me. Even though I always write in past tense in my stories (present tense actually annoys me in stories, but that's just my preference I guess) I always write my outlines in present tense.

    The outline seems more immediate and real when written in present tense, and helps me stick with it and develop the outline all the way to the end of the story. I suppose you could write your outlines in whatever tense you like, but this is just another way to distinguish the real writing of the story from the outline-writing.

  4. Enjoy yourself. A writer's mood translates through in their word choice, so if you're writing humor but are actually feeling angry, the funny story may seem a little forced.

While not always true--I frequently write angst and sad stories even though I'm generally happy--the truth is that if you don't enjoy writing your stories, what was the point? And if your answer was 'money', perhaps you should try a different profession and just pursue fiction writing as a hobby.

Copyright © Mallory York

Mallory York has been drawing since before she knew how to date a picture, and has been creating anime art for four years. Among her favorite anime series are Fushigi Yuugi, Gundam Wing, and The Slayers. You can read some of her fanfic at and view more of her artwork at and also at

Thanks to Mallory York from
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Friday, March 04, 2005

Writing Believable Dialogue

Writing Believable Dialogue
by Nicole Murphy

There’s nothing that kills a scene like hackneyed dialogue. Just stop and think about the average B-Grade Hollywood Movie. Sure, at times the plot is bad and the characterisation woeful but most of the time, what stops it from being a good movie is the dialogue. Cringe-worthy dialogue.

So, how do you write good dialogue? There are a number of factors and the most important one is: don’t try too hard. Not every thing out of a character’s mouth has to be scintilating. Sometimes, the best dialogue comes about because it’s so simple and normal. So relax.

You need to let your characters speak. If they are highly educated, they will probably speak with great grammar and have a high vocabulary. If they left school at fourteen and have worked for five years in the local abottoir, their language is likely to be more colourful. If your character is a chatterbox, let them ramble. If they are the strong and silent type, let them be silent. Don’t force words into their mouth and don’t try to make them conform to your own views of good communication.

Good dialogue flows. The characters react to what another character has said. For example:

"I went to the show the other day."

"Really? Was it any good?"

"Not bad. The dogs were cute but the cows were too noisy."

"I was talking to George the other day."

Huh? How did talk about the show bring George into the conversation? To make it flow, it needs something more like:

"I went to the show the other day."

"Really? Was it any good?"

"Not bad. The dogs were cute but the cows were too noisy."

"Speaking of dogs, I was talking to George the other day..."

If you aren’t sure if your dialogue flows, the classic way to test it is to read it aloud. You’ll hear any problems, just like you do in the bad Hollywood movies. Better still, get your family and friends to act it out for you. It gets them involved in your writing and you can stand back and really observe and listen to what is going on.

The other thing dialogue needs is connection to the action of the story. Stop and think about the conversations you have. They are always related somehow to the action of your day, whether it’s a conversation you’re having as you catch the bus to work or a conversation with a work colleague or catching up with your partner at the end of the day.

Keep the dialogue connected to the characters, the setting and the plot by surrounding it with action. The example above is quite bland. But surround it with action and it comes alive.

Carrie sat down, opened the sugar packet and sprinkled it in her tea, then stirred it. "I went to the show the other day."

"Really?" Sophie took a long sip of her coffee. "Was it any good?"

Carrie shrugged. "Not bad. The dogs were cute but the cows were too noisy." She poured milk into her tea.

Sophie put her coffee cup down and leant forward, eyes sparkling. "Speaking of dogs, I was talking to George the other day..."

Now the dialogue seems real, because we can picture the characters and their setting. We also get an idea of how they’re feeling. Carrie’s shrug tells us the show didn’t really thrill her. Sophie’s sparkling eyes tell us she’s got something exciting to say.

So spend a bit of time developing your dialogue, and your stories will be much more successful.

Copyright © 2003 Nicole Murphy

Nicole R Murphy spends so much time talking, you'd think her dialogue scenes would be magnificent! She wants to help you develop your dialogue. If this article isn't helpful enough, why not try out her services at Take advantage of the free trial offer to try her out.

Thanks to Nicole Murphy from
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Original Fiction @ - New Short Story!

Original Fiction @ has a great, new addition!

Visit now to read The Closet (Rated: G) by Easywriter.

The Closet is a cute short story that you'll want to read to your children, and it's sure to tickle their funny-bone!

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