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Thread: Winslet Press / Think Cap Design Studios (formerly Tekeme Studios)

  1. #1
    frelled Jerboa's Avatar
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    Winslet Press / Think Cap Design Studios (formerly Tekeme Studios)

    No thread on these guys? http://winsletpress.com/

    I had a full request from a Twitter pitch a few months ago now. The response time (then, I'm not sure about now) was two weeks.

    I exchanged a couple of emails with someone there and she confirmed she'd received my MS and all that. Then they announced on Twitter they'd accepted all they were going to for this year up until a certain point, so I Tweeted and asked if full requests would get a response. I was told, yes.

    I waited. Heard nothing.

    A little while ago, I sent a polite chase email to ask if they were still considering my MS and have heard nothing. Should I prod again or give up? First submitted in Jan. Chased in May.

  2. #2
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Red Flag Alert!

    We are a new small publishing company underneath of Tekeme Studios. Having worked primarily with authors and self-publishing writers as a design business, we decided to branch out and publish books as well. We have streamlined our approach to effectively publishing books and would love to help you reach your dreams.
    http://winsletpress.com/about-us/
    Marilyn Grey has six books out with Winslet Press. From the Tekeme website:

    Self-publishing is so much fun, which is why we LOVE helping others take the journey toward self-publishing their books. First, we have Winslet Press, a small press just starting out with a handful of authors. We give our authors so much control over the look and feel of their books and they love it. We see Winslet as an opportunity for people to get all the benefits of self-publishing without having to pay out of pocket. We do everything for them.

    However, there are some people who don’t mind the upfront costs of self-publishing and would rather pay us via Tekeme Studios to get the ball rolling so they can keep all of their royalties. This is a great option and we love helping our authors reach their goals.

    Just this week, we helped Marilyn Grey reach the Amazon and iTunes best sellers list. Her books were not yet available on Barnes and Noble. If so, I have no doubt she would have sky-rocketed there as well (perhaps with the next book). On Amazon, as you can see on the images in this post, she reached #5 in the best sellers list, #1 in 5 categories, and has remained in the best sellers list for 3 days. She has sold over 10,000 copies already and the sales keep coming. Needless to say, she’s thrilled and so are we!

    So, how can we help you become a best seller too? Easy! If you are ready to invest in your books, sign up for one of our self-publishing packages and we’ll work side-by-side with you to figure out the best marketing plan for your books. We’ll help you reach your goals effectively and do all of the legwork for you. Marilyn’s books have already made back what she would’ve spent on The Works Self-Publishing Package and then some! The profits just keep rolling in and what’s even better … her exposure is increasing!
    http://tekemestudios.com/how-to-become-a-best-seller/
    I have to wonder if they're playing the old bait-and-switch game by telling authors that their ms isn't quite what Winslet is looking for, then passing them on to Tekeme.

    From Winslet's FAQ:

    How Much Will I Get Paid?

    At this time Winslet Press does not offer advances to authors. However, you will receive more royalties than you would with a large publisher. Your initial payment will be 90 days after your release date and all subsequent payments will be made on the 1st of each month thereafter.

    Does This Cost Anything?

    Absolutely not. If we believe in your work we are going to invest our time and money into bringing your book to life. You never pay a dime.
    Of course, if you want to be a bestseller like Marilyn Grey and "keep all your royalties" you might be tempted to go for the paid package. There are three to choose from priced at $1248, $2000 and $2500.

    How Long Does it Take?

    The time we receive a query to the the book being in readers hands is determined by how prepared you are, how polished your manuscript is, and how quickly we work together to form the final product. This can be anywhere from 2 months to 6 months max.
    That doesn't give Winslet much time for editing, cover design etc.

    Am I Required to Handle My Own Marketing?

    We will provide 20 free copies to readers prior to the release of your book but we cannot guarantee a review or a positive one. We will also host giveaways on GoodReads prior to the launch of your book. The best form of marketing is word-of-mouth, so spend more of your time writing and less time tweeting about what you write. We’ve found that the more books you’ve written and made available, the better your sales become.
    So the answer to that question is basically "Yes".

    If any of the people behind Tekeme/Winslet have previous experience in publishing or editing it isn't made explicit on either website.
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 07-01-2014 at 12:35 AM.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
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  3. #3
    frelled Jerboa's Avatar
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    I won't bother chasing again then, thanks. I see that they've put a lot more info up on their website than I saw originally after the Twitter thing.

  4. #4
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Winslet's submissions guidelines make it clear that they don't accept anything with erotic or pornographic content and publish "both religious and non-religious manscripts". Last year Takeme Studios had a run-in with a dissatisfied customer on Ripoff Report, and in defence of his company the "owner"- presumably George Weis - stated that TS "works mainly with Christian authors" and won't accept submissions with "blasphemous and profane content" that "takes the Lord's name in vain":

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/tekeme...ip-lan-1052945

    If Winslet also follows these guidelines the company would be well advised to say so. I suspect it would reduce the size of the slush pile considerably...

    Oh, and I've just noticed that Tekeme's "Project Director-Programmer" Ashley Weis, George's wife, also has three books out with Winslet Press.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    From what I gather on Twitter and blogs, they just dumped several authors who had signed contracts but whose books hadn’t yet been released—without explanation or apology. For example:

    http://briegowen.com/2014/06/26/bad-day/
    http://www.alwaysabigail.com/2014/06...-bad-news.html
    http://jelsamepsey.blogspot.com/2014...s-another.html

    One author, whose book was just released by Winslet a few days ago, terminated her contract because of "unprofessional decisions":

    http://www.christinayother.com/#!You...6-C0569AD0875D
    ---

    They accepted my book in April and claimed to have sent the contract. It never arrived, even though I contacted them several times over the next few weeks. They kept on replying that they would resend it. I thought I was going insane, but I consider myself very lucky compared to the dumped authors, who were building their platforms and street teams and doing everything they could to spread the word about their books. Now they have nothing to show for it. A couple are determined to push on and self-publish their books.

    I believe Winslet is no longer taking unsolicited submissions, and as of 6/30/14 their website hasn't been updated to reflect that and their much smaller stable of authors.

    I suppose this can be a cautionary tale about the risks of submitting to a brand new small press.

  6. #6
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Hardly Christian behavior, from the publisher. And yet, the authors are showing incredible grace and can-do spirit. I feel so sorry for them.

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  7. #7
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    wlwashburn, that's sad news indeed. I wonder what happened between June 17th, when according to WP's Facebook they were "currently seeking new authors", and June 26th, when they unceremoniously dumped at least three contracted writers?

    I'm also beginning to wonder if WP founder Ashley Weis and their best-selling author Marilyn Grey could be one and the same person. Grey's own website is out of commission and her Facebook is strangely impersonal - every single post since she joined Facebook on May 23rd last year is about her books or the wonderfulness of Winslet Press, without a single reference to her family, friends, day job, social life etc. I also find this a bit odd:

    Always wanted to be on the cover a book? Well, here’s your chance. My publisher is allowing me to host a contest where you get to star on the covers of the next books.
    https://www.facebook.com/marilyngreyauthor
    Isn't this the sort of thing that a publisher should arrange, not "allow" an author to do?

    There's only one photo of Marilyn Grey on her Facebook and she looks very much like Ashley Weis. I could be mistaken, of course, but if I'm right it suggests that WP started out as a self-publishing front.

    Frankly, I think the dumped authors might have dodged a bullet. And does anyone else find it downright creepy that one of WP's books is Ashley's account of her husband George's recovery from his addiction to porn?
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 07-03-2014 at 09:08 PM.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
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    frelled Jerboa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceshortcake View Post
    And does anyone else find it downright creepy that one of WP's books is Ashley's account of her husband George's recovery from his addiction to porn?
    Yes! I saw that when I was checking them out after the request and it made me cringe but I thought... well, none of my business really. Did weird me out though.

    I was initially put off by the Christian aspect (I write m/m too under a pen name - plus I have another non-romance book I'm trying to sell which has demons and whatnot in) but the book they requested of mine is a fairly sweet YA so I didn't think they'd find anything offensive in it.

    edit: reading those blogs that wlwashburn posted links to, I can see the authors they did accept all seem to be Christian, whereas I'm agnostic and, while I did have initial reservations about whether or not I could work with a Christian press, I figured it didn't (and shouldn't) matter what religion they were. But I'm really glad I got a non-response now!
    Last edited by Jerboa; 07-01-2014 at 06:31 PM.

  9. #9
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Yesterday I sent a polite message to Winslet Press alerting them to the existence of this thread. Their response:

    Thanks for letting us know. We aren't interested in publicly defending ourselves against those who choose to slander, but thank you for the heads up!
    Well, I suppose an explanation of their behaviour would have been too much to hope for...

    Edited to add: the WP website has been stripped of most of its content and that of Tekeme Studios has been taken down completely.
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 07-02-2014 at 01:33 PM.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
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  10. #10
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Thanks for letting us know. We aren't interested in publicly defending ourselves against those who choose to slander, but thank you for the heads up!
    Oh, yay. That whole 'not knowing the difference between slander and libel' -- not to mention not knowing what actually qualifies as slander or libel -- problem. Yet another red flag.
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  11. #11
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Curiouser and curiouser...author Marilyn Grey has two Facebook accounts. The second one is just as impersonal as the first and tells us that she graduated from Chicago College of the Arts in 2005. Now, according to Grey's Amazon profile she's "twenty-something". Even if we assume that she's 29 that would still make her a fifteen-year-old prodigy at the time of her graduation. Also, I can't find any trace of Chicago College of the Arts!

    Ms Grey, if you're a real person and not Ashley Weis' alter-ego I'll be happy to apologise...but this does look very peculiar.
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 07-02-2014 at 04:25 PM.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
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  12. #12
    frelled Jerboa's Avatar
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    I'm impressed by how much digging you do, aliceshortcake. Thanks for that!

  13. #13
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Vonnegut, thanks so much for sharing your awful experience with AW. My mind is well and truly boggled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vonnegut View Post
    They told me if the emails sounded short and terse it was because “they were” and since they were a small press, they had limited time for each author. I get that, but I don’t get being rude or unprofessional. If you don’t have time to handle all the authors you have, you shouldn’t have signed them in the first place.
    So much for the "family" atmosphere promised on WP's old website, in which "decisions are made with the authors, not for them"!

    Then things started getting weird. They emailed the majority of their authors, canceling their contracts. People whose books were coming out soon, who had just announced their release, and who had their hopes up about something they’d dreamed about forever, were just crushed for seemingly no reason at all. The explanation they were given after being terminated was that Ashley Weis (the owner) and her husband George Weis were experiencing a family emergency. Their son (who has a gofund me page here: http://www.gofundme.com/Help-Symeon-Walk ) was receiving “emergency surgery” and that was the reason why they canceled so many of their contracts.
    From Author Marilyn Grey's Facebook:



    A few authors took issue with this over email, expressing their sympathy for the situation, but reminding the publisher that this was a business and they still should have handled things differently. The authors were essentially called heartless, and treated with a degree of contempt and condescension I’ve never seen between adults before.
    How many times have we seen small presses fall by the wayside when the owners were overwhelmed by health/personal problems?

    At one point, this was the profile pic of Candice Covahey, the “editor” at Winslet, and Marilyn's current author photo. Here is one of the comments on the pic [snipped]

    Winslet…as in Winslet Press. I'm guessing that's where they got the name.
    Also from Author Marilyn Grey's Facebook:



    There are also a couple of photos of Kate Winslet in Titanic.

    Before it was taken down, their official website (winsletpress.com) also listed Ashley’s husband George as G.B. , (no last names). His name was used previously, so I am not sure why they did this but it’s probably something sketchy, perhaps to hide the connection to Ashley’s older book about his porn addiction?
    If so it was a pretty feeble attempt - Ashley has splurged George's porn addiction all over the internet (sorry about the mental image).

    I’ll be damned, if I’m going to let another author fall for this. It’s cruel and unfair, and they are very good at covering their tracks. I know the publishing world is tough, but there is a difference between an industry that’s hard to break into, and a company that’s a complete and utter sham.
    Good for you! This is a case in which the victims should NOT turn the other cheek.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Welcome, Vonnegut, and thank you for sharing your experiences. We have an image size limit of 400 x 400 pixels, however, so if you could resize those top two, it'd be much appreciated.
    ICAO
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  15. #15
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Vonnegut
    There’s one thing to have a pen name (and Ashley has a lot – Vincent Crane and Wesley Crown among the ones we've found)
    An example of how shamelessly Winslet's authors and authors-to-be were misled:








    This has to be the most bizarre thread since the great Firefly and Wisp debacle!
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
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  16. #16
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I keep seeing versions of this outcome. Authors, please be aware of the hidden dangers of Twitter pitch responses. Yes, some of them can be legit, but you owe it to yourselves to research them the way you should research any publisher: diligently! You don't have to dance with everyone who asks.

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  17. #17
    frelled Jerboa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    You don't have to dance with everyone who asks.
    I have ignored requests from two publishers who've asked for my work through Twitter pitches, but Winslet (at the time) wasn't ringing any alarm bells for me. I think a lot of the info now has emerged afterwards. But yes, definitely don't think you have to send to everyone!

  18. #18
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    I get the impression that there's much more to this implosion than meets the eye.

    The first Winslet Press books were published in 2010. Two years later Ashley Weis, using her maiden name, posted this comment on a blog entry entitled How to Survive Financial Crisis in Your Marriage:

    Ashley Silouan • 2 years ago
    Our gas just got turned off today, interesting timing of this post! Haha... That means cold showers and no cooking on the stove/oven. One thing we've learned (having experienced much of this) is LAUGH! There are people all over the world who never have hot water or an oven, and they're fine. They don't have cars or houses with carpet, just little huts. I've seen so much joy in them... and yet, we're given so much and sometimes believe we have so little.
    http://www.marydemuth.com/how-to-sur...your-marriage/
    You have to wonder if Winslet Press was ever financially secure.

    And whilst I have the greatest sympathy for anyone dealing with a sick child and hefty medical bills, I can't help noticing that according to http://www.gofundme.com/Help-Symeon-Walk the surgeon who performed the first operation did so for free (are American surgeons in the habit of performing $50,000 worth of work for nothing?) and a second operation was scheduled for June. Was this the "emergency" surgery that apparently caused Winslet to downsize, if not go under altogether? We'll probably never know. In any case, it's fairly obvious that Ashley and George Weis have been playing fast and loose with the intellectual property of authors who believed that Winslet would, as the old website put it, "love to help you reach your dreams".

    Edited to add: we aren't the first to suspect that Winslet is basically a self-publishing front:

    http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.p...small-presses/
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 07-03-2014 at 02:51 PM.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
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  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceshortcake View Post
    I get the impression that there's much more to this implosion than meets the eye.

    The first Winslet Press books were published in 2010. Two years later Ashley Weis, using her maiden name, posted this comment on a blog entry entitled How to Survive Financial Crisis in Your Marriage:



    You have to wonder if Winslet Press was ever financially secure.

    And whilst I have the greatest sympathy for anyone dealing with a sick child and hefty medical bills, I can't help noticing that according to http://www.gofundme.com/Help-Symeon-Walk the surgeon who performed the first operation did so for free (are American surgeons in the habit of performing $50,000 worth of work for nothing?) and a second operation was scheduled for June. Was this the "emergency" surgery that apparently caused Winslet to downsize, if not go under altogether? We'll probably never know. In any case, it's fairly obvious that Ashley and George Weis have been playing fast and loose with the intellectual property of authors who believed that Winslet would, as the old website put it, "love to help you reach your dreams".

    Edited to add: we aren't the first to suspect that Winslet is basically a self-publishing front:

    http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.p...small-presses/
    I'm the burned client who filed the Ripoff Report cited earlier in this thread. I would strongly -- STRONGLY -- advise anyone who is contacted by this Winslet Press (yes, it's just a phonily re-branded Tekeme Studios) to avoid any dealings with them. I never did meet a crook who pulled a swindle just once, and it's clear that they've tinkered their grift into convincing people that they're legit publishers. If they're charging people these exorbitant amounts to self-publish -- only to leave them in the lurch after making false promises -- then that's beyond shameless. The testimonials listed in this thread are heart-breaking. As for this "Marilyn Grey," well, it's laughably obvious that she's both a snare to bait aspiring authors into Tekeme's web and a flimsy alter ego for Andrea Dworkin-wannabe Ashley Weis and her endless grudge against the male sex. George Weis is just as bad, but you can at least sum up a measure of sympathy for a man who's been turned into a thinly-veiled effigy for his wife's neuroses. Oh, and beware the poor, sick child ploy to get donations. I suspect that this child is about as tangible as the phantasmal Ms Grey.

  20. #20
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    What's been happening at Winslet Press lately? Not a lot, if their website is anything to go by:

    We do not accept queries of any kind. If you are a publisher interested in foreign rights or buying rights to any of our current books/authors, or if you have any questions, please contact us via the form below.
    http://winsletpress.com/
    There are no books on the site, just a handful of articles. However, a little bird tells me that George and Ashley Weis are still operating as Thinkcap Design Studios, a rebranded version of their old Tekeme Design Studios:

    http://think-cap.com/

    Thinkcap offers book design and marketing, web design and marketing services. Material from the Tekeme site is reproduced word for word and covers of books by 'Marilyn Grey' (aka Ashley Weis) are much in evidence, as are extravagant claims for the number of copies she's sold thanks to Tekeme/Thinkcap's business acumen.

    PUBLISHING ASSISTANCE
    We are knowledgeable and efficient when it comes to the book industry. If you need help with promoting and marketing your small press, creating a great website, book covers, or laying out interiors, we have the ability to do it all and because our sister company is a publishing company, we know quite a bit about the inside of this industry and we’d love to help you as well!
    http://think-cap.com/services/
    There doesn't seem to be much left of their 'sister company', as I've been told that only two or three of the original ten authors are still with Winslet.

    George and Ashley seem to be a bit shy when it comes to putting their names in a prominent place on the site, but a bit of digging in the comments section turned up this exchange:

    RJ says:
    January 21, 2013 at 11:57 pm
    Thank you so much!! This is the first place I’ve been able to get actual next step information rather than “Write A Compelling Book and get a good copy editor.”

    Ashley Weis says:
    December 3, 2013 at 1:00 am
    You’re welcome RJ! Glad it helped!

    IEM APPROACH says:
    February 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm
    Great article. Thank you for simplifying the process. I lunched IEM Press this week and this information is going to be handy. My book Coming to America: A Journey of faith was published by WinePress Publishing, but they are out of business and now I am going out on my own. Thank you for sharing.
    http://think-cap.com/10-steps-to-sel...ng/#comment-19
    I couldn't resist including that last comment - it's a perfect example of someone who's been burned by a crooked/inept publisher, in this case the scandal-hit Christian company WinePress Publishing, dealing with the experience by setting up as a publisher themselves!
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 10-28-2014 at 01:13 AM.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
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  21. #21
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Tekeme/Winslet Press/ThinkCap now has a phony "friend" posting that they're only publishing for family members and very close friends now, employed multiple people through the years, Marilyn Grey is totally real, they never charged anyone a penny (!), and it's all the authors' fault for breaking their contracts (!!).

    WOW.

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