Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Tips for Planning a Book Launch Party…

The following info was stolen borrowed from Joel Friedlander, with a little pimping and preening from yours truly…
Planning your book launch party? Awesome! But first, you'll need to decide whether you're throwing this party to congratulate yourself and share your joy with friends and family, or whether it's mostly intended to be a chance to promote your book.
Don’t get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with throwing yourself a party. Hey, knock yourself out, and invite the neighbors and anyone else you like. A book launch party also can be a great way to say "thank you" to people who have played a significant role in supporting you or getting your book to market. Cue your publisher, agent, family, friends, and any wild and crazy neighbors.
But if the party is part of your overall book launch strategy, you'll want to focus mostly on what's going to help get news about your book out to the people you really want to reach—your target audience. The following tips are aimed at these sorts of parties that are meant to promote books.

Make a budget. How much are you willing to "invest" in this one promotional event? Expenses for live events can easily get out of hand as unexpected wrinkles arise. Compare what you're willing to spend to other possibilities. For instance, to hire someone to write a professional press release, and have it electronically delivered costs about $200-300. Will that accomplish more with the resources you have than throwing a launch party?
Find a venue. Hold your party in a retail environment if at all possible. Bookstores and other retailers will be happy if you can bring in a lot of people to their store, and they usually will handle the sales. They will probably sell your books on consignment (no payment unless books sell) and will require a minimum 40% discount from the retail price. Another good strategy is to locate a retailer with some connection to your book. For instance, for the launch of a book about moving to Spain, an author had her launch party at a Spanish tapas bar with authentic foods and beverages mentioned in her book. And you don't have to be limited to retail spaces, either. A book launch that's more of a celebration can be hosted at a private home. And some people have taken their launch parties outdoors; with a permit from the local authorities and some good weather, you could have your launch party at a park or a beach.

Plan your space. If your party is in a store, you will probably be supplied with a table but don't count on anything else. You'll need to provide some appropriate decorations and don't forget any bookmarks or other "freebies." People LOVE to get free stuff! If you're having your party at a retailer that's not a bookstore, you may have to help the store with planning for tables to sign books and other details.
Get the word out. If you're working with a retailer for your launch, ask about promotion. For instance, they may be able to include you in mailings or email newsletters about in-store events. Or they might allow you to put a flyer up in the store a couple of weeks before the event.

Keep people entertained. You've gone to a lot of trouble and expense to set up your party and get people there. What are you going to do next? Instead of planning one long reading, why not create a shorter event you can repeat over the course of 3 or 4 hours? If you can, include appropriate music and visuals for entertainment. A slide show or book trailer running on a laptop can capture the attention of browsers who will want to know more about your book.
Make sure you have books. Yes, there's nothing worse than planning a party, then realizing you can't get printed books in time. Work backwards from your party date and plan to have the physical books on hand at least a week beforehand, just to be safe.

Use the media. Let local media know about your book launch party and invite them to come around to join the festivities. At larger media outlets, look for writers or editors whose subject specialties correspond to your book topic and notify them.
Build your crowd. Don't forget to invite your friends, family, co-workers, writing group, and social media contacts. More people equals more excitement, and that's what a party is all about.

Take pictures. Ask a friend to take pictures and make sure to get some shots of you signing books, talking to readers, and speaking. Post them on your social media groups. If you have any "celebs" attending, get a shot of the two of you together. These will come in handy for your promotional efforts.
How to sign. If you've never autographed books before, spend some time thinking about what you'll write. Many authors use a few stock phrases which can be helpful when the autographing line is long. Many people like their name included, too, so make sure to ask for the correct spelling.

Prizes and giveaways. Having a drawing for a free book or a prize themed to your subject will be popular. And if you repeat your reading a couple of times, go ahead and have a couple of drawings to keep people interested.
Gather addresses. Don’t forget: you want to stay in touch with the people you spend time with at your launch party. Make sure you have a way to capture each attendee's email address, whether it's a sign-up sheet, a bowl for business cards, or a laptop or tablet where people can opt into your mailing list on the spot.

Planning and executing a book launch party is quite a bit of work, but it can pay off. You'll establish good relations with the venue, with media contacts, and with attendees.You'll make sales and add to your email list, too. And listen, you worked long and hard to get to this point. Throwing yourself a party—and getting all the benefits—is a great way to celebrate.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Guest Post: Polka Dot Cake - One. Author - Nothing...

Author Marci Boudreaux
Something can be said for Pinterest. I have learned so much from that site about gardening, decorating, and fashion. So when it came time to plan my daughter’s birthday party, I pulled up my Birthday board and took a gander.

Oh, polka dot cake…my daughter loves polka dots. So much so, that I painted her room pink with purple polka dots just last summer.

Now, anyone who has ever tried something off of Pinterest knows that, generally, it’s not going to go as smoothly as assumed. Well…let me tell you about the polka dot cake.
The first sign of trouble was when I read the directions and I didn’t have the required cake ball pan. Well. I have a mini muffin pan, I can improvise. I’m good at that…as you’ll soon see.

So I took out my three cake mixes, stirred one together, and split the batter. So far so good.

Then I dyed the batter. Well…my colors didn’t come out nearly as vibrant, but that’s okay. We can go with dingy pastel shades. So I made the mini muffins.

Then I mixed up the other two batters and layered the first bit on the bottom of the pan. And suddenly, like a light bulb going off, I realized my polka dots would look like…well, mini muffins. So I gently pried the muffin tops off and decided that was close enough. (These are a bunch of eight year olds, really, they’re just happy there’s cake, right?)

I cover my make-shift muffin polka dots with the rest of the batter and…wait…my muffin-dots are rising. I push them down and hurry up and put the cakes in the oven. Because we all know, the quicker you get it in the oven, the faster we can pretend that everything is resolved and all will work out.

Twenty five minutes later, the timer dings and I tentatively open the oven door to find…more muffins?

  Oh, yes, perhaps I overfilled the pans just a touch in my attempt to cover my muffin-dots. The cake had grown up and over the cake pans, making giant, yet thin muffins.

Hmmm. These are supposed to layer, right? How can I layer muffins? I considered this for a long time. I even had an in-depth discussion over the phone with my husband who obviously didn’t care in the least about the ins and outs of layering cakes that looked like muffins.

Finally, it was decided. I’m just going to decorate one cake. There are only a few girls anyway, so I chose the better looking of the two and slathered it in white frosting. I did this because we had picked out lovely glitter infused purple icing (the package said it was pink, that stuff was purple) to put on lovely little polka dots and polka dot sprinkles to go with the awesome polka (muffin) dots inside.

So the icing is set and I get out the purple-not-pink decorative icing and start putting on the polka dots. But even icing doesn’t play nice when it is going on a Pinterest cake. It smeared, it smudged, it taunted me at every turn. I’m fairly certain I heard some of those TV bakers laughing at me as I tried to mimic their squeeze, push, and pull technique for making dots.

Well, at this point all the warm and fuzzy Betty Homemaker feelings were gone. I grabbed the biggest meanest looking spatula I could find and I smeared that damned icing, not giving a crap what it looked like. Damn it, it’s just a cake. They only want it for the sugar buzz anyway.

Then I stood back and I smiled because, despite all the trouble, I had just made a beautiful white and purple-not-pink tie-dye looking mini muffin-dot cake.

And it was lovely.

I set it aside, ready for the glittery candle to be placed, headed straight for my laptop, and deleted that damned polka dot cake recipe from my birthday board. But, I’ll share it with you, just in case you want to give it a try.

Polka Dot Cake

2 boxed white cake mixes (plus the oil, water and eggs to make them according to the package) You favorite frosting (I used my butter cream recipe, doubled, which you can get by clicking HERE.) Sprinkles or candy to decorate the cake.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Make one of the cakes according to package directions.

Divide batter evenly into smaller bowls based on the number of colors you want to use (I did 4). Color the batter using color gels (I love the Wilton brand in particular because it gives such a vivid color)

Following the directions for your particular cake pop maker, make cake balls using each of the colors.

While cake balls are cooling, preheat oven to 350F, and make the second cake mix according to package.

Spray 3 – 6″ round pans with non-stick spray and set a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each one (to keep your layers pretty!)

Spread a thin layer of batter in the bottom of each pan, place cake balls on top in any pattern you choose and divide remaining batter over the top of the balls so they are completely covered.

Bake layers for about 30 minutes. You can use the toothpick test (I recommend it!) but be careful to hit cake and not cake balls…you can kind of tell where they are- they bump up just a bit.

When cooked all the way through, tip over on a cake rack to cool completely.

Trim, if needed, to flatten layers and use frosting to stack all three layers and cover the entire cake with frosting. Decorate as desired.

To see what the Polka Dot Cake should look like, please click HERE.

Here's a little from Unforgettable You, my latest contemporary romance, for your reading pleasure while you sit back with a glass of chilled wine and forget you ever thought of baking.

Is their love strong enough to survive their real lives?

Desperate to keep her ailing mother-in-law Doreen in the family home, Carrie Gable agrees to board a few of Hollywood’s elite actors. Despite her resentment of their demands, she can’t stop her attraction to actor Will Walker.

Will, out to save his failing career, agrees to a project that bores him. The more time he spends with his egotistical co-stars, the more drawn he is to their hostess. Long nights talking with Carrie make him realize he wants a simpler life, but his ties to L.A. refuse to let him go.

The temptation to regain stardom pulls Will in one direction while the obligation to family tugs Carrie in another. Against all odds, the couple struggles for a solution to save their new found happiness.

To read an excerpt from Unforgettable You, please click HERE.

Check out the trailer for Unforgettable You HERE.

Learn more about Marci Boudreaux on her website.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

3 Promote Yourself Tidbits…

Don’t say yes to everything.

It’s easy to take on too much work and then try to multi-task relentlessly. Trust me it’s not a good move. It’s like a juggler with too many balls or pins (or chainsaws if you have a wild imagination) in the air. If one drops, it could seriously throw you off your game (or cut your ear off). You should strive to take on fewer projects that have more of an impact on your business and career. Baby steps. Baby bites. Learn to say no if you want to be more productive and less stressed.
Be a team player.

In the business world—especially the publishing world—we all work in teams to complete projects for the good of our companies. Think working with an editor, a cover artist, a book formatter, and marketing or promoting with fellow authors and you get the gist. If you want to be successful, you need to support your team, like I support my TEAM by giving them credit and allowing for open communication. Let’s face it, most marriages or partnerships break down because there is no communication. Be the voice that rallies the team. You'll feel like a WINNER every time.
Acquire more skills.

Skills that were important years ago might not be as relevant today. Three years ago, I had no on-line platform with the exception of Facebook, and even then I hardly used it because I didn’t know how. I threw myself into the blogging pool and learned to create blog posts (not very good ones at first) and as soon as I got comfortable with that skill I tackled Facebook, then I moved onto another. Twitter, anyone?  You need to stay on top of what the top skills are now and project what the upcoming skills are going to be if you want to be successful.
So, how about you? What do you NEED to say no to? Are you a TEAM player? What SKILLS have you acquired recently? Love to hear from you! 

Monday, 10 June 2013

Liebster Blog Award…

I was recently nominated for this award by Amaleen Ison, an awesome online author friend and supporter. Her newest YA fantasy thriller, Remember Me is slated for release through Decadent Publishing hopefully sometime in 2013. Congratulations, Amaleen!

BTW – Amaleen has a kick-ass blog you should visit!

The rules (which incidentally are made to be broken) for the Liebster Award are:

§  Each nominee must answer the 11 questions.
§  Create 11 questions for the next nominees to answer.
§  Link back to who nominated them.
§  Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
§  Go to their page and tell them.
§  No tag backs!

My Nominees:
FYI – I’m not nominating eleven bloggers because I don’t want an author hit put out on me. I’m not kidding – authors have been known to do some crazy-ass things! I’ve decided to tag a group of fabulous up and coming MG/YA authors, so here are my choices: Lisa Orchard, Rita Monette, Alan Tucker, Kai Strand, Sara Stinson, Ann T. Bugg, and Casey Sean Harmon.
Q&A time:
Favorite Breakfast?
An Isagenix vanilla shake with frozen blueberries. Yum and I get my anti-oxidants.

Beer or Wine?
Single Malt Scotch. There is no substitute. But sadly there are no anti-oxidants.

Dog or Cat?
No  contest. Both.

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee in the wee hours of the morning. Tea in the afternoon and evening.

Winter or Summer?
I live in Canada where it’s winter for 8 months of the year. What do you think?

PC or Apple?
In my past life in the graphic trade, it was Apple. Now I use PC. What can I say, I’m adaptable.

What is your goal for 2013?
Market and promote my August 30th release of the prequel to the Last Timekeepers series: Legend of the Timekeepers. Finish first draft of The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret (Book 2).  Work on getting the first book of my Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series sold to a publisher via my agents. What else? Oh yeah—try not to go bald pulling out my hair.   

What makes your day brighter?
A hug from my hubby. A phone call from my kids. Attention from my pets. I’m sooo low maintenance.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Being tagged for these freaking blogging awards! LOL!

How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa Claus?
Wait—he doesn’t exist? Crap.

What do you write about?
I write MG/YA novels about adventures in time traveling and teens with psychic abilities. You know—normal, everyday stuff.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Books, Banter & Bites on my Dock…featuring S.W. Lothian

Welcome to my virtual dock in the wilds of Muskoka, where it’s always sunny and warm no matter what time of the year it is. Please pull up one of the dock chairs, sit your butt down, and be prepared to be entertained and enlightened. Today, I’ve got fellow middle-grade time-travel author, S.W. Lothian stopping by for a visit. If you’ve never heard of this awesome writer, here’s the dossier on him:

S.W. Lothian is a funny and cool guy from Australia. His kids call him ‘Phil Dunphy’, because he reminds them of the dad from Modern Family.  He isn’t sure whether this is a compliment or not, but he takes it as a compliment.
As an imaginative kid he dreamed of creating exciting worlds and funky characters, and thought he’d be the most famous person to ever do this.  He loved to draw and was dux of Art in High School.  Top of his dream list was to be an animator.  He loved watching all those classic cartoons on TV - Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Road Runner (surely, Coyote would win one day), Wacky Races, the list goes on and on. 

BOOM!  Then reality hit.  As weird as it may seem, there were not a lot of opportunities for world famous animators in his home city.  The dreams were parked as reality and the corporate world beckoned.  Then, 25 years later, the long-held dream to create erupted like a jam donut in a microwave, and S.W. started writing children's fiction for kids.  Perhaps his awesome stories will become so popular that they will be animated one day.
Hmm, seems S.W.  is running a little late, and it’s almost dusk. Hopefully he’ll get here before it gets
too dark...wait…is that a helicopter I hear? OMG—it is and it’s landing in the middle of my yard. Great, the whirlybird put the campfire out. Classy entrance, S.W.! Unfortunately, since S.W. possesses the knowledge of time-travel, he’s told me he needs to stay anonymous as there are those amongst us who may track him down and use his knowledge for evil. He even hides behind the guise of a golden scarab to keep his identity secret. Thank goodness I don’t have his problems!

While S.W. makes his way to the dock here’s a little about his newest time-travel book, The Fallen Pharaoh—the third in his Quest series:
Warning:  Reading this book could cause anxiety, laughter and a longing to time travel.

It's time to reunite without the burden of a perilous quest.  Let's just sit back, relax and enjoy the moment.  The idea is simple enough.  What could possibly go wrong?
This edge-of-your-seat adventure weaves its thrills and mystery through the very crossroads of time itself.  From ancient Egypt, to the centre of time, to modern Paris.  The gang of four must face their most amazing encounters so far.  The pressure is on.  Who is trying to stop them?  Will our heroes overcome the danger and challenges of their newest quest?  Only time will tell.

The time has come for the legend to rise and protect.

Sounds like an exciting series, S.W.! Lots of adventure, lots of fun! Before we get started, I’ve poured you a tall frosty glass of Coke® to enjoy with a couple of Krispy Kreme donuts. Later, we’ll have some Tim Tam slams with coffee by the fire – um, that’s assuming I can get the fire going again. Oh, and a word of warning, the June bugs are out in full force tonight. They’re our version of scarab beetles and have a knack of getting caught in your hair, so wear a hat! Okay, so let’s get on with our chat…
Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Fallen Pharaoh?

The Fallen Pharaoh is part 3 of the Quest series. My inspiration for the series was my lifelong fascination with ancient Egypt and my love of fantasy and action/adventure.  I have always been a huge fan of Indiana Jones and Harry Potter.  I wanted to create a tale about normal everyday kids, who weren’t long lost descendants of powerful ancestors, which find themselves in amazing adventures.  Hopefully something that everyday kids can relate to.  Ancient Egypt provides a great backdrop for a story that is full of fantastic settings, legends and magic.  I relish the grand scale of the settings and love to take my characters to amazing places.  When I write, I can see the movie playing in my head, it’s so vivid.  I dream of my books becoming CG movies one day, as I’m such a fan of them.
I am too! Here’s wishing your dream comes true. What sets The Fallen Pharaoh apart from other books in the same genre?

I think The Fallen Pharaoh is such a mix of different parts of the middle grade/ya genre, it is unique.  As I mentioned earlier, the heroes of this story aren’t born into some ancestral role of destiny, they’re just normal kids.  It’s got the magic of Harry Potter, the action of Indiana Jones, the wonderful mythology of Percy Jackson/Kane Chronicles and the epic settings and fast pace of Matthew Reilly.  All of these things together, create a fascinating story that teaches about history and humanities, while inspiring imagination.  My favourite part of writing is adding in those quirky bits of humour that can provoke a laugh from readers whilst they are in the midst of a mystery or crisis in the story.
I love breaking the tension by slipping in a crack or joke as well. How long did it take for you to start and finish The Fallen Pharaoh?

The idea for this book has lingered within the full plotline of the Quest series for a number of years. I started writing the series in mid-2008, and the original outline for The Fallen Pharaoh (Q3) was born about the end of 2008.  Actually, this book, The Fallen Pharaoh, was to originally have been book 2, but I decided that another book was needed before this one.  After The Cursed Nile (Q2) was released in June 2012, I began writing The Fallen Pharaoh in earnest.
Do you have any advice for writers wanting to write in your genre?

Writing is only half the battle.  Once the book is out there, the hardest thing is being seen and discovered by the audience.  I had no idea that there would be so many others out there on the same journey.  I love reading and writing this genre, as I’m not one of these people who love to watch or read needless violence and murders etc.  Ebooks are definitely the future, but in my experience, readers of this genre still prefer (or it may just be old habits) to have a physical book.  So I think having physical books in stores (if possible) is still an important driver for middle grade books sales.
I find it’s a little like being caught between the old and new world, isn’t it? What’s next for S.W. Lothian the author?

I have a few projects on the go.  The trouble is I need to work out which one to focus on next.  Of course there are books 4 and 5 in the Quest series, but I also have a great idea for a spin off series called Time Square.  Once you read The Fallen Pharaoh, you’ll understand more about what this would entail.  I also have another single book in mind called, Flipside.  Without revealing too much, it’s essentially taking what we deem as the norm, and looking at everything in a totally different way.

To help S.W. celebrate the newest release of his time-travel Quest series, he’s having a few great giveaways! Here are the links:

GOODREADS – 1 x paperback edition of The Fallen Pharaoh.

Open for US, CA, UK, AU, NZ.

RAFFLECOPTER – 2 x sets of The Quest Seriesebooks.

Each set contains 1 copy of each book:
The Golden Scarab, The Cursed Nile, The Fallen Pharaoh.

Open internationally.


Awesome giveaways, S.W.! Oh, here, let me top up your glass and please grab another donut, it’s a long helicopter ride back to Australia. Before you go, please let readers know where they can buy your book, and how to connect with you. Thanks for taking the time to share your novel and your wisdom with us on my dock this evening. And don’t forget to say hello to your Mummy for me! Sorry, couldn’t resist. Cheers and best wishes in ALL your publishing ventures, S.W.!

Buy Links: Amazon US /Amazon UK / Amazon Canada / Amazon – other countries

Learn more about S.W. Lothian on his blog and subscribe to his Newsflash
Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Let's get Cozy with Sam Cheever...

What is it about cozy mysteries that makes them so much fun? To answer that question, I guess you need to start with the basic elements of a cozy. When one thinks of a cozy, one might think Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or maybe Angela Lansbury’s character, Jessica Fletcher, of Murder She Writes fame. The traditional cozy is set in a specific, confined area, such as a bunch of people stranded in a remote location with a killer in their midst, a.k.a Clue (Best. Movie. Ever). Many contemporary cozies are in small town settings, with quirky characters and the challenges and opportunities inherent in small town living. A cozy generally revolves around a murder, but the murder is usually off screen and/or not overly violent.

Cozy mysteries feature amateur sleuths of all kinds. For example, some of the most popular contemporary cozy series feature flower shop owners, chefs, caterers, accountants, book store owners, writers, and dog trainers. These unlikely sleuths find themselves repeatedly embroiled in murder most foul and struggling to figure out whodunit. The mystery is made more interesting by the quirkiness of the people involved, their tendency to lie and cover, and the misconceptions that come from knowing someone for years. It’s a fun formula fraught with opportunities for both the reader and the sleuth to go awry and lose their way.

Which brings me to the reason I love a good cozy mystery. I love the challenge and journey of figuring out whodunit in a light, fun environment. No guts, no gore, no over-the-top sensuality. Just a big, fun puzzle.

My own cozy mystery series is centered on an antiques store owner and has an additional fun twist. Filled with lots of great, old things, Yesterday’s Antiques is a hotbed of paranormal activity, giving Yesterday Mysteries a paranormal edge. This aspect adds an extra element of fun to the already enjoyable mystery. Anna Yesterday is a kind, attractive young woman trying to make a living doing what she loves in a small town in Southern Indiana. When Anna opened Yesterday’s Antiques, she inherited two spirits, who are tied to objects that were once buried under the store.

Joss is a cowboy from pre-Civil war times, whose gun belt and holster were uncovered behind the store when Anna was having some improvements made. Joss is sexy, protective, and obviously in love with Anna, and she feels pretty much the same about him. The second specter, Bess was a saloon girl who sometimes cleaned the floors in the inn that was located where Yesterday’s now exists. She lived in the mid to late 1800s and Anna isn’t sure what her transference object is. Bess and Anna butt heads on a regular basis, mostly due to the fact that Bess is jealous of Anna’s relationship with Joss, but also because…well…Bess is kind of a crank.

To make things even more interesting, Anna has a sexy, flesh and blood assistant who’s an ex-cop to help her with her sleuthing. Her growing feelings for Pratt are confusing and cause no end of tension between the two men in her life. All in all, it’s a fun series with likeable characters and I’m really enjoying being on the creation side of the cozy mystery genre for a change! I hope you’ll check these books out.
Book 1: Yesterday MysteriesAntiques can be a dangerous business. Especially when you’re dealing with a desperate politician, a sexy ex-cop, and a couple of “spirited” companions.

Anna Yesterday owns Yesterday’s Antiques in small town USA. When she finds an old newspaper clipping lining the drawer of an antique dresser, she realizes she’s never heard the ugly story of rape and suicide detailed on the yellowed newsprint. So she starts to dig, and her sleuthing exposes an ugly cover-up that casts the residents of Crocker, Indiana into danger and intrigue, and leaves them with a corpse.  

All eBook formats All Romance eBooks Kindle US Kindle UK Kindle CA

Book 2: Yesterday's Mysteries - April 2013 Book 2: Yesterday's Mysteries - April 2013

A deadly secret is tangled up in Yesterday’s Threads, and Anna is racing the clock to get it unraveled.

In 1859, Elisabeth Margaret Nelson traveled to Crocker, Indiana to meet her new husband and start a new life. Her family never saw her again. The story of her death and a heartbroken husband who grieves his entire life is a sad tale for sure. But is it true?

When Anna Yesterday receives some vintage dresses from the local museum, she’s excited about highlighting them at Crocker’s annual Apple Blossom Festival. But someone wants the dresses back, and they’ll apparently stop at nothing to get them—leaving a trail of murder and destruction in their wake.

As Anna and Pratt work to uncover the deadly intrigue behind the vintage dresses, interference of another kind is working its way to the surface. All too soon, Anna and Pratt find themselves neck deep in trouble from more than one dimension—and wondering which will get them first!

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