Tag Archives: writing life

Rock the Personal Essay

The personal essay is its own beast in the genre of nonfiction narrative. Essay is a personal favorite of mine and for a long while, (especially while laboring towards the MFA) the main focus of my writing. Tucking away into a Best of collection is a nice way to while away a rainy afternoon and there are shelves of annual travel, science, essay, and spiritual writing best of collections about my house. The telling of a personal event or moment that was intimately individual yet with universal resonance  is such an inviting medium.

Jessica Smock posted an excellent primer for how to write a personal essay in June last year that is en evergreen post if ever there was one. An editor for the HerStories Project, if you want some insight for how to get an editor to absolutely want your essay, surf on over and read her June 11, 2014 post How to Write a Personal Essay That Will Dazzle an Editor.

By the way, over at the HerStories Project, there is a call for submission for a new column called HerStories Voices for personal essays of 2000 words that will “highlight the best of women’s voices and show the uniqueness and commonalities of women’s experiences.” Here’s the link. Pays $40 when accepted for publication.

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Three by Five Welcomes Back Trish Hopkinson with Three by Five Part II

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VAH: Welcome back to January’s conversation with Utah poet, Trish Hopkinson. In this installment, let’s talk a little about what the writer reads. Trish who would you say is your favorite literary character?

TH: Dean Moriarty from Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. I really loved the free spirit and mystery of Neal Cassady, of whom the character was based upon.

VAH: What about a favorite author?

TH: I really love Ernest Hemingway. His writing seems accessible, inspiring, and entertaining. I need to read much more of his work.

VAH: He was once my favorite also. I’ve moved on to Diana Gabaldon now as my all time favorite. Trish, imagine you’re stranded in a snowstorm, stuck on a deserted island. What books would you hope to have with you or find?

TH: Moby Dick. Because I still haven’t finished it! I just never seem to have the time I want to spend reading it as carefully as I’d like to.

VAH: Your likelihood of being stranded in a snowstorm there in Provo is probably higher than on an island. That’s a good long read to have on your phone or tucked in your bag. Do you have a most memorable book, story or poem you’ve read?

TH: “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath. I discovered her work when I was in my early teens and it fascinated me. I had never really read confessional poetry until then and I was hooked immediately.

VAH: There’s a lot to unpack in that one. And what is your favorite book, poem, or story?

TH: “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)” by Emily Dickinson. I love her concise style and the power she packed into every syllable.

VAH: That’s an interesting one to spend some time with.

Thanks Trish, for this delightful look into what the writer reads.

And now, a bonus, random life question. If you had a super power, what would it be?

LH: Well, to stop time of course!

More Trish Hopkinson later in the month. Till then, enjoy this poem – A Poet Searches for ‘Sex’ in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Provo, Utah poet Trish Hopkinson contributes to the writing community with her blog where she shares interesting writing tips, articles, calls for submissions (no fee only), and other info to help promote writing and poetry in general. She has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has two chapbooks Emissions and Pieced Into Treetops and has been published in several anthologies and journals, including The Found Poetry ReviewChagrin River Review, and Reconnaissance Magazine. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures online at her website, or Facebook or visit her on Linkedin.

Three by Five interviews publish on days that end in 3!

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Emerging Writer Prize Winner Announced

The 2015 Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize winner is:

Kristen Falso-Capaldi

“ You always stop writing eventually,” my inner voice said. “Wouldn’t you rather make cheese…I’m going to make some coffee now. It’s very early, and I’ve got lots to say before I leave for work.”

Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer and lyricist for a folk/acoustic duo Kristen & J, she has finished a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which was an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her micro-fiction pieces have received accolades in various contests. Kristen lives in a small town in northern Rhode Island with her husband and cat.

Kristen will receive a scholarship for her registration to attend the 2015 San Francisco Writers Conference, February 12-15. She will also receive a signed copy of No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups and Critique as well as the E-book version. Her winning entry will post here in February.

Congratulations Kristen!

This year there were 37 entries for consideration. There were more semi-finalists than ever before and competition for the final four was quite strong. Each of their entries are expected to post here over the next few months.

Competition for 2016 opens on September 1st.

 

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Emerging Writer Prize Runner-up Announced

Runner-up and Honorable Mention for the 2015 Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize goes to:

Caroline Zarlengo Sposto

“I write because writing is the final thing I want to do.”

Caroline Sposto began writing poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction in earnest four years ago when her daughters went off to college. Her work has since been published in The Saturday Evening Post, Family Circle Magazine, and an assortment of literary magazines and anthologies in the U.S., the U.K and Canada. She is a Memphis correspondent forBroadwayworld.com, and Poetry Editor of the Humor in Americablog. In 2011, she was chosen to participate in the Moss Workshop in Fiction at the University of Memphis with author Richard Bausch. In 2013, she won second place in The Great American Think-off––an amateur philosophy competition that culminates in a public debate in New York Mills, Minnesota. In 2014, she was chosen to spend the summer as a writer in residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. She feels grateful a wistful turning point in life became a happy adventure!

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Finalists for the Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize

Introducing the four finalists for this year’s Emerging Writer Prize.

Kristen Falso-Capaldi

“I’m going to make some coffee now. It’s very early, and I’ve got lots to say before I leave for work.”

Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer and lyricist for a folk/acoustic duo Kristen & J, she has finished a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which was an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her micro-fiction pieces have received accolades in various contests. Kristen lives in a small town in northern Rhode Island with her husband and cat.

Ali McCart

“I write because I will no longer censor my narrator.”

Ali McCart’s first publishing job was collating and saddle-stitching a quarterly travel journal before she could even read—that’s what happens to a child of printers and publishers. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English from Willamette University and a master’s degree in book publishing from Portland State University. She’s the founder and executive editor of Indigo Editing & Publications, where she’s helped authors hone their craft since 2005. Despite all this experience in publishing, she only recently began her journey as a writer.

Phylise Smith

“I write because why I write is an essay, an essay of life, an essay on writing. Why do I write? I write Because.”

Phylise Smith is a dancer storyteller who is transitioning from speaking through movement to speaking through the written word. Before attempting fiction, she published scholarly articles on dance in Choreography and Dance Journal and other dance periodicals.

More recently, she has worked with fiction writers, Ayana Mathis, Leslie Schwartz and Debra Dean. As evidence of her emerging talent, Phylise has been awarded several writing scholarships including scholarships to participate in the Eckert College Writers’ Conference in Florida and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.

Phylise has studied writing at UCLA Extension Writer’s program and is currently working on a novel on how tradition impacts women’s lives.

Caroline Zarlengo Sposto

“I write because writing is the final thing I want to do.”

Caroline Sposto began writing poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction in earnest four years ago when her daughters went off to college. Her work has since been published in The Saturday Evening Post, Family Circle Magazine, and an assortment of literary magazines and anthologies in the U.S., the U.K and Canada. She is a Memphis correspondent for Broadwayworld.com, and Poetry Editor of the Humor in America blog. In 2011, she was chosen to participate in the Moss Workshop in Fiction at the University of Memphis with author Richard Bausch. In 2013, she won second place in The Great American Think-off––an amateur philosophy competition that culminates in a public debate in New York Mills, Minnesota. In 2014, she was chosen to spend the summer as a writer in residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. She feels grateful a wistful turning point in life became a happy adventure!

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Three by Five – On Deck Winter and Spring

Three by Five has some interesting writers on tap for the rest of winter and into spring. This month continues with Poet Trish Hopkinson. In February, the 2015 Emerging Writer Prize winner. In March, there’s Texas poet Laurie Kolp. In April it’s Texas poet Ronnie K. Stephens. In May, Canadian poet and novelist Mariah E. Wilson. June brings Canadian poet Carol A. Stephen. Summer and fall will bring other intriguing writers for your discovery.

And as always, if you’re an emerging writer, published author or contributing member of the writing community you’re invited to participate with Three by Five.

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Trish Hopkinson Interview Part I

 

VAH: Welcome Trish Hopkinson. Thanks for joining the conversation at Three by Five. First up, the fundamental question – Why do you write?TH3

TH: I write for me. I write because I am selfish—a selfish poet. I write because there is something intensely ironic and humane about being human. I write to lift up the heaviness of tangibility, to keep my thoughts light and my breathing deep. I write for my children, to show them that being selfish has a place and makes you more accessible to those you love. I write to uncover sympathy and turn it over, to expose the soft belly of empathy, to peel away layers of hardness, and to be someone’s friend when they need me. I write to relieve the busy-ness behind my eyes, the thoughts that keep me awake when I should be sleepy, and the unsettled havoc of the work week.

VAH: I enjoyed the poetry of your response. Tell us, why did you become a writer and when did you know or feel like you were a writer?

TH: I’ve been writing poetry since I was five or six years old. I have always loved words—in fact, my mother tells everyone I was born with a pen in my hand. I wrote hundreds of poems before turning twenty, most of which I should say were good practice, but nothing notable. I’ve kept them all and I do look back on them from time to time. Writing has always been a part of my life and directed all aspects of it, from my education as an English major to using technical writing to forward my career in the software industry.

VAH: I think most of us have those reams of dusty files tucked away with our first explorations in writing. You’re brave though, to go back through them! Your mom says you were born with a pen in hand, any influences?

TH: The poets I admired growing up certainly influenced me the  most, specifically Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg and the other Beat poets, and of course, Emily Dickinson. On a more personal level, I had some exceptional professors in college, some of whom became good friends and have been very supportive and encouraging.

VAH: What do you remember about your piece of writing? What was it about and what prompted its creation?

TH: I think my very first poem had something to do with church and family and was accompanied by a crayon drawing which I created as a gift for the clergy of our church. Since it was a gift, I no longer have it, but I remember being proud of it.

VAH: Well, seems that gift was blessed in your continued success as a poet. Do you a favorite piece that you’ve written to date?

TH: My favorite poem that I’ve written is “Waiting Around.” It was inspired by Pablo Neruda’s “Walking Around” and in the process of writing it, I very much enjoyed closely reading and studying Neruda’s poem. Often, the process of creating is my favorite part of writing, much more than the finished work itself.

VAH: The journey verses the destination or perhaps the work verses the end product? A good place to pause and interesting idea to consider.

More with Trish Hopkinson later in the month.

Visit Verse-Virtual for a sampler of Trish Hopkinson’s poetry.

Trish Hopkinson contributes to the writing community with her blog where she shares interesting writing tips, articles, calls for submissions (no fee only), and other info to help promote writing and poetry in general. She has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has two chapbooks Emissions and Pieced Into Treetops and has been published in several anthologies and journals, including The Found Poetry ReviewChagrin River Review, and Reconnaissance Magazine. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures online at her website, or Facebook or visit her on Linkedin.

Three by Five interviews publish on days that end in 3!

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Get Paid for Writing!

No, not the bright, shiny, scam spam that often lands in your mailbox – both virtual and physical.

Typically, emerging writers send out reams of work and their only payment is seeing their name beneath the work when an editor selects the by-product of their blood, sweat, and tears for publication. In the current data driven, information economy, content is viewed as a right to the consumer and 21st century culture has created an expectation for free access. But free access won’t pay the bills and creative content was the work product of someone, somewhere. So I am happy to share with you this post from Trish Hopkinson with a compilation of markets for submitting creative work and low and behold, get paid for it! Paying  Calls for Submission – Poetry, Prose, Art, etc.

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Three by Five Author – J. M. Gregoire Bonus

Author Pic 2J. M. Gregoire Bonus Round

 VAH: Favorite, inspiring quote and why?

JMG: “The problem is not the problem.  Your attitude about the problem is the problem.  Do you understand?” – Jack Sparrow

This is one I recently discovered and it makes SO MUCH SENSE.  It may not be Einstein or Shakespeare, but it’s one of the most brilliant quotes I have ever come across.  Approach obstacles in life with pessimism, and all you’re going to accomplish is making things more difficult for yourself.  Approach it with optimism and you will find the answer to any problem will be much easier to see.

VAH: Three random non writing related facts about you?

JMG: My son and I were both born on Halloween night, 29 years and 3.5 hours apart. If given the choice, and it wouldn’t result in me wearing a wide load sign on my back or a bleeding ulcer, I would live off of buffalo wings alone for the rest of my life. I am one DVD purchase, one book purchase, or one iTunes purchase away from starring in my very own episode of Hoarders.  I am a TV/Movie/Music/Reading junkie equally, but I am told admitting you have a problem is the first step in recovery.

VAH: What would your last meal be?

JMG: Probably shrimp.  Just a great, big shrimp cocktail ring.  I’m allergic to shrimp now, but I wasn’t always.  I ate seafood my whole life, and then one day when I was 26 years old, had a veerrrrrrrrrrrrrrry unpleasant allergic reaction.  I tried it again about six months later with the same result.  After that, my doctor said “Yeah, ummm, stop doing that.”  So, no more seafood for me.  And man, do I miss it!  So, yeah, if I was having my last meal, it would totally be shrimp.

And, of course, it would be my last meal because I probably ended up beating someone to death with a frozen tuna for driving like a moron.  It would be the fishiest instance of road rage ever.

J.M. Gregoire – thanks for being part of Three by Five!

Author Info

J.M. Gregoire was born and raised in New Hampshire, USA, and despite her abhorrence for any season that dares to drop to a temperature below seventy degrees, she still currently resides there with her two children and her two cats. Always a passionate reader, her love of urban fantasy books eventually morphed into a love of writing them. She is currently working on the Demon Legacy series, and has a spin off series, the Killer Instinct series, coming soon.

Visit J.M. Gregoire’s social media or online: Website / BlogFacebookTwitterGoodreadsPinterestInstagram.

Check out The Demon Legacy Series and The Killer Instinct Series.

 

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Three by Five Author – J. M. Gregoire Part 3

Author Pic 4

 J. M. Gregoire

VAH: So, who is your biggest fan?

JMG: That’s a seriously tough call.  I am lucky to have my own standing army of super-supportive family and friends cheering me on through the journey of being a writer.  The dedication in The Devil You Know took me FOREVER to write.  I was a hot mess, writing through a curtain of streaming tears by the time I was done.  Publishing is a tough industry to be an indie in, and I can say I have never once felt alone.  I am so frikkin lucky to have all the people I do supporting me.  I could never possibly say thank you enough for everything they have given me.  To have the people you care about supporting you in something you devote yourself to is a pretty incredible feeling.  Art, in any form, is about putting yourself out there, as naked as you could possibly get, in front of the whole world.  To know that I have this LEGION of people who have my back, and who will stand there beside me, hand-in-hand, the whole way…..ugh, I just don’t have words.  If you all are reading this (and you know who you are), thank you and I ain’t got nothin’ but love for ya’!  Shout out to my minions!!!!!  REPRESENT!!!!!!

 VAH: What about who is your favorite author?

JMG: If I had to pick just one, it would be Stephen King.  My love of horror and thrillers all started with him.

When I was 11 or 12 years old, my school held what they called a “read-in” – we spent one school week just reading.  You could bring blankets, and pillows, and you could chill in PJ’s for the day, and the whole point was just to read.  Get ubercomfy and read.  My mom was a huge Stephen King nut when I was growing up, and she was in a SK Book of the Month club type thing in which she got a new hardcover of his every month.  She had the hardcover, uncut version of The Stand (if you’ve ever seen this book, you know it’s a BEHEMOTH of a book), and in a flight of optimistic fancy, I decided I wanted to read it.  I started reading very young and had burned through my entire library so my mom said “go for it.”

The first day of the read-in comes around, and I go to school toting my mom’s copy of The Stand.  All was just peachy until my teacher saw what I was reading.  She sent me to the principal’s office and called my mom at work.  When they told her what I was reading, she just said “Yeah, and where do you think she got it?!”  They gave me the book back, and I went back to my blankets and read for a week.  Of course, I didn’t even come CLOSE to finishing it but that day was the start of my love for him.

He’s the one author I probably wouldn’t be able to speak to if I were to meet him.  I have a serious inferiority complex with this man.  I would like to be as good as him one day, but I will be perfectly happy settling for the title of #1 Fangirl for the rest of my life.  He’s just a master in the field of writing, and a teency bit of a god in my eyes.  LOL  A total rock star.  I have this big wooden cabinet at home with glass doors on the front of it.  Inside is my Stephen King/Anne Rice collection of hardcovers.  Those are the prized possessions in my library.  He’s the King of horror and she’s the Queen of vamp fiction.

 VAH: What does your typical writing day include?

JMG: Coffee.  Lots and LOTS of coffee.   LOL!  I don’t really get full writing days.  I am either at work during the day or I have my kids with me on the weekends.  It does happen once in a great while, but it is a rarity.  On the momentous occasions when I do get a writing day to myself, There are two directions my day can go:

Direction #1)  I drag myself out of bed and go get some coffee.  Take a hot shower to wake up a bit.  Throw on some footie pajamas (Yes, I am 34 years old and I still wear footie pajamas – black ones with Jack Skellington all over them.   What of it?  Growing up is for the birds.) and wrap myself in one of the 50 different fleece throw blankets I have kicking around my house.  Then I plant myself in front of the desk, open up the laptop, and start writing.

There is this epic battle that happens approximately every 40 minutes or so between the angel on my left shoulder telling me to keep writing and the devil on my right shoulder saying she bets there are some uberhot pictures of Ian Somerhalder on Pinterest that I NEED to see.  This battle will go on all day and who wins is in direct correlation to how much coffee I have ingested.

For my lunch break (if I remember to take one), I get myself some grub and probably watch an episode of Doctor Who (sooooo addicted).  Each episode is about 45-46 minutes long without commercials.  At the 20 minute mark, I start psyching myself up to get back to writing.  If I don’t do that, I will realize 4 episodes later that I haven’t gotten CRAP for writing done.

Direction #2)  Wake up at 4am with a brilliant story idea, start drinking coffee, and start writing.  After I have lost count of the number of times I have refilled my coffee and screamed at my computer at least twice due to a plot turn I wasn’t expecting or planning on, I look up and realize it is past 10pm and I have NO CLUE where the day went.

When I write, I either have to talk myself into it or hang on for dear life while it happens to me.  It’s two very different extremes.

 VAH: Thoughts on the writing community – what writing or author organizations do you belong to and where online do you frequent for community, online conversing, networking or commiserating? Do you have some favorite online sites?

JMG: It’s all about Facebook and Twitter for me.  I have tried connecting with other authors on different sites and it just hasn’t worked for me.  Reddit looked promising but their site design SUCKS.  They need something that refreshes instead of a static forum platform.  It’s great if you sit there pressing F5 every 3 minutes.  LOL!  I also tried connecting with writers on Goodreads, but there’s just too much salesmanship on there.

On Facebook and Twitter, I have connected with so many great authors.  It works out really well for me.  I have a very active Facebook fan page where I like to spend a lot of my time talking with readers, picking their brains on everything from books to music to movies to hot boys.  LOL  We have fun chatting it up on my fan page.

There are also a TON of indie author “support” groups on Facebook.  Forewarning:  A lot of the have 1000 – 2000 members and it’s just book link spam all day long.  No one says anything except “buy my book”.  However, there are a lot of good groups on there.  You just have to ask around to find the right ones.

Twitter is where I do my nerd stalking and also where I connect with a lot of bloggers and authors.  My Twitter account is run by me personally, and I use it for both my book blog and me as an author.  My tweets are just me and whatever posts automatically from all my blogs (I have several).  I have made lots of great blogger connections on there and TONS of great author connections!

The nerd stalking is all about my own nerdy obsessions.  There are some people on this planet that I find brilliant and I love to admire them from afar.  “Afar” being on Twitter, 140 characters at a time.

Some of my favorite peeps to follow are:

@Nerdist – Chris Hardwick from Nerdist Industries, The Talking Dead, The Nerdist Podcast

@ThatKevinSmith – Kevin Smith – I IDOLIZE THIS MAN AS AN ARTIST.  Writer, Director, Actor, Podcaster (Hollywood Babble-On, Plus One, and Fatman on Batman are my favorites!)

@WorldCon, @BookExpoAmerica, @NY_Comic_Con, @AADConvention, @Comic_Con, @DragonCon, and @WonderCon – All the big cons around the US

@Jesus_M_Christ, @TheTweetOfGod, @Lord_Voldemort7, @DepressedDarth, and @DeathStarPR – Some of the funniest satire on Twitter

@wnbamerica – World Book Night (everyone should totally get involved!!!)

@NathanFillion – Nathan Fillion BECAUSE HE’S AMAZING!!!

@TorBooks – Tor Books is one of my favorite publishers of good dark urban fantasy

I am not a part of any author organizations.  Not that I have anything against them, I think I am just not ready to add another something to my plate at the moment.  LOL!

 VAH: Traditional or independent publishing? Or a little of both? What choices have you made and why did you go the way you have?

JMG: That’s a tough question.  It totally depends on who you are as a person.  I would LOVE to have the man power of a marketing team behind me, but that’s the only reason I would want to get in bed with a publisher.  I love being indie.  It’s freedom and I genuinely love that.

That being said, if a publisher came to me tomorrow and said “sell me your series for $1,000,000,” I can’t say I wouldn’t take it, but it would be some long hard thinking before I made that decision.

I think both are equals in the world of publishing as far as validity goes.  I think things are much easier as a traditionally published author, but the sacrifice most trads have to make is in artistic control and that means a LOT to me.

VAH: What is your best bit of advice to save another writer some anxiety or heartache?

JMG: Anxiety – Don’t self-impose deadlines.  There’s no reason for it.  Take your time and do it right.

Heartache – If you are unable to develop a thick skin, and some people aren’t able to do that, it’s probably a good idea to just not read reviews of your book, good or bad.  Just forget about them and focus on writing.  You may read a hundred stellar reviews, and all it takes is one real craptastic review to put you in a month-long bad mood.  It’s not worth it.  It’s discouraging and makes focusing on moving forward that much more difficult.

Author Information

J.M. Gregoire was born and raised in New Hampshire, USA, and despite her abhorrence for any season that dares to drop to a temperature below seventy degrees, she still currently resides there with her two children and her two cats. Always a passionate reader, her love of urban fantasy books eventually morphed into a love of writing them. She is currently working on the Demon Legacy series, and has a spin off series, the Killer Instinct series, coming soon.

Visit J.M. Gregoire’s social media or online: Website / BlogFacebookTwitterGoodreadsPinterestInstagram.

Check out The Demon Legacy Series and The Killer Instinct Series.

 

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