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The Swope Clan in Edgerton

I don’t think I’ve ever received as many hugs in as short a time as I did during a 48-hour period last weekend. I went to Edgerton, my home town, for a book tour with mom and my sister Allyn. Mom and I weren’t the stars of that show; Allyn has kept in touch with many people and has some really close friends who are her cheerleaders. They became our cheerleaders too. But all of us, including those of us not there as pen-wielding celebrities, but rather as supporters, got a huge dose of Home Town Pride, and it was nice to be a small part of that pride.

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Our hostest Susan Herman of Susan’s Hair Flair and president of the Edgerton Chamber of Commerce

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Verna and mom

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Allyn & Sondra

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Mr. Smith (center)

A few highlights:

We were sitting at breakfast the first morning, already happy to be together and sharing laughs when my nieces walked into the restaurant. They flew in from Texas to surprise grandma and grandpa—arriving at 3 a.m. the previous night after a grueling flight on a cheaper airline. Once I saw them, I knew that—no matter the results of our book events—the weekend had just become something I’d never forget.

Our high school English teacher Richard Smith came to the Edgerton Public Library signing. I am quite certain I never hugged Mr. Smith in high school. Hugs were not so plentiful in those days. But neither Al nor I could help ourselves when we saw him. He is the teacher that got us interested in words. He laughingly explained he doesn’t read fiction (though he read our first book) anymore because his life was so consumed by it when he was a teacher. But he still has that delicious acerbic wit that delighted us as teenagers so much that we paid attention to him in class.

Verna Wortkoetter, the friend mom has remained closest to, not only had the clan and some old neighbors over for lunch, she invited some of mom’s old sorority sisters. The gesture was especially thoughtful because Verna was not part of that club. But she knew how important it was to mom, and she knew they’d all soon be trading memories of the parties they had and what had happened to the rest of the crew. I believe my nieces got a taste of grandma’s (and grandpa’s) wilder days by listening to the stories.

My husband saw his first parade, and (as I expected) instantly transformed into a kid. He kept himself from scrambling into the street after candy, but it couldn’t have been easy.

All of us choked up when grandpa struggled up out of his chair to sing the star spangled banner word for word. Alzheimers has nothing over patriotism!

God seemed to be smiling down on the whole weekend as the weather, which is usually hot and humid and miserable this time of year in Ohio, was gorgeous and sunny and cool.

The number of people who told us they were proud of what we’d done was incredible. It just kept coming and coming from old classmates and neighbors and friends of friends.

One of the signings we had was at Susan’s Hair flair right downtown Edgerton in the building that used to house the Edgerton Public Library. As I looked around at that building, I realized that it all really began there with mom pushing us all to learn to love books. Here it was, 50 plus years later, and we were back, signing books we had written ourselves. Thanks Mom, for getting us started on this path.

 

–Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Stepping it Up

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One reality prospective authors need to face is that getting published is not winning a sweepstakes. No one is going to show up at your door with a giant check, flash you a brilliant smile, shake your hand and shout: Congratulations, you’re a winner!

Getting published is a series of steps. If you can keep your momentum, the steps go upward—working towards bigger and better goals and often getting easier as you climb. Some of those steps are major ones: my sister, children’s book author Allyn Stotz (http://allynstotz.blogspot.com/), took a giant hop up this week: she saw her second book, Kailee Finds Magic IN Words, in final form—ready for press. I know that seeing the heroin of her first book, The Pea in Peanut Butter, come to life again on the pages and knowing people will soon hold her creation in their admiring hands has to be a wonderful feeling: in this case, it’s enough of a leap up to carry her past some challenges to come.

I took a big step this week, too, though it wasn’t that golden glow event of seeing my name on a printed page. My step was that I submitted our first draft of Fate of the Violet Eyes, book three of the Sam Osborne series, to our publisher. That means for just a moment, I can sit back, take a deep breath, and realize I’ve done all I could to make this book better than the last two. Having been through this twice already, it also means that I can finally let the experts at Spectacle Publishing Media Group, tell me how to make it even greater.

While it’s vital to our sanity as authors for us to acknowledge and feel our accomplishments—pat ourselves on the back for the steps we overcome, Allyn, as well as Mom and I, will not rest long in this heaven. That’s because as authors of more than one book, we know there are many steps ahead, even after the book is in print. The hardest part about becoming an author is the reality that getting to the point where your book populates the crowded lists on Amazon and Barnes & Noble is much easier than what comes next: getting someone to notice it. And having tracked the blogs of several major writers, I know that, unless you’re James Patterson, you have to direct and participate in how well your book goes over. You have to force yourself to become what you may not be: a marketer. And I bet even Mr. Patterson sometimes dreads putting on a suit or combing his hair to give a speech, an interview or to make a video to post on his official website. We are writers―our art is creation of stories and the alignment of words in such a way that we lead readers down a path we want them to travel. The reality is that, even if you’re shy, you have to believe in your own work enough to want others to feel what you felt when you were creating it.

My intention in saying this is not to throw water in prospective author’s face. While Allyn, Mom and I have been learning how tough it is, we’ve also seen the rewards. Every time you lift a foot and climb up another step, you gain a little strength; you make the next stage of the climb a little easier because you have one thing going for you that you didn’t have before. Whenever you need it, you can turn and gaze back down the staircase and see yourself on that first little stair. You can remember that you are climbing towards your dream—which is a brave step not many people do in their lives. You can feel what it’s like to have recognized what you want enough to have built the staircase in the first place.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Come see your movie star friends

Both Mark Swope, Genilee’s brother and Sharon’s son and Spectacle Publishing Media Group have posted links to the video of the television show Conversations with Rich. The show aired last week in the Northern Virginia area.

Here’s Mark’s version. It’s a shorter version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNN6oEYpO0A&list=UUh3nHRkelA5vRojc7cuIMGw&feature=c4-overview

And thanks to Eric Staggs, president of Spectacle for posting this longer version:

http://youtu.be/uvlYPMYNTfQ

Genilee Parente

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Stress-Free Zone

Writing is the one thing I do for myself that involves no anxiety, uncertainty or vacillation. I won’t allow it. We all need one aspect of our lives where we’re just free to be ourselves without influence of outside pressure. I’ve decided it will be writing.

What that means on a daily basis is that, no matter what I face that day or how much of a work load I carry, I give myself one hour first thing in the morning with only a cup of coffee between sleep and empty or unfinished pages. I don’t even allow the baleful eyes of my sweet hound dog to tempt me away from my task. She’s learned, after a year or so of this routine, that the leash is next on my list.

What it means on the weekends is that I allow the computer to call with a voice louder than domestic tasks. I

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don’t always listen to that voice—if I did, I’d have laundry to the ceiling, and I’d never get a closet or drawer cleaned out. But I give that voice the prominence it deserves, and sometimes it wins out over other sounds. [Oh, okay, being a lousy homemaker helps in this case.]

But even with major book events, I let only the joy of being an author come through the doors with me. I’m shy by nature so speaking before groups or sitting behind a table trying to get passersby to stop and look at our book should not be comfortable for me. And I feel the jitters bubble towards the surface occasionally. Instead of waiting for them to break through, however, I remind myself that I’m there as a writer. Why should I care if someone ignores me or I stumble over my words?

The only experience I have to compare this with is my wedding. I planned, I saved, I fussed before the event. But when the day came, and despite the fact I knew I’d trip walking up the steps in a gown with a train, I honestly felt no nervousness. I asked myself after the ceremony why and came up with this answer: because I knew what I was doing was right. I didn’t doubt for a second that I was marrying the right man so I didn’t care what others thought of the wedding arrangements, how I looked, or whether I fell flat on my face. I was exactly where I needed to be.

When I sit before the computer playing with words; when I sit with mom at my side and a stack of books in front of us; when mom and I find ourselves among a group of strangers looking to be entertained or informed, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. It took a long time to get here, but who cares. I’ve arrived.

–Genilee Swope Parente

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Look for Wretched Fate coming out this month!

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The computer ate my homework

Ironically, I am writing this for the second time. A few minutes ago, I lost my thoughts to this new computer system, which seems to be a regular occurrence with me these days. I really thought masharkybe I had conquered this computer, but it keeps letting me know who is in charge. At 85, I don’t seem to take to change too well, and I don’t really like being beaten by the computer. But I’m learning it’s part of today’s world. And it all sort of fits with the blog column I wrote because I was addressing the great changes in the world people my age have seen. Life at 85 can be a constant adventure.

For example, today my husband and I decided to venture out to find the local Dairy Queen.  If the two of us weren’t old and didn’t live in such a traffic-mess-of-a-city, I wouldn’t label this effort “adventure.” However, since my husband can no longer remember where he is going, and I am blind and can’t read road signs … you get the picture. We usually only go where I can give him instructions these days—go right at that corner, turn left here, keep on going straight.  But I’m afraid the places I am certain of in this area, which we’ve been residents of, for only half this decade, are few and far between. Also, I spent 74 years letting my husband drive while I basically daydreamed and didn’t pay attention; thus, we are now usually limited on where we can go. That’s why these outings are “adventures.”

Surprisingly, though, we had no trouble—we made only one wrong turn. However, the adventure this time occurred after we arrived. There we were standing in line to order a meal, and neither of us could read the menu on the board.  Bob insisted I tell him what he wanted to eat (something that happens a lot these days), and neither of us could understand the clerk who had a strong foreign accent.  We felt like idiots holding up the people waiting behind us.  Finally, we got that ordeal over, and I returned to our seat to wait while Bob got the order.

Suddenly, I felt like it was lunch hour for school and a lot of kids were skipping class.  The restaurant filled with a dozen young boys – all high school students, all almost six feet in height and none of them weighing more than 130 pounds! I never saw so many thin boys in my life.  They all looked like their pants were about to fall off.

Three high school girls came in next wearing short shorts on their also-slim bodies. They looked cute and quite nice but the fact they could go to school looking like that shocked me.  Now readers, I’m not so old I can remember when it was sinful for a girl to show her ankles, but I am of the generation when girls did not wear long pants in public.  Back in my youth teenage girls wore skirts (poodle skirts if you were cool) or dresses with sweaters and saddle shoes (which were, no matter what, NOT supposed to be clean).  When my daughters were teens, they wore short skirts or short dresses.  My own “modern” mother assured me those skirt lengths were all right, but to this day, I am not convinced. The short shorts those girls in the Dairy Queen were wearing were actually a lot better cover than the miniskirts of the late 1960s, early 1970s.

I know I sound old fashioned, but I don’t really think of myself that way. However, so much has changed in the last forty to fifty years.  In fact, so much has changed in the last ten!  I have enough trouble with my cell phone and have to go to my granddaughter for help with that.  And then you add the many new programs on the computer, the pop up ads I can barely see that the Internet produces, and you can understand how much I’m facing.

I do try hard, but days like today convince me that, despite the dictation program I use and the read-back program that helps, I am fighting a mighty hard battle. I am much more adept at losing copy than producing it.  Is there anyone else out there who feels the same?

Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Revving up the engine

When you feel stale with your writing, what do you do to inspire? In the old days, when I was only putting words down occasionally with no goal in mind, I’d dig out the old journals. These journals, written in long hand, still inspire when I give them a chance. But now that I’ve actually published a book with mom, I look to something else – recommitment.happy driving 2 mark

Mom and I carted my dad around Fredericksburg, Virginia this week, visiting places we thought might be interested in book signings. At the end of the day, we had two signings booked and a very hot prospect for a third. Pretty good results from a couple of hours of driving. But the day meant a lot more because what it did was re-inspire. Both of us took almost a month off from marketing because of busy schedules (my daughter graduating, visits from friends and family). Mom was chipping away at book five of the Sam Osborne series. I was finalizing the manuscript for Wretched Fate, the second book of the series. But I think we were both feeling the lull that occurs after the passion of first getting published. By driving around, telling our “story” about the miracle of book one coming out, we created a second wind. Mom and I both love the characters Mom created—Sam Osborne, Casey and Danny—and what happens to them in book one. We love book two and the new heroes Jacob Hardy and Rosalie McGovern even more. So it was easy to turn that passion into a road trip. It also helped that while we were telling our stories of how we became authors, we also could report that book one Twist of Fate is about to be reissued by Spectacle Publishing Media Group, and that book two Wretched Fate, will probably be out by the end of this summer. We felt again the excitement of being an author, and it breathed life into the ordinary.

So fellow creators, find that key that will bring you back to the magic place you were the first or second or third time you looked at your creation and realized how talented you are. It may require doing something like driving around, knocking on doors and bragging a little, but you know you’ll also find people who think that what you’ve done is really cool. Or if you’re within that horrid writer’s block we all hit, sit down at the computer and write something new. Remind yourself again why you’re an author. It’s fun. It’s rewarding. It’s an outlet for your creative soul.

And you’ll find yourself driving home, like mom, dad and I did, listening to an old radio station and singing along with the music.

Genilee Swope Parentehappy driving

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Getting over the Speed Bumps

Speed_BumpLike many writers, I seemed to be suffering from a period where my writing is at a standstill. For the first six books, the words just rolled out of me and onto the computer. But my writing seems to be suffering from stumbling blocks lately. One of those speed bumps is the reality that, as my books have progressed, the plots get more and more complicated. I’ve never had much trouble coming up the characters—they just form in my head and crystallize as I’m writing. However, writing and then fine-tuning mystery plots is difficult. There are many details that have to be figured out as far as how something could logically happen. And it’s not always easy to lead readers on side-trips so they don’t figure out “who dunnit” too early in the book. This is especially difficult with the Sam Osborne book I’ve trying to write now, which involves a murder. The killing could have been a case of a mistaken identity, which makes finding out the murderer more difficult. You’ll have to wait until that’s all on paper to see what I mean. As with the other books, I really like my main characters in this book.

Part of my problem, too, is that I took the last year to sit down and draft some short stories. Book Four of the Sam Osborne series was done, and I needed a new challenge so before I returned to my detective, I wanted to try some short stories. I’d done a few stories that were based on facts for magazines. This year, I wrote an entire collection based on seasonal holidays.

Now, I have an idea for how to return to Sam. However, it began in my head as a short story. I’m seeing now how much more detail, work and time it takes to write a full-length novel and wondering if writing short stories was a better form for me. I guess I’ll find out as I spend more nights lying in bed thinking about this latest plot!

Book signings have also been slow lately, partly because of my husband’s health—it’s difficult for him to drive places when he doesn’t know where he’s going, and I can no longer read a map or the road signs. And like with most people, life has gotten in the way—my daughter and writing partner works more than full time and has a graduating senior; my other two daughters came to visit; and these events have made for a busy Spring.

However, all of this having been said, Genilee and I have recommitted to Book One—Twist of Fate and hit the streets together again to set up more signings and events. We’ve already had one success, which we’ll report on closer to the event.

We were also excited to find out that Spectacle Publishing Media Group has decided to issue a second edition of the first book right before book two comes out. We are Spectacle’s top seller and proud of that fact. I’ll hope you’ll visit their site to see what else they’ve published recently (Spectaclepmg.com.) And both of our latest releases will be happening this summer – the reissue probably in July and the publishing of Wretched Fate to follow in August or September.

I am very proud of Wretched Fate and love the characters of Jacob and Rosalie. They are both unusual in their lifestyles—Jacob a recluse with a famous name, Rosalie a woman in need of a direction for her life. When they meet and work together to solve the crime, something magical happens. We think something magical will also happen when you read it!

F. Sharon Swope

 

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Having Bob Swope as a Dad

Many of our readers can see what I got from being F. Sharon Swope’s daughter: creativity, great story-telling, compassion for people, which comes out in our characters. But some of you don’t know what I got from being the daughter of Robert Swope.Dad & Gena

My father was the newspaper editor of our hometown newspaper, The Edgerton Earth. From that experience, I was introduced to journalism and a way to use writing as a career. However, even more than that, I learned the meaning of the word “respect.” My dad was a respected member of the community. People always knew he had the town’s best interests at heart, just like they knew he supported the local sports team, teachers at the school, the churches of the community, the local clubs that were important to the citizens.  But even more important, my dad gained respect because he showed that respect to others – not just to the community leaders but to every person with which he interacted. Let’s just say, the only person in our hometown of Edgerton, Ohio, who was shocked when dad received Citizen of the Year was dad himself. I was not in the least surprised. Dad has always had this wonderful way of seeing the good in everyone, starting with his own children, and it comes out in everything he does.

The other thing I think I got from my dad was a wonderful thirst for the humor in life. Don’t get me wrong, here. Dad can be a grumpy old man—at 87 he deserves his moments of griping. And I definitely inherited his impatience with all-things-technical. But dad does not get upset with people, just things. He has cursed many a curtain rod that would not go up right. However, when it comes to people and the stupid things they often do, dad laughs much more often than he curses. He has known, all of his life, that laughing at people, including himself, is both therapeutic and the better of two choices. Why get upset with people just for being PEOPLE. Being human is a blessing, not a curse. I think this view is extremely helpful in my writing because it allows me to look at situations that happen or difficult personalities of people as plot lines and character traits. Stories are not born from great phrasing, wonderful descriptions, polished wording. They are born from the flaws and differences between human beings and what happens when they are thrown together in life.

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Mom knows by now how grateful I am to have inherited a small portion of her creative genius. I grew up with that genius, which has manifested itself in many forms. Writing is the first time I’ve been able to share in it with her. But I’m not sure Dad knows or could even begin to understand that I’m a writer—both in my professional life and now in my pursuit of fiction—because of what he gave me—my views on life.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Talking about our baby

First of all, I want to apologize for making Genilee write this blog for almost a month now.  We had agreed to take turns every other week but I was tied  up preparing for, then hosting family as well as trying to deal with this new program on my computer—Dragon Speak. The program allows me to dictate into the computer to compensate for my failing eye sight.

Understanding any new program is hard enough – but that isn’t what has been giving me fits. Remembering to turn it on and off is the hard part. Dragon Speak is set to type every word you say, and it’s a pretty accurate process. However, remembering when it’s on and when it’s off is the big problem. For example, if the phone rings while you’re sitting at your computer, your instinct is to pick it up, say “hello,” then carry on a normal conversation.  If you do that when Dragon Speak is enabled, once you hang up, you’ll see that the page you were writing now has an entire phone call conversation typed. You go to delete the unnecessary language uttering a few unseemly words, and those words will appear on the page too.  So far, it seems I spend as much time deleting as writing!

But that’s enough complaining! I wanted to report how fun and useful last week’s book event was. Genilee and I were asked to come to the Thursday Thrillers Mystery Club sponsored by the Potomac Community Library.  We were early and the large room that greeted us was empty. However, we waited in the library and by the time of the meeting, that room was filled. We sat at the end of a very long table graced on each side by over twenty members.

 Sharon and members

 

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see a table full of readers, all with our book in front of them. The idea that they all read and enjoyed our book was a thrill for these two authors. The group was enthusiastic and full of good suggestions, as well as many compliments. It’s hard for me to describe how we felt during those two hours.  The closest I can come is to imagine how a mother feels when a group of people tell her how accomplished her daughter is and how proud she should be. For you see, Twist of Fate, is like a baby to us, and getting published was like graduation day.

Thursday Thrillers discuss the plot of Twist of Fate.

Thursday Thrillers discuss the plot of Twist of Fate.

Our thanks go out to all the members of the Thursday Thriller’s club for their insights, and for sharing with us how much they enjoyed reading our baby.

And I want to leave our blog readers with a plea to watch for our second child. Wretched Fate will be out sometime this summer, and we’re equally excited about book two. In fact, we’ve worked with our publisher Spectacle Publishing Media Group very closely in many areas, including a system so that book two will not have so many typos!

Hopefully that process will begin with me and with this Dragon Speak technology. Wish me luck, and stayed tuned to this spot for updates on Wretched Fate.

F. Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s a Community Thing …

Several significant events happened since mom wrote the last blog that illustrate the rewards of being an author:

I flipped up the front page of my hometown newspaper, The Edgerton Earth, to see a bottom page spread covering our Twist of Fate book series. People who know me really well understand why that’s such a thrill. When your roots are firmly entrenched in a small town, you measure much of what happens in your life against the values you grew up with … in my life (and mom and dad’s for that matter), many of those values came from close interaction with our neighbors, classmates, friends in Edgerton. It’s true what they say about small towns: everyone knows your business. But it’s also true that when Earth logopeople need help or support, there is usually some other resident in town who comes to their aid (Yep, there’s Verna again … and the many small things Doug and Becky Mavis did for classmate Steve come to mind.). I loved growing up in Edgerton, and it will always be part of who I am and part of my writing. Since dad was the editor of The Edgerton Earth for many years and mom was a columnist as well as business manager, the town’s paper is in my blood. Current editor Cindy Thiel did a great job of capturing what it’s been like to become a writing family.CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

Mom and I also met a week ago with the Scarlett Hatter’s book club in Woodbridge. Their candid comments and generous praise for the story were inspiring and eye-opening. I was heartened to hear that no one knew for sure who the villain was. And I was glad to get some feedback that will help us craft future stories. But even more

scarlett hatters

than that, the joie de vivre of that group of ladies, who meet frequently to give each other support and make each other laugh, is encouraging. Like living in a small town, they have found a community in each other, and they are lucky to have that shared bond.

Finally, Twist of Fate has become Spectacle Publishing Media Group’s number one seller! Thanks to our readers for making our dreams come true.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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