I was lucky enough to chat with Natalya Parks and Brooke Johnson this week. It was wonderful to meet them and I loved the opportunity to ask about some things I've been wondering about.
EEM: Natalya, What inspired you to write your first book? And how much of the book is realistic?
NP: “The Need to Touch” began as one of Brooke’s stories. She started working on it and asked me to join her. I think the storyline is realistic and very plausible. Ben is based on one of Brooke’s friends from high school.
EEM: Brooke, Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
BJ: Yes, young love is berated a lot in our society. I want them to realize that it is possible for young love to make it. I want the readers to see that opposites do attract.
EEM: Natalya, Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
NP: My favorite author is J. R. R. Tolkien. The amount of work he put into creating Middle Earth and its inhabitants amazes me. The amount of back story he created for “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” is astounding. I can’t begin to fathom the amount of time and effort it took.
EEM: Natalya again, What bores you in a book?
NP: I don’t like it when there is a long buildup to an event in a story and when you finally get to the event it adds very little tension to the story. It makes me think is that it? I just read all those pages for a few paragraphs of tension. That’s usually when I put the book down and finally go to bed.
EEM: The next few questions are for Brooke. Do you pay attention to literary criticism?
BJ: As a writer I don’t have much choice. I try not to let it bother me. When something is brought to my attention I fix it and continue on. I have learned as a writer and a reader that people are not always going to like your work.
EEM: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
BJ: I used to teach 11th grade literature so I’d probably go back to that.
EEM: What do you need someone to invent right away?
BJ: A cloning machine so I’d have two of me. J
EEM: And last, for both of you: What do you appreciate most in your writing partnership with Brooke/Natalya?
NP: Brooke writes quickly which pushes me to write more. She’s a very good friend and we have a lot of fun working together.
BJ: That we work well together. She is my best friend and I think that she helps me grow as a writer. She doesn’t just write and make stories, she works with me.
Thank you, ladies. It's been terrific chatting. Now, let's have a look at The Need to Touch...
Brooke Johnson lives in Louisiana with her five girls, wonderful boyfriend, and many pets. When she is not working on finishing her current degree, she can be found fishing, coloring, or blowing bubbles with her kids. Just over a year ago, Brooke decided she wasn’t going to back down from her dreams, and started writing full time. With the encouragement of her family she is proud to be publishing her books for the world to read.
Brooke started reading later in life. Unlike many authors who have always had a special love for reading, Brooke didn’t pick up a book until she was in her late teens. She remembers wanting to find something to do with her mom, who has always been her best friend. One day her mom was talking about a romance novel that she just read. Not being interested in it all, Brooke gave in and read the book. She’s been her mom’s reading partner ever since. They can now sit and talk, laugh and even cry about all the books they have read over the years.
So, with great pride and honor, Brooke is happy to thank her mother for encouraging her to not only read, but to follow her heart, and write her own books. What started as simple poetry on scrap paper, at the age of seven, is now a dream come true. Brooke started writing but felt something was missing. When she started writing with Natalya Parks, everything seemed to fall into place, and now here they are. Launching books, and writing more. This may be the first you see of them, but Brooke is determined that this won’t be last. Brooke is excited for you to meet their characters, and fall in love with the men that they have spent many hours with over the last year, just for you!!
Natalya parks lives is Louisiana with her beloved dog, Napoleon. Natalya enjoys spending as much time as possible with her children and grandchildren.
Natalya has had an ongoing passionate love affair with books since she was four years old. While her friends were getting in trouble for not reading she was getting in trouble for reading. She was late for dinner, forgot to do her chores, stayed up past her bedtime, forgot about homework and was late for the school bus on many occasions; because she couldn’t put the book down. Her most embarrassing moment caused by reading a book occurred when she was in seventh grade. The school bus pulled up to her stop and of course she couldn’t possibly stop reading. The story was just too good. So with her nose still in her book she slowly made her way down the aisle of the bus. She as she got to the top of the stairs she tripped over an instrument case that was jutting out just a bit into the aisle. Where she promptly fell head first down the stairs landing in a heap in the dirt, her feet resting on the bottom step. Natalya was wearing a dress that day.
She has wanted to be a writer since she was a teenager but never thought she could write anything good enough for someone else to want to read. Her dear friend Brooke convinced her otherwise and literally dragged her into the world of writing. Something she will be forever grateful. Now, not only does she get to love and enjoy works by other authors but also those that she has contributed to as well. Her mind still goes tilt, tilt when she thinks about the fact that she is a published author. Dreams really can come true.
Publisher: Cool Beans Publishing and Editing, LLC
Cover Artist: Aj Corza
You can only win someone’s heart once you’ve captured it.
Nineteen year old Ryder Harrison grew up near a small town in Montana, working on the family’s ranch and in love with his best friend, Landon Pennington. That was until his Grandfather decided he needed to go to college in California. Ryder promised his Mom before she died that he would finish his education. Staying true to his word, Ryder packs his clothes, and heads to California, confident that it would all be one big disaster. The only thing he hadn’t planned on was meeting Bentley Carter.
Twenty year old Bentley Carter has enough emotional issues to write his own ‘How to Cope’ manual. Surviving an abusive childhood, he made a personal promise to always stay true to himself, and never let emotions overrule his common sense. Content with his current life and friend with ‘benefits’, Ben is determined to not let his new roommate affect him.
Uncertain about their places in the world, and with each other, Ryder and Ben struggle to understand the person who is not what they thought they wanted, yet who they are unable to live without. Living in a sometimes cruel and unforgiving world they are determined to embrace the reality of falling in love and the challenges that follow.
“Welcome to paradise!!” Ethan yelled over the music.
All I could see was flesh, and hard bodies. Hard everything. Everywhere I looked, half naked guys were dancing and grinding together.
“Ry, honey, you okay?” Ben squeezed my hand, pulling me out of the fog of lust.
I hadn’t realized I wasn’t blinking, until my eyes started to water. Ben noticed my current state, smiled and pulled me onto the dance floor. He had me turned and pressed against him so fast I was dizzy. My hands trembled. He started grinding against me with his hands on my lower back. The press of bodies around us didn’t allow for additional space between us, and the music only encouraged our hips to gyrate.
I could feel his nipple rings through our thin shirts. Our thighs rubbed together every time Ben wiggled his ass and pressed his hips to mine. I growled in the back of my throat, holding him a little tighter.
We’ve been in the damn club all of five minutes, and I was about cum in my pants.
“Ben, I need a drink.” I leaned in to speak directly into his ear.
He must not have heard me because he pulled me closer, moving us to the rhythm of the music. Ben’s hard-on was pressed my thigh. I made a mistake looking into his eyes. Their intensity was magnified by the eye liner. I’d never seen anything so beautiful in my life. Ben leaned into me, and I tightened my arms around his waist, wanting what he offered.
Starting at the sensitive skin behind my ear, he licked his way down to my collar before lightly biting me.
8/25: MM Good Book Reviews
8/26: Andrew Q. Gordon
8/27: Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings
8/28: Jade Crystal
8/29: Amanda C. Stone, EE Montgomery
9/1: Parker Williams
9/2: LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Iyana Jenna
9/3: The Hat Party
9/4: Love Bytes
9/8: Cate Ashwood
9/9: Prism Book Alliance
9/10: Hearts on Fire
9/11: Fallen Angel Reviews
9/12: Foxylutely Book Reviews
9/15: Love of Bookends
9/16: Wake Up Your Wild Side
9/17: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
9/18: Hearts on Fire
9/19: My Fiction Nook
Rafflecopter Prize: One of two signed paperbacks
Remember the Just Life series? The third book finished with Mark and Liam deciding they wanted to be together and explore what they could be. I was fine with that when I finished the book but after a while I wanted to check in on them and see how they were going, and I wanted to find out what happened to Jonathan after Anthony tried to kill him.
Now I know.
I've just signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for Book 4 in the Just Life series: Just the Way You Are. We pick up the story two weeks after Just in Time finishes. Jonathan has been released from hospital and has to make some hard decisions about his life. Of course, Anthony doesn't like any of those decisions.
Publication is set for March/April 2015. So exciting.
For the first three books, check my books page on this website or go to my author page at Dreamspinner Press.
You've read Pitch and want more, right? Me too. That's why I'm thrilled to be part of this cover reveal.
WILL PARKINSON believes that no matter what obstacles are thrown in the path of young love, it will always find a way to win in the end. He wants his characters to have their happily ever after, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to come easily.
None of this would have happened if he had followed the advice he was given many years ago. “What are you wasting your time on that for? It’s never going to amount to anything.” He believed it for the longest time, abandoning characters he’d created in his childhood.
He picked up his very first m/m story by a writer named Eden Winters, who was an absolute joy when they corresponded. She asked him if he wrote and he told her the story. Eden explained to Will that the voices in his head would never go away and how he needed to let them out. With that thought in mind, Will put e-pen to e-paper once more. It was truly a liberating experience and one he has no intention of giving up again.
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Video trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVOiQ8yOsII
Although Addy’s heart and body bear the scars from his life before he was adopted by the Deans, he’s ached for something he thought he would never find. Until he met Benny. He isn’t sure how anyone can care for someone as broken as he is, even though he wants it desperately.
High school senior Benny Peters has his whole life planned out for him, until a chaste kiss at summer camp opens a new world of possibilities. Determined to erase Addy’s insecurities, Benny works to take away his boyfriend’s pain and replace it with love.
When Addy’s past intrudes on their future, it’s going to take everything Benny can muster to show that no matter what – or who – they face, they belong together.
Benny cast a glance at Addy, noticing how his eyes kept darting to him and then to the floor. He seemed troubled, unsure.
“Addy? Is there something wrong?”
Addy heaved a deep sigh, then was quiet for a moment. “Do I embarrass you?” he finally asked.
“What? No, of course not. Why would you even think that?” Benny was genuinely perplexed.
“Jackson and Taylor don’t seem to have any problem touching each other, but you act like I’ve got germs or something and won’t come anywhere near me when there’s other people around. I have to wonder if you’re ashamed to be seen with someone like... me.”
“Oh God, no,” Benny replied sharply. “Please don’t ever think that. You know what? C’mere.”
He grabbed Addy’s arm and dragged him into the lounge.
“Listen to me, little man. I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be ashamed of you. If anything, you should be ashamed of me.”
Addy looked puzzled. “Why?”
Benny slid his fingers through his stubbly hair, then rubbed the back of his neck before he spoke. “I’m not really comfortable with being... like this. I really do care for you, but I’ve never felt this way about a guy— well, about anyone—before, and I don’t know how to handle it. So no, I’m not ashamed or embarrassed of you at all. I’m just not sure how to deal with everything.”
Addy took Benny by the hand and peered into his eyes. “That’s all I needed to know. I don’t want to rush you. If you need time, you’ve got to know I’ll give it to you. I just wanted to be sure that you wanted me.”
Benny regarded his boyfriend. Yeah, his boyfriend. Benny had never been afraid to stand up for anyone in his life. Why should he be ashamed to stand up for himself now?
“C’mere, little man,” he growled, putting his hand on Addy’s neck, pulling him in close.
Addy’s eyes went wide, excitement dancing in them. Benny licked his lips and then pressed them to Addy’s in a deep, thrilling kiss. Someone whimpered. Benny wasn’t really sure which one of them it had been. He felt his synapses fry. It was the most incredible thing he’d ever experienced. A voice called out, startling them both.
“Benny? Is there something you’d like to tell me?”
Benny looked up and stared for a moment at Taylor, who had a wide smile across his face. Benny could feel his cheeks heat up. This wasn’t the way he wanted this to go, but damn, right now he needed Addy in the worst way.
“No, Taylor, not right now,” he replied quietly. Then he went back in for another one of those amazing kisses.
Parker Williams, Angel Martinez, Hearts on Fire, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Cate Ashwood, Amanda C. Stone, SA McAuley, Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings, Love Bytes, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, Havan Fellows, Emotion in Motion, My Fiction Nook, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Charli Green, Jade Crystal, Lee Brazil, Trisha Harrington’s Blog, Will Parkinson, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Wake Up Your Wild Side, EE Montgomery, Inked Rainbow Reads, Full Moon Dreaming, Top2Bottom, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Fallen Angel Reviews, Sinfully Sexy, Iyana Jenna, Andrew Q. Gordon
Where can you buy the book next month?E-book: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5417
Prize: One of two $10 gift card to Amazon or ARe
Families are strange things. They come in all shapes, sizes and configurations; some good, some not.
I know some people who haven’t seen members of their family since they were young and they miss them terribly. Those family members are in other countries, in the middle of wars or still waiting for refugee status to be granted. In some cases no one knows if they’re still alive. It’s harrowing. It’s the kind of stuff that stops smiles and haunts eyes. And there’s nothing you can do to help.
I know some people who only see members of their family at weddings and funerals and spend the entire time huddled in a corner criticising the clothing and history of others there. They’re the ones with artificial smiles and cruel eyes. I’m not sure if they know how to enjoy life, or if they think they already are.
I know some people who are the people being criticised. They’re the ones who alternately look forward to and dread the function. They’re the ones with strained smiles and fidgeting fingers, as if their hands are ready to leave long before the rest of them can. Their eyes light up when they see the one brother/cousin/aunt who is still talking to them and the one whom they’ve come to see. They hug and talk, then dance together, all the time watching, watching the others to make sure they stay far enough away nothing can be said to them to spoil the day. The maneuvering doesn’t always work, and they often find themselves on the receiving end of unnecessarily cruel taunts. They sigh in relief when they leave, but the pain and injustice of those few comments stays with them a long time. Next time, though, they do it all over again, because the ones they love will be there.
I know some people who have never felt unloved a day in their lives. Their faces are serene and they look forward to spending time with their elderly mother and reclusive sister. When I think about it, those people are rare. That’s sad.
I’m thinking about families this week because I’m spending the weekend with my extended family. I’ve returned to the town I grew up for my nephew’s wedding. We arrived last night and, so far, I’ve been reminded of all the things I like about small towns and the people who live in them. Last night was full of laughter (and a small amount of alcohol). This morning, those of us staying in the hotel (in adjacent rooms) spent the morning visiting and coordinating morning walks and breakfast. The rest of the day will be filled with viewing the house the couple recently purchased and then the wedding.
And I’ve been told time is up and this is no longer important. See you next week with something special…
Deep point of view is one of the things I try to achieve with my writing. I'm not always successful. Very often my drafts are shallow, telling-not-showing, and repetitive. It takes a lot of work to deepen that and achieve the connection with the character that readers are looking for.
One of the things that makes it difficult for me is that I'm already connected to the character and I don't want them to hurt anymore. I try to protect them, shield them from the exposure writing their story will cause. It sounds silly when I say it because the reason I'm writing is to tell their story.
To overcome this, I often write scenes in first person before I then convert them to third person. You'd think if I'm writing as the person that I'd delve into the emotions, but it doesn't always work, particularly with those characters who aren't even aware they have emotions. They're so suppressed, they just get on with the action and expect everything else to work out afterwards.
My crit partners always say "They might not recognise they have emotions, but they will have them and there will be some sign of them: find that sign." Yeah, yeah, yeah: stop fluffing around the edges and go deep, dive into them, become them, feel everything they feel, then show you what that looks like from the outside.
I know the theory. I know how it's supposed to work and I want to achieve that connection, but sometimes I have trouble dealing with the emotion in my own life; diving into the emotion of someone else's is HARD.
Another method I use to work out how suppressed emotion is exhibited is to walk around the house... gesturing. Anger is one of the few socially acceptable forms of emotive expression. It's okay to get angry and it's okay to express it. But what if the character suppresses even that? What would his 'tells' be? What happens inside his body when he's angry and trying not to show it? How does that show on the outside to someone looking in?
Then I look at the gentler emotions. How does protectiveness appear when they can't express it? It might look a lot like anger: it's the socially accepted emotion, remember.
What about gentleness and caring? Those are more difficult. Often they come down to a softening of facial features, or aborted movements. Those are difficult to show from inside the character's head, though. Sometimes, they move, touch someone gently, without even realising it, but then you have the problem of autonomously moving body parts--that never ends well.
I'm thinking about all this today because the character I'm writing at the moment isn't even aware of a lot of his emotions. He doesn't use words like 'lonely' or 'protective' because he doesn't recognise what they are inside. He was sold into prostitution as an eight-year-old. He's always been lonely; he's never been protected. That's simply his state of being. It's normal for him, not unusual--certainly not recognised. So far, the only thing I've come up with to show these emotions with him is to show the lack of them after he's had the opposite for a short time. He has attention and company, and protection for a few short weeks, then they're gone. His 'normal' was different, but now it's back the way it was and it's no good anymore.
I'd love to know what others do with characters like this.
Welcome to Laura Harner's book blast tour.
About Laura Harner:
Raised in California, Laura likes it hot, which explains why she ended up in Arizona via such diverse places as Japan, Maine, and Florida, and many more places in between. After retiring from the US Navy, she found a niche working for land management agencies, including the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Though she has held many jobs around the world, her favorite was working and living in Grand Canyon National Park. Working (and eating) in New Orleans was a close second. You will find many of her books are set against the rich backdrops provided by coastal Louisiana and northern Arizona.
When asked how she started writing, Laura tells of waking on Boxing Day a few years ago, with a woman named Elena MacFarland yammering in her dreams, demanding her story be told. Despite never attempting to write fiction before that morning, Laura ignored all of the holiday visitors and the Highland Destiny series was born. She doesn’t believe it was a coincidence that the great grandmother who died when Laura was just a baby was named Elena MacFarland. Destiny does play a hand.
Laura became a full-time writer in 2012, and now she spends her time writing, watching her Arizona Diamondbacks, and working on her very own version of the Willow Springs Ranch in northwestern Arizona. She is a multi-published author of erotic romance, mystery, and urban fantasy and her books can be found at all major online retailers.
Cover Artist: Laura Harner
Publisher: Hot Corner Press
Blurb for Prevailing Winds:
Two years ago, Jamie Mainwaring and Remy Remington had nothing in common except missing boys and a blazing hot mutual distraction. When the case was over, so were they. Although they went their separate ways, life—and death—keep the men connected.
After another deadly tragedy touches both their lives, the men say what they believe must be their final goodbyes—only to have their worlds collide once again. This time they end up in Las Vegas, one man for work, the other to try to mend a very personal pain.
Although Jamie and Remy once excelled at mixing business with pleasure—this time, the stakes are much higher—they’ve got forever on the line. When they discover Jamie’s case has an unexpected connection to Remy’s son, they must put everything aside to find Toby before the young man makes a decision that will change all of their lives. One thing is positive, time is running out.
“I don’t know if I can do this, cowboy,” Jamie whispered. Even while his heart was busy trying to put on the brakes, his traitorous hands slid to Remy’s waist. He leaned up to steal another kiss. The slide of slick tongue, the wet heat, familiar taste all insistently telegraphed the same message. This is right.
Jamie arched toward Remy, tugging at his shirt, sliding hands along the hot flesh, pulling him closer. Returning the kiss, Remy made a noise halfway between a groan and a growl, then took a commanding control, forcing his head back, their tongues dancing in an addicting blend of white-hot urgency.
Just like the first time they’d kissed, the effect of Remington’s kiss was like no other. It wasn’t just a kiss, it was an assault on his senses that left his head spinning and his lungs desperate for oxygen. Even his toes tingled. Intense. Passionate. Perfect. They fit together in a way he’d never been able to duplicate with any other man. Yin and Yang. Black and Tan. Fish and Chips. Breaking their kiss, Jamie nearly snorted with laughter.
Immediately, Remy dropped his hands to his sides and took a giant step backward. “I’m sorry, Jamie. I didn’t mean to—” His eyes were heavy, the lush lips swollen from their kisses, the dress shirt untucked and rumpled. Jamie wanted to finish undressing him, to use his mouth to ravish that beautiful body.
Trying to focus, Jamie said, “No—it’s not that. I was thinking—”
“Always dangerous with you,” Remy interrupted.
Jamie laughed again. “Too true. I was thinking about how perfectly our kisses seem to fit together. The things you do to me are like no one else…then I lost the thread.” He repeated his thoughts.
“Like fish and chips? Seriously?” Now Remy was laughing, too. “How do I go from being your best kiss to being compared to a piece of cod?”
Jamie shook his head. “I don’t know. Nerves, maybe?”
Remy nodded. “I’ll go back to my room.”
“No,” Jamie practically shouted. Remy tilted his head and blinked. The man probably thought him mad. Maybe he was.
“Jamie, help me out here. What can’t you do? How can I help?” Remy took Jamie’s hand and started to lead him toward the couch. Jamie tugged him to the bedroom instead.
“I don’t want you to leave, Remy. Really, I don’t. Let’s go to bed.”
“Jamie, you don’t have to do this. In fact—shit, I can’t believe I’m saying this—but I’d rather we not do anything if you’re not sure.”
“That’s just the trouble, Remy. I’m sure I want this.” He used two fingers to point back and forth between them. “What I’m afraid of is what happens afterward. I’m not sure I can…survive watching you walk away again. And God, I’m so sorry. I know it’s way too soon for both of us—too soon after Miggy—too soon for this to be something you can commit to. That’s what scares me.”
Remy pulled Jamie so they both sat on the edge of the bed. Their hips touched, but Remy leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, the position he always assumed when he needed a bit of self-protection. “I get that. I’m scared, too, you know. It nearly killed me to watch you walk away in Phoenix. And you’re right, it’s too early to search out Elvis and put on wedding bands. But Jamie, I don’t think it’s too soon to say we can try.”
Jamie’s stomach twisted, and his heart thudded erratically. Remy turned his head, and gave him a half smile. “Miggy…his death was ugly, beyond senseless. It was a fucking bomb, set two years ago by that asshole Cortez. And we never knew. We all went about living our lives—never once considering we were running out of time. All of us, Jamie—not just Migs. But here’s the thing…I don’t regret the journey, even if I hate the ending. But I have to wonder, what other time bombs are waiting for us? What regrets would we have if one of us died tomorrow?”
The words released the binds around his heart. As if someone opened the starting gate, Jamie surged forward, knocking Remy back onto the bed with an oomph. Like the crazed man he was beginning to suspect he was, he fumbled until he managed to get Remy’s shirt and slacks open. He was making splendid progress until he was distracted by the warmth of the big hands that slipped under his shirt and the roll of Remy’s hips. Even through their remaining clothes, hard length pressed against hard length.
“Jamie,” Remy said his name like some sort of incantation, weaving a spell with his voice. Jamie cried out when he was flipped over, his back landing on the mattress with a thud, and he was pinned by the weight of Remy’s body. His mouth was plundered as Remy tasted and pulled back before tasting again. So much like their first time.
Breaking their kiss, Remy rose to his knees and tugged his shirt over his head, then stood and gave Jamie a long look. Jamie remembered the taste of those finely pebbled brown nubs, the scrape of the coarse brown chest hair, the heat of the golden skin. Still Remy waited, thumbs hooked inside his waistband, the zipper unfastened, more than a hint of cock showing, since he’d obviously gone commando. Jamie licked his lips and glanced up to meet Remy’s heavy look. Only then did Remy finally let his slacks drop to the floor. Jamie unfastened his own pants, but Remy pushed his hands aside and finished undressing him, adding his clothes to the growing pile. Then they were pressed naked together and Remy’s mouth found his once more.
“Say my name,” he demanded.
Jamie smiled. “Remy,” he mumbled against the warm lips that branded him as claimed. “Remy. Remy.”
“Fuck, Jamie. I love the way you say my name,” Remy whispered.
Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Cate Ashwood, Love Bytes, Havan Fellows, SA McAuley, MM Good Book Reviews, EE Montgomery, Iyana Jenna, Emotion in Motion, Amanda C. Stone, My Fiction Nook, Lee Brazil, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Prism Book Alliance, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Fallen Angel Reviews, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Smoocher’s Voice, Jade Crystal, It’s Raining Men, Michael Mandrake
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
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