Anthologies – Do they help or hurt?

I’ve noticed that various authors have their own opinions on anthologies. Some say there is no value to having your story in a book that most likely will never get read or reviewed. Or worse, it will get read and reviewed and the overall quality is shit so it gets a bad review.

I’m going to tell you why I’m in anthos and A LOT of them.

#1 – Advertising:

Personally, I see anthologies as advertising tools. In my mind, people who may never read my writing, will get exposed to me. Maybe this sounds odd, but even if just the people who are in the antho read the book, they’ll read something by someone new — happens to me all the time. If they’re impressed enough with your work, they’ll seek you out — again, happens to me all the time! I can’t tell you how many new friends/followers I’ve gotten on Facebook/Twitter who say they love my work they’ve read in an antho and want to know where they can find more.

Another way I see anthos as free advertisers is that your name will possibly/can be added when the book is listed on places like Amazon. Having a book with your name associated with it allows you to start an author page through Author Central. You can share the link and start building on for later!

People often give me shit for being in anthos where I don’t get paid, but I think I do get paid…with advertising! Here’s how: 1) Someone other than just me will be promoting the book, whether it’s the press or the other writers included; and 2) The family members of the people in the book (especially for someone’s firstpublication) will be sharing and showing the books around. = MORE READERS!

Besides the more readers uptake, I see it as renting out my story, since I get most of my rights back within 6 months to a year (depending on the contracts). After that time I can sell them as reprints, publish them as freebies on my blog, or expand them and make novellas and/or novels. No story of mine is going to go to waste while I’m still at the keyboard.

So, to me, anthos equal free advertising, fan base builders, and story temp homes.

Oh! They’re also great if you want to promote a larger work! You can write stories for anthos, put the titles you’ve written (novellas/novels) in your bio, and if people like your story it could lead to more sales!

#2 – Press Relations:

Another good thing about having your short stories accepted into anthos is that you can feel out the presses. There are a lot of them out there and you never know when you might get burned by one. You don’t want to give your novel to a press that’s going to be crooked with you, or you just aren’t going to get along with, are you?! No!

When you submit to an antho, you get a feel for the presses submission preferences and guidelines; you also get an idea of their response time, etc. If your story is accepted, you’ll then become familiar with how they handle their “business.”

Do they use contracts? What kind of rights do they ask for? Are you comfortable with their editing and communication along the way? Do you REALLY want to work with them?

You can benefit so much by feeling out a press by submitting to an anthology.

If things go well, you can build a relationship with a press, their editors, and/or owners by submitting multiple times (to multiple anthologies). In the long run, this could open doors for you for opportunities, such as editing or submitting a larger work (novella/novel).

#3 – Responsibility (representing yourself):

Not only does submitting to anthologies get you advertising and good press relations, it gets you familiar with the publishing process over all: submitting; acceptances/rejection; editing; contracts; the dreaded ‘wait’; and (very importantly) your professional attitude with all of it.

You represent you.

You need to conduct yourself with professionalism or no one will want to work with you. Submitting gives you practice at this whether you’re accepted or not.

You are responsible for deadlines, handling the editing process without having a full on hissy fit, etc! Would you want to work with someone who made every step of the process complicated, or held up the project because they were always late? Nope!

Don’t expect to be treated as a professional unless you act like one.

#4 – Writing:

You’re probably thinking, “Duh! Writing! Isn’t that what we’re talking about?” The answer is yes. But anthologies have a way of inspiring you to write more! You read the calls and get sparks of ideas. If you get good at hammering out short stories, you’ll find that you’re writing more.

This is important for every writer. Writing a lot = practice. Practice makes perfect, right? When you practice writing you tend to learn what you’re doing wrong and correct it, or you’ll find that your style/voice matures. This is a very, very good thing.

#5 – Deadlines:

I know I mentioned deadlines in the area of professionalism — I’m going to reiterate because it’s that important.

Deadlines are part of the business. Deadlines are important.

If an editor/press gives you a deadline to meet, do it! They are there for a reason. Writing for anthologies give you practice at writing for deadlines. You know you have to have your story written and sent in by a certain time, or OOPS! you’ve missed your chance. You can benefit from the experience of racing time, balancing life, and still accomplishing your writing goals.

Overall, I think anthologies can be used in a positive way! Don’t get me wrong, there are some negatives that go along with it… Like the reviewing and low book sales, etc. But, if you use anthologies for practice, experience, advertising, and to get to know various presses you’ll be building a fan base and networking at the same time.

At the end of the day it depends on the individual and their overall goals. Anthologies aren’t for everyone, so don’t feel bad if you just don’t like them and don’t want to submit — that’s okay too.

I hope I’ve at least made you think about how being part of an anthology can help you along the way with your writing journey.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

The Craziness – A Writer’s Life

My life has been crazy lately and I’ve had little to no time to write. This equals out to depression because I want to write, I just can’t because everything is in the way.

As many of you know, I started a part time job in March, but it has turned into a full time job recently. This has left me with no time to write. Hell, I barely see my family!

When I’m at home all I want to do is sleep because I’ve been working 43-50 hours a week (nights). During the day — while my hub is at work and my son was in school — I normally write because I’m not getting bugged every 5-10 minutes with someone else’s wants or needs. Now I sleep during that time because there is no other time to do so. (My son’s last day of school is today, so now he’ll be home all the time. I’ll prolly get more writing done and less sleep since he’ll be here to entertain me.)

Many people ask how writers balance their job, their family, and their writing. I’m here to tell you that it’s hard and all about the mix. You have to want to do it. If you don’t want it bad enough, you’ll never getting anything writing related done (at least if you’re putting your family first).

The other night I had off work. Since my sleeping schedule is messed up from working, I was awake in the middle of the night. Instead of laying in bed and tossing and turning, I got up and managed to write 895 words. It wasn’t much, but it was more than I’d written at one time in over two weeks. (I’d written part of a poem a couple days before, but I think that only came to around 200 words…)

I know that I can fit in writing and accomplish something, even though the going is slower now. Things are supposed to calm down at work and I should be back to part time soon. The fact of the matter though, is that I want to write and I’m not willing to give it up. I’ll find a way to get it done. I’ll find my balance in the craziness that is my life! Until then, I’ll take the few minutes I have here and there to get some kind of writing done (like this blog post! LOL).

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

Zombie Awareness Month – We Are The Zombies by DM Youngquist

Brraaaiiinnnssss…We already know what’s coming. The word hisses across our mind like a cold snake. It sends chills down our spine. If we turn around and look, there’s going to be a rotting, slimy corpse on the other end of that muttered word. The fear is a primal, gut reaction that turns our bowels to ice. It’s the fear of our cave dwelling ancestors when they hear that growl from the back of the cave in the deep of night.

We have deep rooted primal fears in our brain-stem. Our reptilian brain that is all about instinct and survival keeps us alive with these fears. Good movie makers and writers know this, and know how to tap into it. Probably our biggest fear is the fear of death. It’s taken a lot of forms over the years, from giant cave bears, to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, to vampires, to now zombies

But right now, zombies have become the biggest thing in niche lit. They’re everywhere. They have zombie walks, (actually a damned good excuse to get dressed up and shuffle downtown and drink with some good friends) zombie apocalypse marathons (the first rule: Cardio) and magazines. Can’t really say that about too many more monsters in the genre out there. I mean, yeah, you’ve got vampire balls here and there, and nightclubs, but it’s mostly goth and emo kids out looking to hang with others of their type. It’s not really a come one come all kind of thing. And really, I don’t think it’d be all that fun sitting around being moody and elegant all night. Not when I can get all cover in blood and go shuffling off down the street with my buds. And when was the last time you saw anything major done for werewolves

Thing is though, the overpaid researchers who look into this kind of stuff have been scratching their head, trying to figure out where this is coming from. The literary snobs who predicted it would die out, as it was just too ridiculous are puzzled. They don’t get it. They don’t understand. They’ve spent all this time and money studying the phenomenon in the research area, and making fun of it in literary circles, and they still are no further ahead than when they started

Well, here’s a clue: It’s something the 99% of us can relate too. Zombies are mindless creatures shuffling around from one place to the next trying to find a meal. When one zombie finds a meal, everyone else shuffles over for a bit. There’s not much out there in the way of food, so competition is fierce. One has to force his way through the pack to get the tasty bits to himself. Eventually, there are more zombies, and less in the way of food, so the weaker zombies get left behind

Replace that with jobs, and you’ve got the picture of why 99% of the world can relate to zombies. We’ve all got our degrees. We’re all competing for jobs in a smaller and smaller market. For each job out there, there are thousands, literally in some fields, or applicants. One person is able to get the good job, and the rest of us shuffle on through our crappy job, or unemployment until we stumble across the next hot lead. We go week to week trying to pay bills on our paycheck that doesn’t cover cost of living, and hasn’t increased since the 1980’s

Hell, we are the zombies. Yes, they represent death. They represent an unstoppable enemy that is going to kill you. They’re a force that even after you’re dead, you’re corpse is going to stagger back to life, and try to eat the rest of your family

But they’re us. We get up every morning and head off to our rotten job that pays the bills and buys food for the week, and if we’re lucky, we can take the wife and kids to a movie. We do it every day while looking for that one promotion or transfer that makes life better

And in the meantime, there’s some bloody good fun involved. You can’t take it too seriously. There’s now a whole circuit of zombie-thons going on throughout the US. There’s one coming up in August not too far away, and I plan on going. I’m not much of a runner, but I can dress up and shuffle after people with the best of them. And it’s a damned good excuse to meet up with my buddies down in St. Louis and have a good weekend

And if anyone is wondering why I have anything to say about zombies in the first place, find a copy of Snareville or Snareville II: Circles. I got REALLY tired of zombies invading New York, LA or Chicago, so I stuck them in a small town similar to the one I live in. Funny how things are a little different where people actually know how to get by in the first place.

 

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©DM Youngquist, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Tonia Brown

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I’m happily married southern gal who was raised in the military thanks to having a dad in the Air Force. I prefer cats to dogs, ribs to steak, and chocolate to vanilla. I’m also an identical twin. And I can tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue. True story.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

I’ve always written something, be it poetry or fan fiction. I’ve also always been an avid reader. Once upon a time, I found myself at the mercy of a long series and seven books in it dawned on me that they were all the same book, over and over. Boring! I told my husband I could write better crap than that. So he said, “Do it.” And I did.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Writing is the easiest part. Editing is like tearing out your heart and pouring salt into the wound. Reading some reviews are like smoking a J and relaxing on the awesome high, while others are like running a grater over your bare ass. And marketing? Geesh, marketing is the equivalent of pouring all of your money into the toilet and flushing it, hoping that some of it might float back up to the top latched onto some important shit.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

SKIN TRADE is a weird west horror set in an alternate late 1800’s in the US. A virus took down the Indian Nations and cause a zombie uprising that destroyed the western frontier. Now folks are crowded on the east coast and the US Army has erected a barrier to keep the zombies in the western half of the nation. The story follows fifteen-year-old Samantha Martin as she makes her way toward the border trying to escape the dangers of her own life. Once in the border zone she is thrust into the service of the skin trade: the job of trapping and skinning zombies for profit. Only trouble is, they think she’s a boy, and she’s going to have a hard time keeping that secret in the wilds of the forbidden west!

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I have a few companion novels and sequels in the long scheme of things.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

I am finishing up another novel, this one is a backwoods southern horror. And no, it’s not what you’re thinking. Think less along the lines of Deliverance and more along the lines of Lovecraft. And as always, I’m constantly working on my web serial Railroad! which just had it’s one year anniversary. But mentioning that is kind of like saying, “Oh and I’m still breathing.”

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

I am partial to green, but only because it’s my husband’s fave. I don’t really have one, but I do like paisley. Anything paisley and I am on it. Or rather, it’s on me! Mmmmm, paisley.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

I need noise. Be it a cult film, a coffee house or the radio, I can’t write in total silence. I can’t sleep in total silence either. Silence makes a noise I can’t stand.

Bec: How much skin do you show in the book?

What an odd question considering the title of the book! This one has no sex whatsoever. There are some sexual situations, but I can’t say what I mean without ruining the storyline.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I like to read pretty much anything, but am a huge fan of scifi and humor. I love to write humor and horror, preferably together!

Bec: What’s your fav scene from the book?

I think describing the traps and the act of skinning. My friend, Drew Mellon, is a master of the art of trapping and skinning animals, and he helped me with the gritty details and necessities. Plus, he never flinched when I asked for advice on how to trap and skin a human being. In fact, he pretty much laid it all out for me.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Yes and no. There is such a huge community to lean on, but at the same time it’s just you and the page.

Bec: Cake or pie?

Pie. No! Cake. No! Pie! Wait… can’t I have both? Pweeeeease?

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Find a good editor and do whatever they tell you to. They know what they preach. You are not the best, and it might take awhile before you are even close.

Bec: Aliens or demons?

Demons. No! Aliens! DEMONS! I hate choices! Wait, are you asking which I’d rather have as an Overlord? Because I’ll totally go with aliens. No, demons. CRAP!

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Find a good editor and do whatever they tell you to. They know what they preach. You are not the best, and it might take awhile before you are even close.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Yes, I think other writers make good sounding boards and beta readers. They are also good for shoulders to cry on, because they understand rejection slips.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

American Gods, because I love how Gaiman captured the different personalities of the Gods while allowing them some room to grow with the times.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Neil Gaiman, because that man could transcribe the phone book and I would read it.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Did you know a pig’s orgasm can last for up to thirty minutes? True story.

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

Thanks for having me. Hope I didn’t track mud on the carpet. Have you seen my keys? Oh, there they are. Bye now!

 

©Rebecca Besser & Tonia Brown, 2012. All rights reserved.

Anything and Everything – A Horror Writer’s Idea Bank

As a horror writer, I know how ideas form to scare the crap out of people and make them cringe. But, I’m also aware that ‘normal people’ (if such a thing could exist! Pfft!) probably don’t get where we get our ideas, or what makes us tick. I’m going to tell you.

Okay, say you’re talking to a horror writer about an upcoming or previous medical procedure. We may ask for really specific details on everything – even the nasty, bloody stuff. Why? We probably care about you and are curious (yes, we’re kind people too, under it all), and you’re probably freaking us out and we want to do that to the people who read our stories/books. So, we’re actually plotting a story from your explicit misery. Sorry… LOL

We’ll also look at standard objects differently. Say you ask your horror writer friend over to help you with a mundane task, such as helping put up drywall or something else construction like. If you’re horror writing friend suddenly stops working and stares at the running drill or nail gun with a weird light in his eyes and a smile on his face…he has thought up a new form of torture for said implement! (Note: This would be a really bad time to tell him you slept with his girlfriend or piss him off in any other way!)

Personally, I often find myself playing the ‘what if‘ game while I’m doing things. Examples: 1) Say I go for a walk… I’ll start looking at the trees and wonder what someone would do if some psycho chopped off one of their hands and left them in the woods to survive and/or make it back to wherever to rescue their family; 2) If I’m making cookies, I might wonder if the electric mixer could actually rip someone’s fingers off if they just stuck them in. (Keep in mind that I don’t actually want to do these things to anyone or myself…just use them as ‘Oh, my God!‘ or shudder moments in a story.)

The simple objects and everyday things around us make us think freaky stuff. Why? Again, because we want to scare and freak people out. The best ways to do that is to use everyday objects and situations because people are more scared of what they can find ‘real‘.

That’s right, horror writers aren’t plotting your death, unless you’ve pissed them off.

Which brings up something else!

Horror writers will pattern characters after people they don’t like, have pissed them off, or were just down right rude to them. So…you might want to be nice to horror writers. Not that writers of other genres wouldn’t write you into their stuff if they don’t like you, and then off you… Horror writers are just more violent about it overall.

You may think this is twisted or that writers are sick, but that’s really not the case. We need tinder to build the flame of our stories, and we get it from life. If someone offs a character that’s shockingly similar to you in a story, it doesn’t mean they really want to do it in real life. It all boils down to therapy! The writer is simply dealing with the wrong you’ve done them, by righting (writing hehe) it on paper. Don’t you think evil thoughts about people who’ve wronged you? The only difference is, a writer (especially horror writers) will put these thoughts into a plot and write it out. They’re purging their anger/hurt, so to speak.

Oh, here’s a fun one!

People actually volunteer to be offed in stories – or tortured! There are countless contests, etc, where horror writers offer to ‘write you in’ as a character and do nasty things to you. Fans of horror writers love this. They already like the writer’s work and buy their books, and it’s a huge thrill to see their name on the pages and find out what gruesome stuff gets done to them.

So, if you ever feel offended because someone wrote you into a story and tortured you… 1) Think of being a better person, because you’re there for a reason; and 2) Feel honored because other people would love to be in a story.

Personally, I don’t write people into my stories when they make me mad/hurt me. The reason that I don’t is because I don’t think they deserve to be immortalized that way. Why should I honor someone by putting them in my ‘artistic work’ when they weren’t even nice to me? I see not including you as my revenge! Hahaha!

Overall, horror writers (all writers actually) take little things from everyday life and twist them or imagine them into their purpose. We get ideas from everywhere, everyone, and everything, and store them in our idea banks to get our point across later.

Just keep in mind – if you don’t want to be killed in print – that you need to be nice to horror writers, lest you want to be one of those ideas!

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

 

Interview with Author Armand Rosamilia

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I’m six foot tall, nearly three hundred pounds of molten sex appeal, and never met an M&M I didn’t eat. Oh, and I write stories.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

Reading. My mother was a voracious horror paperback reader in the 70’s and 80’s and I’d be on my parent’s bed, pulling books from her massive bookshelves, all summer long. I was also punished for being so bad, so that helped as well.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Breaking away from the pack. I write (generally) in a small niche subgenre of horror, zombie. Yet, search Amazon for zombie books and thousands pop up. The struggle is getting readers (the hardcore zombie readers and the casual zombie reader) to see your book in that list of page after page. I’m trying anything and seeing what works and doesn’t work, and word of mouth and good reviews are helping me build a readership one person at a time.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

I have over 40 releases so far, and plan on adding as many as I can before the world ends in December. My Dying Days 2 is my latest zombie novella, and I’m very proud of it. It continues the survival of Darlene Bobich, but also introduces some new characters that readers are enjoying. The challenge is to keep it fresh, and I’ve added some twists, some real characters, and some other surprises, and hope people will keep reading them.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

As we speak. Still Dying: Select Scenes From Dying Days focuses on several new characters from Dying Days 2 in prequel stories, as well as a few new ones. It will be 13 stories in all, showcasing 13 very different people. I’ll also be doing Dying Days: Origins featuring Tosha Shorb, one of the characters from Dying Days 2 that readers absolutely loved.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

Look for Undead Tales 2 zombie anthology in the next week or so. I’m also a publisher (Rymfire Books) and have several releases coming, like continuing the State of Horror series (eight books out so far!), and releasing my first novella from another author, the great Slash of Crimson from Carl R. Moore, coming out soon.

Bec: If the Zpoc happened in the middle of the night and you didn’t know about it ’til all your friends and family were dead (or zombified) what would your course of action be?

Not if, when. I have a machete in the garage I’d go get, then drive over to Walmart and grab every bag of M&M’s. I don’t think I’d be much of a survivor, too lazy, and I only eat certain things. I’d hope to overdose on candy before I get bitten.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Green. Yours?

Bec: Black, dark blue, or dark green.  I’m all about the dark colors.

Bec: If a genie was granting you three wishes… What would they be?

I guess you can’t ask for more wishes (I played Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, I know that rule). I’d ask to be comfortable financially as a writer (not super-rich, just rich enough to not worry about things), that my kids would be happy and live a long and comfortable life, and always have comfortable shoes.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

It depends on my mood and who’s home. I’m writing the Dying Days: Origins novella today, and the lead Tosha Shorb listens to metal band Lizzy Borden, so I’m blasting a ton of their songs while I write. I love heavy metal (I’m 42, lived and loved 80’s metal), and Bruce Springsteen (I’m a Jersey boy, gotta love Bruce and Bon Jovi).

Bec: Camo or retro?

Retro. I think. I’m too old for these snazzy terms you kids use (you do still use snazzy, right?)

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

Horror. I’m not really into serial killer, tons of blood and gore books, I like a frightening story or a tale where you don’t know what’s wrong with the guy/gal but you know it’s something. I also read plenty of non-fiction, music biographies, thrillers, and love finding new indie authors.

Bec: What’s your dream car/vehicle for the Zpoc?

Something big enough to carry me, weapons, and enough candy to get me by. Maybe a big pickup truck like Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down would drive. I’d then take a tour of the US and see the tourist sights I never wanted to pay for. Where’s that Giant Ball of Yarn, anyway?

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Yes. But I enjoy the solitude. I literally haven’t been past my mailbox in over a week, and I don’t care. I’m most happy when I’m writing. There’s also the online people I talk to daily, my substitution for making real friends, I guess.

Bec: Ice cream or popcicle?

I will occasionally have a chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup and hot fudge covering it. I mostly eat anything chocolate, but being almost 300 pounds has nothing to do with that.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Start writing and don’t stop. Work on multiple projects at once and keep going. There’s no such thing as writer’s block, only distractions and being lazy.

Bec: Sand or trees?

That’s a weird question. I like it. I live in Florida but hate the beach, so sand is out. Trees don’t excite me too much, they just sit there. This is a wash.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

That everything you do from the early 1990’s until 2 years ago won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It will be 20 years to hone your craft, not sell much, but get your writing chops down enough that the eBook explosion will be your friend. And I wish someone had told me to eat in moderation.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

A tremendous help. A week doesn’t go by that I talk on the phone with a new writer, eager to pick my brain, or a veteran who I can get into their head. I think we’re all in this together, and I’ve met so many great publishers, writers and bloggers along the way. It creates a community and keeps you honest.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Phantoms by Dean Koontz as a kid scared me because it is so eerie in the beginning. It’s the one book that’s stayed with me. The Rising by Brian Keene got me into zombie writing, so that hold a special place as well.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

All-time is still probably Koontz, although his formula got old as I got older. I love so many writers: Keene, John Everson, Douglas Clegg, Scott Nicholson, Richard Layman… the list goes on and on. Plus, there are so many indie writers that I keep discovering as well.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

My eyes (my best feature) are hazel, but they change to more blue at times. Other than that… nah. Does anything else really matter?

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future projects!

Thank you! Great interview and I love reading your blog every post!

Armand Rosamilia

 

©Rebecca Besser & Armand Rosamilia, 2012. All rights reserved.

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