Tag Archives: Jill Archer

#Writing #Workshops for July (and a frog picture)

Below are the online workshops being offered in July by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

"I'd kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs." --Cameron Diaz

“I’d kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs.”
–Cameron Diaz

For my birthday this year, I toured Ladew Gardens. I didn’t kiss any frogs, but I did get poison ivy. :-( I still loved it. It’s smaller than Longwood Gardens, but closer. Highlights were the Butterfly House, topiaries, and Manor House with its oval library and vintage book collection. I took the above picture at the Tivoli Tea House & Garden.

Ok, now on to this month’s workshops!! :-)

Time Management for Writers:

How to Finish That Book Even When Life Gets in the Way

07/06/2015 – 07/19/2015

Do you feel like you can never find the time to write?  Have you been chipping away at the same manuscript forever without much progress?  Do you need a system that can get you to typing “The End” with success and satisfaction? Wrangling a fickle muse to meet a deadline—or just to get rid of that looming blank page—is a life-skill for everyone who wants to get serious about their writing.  Multi-published author Allie Pleiter shares the nuts and bolts of how to manage your muse, set goals and deadlines, and tackle the process of professional creativity using her popular Chunky Method.  With a useful mix of the practical, the inspirational, and the nitty-gritty real life of it all, Allie Pleiter gives aspiring or working writers the tools they need to make the magic happen.

About the Presenter, Allie Pleiter

An avid knitter, BBC Television geek and French macaron enthusiast, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction working on as many as four novels at a time.  The enthusiastic but slightly untidy author of over two dozen books, Allie spends her days writing, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework.  Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois.  The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced a fourteen-year career with nearly one million books sold.  In addition to writing, Allie regularly speaks on faith, the creative process, women’s issues, and her very favorite topic—time management for writers.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

Social Media Platforms:

Deciding Which One Works Best For You

07/06/2015 – 07/19/2015

You’ve signed up for Facebook, posted a picture of your dog, and your friends liked it.  Now what?  With the ever-changing world of social media, it can be intimidating and confusing when deciding what works best for your author platform.  In this workshop, you will learn the facets of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest and what types of content work best for each. In addition, you will learn strategies for using each platform to present a seamless author brand and build your reading community.  Finally, we will cover some tools you can use to make keeping up with social media a little easier.

Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate

About the Presenter, Jessica McQuaid

Jessica McQuaid always wanted to be a writer.  Then she found out writers had to market their books.  Planning accordingly, Jessica got her undergraduate degree with honors in creative writing before moving on to get her MBA with a concentration in marketing.

Believing that book smarts didn’t always equal street smarts, she left the academic world to garner marketing knowledge in the big bad world of corporate America.  And when she was done figuring out what they knew, she founded Someday Lady Publishing to help other authors with the sometimes daunting task of marketing their books.  From WordPress sites to newsletters, from tweets to blog tours, Jessica has helped countless authors make sense of the seemingly endless world of marketing.

Jessica makes her home in the great state of New Hampshire where she lives with her husband and two very opinionated Basset Hounds.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop


Five Photographs: Laurel Wanrow (“Without the next book, we are sunk!”)

My last Five Photographs guest is Laurel Wanrow. She’s here with a picture of her blind rescue turtle, as well as more about her debut steampunk fantasy THE UNRAVELING. Welcome, Laurel!

Hi Jill–What a fun way to have an interview! Thanks for extending it through June!

My pleasure, Laurel. I’ve really enjoyed this series and will be sad to wrap it up. But all good things must come to an end. :-D I’ll be sharing my five pictures soon!

Something that represents something unique about you

Laurel Wantow cabin porch

A cabin built by my dad—with help from his parents—while he was in college. I think it’s unusual these days to have an entirely handcrafted house made by a family member. I’ve visited my entire life and my husband and I have taken our kids just about every year. I also sneak off for writing retreats. :-)

[Jill: definitely rare and unusual. Looks like the perfect writing retreat!]

Something that represents where you live

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I walk on a nearby golf course and frequently see wildlife: fox, deer, geese and even turtles cross through our neighborhood.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Laurel Wanrow Clady

While working at a nature center I did a lot of turtle rehab and was given an Eastern Box Turtle who crossed the road at the wrong time and lost her eyesight. My daughter was little when she came to live with us and named her Clady. We’ve hand fed Clady for twenty years. She’s between 50 to 80 years old. (It’s hard to tell the age once they’re full-grown.)

[Jill: that is really neat. No one has shared a picture of a pet turtle yet. Clady was lucky to find a home with you.]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Laurel Wanrow door lock

Ohmygosh, our door lock! When we had a new door installed it was hard to work. My husband thought it would loosen up, and we had such a time getting the installer to caulk properly that I hesitated to call them back. Five years later I still hate the thing!

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

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Since my kids were really even too little to hunt fossils we have made family trips Westmoreland State Park along the Potomac River. At low tide we scour the beach for fossilized shark teeth, whale vertebrae and other oddities.

[Jill: hunting for fossils is more popular than I realized. Izzy Norse is also a fan of fossil hunting]

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

In The Unraveling, a steampunk fantasy romance, a proper Victorian artist must learn to use her bloodline’s wild magic to help the shapeshifter she loves, or become what she fears most: another cog in a magnate’s plan to control agriculture.

What are you working on next?

The Unraveling is the first volume of three in a serialized novel called The Luminated Threads. I’ve finished edits on the second volume and am starting them on the third.

What are you currently reading?

Penelope’s Song of Blood & Stone

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

The Big Bang Theory has been a favorite for years. Recently my daughter introduced me to Once Upon A Time, but I’m only in season one.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

I love Dobby the house-elf and his rather perverse way of ‘helping’ Harry Potter.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Balancing the demands of social media and marketing with keeping your head together to keep writing the next book.

How can we meet that challenge?

I’m not sure I have the answer, since I’m a debut author and just putting into practice the next techniques I’ve heard for years at RWA workshops. The message resonating with me as I approached my first release was Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ oft repeated line “Protect the work.” She usually uses this line when advising writers to get over their review angst, but it applies to all of your writing time. Without the next book, we are sunk!

Laurel Wanrow

Laurel Wanrow

More About Laurel

Before kids, she studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower and other nature walks. When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. The Unraveling debuted June 23rd.

Thank you for the interview, Laurel, and for sharing your pictures with us today. Good luck and best wishes with THE UNRAVELING!


Five Photographs: J.Kathleen Cheney, Author of the Upcoming THE SHORES OF SPAIN

J. Kathleen Cheney is my next “Five Photographs” guest. I chose her book, THE GOLDEN CITY, as one of my picks for a December 2013 Mind Meld I participated in. The third book in her series, THE SHORES OF SPAIN, is out next month. She’s here with a peek at her writing process, a pic of her pets, and sea monster art. Welcome, Kathleen! :-)

Something that represents something unique about you

Cheney Writing System

This is a photo of my filing system where I keep magazine/catalog clippings, and you can see on the wall what I do with them. Although other people do this as well, what probably makes this special is that I’ve been saving clippings since college. I have some clippings in these files that are 30 years old or older.  If there was a fire in the house, I would grab these before trying to grab photographs.

Something that represents where you live

Cheney Storm Safe

Storm Safe, a dank rusty hole in the ground. This one’s set into our garage floor and the plastic is usually over it because we park a car atop it. Supposedly, this can hold 5 people, but we’ve had 2 in there, and it heats up terribly quickly. But if you live in Oklahoma, you might end up thanking your luck stars you’ve got one of these.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for besides your human family/friends

Cheney The Dogs

Alwyn and Penelope. My fluffy masters, to whom the lion’s share of all revenues go in the form of dog food, treats, boarding, and fixing chewed-up furniture, wood trim, and blinds.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Cheney Frustration

See that? Right lane MUST TURN RIGHT. There are four signs before the intersection. 4! Do not cut into the right turn lane and try to zip around and cut off the people going straight. (This is at the large intersection nearest my house.)

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Cheney Lisbon Discoveries Monument

My husband really supports my writing, and that’s not the case for all writers. Not only did we use our first vacation in 5 years to visit the setting of my novels, he went as far as to get that sea monster tattooed onto his leg. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is ;o)

[Jill: Love the tattoo and its significance.]

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

I’ve got a new novel coming out in July, and I’d describe it as…In a world where the events of the epic poem, Os Lusiades, were real….wait, I’ve probably lost you there. When Spain and Portugal find themselves trapped in a conspiracy of magic, it will take a few honest men…no, women…no, wait, sirens!…to straighten things out.  

I stink at the elevator pitch.

[Jill: Sounds great! Elevator pitches are hard.]

What are you working on next?

I have a new series debuting next February (the Palace of Dreams Novels), and I’m actually working on the second book in that series (tentatively titled The Sins of the Fathers), although I expect to get edits to work on for the first book (Dreaming Death) any day now.

[Jill: Congrats! :-) ]

What are you currently reading?

Tex Thompson’s Medicine for the Dead, the second in her series set in a fantasy Old West with fishmen and a long-suffering fellow named Appaloosa Elim.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

It’s summer hiatus, so my husband and I are watching TV series on the Roku instead of live TV. We’ve just finished up Season 2 of Orphan Black, and started Season 1 of Vikings. Also, we pretty much watch any Mystery series on PBS, which currently means Father Brown Mysteries and Doctor Blake Mysteries. And American Ninja Warrior, because it’s fun.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Bane.  Not the one from Batman, but the one from P.C. Hodgell’s books of the Kencyrath. Bane is SO bad that I really want him to be reformed. Unfortunately, he’s dead.  Well, mostly dead. His body is currently made of bugs. However, he does have the Book Bound in Pale Leather right now, so there’s no telling what he’ll learn from it.

(BTW, I haven’t read the most recent book yet, so don’t spoil it for me in comments!!!)

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Trying to decide which path to take with which works. I think it would benefit most to try for both traditional publication and indie publication, but it’s tough to choose which works belong in which group. And there’s so much advice flowing in from all camps, that it’s difficult for a writer to stick to their guns and choose the best path for them.

How can we meet that challenge?

I think that it would be beneficial for both sides on the traditional publishing/indie publishing argument to quit vilifying the other.  I’m very grateful to have the publisher that I do, and they can do things I can’t. But I also have self-published works, so I get to see both sides of this argument.

More about Kathleen

Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, “The Golden City” was a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel). The sequel, “The Seat of Magic” came out in 2014, and the final book in the series, “The Shores of Spain” will come out July 2015.

More about THE SHORES OF SPAIN

A brilliant new chapter in the Novels of the Golden City.

Even as the branches of peace are being offered, there are some who still believe those who are not human should be used as chattel. And they are willing to go to great lengths to retain their power.

Newlywed siren Oriana Paredes has been appointed Ambassador to her home islands now that communication between Northern Portugual and the magical races has been restored. But convincing her people that the new Portuguese Prince’s intentions are honorable after years of persecution is difficult. And her husband, Duilio, faces his own obstacles among the sirens where males are a rare and valuable commodity with few rights.

In addition to their diplomatic mission, the two hope to uncover the truth behind Oriana’s mother’s death. Evidence suggests that Spain—a country that has been known to enslave magical beings—may have infiltrated the siren authority. Unable to leave their post, Oriana and Duilio must call on Inspector Joaquim Tavares to root out the truth.

But even his seer’s gift cannot prepare him for what he will discover.

Thank you for the interview and for sharing your pictures with us today, Kathleen! Best wishes for THE SHORES OF SPAIN!


Five Photographs: Jami Gray, Urban Fantasy Author of the Kyn Kronicles

Today’s Five Photographs guest is urban fantasy author Jami Gray. Love fast cars, beautiful sunsets, and adorable labs? Then this post is a must! Since Jami watches Game of Thrones too, I also included my latest (and last) thoughts on GoT. *Spoiler alert* If you haven’t watched S5’s finale, skip the purple section below!]

Something that represents something unique about you

Jami Gray My Baby

I grew up loving classic cars, with my favorite being the 1968 Mustang. It only took forty plus years, but I finally got my own Mustang!

[Jill: love that it’s parked outside of Barnes & Noble. :-D ]

Something that represents where you live

Jami Gray Sunset

I’m blessed to live in the Southwest, Arizona to be exact. While I’ve spent time in the Northwest, I found I missed the open skies, especially the spectacular sunsets.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Jami Gray The Girls

These are the two newest editions to our family, Lola (in a sexy black number) and Angel (in stunning white), affectionately known as the Fur Minxes.

[Jill: I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone’s pet pics. That’s at least HALF the fun of the internet, right? :-D ]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Jami Gray Cooking

Growing up in a very large family, cooking was not a fun endeavor. In fact, I loathed it. Fast forward years and years and still don’t enjoy it. Thank goodness I have a hubby who does…

[Jill: I hear ya. Me too!]

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Jami Gray The Boys

Every writer needs a great support team, and I was blessed with these three. Not only will they forgive me for walking around in a daze in the midst of a project, but they have no problems combining family vacations with my need for writing research. In this case, we hit San Diego when I was working on my PSY-IV Team series.

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

Beauty is a treacherous bitch, and her name is Natasha—but can a demon queen allow Darius, a mysterious interloper, to uncover truth from lies before betrayal claims her life?

What are you working on next?

 I just finished my second PSY-IV book, TOUCHED BY FATE, so now I’m putting together a collection of short stories set in the Kyn world for a Fall 2015 release. After that, I have two projects: the next Kyn book and planning a new series.

What are you currently reading?

Oh man, as I write these answers, I’m finishing up Christine Feehan’s CAT’S LAIR, but up next is Megan Mitcham’s Base Branch Series and finishing Kristen Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series. Plus, I have CONCRETE EVIDENCE by Rachel Grant I want to dive into, along with Joseph Nassise’s THE HERETIC. All before the summer titles hit shelves…

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

I live with geeks, ergo we watch Marvel’s AGENTS OF SHIELD religiously. I’m an avid fan of BITTEN (love Kelly Armstrong’s books), CSI CYBER, NCIS NEW ORLEANS, CRIMINAL MINDS, BONES, CASTLE, and my hubby insists I watch GAME OF THRONES. Not sure why, since everyone dies on that show, the outcome is pretty moot.

*SPOILERS!*

[Jill: GoT… my last thoughts on it… I thought the finale was somewhat disappointing. Not saying I won’t be watching the show when it returns. Just that I’m way less eager for its return than I have been in past seasons. Is it fatigue? Maybe. Instead of feeling outrage after the final shot, I almost felt relief that the season was over. As for the different story lines… I was disappointed in Sansa’s season ending, of course. I’d mentioned earlier that I was looking for her to get her revenge, which sounds very unforgiving and bloodthirsty. But let’s face it, it’s GoT. That’s the type of show it is. What I really wanted was for Sansa to take charge of her own destiny. And she did… but only in the tiniest way. She picked a lock and lit a candle. Not exactly the big bang I was hoping for. And, frankly, I’m super sick of Ramsay. I was hoping S5 would be it for him. The thought of having to watch him again next season, ugh.

I thought Stannis’ ending was just. That worked for me. He deserved his fate, which included everything that happened to him in the show up to the point of his death at Brienne’s hands. Arya? I really liked that we finally got to see how some of the magic of the Many-Faced God worked. I’m not sure how I feel about her killing Ser Meryn Trant and going blind because of it. I’m patiently waiting to see where the writers are going with that one. The Dorne/Jaime/Myrcella story? Dorne was kinda meh, start to finish. The sand snakes never fulfilled their promise of being bad asses. I was sad to see Myrcella die, of course, but she wasn’t a character I really knew. And even though I know Jaime a lot better than I did in S1, it’s hard for me to forget that he’s the one who pushed Bran out the window. Cersei? To be honest, I got up during that part for a snack break. I didn’t pause and it wasn’t bc I couldn’t watch. It’s bc it went on for way too long. Maybe it felt different in the book. And finally, Jon Snow… if that’s truly the end of him, it will be massively disappointing. Yes, partly bc he is a favorite character, but also bc his story seems unresolved. Lots of set ups this season for things that didn’t get paid off.

Jami, I think I read somewhere (couldn’t find a link to share though) that George RR Martin has said that Song of Ice and Fire is a tragedy. I gotta admit, I’m not a huge fan of tragedy. Tragic plot points, sure. But I’m too fond of happy endings and tidy resolutions to fully embrace tragedy as a favored art form. In any case, I think the best thing about GoT is that it’s brought fantasy into the mainstream. One can argue that other works did that before, but there’s no denying its tremendous effect on pop culture.]

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Umm, again going back to the geek roots, I would hyperventilate to work with Wolverine. (Does that count for fantasy creature and weapon?) Villain would have to be Loki, because a man with a sense of humor is hard to walk away from.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

For me, marketing. While I mentally get the best way to market your books is to write the next one, there’s still pressure to keep your books out there. That’s not an easy feat considering today’s market.

How can we meet that challenge?

Perseverance. Do the best you can, try new options, find out what works, but don’t ever forget to get back behind the keyboard and write your next story. You owe that to your readers.

More About the Kyn Kronicles

Jami Gray Banner

SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1

Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

SHADOW’S SOUL, Kyn Kronicles #2

Some nightmares are born of love…

A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.

Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.

SHADOW’S MOON, Kyn Kronicles #3

Even wild hearts can be broken…

Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.

If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.

SHADOW’S CURSE, Kyn Kronicles #4

Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.

As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all?

You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:

http://jamigray.com/kynkronicles/

http://jamigray.com/psyivteams/ 

Jami Gray

Jami Gray

More About Jami

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Thank you, Jami, for the interview and for sharing your pictures. Good luck and best wishes for the Kyn Kronicles!


Five Photographs: Terry Spear (teddy bears, wolves, Game of Thrones, and Outlander)

[Brief update before Terry’s post: I’ve got a few more Five Photographs posts for June, including mine. :-) Then I’ll be wrapping up this guest blog series. I’m also gonna be taking a summer hiatus from blogging. More on that later. In the meantime, enjoy my remaining June posts!]

Terry Spear shares her Five Photographs today. This post is (per the usual type of post you see here) a real assortment of stuff: rainbow teddy bears, Texas bluebonnets, Havanese puppies, and my thoughts on this season’s Game of Thrones and Outlander. *spoiler alert* If you’re not caught up, skip the purple text below]. Welcome, Terry!

Something that represents something unique about you

Terry Spear Rainbow bear and baby reclining

I’m an award-winning teddy bear artist, Rainbow momma bear and baby bear www.celticbears.com

Something that represents where you live

Terry Spear bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush

Wild Bluebonnets of Texas naturalized by the airport

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Terry Spear Max Tanner National Puppy Day

Max (7 mos old) and Tanner (4 mos old) Havanese puppies

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Terry Spear scorpion

Snakes and scorpions in the house

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Terry Spear daffodil dancing

Flowers and photography, picture of the daffodils in full bloom at my home

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

HOTTEST OF THE HOT ON THE NAVY SEAL WOLF TEAM

Paul Cunningham has eluded many traps in his long career as a Navy SEAL, but there’s no way out of this one. On a rare visit home, he gets “volunteered” for a local charity bachelor auction, and the community is counting on him. Then he discovers that the sexy she-wolf with the winning ticket is Lori Greypaw-the one woman he could never resist. And she has plans for Paul that go way beyond a simple date. For the first time in his bachelor life, this alpha wolf SEAL is going to have to prove his worth…

What are you working on next?

I just finished writing She-Wolf, the first book where the heroine runs her own pack alone and next up is A Wolf in Billionaire’s Clothing. Then a real change in the world with Jaguar Jingle Bells.

What are you currently reading?

I haven’t had time to read in forever, except for the Rita entries. Too many deadlines, both books and teddy bears.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Outlander, Supernatural, Game of Thrones

[Jill: *SPOILERS*

I’ve stuck with GoT despite the awful rape scene between Sansa and Ramsay and the stomach turning Shireen sacrifice because, as difficult as scenes like those are to watch, I’m willing to give the storytellers a chance. I’m not saying I’m going to quit watching if the finale disappoints, but one of the things I’m really looking for in GoT’s last episode this season is “Dark Sansa’s” revenge. I haven’t read the books, but my understanding is that the show deviated from GRRM’s novels with Sansa’s story line up in Winterfell. At the end of last season and the beginning of this one, I was really excited to see a new, improved — STRONGER — Sansa emerging. To me, that wedding night scene risks reversing her character’s development. I didn’t like the scene (who would?!) but I’m willing to see if there was a reason for it. If it turns out to be hyperbolic gratuitous sex/violence, then I’ll be a lot less thrilled with the show next season. 

For those of you who watch Outlander, you know that the finale on that show was worse than the Sansa/Ramsay scene. I’m not ashamed to say that I fast forwarded through some of it. This is actually a compliment to Tobias Menzies’ acting. He certainly convincingly plays sick and depraved. In any case, it’s interesting to compare and contrast the two shows, which have each showed horrible rape scenes this season, and analyze from a storytelling perspective. In order to justify viewer trauma, there better be a good reason for the traumatic events. With GoT, I’m still waiting to see it…]

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Deciding whether to indie publish, or hold on and try to get traditionally published.

How can we meet that challenge?

Know what it is that you really want in life. By learning the pros and cons, we make the best informed decisions. For everyone, it will be different.

Now it’s YOUR TURN:

Are you a fan of teddy bears, puppies, daffodils, bluebonnets, and rainbows? 

Do you love books about werewolves and shifters?

Do you watch Game of Thrones or Outlander? What do you think of this season’s shows?

Thank you, Terry, for the interview and for sharing your pictures today.


Five Photographs: Charlotte Copper (Moms and Daughters; Digital Disruption)

Charlotte Copper shares her Five Photographs today: adorable near-twin calico cats, making maple syrup in Canada, and spending time with family. As a cancer survivor, Charlotte reminds us to get our priorities in order. Figure out what’s truly important to you and spend time on that. In her interview, Charlotte also touches on the decline of print books and I share my thoughts (including recent changes in my book buying habits). Welcome, Charlotte!

Something that represents something unique about you

Charlotte Copper and husband

This is a photo of my husband and me. What is unique is my husband and I got engaged in university, but between the engagement and our wedding we…broke up, married other people, started families, and got divorced….A span of more than twelve years.

Something that represents where you live

Charlotte Copper Winter Maple Syrup

Canada, eh! My friend and his family make maple syrup at his parents’ farm. These buckets are hanging to catch the raw material. It’s amazing how much is boiled away before you are left with the pure rich maple syrup. No wonder the real stuff is so expensive!

 Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Charlotte Copper Rose and Angel

These calico sisters are Rose & Angel. Rescue kitties, who are now 13 years old, they are the friendliest cats and love to cuddle.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Charlotte Copper time

(This is not a photo for dead watch batteries, although it could be.) As a cancer survivor, I am grateful on a regular basis for the extra time that I’ve been granted with my friends and family. However, there is never enough of it. As a crafter, writer, reader, movie fanatic, wife and mother – who also holds down a full-time job and needs to find time to get to the gym – there is never enough time for everything I want to do.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Chalotte Copper daughter vball

Time with my family, especially The Daughter. Watching her play volleyball and grow into a beautiful (albeit stubborn) young lady, and knowing that I could have missed out on it.

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

HEART SHIFTER ….For widowed teacher Sarah, an invitation to spend the summer up north is the perfect opportunity for her sons to get to know their father’s estranged family better and for Sarah to learn more about why her deceased husband left his childhood home at such an early age. Her handsome host, Mitch Mingan, has remained a bachelor because he doesn’t want any wife or children to have to suffer his family’s destiny. Their fate? Mingan means wolf! Heart Shifter is the story of how Sarah and Mitch discover that the biggest surprise is their feelings towards each other.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on the edits for REAL LOVE. It’s a light sci-fi romance (beautiful alien crash-lands on the way to her new mate and master, and is rescued by a handsome space soldier) that will be part of The Candy Heart series releasing from The Wild Rose Press in time for Valentine’s 2016.

I’m also very happy to announce that I recently signed a contract with Boroughs Publishing Group for my short Young Adult story, STRAWBERRY SUMMER which is scheduled for release July 10th.

[Jill: Congratulations!!]

What are you currently reading?

I’m trying to read DRAGONFLY IN AMBER (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon. I loved the first book and I really love Jamie…I mean Sam Heughan…I mean the television show.

But you remember that “time” photo up above…? Well, like I said, I’m trying to read it.

[Jill: They are L-O-N-G but worth it.]

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

In addition to OUTLANDER, which I watch alone, I’ve got a few shows that I like to watch with The Daughter. For some reason we’re into medical dramas right now, and we enjoy watching REMEDY and THE NIGHT SHIFT. We also like to watch FACE OFF when it’s in season.

[Jill: This season wrapped, right? I still need to watch the finale. My daughters are younger than yours but we love to watch movies together. The only TV show we currently agree on is Modern Family. Everyone in my family loves that show!]

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Vampire Bill from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books. Love those old, southern manners.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I’m one of those authors that is not affected by the decline of print books…mine are only in e-format…but some of the authors I know are absolutely horrified at the thought. (As a reader, I’ll miss them, yes, but I think I was more devastated by the closure of video stores.)

[Jill: I’m kind of the opposite. I do not miss the friday night video store runs. That place was packed and annoying. I was so in love with Netflix when they first intro’d DVD by mail. And now I love all the streaming services. I feel like my movie watching has really opened up in the last 10-15 years. 

As for the “decline of print” — ugh. well. hmm… :-D I’d like to deny it, but that would be like denying climate change. I think the real question now is what happens next? Unlike Blockbuster, I still miss Borders. Barnes & Noble is too far for me to conveniently shop there. My #1 way to buy books is browsing in a bookstore. But I’ll admit it’s become harder and harder over the past few years and, for the first time ever, my most recent book buying binge happened online. I took a look at the list of recent releases that some of the blogs I follow had posted and made my choices that way. Doesn’t mean I won’t continue to support bookstores — of course, I will!!! And articles like this one BEA 2015: Resurgence of Indie Bookselling Continues are heartening.]

How can we meet that challenge?

I think authors need to accept that this is a digital world. Film cameras? DVDs? Authors need to prepare for and embrace the changing market. This doesn’t mean the end of books and authors. Electronic print is simply a new format that allows authors to reach out to readers that might otherwise never have had the opportunity to pick up their books.  And if you need a brighter side, think green and think of all the trees we’ll be saving.

[Jill: I don’t think I’m being unrealistic in saying I don’t think print will ever go away completely. But, yes, everyone (readers and writers alike) need to adapt to a digitally driven world. Maybe the better comparison with bookstores isn’t to video stores or record stores but to movie theaters. Hopefully, there will always be “physical showcase locations” where books, authors, and readers can meet, celebrate, browse, and buy.]

Charlotte Copper

Charlotte Copper

More about Charlotte

Charlotte Copper lives in Stouffville, Ontario – that is in Canada, eh – with her husband, daughter, and two part-time step-daughters. When she isn’t working at her full-time job or driving her daughter around for volleyball, Charlotte likes to craft, read, go to the movies, and, of course, write. Charlotte admittedly tries to juggle far too many balls at once, and hopes to have all of the stories published some day because, as a romance writer, she believes in happy endings!

Thank you for the interview, Charlotte, and for sharing your pictures with us!


Jeffe Kennedy: A Personal History of an Emerging Genre (#fantasy #romance)

Today’s guest blogger is Jeffe Kennedy, who, among other recent successes, finaled in this year’s PRISM (FF&P’s published author contest) in the Fantasy category. She’s here to discuss how popular fantasy romance is these days..

I’ve just returned from the RT Booklovers Convention and – wow! – was it ever a great year for Fantasy Romance.

A number of us hosted the Mad Hatter Fantasy Romance Tea Party. We planned for 100 people, something like 150 came in for standing room only, and RT volunteers turned 30+ away. Next year RT suggests we plan for 200! What a rousing – and unexpected – success. I saw other signs of increased interest in the genre, with people snapping up my books, some after standing for hours in line! I’ve never experienced anything like it.

In fact, I had a long, winding (two-hour) conversation with Fantasy Romance author Grace Draven. It was fascinating to compare notes with her, because she was similarly blown away by the genre love. She said that, like me, she’s never been on the upsurge of anything in her life. We are both bemused and incredibly grateful.

What’s most interesting is our shared history, though we only just met at this conference.

Her book, Master of Crows – which was my Grace Draven gateway drug and I love, love, love – came out from Amber Quill in 2009. She told me it didn’t do well, largely because the cover wasn’t good. When she regained her rights to the book, she reissued it in 2011 with an amazing new cover and it took off from there. Meanwhile, my first book in the Covenant of Thorns trilogy, Rogue’s Pawn, finally sold after much muttering about how cross-genre it was, and came out from Carina Press in 2012. I think it’s salient that Grace and I both sold these “unmarketable” books to digital presses. We both reflected on our gratitude for those digital presses and the technology that allows these cross-genre books to find audiences, which allows new genres to emerge.

Amber Quill called Grace’s book Fantasy, but Carina classified mine, three years later, as Fantasy Romance – a genre I had never heard defined that way, before that moment. But in between the first publication of Master of Crows and mine for Rogue’s Pawn, something else happened. C.L. Wilson’s Lord of the Fading Lands was published in July 2010 by Harper Collins and debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. She, as Grace puts it, kicked the door down for Fantasy Romance.

This year, RT Magazine awarded the first of my Twelve Kingdoms books, The Mark of the Tala, the Seal of Excellence for stretching genre boundaries. The second book, The Tears of the Rose, was nominated for best Fantasy Romance of the year, along with books by C.L. Wilson and Amy Raby, and Grace’s book, Entreat Me, won the category. 2014 was the first time the magazine gave awards in the subgenre.

So, what’s ahead? I’m a big believer that a high tide floats all boats. More love for Fantasy Romance means more opportunities for writers! Bring it on, people!

the talon of the hawk

More About The Talon of the Hawk

A HEAVY CROWN

Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other—that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

Available at Amazon   BN

Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy

More About Jeffe

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. A fifth series, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, released starting with Going Under, followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Thanks for guest blogging today, Jeffe, and congratulations! It sounds like RT Booklovers Convention was a lot of fun. :-D


Five Photographs: Nancy Gideon (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NANCY!)

Nancy Gideon shares her Five Photographs today. If you’re a fan of nutcrackers and groundhogs or want to gripe to a very willing audience about construction, commuting, or traffic OR IF YOU WANT TO WISH NANCY A HAPPY BIRTHDAY (it’s today) then this post is for you…

Something that represents something unique about you

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

I obsessively collect things I don’t have room for. I’m a Christmas-aholic with nutcrackers, music boxes and Santa Clauses of every shape and size. My desk is overrun with typewriters, tiny tea sets, shot glasses from places I’ve traveled, Tarot decks, favorite hero-inspiring actor of the moment’s video collections, lighthouses . . . and jewelry.  It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got great Bling!  Can you say OCD much?

Something that represents where you live

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We have four Seasons in Michigan.  That’s the rumor. My favorites are spring and fall but unfortunately those only last a week before jumping right to humidity and mosquitoes or to ice scrapers and snow drifts. It’s either constant AC or blast furnace heat. There’s rarely middle ground.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Nommer 2014

The harbinger of spring is Nommer, my apartment complex’s groundhog who provides endlessly entertainment with a yearly crop of babies and no maintenance for me.  Here he is checking to see what I’m grilling on my balcony – three stories up. I’m addicted to all thing fur, fin and feather both inside and free range,  and have pampered everything from tropical fish and aquarium frogs (left over from a Scouting badge) to guinea pigs, an Australian cattle dog and the wild birds I coax to my 4th floor balcony to entertain my cats Scotch and Stubbs (sounds like an ‘80s cop show!).

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Cone Zones

The minute snow is off the ground, up come the detours and the Cone Zones making that 15 minute commute to work into 30-45 every summer.  Patch it, dig it up, surface it, tear it up again, patch it, resurface until you just can’t get there from here.  I am not a patient driver. Especially when listening to Rob Zombie.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Jungle retreat

Making my 3rd floor patio into a pseudo-backyard oasis. No mowing, great for Vitamin D therapy while plotting that next chapter and just enough room for my new mini-grill. Now if we could just get rid of the freeze warnings so I could start planting!

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

For my Dana Ransom contemporary romance, FROM THIS DAY FORWARD (currently $1.99 (!) as an Amazon Big Deal): Feeling responsible for the tragedies that befell those they loved, two wounded souls don’t feel they have the right to happiness. Widowed on her honeymoon, Robyn Lee pours all her unfulfilled hopes into her wedding planner business, making priceless memories for others. The last thing she needs is for the irresponsible brother of her dream client to rock the boat . . . and her regimented life. A gritty news cameraman recovering from the loss of his coworker in the field, Kyle Travers doesn’t believe in the perfect world Robyn’s created to hide her own heartbreak, but he’s begun to think just maybe two fractured halves can make a stronger whole – if only he can convince her.

What are you working on next?

I’m about 400 pages into the next book in my “By Moonlight” dark paranormal shape-shifter series. I’m optimistic about a late summer release for UNLEASHED BY SHADOWS. Squee!

What are you currently reading?

Just finished Dean Koontz’s The City on the plane back from vacay in Arizona. He’s my go to guy for a good read. Reading copy edits and page proofs for the 9 books in my “Touch of Midnight” vampire romance series is currently consuming my life.  ImaJinn Books is reissuing a book per month starting in July beginning with the first three that have been out of print since the ‘90s!  Then I’ll be impatiently waiting for the 3rd book in Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic vampire series.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

My DVR runneth over with Penny Dreadful, House of Cards, Supernatural (I’m just starting Season 4 with 6 more to go!), Castle, and The Originals. All my other favorites – Blacklist, Secrets and Lies, Vikings, Gotham, American Horror Story, Ray Donovan, and The Strain are on hiatus – so now I have more writing time! I’m still mourning the end of Justified. Best-Writing-Ever.  And my law office co-workers and I just love watching Maury during our lunch hour (guilty pleasure!).

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

I’m loving the monsters from Showtime’s Penny Dreadful!  They’re creatures taken from classic horror tales like Dracula, Frankenstein and Portrait of Dorian Gray with a fresh twist or a unique interpretation.  I can’t wait to see what (or who) turns up next! Of course Josh Harnett’s tortured werewolf is my favorite.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Breaking out of the pack – which is now HUGE due to self-publishing – especially when so many books are free.

How can we meet that challenge?

Making personal connections with readers through Social Media.  Facebook author pages that host events, street teams, blog tours and chats, giveaway Hops (there are always a few not just looking for free stuff!), active blogs and Twitter sites that aren’t just screaming “Buy My Book”, and web sites that offer extra content i.e. deleted scenes, sneak previews, and character galleries are all great, but raise the question of when can you find time to write while doing all that promotion?  So do what you love and what works for you. I have a fabulous “Nancy Gideon by Moonlight” Goodreads group that hosts events, chats and Buddy Reads, and I host a unique Haunted Open House in October that brings in a lot of traffic.  It’s a slow, time-consuming effort to build a reader base but worth it when you get that excited feedback regarding your next project. Give more than you expect to get back. Word of mouth is priceless.

Nancy Gideon

Nancy Gideon

More About Nancy

Nancy Gideon is the award-winning author of over 58 romances ranging from historical, regency and series contemporary suspense to dark paranormal, with a couple of horror screenplays tossed into the mix.  She works full-time as a legal assistant, and when not at the keyboard, feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin and fowl. She also has written under the pen names Dana Ransom, Rosalyn West and Lauren Giddings.

Thank you for the pictures and interview, Nancy! HAVE A WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY!!!


#MindMeld: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed… #SFF #Books #Reading #Recommendation

SF Signal’s Andrea Johnson asked if I’d do another Mind Meld and, of course, I said yes because I love the Mind Melds. Yesterday’s question was:

Something old, something new, something borrowed. . .

Recommend three books to our readers out of your list of favorites: An older title, a newer title, and a title you discovered because you borrowed it from a friend or a library.

After reading the other responses, I realize I should have read the question better. I read the “and” as an “or” so I submitted two books I bought and one that was given to me, which doesn’t exactly count as “borrowed.” And my “old” book was from way back in 2012. Lol.

But, to be honest, I’ve talked a lot online here and elsewhere about my old, old favorites and I hadn’t ever talked about the 2012 book I loved. I also think that, though panelists should try to be responsive to the questions they are asked, one of the best things about the SF Signal posts is that they are mostly about having fun while promoting SF and related genres. I can’t say I read every post (they post a lot) but I try to keep up. I’ve loved the tone, depth, and breadth of the posts I’ve read.

So click here to read my recommendations (the other two are recent releases) and click here to check out some of the other SF Signal posts and subscribe or follow them.


Five Photographs: Anna Durand (Christmas in May, Baltimore Orioles in Michigan, and… Thomas Edison)

Anna Durand shares her Five Photographs today. Among them, a hand-painted miniature village and a Baltimore Oriole (for bird lovers, not baseball fans :-) ). And for anyone who’s struggling with whatever goal they’re currently trying to achieve, she’s got some great advice: DON’T QUIT!

Something that represents something unique about you

Anna Durand Unique

I own my own village. The residents live by my whims; they never eat or drink or sleep, but are always cheerful and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Like Brigadoon, however, they come out for only a brief time, then sleep again until their next awakening.

This is my Christmas village, hand-painted by me, piece by piece, over the course of 18 years. I love the holidays, and my village not only provides added cheer, but it’s also a conversation starter. Anyone who visits my house in December is instantly drawn to the idyllic little town and can’t help asking questions about it. Naturally, my village has a bookstore and a library.

The town’s name? Well of course, it’s Noël!

[Jill: beautiful and charming!]

Something that represents where you live

Anna Durand Michigan

My home is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where natural beauty is on display everywhere you look. We have a rich history of mining and lumbering, but my favorite part of the U.P. shows itself every autumn. The fall color here is spectacular — though often short-lived, thanks to our ever-present wind!

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Anna Durand Cat

My cat is my little shadow. He follows me everywhere around the house, and out in the yard. When I’m writing, he sits nearby keeping an eye on me — mainly to make sure I don’t forget to feed him his treats. I often have to fight with him for custody of my desk chair!

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Anna Durand Winter

Winter can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it refuses to leave on time in the spring. I hate house guests who hang around too long! Even the snow gets tired and starts to droop, but the cold sticks around until everyone’s ready to run winter out of town. But we make the best of it, with snow sculptures and spicy Mexican food (U.P. style) to keep us warm.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Anna Durand Joy

I love photographing birds, and with my bird feeders, I get to see many different species — even through the winter. Last summer, I snapped this photo of a Baltimore Oriole. I don’t see many of these, which makes it a treat. Soon, the hummingbirds will arrive and demand their sugar-water. They deserve it, though, after their long journey up from the Gulf of Mexico.

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

Ultimate power comes at the ultimate price.

Torn apart by their haunted pasts, Grace and David struggle to reclaim their passionate bond and defeat an enemy who wields unspeakable psychic power. As events drive them toward a battle of epic proportions, they must risk everything — their hearts, their lives, and even their souls — to protect each other and the entire world.

Intuition is the award-winning second book in the Psychic Crossroads series.

What are you working on next?

I have several projects in the works. Reborn to Avenge, the third part in my Reborn series, will release in late May. The Mortal Falls is a paranormal romance with magic and plenty of heat, and it will be the first book in a new series. I’ve also started work on a hot contemporary romance (a standalone book).

What are you currently reading?

I’m listening to the audiobook of Jayne Castle’s The Lost Night. I love her Harmony series! I’m reading (with my eyes, not my ears) Lisa Kessler’s Hunter’s Moon.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

It’s that slow time of year when all the good stuff is on hiatus. Bummer! Some of my favorite shows are Haven, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.LD., and Jane the Virgin. Jane’s a romance writer, so of course, I have to watch that show.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

I love the fae, because they can be naughty or nice, sometimes without meaning to be either. They might’ve struck a bad bargain and now must do someone else’s bidding, or maybe they’re cursed. You just never know — and that’s half the fun!

Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series has two of my favorite types of characters — fae and sexy Highlanders. You can’t get much better than that.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

More than ever, writers must figure out how to market their own books. Even those traditionally published find their publishers expect them to shoulder the marketing burden.

How can we meet that challenge?

It’s a huge responsibility and a massive challenge. There’s no magic bullet, so you just have to keep trying different tactics until you find what works for you.

Don’t trust anyone who says they have the secret to becoming a bestseller. Those kinds of claims never pan out, and the person making them usually earns their living from selling nonfiction books about their magic method, not from selling their fiction. It’s easy to get discouraged when you hear miraculous tales of writers who dumped their first book on the market and sales exploded right off the bat, but these stories inevitably have a hidden backstory.

Be persistent. Don’t be afraid to try new tactics. Most of all — and this is the hardest lesson to accept — don’t be afraid to fail. Learn from it and move on.

Remember what Thomas Edison said: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

[Jill: Another reminder of that idea is the Japanese proverb, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” There is ONLY ONE guaranteed way to ensure you never succeed.]

Anna Durand

Anna Durand

More about Anna

Anna Durand is a multi-award-winning writer, a freelance librarian, and an audiobook addict. She specializes in sexy romances, both paranormal and contemporary, featuring spunky heroines and hunky heroes. In her previous life as a librarian, she haunted the stacks of public libraries but never met any hot vampires hunting for magical books.

Thank you for the interview and pictures, Anna!


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