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Catherine Kean, A KNIGHT'S PERSUASION and a giveaway

 

Have you ever met a fictional character who is so deliciously wicked, you can’t stand the thought of him or her being killed off?  That’s how I felt about Veronique Desjardin, a beautiful and ambitious courtesan I introduced to readers in my medieval romance A Knight’s Vengeance.  She was so ruthless, so determined to have her way, that I decided she deserved a place in more than one book.

A good thing, too.

When I wrote A Knight’s Vengeanceoriginally published in paperback and now available in eBookI didn’t intend for it to be the first novel in a series.  However, the more I thought about follow-on stories, the more my creative muse bombarded me with ideas.  These weren’t little suggestions of ideas, either, but exciting, rich-in-meaty-plot ways to expand upon the medieval world I’d invented.

There’s nothing more inspiring for an author than, well, inspiration.  Why not spend more time with the characters I’d grown to love when writing Vengeance?  I had a fabulous cast of secondary male characters, all gorgeous, ambitious knights who deserved to be heroes of their own books and to find their lady loves.  My award-winning Knight’s Series was born.

 

A Knight’s Persuasion, released days ago in eBook, is the latest installment and takes place in the fictional county of Moydenshire, England, in the early 13th century.  While it’s the fourth title in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  So can all of the other novels.

Twenty-year-old Edouard de Lanceau is the hero of A Knight’s Persuasion.  A trained knight who lives his life by the code of chivalry, he’s familiar to my readers as the son and heir of Lord Geoffrey de Lanceau from Vengeance.  Also returning are the ravishing but bloodthirsty Veronique (one of my favorite characters, because she’s SO evil!), and her illegitimate son, Tye.  He last appeared as a fussy toddler in A Knight’s Temptation (Book 3), but he’s now a grown warrior.  He was raised by his mother to one day kill the man she claims is Tye’s father but who refuses to accept him as his child: Geoffrey.

What binds these bitter enemies together is the heroine, Lady Juliana de Greyne.  Edouard was almost betrothed to her.  Their blossoming romance ended badly because of a foolish bet between Edouard and a friend.  Edouard soon found himself tricked into a betrothal to Juliana’s sister, even though he desired only Juliana.  Months later, while on an important mission on behalf of his father, he’s shocked to find Juliana lying in a river, unconscious from a bad head wound.

Still harboring strong feelings for her, Edouard takes her to the nearest castle where she was said to be living, so she can be tended by the healer.  Not expecting an ambush, he is overpowered and taken prisoner by Veronique and Tye.  They plan to use him to lure Geoffrey into a murderous trap.  Once his lordship is dead, they will kill Edouard and lay claim to Moydenshire.

Edouard is chained in a cold tower, with the lovely Juliana as his cellmate.  Convinced she knows something important,  which is why she was left for dead in the river, he asks Juliana to tell him what happened to her, but she can’t remember.  She can’t even recall her own name, or ever meeting him, and that terrifies her.  Fighting his love for her, Edouard tries to win her trust and help him escape—before Veronique and Tye fulfill their ambitions.

The unraveling story is packed with danger, adventure, simmering passion, and excitement—hallmarks, I am told, of my previous Knight’s Series books.  As with my other novels, I leave enough threads to weave into a fifth and final novel.  After all, bad-boy Tye does deserve his own book.  While I don’t want to reveal exactly how things end up between Edouard and Juliana, I will say that when it comes to true love, there’s no denying the seductive power of A Knight’s Persuasion.

 

Catherine is generously giving away 2 (two) kindle copies of A KNIGHT’S PERSUASION  to 2 (two) lucky commenters!

Giveaway ends @12 a.m. est  9-18-12 with winners announced shortly thereafter.  Good luck!

 

For more information on Catherine’s medieval historical romances, and to read an excerpt from A Knight’s Persuasion,

please visit her website.

You can also find Catherine on FB.

Beverley Eikli celebrates regaining book rights

It’s great to be back at Manic Readers and, what’s more, to have exciting news.

 

First of all, though, let me introduce myself properly. I’m an Australian romance author who writes Regencies (as Beverley Eikli) and erotic Historicals (as Beveley Oakley) for a variety of publishers. I live in a pretty country town north of Melbourne and have been married for eighteen wonderful years to a really cool Norwegian pilot whom I met around a campfire in Botswana the night before I was due to fly home to marry my boyfriend of 8 years.

It’s therefore no surprise I became a romance writer since I’ve starred in my own very happy romance. Mind you, the life of a pilot’s wife isn’t always romantic and glamorous but the upside is the adventure. Before our first daughter, now 11, was born, we lived in Namibia, Botswana, Norway and Canada (while I worked as an airborne geophysical survey operator in French Guyana and Greenland and my husband piloted the plane).

Post children, we’ve lived in Perth (Western Australia), Solomon Islands, Adelaide (South Australia), Japan and now, finally – for the last 5 years – near Melbourne.

Writing was the one constant for me though it took me 23 years to get published after writing my first book at seventeen. I do feel a little embarrassed to admit, though, that there were a few good reasons that it took me so long to achieve my dreams of holding my first printed baby.

One of these was drowning the heroine on the last page of my historical romance. Also, my story was set in the Clare Valley in South Australia. You can see I hadn’t done my homework – though, really, what do you know at seventeen? Well, enough that you certainly don’t kill off your heroine in a romance and that my market research should have made it clear you have a hard time selling books that have unpopular settings.

So now we’re in the digital age and I feel like the pilot’s wife who’s already lived half a dozen consecutive life cycles has just metamorphosed into another alternative being. One who’s learning to harness the internet to make the most of the hard work that’s gone before.

You see, I’ve just got the rights back to my first three books which were originally published by my UK publisher, in hardcover and Large Print.

I am so excited about this and so I’ve started an experiment with Kindle, Smashwords and CreateSpace.

One month ago I uploaded to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords my first Regency Romance, Lady Sarah’s Redemption. After going through the proofs my original publisher had approved I found there was nothing to change, and assumed this would be the case with my two subsequent books. I also wanted to make Lady Sarah’s Redemption available through as many channels as possible.

My second book – Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly  – is already available as an e-book on Amazon through my publisher, Robert Hale, so I could only make changes to it in paperback form. Once again, after going through it with a fine toothcomb, I ultimately made no changes and I used CreateSpace, which did a great job, for the paperback version. The postage of the books from the US to Australia was going to be the biggest factor when stocking up for my author talks (which I do in eighteenth century period costume) but I’m lucky. My husband flies to LA regularly and can pick up the books for me there.

 

 

 

 A Little Deception – was nominated Favourite Historical Romance in 2011 by ARRA (Romance Readers of Australia) however I was never entirely happy with it. I’d had to cut 15,000 words from it just before it was published and tone down the sensuality. I’d found that my books were getting progressively more sensual but this didn’t fit my publisher’s guidelines. Many of the reviews I received for A Little Deception indicated dissatisfaction at having the bedroom door slammed in the reader’s face.

So, with my rights having reverted to me, what an opportunity to be able to update the original version!

For most of the book my hero and heroine are a married couple forced together through deception, and the plot focuses on the tug-of-war between reluctant desire and mistrust – engineered by malignant forces – before the villain is unmasked and the lovers can stumble towards the truth, and each other.

 

 

 

 

Within the next couple of days it’ll be uploaded to Amazon’s Kindle Select with a beautiful new cover and a very virile hero bursting off the page, clasping to his manly breast a heroine who is no longer overshadowed by her beautiful, scheming sister-in-law. (Well, actually, the cover itself is in lovely tones of blue with a beautiful and mysterious woman wearing a masquerade mask, but you get the idea.)

I think it’s quite cool that the original hard cover version will sit on my local library shelves beside its wickeder version. Same plot but different heat level.

Anyway, I thought I’d experiment with Kindle Select which means giving them  90-day exclusivity and see how sales compare with my self-published second version of Lady Sarah’s Redemption and my publisher e-release of Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly.

Having just attended my 12th consecutive Romance Writers of Australia conference on the Gold Coast my head is buzzing with the variety of options now available to writers. So much has changed in the publishing world and I’m excited to be an author in this changing landscape.

So, this is for those wanting a taste of  A Little Deception.

 

A Little Deception Blurb:

A one-night charade to save the family sugar plantation wins loyal and determined Rose Chesterfield more than she bargained for – marriage to the deliciously notorious rake, Viscount Rampton. Her fears that she has unwittingly tricked him to the altar are swept away by happiness beyond her wildest dreams as she and Rampton discover a mutual desire neither had expected. 

However, Rampton’s love for his wife soon turns to fears that her trickery goes beyond leg-shackling him for life as Rose is implicated in a series of high profile jewel heists.

Is the woman he’d come to trust nothing more than a fortune hunter with a penchant for money, men and mischief? Or are there sinister forces at work trying to tear the lovers apart?

 

The following scene takes place as Lord Rampton cynically contemplates Rose’s inevitable demands after the two of them have been discovered in a compromising situation in his bedchamber by Rose’s brother.

‘MISS CHESTERFIELD.’ Miss Chesterfield. The name should have provoked rage; instead, Rampton was dismayed by a surge of feeling that was so far from rage as to render him no better than a drooling schoolboy when confronted with the object of his adolescent obsession.

‘Show her in,’ he said, struggling for the self-possession that had always been second nature to him and tossing aside the reading matter which had failed to engage his attention for the past hour.

So, she had come to state her terms.

Having been caught well and truly in flagrante delicto, he accepted he had no one but himself to blame. Experience with women had tuned his antennae finely when it came to sensing all manner of ruses calculated to inveigle him into matrimony. But Lady Chesterfield – Miss Chesterfield, as it turned out – had slipped entirely under his guard.

Stonily he faced the door while he waited for her to enter, the events of the past week flashing through his mind. For twenty-four hours after she’d been hauled off by her brother, Rampton had paced his study like a caged lion, fuelling his anger with the multiple lies and untruths she’d fed him as he tried to relive exactly the moment at which he should have become aware of her deception. Any half-intelligent man would have sensed that not all was as it seemed at the very outset, he told himself.

Cynically, he had waited for Miss Chesterfield to call and negotiate the terms of his matrimonial incarceration. He had practised all manner of snide and ironic responses, while his anticipation at seeing her again had grown steadily more unbearable.

He wanted only to tell her what he thought of her.

So he assumed.

But she had not come, and that had been worse.

After three days he’d snapped. Arriving unannounced, he had confronted a pale and patently uncomfortable Sir Charles in his study and stonily dictated the terms of a marriage contract. He was a man of honour and he had compromised a lady. She was the clear victor in their final round; she had more than just pinked him. Now he must pay the price.

Rampton had been prepared for a rambling defence from Sir Charles of his sister’s behaviour. And, if Sir Charles were in a robust mood, perhaps a healthy lashing of recrimination for Rampton.

But when the young baronet said only that his sister did not wish to marry him Rampton was at last moved to anger.

‘Doing it too brown, sir!’ he declared. ‘She engineered that little scene so that I’d have no choice but to suffer her joy as she leg-shackled me on her triumphant progress towards the altar!’

Sir Charles, looking white around the gills, concurred miserably, ‘I know, I know. But she’s made me tell you, expressly, my lord, that she has no intention of holding you to marriage. That, in fact, she does not desire it.’

‘Does not desire it?’

He could not believe it. It was all part of the charade. There was a trick involved somewhere, though right now he could not see it.

Not want to marry him?

Why, every unmarried female participating in the social whirligig was there because she wanted to get married and most of them saw waltzing off with him as the ultimate feather in their caps.

Not want to marry him? When she’d gone to such pains to ensure him?

The very notion was preposterous.

He would not believe it.

 

Thanks so much for having me, Ivy. I look forward to dropping by next month. 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to drop by, Beverley.  Isn’t it obvious that Homer just adores Beverley?

Visit Beverley

Beverley on Amazon

 

 


DIARY OF A VAMPIRE STRIPPER and more with Cinsearae S.

Why do you go by just your last initial vs your last name?

Good one! It’s only because my name is so annoyingly long, and even longer since I got married. 30 letters total (yep, I checked, lol.)

Good reason…:)

Your other “day” jobs as book cover designer and Editor/Publisher for Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine.

Currently, I’m a book cover designer for Damnation Books. I’ve been with them since their inception, and I love it! I also design covers for independent/contracted authors as well. I specialize in horror, dark paranormal romance, and fantasy. My work even appeared on noted occult author Corvis Nocturnum’s book, Cemetery Gates: Death and Mourning Through the Ages. People are welcome to see a sampling of what I’ve done at DB and for other authors at Bloodtouch. I love working with new clients.

Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine comes out tri-annually, specializing in anything horror, paranormal, bizarre, or out-of-the-box. It’s won quite a few awards from Predators and Editors, and I pride myself in DGR welcoming those first-time writers that have a hard time getting their foot in the publishing door. I like to support indie and traditionally published authors by offering a bit of free promo in the magazine as well. I interview authors, artists and bands in the ‘darker’ genres also, and it’s open to submissions all year round. If anyone would love to know more about it, feel free to visit Dark Gothic Magazine.

If you had to choose between cover design, your editorial duties and writing, which would it be?

That’s a bit hard to answer since they’re all interconnected in one way or another.  My magazine has a mission and purpose, and I can’t have a magazine without creating a cool cover for it, and writing goes hand-in-hand with compiling the magazine. I enjoy doing each one to the fullest; leaving any one of those out would have me going a little wonky over here *grin*.

What is the Gratista Vampire Clan?

 

 

The GVC is my dark writers group, which I founded back in 2004. We’re an eclectic bunch from all walks of life, but we all share one thing in common: our love for the macabre. It cites notable authors such as Christy Poff, Anton Glascow and Tony-Paul deVissage, all masters at their craft of storytelling and/or creeping people the hell out! We usually release one or two anthologies per year, which I publish. Our latest anthology, “Ravens in Our Midst” was a collection of raven-inspired poetry, stories and photos, paying homage to Edgar Allan Poe. We’ve had other themed books centering on psychosis, pain and suicide, madness and anger—all those touchy subjects that would make a conventional person squirm. We do like to do that *cue in eerie laugh*. You can find past anthologies, reviews and trailers here, and anyone with a love for the ‘darkside’ is welcome to join our Facebook group! Just search ‘Gratista Vampire Clan’.

 

 

A bit about the Abraxas series?

The ABRAXAS Series centers around a small vampire family in Pennsylvania. They are not typical ‘blood drinking’ vampires; they are pranic vampires, who feed off the life force of others. They are much more humanlike, and can do a lot more human-related things, but what separates them from the norm are their strong paranormal and psychic abilities. They get into a lot of creepy situations (ghosts, demons, other humans with evil intent), and is an ongoing series I’m still working on. I also created a couple Halloween-themed, stand-alone stories, expressly for one of my characters  named Jonathan, a quirky, Gothy kid who loves Halloween a little more than normal, and that gets him into quite a bit of trouble, lol. Lots downloadable excerpts, short excerpts online, reviews, trailers and more are at Abraxas.

Boleyn, Tudor Vampire?

This one came about while in the midst of watching The Tudors. Anne Boleyn’s death was so unjust, and seeing it on a TV series caused my muse to start talking in my head, wanting to create a revenge story for Anne, and what better way to do it than to have her come back as a vampire? I had always been fond of Tudor history in college, and the visuals of the series were like the icing on the cake. I tweaked her infamous death of beheading to hanging, which infuriates Anne more, as hangings were reserved for ‘common’ criminals. I fought the whole idea for a while, knowing something like this would more than likely ruffle the feathers of condescending, self-proclaimed history buffs who hate ‘mashups’, but there comes a point in your life when you have to say ‘screw you’ to the naysayers and haters, and just do what you love. (Besides, if I kept trying to ignore my muse, she’d have kept talking and talking, driving me nuts until I started writing it down.) I do not apologize for what I create; no artist should ever apologize for what they create. I write to entertain. Period. There are folks who do love these sorts of books, and although I’ve seen a scathing remark here and there, they pale in contrast to the larger amount of great reviews it has gotten. I’m not here to please everyone, but I should inject a bit of common sense here: If you don’t like ‘mashups’, then don’t read them. Plain and simple. More on the book is here.

Can you tell us about your latest, DIARY OF A VAMPIRE STRIPPER?  That’s a heck of a title.

 

Thank you, lol! Diary of a Vampire Stripper is my latest foray into the urban fantasy world. It’s a combination of snarky dark humor, chick-lit, and a huge misadventure, with a bit of romance thrown in. Here’s the blurb.

Her best friend is a werewolf. Her boyfriend is a ghoul. And she really, REALLY, can’t stand her vampire husband.

Trying to juggle college tuition and rent, young Audra Perez seeks a fast fix to her financial woes by auditioning as a stripper for the Hoochie Coochie Club. What she didn’t expect was to actually be chosen. Barely a few months into her new job, she becomes acquainted with a mysterious, distinguished gentleman by the name of Darren Von Eldon, and they secretly begin dating against club rules. Then one passionate night at his beach house changes Audra’s life forever.

Now as a newly-awakened vampire, this only adds to her day-to-day mundane burdens. Refusing to drain humans, she hunts birds for nourishment, and finagles a way to avoid going to classes during the day. But bigger problems loom ahead. Radical cops that know about her kind roam the night, seeking to destroy any and all ‘monsters’, and her best friend’s family has a bone to pick with Audra’s. Headless human bodies are turning up on vamp and were turf, each side blaming the other for the murders. It’s up to Audra and her friend Lu to figure out who’s doing the killings before an all-out war happens between their families, their search leading them beneath the city streets to encounter an abomination neither one of them will ever forget.

And the relationship issues? Well, it’s not easy dealing with a boyfriend and a vampire husband, so let’s not even go there…

I’ve seen a few questions floating around pertaining to why does she have a husband and a boyfriend, and the reasoning is pretty sticky. When Darren turned Audra and left her hanging, Audra waited months for him, hoping he’d come back. After a while, she gave up on him and decided to start dating again, which is where the boyfriend, Paul, comes in. But lo and behold, Darren returns, so now she’s stuck with both of them, lol. But Audra despises Darren for leaving her in a lurch, avoiding him as much as possible, and sticks with Paul. Audra also hangs with her best friend Lu, rejecting staying at Darren’s mansion, preferring to be holed-up in a little carriage house behind Lu’s family’s home. Needless to say, Darren takes all of this in stride, even finding it to be entertaining! He’s assuming that Audra will be fed up with all her elaborate antics to avoid him and will just come running back into his arms, but she’s definitely going to teach him a thing or two. There’s lots of reviews, upcoming tour dates, downloads, and a trailer at DIARY OF A VAMPIRE STRIPPER , plus a sneak peek trailer and excerpt available to part II. 

Why vampires?

I became fascinated with them at a very young age. I think it all started because I saw Frank Langella play Dracula (1979), and I fell head over heels in love with him. I think it’s safe to say he was my first crush.Frank portrayed Dracula as a sad and lonely creature, not harsh or cruel or bloody, and man, was he romantic!!! That’s what I loved the most.That movie is in my collection to this very day. Then “The Lost Boys” really did it for me, with their cool, hip, carefree way of portraying the undead, not to mention living in sunny Santa Monica,CA, and near an amusement park, nonetheless! They really made you want to be like them, and I still think Kiefer Sutherland made one badass, sexy vampire.

Is there anything special needed to coax your muse?

Not that much. Just a quiet morning (especially if it’s cloudy and rainy) or late at night is enough, but every now and then, a glass of Manischewitz helps to let my muse go wild, and/or set all sorts of skeletons loose, lol.

Who’s in control, you or the characters?

I seriously believe they are, lol. Every now and then, I do get a chance to put them in all sorts of crazy situations, but usually they’re telling me everything.

Do you want to write or have to write?

More like, I ‘love’ to write, lol. But on a different level, I do have to write, or those voices in my head will keep chatting away (and driving me batty in the process) until I start writing their stories down!

A genre you want to try that you haven’t yet?

I haven’t really tried to write out of the paranormal genre; I love my vamps and assorted creepy crawlies too much, lol. What I have been doing though is trying to work on paranormal stories in different time periods. I’m still working on a story that’s circa the early 20th century; and making sure I have certain aspects of that period correct, so it still might be a little while before I feel comfortable enough to release that one.

Favorite thing(s) about traditional publishing?

Having that feeling of being ‘traditionally published’, lol. I think every author feels more ‘validated’ when someone else publishes their work instead of going indie, especially when getting an advance is involved. But when all is said and done, it doesn’t really matter if you’re published traditionally or not. Your work is out there, and people are reading it. That’s validation enough.

Self-pubbing?

When being an independent author, many hats have to be worn. You have 100% control with everything you do, but there’s a lot more responsibility in putting out quality material. Everything is in your hands instead of someone else’s. I don’t mind it at all; I’m actually quite used to it and have fun with it.

Least favorite about both?

The whole ‘promotions’ thing. It’s the worst. I don’t really like having to toot my own horn, and unfortunately it’s a necessary evil that many authors have to tread lightly with, depending on where and how they’re doing the promoting. And for indie authors, its slightly more difficult in getting your book reviewed, as indie authors are still stigmatized by some reviewers. I have been noticing an increase of reviewers who do like and prefer indie authors, so that’s a huge plus.

Tell us about Mistress Rae’s Decadent Designs, please.

Mistress Rae’s Decadent Designs started out being a hobby in 2009, and now I’m totally addicted, lol. Just this year, I took my shop to the National Halloween & Haunters Convention in Oaks, PA, where to my total surprise, it won the 2012 Fright Times Award for “Best Horror Collectible”.  That just totally made my day! I create Gothic/Victorian/Steampunk-inspired jewelry (including insect jewelry) horror dolls, Halloween, sugar skull/Santa Muerte figures, accessories, and unique gift ideas for the hard-to-buy person. I love raiding thrift stores and rescuing porcelain dolls and Barbie dolls, turning them into one-of-a-kind creations…or someone’s worst nightmare, lol. Folks can ‘like’ and follow’ my shop right from its Etsy storefront. I’m always adding something every month.

How cool….

 

 

Hades & Chaos?  Love those names!

Those two are my crazy, little rat terriers! Hades is seven now and Chaos is six. Folks sometimes ask if they’re brother and sister, but no. I had gotten Hades first, and I and my hubby had her for a year before we decided to get her a playmate, so we searched again and found Chaos. He wasn’t taken too well by her at first, and she’d often bat him around a lot. They get along just peachy now, but every now and then she still likes to show she’s the boss, despite her being a heck of a lot shorter than him!

 

Favorite place you’ve traveled so far?

I’d have to say Mexico. I always love the opportunity to explore someplace different, and visiting the ruins of Chichen Itzawas awesome.London was pretty awesome too; but my only regret is that I would have loved to have gone there when I was older and not with a group. I think I would have appreciated being there more. That was back in ’92 when I was a senior in high school—our drama club had taken a trip there to do some performances.

Favorite Vincent Price movie?

Oh my goodness this is tough, lol; there’s so many movies of his that I totally love. I think it’s a toss-up between “Masque of the Red Death” and “A Comedy of Terrors”. “The Haunted Palace” and “Tales of Terror” are great too. And I just love his black sense of humor; it’s probably where I got mine from!

What do we have to look forward to from you?

Currently, I’m working on Part 2 to Diary of a Vampire Stripper, so I hope to release that by the end of the year. And the fall issue of Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine will be out this October. And of course, I’m always creating new creepy dolls for my shop!

 

Visit Cinsearae

 

Meet Sharon Buchbinder

Thank you for having me here on Manic Readers!

Thank you for taking the time to visit.

Did you write at all (fiction) during those years in health care delivery and research or was it going into academia that spurred that voice again?

During the early years, I was a newlywed working 80 hour weeks, visiting my husband, a surgical resident, in the ER when he worked 24 hour shifts and the ICU when he worked 48 hour shifts. I hardly had time to breathe, much less write. When we moved to Chicago, I tried to stay home and get pregnant, to no avail. We had been trying for five years.  Of course, as soon as I gave up and took a job in downtown Chicago, I became pregnant. God laughs at our plans, remember that. I worked full time, commuting over an hour one way to work, had a little boy, and a husband who worked 12-14 hour days–and I started my PhD program. Still no time to breathe. When we moved to Baltimore, I was able to press the pause button to work on my dissertation for my PhD. It was my 40th birthday gift to me. My family was thrilled that I didn’t want to go to law school after that. Academia, contrary to what many think, did not allow me to slow down. It did, however, allow me to commute a shorter time to work. I completed a post-doc in kids mental health services at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene, worked in pediatric research for 2 years after that, then took an assistant professorship at a state university, where I worked my tail off to get published or perish for tenure and promotion. At age 52, I was a tenured full professor. I loved my job, but that itch to write fiction hit me. My mid-life crisis, if you will, was running away to our second home in Florida to write my first novel. I haven’t stopped writing fiction since then.

Wow. I can definitely see why you waited.

Why deep sea fishing?  Is it the appeal of being on that vast expanse of water or the challenge?

Fishing is hours of boredom interspersed with minutes of an adrenaline rush when you catch a fish. Bringing a fish to the boat can be physically challenging, especially if it’s a sting ray, a shark, a cobia, or as happened the last time we went fishing, an alligator gar. We catch and release, by the way, we do not kill the fish. I’ve had bruises on my belly from the rod when the big guys fight. In the slow, drowsy time, my imagination likes to come out to play. I’ve learned to keep a pad and pen with me on the boat to write down my ideas before the fish distract me. It’s amazing what will come to you when you’re not too focused on writing.

Have you considered writing spoofy horror, a romantic comedy or humorous mystery? Is there a genre you’d like to delve into but haven’t?

I actually started out writing mystery and horror short stories. I won a couple of small awards in those genres. I try to inject humor into all of my stories, to give me and the reader a relief from the relentless tension and suspense. In DESIRE AND DECEPTION, one of my favorite comic relief characters is Gert, the elderly mother-in-law of one of my main characters. Modeled after my own mother-in-law, right down to her gold lamé pants, Gert is a brassy New Yorker who cuts through crap and tells it like it is. In KILLER KISSES, for example, in AN INN DECENT PROPOSAL, in the midst of emotionally wrenching scenes, I interjected little boys to break the tension. Little boys have no internal censors; they just say whatever comes to their minds. The hero in the story picks up on the fact that the heroine seems to collect naughty little boys, including himself. I like to use the young and old to play these parts because they have wisdom, innocence and humor to offer to the stories.

Really?  Gold lamé  pants?  Too funny…

The one genre that I’d like to try my hand at (some day) is Young Adult. I’m reading more YA now. The genre is growing in number of authors, books produced, popularity, and range of topics. What was once taboo for YA is now acceptable for a given age range. We have a lot of creative, innovative writers producing astonishing tales that take my breath away. I am in awe of them. 

 

Can you tell us about KILLER KISSES? 

I started writing these stories in 2006 and published the first one, CATASTROPHE, in 2007. About one came out each year until 2010. About that time, I asked for the seven stories to be put together in an anthology, but for business reasons, the publisher declined. I really wanted a collection of my short stories, so when my contracts expired, I asked for my rights back so I could re-issue them under one cover.  The stories range from short, short to novella length and from contemporary and chaste to paranormal and spicy.

In A Peck on the Cheek: Hurricane Jason, a female private investigator searches for a two-timing husband, but lands in a hurricane shelter. Does she get her man?

In Cat Nips: Catastrophe, a crazy cat lady is evicted by her drunken landlord and the lives of her cats are at stake. Will she and her rescues wind up on the street? Or will a secret admirer find a better home for everyone?

In Hot Lips: Lake Placid Cure, a woman finds her husband in a compromising position–again. Looking to recover her dignity, she sets out for a medi-spa, encounters a murder mystery and discovers that miracles still happen inLake Placid.

In French Kiss:Pigmalion, a speech pathology graduate student needs one more subject for her research project to graduate. She runs into a hot guy with a heavy accent and tries to recruit him into her study. Will she teach him the language of love?

In Sizzling Smooch: Bonded for Life , a Mexican artist runs for her life to hide in the little town where she graduated from high school. She’s convinced no one will find her there. But a boy with a high school crush on her grew up to be a hunky cop–and he has her in his cross hairs.

In Delectable and Delicious: An Inn Decent Proposal
, a chef and a hotelier join forces at a foreclosure auction on an old inn and outbid a small time hood. The thug doesn’t like being on the losing end of the deal. Things heat up outside and in the bedroom. Can the couple make a go of it? Or will the hood destroy their dream?

In Release Your Inner Wild Women: Kiss of the Silver Wolf, a young woman searches for the truth about her brother’s debilitating disease. An intriguing man with silver hair and a penchant for long night runs insists she’s his life mate. How does this sexy man figure into her family secrets?

 

 

DESIRE AND DECEPTION?

This book is a good example of the power of fishing. The captain in the story is real, as is the fishing scene, right up until the heroine pulls up the bloated corpse of her boss.

Here’s the story behind the story. Having been in higher education for close to two decades, I was always amused by the perception we professors who worked within the ivory tower were staid, pedantic, yes, dull, dull, dull as dirt. While admittedly, there are some who do fit that bill and have died on the job and just don’t know it yet, there are lots of professors who defy that stereotype.

 

 

 

In writing DESIRE AND DECEPTION, I wanted to tell a sexy suspenseful tale about smart, powerful women and the men who love them. I wrote about society’s expectations of what a woman should be versus what a woman wants to be. And since the standing advice to writers is to “write what you know,” I then placed these characters into the setting of a rigidly hierarchical academic world where tenure and promotion are the duo brass rings. With Isabel and Sarah chattering at me the entire time, DESIRE AND DECEPTION is an erotic romantic suspense tale that practically wrote itself.

The only problem I had with the book was getting an agent, editor or publisher to give it a read because it had “too much sex” in it.

“Seriously?” I asked, “Too much sex?” I couldn’t take it out. The sex was integral to the telling of the tale. Isabel is a man eating sex goddess on the prowl and Sarah is a newlywed trying to get pregnant. Hello? Sex, anyone? I was not taking it out. Then at the suggestion of another romance writer and friend, I attended the Red Sage Publishing session at Romance Writers of America.

After the session, I introduced myself to Alexandria Kendall, CEO, of Red Sage, and said, “I have this book–but everyone tells me it has too much sex.”

Alexandria’s eyes lit up and she said, “Send it to me!” The funny part is when I was offered a contract, it was contingent on–ready for this? Adding more sex.  There wasn’t enough for an erotic reading audience. Well, heck, I could do that! And I did.

I am delighted that Red Sage gave my story a chance and that Isabel, Sarah, Sean, Dan and all the other characters finally had home.  Someone else liked the story, because DESIRE AND DECEPTION was an RT Nominee for Best Erotic Fiction in 2011.

Congrats!

Will you stop writing the non-fiction health care based books or do they satisfy a different creative urge?

I like to tell people that both sides of my brain need to have their time out to play. My logical, scientific side needs an opportunity to contribute to the health care discipline. And, the voices make me do the novels. Just kidding! I use my scientific side a lot in my novels and my creative side in my non-fiction work. In one of my recent blogs, This is Your Brain on Fiction: Why Teaching with Case Studies Works, I argue that we need to be more like creative writers in our non-fiction case studies, to pull the student into the experience and give her the opportunity to live in that world. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s about living in the other world, the story world. This spring, my new text, CASES IN HEALTH CARE MANAGEMENT, written along with Nancy H. Shanks and my husband,DaleBuchbinder, will be released with 101 cases, short stories, ready to engage students in the world of health care management.

Does your muse require anything to come and hang around for a while?

My muse sometimes taunts me in my sleep, knowing full well that I have a pen and pad in my nightstand. She will wake me up and force me to jot stuff down, story fixes, outrageous titles, sexy scenes. She is a naughty minx who likes to catch me when my guard is down, like when I’m fishing. She also requires me to sit in the chair and write, even if it’s garbage. Words on a page can be fixed. My last book, OBSESSION, flew out of my fingers when I was locked in a hotel room on a business trip with my husband. He went to meetings, I wrote. I probably need to be locked in a hotel room at least once a book.

Do you dream up plots and characters while golfing or concentrate wholly on the game?

I am a terrible golfer. Mostly, I’m a good sport who rides along and makes my friends look like golf pros. Like fishing, golf has long pauses between adrenaline rushes. I keep a pen and pad with me on the golf cart, too.

What’s your favorite part of writing?

You are asking me to choose between my children. I love the research (seriously, ask me about Mexican drug cartels and religious cults, please!) and I love the world building. I also love the words, playing with them, creating scenes, bringing my characters to life, and giving them depth. And, I like revisions, but only after I haven’t seen the story for a bit. Then I go back and say, “Oh, did I write that?” Or, “Mmm. No. That isn’t working.” Or, “I need more internal dialogue here.” And I love getting feedback from my alpha and beta readers. That is the time when the rubber hits the road and I get to see if the story works. My husband is my alpha reader and my writing peeps are my beta readers. Of course I love it when my work is accepted and I’m offered a contract.

Least favorite?

Being in the middle of a great scene, fingers on fire and realizing I have to go or do something else. The good news is that actually motivates me to get back to the story sooner, because I want to see how the scene works out.

Hardest?

Waiting, waiting, waiting for feedback at any point in the process. I know some writers say they hate rejections, but I’ve learned to embrace them as part of the process. It is feedback. A good rejection is when you get a response that details why they didn’t want your work. Then you know what you have to adjust either the story or the target market.

Easiest?

The research. Now with the Internet, what would have required me to travel to remote locations to get details of say, Chihuahua, Mexico, I can go online and find photos, maps, tours, videos, food, plants, and anything else you could want for the setting. Likewise, finding valid written and video resources for obscure topics is a zillion times easier than it was when I was growing up in the Stone Age. Hooray for technology and the Internet, the writer’s best friend.

What can readers look forward to next?

I have a 3rd book under review with a publisher (fingers crossed). It is a paranormal romance. In OBSESSION, a recovering addict must work with a Mexican drug lord to rescue her one-year old son from the clutches of a cult leader who believes the child is the Chosen One. 

 

And, I’ve written 8,000 words for KISS OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN, the sequel to KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF.  KISS OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN is the story of the epic romance the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon and the impact of their relationship on their descendant, Eliana Solomon. It will be a paranormal romance; it will also be my magnum opus. I’ve been researching this story for 2 years. This baby wants to be born now.

The Queen of Sheba & King Solomon?  Gracious, that does sound amazing.  Love those kind of books & those two people have always fascinated me.  Loved when I read they’d found proof that they had a child.  Something genetic in a certain area, don’t recall all the details.

Thanks again, Sharon. I’ve enjoyed it!

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Hawaii, PHOTO FINISH and Terry Ambrose

Someone recently said to me that creating a sense of setting when writing about Hawaii is easy. In fact, I don’t think that writing about Hawaii is any easier than writing about other locations. In some ways, it’s harder. It’s easy to be captivated by Hawaii’s fabulous sunsets and surf along the beach, but it’s still the writer’s job to make the setting come alive.

In Photo Finish, the first real setting description comes mid way through Chapter 1 when McKenna, the protagonist, is sitting on his lanai watching the sun drop below the horizon. “Gentle trade winds brushed across my face, whispering their island secrets. The sky grew darker, dimming to pinkish grays and purples. White lights from a yacht streamed across the ocean on the distant horizon.” There’s nothing inherently magical or exotic in this description—we’ve got some wind, the sky getting dark, a few colors in the sky, and that pesky yacht.

What does bring this description alive, however, is the linking of those visual elements with the character through the reference to trade winds whispering their secrets. By involving McKenna in the description, the description becomes more relevant. There’s no reason why that same involvement couldn’t be used in a scene on the Texas plains, a sleepy village in Kansas, or a back yard.

Character involvement is all well and good, but how does that make it harder to write about Hawaii as a setting? It all comes down to reader expectations. In a book with exotic locations, the reader expects to get vibrant descriptions. Therefore, the bar is higher than when the book is about an unknown or drab place.

When I read about different locales, I’m always delighted by vibrant descriptions that also help to convey information about the character and that move the plot forward. However, I get bored when the writer bogs down in excessive details that paint me a detailed picture, but don’t tell me something about the character or where the story might be going. In other words, the writer becomes infatuated with the setting and gushes about that instead of staying focused on characters and story.

Have you read a book where the author did a particularly good job of conveying that sense of place? Why not leave a comment and pass the name of the book along so others can enjoy it too?

 

 

Photo Finish: Wilson McKenna’s newest tenant is hot, gives great hugs, and just saw a dead body being thrown from a plane. McKenna’s not one to get involved in other people’s problems, especially those of a woman half his age, but before he knows it, he’s volunteered to track down the plane and its owner. In no time, McKenna has uncovered an island drug ring, pissed off a sociopath, and set himself up as the victim in a beautiful woman’s con that could cost him his life.

Trouble? Oh, yeah. McKenna’s found it. If only trouble didn’t have such great legs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Ambrose started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark to “help” when negotiations failed.

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C.M. Albrecht and THE SAND BLUFF MURDERS

Before I get to the shamelessly promotional part of this blog, I’d like to submit a few syllables on the subject of using real events and/or people in fiction as opposed to creating everything out of thin air.

Just recently I read a blog that discussed this subject and it reminded me that not too many years ago I was having difficulty with this very thing.

For a long time I had it in my dense little head that fiction, by definition, should be fiction. I strove for that to no avail. Sometimes I realized I was “borrowing” from remembered events and/or characters, etc., and worried that I might be cheating.

Eventually, reading other writers, and reading about other writers, I learned that most, if not all of them, habitually mine their memories for real-life events and people, not only to inspire them, but to give their work color and texture. Someone said of Roald Dahl to be careful what you say around him because it’ll turn up in his next book.

There is the roman à clef of course, and we know some novels are actually thinly disguised autobiographies. But most novels don’t really fall into that category — however, I think that, if a novel is properly written, the reader has an excuse for believing the work actually to be autobiographical “because it’s so real. A person couldn’t just make this stuff up.”

When I was young and innocent I discovered Raymond Chandler’s famous detective Philip Marlowe. I was entranced and, in my mind Philip Marlowe was really Raymond Chandler using a fictitious name. I imagined him to be a robust fellow about thirty years old with plenty of attitude. When I found out Mr. Chandler was in reality a rather dignified pipe-smoking university educated sixty-something year-old gentleman from England. and the only iron he ever packed was probably a nine-iron, I felt really deceived. Okay, I got over that. The man was writing fiction. But his locales, his characters, all were so real that it read like fact. Real places, real people. And of course that’s what fiction should do: read as a believable factual account.

In a movie or on TV, if we catch a glimpse of a mike or even its shadow, we’re jerked right out of  “reality” into the realization that we’re watching a movie. If we’re reading a novel and the bad guy puts a silencer on his revolver, same thing. We know people don’t use silencers on revolvers. Every aspect from locale to characters to all the little incidentals that enter into the story have to be accurate and believable. As the author, you’re God and you’re supposed to know everything,  at least about the story you’re telling.

I’m often inspired by real events. Maybe I see that an employee of a convenience store was killed. A robbery gone bad? Normally that’s pretty straight forward. But what if robbery wasn’t the motive, but revenge, or the work of a religious fanatic, a jealous lover, a case of mistaken identity, a stray bullet from the street, and so on. That could be the start of a book right there. In short, my favorite tool in writing is: “What If?:”

I can’t help including little habits I’ve seen in real characters. In one book I’ve got a guy who says “basically” in almost every sentence. That came from a man I worked for as a kid. There are people who constantly belch at seventy-five decibels. People who constantly wink or blink or yawn a great deal. there are people who turn everything a person says into a double-entendre in some way or another, people who constantly fiddle with their hair. Women who flirt to cover their insecurities and men who talk tough to hide theirs….

Sometimes, like Raymond Chandler, I name a real city with real street names and locales, and sometimes I make the city up, or simply don’t mention  it by name, but, I still use a real background from somewhere in my memory, be it a house, a bedroom, a store or a train. I find I can give the entire scene a lot more realism if I clearly see the surroundings myself. Any names are of course changed to protect the innocent — or guilty — as the case may be. In my latest effort, The Sand Bluff Murders, I use both. Sand Bluff is a tiny town that was bypassed I-5 in California. The town is fictitious, but in describing it, I have plenty of tiny towns to draw upon. And at the same time, real towns like Redding, Sacramento, Beverly Hills and  San Francisco enter into the tale.

Recycling isn’t a new idea at all. How many times has Cinderella been recycled over the years and continues to be recycled today? People used to laugh at “Mr. Television” Milton Berle because of the running joke that he stole all his material. The truth is that comedians constantly recycle the same old jokes over and over; they just make a little change here, a little change there, and bingo! a new joke.

Only the other day I caught myself doing the same thing. My wife and I were talking about genealogy and I said I thought I might have a little Pawnee in my blood. She asked why and I said because my grandmother used to tell me stories about the all the wonderful experiences she had with the Indians when she came across in a covered wagon. That literally popped out of my mouth. But then I remembered. Once on a game show Peter Marshall suggested Priscilla Mullins and John Alden had some six million descendents in the United States. Immediately the late Paul Lynde said: “Wow! Priscilla really did come across on the Mayflower.”

I’d better stop before I get booted out of here, but let me just repeat, a writer shouldn’t hesitate to use real-life experiences and real people in books or stories. A little change here and a little change there and nobody can prove a thing.  And now for a word from my sponsor (me):

The Sand Bluff Murders

 

“Human nature is much the same in a village as anywhere else, only one has opportunities and leisure for seeing it at closer quarters.” — Jane Marple

I wanted my tenth mystery novel, “The Sand Bluff Murders” to take place in a small town. I usually set my stories in cities with a real police force, forensic experts, labs, etc., and thought this would be an interesting challenge. But the tale was a long time coming. I sketched some of it out in my mind and made a few notes on the computer, but before I got very far I came to a dead end. Nice setup, I thought, but now what?

That ‘now what’ sank into murky depths of my subconscious and wallowed there for nearly a year. Several times I almost deleted what little I had saved in the computer. I thought I’d do better to start all over.

But after all those months, a funny thing happened. Some of the characters began to talk to me. They were coming alive and despite my lack of enthusiasm, their voices grew more and more persistent. They were saying, “Hey, what’s the holdup, soldier? Sand Bluff’s just a little town. We can’t run around here killing people forever.” I realized then that I wasn’t going to get any peace until I let them get back to their grisly work.

 

There’s the transvestite ‘little person’, Jessica, who with his/her giant boyfriend, Terrence, runs a small trailer court and trains dogs. Terrence would do anything for Jessica.

Anything?

Anything!

There’s Larry Peters, insurance broker, über jealous (and with good reason). Every male in town would love to get his paws on Larry’s hot little wife, Twyla. We’d just like to get our paws on her diary!

Pop Jenkins prints the weekly Sand Bluff Banner. The paper may not be special, but Pop’s daughter, Roxie, sure is. In fact she may just be Miss Right. But she does have that kid. Maybe he’d be all right if he could stop talking Yodaspeak.

When Chief Raymond Castillo hires new cop, Jonas McCleary, Jonas feels very lucky indeed. He has just landed an easy job in a quiet little town where nothing ever happens. Maybe he can settle down in Sand Bluff and with any luck, he may just find Miss Right. After all he’s almost thirty.

But on McCleary’s third day in Sand Bluff, Officer Harold Ackers stumbles over a corpse in the alley behind the Blu Lite Lounge. To give you an idea of the caliber of Sand Bluff’s police department, Officer Ackers didn’t realize the man was dead. He thought he had a drunk on his hands. He manhandled the corpse into his patrol car and took it to headquarters where somebody noticed blood stains on Acker’s uniform and bullet holes in the back of the drunk’s head. When Jonas is sent to investigate he learns the town doesn’t even have yellow tape to secure the crime scene. What crime scene? It has already been hopelessly compromised.

Less than a week later, while Jonas is still clueless and still without any yellow tape, the infamous Twyla Peters is found lying in a pool of blood. No panties. Rape? Maybe, but if rape was involved — according to town gossip  — Twyla would have been the rapist. Anybody in town may have wanted to see her dead. And it turns out she was pregnant. Luckily Larry Peters didn’t know that, or did he? What he does know is that he’s sterile. Larry makes a pretty good suspect. But what does that have, if anything, to do with the body in the alley?

And then a body turns up in the Sacramento River.

That’s when gossip, rumors, coincidences, lies, confusion and false leads give Jonas a murky idea of which path to follow, but does he really want to go down that path? It’s a path that leads into some dark corners, out to horse ranch Oak Park, back to the Blu Lite Lounge and finally where all Sand Bluff’s citizens end up, Weaver’s Funeral Home.

Sand Bluff may be a sleepy village, but even sleepy villages can have their crime waves.

“The Sand Bluff Murders” coming soon from Cambridge Books

Mystery Spot                 C.M. Albrecht’s  Blog

 

“Reading this tale will be like having Jonas sitting in an easy chair and telling you what happened.” — Anne K. Edwards

 

“The mystery plot was amazing.” — Marina Stevkovska

 

THE VAMPIRE QUEEN Jodie Pierce

A bit about your part in Midnight Thirsts 2, please.

I had just sent a short story to Melange books which they passed on but Nancy said that it would be good for their upcoming anthology.

Your Vampire Queen Trilogy?

Is about a Vampire Queen, looking for domination of the vampire race, taking female lovers that end up dejected and always expects to come out smiling in the end.

Why do you prefer writing short stories?

I tend to lose interest in long stories. My creative abilities often come to me in dreams and it’s hard to stretch out something that comes to you in a brief episode.

Any nigglings to write something that isn’t vampiric?

Not at all. I tried it once and I don’t think the story was very interesting.

Different genre?

It was just a contemporary/goth genre.

With so many variations of vampires out there, which take do you prefer, if any?

I like to write romance vampire stories and ones where the woman is the strong heroine. I hate that most vampire stories have the male character as the vampire. I want my main vampire character to be female.

What interests you, other than vampires?  Hobbies?

I love to hang out with family, I love to read, I’m into all things metaphysical, music and concerts.

Favorite book?

Blackwood Farms by Anne Rice.

Favorite movie?

“Interview with a Vampire”, “Queen of the Damned” and “Pretty in Pink”.

Interesting combination…

Do you want to write or have to write?

I have to write and I enjoy writing. I wake up with great ideas and need to put them down on paper.

Anything special you need to coax your muse?

I get a lot of my stories from my dreams or when I’m laying in bed trying to fall asleep. I can tune most things out around me when I write so there’s nothing I really like. Sometimes music playing in the background helps if I’m in one of those moods.

Can you share what we have to look forward to from you?

I am thinking about self-publishing a vampire Anthology. I also have the final installment of my Vampire Queen coming out in November 2012, entitled The Demise of the Vampire Queen.

You can find Jodie at

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The Vampire Queen

Vampire Queen blog

 

 

 

Soul Mates with Marisa Quinn

How thin is the line between love and obsession?

In my novella “Echoes in the Wind” I explore the topic of soul mates. In my book gods and goddesses are each given a soul mate by the Three Fates, the goddesses of destiny, but aren’t told who they are. The only clues they get is what they can see in their dreams and a mysterious symbol that should appear on the wrist of one of their arms after their soul mate—whoever they might be—is born.

The purpose of giving each of the gods a soul mate is to give them a reason to want to continue living. Immortality is long and tiresome and without someone to focus their attention on gods and goddess can become bored and start fighting among each other.

In “Echoes in the Wind” the god Pan is hungry for his soul mate. He has lived for centuries without one and still does not have a mark on his wrist. Desperately lonely, when he overhears Echo, a Greek goddess, singing in the woods one day he convinces himself that she has to be the one for him despite there being no evidence of that. He forms a dangerous obsession with her and tries to keep her for himself.

 

Are soul mates an ideal fantasy? Everyone hopes that there is someone out there for them. The question is though…how many could you have in a lifetime? Just one? Or two? Or three? Or four? In “Echoes in the Wind my characters have just one which is what has driven Pan to the edge of madness. How do you find one person out of everyone else in the whole world? Even for a god that is a difficult task. Tired of waiting, he lets himself think that Echo belongs to him. Deep inside himself he knows it’s not true but he selfishly ignores that voice.

If soul mates did exist would it make life easier (no dating!) or would it be a little…creepy…that someone (or something) tied your soul to another person, like the Three Fates do in my book, without your consent? What if you disagreed with the choice and decide not to couple with your soul mate? What happens then? What if the Three Fates get it wrong? Could it happen?

In a lot of ways I think the concept of soul mates (while romantic) is also terribly cruel. What if you never find your soul mate? Or what if you tragically lose them? In “Echoes in the Wind” one of the things I wanted to explore was just how thin the line is between love and obsession. When you have only one chance at love in this life how far would you go to find that special person? How desperate would you become? What would you do to find them?

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