"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, December 18, 2022

A brief diversion -- and a Very Merry Christmas to you!

 When I began writing the annual Christmas letter, it bugged me that it was a separate piece of paper stuffed into the card. Maybe I've got a quirk or two, but I wanted my cards to be all-encompassing. After searching about online, I decided to do a tri-fold brochure style, photos on the outside and the letter on the inside. This had the added benefit of keeping my yuletide ramblings to a single page. I bought the blank brochure stock, then found out my printer didn't like it. To my dismay, neither did Staples. They told me I'd have to take it to a printer, who wanted to print a minimum of 500 copies at an exorbitant price.

Enter VistaPrint. All I had to do was put my handiwork into two .jpg files and format it in their brochure template. The first few years were rocky, because I kept getting the letter upside down, which of course bothered me immensely. I at last got it right, and right it shall remain.

This year's cards have been properly mailed out, so I will share my good wishes here. (PS. If you want a physical copy, just email me your address and I shall send one off!)





Sunday, November 20, 2022

Are you ready?

No, not for the holidays. I know better than to ask that.

I mean, are you ready for Book 2 of the Dragon Shadows Trilogy? It's Moon Dragon Falling and it will be officially released on December 9th. Unofficially...

On Sunday, December 4th, I will have a booth at the Placentia Round Table Women's Club (901 Bradford Ave) from 11-4. It is the Placentia Shop Small Boutique and I'm a proud vendor at the event. And because it's local and I will always love my local peeps, MOON DRAGON FALLING will be available in paperback for those who would like to continue to read about Lisette de Lille and her adventures as a noblewoman/pirate/dragon in the Caribbean.


If you miss that opportunity, I shall also be at the Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair in the Yorba Linda Town Center (18421 Yorba Linda Blvd) on Saturday, December 10th from 4-8 pm. This event is held by the Yorba Linda Arts Alliance Foundation. You can pick up a copy of MOON DRAGON FALLING and read a bit of it over dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.



Of course, at both events, I'll have copies of the first book, BLOOD DRAGON RISING, as well as my Peri Minneopa Mysteries for sale, and of course, they will be discounted because (say it with me) I love my local peeps.



What are reviewers saying about MOON DRAGON FALLING? Here's what D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer at Midwest Book Reviews thought about it:

"Moon Dragon Falling is the genre-busting Book 2 of the Dragon Shadows series and picks up the story of Lisette de Lille, who is now pregnant and looking forward to marriage in the aftermath of a battle.

 

Readers of the first book will recall that she is now a moon dragon, but she faces ongoing challenges from this transformation and her uncertainty about how to use her new abilities. The learning curve isn't easy, especially when she's with child and recovering from the events in Blood Dragon Rising.

 

To make matters worse, her love Tristan has fallen victim to a potion that has made him forget Lisette and her child. She must win him all over again—and apparently re-fight a too-familiar battle—to win back control over her life, future, and the life of her unborn child, the result of two blood dragons' union.

 

Many elements of fantasy would seem to make Moon Dragon Falling appropriate for the fantasy genre reader. But, wait: is that a pirate injected into the story? And, how can Lisette embark on an effort to save her love and herself if she can turn from dragon back to a vulnerable human being at any given moment?

 

As the romance, confrontations, and unusual milieu coalesce, readers will find Moon Dragon Falling a powerful saga whose characterization and setting continually place it outside any pat definition.

 

Replete with the action of a thriller, the fantasy elements of a dragon dilemma, and the romantic concerns of a new mother-to-be who must battle herself and the world around her bereft of her life's love, the story is designed to attract novel readers as well as fantasy genre followers and fans of a rollicking good read.

 

From dukes and kidnapping plans to firebrand Lisette's determination to once again quell the forces that threaten her happiness and world, GS Carline has created another compelling story that could stand alone, but more readily adds another chapter to the tale that prior fans will relish.

 

Libraries looking for strong examples of action-centered books that feature powerful female protagonists on the cusp of many changes will find Moon Dragon Falling recommendable to patrons who look for non-formula writing that steps out of its own definition as a 'fantasy' to reach out to and immerse other audiences."


So what are you waiting for? You can pre-order your copy online (paperback from any bookstore, or ebook on Kindle only), or you can add one of the dates above to your calendar and visit me for a discounted, autographed copy.


I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

A Halloween tale to be told

 I've been working on the Dragon Shadows Trilogy and its release so relentlessly, I let my next project sit on the shelf. It's a little cozy novella featuring Hazel, an amateur mouse sleuth. The story is in its third act and will be finished soon, but before I could write one more scene, there was a story in my brain that wouldn't leave me alone.

A tale best told during All Hallows Eve, a tale best heard by candlelight. Sit back with a glass of port--or perhaps a smoked cocktail would fit better. Smoked old-fashioned, anyone? Enjoy.

Ashes

Stuart’s entire body trembled violently, making it difficult to hold his cell phone, much less poke at the screen. After five failed attempts, he at last selected Jake’s number and held the phone, shaking, to his ear.

The phone was silent as usual while it decided whether there was enough service coverage to complete the call. He considered putting it on speaker but wasn’t certain if his finger could find the button. Also, he feared letting anyone else hear the conversation, even though he was alone in his apartment.

Alone…sort of.

“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” he panted as the phone rang. “Shit, Jake, pick up.”

A groggy, guttural voice rewarded him. “S’up?”

“Get over here. Now.”

“Wha?” Rustling noises cluttered the background, accompanied by a moaning yawn. “Dude, I just woke up.”

“I don’t care, come over. I need help. Need it bad.”

“Doing what?”

Stuart ran his hand across his head. “I can’t tell you over the phone. But it’s bad, Jake. I’m in trouble and it’s bad. Please.”

“Mm-kay.” His friend did not sound convinced or hurried, but he was always true to his word. “Gimme five and I’ll be on my way.”

Stuart ended the call and sat at the edge of his bed in the silence. He still shook, although the quaking had localized itself to his knees. The bed rocked underneath him, a quiet squeak reminding him of last night’s activities, activities that had led him to the spot he was now in.

He’d swiped right on Tinder to what appeared to be the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She was eager to meet, which made him uneasy. What if that gorgeous creature was just a product of Photoshop?

But she did not disappoint. He’d never seen a woman who turned every head in the place as she did when she walked into the pub. Gossamer layers of a short wrap dress revealed glimpses of toned thighs, the plunging v-neckline teasing at full breasts. Her long blue-black hair swung about her shoulders, shiny and thick, bouncing around her face without intruding upon it. The flow of her hair, the ruffling of the dress as she moved made it look as if she might take flight.

Stuart’s first thought leapt to song lyrics. Raven hair and ruby lips. He watched her large dark eyes skim the room like a predator hunting for a meal. When she spotted him, her mouth turned upward at the corners, and he felt a brief stab of icy fear before lust took control of his body.

“Stuart? I’m Phoebe.” She extended her hand.

If only I’d left it there, if only I’d left her there. He rubbed his head, pressing his temples. In an abrupt move, he stood and strode to the bathroom. His right hand caressed the doorknob, feeling the cold metal. He turned it, felt the click of the gears, took a deep breath.

Sighing, he let go and moved away. If I look again, I might hurl.

Vigorous knocking at the front door startled him and he ran to open it. Jake stood in the hall with a curious expression.

“So I’m here,” he said. “What’s the deal?”

“Shh, get in and be a little quieter, okay?” Stuart grabbed Jake’s arm and pulled him inside. “We don’t need to wake the neighbors.”

Jake shrugged. “Whatev.”

“I don’t even know where to start.” Stuart strode across the living room and back, pacing as he talked. “I did like you said and went on Tinder last night. Got a date right away.”

“Great!”

“No, not great!” He stopped. “Well, part of it was great. She was drop-dead, I mean, I don’t know if there’s another girl that beautiful anywhere.”

“Wow, and she swiped right on you?”

Stuart scowled at him. “Yes, thanks, she did. Actually, I was wondering that, too, but she wanted to meet right away, so we agreed to Quincy’s. We had drinks, then dinner, got along great, yadda yadda, then she says it’s time to go to my place.”

“Whoa-ho, that was fast.” Jake plopped onto the couch. “Did you two…?”

“Did we! Best sex of my life.” Stuart sat beside him. “I mean, I’m a simple guy, got maybe one button a girl’s gotta press. Phoebe found buttons I never knew I had.”

“Dude, tell me you didn’t call me over here to brag.”

“No!” Stuart jumped up and resumed his pacing. “Like, I thought she was really enjoying it, but after we’d done it nine times—”

“Wait. Nine times?”

“Shut up, it was crazy, we did it more than I thought was possible. Then, she takes one of the candles we’d lit and says, ‘I’ll be back soon,’ and heads to the bathroom. I asked her if everything was okay and she goes, ‘Really, you were great, but I have a special itch that needs scratched.’ Goes into my bathroom and shuts the door.” He stopped in the middle of the room, his shoulders sagging, deflated.

“So?”

Stuart pointed toward the bedroom. “Go open the bathroom door and look.”

Jake rose and did as he was directed. As he did, Stuart was hoping he had imagined the entire thing and his friend wouldn’t see what he saw.

“What the hell?” Jake yelled from the bathroom.

“I couldn’t get that lucky,” Stuart mumbled and joined him.

Jake was pointing at the bathroom floor. “Are these?”

“Ashes,” Stuart said.

“Like…?”

“Yes, like, human. Human remains.” Stuart waved his hand in the direction of the mess. “You’ll observe the bits of bone.”

“I don’t get it. She lit herself on fire with the candle?”

“Doesn’t seem possible.” Stuart shrugged. “I didn’t think a candle would burn a human to ashes. And I never heard any screams. Why didn’t she scream?”

The two men stood and studied what remained of Phoebe for several moments.

“Now what?” Jake said.

“How should I know? Do I call the cops?”

Jake stared at him. “And tell them what? ‘I’d like to report a case of spontaneous human combustion.’”

Stuart shook his head. “I’m stuck, Jake. This is either gonna end with me in prison or on the front page of the tabloids.”

“Not if there’s no evidence.” Jake rubbed his chin. “Get a trash bag and the broom.”

Stuart’s eyes widened. He looked down at the remains, back up at his friend, then nodded and went to the kitchen.

“Make sure we get her clothes, too,” he said.

Ten minutes later, they were at the front door, Jake jingling his keys and Stuart holding the bag. Jake turned to Stuart, “Where are we—hey, what happened to your hair?”

“I don’t know.” Stuart opened the camera on his phone and held it up. His short brown hair was stylishly scruffy, but now there was a white streak running across both temples. He held the camera closer—there were lines at his eyes, around his mouth that he swore he didn’t have yesterday. “Wow, last night was rougher than I thought. I look like my dad.”

“Let’s take care of this.” Jake pointed to the bag. “Maybe your face’ll relax.”

It was a half-hour drive from the apartment in San Diego to the southernmost side of the Otay Open Space Preserve, another hour driving around to find a recessed location to hide a bag, and another half-hour back to the city where Stuart and Jake could sit silently at a bar and drink themselves numb.

Stuart finally stumbled home sometime after midnight and passed out on the couch, promising himself to sell his bed, end his lease, and move to Montana in the morning.

* * * * *

Deep in the brush not far from the US/Mexico border, a trash bag rustled in the wind. It continued to flutter and puff as its contents expanded and stretched, until a lithe graceful arm reached from the opening and pulled the bag apart. A beautiful woman emerged, dark-haired, dark-eyed, and naked.

She felt around the bottom of the bag and smiled. “How polite of him to include my clothes.”

After dressing, she walked out of the brush and toward the road. That never gets old, she thought as she strolled along the pavement, feeling refreshed and renewed. And as long as mortal men are so easy, neither will I.

 


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

After a long trip, the destination looms

The first book in my fantasy trilogy is being released this Friday. I've written the entire trilogy, over 300,000 words spread across three books. It feels like I just wrote them, and yet I began this journey in November of 2015. Seven years! Here's the original blog post in which I take the first step: https://gaylecarline.blogspot.com/2015/11/mrs-carline-builds-her-dream-dragon.html

The story has gone through iterations of sometimes immense proportions. I began writing it in third person, changed it over to first person, and changed it back again. At one point, I believed I might have accidentally ended up in Hades, doomed to spend eternity rewriting a manuscript from first to third person and back again. The only good thing to come from that is there would be some new word invented meaning, "to do and redo a task over and over," like sisyphean

Gaylepovian: The act of relentlessly changing a story's POV until the writer's brain collapses.

This is where the book started:




I have an old boyfriend, Perry Kaufman, to thank for introducing me to used bookstores in Chicago, where I found this magnificent copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, revised and published in 1894.

I began writing a microscopic version of the count's story, gender-twisted to a tale of a young noblewoman who is betrayed by her so-called friends. I was thinking it would be perhaps a novella, but nothing more than a standard novel.

And then the dragons came, dragons that arrived for a reason and refused to leave until the entire story was told in all the books and all the words.

As with each book, I'm tremendously proud of its release and consider it my favorite. I've worked hard to help it find its readership and I hope they love it, too. If you read it and love it, I promise you will love the second book and the third.

And after the third book, who knows where else we may go?

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The countdown begins

 It's a month until BLOOD DRAGON RISING is released to the public. Here's what you should know about that:

1. The Kindle version will be on sale for 99 cents for about a week. Its regular price will be $6.99, so get it while it's hot. You can still pre-order it on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Dragon-Rising-Shadows-Book-ebook/dp/B09XQV24DW/

2. The paperback version is available at any online bookseller, or you may order it from any physical store. 

3. The AUTOGRAPHED paperback version will be available at my author booth in Tri-City Park during the Placentia Heritage Day Festival on October 8, 2022. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!





In the meantime, here's another excerpt to tease you:

Lisette had never witnessed an actual sword fight. Her own training had been done with Jules and kept a secret from Mama. Even the most vigorous matches she’d seen had the look of a dance. This was ruthless, no fancy footwork or graceful thrusts. The men battled around the table, over the bed and back toward the door, jabbing and taking wild swings, each aiming for the other’s torso.

She tried to find a safe corner, but it was nearly impossible. As she backed around the table, attempting to avoid them, she became aware of the dagger in her hand. She had not let go when she stabbed the Spanish pig.

The Spaniard had trapped Rocco against the wall. Rocco stepped aside, tripping on the edge of her discarded gown. His leg slid out from under him and slammed him to the floor. The Spaniard raised his sword to bring it down on the captain’s vitals.

Without hesitation, Lisette leapt behind the stranger and pushed the dagger into his back. It slid easily between bones through the meat to the softness inside. She kicked the back of his knees and shoved him down beside Rocco. He fell, his weight pulling the dagger out, leaving the hilt in her grip. Blood covered the blade, up to her hand. She froze, staring at the body, blood staining the Spaniard’s coat and pooling on the floor.

He groaned and attempted to stand. Rocco jumped to his feet and put an end to the man’s complaints with a slash of his longsword. He ran toward the door, turning at the last moment.

“Thank you. Now, bolt the door behind me.”

Lisette continued to stare at the dead man. Blood formed a ribbon of red around his waist and gathered under his arm. His last breath had stopped the fountain. She was glad his face was turned away, where his eyes could not see her. His sword lay just beyond his right hand.

Trembling, she looked down at the dagger, her heart pounding viciously. The blood on the blade turned her stomach while adrenaline pumped her with excitement. Her head felt light and her eyesight blurry. Above, the sounds of swords and guns and guttural screams seeped into the room, but inside these four walls, there was an absence of noise as if silence swallowed even a whisper.

Rocco told her to bolt the door, stay inside, but that seemed impossible. The sounds of the battle frightened and intrigued her. If she stayed one more moment, she would start screaming and never stop. She reached across the dead man to take his sword, feeling its heft.

This is not my fight. I have no experience. Well, practically none. Julian taught me to fence, but we didn’t actually battle. Not like this.

Still, she could not stay here without going mad. Desperation took her out the door and up the steps. If she could get away from the dead man and breathe fresh air, she might feel better.

On deck, however, there were more dead men and less fresh air. Her eyes watered from the stench of smoke and gunpowder and men and death. Most of the fighting was on El Ɓguila Negro, but there were still a few Spanish sailors trying to claim the helm of Rocco’s ship.

A burly man in a uniform caught her attention. He was hacking at the rope that held the mainsail. His attempt to disable the ship alarmed her—what if she was stuck in the middle of the ocean with these brigands?

“Stop that!” She stomped her foot.

The man turned his head, spit the word, “wench,” and went back to sawing at the ropes.

“I am not a wench. I am a lady.” She swept the long blade through his midsection, squealing as she did. He crumpled, and she squealed again.

This alerted another Spaniard, who ran to engage her, his eyes wide. “You’re a girl.”

“Lady.” She slashed at him.

He held his own sword up in defense and parried. His skills were lacking, but he was keen on killing her, which kept her blocking his swings and unable to advance. He had backed her to the helm and around the wheel when Lisette tried a different tactic. She gave him a sly, coquettish smile and lowered her sword a little.

“My, how strong you are,” she told him.

He smiled back, no doubt anticipating a very personal surrender. Stepping into him, she pushed his blade away and brought her knee up between his legs. He doubled in pain, and she struck upward, catching him square in the chest. The tip of her sword hit bone, deflecting before sinking into his body.

He fell and she found she was no longer shocked by putting her blade through flesh. Her pulse racing, she looked around for more uniforms to puncture.

Captain Rocco stood, mid-deck, bodies piled around. Men were screaming on the galleon where Rocco’s crew slashed their way to any and all treasure. His men who had remained on L’Implacable set to work clearing the decks of the bodies, uniformed and pirate. The captain glanced up and pressed his way through the carnage to the wheel, where she stood.

Lisette met him, sword in hand and glaring in defiance. He leaned into her, stinking of gunpowder, and sweat. His fingers caressed her shoulder and traveled down her arm. She winced and glanced down, noting a line of bright red running to her hand, and dripping from her little finger. He wrapped his hand around the hilt of her sword. She let him take it.

“Pretty good with a strange blade.” His voice was low. “You seem to have a scratch.”

She looked back up at him. “It seems that way.”

“Let’s go back to the cabin and clean it up.” He picked up her long shirttail and wiped at her face. “And dry those tears.”

She brought her hand up to her cheeks and felt the wetness, now aware of the catch in her breath. How long she had been crying, she did not know.

He towered over her, and she swayed, her head spinning from the fight and her body still pulsing with agitation. If the captain took her now, she wouldn’t fight him—or maybe she would. Maybe she’d mount him in a frenzy and enjoy it. Maybe she’d kill him. She no longer knew what she was capable of.

All she could do was turn and walk down the steps, back to Rocco’s cabin, where they would be alone. Behind her, the Spanish crew continued to scream.



Sunday, August 28, 2022

It's that season again

 No, not pumpkin spice.


via GIPHY

It's writer workshop season! Much like the start of the school year, September is when writing clubs and conferences want me to come and share what I've learned over the years. This year is exciting for a couple of reasons:

1. I get to present "What's the Point? Story, Subtext, and Plot" at the California Writers Club of Long Beach in person. I love this workshop and really enjoy teaching it.

The last time I taught at the CWC of Orange County, we were still Zooming. Long Beach is currently in a hybrid mode, so I'm sure a few folks will be remote, which is fine. If you're a writer in California, I recommend checking out this club--they've got 22 branches around the state. Here's the scoop on Long Beach:

https://www.calwriterslongbeach.org/

2. I'll be teaching two new workshops at the Southern California Writer's Conference in Irvine. In addition to teaching "Something to Talk About: Speaking Publicly About Your Books," I'll also be presenting the spanking-new topics, "Avoiding Stereotypes, Cliches, and the All-Too Common," and "The End is Just the Beginning." I'm both excited and terrified of these new workshops. Developing new material is fun, but can I do it justice? Stay tuned and sign up to find out:

https://writersconference.com/la/

The Writer's Conference does cost to attend, however they have a discount code to help you out. Just use “Scwcsd3622” without the quotes of course,

I hope to see you at one of these events!


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

I got new blooms budding

I once heard Willard Scott say, "When you're green, you're growing, and when you think you're ripe, you're rotten."



I probably put too many commas in that sentence, but it's a sentiment that has stayed with me and I believe its truth. The most ageless senior citizens I know are the ones who are always learning new things, re-examining life, and capable of being amazed.

What does that have to do with the release of my fantasy series?

In getting the three books ready for consumption, I've had to write the dreaded synopsis of each book, and a synopsis of the trilogy. It's true, the majority of authors can write 70-100k masterpieces and yet balk at writing 250 words to sum up the story. I'm definitely in that group.

Part of my difficulty is deciding how much to divulge. My fantasy holds secrets about the humans and dragons that I'm not certain I want to reveal immediately because I'd like the reader to be surprised. Hell, I was surprised when I wrote it.


But then I sat down one afternoon to my usual TV addiction, Turner Classic Movies. They were showing the original trailer for "Now, Voyager," one of my favorite films. I'd seen the trailer before, but as I watched it again, I realized that they showed the entire film within the two-minute teaser, using a snippet of scenes from the whole movie. It dawned on me that many of the older films did this, showing pieces of the entire story, beginning to end.

My first thought was, "Why would anyone go to these films now that the whole thing's been revealed?" And then I understood why it worked.

If I had never seen the film, I'd still watch it because:

1. These snippets have no context, so I'm just watching six seconds of dramatic dialogue or a fight or struggle--or even a humorous entanglement, and

2. If one of those snippets is at the end of the film, you can bet I'm going to watch for that scene. (Spoiler alert: The very last line of "Now Voyager" is in the trailer!)

A light bulb moment for my trilogy. I'm not saying I'm going to tell the whole story in the synopses. But I'm no longer worried about what I conceal and what I reveal, as long as what I reveal tempts a potential reader into picking up the book and turning the page, then looking for Book 2. Rinse and repeat for Book 3.



EXCERPT:

Would she be able to kill him? She imagined trying to run the knife into his body. There would be but one chance. If she hesitated, it would be worse than if she never tried.

Eat now, she told herself. Escape later.

As she reached for the potato, she looked up to see the captain standing over her. She froze as she met his eyes. They were deep blue and set in a sharp, tanned face. Dark curls framed his shaven cheeks and a short goatee encircled full lips. His muslin shirt was open, revealing a curious amulet tied around his neck with a dark cord. A golden hand with folded fingers and a heart in the palm—protection against the Evil Eye. The heart was inlaid with a red stone.

She had expected an older man, grizzled, and scarred from battle. While mature, he was muscled and good-looking. And stupid and cruel, she reminded herself. And beneath her. A pirate.

She met his glare with her own regal sneer. “Thank you, Captain. I was quite hungry.”

He picked up the pitcher and poured its contents into two goblets. “Rum?”

“Yes, please.” As she extended her hand, he moved the goblet away. She stood and reached again, and he continued to step away, keeping it just out of her grasp. The entire time, his eyes never left hers.

Pining for drink, she continued to follow him, staying a cautious distance away. As he gazed at her she could feel heat rise in her chest, the blush spreading up her neck to her cheeks. No man had ever dared to stare at her thus, not even Eric. The corners of his eyes crinkled, no doubt at her embarrassment, though he did not smile.

At last, she stood by the window with him. The harsh midday sun exposed everything without shadows. Still staring, he handed her the rum. She took the goblet and moved back before taking a small sip. It burned but it also quenched.

He stretched his arm in a wide gesture. “Mademoiselle, welcome to the ship L’Implacable.”

“The Merciless.” Lisette nodded. “A fitting name for a pirate ship.”

                                         * * * * *

AVAILABLE IN KINDLE AND PAPERBACK OCTOBER 7, 2022

PRE-ORDER IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Dragon-Rising-Shadows-Book-ebook/dp/B09XQV24DW/


Friday, April 1, 2022

The countdown has started

The fantasy trilogy is nearing completion. All three books are written. The first is ready to go, the second is in the hands of my fabulous editor, and I'm completing the edits on the third so I can hand it off to her for her valuable insights (and corrections).

I've also figured out the release schedule, far apart enough for my sanity while being close enough to keep readers captivated--I hope! 

So look for Blood Dragon Rising in October 2022.




Moon Dragon Falling in December 2022.




And New Dragon Soaring in February 2023.




Color me excited.


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