I Find This Fascinating…

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I promised more pictures from Galveston, but this struck me as something I wanted to talk about more. After all, the pictures will still be here next week, or the week after…

So, last Saturday, there was a special showing of Mary Poppins on TV. I recorded it and watched it on Monday.  I was incredibly impressed how well it held up. I sang along with most of the numbers, and rediscovered some that I had totally forgotten about.

It got me thinking about the recent Saving Mr. Banks. I wanted to see the story of the movie getting made. I’d never seen it, and I hadn’t read a lot about P. L. Travers, though I knew a bit about her life. So, I watched this film immediately after Mary Poppins. I was amazed how different the film the fictional version of the author wanted was from the final version.

It made me wonder what the original book was like. I started reading it Monday night. I haven’t gotten terribly far in the novel, but it is substantially different. I also have copies of The Real Life Mary Poppins: The Life and Times of P.L. Travers and Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers in my queue, because I want to see how accurate the portrayal of Travers was according to her biographers.

Am I obsessing? Is this a trip down the rabbit hole–or maybe up the chimney? 😉

I think it is a good example of how interesting following a research thread can be. 🙂

It’s also an interesting tale of how a writer’s work can wind up totally different than their vision if they are ever lucky enough to get that “Big Hollywood Break.” This is something that every writer needs to be aware of. (Though I’d still love to have to worry about it…)



Promised Pictures from Dickens on the Strand

I said in last week’s post that I would be posting pictures from last weekend’s trip to Dickens on the Strand. We didn’t stay too long at the event, what with bad boots and tired child…but we had fun, and there were some wonderful sights to see!


We dressed up Saturday morning and headed for the Strand, but needed to stop for some supplies on the way. Like something to carry my things in. That turned out to be a great little basket.







We split into two different lines to see if it moved any faster. Jamison and Lauren discussing the doll Grace and the parasol…











Nurse waiting in line.

Love the detail.














Beautiful costumes were everywhere.  🙂










Some of the street performers



Suffragette City!













20151205_135012[1] Little Lolita


















Absolutely gorgeous.














My favorite hypnotist!














This skirt is some of the dual color fabric that I just love. I can so see Jo in this material…20151205_130300_001[1]











A Bobby and his Sergeant















A doctor and his nurse.












Tired child.















Steampunk beauty.20151205_123347[1]














Truly Dickensian family of Beggars













Bobby stand.















Punch and Judy show. 🙂













20151205_113450[1]My favorite part of the event!



Loved this girl’s outfit. I can so see Jo wearing this in green. Practical and pretty!












Adorable child. She didn’t like to have her picture taken, but I caught her when she was distracted. 😉










Chimney sweeps













He made Sunny’s vest for

Into the Badlands!

One of the talented members of Airship Isabella — I am a major fan girl.

I had to buy one of his handmade journals…

Their official website is here.



One of the many Penny Farthings to be found.

This was the biggest one, for sure!











Jo definitely needs one of these cycling costumes!

So much more practical than trying to fly in a fancy dress…






My friends Glenda Jordan and Annie Walton dressed for fun.











This was the Dickens part of the day. 🙂 Next week, I will show you some of the evening’s entertainment at the Pleasure Pier.  😉

Decompression Time Almost Over

Well, I finished NaNoWriMo despite Jo’s last minute stalling, and I have had a lovely week of doing pretty much the minimum daily list work, which will culminate this weekend in my first visit to Dickens on the Strand, which I have always wanted to go to.  My sister Lauren and I are taking my niece, and dressing up and everything. I am really excited about it.

Have you seen the new Conn-Mann Chronicles website. It will be a one-stop location for all things Conn-Mann. Though it is currently a work-in-progress. Suggestions about what you want to see there are appreciated. 🙂

But I still have my dailies to do first, and blogging here, and Patreon updates, and…isn’t being an adult fun? 😉

Time for the end of the month statistics…through today:

Subs — 375 (after I sub today…and you KNOW I will.)

Rejections — 167

Acceptances — 147


Still have some packing to do, so this is short and sweet today. 🙂 Pictures next week.


Procrastination Station!

Okay, so we are down to the wire on NaNoWriMo. There are only 5,697 words to go. Jo has behaved herself admirably through most of the draft, and the book has done some things that I really am loving, but…

You knew there was a but coming, right?

BUT, we have gotten to the final exciting climax–and I have no idea what it is going to be. There is no more overt character development to be done in those few pages. The plot has come to a screeching halt before the edge of the cliff, so it can’t be a cliffhanger…

And here I am, procrastinating. I’ve done all my daily chores for the day. I’ve done all my weekly chores for the week (once this is done.) I’ve even done some housecleaning today–and long time readers of this and my occasional blog over at Here’s the Clean know that that means I am really desperate to avoid something.

I have to get going though. It is too close to quit–the end in sight, the word counter filling up, the story compelling me along…

I just need to figure out that last bit. 😉


Here’s a snippet from the Dime Novel for The Incredibly Irritating Irishman, “Practical Polly and the Village of Doom” — to see more, head on over to The Conn-Mann Chronicles page on Facebook, and don’t forget to Like us. 😉 Website on the way…

Day 25’s excerpt:

Polly held her breath as long as she could, swimming with the current downriver. She was a much stronger swimmer than Jack, so hopefully, she would be far away from where he expected her to be when she finally had to come up for air.

She angled her way toward the far bank as well as possible in the dark. Swimming until her lungs were threatening to burst, she finally broke the surface, gasping for air.

Dawn was breaking, the sky tinged with gold as the mist rose from the warming river. It provided a bit more screen. She would take any cover she could get.

Slogging out of the river on the opposite bank from the village, she put her back to a tree and slid down it to huddle in a miserable heap at its base. What was she to do? Jack had been the center of her world from the moment she met him.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she realized that most of what she knew of him was probably a lie. Had he even been to the places he claimed? Were the artifacts he had donated to the museums stolen treasures he had no right to? She had given him everything—and he had thrown it all away.

Sobbing, she laid her head on her crossed arms and let all her dreams leave her.

But Polly was practical above all else, and she didn’t let her emotions hold sway for long. Jack would be coming. Probably with his new best friend the chieftain and his warriors in tow. She needed to stop feeling sorry for herself and take stock of the situation.

Swiping the tears from her cheeks, she got to her feet. She could see the smoke of the village cook fires in the distance, so she was still too close for comfort.

Checking her pockets, she found the penknife—she had forgotten that Paolo returned it to her…he probably had too. It was a welcome find. She also had her sling, three rocks—but she could gather more—a ten pound note, and a piece of jerky. She’d save that until she got too hungry to bear it.

She wracked her brains for every bit of survival lore that she could remember. Moss grew on the north side of trees…didn’t it?

Damn Jack! He had her compass in his pack last time she had seen it. And that had been before their capture the first time, so she doubted it was anywhere to be found now.

There hadn’t been anything else of use at the camp, had there? A few bits of canvas and maybe a few feet of rope. Not worth the risk of returning there. He’d probably look there first, sure that she would go back to the familiar.

No, she would strike downriver, staying on the bank opposite the village. He’d never give her credit for that much sense.

Writer Interview: Katie Magnusson



Today, I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with Katie Magnusson, one of the authors in Mocha Memoirs Press’s new Paranormal Sherlock Holmes anthology, An Improbable Truth.  Here is what she has to say for herself and her story. 🙂


How long have you been writing?
I wrote stories for myself all through high school and college, sometimes quick flash fiction, other times whole books, but only in the past two or three years did I start to think that maybe I could actually use all these ideas in my head, that someone else would find them interesting.


What was your reaction when you made your first sale?
I think I may have sat in front of the computer for a moment and said, “Holy f***.”


Where you do get your inspiration?
Much of it comes from other stories. I see things I like in other characters and wonder what would happen if _________________, fill in the blank… and then sort of go from there. For example, in my short story “Sherlock Holmes and the Hungry Ghost,” I had the premise of a paranormal/horror mystery to work within as part of an anthology. Paranormal mysteries have been done, so often, and often with the same character types, Holmes vs Dracula and such, I wanted to do something a little different. So, the first thing that came to mind was a ghost story. I didn’t want to do vampires or monsters, I wanted something simple and haunting. Haunting, hey, what if Holmes isn’t investigating a haunting, what if he’s the one being haunted? Why would a ghost haunt him? Is a ghost really haunting him? If not, is it in his mind? The story progressed very quickly from “Holmes vs Ghost” to “Holmes vs Inner Demons” with a horror story flare. And honestly, there are few things as terrifying as the things we hide from inside ourselves, as cliché as that sounds.


Have you found it difficult to market your work? Any tips for things that worked?
To be perfectly honest, this is the first story I’ve successfully published. It worked though, so I guess the advice I can give would be to keep up on what people are looking for. Don’t discount smaller, independent markets, and ultimately don’t be afraid to just get your stuff out there.


Do you enjoy interacting with fans, or are you an introvert? Do you get much fan mail?
If I had fans, I think I would love to interact with them. [So be sure any let Katie know if you read and like her story! — Rie]


What has been your most challenging project to date?
I’ve had a series of short stories in the works for years that I’m now trying to polish and publish as a book series. Cyberpunkish Sherlockiana, I suppose would be the way to describe them. Can you tell I like Sherlock Holmes? It’s a challenging project just because it’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done, I’ve been doing it for so long, and it’s going to be hard to finally say, “I’m finished,” instead of “Wait, let me fix that…”


Have you always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes?
I got into Sherlock Holmes about six years ago. I tried reading The Hound of the Baskervilles when I was a kid, but I didn’t really like the story. I don’t know if I was just too young to appreciate the descriptions of the gloomy landscape of the moors, or if it was diving into a Sherlock Holmes book that actually features very little Holmes, but whatever the reason, I never really gave the character much thought after that. Much, much later I saw The Complete Sherlock Holmes at a used bookstore, and bought it completely on a whim. Took it home, opened it up, and was instantly hooked. I’m certain that had I started with the short stories as a child instead, I would have liked it a lot more. As it was, I became somewhat obsessed, quickly devouring pastiche and media, everything I could find. Still do, clearly.


What was your favorite original story?
“The Adventure of Silver Blaze” immediately comes to mind, for the line about the curious incident with the dog in the nighttime if nothing else (“The dog did nothing in the night-time.” “That’s what was the curious incident.”). Also “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”, “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”, and “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist” feature suspenseful plots with women who have a sensible head on their shoulders, and delightfully colorful confrontations between the villains and Holmes. “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs” is amazing for the single moment when Sherlock Holmes finally lets the walls down and we get that glimpse of the great heart along with the great mind… but I could go on like this for ages. You asked for one story, I just listed five. Such is fandom.


Did you stick to the canon characters or invent a new companion?
For this story, there isn’t any companion present. As a general rule, I don’t think a new companion should be introduced unless there’s a good reason for it, and I didn’t have a reason. Initially, Watson was going to be a presence, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that not only did he not belong in this story, but it was essential that he be absent.


What are your other hobbies and interests?
I dabble in cosplay, perfumery, puppetry, online and tabletop gaming, painting… working with my hands and escapism, essentially.


What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully more writing, and hopefully some of it will be published.


What advice do you have for new writers…or just those of us not as accomplished as you are? 😉
One bit of advice for when you’re stuck – write fanfiction. Seriously, it’s a great, entertaining exercise. Write about your favorite show, write about your own characters, it doesn’t matter. It’s good to keep the gears moving, and maybe you’ll uncover an idea you didn’t know you had.


Where can readers find you?
Send a tweet to @mrskatem, or look up kaelma on tumblr.



Six years ago, Katie Magnusson picked up a copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes on a whim, and promptly devoured it. After picking the pages from her teeth, she sought out other sources of Sherlockiana, and discovered the often delightful world of pastiche. She has a particular taste for cross-genre tales, and is thrilled to be included in a paranormal Holmes anthology.
Katie lives in Wisconsin with an eccentric philosopher husband, and their cherubic Viking-ninja son.


Excerpt from “Sherlock Holmes and the Hungry Ghost” by Katie Magnusson:

The next few days were mundane. Holmes occupied himself with a chemical synthesis, finished updating his scrapbook, played concertos by Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn and Paganini, and read every news publication in London. Twice.

His mind raced, an overworked engine threatening to break itself apart at any moment. He hadn’t eaten all day. He couldn’t. He was exhausted, but he couldn’t sleep. He had to do something. Anything. Everything. By God, what he wouldn’t give for a puzzle to walk through the door, for some crime to be committed! A horrible murder, a theft, blackmail, an encoded message, just give him work!

In a fit of exasperation, he pulled open his desk drawer. The case and bottle lay there, where he’d shut them away, out of sight. His hand trembled as he reached for the bottle, stopping just as his fingers brushed the surface. He took a breath and closed the drawer. The only way to know the damage done to his mind was to resist. He had to provide a consistent, controlled environment to assess his faculties, and so he would suffer through the boredom of existence.

Holmes tossed some pillows onto the floor, sitting down with his legs tucked up underneath him. He relit his pipe and closed his eyes, hoping he could manage to calm his mind at least for a moment. Just one moment’s reprieve was all he wanted…

He opened his eyes, lying on the floor. He’d fallen asleep. His body had finally rebelled and forced upon him the rest he sorely needed, much to his amused chagrin. He stood slowly, stretching his long limbs, and beheld his correspondence scattered across the room.


The jackknife that usually held it in place on the mantel was gone.
He turned, scanning the room. The knife was easy to spot, embedded in the opposite wall from the fireplace. He didn’t remember throwing it there.

“You’re going mad.”

“Who’s there?” He looked around and saw no one. He was alone.

“They’ll leave you–”

“Where are you?”

“–just like everyone else.”

It was a woman’s voice, and it seemed to come from everywhere at once. She laughed as he searched, and a tingling feeling crept across his skin as if an insect were crawling down his spine.

His head felt as if his skull was being hollowed out with a red hot poker. His chest was tight. He couldn’t breathe. “Voices that aren’t there…” he wondered aloud. Could the damage to his mind be so great?

“No. I refuse to believe it,” he pressed his hands to his ears as the woman laughed again, taunting, though it did nothing to dull the sound. “I am sane! If I were not, then I would not recognize my decline! These experiences have nothing to do with the cocaine,” he stalked over to the knife in the wall, yanking it out and firmly sticking it back in its proper place in the mantel, “I refuse to believe it,” he said again, softer, slowly absorbing the significance of his statement. “If I am not mad, then what is going on?”

You can also find An Improbable Truth in these locations:

Mocha Memoirs Store
Paperback on Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Writing is Exciting — 3 D’s for Daily Success!

It’s another week down on NaNoWriMo. So far, things are going along swimmingly. Jo is proving to be her usual feisty self, and things are heating up for Practical Polly in the dime novel too.

There is nothing more exciting than work that is going well.

Several things help make writing go well.

1) Discipline — writing at least a little every day instills a pattern, and having a pattern is one of the ways that it becomes ritual. Once something is ritual, it is much easier to keep it going on a schedule. 🙂

2) Determination — one of the things that helps make sure that the discipline leads to ritual is determination. Determination to keep going even when the days are hard and the Muse is taking an extended coffee break.

3) Divergence — now, some may disagree with this last one, but I have found it to be truly helpful. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If things aren’t going smoothly in one area, switch to another genre–or format. Switch from fantasy to historical. Switch from poetry to short story. Perhaps just take an hour or two and research rather write (as long as you go back to the writing part before the day is out.)

So, there you have it. Three tips to potential success. Go and write!

It’s Friday Already?!

Conn Mann Alt Poster for WEB VIEWThis will probably be a short, sweet post, because I have to be about my 1667 words for today–

Yes, it’s that time of year again. November is upon us, and NaNoWriMo is here.

This year, I am writing the first draft of the third book in The Conn-Mann Chronicles, The Incredibly Irritating Irishman.

I don’t want to spoil it too much, but suffice to say that Josephine Mann may have met her match in her mysterious cousin Seamus O’Leary.

I am really enjoying the dime novel that goes with it this time–Practical Polly and the Village of Doom. Garrett Goldthwaite is back on top of the game. To follow along with Polly’s perilous predicaments, visit the Conn-Mann Facebook page for daily snippets.

Here’s the first sample to give you a taste of it:


Polly Peterson peered out of the thick underbrush,scanning the clearing before her. The village looked quiet in the throes of after-dinner torpor. None of the brown-skinned natives was to be seen. Even the ever-present children were absent. No dogs roamed the fringes, no women sung about their chores. Where was everyone? Was it seriously just time for a siesta, as she had seen with other tribal groups?

She bit her lip. Somewhere in that deceptively quiet landscape was the man she loved-and she wasn’t leaving without him. Despite his orders.

The thatched huts huddled in a rough circle around the central fire-pit were little more than lean-tos. She could probably knock them down with a gentle push…but that wouldn’t free Jack Stanton from the clutches of the cannibals.

She didn’t want to think too hard about that last part. What if Jack had been lunch? She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if he was dead. Especially if he had been eaten because she wanted to make a name for herself as an explorer the world took seriously.

She ducked back into the underbrush, heart pounding, as a lone warrior stumbled out of his hut and relieved himself against a tree. She shuddered. Primitive man…why did she want to research these people again?

She swiped her forearm across her face. It was so damn hot here in the Amazon basin. Her clothes clung to her, soaked with sweat.

Jack had tried to dissuade her from the expedition. She should have listened. He was the more experienced explorer, after all.

She might even admit to him that he was right.

If she ever saw him alive again.

Damn it all. They should have gone to the South Pole!



Feel free to leave comments on what you would like to see next. I’ll talk to Garrett and see what we can do! 😉


Author Interview: Steven R. Southard

Steven R. Southard


Today’s blog post is an interview with my fellow Hides the Dark Tower author and Avast Ye, Airships contributor Steven R. Southard.

I asked Steven to tell us a little about himself, and his work in Hides the Dark Tower:

How long have you been writing? About a quarter century. Sadly, over half of that was spent toying with a novel that will now never escape from its desk drawer…fortunately. I choose to file those years under ‘learning my craft,’ rather than ‘wasting my time.’


What was your reaction when you made your first sale?  Do you mean before or after somersaulting, climbing on the roof and belting out a primal scream of joy? After that initial reaction, I calmly and professionally e-mailed the editor my thanks. Then, in a dignified manner, I informed my wife how positively giddy and ecstatic I was, and then obtained at least one beer from the fridge.


Where you do get your inspiration? The most believable answer is that a tiny, hovering muse (who is visible only to me, and takes the form of a Greek goddess), whispers ideas in my ear. The less believable answer involves the supernatural, and such crazy notions as letting my mind wander while mowing the lawn, taking a shower, or waiting behind the wheel for the light to change.


Have you found it difficult to market your work? Any tips for things that worked? Let me put it this way—I’ve gotten top grades in high school, graduated from an elite service academy with a degree in engineering, wooed and married a very desirable woman, served in the submarine force, and raised three children to adulthood.  All were child’s play compared to marketing my fiction.  I have no tips, but am anxious to learn.


Do you enjoy interacting with fans, or are you an introvert? Do you get much fan mail? I’ve had fun at writing conferences, speaking on panels and doing readings and book signings. I’m not especially introverted, so I find that sort of thing enjoyable. However, to call the folks who listened to me ‘fans’ might be presumptuous. Let’s call them ‘people who got lost while looking for a well-known author and stumbled on me instead.’ I do get plenty of spam mail—gigabytes of it. Oh, you said fan mail. Um, not really so much.


What has been your most challenging project to date? Every story is a challenge, but I’d have to say “Ripper’s Ring” was the most challenging, especially in terms of research. I had to learn about both Jack the Ripper and Plato’s Ring of Gyges, and crank out an entertaining tale from what I’d learned.


What are your other hobbies and interests? As if I have time, after writing! In truth, I enjoy reading. And there’s the day job, which holds my interest until I can get back to writing fiction.


How did you come to write “Ancient Spin” for Hides the Dark Tower? I wrote it for a contest that asked for five hundred words inspired by a picture of the Tower of Babel. Didn’t win the contest, but when I saw the call from Pole to Pole Publishing for submissions of tower stories, I refined and lengthened “Ancient Spin” a bit. It’s my alternate take on the biblical Babel story.


What does the future hold for you? A rocketing rise to celebrity-level fame, and Midas-like wealth, all as a result of my fiction. Actually, those probably are fiction. I’m still writing alternate history stories for my series What Man Hath Wrought for Gypsy Shadow Publishing. I’ll write for anthologies that interest me from time to time. I have some other short story series in mind, and will write novels at some point.


What advice do you have for new writers…or just those of us not as accomplished as you are? 😉  (1) write stuff, (2) learn and hone your craft any way you can (reading, participating in a critique group, etc.), (3) submit your best stuff, (4) keep submitting your stuff until you get published, (5) do some marketing on your website, social media, and conferences, and (6) repeat all above steps with better and better stuff.


Where can readers find you?  I’d rather they find my books, which are available on Amazon, at Gypsy Shadow Publishing, and are linked to at my website and Goodreads. If readers want to find out more about me (for some reason), they can catch me on Twitter or Facebook


Thanks for joining us, Steven!

Happy Halloween!



This is my favorite holiday of the year. Ghosts and ghouls wandering the world, trick-or-treating, scary stories…

Last week I told you about some of the scary stories that I had for Halloween. Today, I am going to give you some suggestions for classic and contemporary October and Halloween books.

First of all, one of the best Halloween books I’ve ever read, A Night in the Lonesome October. Roger Zelazny’s last book is a wonderful tale of two teams, one trying to open, and the other to close, the door which will let the Elder Gods back to the Earth.

My personal recommendation is to read this book throughout October. My husband and I were reading it aloud to each other when we first got it, and next year, I may make this a tradition. The chapters are titled with dates, so it is easy–if you can wait. By the time I was halfway through, I gave up and read several chapters at once to finish it.


If you think you recognize some of the characters on the cover, you are probably right. It is full of lovely, quirky, characters, led by the humble narrator–Snuff the Dog.


Next up, is The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Another absolutely fabulous tale of Halloween night. In this fast-paced story, a group of boys are whisked through time and space learning about the customs and traditions of the holiday season.

This is a book I remember fondly from my childhood. I need to reread this one for sure. 🙂



My third recommendation is for a book I am currently reading, so I don’t know how it ends, but so far, it has made the list of great Halloween stories– The Halloween Host: A Holiday Novel. This is the story of a father who misses Trick-or-Treating with his son one year and is sentenced to host the Halloween Senate the next year. It has the fun of trying to figure out along with the main character who each senator is.



Of course, you are always welcome to pick up one of my new Halloween books too. 😉

Halloween Night: Trick or Treat


October’s End


There are a handful of books for you to consider, three episodic novels and two anthologies. If you have any other suggestions to add to the list, please tell me in the comments! I am always looking for a good Halloween book.

Once More — Let’s Go, WriMo!

[The above is the Toastmasters Speech I gave on the subject Tuesday. Sorry for the position of the camera…but the vocal is good]

One last call to action here. 🙂

NaNoWriMo is less than 48 hours away now.  Join me for an amazing ride!

I love NaNoWriMo. I’ve been participating in it since 2002 or 2003 (I no longer remember exactly, it’s been so long.)

Now, I don’t always get 50,000 words every year. And that’s okay. The important thing is to try. There are so many good things that come out of just trying. For example, the discipline of making a daily goal and sticking to it. (Something I’ve learned a lot about this year!)

Writer Wes Plouff (also a multi-year participant, and occasional blogger on the topic) offers the following advice:

  • Don’t think, just write.
  • If it’s scrolled off the screen, fix it in December.
  • If you’re lucky, at some point your characters will start doing things on their own, and you just have to take dictation.
  • Writing 1,667 words each day takes one to two undistracted hours.
  • It’s easier than you think because the whole point of the exercise is quantity, not quality.
  • Go to at least one event and meet your fellow authors.
  • Expect to be surprised by how awful some of your writing is, and how good other parts are.
  • Most of all, have fun!

It’s really exciting to be able to post the winner banner on your website at the end of the month. Don’t you want that feeling too? 😉

Let’s take the challenge together.

Feel free to post handles below so we can encourage each other. I’m riesheridan (that’s how long ago I started–I hadn’t added the Rose yet.)

Don’t worry if you start and don’t get to 50k words. It happens to the best of us. The important thing it to try.

So, let’s go WriMo!

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