Last summer we remodeled our house. As I watched the architect, contractors, and workmen plan and bring in materials and tools, I realized that building a house is like writing. It’s like writing in a way that the Greeks realized thousands of years ago, but that is relevant today. In my area of study, rhetoric, there are five principles that guide the process of writing: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Not surprisingly, those five principles also relate to building a house and the Greeks even used a house as an example for one of them—memory. I’ve found these principles to be useful in creating just about everything from baking a cake to writing a novel.

First, invention—we have to have an idea of what we want to write. As a writer, I often see scenes in my head that I want to have in my story, I hear bits of dialogue, I have a sense of the characters’ personalities or what they do. These bits and pieces add up to the beginning of a story, but in the form they’re in, they don’t quite achieve a story.

Second, arrangement—we organize our bits and pieces until a form emerges that we can recognize as a story. Some writers are outliners. They have to see this form written down with many of the parts in place so they know where they are going. Outlines are good ways to defeat writer’s block, because writers know what comes next. A good way to outline is to start with three parts: beginning, middle, end. The beginning is where the problem, characters, and setting are introduced. The middle is where the action builds, where characters develop, and the problem becomes more complex. The end is where the problem is resolved, destinations are reached, relationships come together, and anything else that brings a sense of completion. Once these three parts are in place, the bits and pieces can be assigned to one or the other of the parts. New ideas can be added to the outline, but the basic form is still there. Not everyone is an outliner, though. Some people would rather just start and let the story build organically. There is a principle for these writers as well that will be discussed with the fourth principle. Some writers are a combination of outliner and organic writer and some writers choose one or the other at different stages in the writing process.

Third, style—once the form has emerged, the style can be determined. The writer should ask if the story is lighthearted, comical, dramatic, dark, or any one of hundreds of variations on the vast range of human emotions. People alter their style to suit the occasion all the time. They speak one way to their best friends and another way to their bosses. They even dress differently for different occasions. Writers’ likes and dislikes, purposes, and habits, determine the types of words or word phrases used. Whatever the style, writers can be aware that they are making these choices and do it deliberately to achieve the results they want.

Fourth, memory—while we write, we often hold the memory of the form we are trying to achieve in our minds, the characters’ personalities, the way the setting looks and feels, and all the things that are necessary for the story to progress. The Greeks had a memory device that helped them remember the order of a speech: a house. The front door represented the introduction and each room represented another point that would be made. How the rooms were furnished represented details to be told that support the main points. The speaker progressed through the rooms until reaching the conclusion represented by the back door. The Greeks’ house device is also useful for writers who do not want to outline. Many writers who may not be outliners hold a form in their heads of where they want to go, perhaps an ending scene, but allow the story to take them where it will until it gets them there, or not, if they think of something better. They are constantly going through the first three steps of invention, arrangement, and style as they write. This is not a bad thing. Sometimes they come up with wonderful inventions that delight their readers. The point is that writers may benefit from knowing which kind of writer they are and make the most of it.

Fifth, delivery—storytellers deliver stories in many forms from oral storytelling to bound paper books to electronic format. Today, there are more kinds of delivery than the Greeks would have ever thought possible. In this fifth step, writers gather the results of all the previous steps to achieve the story to be delivered to readers.

These five principles are not meant to be restrictions. Knowing them and making them habitual can be freeing, which shouldn’t be hard. They are really how humans are hardwired to create—we get an idea, arrange our resources, determine what the

outcome will look like, keep our ideas in our minds, and then deliver the final product, just like the architect, contractor, and workmen did for my house. I really like my house now. I didn’t before we remodeled. I look at the remodeling much like revision in writing, but that’s a topic for another blog entry entirely.

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New Book on Kindle! Crimson Blues

Up on Kindle right now is my new book, Crimson Blues–a mystery/romance set in a small town in the American Southwest. When Amanda chooses to live in a small town after a highly successful career as a lawyer in New York, she finds that her neighbor is the charming, handsome new school district superintendent. However, her dream town and her dream relationship are threatened by danger as previously hidden activities come to light.crimson blues final 187x300 New Book on Kindle! Crimson Blues

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Baby Steps

I have a friend who got upset with me for filling my life with too much stuff to do. I have a full-time job and a part-time job and I write, not to mention family, church, friends and, of course, my motorcycle. The reason for the upset is that this person can’t see how I can have time to write or even manage my life. The fear is that I will squander what talent I have. I disagree. I do what I call baby steps and it works for me. So, I’d like to talk

about baby steps. I try to write a little every day. Some days I can write for a few hours, but most days I only write for a little while. The key is that I am consistent. The reward is that in the past year I have finished writing one book and completely written two more. Baby steps. They’re not just for babies.

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Getting ideas to write about

One of the questions I get asked is “Where do you get all of your ideas?” My comment usually includes a laugh and the reply, “How do I stop getting ideas?” When I thought about this topic a little more deeply, I realized I wasn’t being quite fair, especially to beginning writers. I realized that I had trained myself through practice, research, and education to always see possibilities in news stories, overheard conversations, remakes of other things I read, asking what if and just about anything else in my life that might generate a story idea. It is so automatic now that I’m serious when I ask “How do I stop getting ideas?”

Here are a couple of little exercises to help train yourself to notice things that can generate ideas.

1. Listen or watch the news. Ask yourself if your protagonist or your antagonist might have done what was done in a news story.

2. Look back at your life. Ask yourself if there are events that might trigger a story or a scene.

3. Spy on others. Listen as others talk around you in store check-out lines, doctor offices, public transportation, the park and other public places. Keep a notebook or use the notepad on your smart phone to write down conversations.

4. Alter books and stories you read. Think of alternate scenes, endings, or even situations that you could use to generate your own story. Change the gender of characters or the setting.

5. Write some speculative scenes just to see where they might go. Do this at least a few times a week. There are even writing prompts online that you can use to jumpstart yourself.

Practice being “on” all the time, thinking the “what if?” question often, noticing oddities. You’ll start coming up with so many ideas, you won’t have time to write them all down

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Building A House Is Like Writing–Yes, It Is

building a house writing 300x219 Building A House Is Like Writing–Yes, It IsThis summer we remodeled our house. As I watched the architect, contractors, and workmen plan and bring in materials and tools, I realized that building a house is like writing. It’s like writing in a way that the Greeks realized thousands of years ago, but that is relevant today. In my area of study, rhetoric, there are five principles that guide the process of writing: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Not surprisingly, those five principles also relate to building a house and the Greeks even used a house as an example for one of them—memory. I’ve found these principles to be useful in creating just about everything from baking a cake to writing a novel.

First, invention—we have to have an idea of what we want to write. As a writer, I often see scenes in my head that I want to have in my story, I hear bits of dialogue, I have a sense of the characters’ personalities or what they do. These bits and pieces add up to the beginning of a story, but in the form they’re in, they don’t quite achieve a story.

Second, arrangement—we organize our bits and pieces until a form emerges that we can recognize as a story. Some writers are outliners. They have to see this form written down with many of the parts in place so they know where they are going. Outlines are good ways to defeat writer’s block, because writers know what comes next. A good way to outline is to start with three parts: beginning, middle, end. The beginning is where the problem, characters, and setting are introduced. The middle is where the action builds, where characters develop, and the problem becomes more complex. The end is where the problem is resolved, destinations are reached, relationships come together, and anything else that brings a sense of completion. Once these three parts are in place, the bits and pieces can be assigned to one or the other of the parts. New ideas can be added to the outline, but the basic form is still there. Not everyone is an outliner, though. Some people would rather just start and let the story build organically. There is a principle for these writers as well that will be discussed with the fourth principle. Some writers are a combination of outliner and organic writer and some writers choose one or the other at different stages in the writing process.

Third, style—once the form has emerged, the style can be determined. The writer should ask if the story is lighthearted, comical, dramatic, dark, or any one of hundreds of variations on the vast range of human emotions. People alter their style to suit the occasion all the time. They speak one way to their best friends and another way to their bosses. They even dress differently for different occasions. Writers’ likes and dislikes, purposes, and habits, determine the types of words or word phrases used. Whatever the style, writers can be aware that they are making these choices and do it deliberately to achieve the results they want.

Fourth, memory—while we write, we often hold the memory of the form we are trying to achieve in our minds, the characters’ personalities, the way the setting looks and feels, and all the things that are necessary for the story to progress. The Greeks had a memory device that helped them remember the order of a speech: a house. The front door represented the introduction and each room represented another point that would be made. How the rooms were furnished represented details to be told that support the main points. The speaker progressed through the rooms until reaching the conclusion represented by the back door. The Greeks’ house device is also useful for writers who do not want to outline. Many writers who may not be outliners hold a form in their heads of where they want to go, perhaps an ending scene, but allow the story to take them where it will until it gets them there, or not, if they think of something better. They are constantly going through the first three steps of invention, arrangement, and style as they write. This is not a bad thing. Sometimes they come up with wonderful inventions that delight their readers. The point is that writers may benefit from knowing which kind of writer they are and make the most of it.

Fifth, delivery—storytellers deliver stories in many forms from oral storytelling to bound paper books to electronic format. Today, there are more kinds of delivery than the Greeks would have ever thought possible. In this fifth step, writers gather the results of all the previous steps to achieve the story to be delivered to readers.

These five principles are not meant to be restrictions. Knowing them and making them habitual can be freeing, which shouldn’t be hard. They are really how humans are hardwired to create—we get an idea, arrange our resources, determine what the

outcome will look like, keep our ideas in our minds, and then deliver the final product, just like the architect, contractor, and workmen did for my house. I really like my house now. I didn’t before we remodeled. I look at the remodeling much like revision in writing, but that’s a topic for another blog entry entirely.

Addition11May2012 002 300x225 Building A House Is Like Writing–Yes, It Is

My house when we started the project

HouseAddition 8August2012 002 300x225 Building A House Is Like Writing–Yes, It Is

What the addition looked like when it was almost complete

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Sirens Conference for Women in Fantasy

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<div style=” alt=”" />buying viagra in mexicoomen in Fantasy” src=”http://www.denelow.com/wp-content/uploads/dene_low_sirens_conference.jpg” alt=”Dene Low at the Sirens Conference for Women in Fantasy” width=”300″ height=”690″ />I’ve been having a lovely time at the Sirens Conference for women in fantasy. Here I am with Mette Ivie Harrison and Malinda Lo at Multnomah Falls near the Columbia River. It is both fun and rewarding to interact with authors, editors, and fans.

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I’ve been having a lovely time at the Sirens Conference for women in fantasy. Here I am with Mette Ivie Harrison and Malinda Lo at Multnomah Falls near the Columbia River. It is both fun and rewarding to interact with authors, editors, and fans.

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buying viagra in mexicoomen in Fantasy” src=”http://www.denelow.com/wp-content/uploads/dene_low_sirens_conference.jpg” alt=”Dene Low at the Sirens Conference for Women in Fantasy” width=”300″ height=”690″ />I’ve been having a lovely time at the Sirens Conference for women in fantasy. Here I am with Mette Ivie Harrison and Malinda Lo at Multnomah Falls near the Columbia River. It is both fun and rewarding to interact with authors, editors, and fans.
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Rhetorical Violence and Peace

prejudice small 300x242 Rhetorical Violence and PeaceIsn’t it interesting that some prejudices are more socially acceptable than others? And it’s usually people who have power who tend to set the standards on what it is acceptable to be prejudiced about. Some racial groups have taken power through violence and have no problem being belligerent about being in-your-face angry about prejudice directed at them and have gotten results. A religious minority like the Jews have sympathy on their side for how they were treated by a common enemy in WWII. A religious minority, such as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by their very association with Christ, do not find it appropriate to be belligerent, in-your-face, or angry as they turn the other cheek and go about doing good to others. The last approach will triumph in the end, but it still isn’t pleasant in the meantime. The reason the last approach is the more powerful

is because it turns hearts. Aristotle claimed that of the three types of persuasion (ethos=credibility, logos=rational logic, or pathos=emotion), pathos is the most powerful because it changes how people feel about something and people’s first reaction to something is usually a gut reaction, followed by the other two. Notice that religious groups who actually understand the power of rhetoric are proficient in moving to action through appeals to emotion.

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Another book on Kindle

I’ve put another book on Kindle and it will be for free for the next few days: Maddie, Maddie, Flying High.

It’s a YA contemporary with a little romance, a little humor, a little adventure and some teenage angst. I wrote it after I got my pilot’s

license. The manuscript got an award from the Utah Arts Council.Mom MMFH Book Cover1 187x300 Another book on Kindle

Maddie is given flying lessons for her seventeenth birthday–something she’s wanted for a long time. At the same time, she is asked out by a boy she’s had a crush on forever. So, life should be good, right? Then why does it have to be so complicated? Why does her flying instructor have to be the most gorgeous guy ever and why does her father get cancer and nearly die?Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl + B)Italic (Ctrl + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Proofread WritingToggle fullscreen mode (Alt + Shift + G)Show/Hide Kitchen Sink (Alt + Shift + Z)insert video shortcodeinsert Amazon Product/Widgets▼
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I’ve put another book on Kindle and it will be for free for the next few days: Maddie, Maddie, Flying High.
It’s a YA contemporary with a little romance, a little humor, a little adventure and some teenage angst. I wrote it after I got my pilot’s license. The manuscript got an award from the Utah Arts Council.
Maddie is given flying lessons for her seventeenth birthday–something she’s wanted for a long time. At the same time, she is asked out by a boy she’s had a crush on forever. So, life should be good, right? Then why does it have to be so complicated? Why does her flying instructor have to be the most gorgeous guy ever and why does her father get cancer and nearly die?
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UnderlineAlign Full (Alt + Shift + J)Select text color▼
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I’ve put another book on Kindle and it will be for free for the next few days: Maddie, Maddie, Flying High.
It’s a YA contemporary with a little romance, a little humor, a little adventure and some teenage angst. I wrote it after I got my pilot’s
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license. The manuscript got an award from the Utah Arts Council.
Maddie is given flying lessons for her seventeenth birthday–something she’s wanted for a long time. At the same time, she is asked out by a boy she’s had a crush on forever. So, life should be good, right? Then why does it have to be so complicated? Why does her flying instructor have to be the most gorgeous guy ever and why does her father get cancer and nearly die?Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl + B)Italic (Ctrl + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Proofread WritingToggle fullscreen mode (Alt + Shift + G)Show/Hide Kitchen Sink (Alt + Shift + Z)insert video shortcodeinsert Amazon Product/Widgets▼
Insert Poll
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UnderlineAlign Full (Alt +

Shift + J)Select text color▼
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I’ve put another book on Kindle and it will be for free for the next few days: Maddie, Maddie, Flying High.
It’s a YA contemporary with a little romance, a little humor, a little adventure and some teenage angst. I wrote it after I got my pilot’s license. The manuscript got an award from the Utah Arts Council.
Maddie is given flying lessons for her seventeenth birthday–something she’s wanted for a long time. At the same time, she is asked out by a boy she’s had a crush on forever. So, life should be good, right? Then why does it have to be so complicated? Why does her flying instructor have to be the most gorgeous guy ever and why does her father get cancer and nearly die?
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My e-publishing adventure

I decided to start a grand adventure. I am e-publishing a few of the books I’ve written. The first is Not the Worst that Could Happen. It is on Kindle/Amazon for $3.99. The second is also on Kindle/Amazon for $3.99 and it is called Madd

ie, Maddie, Flying High.

Both books are young adult/middle grade.

Not the Worst that Could Happen: Marci and her mother set out to find her runaway brother in a way that her abusive father won’t suspect–on a motorcycle. They travel from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, dealing with weather and people, both good and bad. Everything they encounter is not the worst that could happen–having her father find them is. He’s looking for them.

Maddie, Maddie, Flying High: For her seventeenth birthday, Maddie is given flying lessons. She is also asked out by a boy she’s had a crush on forever. So life should be good, right? Then why do things have to be so complicated? Why is her flight instructor the most gorgeous guy ever and why does her father have to get cancer?

Watch for Maddie to be offered for free on Kindle in the next few days.

Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl + B)Italic (Ctrl + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Proofread WritingToggle fullscreen mode (Alt + Shift + G)Show/Hide Kitchen Sink (Alt + Shift + Z)insert video shortcodeinsert Amazon Product/Widgets▼
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UnderlineAlign Full (Alt + Shift + J)Select text color▼
Paste as Plain TextPaste from WordRemove formattingInsert custom characterOutdentIndentUndo (Ctrl + Z)Redo (Ctrl + Y)Help (Alt + Shift + H)

I decided to start a grand adventure. I am e-publishing a few of the books I’ve written. The first is Not the Worst that Could Happen. It is on Kindle/Amazon for $3.99. The second is also on Kindle/Amazon for $3.99 and it is called Maddie, Maddie, Flying High.

Both books are young adult/middle grade.
Not the Worst that Could Happen: Marci and her mother set out to find her runaway brother in a way that her abusive father won’t

suspect–on a motorcycle. They travel from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, dealing with weather and people, both good and bad. Everything they encounter is not the worst that could happen–having her father find them is. He’s looking for them.
Maddie, Maddie, Flying High: For her seventeenth birthday, Maddie is given flying lessons. She is also asked out by a boy she’s had a crush on forever. So life should be good, right? Then why do things have to be so complicated? Why is her flight instructor the most gorgeous guy ever and why does her father have to get cancer?
Watch for Maddie to be offered for free on Kindle in the next few days.
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Liminal space = creativity

Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”[1]) is a psychological, neurological, or

buy cialis online no prescription ef=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical”>metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the “threshold” of or between two different existential planes (Wikipedia).

What does liminality have to do with writing?

A few years ago, I heard a speaker say that some of the best inspiration comes when a person is in that state between waking and sleeping. He didn’t use the terms “liminality” or “liminal space,” but what he said rang a bell because in my doctoral studies we were just studying the work of Victor Turner who wrote about liminality and ritual in anthropological terms. About the same time I began work on my dissertation and found it to be a wearying, mind-numbing process, but one that required the utmost attention to detail. I also found that I could only write a couple of pages at a time, especially when I started writing after I attended classes, taught classes (I was teaching full time), grading, and doing homework. I was exhausted, but I knew the diss (as we called it) had to be written or all that effort was for nothing. But I was so tired and my brain didn’t want to work on a theoretical level. To make matters worse, there were teenagers and twenty-somethings in my house who loved to stay up late and be noisy (I loved them anyway).

In my very tired mind the idea of inspiration while just waking and Victor Turner’s liminality meshed. I found that if I got up very early in the morning, like 5 a.m., before anyone else in the house awoke, I could get 10 or more pages written before I ran out of steam or had to go to class. I found that I could teach or sit in class while I was tired, but that starting to write while I was fresh, although still tired, was immensely productive. My diss ended up being 540 pages long and I graduated.

Would the same idea of liminality work to write fiction? I decided to try it. It does.

However, there are some tricks that make it even more productive:

1. Read through what you wrote that morning just before going to bed.

2. Snooze button–hit it and think of what you read the night before while you’re waking up.

3. Get up, throw on some sweats, turn on the computer, visit the bathroom while the computer is booting up, open the file you are working on, and start writing.

4. If you don’t immediately get inspiration, go back and read what you wrote the day before.

5. Do not turn on the internet.

6. Do not turn on any media whatsoever.

It works! Using this method, I’ve written thousands of pages, sold articles and books and intend to keep doing so.

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Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”[1]) is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the “threshold” of or between two different existential planes (Wikipedia).
What does liminality have to do with writing?
A few years ago, I heard a speaker say that some of the best inspiration comes when a person is in that state between waking and sleeping. He didn’t use the terms “liminality” or “liminal space,” but what he said rang a bell because in my doctoral studies we were just studying the work of Victor Turner who wrote about liminality and ritual in anthropological terms. About the same time I began work on my dissertation and found it to be a wearying, mind-numbing process, but one that required the utmost attention to detail. I also found that I could only write a couple of pages at a time, especially when I started writing after I attended classes, taught classes (I was teaching full time), grading, and doing homework. I was exhausted, but I knew the diss (as we called it) had to be written or all that effort was for nothing. But I was so tired and my brain didn’t want to work on a theoretical level. To make matters worse, there were teenagers and twenty-somethings in

my house who loved to stay up late and be noisy (I loved them anyway).
In my very tired mind the idea of inspiration while just waking and Victor Turner’s liminality meshed. I found that if I got up very early in the morning, like 5 a.m., before anyone else in the house awoke, I could get 10 or more pages written before I ran out of steam or had to go to class. I found that I could teach or sit in class while I was tired, but that starting to write while I was fresh, although still tired, was immensely productive. My diss ended up being 540 pages long and I graduated.
Would the same idea of liminality work to write fiction? I decided to try it. It does.
However, there are some tricks that make it even more productive:
1. Read through what you wrote that morning just before going to bed.
2. Snooze button–hit it and think of what you read the night before while you’re waking up.
3. Get up, throw on some sweats, turn on the computer, visit the bathroom while the computer is booting up, open the file you are working on, and start writing.
4. If you don’t immediately get inspiration, go back and read what you wrote the day before.
5. Do not turn on the internet.
6. Do not turn on any media whatsoever.
It works! Using this method, I’ve written thousands of pages, sold articles and books and intend to keep doing so.
Liminal space–the space where creativity is waiting to be found.
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