Is it a boy flower, or a girl flower

blankturncoverIf you haven’t heard, I’m running a contest this year to give away ARCs of The Turn, (Come back next week. I’ll have a cover to show you!) and since I’ve got a pumpkin patch this year, the winners will be chosen from those of you who correctly guess how many pumpkins I harvest. We’ve already had one round of entries, but I’ll be doing more both from FB and the newsletter over the next few months. You can double your chances by signing up to the newsletter and responding when the call goes out. (sign up is here: newsletter )

This year, the vines in my garden all came from three plants I started from seeds I kept from a locally grown pie pumpkin. I took a big chance that the original pumpkin would breed true, not knowing if it had been grown next to another variety of pumpkin, or even a zucchini, and so far, it looks like it is; the pumpkins on the vine are small, deep in color, and look perfect.  They have a fantastic resistance to powdery mildew, which is a plague upon my garden. We’ll see how they cook up.

But if I want to have more seeds for next year, I have to take care to make sure there is no inter-species hanky-panky by way of the bees.

It’s not that hard to pollinate your pumpkins, but you have to be attentive, especially if it’s hot weather as pumpkins don’t set well in the heat and you have to make sure the flowers don’t cook in their protective, ah, condoms?

Chances are, you’ve got pumpkin condoms in your kitchen. So the first thing is to identify the boy flower, which is carried high on the plant, right at the top of the leaves. The one here is likely to open the next morning. You can tell from its faint orange color.

boy-pumpkin

I’ve noticed that pumpkins put out a lot of males early in the season to train the bees to show up, long before any girl flowers appear, low and right next to the vine. If you’re unsure if you’re looking at a boy or girl, the female flower has a miniature fruit at the base of the flower. The one here probably won’t open for a few more days, but it’s got a nice ovum.

girl-pumpkin

Pumpkins open their flowers early in the morning, then close them in the afternoon, so if you go out the night before, you can usually identify which flowers will open the following day. They will have a nice orange color in comparison to those still developing.

Pop a condom, excuse me, paper bag, over the unopened flower, both male and female, and tie them closed so bees can’t find their way in. You have to cover the male flower as well to prevent any pollen being brought in from a bee or wind. Paper bags work, but this year I used a shoe cover I got with a new pair of boots. The open mesh helped to keep the flower cool.

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In the morning, go out and just pluck that male flower right off the vine. Find the female flower you covered the night before, open it up, and be the bee. Just smear that male flower all over. Some people even go bzzzzzz when they do it.

You can throw the male flower away, and carefully re-bag the female. This is where the heat can become a factor, because I’ve had fruit fail to set because it got hot in the bag. This year, I put an umbrella up and shaded it. It seemed to help.

You can take the bag off right around dusk, but be sure to tie a ribbon around the stalk so you can find it at the end of the season and collect your seeds for next year from it.

This should give you a true-breeding pumpkin seeds.

Come back Monday for the first glimpse of the cover for The Turn. It’s really something.

 

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Hollows–signed to you!

September personalization at Nicola’s brings us to WHITE WITCH, BLACK CURSE, BLACK MAGIC SANCTION, PALE DEMON, and A PERFECT BLOOD. I’ve signed the Truth books, the Princess books, and even the YA, Madison Avery series, and at the end of this personalization cycle, I probably won’t do this again for a very long time as its asking a lot of the people at Nicola’s who have to organize it. Those of you who ordered any of the earlier titles, you should have them by now. If not, shoot them an email. (And if you are late hearing about my personalization push this summer, I’m sure Nicola’s won’t mind adding some of the earlier titles we’ve featured to you pile.

 

Just click the images to go right to Nicola’s, and don’t forget to tell them when you order the books who you want them signed to. I’ve linked to the mass markets, but you can upgrade to the hard covers by a quick search.

Also, if you have not heard, Gallery was convinced to do a very small print run of hard covers for the upcoming THE OPERATOR  mass market release. Like the first four Hollows books, they are for the library trade, but they will be available for a time through normal channels. And, like the first four Hollows books, there is a pretty good chance that they will be hard to find in a year or so, much like those coveted FISTFUL OF CHARMS. Best part, the mass market and hard cover will be coming out simultaneously a few days before Thanksgiving.

Since THE OPERATOR is for all intents and purposes a mass market release, there will be no tour apart from an appearance at Nicola’s on November 26 for Shop Small Saturday, so if you want one signed, you have to order it.

 

lrwwbc    PD  

To find out more sooner as opposed to later and get in on extra chances to enter for an ARC of The Turn, subscribe to my mailing list. This is where it will show up first: Kim’s Newsletter

I know I said I would have another shot at entering the contest this week, but I’m crammed and Tim can’t get to the computer to shoot out a newsletter. Hang in there. We’ve got time.

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The Turn ARC contest

It’s a little early to be thinking about giving away copies of THE TURN, but my pumpkins are turning orange. Yep, you read that right. Pumpkins and the Hollows, there is a connection. I’m thinking that the ARC will be ready to share just about the time the frost rims the pumpkins, and wouldn’t it be fun to give the ARCs away with a contest revolving around how many pumpkins I get out of my pumpkin patch.

I don’t know how many ARCs I’m going to get to give away, so we’ll pool up the correct responses and do a drawing when I harvest my pumpkins. (We’ll email you for your mailing address at that point, so please respond with an email you will still have in December.) Tim and I are trying to swing some consolation prizes as well, either hard covers of THE DRAFTER, or mass markets of THE HOLLOWS INSIDER. No promises, but it looks good.

Today, all you have to do is take a long look at my pumpkin patch and guess how many pumpkins I’m going to get. They are pie pumpkins, so there could be a lot hidden away, or only a few since it’s been really hot and they don’t like to set fruit when it’s hot.

You’re encouraged to submit another entry if you already did so from Friday’s newsletter.

Want to sign up? Here it is: Kim’s Newsletter Newsletter readers will continue to get extra chances from now to when we give these bad boys away, not to mention early looks at the cover.

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To enter:

  1. You have until Tuesday, Noon, EST to send Tim an email at coldtoastwritingsllc@comcast.net with the word PUMPKIN in the subject line along with your guess.
  2. He’s not going to be opening them, so be sure your guess is in the subject line along with the “magic” word, PUMPKIN.😉 Your email subject line will look like this: Pumpkin 42
  3. We’ll have a different word next time, so we can keep these things straight, and we will have another chance to enter in about a week.
  4. You don’t have to be in the U.S. to win.

Good luck!

Kim

 

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We’re having an ARC contest

It’s 80 degrees as I sit in at my desk and type this, windows open and paper almost limp from the humidity, but there is a shift in the wind, a feeling more than a tangible something I can point to.  Fall is coming, which means we’re closer to the release of THE OPERATOR (which I have some good news about) and THE TURN (which won’t be until early, early spring, but I have some good news there, too.)

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I’m still doing the editorial rewrite for THE TURN, but I’m already thinking about how to give away some of the ARCs that I’m going to receive. I also have a very large pumpkin patch this year, and yes, the two do have something in common. To find out early–and have an additional chance to put your name in the running for an ARC of THE TURN–you have one more day to sign up for my newsletter, going out tomorrow P.M.

You don’t have to sign up to find out how to enter the ARC contest, I’ll tell you here as well next week, but signing up will give you an additional chance(s) to enter.

Kim’s Newsletter Signup

As for the good news about THE OPERATOR? I’ve been told there will be a small hardcover print run, mostly for the library trade, but available through normal channels for a time. This is very similar to what Harper did for the first four Hollows books, and you know how hard it is now to find a hc of A Fistful of Charms.

I’ll be offering these hardcovers signed and/or personalized through Nicolas when they get the order page up, but if you can’t wait, they’re at Amazon and B&N right now.

Amazon

B&N

And if you are on my twitter feed . . . The Rachel twin I was talking about wasn’t anything to do with writing. It was the modifications I made to my original Rachel “action figure.”  (rolls eyes) Sorry. It would have made more sense if Twitter had posted the picture.

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Hollows personalization part two

I’ve signed the Truth books, the Princess books, and even the YA, Madison Avery series, which puts us right in the middle of personalizing the Hollows. Last month, I’ll offered to sign the first three titles that you ordered from Nicolas, my local store. I’ve not yet gone in to personalize them, so if you’re waiting, hang in there. Those of you who ordered any of the earlier titles, you should have them by now. If not, shoot them an email. (And if you are late hearing about my personalization push this summer, I’m sure Nicola’s won’t mind adding some of the earlier titles we’ve featured to you pile.

August means the second set of three Hollows books are available, starting with one of my favorite, A Fistful of Charms. This is the one that is set up in Mackinaw City, pulling heavily on my early family vacations. I’ll be going up there sometime this month to enjoy the fudge and cool breezes on the island. Not to mention hearing the horses 24/7. Unfortunately, unlike the other titles, you can’t upgrade to hardcover on this one. They are just about impossible to find.

Also featured this month for personalization will be The Outlaw Demon Wails, and For a Few Demons More.

Just click the images to go right to Nicola’s, and don’t forget to tell them when you order the books who you want them signed to. I’ve linked to the mass markets, but you can upgrade to the hard covers by a quick search.

 

Also, early heads up that I’ll be running a contest in about a month for those coveted ARCs of THE TURN. I don’t know how many I’ll have to give away, so winning will get you into a select group that I will draw the ultimate winners from. Runner ups? I am going to try my hardest to have something to give to you, too, but I don’t know yet. This is something I’m doing on my own, and I won’t know how much participation my publisher is going to give until I actually, ya, know, get there. And yes, pumpkins are involved.

AugustPumpkins2

To find out more sooner as opposed to later, subscribe to my mailing list. This is where it will show up first: Kim’s Newsletter

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I think there should be a charizard

This weekend, I found out there are no less than five Pokemon in my garden all accessible from the sidewalk, so it’s no imposition. Among present are Pidgey, Nidoran, and a Bulbasaur, which I think is appropriate, as it is a garden.

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I don’t actually have the game, so I’ve not looked, but I can’t help but wonder if there might be a Charmander in my office, surrounded by said garden. There’s a dragon sitting behind the desk. (And a few at the ceiling, and on the back of the couch, and even a white one under Tim’s coffee table hanging with the Godzilla we rescued from the trash, and ah, well, yeah, a Dalek.)

Dragon2

Knit your own: I made the pattern myself, so please be kind. http://www.kimharrison.net/Dragon/KimHarrisonsDragon.html

Dragon3

 

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The Commons. ie, Kim’s Fan fiction. AKA Kim misses Al.

I’ve been updating my website today, and I found this. Enjoy!

Pages From The Back Room

     Al pushed the metal and frosted glass door open, the jingling tinkle hitting him the exact second the scent of mutton filled his nose. Squinting at the bohemian, dim lighting, he stepped into the rustic tavern from an interior door. His eyes flicked to the two teenagers at one of the narrow windows, both of them ignoring him as they focused on their cell phones and takeout cups of coffee. The trio sitting before the second window looked up, acknowledging him.

He’d seen the young woman in her blue homespun dress before, that bird on her shoulder and that middle class artisan at her side. Today, she had her dandy with her as well, the charismatic man wearing something even Al would call overdone: lace and velvet, jeweled dagger at his hip. The love triangle was obvious. Almost as obvious as who she favored.

Old story, he thought as he nodded to them and shut the door behind himself, thinking the gleaming modern lines looked odd beside the rough hewn timbers. Trees and mountains were visible through the windows, making him feel as if he were intruding. His suit and tie looked out of place, even if the teenagers had cell phones and sneakers, and he wondered if today he might find the courage to ask the young woman with the bird if the odd color of her eyes was born in science or magic.

But none of the earlies never talked to him or any of his contemporaries.

His dress shoes clicked loudly on the wooden floor as he went to the empty, rough hewn bar. It was awkward being the only one here, and he grunted in appreciation when the floor beneath his feet suddenly became smoother as The Commons finally responded to his presence. The walls, too, though still wood, were now paneled instead of bare logs. Though they all could—and did—come into The Commons whenever they felt like it, today was special. An arranged meeting.

The girl and boy sharing videos fist-bumped, clearly approving of the change. The boy looked common enough, and even with her purple-tinted hair, the girl wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. But the a hint of hazy light hovering over her reminded Al of an overgrown mystic.

Two sets of earlies, he thought, curious as the view outside the window shifted to plowed fields, ridged in their mechanical rows. It was unusual to have more than one group in The Commons at once, and he looked for the medieval assassin and her even more dangerous lover, not seeing them.

Taking a stool, he settled himself, picking at a protruding sliver on the bar. He didn’t have to wait long, and in a burst of noise, Ivy blew through the same door he had. Her long dark hair swinging, she jerked to a stop, lips pressed in annoyance as she found him here first. Immediately the room brightened, electric lights now showing at the ceiling. Al shifted as the rough stool under him became leather and mahogany. It looked more like a modern bar trying to be rustic now, and the trio of pre-industrial earlies sighed, clearly not appreciating it even as the younger duo plugged their phones into a socket to recharge.

Al patted the stool beside him, and Ivy made her way over, svelte and dangerous in her black pantsuit, her Asian heritage obvious.

“Crap, we’re doing this from your POV?” the woman said, her low voice still having the power to make Al’s thoughts turn to more earthly desires. Not that he’d ever touch her. Even now the woman had too much baggage. “Do you have any idea what I went through to get here first? Who do you think you are? Morgan Freeman?”

Al’s lips split into a wide grin. “Someone has to explain the shit we’re put through. And you weren’t given the gift of far sight as I was, my dear.” He reached for her hand, elegantly trying to kiss it.

Ivy yanked her hand away, and Al chuckled as she settled beside him. “I’m not your dear,” she said, gaze landing on the earlies.“What are theydoing here?”

“No idea,” he said softly, not liking that tiny bird staring at him.

The door chimes jingled again. He’d swear they were the same ones at Junior’s, and he stifled a shudder as he turned to them.

“Hey! Hi!” Jenks shrilled as the dragonfly-winged, six-inch man darted in, a glittering ribbon of silver dust spilling from him. “Sorry we’re late, but Rachel was hell bent on not narrating.”

“You think?” the slim redhead said as she came in, looking relaxed in her trendy skirt, leggings, and snappy jacket. Trent trailed behind, his hand slipping from her waist as he double checked the door was shut. “Someone else can do it for a while,” she muttered, her eyes going to the low ceiling and wooden motif. “Wow, why are we still in wood?” she blurted, her breath catching when she followed Ivy’s head nod to the earlies. “Oh,” she stammered, flushing as she gave Ivy a hug before sitting down on Al’s other side.

Trent immediately went behind the bar, his trim form bent double as he looked into the tiny fridge. “There’s enough of us here for soda, though,” he said encouragingly.

“Thank God for that,” Ivy said sarcastically, spinning her stool to put her back to the earlies.

Jenks’s dust settled as he landed on Trent’s shoulder, the two of them looking remarkably alike as they investigated the fridge. “Dude. How come we never get one with my name on it?” the pixy complained as Trent set four bottles on the bar, the rustic wood now a sleek granite.

A rich carpet scuffed under Al’s shoes as he resettled himself, appreciating the lack of mutton smell. Subdued chandeliers tinkled overhead, and cars were a soft hush of noise outside the windows. But no one would ever come in. It was all for show. The trio of medieval earlies had closed the blinds, shifting in their booth table to make room for the kids as they came over. Al’s eyes narrowed, watching them through the bar’s expansive mirror as it shimmered into existence. Something felt odd.

“Let me get that for you, Ivy,” Trent said, cracking her pop and pouring it into a squat glass of ice for her.

“Thank you,” she said, eyebrows high in question as she waved Jenks’s dust from her face, the impatient pixy darting back and forth as he waited for his share.

“Good God, Jenks,” Rachel said as the pixy waved his tiny mug about. “Give me a sec, will you?”

The banter felt familiar, and a content smile curved Al’s lips up as he looked at the bottle with his name on it. The cold was almost an ache against his hand, and his eyes smarted from the fizz as he took a gulp right from the chill plastic.

Breath held against the sting, he watched Jenks land on Rachel’s shoulder with his mini cup of pop. Behind them, that bird glared from the medieval babe’s shoulder. Turning slightly, Al focused on the glowing orb hovering over the teenagers, and his watering eyes narrowed. That’s curious.

But it had gone silent with far more than the enjoyment of a cold, fizzy drink. Trent was still behind the bar, his casual confidence and silk-lined suit making the subservient post anything but. Jenks belched, and the attentive man refilled his tiny cup from his own bottle.

“So . . .” Ivy said slowly. “Does anyone know anything about the newbies?”

Al set his bottle down, an unusual sliver of anxiety cutting between his thought and reason. Newbies. The ones who had taken their place. Forced them into retirement.

Rachel chuckled ruefully. “I don’t know why you’re complaining. I’m sick to death of saving the world. Again. And again. And again.”

“Yeah,” Jenks said, his wings blurring into motion even as he remained where he was on the salt and pepper shakers. “It doesn’t pay enough, and the world never thanks you.”

Trent clinked his bottle against Rachel’s glass. “Here, here.”

Her dark eyes pinched, Ivy made a face. “Like you weren’t the one she was saving it from half the time?”

A smile, not unusual but rare in its depth, came over Trent. “Things change,” he said, and then he blinked, startled when Rachel yanked on his tie, bringing him closer for a kiss.

“Oh, for fairy-loving farts,” Jenks complained as he took to the air to get out of their way. “Can’t you keep your lips off each other for even an hour?” But he quickly dropped back down to the pepper shaker when the bird across the room focused on him. Immediately Jenks sneezed, a burst of blue dust exploding from him.

Ivy dramatically waved it away before it could hit her drink, but Al slumped deeper atop his stool. He didn’t feel done yet. But there was little he could do. There was always someone new, younger and full of potential, clamoring for attention. That the hardest lessons were learned later in life never occurred to most people.
A sigh shifted his wide shoulders. The Turn take it. They were becoming earlies, and he couldn’t help but wonder what The Commons was going to become when this new crew began making an impact.

Rachel had gone quiet, eyes distant as she sipped her drink and thought her Rachel-ly thoughts. Knowing it had to hurt to go from star to remember-that-time-when, Al gave her hand a squeeze. She started, giving him a faint smile that lingered even as Trent intruded.

“Has anyone seen her yet?” he asked, leaning over the bar to shift Rachel’s hair behind an ear.

“Her who?” Ivy said, lost in her own thoughts.

Rachel glanced at the new door. The slab of metallic white metal had a glowing key pad next to it that Trent had ooed and ahhed over the first time he’d seen it. “Peri Reed,” she said softly, doing a good job of hiding her melancholy. “Has she been in The Commons yet?”

Ivy pushed an ice cube around with a black-manicured fingernail. “Not when I’ve been here, but I’ve seen Jack and Silas.” A sly smile came over her and she crossed her knees and leaned in over the bar. “Silas is . . . a big man,” she finished, almost sighing it.

Jenks laughed, the tinkling sound making the orb over the teenagers glow, and Rachel rolled her eyes at the woman’s obvious lust.

“Smart, too,” Al said, then softly added, “From what I’ve heard, anyway.”

“He’d have to be to keep up with Peri.” Rachel slumped. “I hear her phone is made of glass, and she can roll it up into a tube. What kind of spell does that?”

“It’s not magic, it’s science, love,” Al said as he reached out to her.

Trent bristled. “Hey, hey, hey,” he said, pushing Al’s thick, ruddy hand off of Rachel’s pale fingers. “I wouldn’t mind having her car though,” he added.

“Where would you plug it in?” Rachel teased Trent. “I hear it’s electric.”

Trent’s blond eyebrows rose. “Electric? Zero to sixty in 3.5 seconds is electric?”

Al turned to the soft steps as a wooden door creaked open and another pair of earlies came in, the pre-industrial assassins making a beeline to the group up front. The elegant woman hid her strength under a full skirt, but he knew the darts in her drawn-up hair were lethal. The man beside her had a hard slant in his eyes, clearly knowing how to manipulate people as well as, if not better, than Al himself. They’re all here, he thought, concerned. “Magic would be easier,” he said as the pair were taken in at the table like old friends.

“Bitching,” Jenks said, the new word rolling off his tongue slowly as if he was trying it out.

Ivy stared into her glass. “I hear she shops by programmed, interactive simulations that look like her.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” Rachel scoffed, but it was obvious she was intrigued. Or jealous, maybe.

“Science,” Al grumbled as he finished his drink. “What have we come to, boys and girls?”

“It’s a full circle,” Trent said as he poured half his bottle into Rachel’s glass. “It’s the same thing that saved both our people, Al, once you push aside the magic to what’s underneath fueling it.” His glance went past Al to the earlies. “And from what I can see, it always has been.”

Lips pressed sourly, Al pulled his gaze back from them. “I suppose. But it makes me nervous putting it right out in front like that. You watch. These newbies are not going to like us,” he said, the bitter taste of jealousy rising up hot and fast–shocking him. “They’re going to think we’re backward. Superstitious. Silly. They are going to roll in here with their fancy technology and turn The Commons into some kind of futuristic deli.”

“It won’t be that bad.” Ivy stretched to show off her lanky body, taunt with lean muscle. “After all, a good story, is a good story. The trappings of genre are just frosting to sweeten the bitter bite of the human condition.”

Al snorted. “This coming from a vampire?” he said, then jumped when Rachel kicked his ankle.

“Hey!” Ivy barked, her quick temper showing. “It wasn’t vampirism. It was manipulation, child abuse, and drug-induced slavery disguised as vampirism. Get with it, Al.”

“Uh, guys?” Jenks said, the small pixy more watchful than a room full of Chihuahuas.

Ivy’s anger cut off with a startling quickness, and Al turned, following her surprised gaze. The earlies had stood and were coming forward, tankards of ale and paper cups of coffee in their hands.

“Umm,” Rachel fumbled as she slid off her stool, clearly caught off guard when the blond woman with the bird was shoved to the front, clearly their spokeswoman. Her shy smile and hidden confidence reminded Al of Ceri. He missed the arrogant, timid woman, but if you didn’t survive to the end, you never found your way to The Commons.

“Ah, hi?” Rachel said, and the woman flushed.

“Hi,” she said, lyrical voice holding the uncatchable strength of the wind. “It’s been a year,” she said, her eyes shifting to take them all in. “We’d officially like to welcome you.”

“To The Commons?” Jenks said sarcastically.

The nobly-dressed man beside the comely woman grinned impishly. “To retirement!” he said loudly, curls shaking as he held his tankard high in salute.

As one, Al, Trent, Ivy, and Rachel slumped. Even Jenks’s dust shifted to a dull brown. Retirement. To be forgotten. To go fallow. To be lost.

“No,” the young woman said, taking Rachel’s hand and make her start in surprise. “You’re not forgotten. Not by those who hear you, find comfort, laugh, or worry for you. You did more than save yourself or the world,” she added, golden eyes riveting.

“And you’re immortal now,” the common man on her other side said, his voice slow but holding a personal strength that could only be born in great suffering. “Real,” he said, and Ivy looked up, a sheen of tears in her eyes. “Like velveteen rabbits.”

“Velveteen rabbits on fire,” the teenager with purple hair said, and the boy with her laughed and mock punched her shoulder.

“We’re glad you’re here. Forever,” the woman with the bird said, and Rachel, her smile wan but true, clinked her glass of ice and pop against her thin-walled wooden tankard.

Suddenly the middle ground was full of cups, and tankards, and elegant glasses full of melting ice as they were all extended into a circle of shared meaning. The collective shout of celebration hit Al like a slap, and he blinked fast, never having imagined that there would be more—here at the end, and he hid a smile as he watched Jenks, that bird, and the glowing orb all fronting each other suspiciously.

Conversations, new and eager, began to rise high as common ground was sought for and found, and Al pulled back to take it in and try to make sense of it. His eyes strayed to the new door, the green light softly glowing on the panel to show it was active, and he wondered who was going to come through it.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

 

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