Category Archives: Writing

Dig Deep #psychological #thriller #new

Thoughts thoughts thoughts… too many of them. I started writing again, and here they are keeping me up at night.

My fault for getting aggravated over things that are not worth wasting my breath on. There are battles I cannot win, why do I still choose to fight them?

So I get pissed off at things, then let them go, and instead focus on the important. I’m working on this new story to get my feet wet again, and am aiming for 30,000 words. I’m at 2,200 now. It’s a psychological thriller, with comedic elements.

I mean, the main character’s pet is a cat, and does funny stuff, so at least this part will make you laugh?

That’s pretty much it otherwise.

Spring is coming so I’m tired like the rest of the world.

Until next time…

Conversation(s) with Death (aka Delirious Musings about the Writer’s Block)

Great way to start a Friday! Look at me firing the engines like it’s the Fourth of July! Four posts in three days, something good must be brewing.

I want to talk about the writer’s block. Inspirational drought. Loss of prose, reading appetite and everything in between, the death of a writer. I blogged about having the block, capital B-asshole-block, years ago when I was but a young pup and really thought I knew what I was talking about.

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Can you hear them laugh? Because I certainly can!

Gosh, my block was like premature ejaculating for a teenage boy, annoying but never really impacted my work to the point where I really considered myself retired from the writing world. In other words, I hit dry spells but could still half decently screw the shit out of a manuscript and feel pretty good about it. Graphic enough for you? Because I just got started.

Anyway… fast forward to the past four years. What forced this terrible drought upon me (and you because you are fully part of my creative process)?

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Well… like I said before here life was shitty and then got considerably better. I did not have pain as fuel to guide my process anymore, so I dried out like a sad sad dying flower.

It was an adjustment, no doubt. Life is just completely different for me. I still have bad times but they are nothing in comparison to the hell I went through. Writing happy is not the same as writing depressed. But something else interfered with my musings too. I think I was in it for something else than writing. I wanted validation, acceptance, instant success and a large following that would provide me with the love I couldn’t find within myself. Once I discovered that love, I said fuck this shit, I don’t need y’all! I basically went from one extreme to another.

The writer’s block is a personal struggle. I did not understand that. There’s no magic pill or potion you can take to beat it every time. While my life did a one-eighty, my writing halted. My ideas simmered quietly in the background. I watched more than I read and I learned to live outside of the realm of words. I discovered unspoken emotions and feelings that did not have a place on my page years ago because I did not know about them. Now I get it when people say writing is all about experience. You can be a young pup and write about fantastical worlds all day, but you need to have lived to sprinkle a dose of reality and credibility to your stories, so that the reader can fully immerse themselves in your universe (and hopefully never want to come out).

I attended a writers’ conference years ago (my only one) and everything that was talked about there was just a big old sales pitch. How to write your next best-selling novel? How to see it on the big screen (and have a hot and promising heartthrob portray your main character, preferably shirtless because we all love a nice pair of male nipples, am I right)? How to craft a catchy opening chapter? What makes people buy your book like it’s crack?

Granted, it was a romance writer conference, and I don’t do romance. But I’m pretty sure other genre conferences follow the same format mostly to attract the ones who want to hit that best seller list, and tell all their friends “I made it!”

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Just like about anything there are clinics you can take to learn all the tricks, you can search Google all day or you can pay experts aka best-selling authors to rob you of your creative spirit. Yes, they are really good at convincing you you need to change your voice to fit in to the likes of a specific audience (usually females age 18-49).

So you end up talking with people about YOUR project, and they manage to drive you as far away as possible from it to sell you THEIR project. Some agent talked to me about writing stories that take place in the 1920s, because why not? Meanwhile I’m trying to sell a paranormal story that plays very much in 2014. Granted, it was not romance but still, there were agents out there who looked for other genres.

It’s like pitching a new TV show. You try to be original, but they steer you to recycle ideas. Give them a spin in a new costume and maybe a horse carriage. Like how many versions of Glee do we need? It’s sickening, you start vomiting on your own prose and you constantly doubt yourself because you don’t know anymore if what you like to write is what people like to read.

Mark my words. After being brainwashed by many many many people, and my slogan is To Thine Own Art Be True, I strayed so far away from my art, I barely recognized myself.

Because I listened (I’m a good listener) I had retained everything that was said about trends and styles, and openings, and catchy words and all this shit in my brain, I ended up changing a story, which was not good to begin with because of xyz reasons that would be too long to explain here, but I changed it, and my character, originally an adult in her late twenties, became a seventeen year old brat.

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I wrote YA. I have nothing against YA authors or readers, good for you if you love teenagers. I personally fucking hate YA. Yes, the cursing is necessary. Because I’m at a point where this gives me a physical reaction of absolute and undivided rejection when I think of YA. Like even if it sells, I can’t fucking stand teenage angst. Give me a seventeen year old who knows nothing about life but her struggles are oh so compelling. You know what she needs? A job. Once you start trekking to work you start to appreciate free time. The process of digging into a genre I freaking despise felt like breaking a leg over and over again. It was just a painful and horrible process. I should have stopped it in the starting blocks. I should have trashed it, and went the route of my usual stuff. But I wrote YA because good people (friends) told me it was trendy and I’d get a bigger shot at attracting readers. I sold my soul and I didn’t stick to my guns. I listened to the advice, refused to listen to my own gut, and went down the YA path which was unappealing, full of stuff I did not care to discover and I really committed to the process too, which made the experience even worse.

Writing should not be painful. Not like this at least. Editing is. Fine, but writing should be free, and fun, and even if the stuff you write about is dark, and challenging, you should still enjoy it, otherwise why do it? After countless full rewrites, I managed to write a YA book about drug addiction, which isn’t so glamorous so no, my stuff ended up being not so relatable to the general public. Sorry, no Prince Charming here. The biggest blow though was when I was finally done, and I sent a copy of the book to a good friend, they did not read it (although they love YA), they critiqued the cover as not being YA enough, and then proceeded to comment that they love to read books that have a message, and talk about real life experiences (which I thought my book was about because drug addiction, you guys).

I should have let this one go. I should have not expected instant gratification or any kind of support although I thought I deserved at least a little bit of support, especially after reading YA books just to be a good pal. I learned people are people and they are not as perfect as I think they are, and they will fail my expectations. There’s no bad blood between this friend and myself, I never really told her how I felt anyway, and I don’t think it’d change anything if I did, so I’m letting this one go.

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Calm and serenity. 

My YA story was really about me though. I had a lot of anger that had to get out. I was a thirty year old female living in New York City and fighting her demons one bottle of scotch at a time. Some people said my drinking was not so much a problem as it was a crutch. Nope folks, my drinking was a problem, a problem that could have cost me my life. It took me a lot of introspection to realize that, and to move away from that.

Oh this got real serious all of a sudden. Here let’s lift the mood up. I’m fine. I got through it. But walking away from my true original goals and writing YA was simply not a good idea. In the end I managed to write a novel, which is still profound, and good, and will teach you something, but please don’t fit into a box. This is art people, we are not supposed to have boundaries. You create the rules. You define which ones you want to break. There is a voice for everyone. Fitting into a category just because people say so is just the stupidest way to ruin mojo.

You gotta find your own muse. You can’t use someone else’s. I’m not a YA author. I write horror, I write paranormal, I write sci-fi, but deep under the layers, I write about me. My characters get shit faced, they fuck strangers and they regret it the next day. My characters are dark and funny, and they all live in New York City even when I send them in outer space. I think my biggest mistake is that I tried to pasteurize a product that wasn’t meant to be clean and pretty. It was meant to hit you in the ribs and make you choke on your own blood. I could not do that with YA. Right, you’re going to tell me The Hunger Games or Divergent are pretty gory, so it could have worked. Yeah, it could have, except I don’t want my main character to be a virgin, and teenager. I want my characters to have lived, and sinned, so they can find salvation. I want them to have experienced life just the same I am experiencing it. With the good and the bad, everything that makes us human is what I like to write about, even in a fantasy world.

I get it. I’m not mainstream. Although multifaceted dark characters and noir backdrops are pretty trendy on Netflix. I don’t care about mainstream.

So there you have it. My block was all my doing. I didn’t stay true to myself. I signed some imaginary contract with some imaginary publisher targeting an imaginary audience and putting all the elements in my book I thought you’d like. Don’t get me wrong, the book is good stuff. But it’s not true to me.

Therefore I’m starting fresh. I’m dusting off the works in progress and we’re going to get real and dirty. You’re going to feel my dread. You’re going to feel my anguish. You’re going to ride the roller coaster and you will ask for more on the way down. There is pain in my story but this pain gave birth to a beautiful muse. She’s much more beautiful and kind than my old bottle of scotch, that’s for sure.

I’m not dead yet. I never died. I just got turned off, and stuck to a mold that wasn’t for me. As much freedom as writing gives me, I turned my writing process into a jail cell. The block had been self-imposed, left a bad taste in my mouth, and really made me believe I was done.

The muse woke up though. I don’t know why now is the time for her to wake up, but I’m grateful she did because I have a lot to write about.

Let’s waste no time then!

Website Makeover and Pen Name

Looks like I will be posting more, which is always a good thing. I checked last time I uploaded new content on my website, and shame on me, but last upload was sometime in 2014. Like I said. Shame.

It’s okay, like good wines, I needed my time to mature. I am also considering writing under a pen name, which I wasn’t interested in when I first started publishing but now it makes sense. I like to separate church and state. So I used a random name generator, and came up with Katarina Lebeau which doesn’t sound too shady. It rolls on the tongue.

The website will take some time to transfer over and get its makeover, but the blog will remain and I will change a few things here and there to bring it up to modern 2018 times. The logo shall remain the same, since it’s my brand.

By the way, the brand can be a little obscure so this shall be explained as well. The Manicheans’ concept was born in 2010 from a very casual conversation I had with a friend, also author, after she read the word from some random “word of the day” site on her phone. Manicheaism is a religion or philosophy based on a supposed primeval conflict between light and darkness. It spread widely in the Roman Empire and in Asia, and survived in eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang) until the 13th century.

Basically, Manicheaism explores the duality within us and the world between light and dark, positive and negative. I liked this idea very much because it represented, and still represents, very basic principles, on which I can build any arch I want. I didn’t think I’d use the Manicheans as my brand as much as I wanted to write (and it’s still a work in progress) a trilogy titled The Manicheans. This is my life project at this point. The books promise to be long, extremely complex and probably will get buried under a thick layer of dust once published, unless used as paper weights, but they will be (at least that’s my intent) very exciting to read.

After years of silence, I think I’m ready to kick ass. I don’t want to speak too soon, and I certainly want to keep building up on this writing every day goal I have, but I think I’m ready now to explore new things.

Before the Manicheans get out, I want to try to finish a novella I started at the end of 2016. It’s sci-fi. My new goal is to publish it this year. Start new. As Katarina Lebeau. And take it from there.

The Sound of Silence

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Yesterday was beautiful because it snowed. Traffic stopped, almost all noise vanished and for a bit there it was, silence. There was peace at last. I felt calm and serenity and thought this is it, this is how I want to feel all the time.

Sadly, the peaceful interlude didn’t last. The snow plows came and then the sound of shovels echoed throughout the neighborhood. But it was still quiet enough for me to enjoy it.

Noise is everywhere. Everyone’s thoughts, usually private and internalized, have now to be blasted to the outside world, like we want to hear your opinion on everything 24/7. Truly, half the time you say something, we don’t care. You dump all your shit like an oil tanker in the midst of the ocean and strongly believe you’re entitled to do so. Last I checked, you’re not a brilliant philosopher, and even philosophers are full of it. You’re just another Joe Schmo who cruises through life with your wireless earbuds, perfectly sheltered from pain, hunger, or despair. You know nothing about half the theories and 2 cent statements you spew on your social media feed, especially after a few drinks, when your mind is lubricated, and somehow, it’s in those moments that you feel the most profound. You’re so out of touch with anything, I can’t do much but nod and smile or walk away because I don’t want to start an argument.

Doesn’t mean I don’t hear you. Doesn’t mean whatever you say pisses me off. You’re allowed to voice your opinion. Everyone’s got one. See, I’ve had those same conversations countless times. What’s the meaning of life? Why do people kill each other over money, power or out of sheer cruelty? Why is there still so much poverty all around us? Why, why, why… stop. Everything starts and ends with you. And if all of us focused a little less on the shit we can’t change, and instead prioritized our efforts on the shit we can change, there would be progress somewhere, don’t you think?

Some people will stop me right here, and say “But I care!” If you think caring is demonstrating once a year against whatever cause you feel strongly about, or donating money you will deduct from your taxes anyway, while you still treat half (or all) the people in your life like shit, I’d say “Think again!” But people like you like to take selfies all day long and pretend they live this glamorous life that you only see in movies. Then one day, you decide to look the part, and you pretend to care. It’s fantasy land for you no matter where you look. You’re going to take a selfie at that event you attend because if you don’t no one will believe you were there. That’s how shallow you are.

Truth is, working on yourself takes too much work, and there’s no app for that. Who wants to spend their precious time introspecting? Who wants to peel the layers of the onion, expose all the painful shit, and learn from their mistakes not to repeat them ever again? And then, help someone else. No, you know what, it’s easier to buy a new outfit, get a makeover and blast everyone with pictures or videos of the last meal you had. Because we surely give more a fuck about that than your mea culpa.

I say “we”, maybe it’s just me. I don’t care about that. I’m the sadist who wants to get to know you, and catch your flaws. I want to learn what really makes you tick. Most of us hide everything under layers of cellophane like we’re afraid someone is going to find us out, and we’re going to start rotting upon exposure to fresh air and direct sunlight. God forbid you try to be honest and truthful to yourself for once.

Give me a break. I’m sure you heard the truth shall set you free. I guess you don’t care about freedom. The human spirit is such a beautiful and resilient gift we’ve received from evolution, but instead of nurturing it, you shit all over it and let it slowly die selfie after selfie because your self-expression has to be about just you, am I right? You love to starve yourself, and then you binge on garbage, and you still believe that’s the way to go. Somehow, it’s become a problem to think freely. Wait let me rephrase that. Somehow, it’s become a problem to think. The sound of your own thoughts gives you the jitters. Ultimately, you have lost all ability to feel comfortable with yourself, so you make up this image of you that you think the entire world will approve of, and as a result you will too! You fill up the beautiful peaceful silence with virtual diarrhea because you think you’re don’t matter otherwise. Maybe if you stay silent for too long you’re going to dry out like a prune and someone else is going to boot you out of your oh so important personal space and then what? Are you going to die? God forbid you don’t express your opinion at least once today. And take the selfie.

Maybe you need to prove the world you exist because someone is going to eat you up and shit you out. At least you would serve a purpose. You would improve the health of someone’s digestive track instead of posting countless pictures of your ass at every angle and under any kind of lighting. I have developed this unnecessary and completely unwelcomed intimate connection with you. Please stop harassing me.

Right, that’s why I have the Unfollow and Block features available to me at any time. Because instead of trying to be social animals, we work hard to be antisocial. I don’t think like you, so I must be wrong. Block. I don’t like your style, so I should never pay attention to you anymore. Unfollow. We’ve come to a point where we crave attention but don’t want any of the criticism. We just want praise. Let’s all win medals without doing any of the work. We are all winners, right?

I wonder if you pause to wonder about how people feel, the people who don’t have what you have, who live in a world where the bare necessities are a luxury, where their freedom of movement and/or thought are constantly threatened. Are you far less worried about the shade of liquid lipstick you bought online than the fate of these human beings? Granted, some are far away, across an ocean and in countries you’ll never set foot in. But some of them are right at your doorstep.

It wasn’t such a long time ago that tribes slaughtered each other over territories, men raped women as a right of passage and assimilation, children were being treated like slaves and freedom was a concept so foreign, except for kings and queens because they were the rulers and certainly didn’t want to lose that privilege. People survived more than they lived. Today, there are still lots of injustices all over the world, but some societies have evolved and built spaces where people can actually live.

And your biggest concern is how you look in that bathroom mirror. There’s nothing wrong about building up your self-esteem. But how many likes do you need? Maybe your own like should be sufficient?

So yeah, forgive me if I get pissed over that sometimes. Forgive me if I don’t express myself as often as I should because I would literally start wars, and in the end does what I think really matter? Do I want to be happy, or do I want to be right? I want to be happy. To be honest, I fall prey to the selfie every once in a while too. I can’t cast the stone if I’m not pure, right? There, I cast the stone and beat myself up too. That’ll certainly make some happy. Judging is oh so wrong, yet everyone runs when American Idol is in town.

I should seriously write a post on humility and open-mindedness another day or this will end up being a book.

There’s so much noise out there, I really like when everything just stops. It’s like a gift from God. It’s a reminder that we are very small at the scale of the universe, and our achievements, as wonderful as they can be, are also minuscule. I appreciate that. Silence helps deflate my ego. There’s no fantasy land, no filters. It’s life happening before my eyes, unaltered.

I really don’t need to be right. So I’ll shut up.

New Stuff (and old train of thoughts)

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So today is a snow day but I still made my way into the City this morning and on my commute, listened to a beautiful song by the (in)famous Ke$ha called “Praying”. When you listen to this song, you can really feel it to your bones she speaks from the heart, and sings with so much emotion. All the hardship she’s been through made her transcend herself. The pain she felt has become a vessel for her inspiration, and you can tell, by listening to the lyrics, that she remained true to herself. There’s no glitz, no glamour, no extra bright lights. It’s raw, it hurts, and it’s beautiful.

This song made me then ponder about my own writing and creative process. I started writing heavily in 2010 while I was going through a shit storm of everything and anything that can make your life hell, and I used this heartache to fuel my stories. My craft was not perfect by all means, but the message went across and many people identified. I used Twitter a lot, built a following and joined a community of writers and like minded creators and felt at home for a while. Then life got better, and my writing lost its spice. I disconnected myself from the community, and continued my writing journey away from Twitter and social media platforms in general.

I deeply believed pain was necessary for me to create anything worthwhile. And it’s not an exaggeration to say many poets and authors were tortured individuals, and they created masterpieces because of their misery. Happiness does not fuel the creative process the same way. I noticed it with my own process, and the stories I crafted and am still in the process of crafting. I, first hand, don’t want to sit down for hours at my computer anymore and write, and edit, and write and edit, but sitting down is not even the issue. My characters and my plots don’t feel the same when my life is good. I don’t need them to save me from myself. Because let me tell you the truth: I lived through my characters more than I lived my own life. I hated my life honestly, so fantasy was a good escape for me at the time. I wouldn’t say it saved me from myself, because I hit my bottom anyway, but it did the trick for a while.

So where am I now with my writing since my life does not suck anymore? Well, I want to write funny stuff. I have ideas about roller derby, and my alter ego Kiki Reynolds and her adventures. I also have my trilogy The Manicheans which has been on the front and back burners for years… Rewritten countless times, it’s way harder to write comedy than dwell on depressing garbage all day long by the way, and I still haven’t found my voice. Probably because my voice is constantly changing. I also don’t want to necessarily write commercial stuff. It’s rough. Writing is an art that lost a bit of its flavor over the years and development of self publishing platforms. Anyone can write. Anyone can publish. Freedom for all, which is wonderful and all at the same time awful for folks who really want to write quality content. You get lost in the masses. Marketing takes all your time too. Social media management becomes a second job. Automated tools to post and repost content are also a handful… See I started writing on a typewriter when I was about nine years old, so moving on to now, I did not consider writing as more than just you write your book, and you publish and that’s it, you move on to your next project. Yeah, I lost my inspiration. I really did, which made me question my entire creative process when I listened to Ke$ha’s song and wondered, do I need pain in my life to be able to write again?

I don’t think I do. I have to get used to creating without a crutch. Because pain was my crutch for so long. I have to really dig deep, sit down (and gosh I hate sitting down so I’ll stand), and draft outlines, character profiles, and plots. Practice can only make me so perfect. I’ll practice. The marketing component, however, just kills me. Thinking about it, I want to pull my hair out. Do I want to write something commercial? No. I don’t. Then I should not expect to find instant gratifying success and sell a thousand copies of my books in a month. I therefore should not worry about the marketing process. Stop projecting all together, girlfriend, and just write!

Now this post reads more like a rant than anything else. I swear I did not mean to rant. I’m not even upset it’s snowing out. I actually enjoy any weather now, and I’m not saying that with any sarcasm. I enjoy being outside. I love feeling one with nature, no matter whether it rains or shines. I find it peaceful. I don’t lose myself in the every day noise anymore. And not losing myself in my own head’s noise anymore either makes me not really care about spending hours marketing my talents and showing the world I can wow you with my words. Yes, I love to write, and I will write because I enjoy it. Period. I don’t need to sell or market, or develop content so that the world can treat me like an influencer. If I influence you, then it will be completely involuntary.

I’m not trying to impress anyone, and this has been the biggest change for me since 2010. I’m not running in this competition for Best Selling Author. I’m sure I will continue working on my works in progress when the creative spirit strikes me spineless. I’m mostly experiencing now. And experiencing joy takes over feeling pain. Just living makes me smile.

So do I have new stuff? No. Am I going to try to put new stuff on this platform? Yes, I’ll try. I always say that, and then remain silent for the rest of the year. But seriously, I’ll try.

I know I already said that. I have to repeat myself sometimes.

 

 

Hungry 

I’ve been reading more lately, way more than I’ve been in years. I’ve tried to focus my efforts on writing more, and felt thirsty for words. I had never starved myself as a writer. I thought with all the junk I read all day, every day, I’d been well fed. To the contrary. 

I’ve been working on multiple projects while not being able to really focus on one. My characters are patiently waiting to grow and do things but my mind is in a pit. Now I know why. 

I’ve been devouring psychological and horror thrillers and I can’t get enough. Is this a sign? I’m a big thriller person, always loved them for their fast pace and tension. They make me want to write like that. They make me want to hold my breath until the last possible second. 

I’ve neglected my craft and my muse isn’t too happy with me. I just need to focus. 

For now, I’ll satiate the hunger and read because writers can’t write if they’re malnourished. Enough of the junk, I’ll feast on the good stuff. 

I’m Back. #writing #creativeprocess #mentalblock

It hadn’t rained for the past few months. The sky stayed clear, and the earth below dry, just like her thoughts. All inspiration was gone, just like the muse.

So she stared at the window, hoping the drought wouldn’t last too long. “It happens to all writers”, she convinced herself. “My time of complete mental block is just taking forever to lift.”

She sighed. Grabbing the cup of coffee in front of her, she took a sip and sighed again. “I never used to drink coffee. I need some awakening. I’ve been in the dark for too long.”

Words came so easily before. Now, her brain lacked any creative flow.

“No, it shouldn’t last too long,” she repeated, as if the words had some magical meaning. But they didn’t. The truth shall set her free.

“Maybe, I’m just not a true writer.” Ah that truth hurt like hell.

Because she really believed she had a gift. Words were her friends at some point. She would think of something, anything, and that mustard seed gave rise to a majestic story. Whatever the topic, she could write about it. No biggie. She had it all figured out.

Until a few months back, when she started focusing on selling her latest book, instead of writing more. The time she spent doing what she thought was something, but in reality was nothing, dragged her into a hole where inspiration wasn’t invited. Worse, inspiration didn’t matter.

She was trying so hard to fit in. To find the special formula that would make anyone eat out of her hand like she was pooping gold. And did she poop gold? To her, her stories were priceless. To the rest of the world? The world didn’t care so much.

And that was the root of the problem. She wanted everyone to acknowledge what a brilliant author she was, instead of not giving a darn, and keeping her writing fresh. There was so much to be thankful for. The bestsellers didn’t make a difference. Her stories were about human conflict. No sex, no violence, just tales of people who lived their lives the best they could, and were everyday superheroes.

Because her creative juices came from the streets of New York City. And she knew how to bleed these streets dry by watching, and listening.

After an everlasting period of no real writing, today, the drought finally ended, and for the first time she wrote something. Her mind ran, and she ran with it. It felt so good to be friends with words again, and not to worry about selling books.

She was an author. A real one. Riddled by self-doubt, and all kinds of negative thoughts about her worth and talent.

Doubt didn’t matter anymore though. Deep down, she knew she’d kick ass.

And all she had to do was write.

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