Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest Blogging

Today, I guest blog at Once Written, Twice Shy about my guidelines for surviving social networking as an introvert. Didn't know I was an introvert? ;) Go check it out.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Interview With Annette McCleave



I met Annette in 2008 when we both finaled in the Golden Heart contest. She went on to win the award for Best Paranormal Romance with DRAWN INTO DARKNESS, a book that became the first in the Soul Gatherer series and was published by Signet Eclipse. Book two, BOUND BY DARKNESS, comes out next month. I'm so excited about this series! Annette breathes fresh life into the paranormal genre with her fascinating tales of demon-fighting Soul Gatherers and a collection of evil, ancient relics threatening to unleash Hell on Earth. Literally. I adore Annette's writing. It moves. Fast-paced and action-packed, her characters come to life from the first sentence and her plot will keep you reading long into the night. Here's a peek at BOUND BY DARKNESS:

Soul Gatherer Brian Webster has long lived with the guilt of his failure to save his teenage sister. When another girl dies in his arms as she protects an ancient coin from a demon, he takes up her cause. The coin is one of thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas. United, the coins are a dark relic of immense power, and in the wrong hands, they could destroy civilization.

Lena Sharpe is on her own mission to find the Judas coins. A Soul Gatherer by day and a thief by night, she’s negotiated the most important deal of her life. When Brian intervenes and kidnaps her to obtain the coins, she attempts to escape. But the brazen warrior is unrelenting, as he is fearful that the beautiful felon has made a pact with the devil himself. And he’s not entirely wrong.

Bound together by burning desire and a similar darkness in their hearts, they race against time to recover the missing coins. But as the truth behind Lena’s bargain surfaces, Brian is faced with a desperate choice—save one or save many.


Annette chose to be interviewed by the always-savvy Captain Jack Sparrow.

Captain Jack



Annette McCleave



Now that you know who's who, let's dive into the interview and reveal the gorgeous cupcake my hubby made for Annette. In the Soul Gatherer series, a pearly spiral is the Mark of Death. Annette asked for a cupcake with a pearly spiral. Hubby obliged. The was just one teeny problem. The Mark of Death likes to be a secret known only to a few. Also, the Mark of Death thinks it's funny to seem like it's cooperating, only to completely fall apart at the very last second, thus causing wailing and gnashing of teeth. Since the first version of the cupcake was apparently too close to the truth for the Mark of Death (a pox upon it!), and my hubby had already spent two hours crafting the cupcake, he was forced to improvise at the last minute. I still think the cupcake is adorable. Also, for putting my hubby through such torture, I've now put the Mark of Death on my LIST. MoD should tremble. It isn't the only creature around with a vindictive sense of humor. *insert evil cackle here* Now, without further ado, I give you the almost-realistic Mark of Death cupcake and Annette's interview with Captain Jack.




1. Would you classify yourself as a pirate or a member of Her Majesty’s Royal navy? Why?

Much as I hate to admit it, ya blasted pirate, I side with the Navy. I, too wear a uniform (pajamas, slippers, and a bloody awful bathrobe), and like any self-respecting naval officer, I’ve been known to wear a hat to cover a bad hair day.

2. Your appreciation of fine haberdashery almost makes up for your questionable decision to side with the Navy. What’s your favorite thing to do in Tortuga?

Slay pirates. Ooops. I mean, slay demons. The filthy wretches are able to get their hooks in almost anyone, but their favorite prey is the non-devout. Sadly, there are very few god-fearing souls on Tortuga, and a demon slayer’s job in never done.

3. *looks around* Well, you seem to have things well in hand here. I'll take this particular non-devout soul and find the nearest jug of rum. I’m offering you free passage aboard my ship to anywhere in the world. Where shall we go, love?

New York. After Tortuga, the financial district has the most demon-possessed humans per capita.

4. The financial district also has the most fools waiting to be parted from their treasure per capita. Lead on, fair lady! Who is the hero of your story most like: me (savvy, debonair, and unquestionably smooth with the ladies), the insufferably honorable Will Turner, or that deceptive little minx Elizabeth?

Brian Webster is rather like you, I’m afraid. A shady past, a smart mouth, and an aversion to being a hero. But, also like you, he never shirks from danger, and he always delivers the goods.

5. Sounds like a man worth knowing. Rum? Or more rum?

Always more rum. There’s never enough to float the Navy.

6. FLOAT THE NAVY? What an egregious waste of perfectly good rum! Which leads me to the age old question: Why is the rum always gone?

Well, you can’t blame the disappearance on Brian, lad. He’s a teetotaler, if you can imagine. Several of his Soul Gatherer chums, on the other hand, are wild enough to make off with the rum…

7. If any of your precious little demon slayers have been giving my rum to the Navy, I'll drive the lot of them through with my sword. What’s the most piratish thing you’ve ever done?

I’ve dived for treasure off the coast of Mexico. And I’ve killed a man. Oh, all right, it was only a character in a book, but that still counts.

8. Indeed. You may have the soul of a pirate lurking beneath your bloody awful bathrobe yet. Are they rules? Or more like guidelines?

Even in the Navy they’re only guidelines. A wise Navy officer makes the rules work for her not against her, if you know what I mean. Wink ,wink.

9. You aren't fooling anyone, you pirate. I understand you’re a story-teller. Any undead monkeys in your stories?

Plenty of undead in my stories, truth be told. Death herself plays a part. A few ghouls and a whole rack of demons. Heck, even the hero of Bound by Darkness is undead. Come to think of it, so is the heroine, Lena Sharpe. You’re not uncomfortable around the undead, are you, Jack?

10. Not as long as I have my sword handy and they steer clear of my rum. And my ship. And whatever patch of Earth I might be inhabiting at that particular moment. Any curses in your story? Heartless monsters? Irritating women who insist on taking matters into their own hands?

Spells, charms, and dark magic abound. One heartless demi-goddess, three creepy monsters with the power to possess, and an epic battle for souls. Will that do?

11. Hm. Perhaps you should tell me more about this demi-goddess. Is she beautiful? Does she enjoy rum? One of my favorite words is “egregious.” Care to share one of yours, love?

Auspicious. I certainly feel favored by fortune to be interviewed by you today, Jack. I wonder what mischief you’ve got up your sleeve to be so free with your time, though. Not planning to rob me of a copy of my book, are you?

12. *tucks book behind back and whistles* You wound me with your accusations, my dear. Parlay? Or draw your sword?

Draw your sword and raise your shield, mate. Otherwise, the battle is over and your soul is destined for hell.

13. A woman of action! Actually, you're beginning to remind me a bit of Elizabeth. I'm not sure how I feel about that. You’ve got a crowd of cursed sailors and a nasty sea monster on your trail. How do you escape?

Toss a bind spell at the sailors. It’s only temporary, but it ought to be enough to knock ‘em into the sea. The sea monster will stop to have a snack, and we’ll race away like the wind. Hoist the jib, lads!

14. I've re-thought the resemblance to Elizabeth. Welcome aboard, my darling! I'll steer the ship, you dispatch the nasties. Romantic night in? Or adventure on the high seas?

Adventure on the high seas, no debate. Romance is the stars shining over a dark sea, the lacy white wake of a ship in the water, and the salty scent of danger in the air. On the high seas, we can have it all. And partake of the rum at the same time.

15. Darling, you truly are a pirate after my own heart. Ditch the bloody awful bathrobe and grab the rum. We have places to go! My personal motto is: Take what you want, give nothing back. What’s yours?

Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead! Ramming the other ship is always a good option, wouldn’t you agree?

Agreed. Shall we? *holds out hand*

I think Captain Jack may have met his match! Thank you, Annette, for such a fabulous interview. And for writing such fantastic stories. To learn more about Annette and her books, go to her website.

Annette's Giveaway:

Now for more FUN! Annette is giving away two signed ARCs of BOUND BY DARKNESS! Trust me, you want to get your hands on this book. I promise you'll be hooked from the very first sentence. Here's how to enter:

1. Earn entries:

*Comment on this post = 1 entry

*Be a follower of this blog = 2 entries

*Tweet the link to this interview = 3 entries (Use @cjredwine or leave url to tweet in your comment so I can see it.)

*Post the contest on your blog = 3 entries (Leave a link here)

2. Tally it up: Please tally up your entries and leave the total in your comment.

3. Check back: The contest is open until 8 p.m. Saturday, May 1. Please check back to see if you've won and to claim your prize!

Good luck to all, and happy reading!

Winner & Other Random Stuff

I'm behind in my blogging duties! I have a really excellent excuse, however. Last week my gallbladder turned against me. A few days later, my pancreas decided to join the party as well. I have an appointment with a specialist today to see what the problem is and how to fix it. In the meantime, between pain and lack of food (I can barely stand to eat), I've had a hard time focusing on the things I need to do.

Like blog.

So, here's a quick catch up post before I put up today's interview of awesomeness.

WINNER of the MOB'S Interview drawing is: throuthehaze Congratulations! You get your choice of a paperback from Susan Mallery, Shayla Black, or Lynsay Sands.

Other Minorly Interesting Tidbits:

1. I have 5 spots left in next week's Query Workshop.

2. I've discovered a new-to-me band called 10 Years and am using a few of their songs on the playlist for an upcoming project.

3. Speaking of upcoming projects, while Agent of Awesomesauce Holly has CASTING STONES, I'm diving into the YA pool. I'm currently putting together 2-3 proposals for project ideas of mine and will be discussing them with Holly to see which is the best fit for my career at the moment.

4. Then? I write!

5. I'm sure there are other much more interesting tidbits floating around in my head, but did I mention the lack of food? Yeah. Everything's fuzzy, and I've got nothing else today.

Off to put together the interview! Have a lemon bar for me. Just don't brag about it. My stomach may feel like it's trying to digest itself, but I'm still a Ninja.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fun Stuff!

My friend Mandy is having a contest on her Romance Yardsale site. Romance Yardsale has some awesome goodies and every sale goes toward helping Mandy and her friend Bria make it to RWA Nationals this year.

One lucky person entering this contest will win their favorite Romance Yardsale item! Here's what I'm hoping to win:



The contest ends today, so go check it out! Entering is easy and you might win some cool stuff!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not Less Than

I wasn't sure I was going to blog about this. It's a passionate subject for me (and for many), and I didn't know if I had anything to add to the discussion. Even as I type this, I'm not sure I'll actually post it.

Not because what I have to say isn't important. But because I want to be careful not to spill emotion without a point that goes beyond anger.

Last week, a woman from Tennessee took her adopted seven year old son and put him on a plane back to Russia. He traveled alone and was met at the airport by a courier his mother had found online. The note she'd given him said she couldn't handle him anymore and was giving him back.

Let's get the obvious out of the way. No one actually approves of what she did. But there are plenty who aren't ready to condemn it, either. The reasons I've heard basically circle back to this: he had serious issues, she feared for her family, and she had to do something.

Indeed, she did. Tragically, she did one of the most harmful things she could have done.

I won't address the risks of sending a seven year old alone on a flight to a foreign country. Or the risks of hiring a stranger off the internet to collect the child. (Had she never heard of child abusers?!) Or the terrible trauma she inflicted on this boy by sending him back like a pair of shoes that didn't fit.

What I'd like to address is the reactions of those who don't see her actions as child abandonment and endangerment. The sheriff in her town said he couldn't prosecute because he wasn't sure a crime had been committed. Why? Because the boy was adopted. People called in to my hubby's radio show to chastise anyone for judging this woman's actions as wrong. Why? Because the child was scaring the mother. People argued with me online that this woman needed to do something to protect her family.

And who was this boy, then? Not family? Somehow a second-hand citizen because he was adopted? Not worth being angry at the danger and trauma she inflicted on him?

Let's go ahead and put it out on the table: He had problems. Many older children who've lived in orphanages their whole lives do. He needed help. She needed help. Possibly she needed him out of the house. I won't argue with any of that.

My argument is with the idea that because he was adopted, what she did is somehow understandable or excusable.

I'll tell the story a different way. Let's say one of my sons starts making threats against my other children, me, or my house. Let's say he draws pictures that scare me. Let's say he verbalizes things that make my hair curl. Let's say I don't know what to do with him. Guess what? He was born in Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California. They're the ones who sent him home with me. Let's say one day I decide I've had enough, and I put him on a bus from Nashville to Thousand Oaks, with a note for the hospital administrators to reclaim this child because I don't want him here anymore. I go on the internet and hire a stranger to meet my son's bus and transport him to the hospital.

Would the nation be horrified? I certainly hope so. Would I be charged with a crime? I'd better be. What's the difference? Adoption.

Again, please hear that I'm not saying that little boy needed to stay in that home. What I am saying is she had options. She knew the risks. As an international adoptive mom, I can tell you the education before you can finish your home study is thorough and sometimes discouraging. She also knew she could call her social worker and get help. She could have had counseling for him from the state. Or he could've been placed with a family better equipped to handle his emotional state.

She didn't exercise any of those options. Instead, she willfully abandoned this boy, put him in danger, and increased the emotional trauma to him, and people stand back, look at it, and don't know how to feel because hey, he was adopted. It wasn't like he was really hers.

He was her son. That's what adoption means. It's not foster care. It's not a trial period. That boy wasn't a puppy she brought home from the pound and decided to return because he chewed up her furniture. He was her son. Adoption means fully committing yourself to the child you've chosen to parent. There's no difference in the love and care offered to an adopted child than there would be to a biological child. Or there shouldn't be. Sometimes, being a parent means you have to fight for your child by getting him treatment. Sometimes it means you have to ask for outside help. In extreme cases, it might mean working with a social worker to place the child in a home better equipped to handle the child.

This woman failed to understand the heart of adoption. She didn't behave like a mother. She showed tremendous lack of care and concern for this boy. And please don't tell me she was protecting her family. He was her family too. She had options that didn't include child endangerment. She chose to ignore them. The direct result of her actions is this: Russia has suspended all adoptions and 1800 waiting families and the orphans they were going to bring home are now left without options. And one little boy has received the message that he is unlovable, unwanted, and hopeless.

If her actions would be a crime against her biological child, they should be viewed as a crime against her adopted child. Adopted children are not less than. I'm angered and heartbroken that there are those, especially in positions of authority, who fail to see that.

Interview With My Overstuffed Bookshelf



I first came upon the My Overstuffed Bookshelf site by browsing a client's blog. She had a list of sites currently running book giveaways, and I decided to check out a few of her links. I'm so glad I went to My Overstuffed Bookshelf! Amy Jacobs, the woman behind MOB (You know I'm going to love a site I can nickname MOB!), reads and reviews a wide range of books--from children's to paranormal to many of the sub-genres within romance. I find her reviews to be concise, insightful, and straightforward. She also interviews authors, hosts giveaways, and consistently displays the kind of books-are-my-crack mentality that makes me feel right at home.

I subscribed to MOB and love getting emails with two to three short reviews in it every day or two. When I contacted Amy and asked if she'd be willing to be interviewed on my blog, she seemed excited about the prospect. I asked her to recommend a favorite book to my blog readers, and she chose Michele L. Montgomery's RIVER OF TEARS because "it will leave your emotions completely out of whack. To me a great story is a book that throw your emotions all over the place." If you're one who enjoys being deeply emotionally invested in the story you're reading, check out RIVER OF TEARS.

Amy chose to be interviewed by the inimitable Spork of Doom.

Spork of Doom



Amy Jacobs



When I asked Amy what she wanted for her cupcake design, her answer was (unsurprisingly) "anything to do with books." I turned that piece of vague instruction over to my incredibly talented hubby, and he made one of my favorite cupcakes yet! So, without further ado, I give you the Bookshelf Cupcake and Amy's interview with the Spork of Doom.



1. I’m all about world domination, and I’m always looking for good help. Why would you be an acceptable minion in my quest?

I accept no prisoners!! Well, unless they have an ARC or a signed book from an author to bribe me with. You know, we all have our price!

2. I suppose we do. I, however, long ago decided never to be bribed with anything less than a small country or two. Being a Spork of Doom takes moxie. What’s the sporkiest thing you’ve ever done?

I once pushed a lady out of the way at the library book sale to get a copy of a book from my favorite author. That book was mine! She learned very quickly not to get in my way!

3. Hm. You may have the kind of moxie I need in a minion. When I’m not busy taking over the world, I like to eat pie. What kind of pie do you think is worthy of my Spork of Doom status?

That would be cheesecake! Yeah, it says cake but it is really a pie. Who can resist that yummy goodness. Of course, I would bring a back up pie for you as well. My Grandmother's chocolate pie would leave you weak in the knees (eh, handle?) and you would be begging for her to join your army!

4. Beg? Bah! I'm the Spork of Doom. I don't even ask nicely, much less beg. Favorite dessert to eat with a spork?

Did you not read the last answer?! My Grandmother's chocolate pie! Only her pie is worthy enough for the mighty spork!

5. I accept your offering. You shall be my minion! I have the ability to be simultaneously spoon, fork, and weapon of mass destruction. What unique ability do you have?

I have the great ability to type, talk on the phone and punish the children all at once! I have the ability to multi-task AND have eyes in the back of my head! My children will also tell you that I have super hearing as I can hear them from another room getting in trouble!

6. Eyes in the back of one's head are handy for any number of reasons. In this day and age, a savvy spork bent on world domination can’t afford to ignore a good marketing campaign. I’m thinking t-shirts with “Spork or Die.” If you made a shirt with your own slogan on it, what would it say?

"Whoever Has The Most Books Wins!" on the front, and on the back--pictures of my favorite covers with the hot men! You know they would make great minions!

7. Only if they know how to take orders and bake a mean lemon meringue. If I had to compare myself to anyone in history, I’d have to say I’m most like Napoleon. Only skinnier. And shinier. And smart enough not to lose my empire at a place with a ridiculous name like Waterloo. Who are you most like and why?

Well, if you were to ask my children, I am like Vicki from Fairly Odd Parents! But I think I am more like Mother Teresa. Okay, I admit, I am more like Vicki from the cartoon twerps!

8. I don't know this Vicki, but one would hope she has the good sense to know how to overthrow a government and rule in my stead. Why is your job just as much fun as world domination?

Where else can you sit on your butt, tell the kids what to do, and read a hot romance book to relax? Some call it lazy, but I call it the evolution of the life chain. I use to be that child at the bottom! Now I am queen Mama sitting on my butt laughing! HAHAHAHA

9. I believe I detect a faint note of evil in your laugh. In between conquests, I like to read a good story. What can you recommend and why?

Anything by Susan Mallery, Shayla Black, or Lynsay Sands. Of course if you are looking for just 1 book I would have to say River of Tears by Michele L. Montgomery. The best book I have read in a few years was River of Tears.

10. The River of Tears? Must be a documentary on my host of defeated enemies. You need to accomplish a secret, night-time mission as my minion. Cloak? No cloak? Why?

Cloak. Only because if the have a library where we are going, I can haul all the books inside the cloak!

11. You're obsessed. I like that in a woman. My best piece of advice to others is this: “Fear the spork!” What’s your best advice?

If you see me coming, prepare to have your books raided and possibly taken when you are not looking. They are like candy to me. I can't have just one.


Thank you, Amy, for such a fun interview! You were more than a match for the Spork of Doom. To learn more about Amy, and to find reviews on a plethora of books, check out her website.

Today's Giveaway:

In honor of Amy's author recs to the Spork of Doom, one lucky winner will get to choose a paperback title from Susan Mallery, Shayla Black, or Lynsay Sands! Here's how to enter:

1. Earn entries:

*Comment on this post = 1 entry

*Be a follower of this blog = 2 entries

*Tweet the link to this interview = 3 entries (Use @cjredwine or leave url to tweet in your comment so I can see it.)

*Post the contest on your blog = 3 entries


2. Tally it up: Please tally up your entries and leave the total in your comment.

3. Check back: The contest is open until 8 p.m. Saturday, April 24th. Please check back to see if you've won and to claim your prize!

Good luck to all, and happy reading!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And The Truth Is ...

Thank you to all who entered my Spot the Lie contest (Otherwise known as HELP! I have nothing to blog about!). My friend Annette makes yummy soaps in all sorts of fun shapes at her etsy shop. I thought a custom made soap (you get to pick the design and the fragrance) would be fun!

The truth: I did go to leadership camp in high school, and our bus driver Henry (soon nicknamed the Bus Driver From Hell) got us lost. Three times. And yes, we were served nothing but cold rolls and carrot sticks when we arrived as the kitchen had long since closed. I also skied down an icy hill while at winter camp and took out a pastor at the bottom. And we did have an exchange student from Japan to whom we taught the most excellent art of sock wars.

The lie: I never read a poem from the stage of a county fair when I was seven. Or since then. For some reason, people rarely ask me to speak in public. I think it might be for fear of what I'll say.

The winner: Leona!!! I used random.org to choose a winner from the correct answers and you won!

Head here, pick out your favorite, and email me with your selection and your mailing addy so I can have it sent to you. :) Congrats and enjoy!

Workshop Updates



Need help from the Query Ninja? I have 10 spots remaining in May's Query Workshop. In June, I'll be running another synopsis workshop and will open registration for that within the next two weeks.

If you're considering querying, or you just need help seeing your plot clearly, check out the Query Workshop before it fills up!

*Note: This cupcake is not one of my hubby's. After all the cupcakes he willingly makes for me each week, asking him to make a Query Ninja one on top of everything else seemed a bit risky. There is, after all, a hefty life insurance policy on me. I'd hate to give him any ideas.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Truth, Truth, Lie



1. Yesterday evening, I finished revisions on CASTING STONES. Yay!!

2. No time to take a break or give in to brain-deadness, though, because I have a critique folder to clean out and a plot workshop to give this week.

3. After that, I start work on two YA proposals to send to Holly.

4. No rest for the mostly crazy.

5. My grandma continues to improve. Daredevil made her a Get Well Soon card the other day and wrote the following message: I hope God revives you.

6. We'll be focusing on vocabulary this week in homeschool ...

7. Yesterday, I saw a headline on an online news site that said "Celebrities Disrupted by Volcanic Ash."

8. OMGHOLYCOWNOWAY!!!!

9. The fact that someone thought that topic was newsworthy is mind-boggling to me.

10. I'm having a hard time thinking of funny things to say today. For reasons why, see #1-3 and focus on the word "brain-deadness."

11. So, instead, we'll play a game called "Spot the Lie." I'll list four things. Three of them will be true. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to spot the lie. Leave your answer in the comment trail for a chance to win a mystery prize!

* I once was chosen to attend leadership camp, but our bus driver got so lost, we arrived at the camp five hours later than everyone else and had nothing but carrot sticks and cold rolls for dinner.

* When I was seven, I was invited to recite a poem onstage at the local county fair.

* I once slipped on an icy hill, "skied" down it in my boots, and knocked over a pastor when I hit the bottom.

* When I was fourteen, we hosted an exchange student from Japan and taught her how to have "sock wars" with my dad.

There you go! Pick the lie, leave it in the comment trail, and be entered to win a cool mystery prize! (Hint: It's handmade, totally awesome, and you get to choose how it smells.)

Contest is open until 8 p.m. central time Tuesday, April 20th. (Sorry, cannot accept international entries.)

For an extra entry, tweet a link to this post and leave it for me in your comment!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Winners of Lisa Mantchev Books!



There was a total of 182 entries in the drawing for the Lisa Mantchev giveaway! Thank you to all of you who participated. Come back this Wednesday for an interview with a fabulous book blogger and a giveaway of one of her favorite books! As usual, I used Random.org to generate the winners:

Winner of an ARC of PERCHANCE TO DREAM: Heather

Winner of a paperback of EYES LIKE STARS: Carrie

Congratulations, you two! Please leave your email for me in the comment trail so I can get your mailing info.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Francesco the Sock Monkey!

My CP K.B. Wagers invited me on her blog today to be interviewed by Francesco the Sock Monkey. Chuck Norris may have been involved. Go forth and comment!

Interview With Lisa Mantchev



I first met Lisa Mantchev last year on Twitter a few months before her first novel, EYES LIKE STARS, hit the shelves. We struck up a conversation, discovered a mutual love of cupcakes, and before I knew it, an ARC (advanced reading copy) was on its way to me, and she was set to do a series of guest posts on my blog. The ARC arrived, and I devoured it in one gulp. EYES LIKE STARS is enchanting, gorgeous and breathtakingly unique. I was captivated from the start and thought about the story long after I'd reached The End. I've waited a year to get my hands on the sequel, and thought it only fitting to have Lisa back on the blog to celebrate the release of her next amazing story. Here's a peek at PERCHANCE TO DREAM:

Growing up in the enchanted Thèâtre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn’t know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, the Teller of Tales, and determined to follow her stars. She is ready for the outside world.

But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Thèâtre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between—

Nate: Her suave and swashbuckling pirate, now in mortal peril.

Ariel: A brooding, yet seductive, air spirit whose true motives remain unclear.

When Nate is kidnapped and taken prisoner by the Sea Goddess, only Bertie can free him. She and her fairy sidekicks embark on a journey aboard the Thèâtre’s caravan, using Bertie’s word magic to guide them. Along the way, they collect a sneak-thief, who has in his possession something most valuable, and meet The Mysterious Stranger, Bertie’s father—and the creator of the scrimshaw medallion. Bertie’s dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it’s Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess’s lair?


Lisa chose to be interviewed by the always charming Captain Jack Sparrow.

Captain Jack



Lisa Mantchev



In Lisa's books, the heroine Bertie is "helped" (And often hindered!) by a handful of mischievous, pasty-loving fairies who consistently provide comic relief. It's not uncommon to see a fairy with excellent intentions be sidetracked and sidelined by a gorgeous piece of cake. My hubby decided to enter the spirit of fairy fun with the cupcake he made for Lisa. So, without further ado, I give you the cupcake (titled Beware Of The Bewitching Cupcake, or What Happens When Tiny Fairy Meets Giant Cupcake) and Lisa's interview.



1. Would you classify yourself as a pirate or a member of Her Majesty’s Royal navy? Why?

Definitely pirate. I don't like playing by the rules. The actual presence of rules chafes like 100 grit sandpaper. (Ok, not completely... some rules are actually helpful, but knowing when to break them is key.)


2. A pirate, eh? I like where this is heading. What’s your favorite thing to do in Tortuga?

Plunder and pillage like it's Halloween!


3. My kind of woman! I’m offering you free passage aboard my ship to anywhere in the world. Where shall we go, love?

Mmmm. It's a little land-locked, but I'm always up for Paris. I vote we dock in Calais and ride in together. *bats eyelashes atchoo*


4. I don't understand the attraction of a land-locked city, but I'm willing to play along for a little while. Who is the hero of your story most like: me (savvy, debonair, and unquestionably smooth with the ladies), the insufferably honorable Will Turner, or that deceptive little minx Elizabeth?

I'd say Beatrice (Shakespeare Smith) is a decent combination of all three... she's got principles, but can be pretty ruthless when it comes to getting what she wants!


5. Principles are pesky little things. Rum? Or more rum?

I would have said "yes and yes," but given that I am percolating a tiny personage in my midsection, the rum is going to have to wait for a bit.


6. More rum for me, my darling! Which leads me to the age old question: Why is the rum always gone?

I had you drink my share!


7. *looks around* Is that what happened? What’s the most piratish thing you’ve ever done?

We did roast Mister Cotton's Parrot last year for International Talk Like A Pirate Day (All right, all right, it was a Cornish game hen, and there were two of them, and I wouldn't really eat a parrot, unless I was trapped on a deserted island and it was between that and cannibalism...)


8. My dear, parrots most definitely do not taste of chicken. Don't let anyone tell you different. Are they rules? Or more like guidelines?

Definitely guidelines. Remember how I said I don't like playing by the rules?


9. I think we should run away together! After, of course, we procure more rum. I understand you’re a story-teller. Any undead monkeys in your stories?

Not anymore. The fairies tied him up and tossed him into the basement with a marshmallow stuffed in his piehole!


10. Fairies sound like wicked little creatures. I do hope you don't turn them against me. If you have no undead monkeys, have you any curses? Heartless monsters? Irritating women who insist on taking matters into their own hands?

How about a scrimshaw medallion, an enchanted theater, four cake-loving fairies, a Sea Goddess with dire need for vengeance, and a long-lost family?|


11. Yes to the medallion, the theater, and I suppose to the family, as long as they've brought rum. You can keep your Sea Goddess. I've already dealt with one of those. And I think we've established how I feel about fairies. One of my favorite words is “egregious.” Care to share one of yours, love?

I seem to have used "indefatigable" quite a bit lately.


12. A truly remarkable word! I often use it to describe my penchant for rum. Or that sly minx Elizabeth's ability to constantly muck up every perfectly laid plan. Parlay? Or draw your sword?

I vote we SAY "parlay" and then stab everyone within sword's reach!


13. Darling, I need a moment. I'm overcome with adoration for your utter pirate-ness. What say you and me "parlay" our way through the nearest port? *waits* I'll take that as a yes. You’ve got a crowd of cursed sailors and a nasty sea monster on your trail. How do you escape?

Down the rabbit hole.


14. I don't know what you mean, but if there's rum at the end and a chance to "parlay," I'm in. Romantic night in? Or adventure on the high seas?

*doesn't believe those things are mutually exclusive!*


15. It's decided, then. We shall run away together, "parlaying" our way to treasure, adventure, and rum. Just leave the fairies behind, my love. They make me shudder. My personal motto is: Take what you want, give nothing back. What’s yours?

Eat Dessert First. =)

Thank you, Lisa, for the fun interview. And for writing such captivating stories! To learn more about Lisa, visit her website. To purchase EYES LIKE STARS (which just came out in paperback) or PERCHANCE TO DREAM (Which comes out May 25th), head here. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Lisa's Giveaway:

Lisa is giving away an ARC of PERCHANCE TO DREAM to one lucky commenter. And because I'm SUCH a fan of hers, I'm throwing in a chance for another commenter to win the paperback edition of EYES LIKE STARS! Here's how to enter.

1. Earn entries:

*Comment on this post = 1 entry

*Be a follower of this blog = 2 entries

*Tweet the link to this interview = 3 entries (Use @cjredwine or leave url to tweet in your comment so I can see it.)

*Post the contest on your blog = 3 entries


2. Tally it up: Please tally up your entries and leave the total in your comment.

3. Check back: The contest is open until 8 p.m. Saturday, April 17th. Please check back to see if you've won and to claim your prize!

Good luck to all, and happy reading!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lumberjacks of the World, Unite!



1. The above picture represents all you need to know about my efforts to force my boys into some paltry semblance of personal hygiene.

2. Last week, my grandma, who lives in California, suddenly got very ill and needed emergency surgery. The doctors felt she was likely to have a heart attack during the procedure or just not wake up at all, so early Wednesday morning, I raced to the airport and made my flight to California with six minutes to spare.

3. Which meant I had the joy of sitting in a middle seat.

4. Which wouldn't have been so bad if the man to my right had possessed even a rudimentary understanding of things like bathing, deodorant, and not stretching one's arms above one's head when one's underarms could conceivably be used as a biological weapon of mass destruction.

5. At any rate, my grandma is a trooper and came through the surgery. Her recovery is up and down at the moment, so how she eventually fares remains to be seen, but I'm glad I went to see her.

6. Especially because the combination of slight dementia and narcotic pain killers made my always sassy grandma often hilariously funny.

7. Like the time my sister was talking to her about having chronic bronchitis and Grandma stared at her in shock and yelled, "You have hepatitis?!"

8. Or the time she heard me discussing teaching online workshops, clutched her stomach, and said "Oh, the thought of teaching classes online just gave me a stomach ache!"

9. But especially the time her day nurse (Who alternated between ignoring Grandma's needs or treating her like she was three), leaned over her, noticed her dry cracked lips the day after the surgery, and said "What happened to your lips?" Grandma looked her dead in the eye and snapped back "What do you think?"

10. Spend five minutes with her and so much about me is explained.

11. When I returned home, my kids were excited to see me and gave me a present. An action figure of Toothless the dragon. I'm thrilled!

12. Starshine explained to me that while Toothless is a fantastic dragon, he wouldn't be Starshine's first choice. Why? Because Starshine would like to invent a dragon that can shoot a fireball from either end. Like a llama's spart, only with flames.

13. The strategic advantages would, of course, be priceless.

14. *sigh* And yes, in this house, everything eventually comes down to a fascination with bodily functions.

15. Starshine also informed me recently that we shouldn't vote for someone who wanted to get rid of ALL taxes.

16. I agreed and said we needed taxes for things like roads, military, and emergency services.

17. He shook his head and responded, "If the government didn't collect any taxes, in a few years we'd run out of trees."

18. When I questioned this logic, he said, "Mom. The government has to be careful of the trees. Without taxes, lumberjacks will take over the world."

19. *whistles innocently* I don't know where he gets such a fertile imagination.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Winner of A ROGUE IN MY ARMS



I tallied all the entries for the A ROGUE IN MY ARMS giveaway and, using my trusty random.org, came up with three lucky winners:

Tahereh
Karen Amanda Hooper
Robin K


You've each won a signed copy of Celeste's latest book! Please leave your email in the comment trail, and I'll contact you regarding your prize. Thanks for entering and enjoy some fun reading!

Who's On First?

Just introduced our kids to this classic comic bit. Hard to get much better than this!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Interview With Celeste Bradley



Of all the authors I'll ever meet, Celeste Bradley will always have a place of honor in my heart. Why? Because 5 years ago, I served her a cup of coffee late one night and when she commented that she needed the caffeine because she was pulling an all-nighter to finish writing her book, I enthusiastically exclaimed that I, too, was a writer. I was. I had seven chapters on my first manuscript finished. She was a multi-published author. We weren't exactly on the same playing field. But, she treated my statement with respect and even offered to read my chapters for me, something I would never have dared to ask for. After she read, she was again gracious enough to meet with me personally and rip my book to shreds. Well, almost all of my book. She did point to one line and say, "I was going to be kind, until I saw this line and realized you're the real thing. So, the gloves came off because you have talent." I took notes, listened carefully, and learned valuable lessons like what were cliches and how to avoid them, and how to not head-hop (change POV) fifteen times per page. She also gave me excellent advice on how to pursue publication and where to find other authors to network with. I've always been immensely grateful. She shaved years off my journey to publication with one gloves-off conversation.

So, when I emailed her and asked if she'd be willing to be interviewed on my blog, I was so thrilled when she said yes! Celeste's books are full of fun, intrigue, escapades, and romance. Here's a peek at her latest, A ROGUE IN MY ARMS.

The Runaway Brides trilogy had the working title of "Three Lords and a Baby." One day a tiny girl, Melody, is dropped off on the steps of Brown's Club for Distinguished Gentlemen with nothing but a note claiming that her father is a member of the club.

Since most of the club's members are long past the sowing of their oats, the finger seems to point to the youngest three members. Lord Aidan de Quincy, Sir Colin Lambert, and Lord Jack Redgrave.

In the second book, ROGUE IN MY ARMS, Sir Colin Lambert is searching for the stunning actress Chantal, who rejected him so soundly that he has never looked at another woman since. If he can offer her his new title and wealth, and make their child legitimate, surely she will wed him now? But Chantal has disappeared and Colin must hire saucy theater seamstress Prudence Filby, to help him in his search. However, plain and common Pru is really a lady in hiding, protecting her young brother from greedy relations who would steal the inheritance he will receive when he comes of age. Now out of work and broke because Chantal fled town without paying her, Pru and her brother join the search for the flighty actress.

The journey takes them from London to Brighton to Bath, a mad race to catch up with Chantal before she weds another. On the way they encounter scoundrels, players and bandits, along with a string of other lovelorn men hell-bent to find Chantal!

When Pru realizes that Colin is a man she could truly love, she can't bear that he still adores the selfish Chantal. When Colin realizes that Pru is so much more than he first believed, he realizes that he must make a choice. Wed the woman he loves and doom his child to permanent illegitimacy, or try to make a family with the mother of his child?


Celeste, being the adventurous, romantic sort, decided to take on the inimitable Captain Jack Sparrow for her interview.

Captain Jack Sparrow



Celeste Bradley




Now that you know who's who, let's take a look at the awesome cupcake my hubby made for Celeste. As Melody is the central figure causing mayhem and craziness for the three bachelors in the Runaway Brides trilogy, Celeste asked for a Raggedy Ann cupcake to represent little Melody. So, without further ado, I give you the cupcake and Celeste's interview with Captain Jack.



1. Would you classify yourself as a pirate or a member of Her Majesty’s Royal navy? Why?

I'm a pirate. Definitely. I'm not really a member of anything. I can't bear politics. Or committees. I can't stand it when people talk things to death instead of doing something. It makes me froth at the mouth with impatience and I usually just go ahead and get it done while they're still talking! I guess you could say I don't play well with others!

2. Hm. I bet I could get you to play well with me, my darling. What’s your favorite thing to do in Tortuga?

Me. Hammock. Umbrella drink in a coconut. Go away.

3. You. Me. Hammock. Umbrella drink. Sounds very tempting. I’m offering you free passage aboard my ship to anywhere in the world. Where shall we go, love?

How about the middle of the ocean? I have soap in my bag and the crazy notion in my mind that you'll clean up nice ... Johnny.

4. Shh. *looks around* You'll give away all my secrets. Who is the hero of your story most like: me (savvy, debonair, and unquestionably smooth with the ladies), the insufferably honorable Will Turner, or that deceptive little minx Elizabeth?

Sorry, sweetums. This time my hero, Sir Colin, is of the honorable type--except for some reason, every time he apologizes to my heroine, Pru, he is compelled to kiss her! Which leads to more apologizing ...

5. Being honorable can certainly cramp one's style. Still, if he's getting kisses from his girl, he can't be all that bad. Rum? Or more rum?

Hammock. Umbrella drink. You can stay if you want.

6. Darling, I thought you'd never ask. Which leads me to the age old question: Why is the rum always gone?

The rum is always gone because you drank it! I, on the other hand, am virtuous and noble and (hic) would never steal the last glug of rum!

7. My dear, I think you just may be the woman for me. What’s the most piratish thing you’ve ever done?

Other than finishing off the rum? Okay, I confess. I'm mostly a good doobee. Soccer mom on the outside, pirate on the inside. Once on a road trip I threw the map out the window and took a random left in the middle of the desert. Didn't make it home for three days. That's about as wild as I get.

8. Stick me with, love. I'll help you bring out your inner pirate in no time. Are they rules? Or more like guidelines?

They are guidelines. Perhaps only suggestions! Hints, even!

9. I understand you’re a story-teller. Any undead monkeys in your stories?

No. I’m not fond of monkeys. They fling poo. I just can't get past the poo thing. I do like to bring animals into my stories. My current trilogy has a giant white horse named Balthazar with what we like to call an "attitude problem." His rider is of the opinion that an exorcism is in order.

10. Monkeys are filthy little creatures, aren't they? Any curses? Heartless monsters? Irritating women who insist on taking matters into their own hands?

Ooh, curses sound like fun! No curses as of yet, although I did once write a heroine who was jinxed! The first line of that novel was "Another day, another suitor carried away in pieces." Heartless monsters--only of the human variety, but I have a good pile of those. Of course, they tend to end up in body bags. Irritating women with minds of their own? Every damn book and proud of it!

11. A jinxed heroine who leaves her suitor in pieces? *looks over shoulder* She wouldn't happen to be named Elizabeth, would she? One of my favorite words is “egregious.” Care to share one of yours, love?

My favorite word is "hammock." Or hadn't you noticed?

12. I detect a trend. Let us finish this interview and go find a hammock for two. Parlay? Or draw your sword?

I like parlay because I can argue the socks off a black-and-white cat! I can argue you into giving me your sword--wrapped up in Christmas paper with a glitter bow on top!

13. Darling, if you're holding my rum hostage, you can have my sword, my boots, and my almost-honorable heart. Hands off the hat, though. You’ve got a crowd of cursed sailors and a nasty sea monster on your trail. How do you escape?

So the arguing didn't work, huh? Well, I'd like to see how the sea monster operates in the desert. Come and get me, SpongeBob!

14. SpongeBob? What an odd name. A cursed creature, no doubt. Romantic night in? Or adventure on the high seas?

Can't I have both? Romantic night on the high seas? Adventure in? Come on, Jack, use your imagination!

15. Why bother? It's so much more fun letting you use yours. Just pass the rum. My personal motto is: Take what you want, give nothing back. What’s yours?

My motto is "No apologies, no excuses." We make decisions in every moment of every day, even when we don't realize it. I try to make mine consciously, with a goal in mind, so that everything I do puts me closer to that goal. Whether I get there nor or is all on me.

Sounds like we may soon lose Captain Jack to the enticement of Celeste's hammock and jug of rum! Thank you, Celeste, for the fun interview! If you haven't yet tried some of her novels, do it. And be prepared for a romp through Regency England. Of course, you realize there's more fun to be had! Celeste has generously offered to give away THREE signed copies of A ROGUE IN MY ARMS!

GIVEAWAY RULES:

1. Leave a comment for Celeste = 1 entry

2. Answer the following question from Celeste = 2 entries

In the "Runaway Brides" trilogy, little Melody has a doll made from a knotted cravat. She calls it Gordy-Ann. Where does the name Gordy-Ann come from? (Hint: think Alexander the Great)


3. Tweet a link to this interview = 2 entries

Leave a link to your tweet or include @cjredwine in the tweet so I see it.

4. Link to this interview on your blog = 3 entries

Leave me the link in your comment.

5. Add up your total # of entries in your comment. (8 possible)

Contest ends Sunday, April 11th at 8 p.m. Central Time. I will tally up the entries and use random.org to generate three winners. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Zombie Grasshoppers Bring Down The Kitties!



1. Last night, my hubby looked at me and said "It's Monday."

2. I acknowledged the truth of that statement.

3. He sort of glared at me and said, "It's Monday. Where's the blog post?"

4. I informed him I'd posted on Sunday night.

5. To which he replied, "That was a writing post. I want a funny post. It's Monday. You're supposed to do a funny post."

6. Sheesh. My public, he is never satisfied. So, because he makes awesome cupcakes for my blog interviews, does laundry, and selflessly gives me 10 hour writing days at the bookstore when he'd rather I was home parenting with him, I'm doing my usual funny-ish Monday post on a Tuesday.

7. Yesterday, I noticed a co-worker's fingernails.

8. They were noteworthy because every nail was ridiculously short except for her pinkies. Both nails on her pinkies were long.

9. Because I'm the curious sort, and because not everyone wears the evidence of their mental instability on their sleeve so I truly had no warning, I asked her why she kept her pinky nails so much longer than the rest.

10. She turned around, extended one pinky nail toward my left ear, and said "I have to keep them long to clean out my cat's ears."

11. It took me .01 seconds to realize she was about to give me a personal demonstration of the ear-canal-grooming she usually reserved for her cat.

12. I backed up and said (possibly with volume) "Were you about to stick your fingernail in my ear?!?"

13. She said "Well, yes. I was just going to show you ... "

14. This, dear reader, is an egregious breach of my personal space the likes of which have not been perpetrated upon my person since I was eight months pregnant with The Scientist and some hairy behemouth of a stranger planted himself in front of me in the ice cream aisle of my local grocery store so he could rub my belly without asking permission.

15. I slapped her hand down and said "There are boundaries here. Boundaries! You can't stick your fingernails in people's ears willy nilly!"

16. My manager, who was inside the office with us, nearly fell off his chair laughing. I realized he wasn't going to be any help at all. I was stuck dealing with Crazysauce all by myself.

17. She then said, "Well, they say you shouldn't stick anything smaller than your elbow inside your ear."

18. I said, "And yet you were coming at me with your fingernail. Which is equal parts disgusting and disturbing. I've owned cats all my life and never once have I been tempted to dig into their ear canal with my fingernail. What is wrong with you?"

19. She said, "How else am I supposed to get the grasshopppers out?"

20. I nearly gagged. My manager was now crying, he was laughing so hard. And she was still eyeing my ears with her pinky nails standing at attention.

21. I said, "I'm so sorry I asked. Really, very, truly sorry. Forget I ever said anything. This discussion is over. Over!"

22. And because a woman who keeps a set of grasshopper-retrievers at the end of her pinkies isn't exactly the kind of woman who understands when she's totally breached the comfort level of those around her, she wouldn't stop. She proceeded to tell me a story about when her mother got a beetle stuck in her ear.

23. Because you're my faithful followers and your plans today probably didn't include revisiting your breakfast the hard way, I won't indulge you with the horrible, no good, very bad details.

24. I've learned a valuable lesson, though. There are no such things as innocent questions, and if one isn't absolutely prepared to dive head first into someone else's sheer luancy, one should keep one's curiosity to oneself.

25. Speaking of sheer lunacy, I did have to wonder if a grasshopper burrows into a cat's ears, does it munch on brains if left long enough to its own devices? And if so, would it be called a Zombie Grasshopper?

26. *sigh* I know. I'm just as bad as she is.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Life After Querying



So, you've taken the plunge. You've condensed your 90k novel of fabulosity into a three paragraph query letter. (Probably with the aid of a pint of Ben & Jerry's, a stack of pancakes, a few bags of Cheetos, and a shot or five of vodka, but whatever.) You did your homework, researched agents, followed all of their slightly different submission guidelines, and hit send.

Now, your queries, synopsises, and first chapters are out there in the ether, taking up space in inboxes across the country and you have a choice.

What do you do next?

A. Obsessively check your inbox five times every three minutes because even though the average response time is somewhere between five weeks and never*, you're probably going to be the exception.

B. Finish off the Cheetos, the vodka, and the pancakes while writing a lengthy list of additional flavor ideas to your buddies Ben and Jerry.

C. Stalk your chosen agents across Twitter, asking them how their slush pile reading is going and offering them your firstborn if they'll put your query at the top.

D. Write the next project.

If you answered A, B, or C, you're going to drive yourself and everyone around you stark raving mad long before your local supermarket runs out of Cheetos. You think waiting to hear on a query is bad? It's just the beginning. Next you get to wait on a revision letter from your agent. Then, after you slave over those revisions, you get to wait for your agent to find time to re-read your newly polished manuscript. Then you go on submission and guess what? You WAIT. A lot. Unless you're a certain friend of mine, but whatever. ;) You wait. Weeks. Months. You send out more submissions and wait weeks. Months. When your manuscript sells, you wait months for the contract. Months for the revision letter. Months before your book goes through all the steps it takes to finally hold its glossy cover in your eager little hands.

If you've been doing A, B, or C that entire time, you'll be dead by then because some kind person in your life will finally see the light and put you out of your misery. If they don't, call me. I work for cheap.

BUT, if you've been doing D, you're not only in the game, you're ahead of it. Because writing the next project is the only smart thing to do. Why?

1. Because Vodka really isn't your friend in the long run.

2. Because there's a chance the project you're querying isn't the ONE yet.

3. Because you'll be flat-out shocked how much better you are at this little thing we call writing the next time around. And the next. And the next.

4. Because if you want to be an author, you have to be able to write more than one book.

5. Because you'll learn so much about craft and execution the next time around, you might want to pull your first book off the querying/submission market and take another swing at it.

6. Because pancakes, while delicious, really do go to your hips.

7. Because a writer who comes to the table with some killer ideas and a killer work ethic to back it up is a much better bet than a precocious little genius who wants to slave over each manuscript for nine years.

8. Because it will keep you sane. Better than sane. It will keep you excited about writing.

9. Because you need something better to focus on than bugging Ben and Jerry. Trust me.

10. Because having another marketable manuscript means another opportunity to reach your goals.

11. Because I told you to. Okay, that may only work on my kids. But really, I'm right. You might not know it yet, but I am.

12. Because if/when the rejections come, you'll be able to handle them much better if you already know you're rocking the house with a story SO AMAZING you're going to make them eat their words when they get a look at it.

So, what should you do while you wait, and wait, and WAIT?

Put your butt in your chair, your hands on your keyboard, and write.

*Please note that many, many agents work hard to respond in a timely fashion to queries. So "never" is usually a case of spam filter, email gone wonky, or Zombie Goat invasion. Yeah. It happens.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Winner of the HEX HALL Giveaway!



I tallied up the entries (a whopping 212!) and used random.org to generate the winner of a signed copy of HEX HALL and a hexy t-shirt and that winner is KATE (commenter #2)!! Congratulations! I'll email you for mailing info.

Thanks to all who entered. Be sure to come back next week when best-selling historical author Celeste Bradley takes on the inimitable Captain Jack Sparrow and gives away THREE signed copies of her latest release. Three winners!! Be here or ... yanno, be somewhere else where no one is giving you three chances to win. (No, really. Be here.)

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