Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Narcissist Series: Who Are You Writing For?

Filed under: Author Articles — Larry James @ 8:30 am
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Mia Siegert, Guest Author

I don’t know whether the majority of people say they write what they want to write for themselves, or whether that’s faux-modesty that many writers feel they need to say to justify smaller (if any) publication records. I’m not saying a writer’s worth is based on publication, but I think that there can be a problem when writers use “writing for myself” as an excuse for their state of success.

SpecificReadersHowever, I have noticed that many writers I’ve encountered through the years (from undergrad, through grad school, and especially now in the emerging stages of my professional career) stick with the same excuse, “I’m writing for myself, not other people.” I’ve noticed a trend that those writers are in the same place that they were ten years ago with little (and often no) improvement whatsoever.

So how is it possible for writers who take their craft very seriously to be stuck in this rut?

Although there probably are many possible answers for that question, I believe one of the main roots stems from narcissism. The term narcissism comes from Greek mythology (which I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid, for good reasons – Gods with human flaws! But I digress).

For a streamlined background and crash course about the roots of narcissism, in the story of Narcissus a very attractive man was so in love with himself that he burned the affections of many people, including the goddess, Nemesis – who by chance happened to be a very spiteful goddess. She lured Narcissus to a lake where he falls in love with his reflection. Unable to leave the sight of his own face, he starves, and dies. The modern terminology for narcissism revolves around a person’s excessive egotism–egotism such as with an all too familiar sentence, “I’m writing for myself, not my audience.”

There’s only one word to sum up Narcissus’s fate: ouch.

Actually two: mega ouch.

To clarify before I’m crucified, I’m not saying nor suggesting that one should write with the sole purpose of gaining audience approval, but observing that the mentality behind writing for one’s self can be and often is problematic. Those writers with too much self often don’t deal well with criticism, if they can cope with it at all.

Although sometimes the most passionate about their work, they’re by far the toughest to teach. Often, they feel misunderstood (“No, you missed the point of what I was trying to say!”) rather than consider the option that maybe their writing is lacking a key factor that helps clarify the author’s point.

Many times, those writers take critique as a cruel form of bullying, something incredibly personal (“They’re being mean to me!”) It’s completely understandable that writers can become so attached to their writing that their feelings can get hurt when it feels like their work is being torn to shreds. Sometimes, it’s over-sensitivity.

Sometimes, people really do tear writing apart negatively (I’ve noticed a common trend that often the harshest critics are the ones with the least amount of writing knowledge). The point is, the way one deals with critique is critical to a writer’s future successes and ability and willingness to improve. Because, really, who wants to be plagued with being the narcissist?

I think one always needs to keep a sense of her/himself in mind to figure out how to improve and how to stay humble. Writing for one’s self is important in the sense that a writer shouldn’t write specifically for someone else, but if writing for one’s self is used as an excuse to not accept critique and improve, then there’s a problem.

MiaSiegertCopyright © 2013 – Mia Siegert. Mia Siegert graduated with an MFA from Goddard College and holds a BA in English from Montclair State University. She won honorable mention in the 2009 MSU English Department Awards in Fiction. Siegert primarily writes literary fiction and contemporary young adult, with some dabbling in commercial fiction and drama. She teaches fiction and memoir to adults and students. To learn more about Siegert’s work, check out her website at www.miasiegert.com or like/follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

Monday, December 31, 2012

How to Write a Book: 4 Proven Steps to Writing a Book That Sells

Filed under: Author Tips,Guest Author Articles — Larry James @ 8:30 am
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Brian Tracy, Guest Author

A recent study by USA Today found that a huge majority of people have dreamed of writing a book. If you’re among them, I’ve got great news: you can make 2013 the year you finally do it. You don’t have to navigate the mysterious waters of the writing and publishing world alone. I’ve written and had published more than 50 best-selling books – so I know a thing or two about the process – from idea conception and writing to publication and marketing. In this article, I share my proven 4-step process for writing a book that sells.

writing-a-bookThere are more than 2,000,000 books published each year and yours can be one of them. You have the ability, right now, to write and publish a book on a subject that is important to you. Like riding a bicycle, learning how to write a book is a skill that you can master with practice and repetition. According to USA Today, 82% of adults dream of writing a book someday, either to express a heart-felt concern about a subject, or to earn a living, and even become successful. The key to writing a book is to “Just Write!” Writing is one thing that you cannot get worse at by doing it.

I did not graduate from high school, and I failed high school English. I fantasized about writing a book for many years before I decided to “Just write!” In 1981, I began giving talks and seminars to ever large groups. To speak effectively, I had to do hundreds of hours of research, and read hundreds of books over the years. To keep current, I read dozens of magazines and thousands of articles. I’d read many of them several times.

After I continuously learned how to write a book, I realized I had a powerful writing process to publish successful books: Start with a strong chapter that gives a lot of value and benefits to the reader, develop the subject throughout the books, and end with a strong chapter that summarizes and emphasizes the main points. It is a simple formula, but it works, over and over.

Today, I write four or five books each year and am published by seven different publishers in the U.S., as well as dozens of publishers in 38 languages and 58 countries. I have sold millions of books on a wide variety of subjects. In this article, I want to share with you four of my most effective techniques for writing and planning a book:

Find Your Passion

Start with a message, idea, or story that you really want to share with other people. This must be something for which you have a passion, something that you believe in. One of the best definitions of a writer is: “A person who cannot not write.” An easy way to start your flow of ideas is to ask yourself what you have a passion for. What knowledge, expertise or believe do you have that could benefit the lives of others? By asking yourself these questions before you start the actual writing process, you can trigger a great idea that can help you single out a subject.

Be an Expert

You must be an expert on your subject and know ten words for every word you write, or the reader will know that you are talking off the top of your head. For instance, if you want to write on success, you must already be successful. If you write on money, you must already be rich. If you write on relationships, you must be happily married. Think about an area, subject or topic that you have experiences in that make you an authority on a subject.

writingbookHow to Write a Book People Will Buy

Exactly who are you writing this book for and why will your book appeal to them? When you write a book proposal, you will be asked to describe the type of person who will buy the book, and the number of those people that exist in the current market. Make sure that your market is large enough. I only write books that I feel have at least one million potential book buyers.

Expand Your Knowledge

Continuously expand your knowledge on the subject you are writing about. Find a book, buy, read and learn everything you can about other authors, books or articles dealing with the same subject. This will help you tremendously during the writing process.

Make sure that your material is different and better than other people writing in your field in at least three ways. When you are doing your research, gather all the information that you will need to write your book so you can organize it into a logical structure before you begin writing.

If you want to make 2013 the year you finally finish your book, you may want to join Brian Tracy for his FREE webinar titled, How to Write a Book and Become a Published Author here: http://discover.briantracy.com/aff_c?offer_id=14&aff_id=694

BrianTracyCopyright 2012 by Brian Tracy. Brian Tracy is a self-help author of 54 books, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, business coach, and keynote speaker. Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations.

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Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

13 Ways to Write With Urgency

Filed under: Author Tips,Guest Author Articles — Larry James @ 8:00 am
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Chad R. Allen, Guest Author

We’ve all been there. You start reading a non-fiction book or a blog, and all is right with the world. But then as you get into it, something changes. It’s not holding your attention. In fact, the word “boring” comes to mind.

writersdeskOne way to reduce boredom among your readers is to write with a sense of urgency. After all, if what you’re saying is not important, why write it?

As I read your blog post or non-fiction book, I want to know that you want my attention. I want your writing to be like hands on my shoulders as you look me in the eyes and speak. It’s about taking my time seriously. It’s about believing what you say matters.

Following are 13 ways to produce a sense of urgency in your non-fiction or blog writing:

1. “Omit needless words.” Nuff said? This one comes from The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.

2. Trim the first part. Often as we begin writing we need a few sentences or a few paragraphs (sometimes whole chapters!) to build up to what we really want to say. Nothing wrong with that, but then go back and trim the first part off. If we can read the rest without being lost, the first part should go.

MarkTwain3. Tell a story. If what you’re saying is important, there’s no better way for me to remember it than if you wrap a story around it.

4. “If you see an adjective, kill it.” –Mark Twain. (Okay, you don’t have to kill ALL of them. But reconsider each one.)

5. Move quickly. Don’t stay with any one idea for too long.

6. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. This gives readers a sense of progress as they read.

7. Get someone else to read it. Then ask, “Did it hold your attention?”

8. Give yourself a limited amount of time to write. This will force you to get to the point quickly, even if you have to go back later and fill in a few gaps.

9. Use word pictures, metaphors, and illustrations. The right one can do a lot of work for you.

10. Break it up with sub-headings. They are to readers what handholds are to climbers. They keep the reader moving forward while anchored in your topic.

11. Get practical. Turn the corner and tell readers how to apply the principles you’ve just given them.

12. Trust that you have enough content. Sometimes writers make the mistake of dwelling on one topic because they are afraid they will have nowhere to go afterwards. This just isn’t true! Say it. Then see what comes. I promise something will.

13. Read great writing. The more you do, the more you’ll learn, consciously and subconsciously, the tricks of the trade.

ChadAllenCopyright 2012 by Chad Allen. Chad is editorial director for Baker Books (www.bakerbooks.com), whose honor and animating passion is serving the church—from the pulpit to the pew. He, his wife, Alyssa, and two children are all redheads, which looks freakish at first glance but then you warm up to it… eventually. They make their home in the Fulton Heights neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Connect with him at www.chadrallen.com and via Twitter @chadrallen.

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Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It Takes “Discipline” to Be a Writer… and More!

My writing teacher and biggest influencer in my writing career, Peggy Moss Fielding (1927-2014, Tulsa, OK), once told me, “If you can’t set aside at least one hour each day to write, you will never be a writer.”

A&S-DisciplineMy first thought was… “One hour a day?! No way! I don’t have time to do the things I need to do every day as it is. How about if I start with 15 minutes?”

“Writing is sitting down – EVERY DAY – slicing open a vein, then bleeding your Truth all over the page.” ~ Scott Ginsberg

The hardest thing for most writers to do is to write. However, once they have written something, there is a great sense of accomplishment.

Discipline often conjures up images of deprivation, seriousness, or (gasp) rules. It not only takes discipline, it takes dedication. Discipline usually means making ourselves do some duty, grit our teeth, force ourselves to do what we don’t want to do. If you want to be a writer you MUST write. When writing, discipline must be seen as a positive, never a negative.

“You settle into the discipline of writing just as you settle into your favorite chair. Discipline feels good and makes you a good writer.” ~ Harriet Hodgson

Currently I have 4 blogs (including this one – see the list at the end of this article) and I write something new on each one of them almost every day. Each blog is published on Facebook and Tweeted every 4th day. Don’t even think about starting a blog unless you can commit to writing something new at least once each week. If you don’t your blog will die on the vine. It must have interesting and fresh “content” to attract readers who will subscribe to your blog and come back to see what’s new. Be sure to add the URL to your blog on your business card, your e-mail signature and everything that leaves your office. If “you” don’t tell people about it – who will?

writedaily3Daily. You must write something everyday. Choose the time when you feel that you are the most creative and promise yourself to spend at least one hour writing. My best time is late in the evening. No phone calls. No interruptions. You need some undisturbed time for concentration. Right now it is 12:14 a.m. You may prefer to write in long or short sessions. Write a short paragraph or an entire page. What works best for you? Be sure to take occasional breaks to keep the creative juices flowing.

“Start off slow. Either begin with every other day, twice a week, whatever is not overwhelming for you. Or limit your writing to a half an hour every day or two pages or whatever’s attainable. Many people burn out before they solidify a routine.” ~ J. A. Howard

Begin my making notes about what you want to write about. Scribble. Random notes are okay. Write your notes in a computer file. Refer to them when you run out of ideas. Some of my best ideas have been in my “Future Ideas” file. Many times what I may have written months before is just what I need to complete an idea that I have had trouble finishing. Often these ideas will inspire a creative streak when it seems that I cannot type fast enough to express the thoughts that I want to write about.

Sometimes a lightning bolt of inspiration strikes. I may be driving my car to an appointment, thinking and BANG! A new idea or a twist on an old idea comes to mind. The small recorder in my dashboard comes in handy at moments like this. I have been known to awaken from a dream, get up and go to my computer to jot a few noteworthy ideas. Experience has taught me that I most likely will never remember the idea when I wake up in the morning. I also have a pen with a small light at it’s tip that can help me make notes in the dark on a notepad beside my bed.

Don’t get too wordy. Say what you need to say, let it rest, come back 24 hours later, read it again, and edit or rewrite if necessary.

Learn to Tweet. I resisted Twitter for months thinking it was for kids. People “tweet” about everything from their latest closed sale to the color of the bird on their windowsill. I could care less about reading that Sam had a ham sandwich with Sally. That has all changed. Twitter has helped me be a better writer. The common thread between these vastly different messages is their length – Twitter restricts your messages to 140 characters. I decided to write a “relationship” Tweet once each day. Sometimes I will have an idea for a Tweet but it will be too long. Restricting an entire message to just 140 characters builds discipline – you can’t ramble and repeat yourself over and over. Discipline helps me edit to 140 characters so it makes sense. I can now see that 365 Tweets could very easily become another relationship book – one relationship “Tweet” for everyday in the year – 140 characters at a time. Imagination is a wonderful thing! 😉

writedaily2Don’t worry about sentence structure, punctuation, etc., that comes later. Just write. Be spontaneous. If you want to be a good writer you will need to hire someone to proofread your writing. Spellcheck is terrific, but it doesn’t discover all the nuances that a professional will find.

The mistake that a lot of would be writers make is that they stop writing when they don’t feel inspired and wait for the passion to come back. That is a mistake. You can always write something. Even it it means beginning to write something new to get you back on track. Don’t believe in “writer’s block.” Writing is never difficult if you have something good to say. Sketch out a few new ideas and begin again. You can always write something!

My first attempt at writing my first book, took 13 1/2 months. My second book was easier and quicker and my 3 book was written in 2 1/2 months. Since then I’ve written 2 more.

“Go toward with what attracts, excites or inspires you. Ask yourself what’s worth the effort and the sacrifices that come with commitment to any big goal. Worthwhile goals demand effort, risk, and sacrifice. You have to persist through fear and doubt; you have to draw on inner resources and become more than you were before. You find out what you’re made of.” ~ Dan Millman

If your goal is to write a book, set a sub-goal to write 3 to 5 pages a day. If you are writing a 200 page book and write 3 pages a day, it will only take you about 65 to 70 days to complete it if you stay on schedule.

“The key of course to being a highly effective blogger is discipline, and discipline required structure. Structure of course leads to habit, and habit is a natural tool that can make anyone more effective if its focused in the right direction.” ~ Duncan Riley

It only takes 20 to 30 days to develop a new habit. Practice, practice, practice by writing something everyday and you will develop a new, productive habit of writing in about a month. Good writing habits are easy to make and hard to break, especially if you enjoy writing. Having been writing most of my life, but seriously since 1995, I feel compelled to write. It’s a good feeling. I have developed a passion for writing.

I cannot imagine writing a book on a legal pad. Or a typewriter. Computers have made writing easy. When I wrote “Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections,” I created 10 files in my computer, named each file and as I came up with ideas I would alternate writing between each of the ten files until I could not think of anything else to write. You don’t have to write a book from page one to the end. I write non-fiction and it’s more fun to skip around from chapter to chapter or as in my later books, from topic to topic.

For me, I usually am listening to some quiet jazz as I write. Jazz inspires me. My hero, Miles Davis once said, “”When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.” When a jazz musician plays jazz, although he may not consciously know what the next note will be, he trusts his intuition enough to fearlessly play it. It’s the same with writing. Often the next word will inspire me to go back and rewrite the entire sentence to make it better. Some soft classical music in the background may inspire you.

If you want to be a writer there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome with time. Never let anyone tell you that you cannot write. Everyone can write if they really want to. Read lots of articles about writing. Follow other writer’s blogs. Google – “Writer Blogs!”

BONUS TIP: Always click “save” after you have written something on your computer. You cannot click the save button too much. I had to rewrite the entire first chapter of my very first book all over again because I forgot to save what I had written and my computer froze. (Of course, it was better the second time around!)

Maybe you’re struggling to write because you don’t feel good enough. Take a writing course at a community college. That’s what I did and where I met my teacher, Peggy Moss Fielding. She was teaching a class at Tulsa Junior College. That class literally change the direction of my life! (Thanks, Peggy! I miss you!)

“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” ~ Rabindranath Tagor

I dare you to write something everyday – without fail. – Larry James

To write a blog, article or book, you must first begin writing. Begin today!

By the way… I STILL don’t have time to write. I make time to write!

Read: “How to Write a Book, One Page at a Time” by Larry Winget and Jazz Up Your Relationship!

Note: I started writing this article at 12:14 a.m. It is now 2:45 a.m. And all is well. 😉

BONUS Article: Scribble, Scribble… Write, Write!

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Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

the-archives2Click for Archives! ~ Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

commentNOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s Pinterest page for authors and speakers at: https://www.pinterest.com/larryjames2012/authors-speakers-blog/

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