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Writer Q & A (Archived) > Q and A with Anjuelle Floyd: Sept. 4th-6th

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message 1: by A.F. (last edited Sep 03, 2010 05:33PM) (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Please welcome Anjuelle Floyd, the talented author of the book, Keeper of Secrets: Translations of an Incident, and the novel, The House to our Q & A forum. Her writing might be what is generally called "women's fiction", but her work transcends any genre or label.
As well as being a writer, Anjuelle Floyd is a wife of twenty-eight years, mother of three, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work. She is also the host of Book Talk, Creativity & Family Matters , a BlogTalk Radio discussion show.

Her website: http://www.anjuellefloyd.com/

Her Goodreads Profile: Anjuelle Floyd

Her Books:

Keeper of Secrets by Anjuelle Floyd
Keeper of Secrets: Translations of an Incident (where you will also find my review of the book)

The Road to Ibadan by Anjuelle Floyd
The Road to Ibadan

Her latest novel, The House, is soon to be released. You can check out an excerpt here: http://www.freado.com/book/6208/the-house

Post your questions all weekend; Ms Floyd will join in to answer them as time zones and her schedule permits.


message 2: by Anjuelle (new)

Anjuelle (neptuneauteur) | 10 comments Thanks Anita for hosting me.
I look forward to receiving your questions and posting answers.

It's always great to have fellow writers and readers ask questions. Answering them allows the opportunity for more self introspection which is a continuous necessity to develop interesting and intriguing characters and caught in riveting dilemmas of plot.


For quicker answers after posting your question here, please e-mail your questions directly to: nepadfwriter@yahoo.com


Thanks again, Anita.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful, relaxing and safe holiday weekend.

Let the questions come.

anjuelle
www.anjuellefloyd.com
Imagination is the key to freedom.
The artist's job is to cultivate and nurture her or his imagination, and that of others.


message 3: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Nice to have you here in our spotlight, Anjuelle. I'm going to post my question now, just in case I can't make it on Saturday due to pesky hurricanes.

I was wondering what your thought process was on joining the stories in Keeper of Secrets: Translations of an Incident with a common thread. Did you start with the idea of the incident at the restaurant and decide on writing connecting stories?


message 4: by Anjuelle (new)

Anjuelle (neptuneauteur) | 10 comments Great question, Anita:

This will be fun to answer.
I'll be back in a little bit with my thoughts.
Thanks for a stimulation opener for the discussion.

anjuelle

www.anjuellefloyd.com
Imagination is the key to freedom.
The artist's job is to cultivate and nurture her or his imagination, and that of others.


message 5: by Emma (new)

Emma Michaels (emmamichaels) Hello Anjuelle!
What advice would you give starting authors or writers trying to get their work published? (Would you mind if I quote your answer in a "Project to Published" post on my blog?)
Thanks so much for the Q&A!
Sincerely,
Emma Michaels
http://EmmaMichaels.Blogspot.com
P.S.- M.R.- Great question!


message 6: by Anjuelle (last edited Sep 06, 2010 05:29AM) (new)

Anjuelle (neptuneauteur) | 10 comments Emma wrote: "Hello Anjuelle!
What advice would you give starting authors or writers trying to get their work published? (Would you mind if I quote your answer in a "Project to Published" post on my blog?)
Than..."

_______________________________________________________The author who is starting out needs to focus first on the quality of what she or he is writing. Craft the best product--short story, novel, flash fiction, novella, etc.-- that you have the ability to create for a reader to consume.
And this takes time.
Join a writing group, find a writing teacher to mentor you, take classes from Writers Digest, i.e.
Writers Online Workshops

While earning my MFA I took their class, Focus on the Short Story and their Extended Short Story Writing Workshop for learning the nuts and bolts of how to craft a short story.

After graduation I enrolled in their Focus on the Novel Workshop each fall.
I used this class take The House through its first revision. It was also in this class that I learned how authentic my The House felt. The instructor had actually experienced what my protagonist in The House was undergoing.
All sorts of things can happen when you take online classes.

I’ve been told that John Grisham took classes from Writers Digest before getting published.

Online classes, where you interact mainly with the instructor, are perfect for writers who feel anxious and sensitive about receiving critique from peers whose suggestions may hold a bit of envy.

With the Internet as your interface you can monitor and control the amount of interaction you have, and the critiques you receive from fellow participants who are a bit disingenuous, and who are not as sincere in delivering their comments.
But you still must be ready to hear the truth about your writing.

The ability to take well-intended critique from those whose writing skill and artistry surpasses yours, and who want you to succeed is incredibly important. It is a necessity.

The ability to receive sincerely and well-meaning critique, insight and suggestions about your writing determines how far you will go and the amount of success you will achieve far more than talent.

As an author whom I recently interviewed stated, “Getting published needs to be incidental to improving your skill and artistry at writing. The writer’s job is to try and make what she or he writes today better than what we wrote yesterday.”

To grow into better writers is the author’s prime goal.

Likewise and conversely if we do this, publication of our work will occur.

Having said that I encourage you to listen my interview of author, Lisa Unger, the author I interviewed and quoted. After working in publishing for 10 years she revised and honed a novel she had written at age 19. That novel was published and she has gone on to write 8 more, having just delivered to her publisher a 10th novel that will debut in 2011.

Any novice writer can benefit from what she has to say.
Here’s the link to the interviews I have conducted with her.
Lisa Unger on Book Talk, Creativity & Family Matters 9/3/2010

Lisa Unger on Book Talk, Creativity & Family Matters 9/26/2009

_______________________________________________________

A. F. wrote: "Nice to have you here in our spotlight, Anjuelle. I'm going to post my question now, just in case I can't make it on Saturday due to pesky hurricanes.

I was wondering what your thought process ..."

_______________________________________________________

Actually the idea for linking the characters in "Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident" came from reading Lavanya Sankaran’s "Bangalore Stories: The Red Carpet"

While reading Sankaran’s collection of stories you slowly recognize that the protagonists of the various short stories maneuver in the same social circles. Unlike the stories in "Keeper of Secrets..." where various protagonists actually meet and directly interact, those of Bangalore Stories circle and move upon the perimeters of each other’s lives.
I read Bangalore Stories during the 2nd semester of earning my MFA in Creative Writing @ Goddard College. Third and 4th semesters are spent revising and shaping your MFA thesis.
A novel writer, I, as suggested by the head of our program, Paul Selig, focused my work on something new. Short stories are a great way for fiction writers of all types to strengthen and hone our skills at crafting fiction. Writing short stories is much harder than crafting a novel. And I have by no means mastered the craft of either.
Before entering the MFA program I had found it difficult to almost impossible to write a short story. I wanted to include everything in the writing of the story, kitchen sink and all.
You can’t do that with short stories. Neither can you accomplish this with novels, nor does any writer need to.
Problems that we have in writing a novel become stark when writing a short story. You cannot avoid what challenges you at craft. For me that has always been plot.
How to keep the story moving? And plot inevitably leads to structure.
The first four short stories of Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident come out of, or rather are based on characters and their dilemmas in novels (all unpublished) previously written to my entrance into the MFA program. By choosing to work with characters with whom I was acquainted I could focus my efforts on plot--beginning, middle, end, transitions, irrevocable actions that propelled the stories forward.
I wrote the last four stories from scratch. In crafting these I focused on gaining awareness of how to interweave character and a characterization with plot, i.e. creating the dance between action and personality and determining what of a character’s personality, history and emotions the scene demanded and what of all that I knew of the character need not go into the short story.
This same dance between character and plot occurs in novels, but the expanse of what we include stands wider because unlike short stories, novels contain subplots.
A short story revolves around one plot and one character, where as a novel can have several characters or two major characters revealing the story through thought, word and deed.
That I chose to connect the 8 stories of Keeper of Secrets... through the restaurant incident was something that emerged from within the structure it of the stories as a whole.
Having based the first 4 stories on characters in novels I had written, I knew the protagonists live in the same place, Oakland, California. I continued with this location for the protagonists of the next 3 stories. The central character of the last story, comes to Oakland, California to find his wife who has moved here to live with her aunt. In this 8th and last story the collection comes full circle in that the protagonist of the last story actually meets the central characters of the opening story. The last story closes with these characters in the restaurant where the initiating incident occurred.

That I had patterned or taken from Lavanya Sankaran’s structure and characterization in Bangalore Stories did not become apparent until near the end of my fourth semester.
In preparing my bibliography and annotated bibliography also required for graduation, I listed Bangalore Stories also on my annotated bibliography.
The annotated bibliography does not contain the 45-60 books we were required to read, but the most notable ones from each semester--those that indelibly imprinted our learning.
Bangalore Stories had truly touched me. Writing the annotation--an explanation of why--I realized it had been structure. When reading Bangalore Stories, it was not until I reached the 3rd story that something a character said caught my attention. Flipping back I realized that this character had been at the center of a previous story. Then is when I recognized what was happening, what Sankaran had constructed. It’s so much like real life.
And yet much it the same way, I came to recognize in at the end of my studies, when preparing my annotated bibliography, that Sankaran’s writing regarding structure had quite subtly, but no less powerfully, influenced the writing of my short stories. Even her title, Bangalore Stories: The Red Carpet provided a blueprint for that of Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident.
The Red Carpet is the title of one of the stories in Sankaran’s Bangalore Stories. I like to call this the namesake story. Keeper of Secrets..., the namesake story of my collection is the title of the 2nd story of my collection.
And of course ...Translations of an Incident speaks to plot thread of the restaurant incident moving throughout the collection and connecting the stories
This experience revealed the beautiful aspect concerning the necessity to constantly read.
As writers we must always read, and we must read what we like. For it is when our brains are most relaxed and we are being entertained that our minds, while open, absorb not simply the story, but all the author has infused into the writing and structuring of her or his work.
____________________________________________________


M.R. wrote: "Anjuelle, what do you think of the current ebook trend? I know the physical form of the "book" will never be replaced, but how has the ebook format affected you and your work, and what are your th..."


message 7: by Anjuelle (last edited Sep 04, 2010 06:10PM) (new)

Anjuelle (neptuneauteur) | 10 comments M.R. wrote: "Anjuelle, what do you think of the current ebook trend? I know the physical form of the "book" will never be replaced, but how has the ebook format affected you and your work, and what are your th..."
_______________________________________________________
E-books, short for electronic books, include everything from what we have now--iPads, Kindles, Nooks, etc. stretching back to what Steven King did around 1999/2000 making available installments of his story, The Plant available for download. As we know he eventually aborted his idea much to publishers’ then relief. I just Tweeted an article from 2000 on that which now show us how short sighted publishers and naysayers were at the time.

What Stephen King essentially did was make public a computer document of The Plant.

Unfortunately readers were unable to receive the remaining installments in the immediate future of that time. I don’t know what Stephen ever did with making the story available to fans and readers. I cannot help but think that the publishing industry provided a hefty compensation to deter him from continuing, or perhaps a serious threat should he continue do so.
In either case e-books of all types are now, a decade late available by the dozens of not only King’s works but those of thousands of authors and in various e-formats too many to count. It seems that everyday delivers us a new electronic or computer format for which to access stories besides that of the printed hard or paperback copy.

As for my experience with e-books as a reader, I own a Kindle. I’ve purchased my Kindle around December 2008 when they first came out.
Since that time I have bought about 5 books in Kindle format. I read on book on my Kindle. But I am not a good example for who is using e-books and how often.
Our middle child who has a severe form of dyslexia lives by her iPad. She has for a long time and all during high school purchased and downloaded books from audible so that she can listen while reading along. Now since we gave her an iPad she is able to experience the quality of simultaneously listening to a person read a story while reading along much easier. She can download and coordinate everything on her iPad. , And the iPad, has a free Kindle application.

Our eldest, a law student has ordered all her textbooks on her iPad. , She has also purchased the hard covers. But with them on her iPad, she can take them with her to class. Our middle child has done the same for their high school textbooks and plans to do the same when entering college next year.

I anticipate that by the time our youngest reaches high school, three years from now, all if not most, students will have an iPad. It truly is a godsend for students with learning challenges, all of these electronic and computer developments.

Which is to say that writers must be aware of the various changes taking place.
Which is to say that the publisher of my collection of short stories only recently enabled the Peek Inside application at Amazon.com for Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident.
The book debuted in June 2007, and only recently did they make it where readers could take a peek at opening pages.

I wonder if they did this as a result of seeing that I had made opening pages of my novel, The House available for reading through Bookbuzzr.
Of course The House is yet to debut. My collection of short stories has been out for over 36 months.
Not a good business decision.
And this is one of the reasons, among others, that I chose to self-publish The House.
E-books are clearly here to stay.
The question is how publishers will sell them at prices high enough to recoup the enormous salaries they have paid their top authors.
This question, and the publishers’ answer(s) for they will be many and varied, directly affects mid- and lower-list authors like myself whose sales may and do not often reach our advances.
When I asked my publisher, two years ago, about making my short stories available on Kindle, their response was, “Well no one, but the author benefits from the sale of a book on Kindle.”
I don’t think they meant for that to slip out.
I have not forgotten it.
To sell a book, or better yet, give it your best shot at gaining exposure such that people and readers will want to buy it you have to make copies available for free.

Bookbuzzr and electronic versions of books allow you to do this.
Using Bookbuzzr I’ve been able to garner over 50 readers, bloggers and book lovers to agree to write reviews.
When querying them I included a link or embedded the title of my novel, The House with the link as I have done here and stated they could read opening pages and decide if the book met their taste.
I only mailed copies of the novel to those who indicated they were interested in reading further and reviewing the work. The results have thus far been quite positive, never mind the savings in time and money.
Some of the reviewers even requested a pdf or electronic copy. Recently I learned from one reviewer that she uses an application where you can submit the pdf version of a book and the application will convert the book to Kindle format for her Kindle.
There are all sorts of things happening with and available with e-readers.
But publishers are willing to make only so many copies of a book by any author available and at no cost.
This is a short-sighted decision.
They are also slow if not reticent to make Kindle editions available even for purchase. When printing up the various thousand copies of a book, and making them for sale, common sense dictates you price the electronic format/copy below that of the hard or paperback copy--that is if you want readers to purchase the electronic copy. Publishers don’t want to do this. Remember what my publisher told me. “Kindle only make money for the author, not us.”
This begs the question, “What happens when as the number of readers who own and desire to purchase a book in e-format increases to equal or surpass those who desire to buy a hard or paperback copy?”
With the flourish of various e-book formats, if a publisher doesn’t make the cost of a book in one e-format reasonable, someone else will.
In fact, if I am correct, Amazon who owns Kindle, Barnes and Noble who owns Nook, and Apple who owns iPad control the prices of books on their e-formats, not the publishes. At best the publisher gets to bargain with them.
Which takes me back to Stephen King.
I think he was perhaps trying to tell publishers something.
They obviously didn’t listen.
Just think if publishers had developed their own e-format?
Clearly Amazon, though it sells many other different products besides books, is establishing itself as a leader in publishing.
Create Space, which prints books, is directly tied, if not owned by Amazon.
And many authors have gone through Amazon to print and sell their books.

An author whose work is made public and for sale by a traditional publisher needs to make sure if they can, that Kindle formats of their books are available before, if not as soon as the hard or paperback hits the stands. You must also make sure that when listing the various places a reader can purchase your book and the various formats it comes in that you do include not just
Amazon, but independent book stores. Many book stores refuse to list, carry or order a book or title if the author’s website only lists Amazon as a purchasing source.
And yet, regarding Kindle versions of books, many readers and loyal fans go to authors’ websites looking to order a Kindle version and find they are not available.

That perhaps may be a lost sale.
For the publisher it’s a sale they don’t value. The return for them is nil to nothing.
For the author that’s one less person to go out and tell someone else about your book and encourage them to buy it.

Studies have shown that word-of-mouth recommendation, what we call and can build a viral effect, is the best and most financially and economically effective form of advertisement.
This cannot happen if copies of your book do not land in readers’ hands.
One would think that e-books would solve the problem of making copies available for little or no cost to readers.
Again, publishers see it as one more impediment to readers being forced to purchase a hard or paperback copy.


Authors and writers must understand the minutia of our consumers and the archaic thinking of publishers.

As Chris Brogan, author of Trust Agents suggests, publishers must transition from seeing themselves as publishing and selling books, but those in the business of information exchange. In this way the focal point of what we do shifts from the printing of books, of which the formats are too numerous to count, to that of that the product being offered to the reader for purchase. That product for authors, writers and publishers is entertainment and information.


message 8: by Anjuelle (last edited Sep 04, 2010 07:03PM) (new)

Anjuelle (neptuneauteur) | 10 comments Emma wrote: "Hello Anjuelle!
What advice would you give starting authors or writers trying to get their work published? (Would you mind if I quote your answer in a "Project to Published" post on my blog?)
Than..."


_______________________________________________________

The author who is seeking publication needs to focus first on the quality of what she or he is writing. Craft the best product--short story, novel, flash fiction, novella, etc.-- that you have the ability to create for a reader to consume.
And this takes time.
Join a writing group, find a writing teacher to mentor you, take classes from Writers Digest, i.e.
Writers Online Workshops

While earning my MFA I took their class, Focus on the Short Story and their Extended Short Story Writing Workshop for learning the nuts and bolts of how to craft a short story.

After graduation I enrolled in their Focus on the Novel Workshop each fall.
I used this class take The House through its first revision. It was also in this class that I learned how authentic my The House felt. The instructor had actually experienced what my protagonist in The House was undergoing.
All sorts of things can happen when you take online classes.

I’ve been told that John Grisham took classes from Writers Digest before getting published.

Online classes, where you interact mainly with the instructor, are perfect for writers who feel anxious and sensitive about receiving critique from peers whose suggestions may hold a bit of envy.

With the Internet as your interface you can monitor and control the amount of interaction you have, and the critiques you receive from fellow participants who are a bit disingenuous, and who are not as sincere in delivering their comments.
But you still must be ready to hear the truth about your writing.

The ability to take well-intended critique from those whose writing skill and artistry surpasses yours, and who want you to succeed is incredibly important. It is a necessity.

The ability to receive sincerely and well-meaning critique, insight and suggestions about your writing determines how far you will go and the amount of success you will achieve far more than talent.

As an author whom I recently interviewed stated, “Getting published needs to be incidental to improving your skill and artistry at writing. The writer’s job is to try and make what she or he writes today better than what we wrote yesterday.”

To grow into better writers is the author’s prime goal.

Likewise and conversely if we do this, publication of our work will occur.
The more you give of yourself in crafting the work to the best of your ability, the more pride you will hold in your heart for that work. This gives you passion for what you have created. And this passion fuels your ability to promote and market this work over the long haul.
It also empowers you to go back and writer your next book.
You cannot stop writing while seeking an agent or publisher. You must continue to write.
Writing has to be your focus if you are to endure as a career author.

Having said that I encourage you to listen my interview of author, Lisa Unger, the author I interviewed and quoted. After working in publishing for 10 years she revised and honed a novel she had written at age 19. That novel was published and she has gone on to write 8 more, having just delivered to her publisher a 10th novel that will debut in 2011.

Any novice writer can benefit from what she has to say.
Here’s the link to the interviews I have conducted with her.
Lisa Unger on Book Talk, Creativity & Family Matters 9/3/2010

Lisa Unger on Book Talk, Creativity & Family Matters 9/26/2009

______________

And yes, please feel free to quote me.
You can reprint this entire response if you like along with the very important question you posed.

Thanks so much.

anjuelle
www.anjuellefloyd.com


message 9: by Emma (new)

Emma Michaels (emmamichaels) Anjuelle wrote: "Emma wrote: "Hello Anjuelle!
What advice would you give starting authors or writers trying to get their work published? (Would you mind if I quote your answer in a "Project to Published" post on my..."


Thank you!!! Wonderful advice and please let me know if you want me to e-mail you when I use it in a post!
Thanks again!
Sincerely,
Emma Michaels
http://EmmaMichaels.Blogspot.com


message 10: by Anjuelle (new)

Anjuelle (neptuneauteur) | 10 comments Yes, that would be great.


message 11: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Some fascinating observations, Anjuelle. I agree that many publishers are lagging behind in the ebook trend.

It was interesting to me that you find it more difficult to craft a short story than a novel, since I find it quite the opposite.
Have you tried writing any of the shorter forms of fiction, such as flash fiction where you craft a story in 1000 words or less?


message 12: by Anjuelle (last edited Sep 06, 2010 01:31AM) (new)

Anjuelle (neptuneauteur) | 10 comments A. F. wrote: "Some fascinating observations, Anjuelle. I agree that many publishers are lagging behind in the ebook trend.

It was interesting to me that you find it more difficult to craft a short story th..."


_______________________________________________________
I have actually written some flash fiction, 2000-1500 words or less.
But it comes after thinking intensely about what will happen.
It's like I have to write the story in my head, edit and re-edit it and then I'm ready to type it out on the computer.
And of course I take it through several more editions and revisions.
Click here to read a short piece I wrote, The Kingdom of Heaven , while in my MFA program.

I think the hard part for me about short stories is that when I set out to write a story, whether a novel, or short story, character, history and back story just flows. I have to make little or no effort to know about my character. I can just type.
It's plot that presents my challenge, how to keep things going. I avoid conflict in my life, but you can't do that on the page. Conflict and tension are the mainstay of plot and drama. And they flow out of character. So I have to keep the sword fight going in my writing, that of releasing bits of character as demanded by the scene and those aspects of a character's personality that seek resolution, while keeping my character in motion--i.e. speaking, doing, choosing, thinking, and feeling in a way that produces irrevocable moments--instances in which she or he commits an act, and does so in a way that leaves no room to turn back and/or apologize. They have to move forward.

The way I keep myself doing this is to sketch a fairly bare bones blueprint of my story. Therefore I know the various hills and valleys I'm climbing towards the arc or rather what Christopher Vogler calls in The Writer's Journey The Ordeal or what some others call crisis, and that ultimately leads to climax
For this I use The Franklin Approach to outlining.
This is the text I used when a student in an online class, Story Basics, that I took the winter after earning my MFA in Creative Writing.
You can find the Franklin outline in Writing for Story where author and Pulitzer Winning Essayist, Jon Franklin, details why outlining is a necessity for writing fiction and how he goes about sketching one for stories and novels.

I highly recommend his approach because while providing a guide or map to writing your story, it leaves much to be discovered in the process of writing the story.
The old adage that, "The map is not the terrain," fits nicely with Franklin's approach. The outline you form using his approach provides just enough to get you writing and keep you from getting sidetracked an lost off the road, but not so much so that by the time you finish the outline you have no desire to write the actual story.
I used this outline to write my novel, The House .

I had intended the work to be a short story, but having used the Franklin outline I surprisingly continued writing and came out with a novel.
It was great.

All types of fiction have a beginning, middle and end. And to succeed they all have to include a continuous rise and fall of action built on conflict and tension leading to an arc or point of crisis.
For shorter works such as flash fiction, short stories and novellas, the time and space in which this occurs is much short. Thus failure at achieving this is more stark and blaring.
That's why writing short stories requires more skill than novels.
Agents and publishers know this. That is why many agents when having fallen in love with the short stories of a new and undiscovered writer, they will sign them on to write a novel. Rarely does the reverse happen. The reason is two-fold.
Short stories do not sell that well.
With everyone running short of time you'd think that readers would appreciate and demand more short stories.
Perhaps the reason is that again, it is hard to write short stories that really hit the mark and satiate a reader's hunger for catharsis--emoting, which brings me to the second reason that agents will often sign on undiscovered writers of short stories to write a novel.
They, like publishers, know that if a author can write short stories that hold a reader and bring them to catharsis like that we experience after reading 250-300 pagers of a novel, that author can achieve the same thing when writing a novel.
Short stores are not simply a chapter pulled from a novel.
They are a whole new art form that achieve the same emotional effect as a novel, but in less pages.
Like literary master of short stories and novels, Gabriel Garcia Marquez extols (paraphrase), "The short story must hit a home run or it has failed."
And I am by no means a master of short stories.


message 13: by Sheila (new)

Sheila | 97 comments I'm so sorry I missed this, and so glad I could catch up on it.


message 14: by Anjuelle (new)

Anjuelle (neptuneauteur) | 10 comments So glad you could catch up on it too.
Again, thanks so much for your wonderful review of "The House".


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