Women

The Introverted Author, the Malice Domestic Convention, and a Giveaway!

Malice Domestic 29

To (liberally) paraphrase Austen: it is a truth universally acknowledged, that we introvert authors need to come out of our writing caves from time to time and interact with our fellows.

The Malice Domestic Convention fits the bill nicely for those of us who are mystery author introverts. Malice celebrates mystery fiction written in the cozy style, aka the tradition of Agatha Christie, and has been held yearly in Bethesda, MD since 1989. With its three days of panel discussions, book signings, awards, and social receptions, the convention draws authors and readers alike.

One of many signings, after the crowd had thinned and I could move around.

When I step into the space, I feel as if I’ve rediscovered my tribe. No one bats an eyelash over you bringing your takeout lunch to Luci Zahray’s (otherwise known as the “Poison Lady”) panel on the use of organophosphates to bump off someone (characters, of course). The audience was practically rubbing its hands and cackling with glee as she detailed the symptoms, the lack of a test to detect the compound, the difficulty in reversing the effects, and the ease of access to the poison (any Home Depot or garage sale…also, apparently DDT can still be found at the random garage or yard sale because folks don’t throw out ANYTHING).

Luci Zahray, “Poison Lady.” You can’t see the rat poison and other samples she had on display from this angle, unfortunately.

For the introvert, the nice thing about a convention is you can pick and choose when you want to converse. You can get a lot out of the convention by simply attending the panels and listening (not an option if you are ON the panel, of course, but then you signed up for that, LOL).

The hospitality lounge is a nice place to get yourself some coffee or tea and browse the long tables for bookmarks and promotional goodies that authors set out. I came away with a pen, a set of sticky notes, a disposable flashlight, and a hand mirror…all kinds of cool stuff! I had brought some of my own material for the hospitality tables, too: bookmarks of my Concordia Wells series, along with a basket of peppermint patties and individually wrapped tea bags with my logo sticker/web address on the back of each piece.

It’s hard to see the stickers here, but they were really cute. *wink*

I kept refilling the basket, but there wasn’t a candy or tea bag left by Sunday morning!

In between browsing the dealers’ tables, chatting with folks, getting my books signed, and going to the Agatha Awards dinner, I attended several terrific panels that weekend (there were many more I couldn’t fit in). Here’s a partial list to give you an idea:

  • Malice Go-Round: It’s Like Speed Dating, But With Authors (Attendees sit and relax while pairs of authors come to them, distribute bookmarks–and sometimes chocolate, and describe their series and new releases. Then the moderator calls time, they rotate to another table, our table gets a new pair of authors, and so on. One of my fave events).
  • Making History: Agatha Best Historical Novel Nominees (Authors nominated for the Agatha in the category of best historical novel talk about their books, their research, etc. A fab and funny group!).
  • Murder on the Menu: Food & Mysteries (Several food-themed series authors talked about their inspiration, where they get their recipes, and the funny coincidence of growing up in households where their moms couldn’t cook all that well…maybe compensation for a deprived childhood? *wink*)
  • Poison Lady (Described above).
  • Book’em: Book-Loving Sleuths (Kind of self-explanatory, but it’s amazing how many bookshop mysteries are out there!)
  • Murder Way Back When: U.S. Historicals (Loved hearing about research challenges and successes…I continued the conversation with a couple of the authors afterward, comparing databases we use).
  • Sherlock Lives! (I love reading about the Great Detective, and it was so much fun to listen to the discussion of the current pastiches out there, and all the SH societies).

Panel for best historical Agatha nominees. Catriona McPherson won!

 

The most meaningful event for me personally was the Mystery Most Historical Signing, held on Friday evening. Mystery Most Historical is this year’s Malice anthology of short stories, and guess what…a story of mine is in it!

“Summons for a Dead Girl” is set in September of 1911 in New York City, months after the devastating Triangle Factory fire, and features spirit medium/con woman Maddy Cartiere. The blurb and opening paragraphs below give you an idea of the story:

***

This book signing was an additional thrill because I was part of a large group of authors (many of them prolific and best sellers) who were also signing. The reader turnout for autographs was amazing, and it was such a privilege to chat with mystery fans while sitting in the company of award-winning authors such as Catriona McPherson, Victoria Thompson, Carole Nelson Douglas, and Elaine Viets!

Your typical group picture: someone looking away, someone’s eyes closed, someone waving a hand or fussing with something, LOL.

 

Short story author Keenan Powell was signing on my left. Such a nice lady!

 

The volunteer photographer got my blurry side, LOL. I never looked so good.

So, to celebrate the release of the Malice anthology (and my birthday, hubby’s birthday, Mother’s Day…so many excuses), I’m holding a…

Giveaway Drawing

May 9th-23rd

I’ll be giving away five (5) signed paperback copies of Mystery Most Historical!

To help with logistics, I’m using the Gleam giveaway service to keep things organized and make the random selections. All you have to do is click below to see your options for entering the drawing (you can enter multiple times, if you wish):

Anthology Giveaway!

Once the contest is over and the winners are notified, I won’t keep your email info for any reason. I respect your privacy.

However, if you’re interested in signing up for my author newsletter (sent out approximately 4 times a year to announce sales, giveaways, and book releases), I would love to have you on board! Here’s the sign-up for that:

concordia-1thru5

Sign up today, and receive a FREE novelette!

Thanks for signing up! Your email is in good hands, I promise. Once you have confirmed your subscription you’ll receive a thank you email with a link to my FREE novelette, NEVER SLEEP!
~KBO

Whew! This was a longer post than I usually write. Thanks for reading, and good luck with the contest!

~Kathy

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The Twelve Days of Concordia Giveaway!

The Twelve Days of Concordia Giveaway!

Only twelve more days until Beloved and Unseemly, book 5 of the Concordia Wells Mysteries, is released!

 

belovedandunseemlyebook

A stolen blueprint, a dead body, and wedding bells….
Change is in the air at Hartford Women’s College in the fall of 1898. Renowned inventor Peter Sanbourne—working on Project Blue Arrow for the Navy—heads the school’s new engineering program, and literature professor Concordia Wells prepares to leave to marry David Bradley.

The new routine soon goes awry when a bludgeoned body—clutching a torn scrap of the only blueprint for Blue Arrow—is discovered on the property Concordia and David were planning to call home.

To unravel the mystery that stands between them and their new life together, Concordia must navigate deadly pranks, dark secrets, and long-simmering grudges that threaten to tear apart her beloved school and leave behind an unseemly trail of bodies.
Pre-order here for November 1st delivery:

Are you excited? I know I am. To get us all in the mood, I’m doing a countdown promotion that I call “The Twelve Days of Concordia.”

 

beloved-12-day-giveaway-quotes

Each day, I’ll post a quote from the book here, as well as on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. For everyone who responds or promotes me – on these or other social media venues – I’ll add your name to a digital “hat” for a prize drawing on November 1st (release day)! Twelve people will win, and current subscribers (as of November 1) will be added to the drawing, too. Commenting and/or promoting the book release on multiple days will increase your chances of winning! If you’ve already read the Concordia books, these make great gifts as well, and can be read across devices.

Prizes

concordia-audio

concordia-1thru5

Winners 1-8: your choice of any ebook or audiobook in the Concordia Wells series (including the new release!)

Winners 9 and 10: your choice of any ebooks/audiobooks

Winner 11: your choice of any 2 ebooks/audiobooks, and a signed paperback copy of Beloved and Unseemly

Winner 12: GRAND PRIZE! All 5 ebooks in the series and a signed paperback copy of Beloved and Unseemly 

**If a winner of a paperback happens to live outside the continental U.S., I will substitute an Amazon gift card in order to avoid the expense of international shipping. Sorry about that.

So, here we go! Today’s quote is the opening line from Beloved and Unseemly:

day1-beloved-quote

Can you help me get the word out about Beloved and Unseemly? I would really appreciate whatever you can do! If you are spreading the word on a venue you don’t think I will see, drop me a line here so I can add your name to the giveaway. And thank you so much for your support!

Next quote…tomorrow!

See you then,

Kathy

Concordia logo FINAL small

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1890s Fashions for Women (and an announcement)

1890s Fashions for Women (and an announcement)
Francois Courboin, In the Cabinet des Estampes (Bibliothèque Nationale), 1897. Image via wikimedia commons.

Francois Courboin, In the Cabinet des Estampes (Bibliothèque Nationale), 1897. Image via wikimedia commons.

In writing about the world of Concordia Wells, I have to make sure the lady professor and her colleagues are always suitably attired in the style of the day.

I use a variety of sources for descriptions and sketches of what these ladies wore during the Progressive Era. Two of my favorite books for research are the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalog of 1897 and Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper’s Bazar, 1867-1898.

1897 Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalogue

Other sources include newspaper advertisements from a search of Chronicling America (a digital archive of 19th century U.S. newspapers from the Library of Congress), and etiquette books of the period, such as Manners and Social Usages by Mrs. John Sherwood, an 1898 self-help book (yes, they had those way back then!), which I quote from extensively in book #5 (more about book #5 in a moment).

I also have to keep reminding myself not to overlook YouTube, which has a surprising collection of old film footage and picture montages. Below is one I think you’ll enjoy. If you want to skim (it’s a bit long), there’s a wedding dress at 5:12 and a series of bicycling outfits similar to what Concordia wears at 10:06.

 

Announcement:

Book 5 of the Concordia Wells Mysteries is complete and we have a cover! Official release day is Tuesday, November 1st. For those of you who have read the series from the beginning, book 5 comes full circle in several ways that I’m hoping you’ll find satisfying. Here’s a portion of the cover and the blurb:

 

belovedandunseemlyheader

 

A stolen blueprint, a dead body, and wedding bells….

Change is in the air at Hartford Women’s College in the fall of 1898. Renowned inventor Peter Sanbourne—working on Project Blue Arrow for the Navy—heads the school’s new engineering program, and literature professor Concordia Wells prepares to leave to marry David Bradley.

The new routine soon goes awry when a bludgeoned body—clutching a torn scrap of the only blueprint for Blue Arrow—is discovered on the property Concordia and David were planning to call home.

To unravel the mystery that stands between them and their new life together, Concordia must navigate deadly pranks, dark secrets, and long-simmering grudges that threaten to tear apart her beloved school and leave behind an unseemly trail of bodies.

 

I’m so excited and can’t wait for you all to read it! I’ll post the full cover reveal in my newsletter and here on the site when the links go live. I know you guys have been so patient(!) waiting for this next Concordia installment, and I really appreciate your loyalty.

If you don’t want to wait for November 1st, you can be one of my advance readers! I’m offering ten free advance review copies (ARCs) of the ebook version of  Beloved and Unseemly.

I love ARCs. Not only does the reader get a freebie ahead of time, but releasing the book “in the wild” may generate early reviews. Reviews then help prospective readers decide if this book is their cup of tea.

Please note: readers receiving ARCs are under no obligation whatsoever to rate the book or post a review. This is per Amazon reviewer policy and I agree wholeheartedly. If something is free, it should not have strings attached. (But if you do decide to rate/review the book, Concordia and I thank you very much!)

So, if you’d like an ARC, send me an email at: contact(at)kbowenmysteries(dot)com. Let me know what format you want: mobi (Kindle) or epub (Nook or iPad/iPhone). I will send them out to the first ten readers who ask. Thank you!

Until next time,

Kathy

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March Madness: 19thc Women’s Basketball

March Madness: 19thc Women’s Basketball
I’m in the midst of a family emergency at the moment, which is fortunately beginning to wane. In the meantime, since March Madness is upon us, I thought I would re-post this tidbit about the beginnings of women’s basketball.

And if you will pardon the the personal bias…go, Lady Huskies! 😉

The game of basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith for the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Massachusetts.

 

In 1892, Senda Berenson Abbott started the first women’s basketball program at Smith College, making modifications to the rules for women’s play. More →

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19th century women’s basketball (re-post)

19th century women’s basketball (re-post)

Hi! While my writing pals and I are in the midst of fast draft (you can check last week’s post for more details by clicking here), I thought you would enjoy a post I wrote 5 years ago, about the beginnings of women’s collegiate basketball.

See you next week,

Kathy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The game of basketball was first invented in 1891 by James Naismith for the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Massachusetts.

 

In 1892, Senda Berenson Abbott started the first women’s basketball program at Smith College, making modifications to the rules for women’s play.

Smith College, 1895

Women’s rules divided the court into two or more zones, with two players from each team limited to each zone. Dribbling more than three times was forbidden, as was blocking, stealing the ball from another player, or holding the ball for more than three seconds.

 

In 1892, the University of California and Miss Head’s School played the first women’s interinstitutional game. Berenson’s freshmen played the sophomore class in the first women’s intercollegiate basketball game at Smith College, March 21, 1893. The same year, students from Mount Holyoke and Sophie Newcomb Colleges began playing basketball.

By 1895, the game had spread to colleges across the country, including Wellesley, Vassar, and Bryn Mawr.
Women at the University of Wisconsin formed a team in 1897 that played games against Milwaukee Normal School and local high school teams.

The first intercollegiate women’s game was on April 4, 1896. Stanford women played Berkeley, 9-on-9, ending in a 2-1 Stanford victory.

 

Wilson College, around 1897

 

Smith College, class of 1902 (probably taken 1900)

The women’s rules created a game that was slower-moving and more stationary, and therefore would not tax a woman’s “delicate system.”  The nature of the activity, of course, necessitated shortened skirts, bloomers and stockings, which was considered rather scandalous.  In fact, male spectators were barred at Smith.

Even as women avidly embraced the sport, a backlash was growing against it.  The biggest problem was that the inherently aggressive nature of competition clashed with notions of “ladylike” behavior. If a lady lost her self-control in the heat of competition, what would be the unseemly result?

 

Smith College, around 1900 (Berenson holding the ball)

Sources:
http://archives.library.wisc.edu/uw-archives
http://hoopedia.nba.com
http://www.bellaonline.com
http://www.smith.edu/libraries http://knol.google.com/k/basketball#

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Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood Bombshell…and Inventor

Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood Bombshell…and Inventor

image via wikimedia.org

Since today is Hedy Lamarr’s 101st birthday (thanks for the reminder, Google!), I’m re-posting something I wrote about her, three years ago.

Thanks for stopping by!

~KBO

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Fans of old movies know Hedy Lamarr, star of 1930s and 40s American films, such as Ziegfield Girl, and Samson and Delilah.  She was dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world,” and worked with such Hollywood greats as Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Stewart, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Louis B. Mayer, and Cecil B. DeMille.

Ah, but you know there’s more, right?  Apparently, Lamarr was one smart cookie, and loved to tinker.  Did you know that, during World War II, she co-invented a frequency-hopping torpedo guidance system?  It was designed to evade the enemy’s jamming devices.  She received the patent for it in 1942.  If you think about it, it’s a precursor to what we now call spread-spectrum communication technology, used in wifi and cell phones.

So how did this come about, and why didn’t the U.S. Navy jump on it when she offered to give it to them during the war?  Check out the following video clip (only 4 minutes) for the fascinating story:

So what do you all think: was the device not taken seriously because one of its inventors was a beautiful, wildly successful actress, or the idea itself seemed too weird?  What about today’s Hollywood celebrities: do they struggle to “cross over” in the public sector, and be taken seriously in other endeavors?  I’d love to hear from you!

For anyone who’s interested, The Atlantic website has an index of links to more celebrity patents.  Check it out here:  Celebrity Invention.  My fave?  That’s a tough one: I’m torn between Lawrence Welk’s accordion ashtray and Bill Nye’s ballet slipper.  LOL!

Until next time…keep tinkering!

Kathy
———————————————————–

…and in case anyone missed it:

Just Released: a new Concordia Wells Mystery!

Unseemly Ambition: book 4 of the Concordia Wells Mysteries

 

cover by Melinda VanLone

cover by Melinda VanLone

Murder aboard the Overland Limited…

It is the summer of 1898. Professor Concordia Wells is eager to accompany her friend, Pinkerton detective Penelope Hamilton, on a cross-country train trip to San Francisco. Breathless vistas and exciting locales will be a welcome change from a fiancé impatient to set a wedding date and the threat of revenge from the remaining Inner Circle members back in Hartford.

But Concordia should know there is no such thing as a free ride. When the Pinkerton Agency switches assignments at the last minute, she and Miss Hamilton have their work cut out for them. Fellow passengers prove to be both help and hindrance: a lady reporter in hiding, a con man…and a corpse or two. Then there is the handsome gentleman with the dark hair, green eyes, and a secret agenda of his own. Good thing Concordia is an engaged lady. Or is it?

 

 

Start reading at the click of a button:

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Never Sleep: the story of a lady Pinkerton

Never Sleep: the story of a lady Pinkerton

I have a new series coming out, and I wanted you all to be the first to know about it!

Chronicles of a Lady Detective

The series is centered upon a character many of you know from the Concordia Wells mysteries: Penelope Hamilton. You may recall that she served as lady principal of Hartford Women’s College in book 1 (Dangerous and Unseemly), and recently made a return in book 3 (Unseemly Ambition) to help with a difficult case.

Readers have long told me that they enjoy Miss Hamilton’s character and would like to see more of her, so I decided to go backwards in time and explore her early detective cases.

cover art by Melinda VanLone

cover art by Melinda VanLone

Never Sleep, set in 1885 (more than a decade before Concordia meets her), is the story of how Miss Hamilton first gets started as a Pinkerton in her own right. Each of the stories in the series will be novelette-length and published in ebook form only (for now).

Historical Background:

Although a rarity in the 19th century, women working as Pinkertons wasn’t without precedent. The first and most noteworthy was Kate Warne in 1856. According to Allan Pinkerton, the young widow walked into the Chicago office and asked straight away for a position as a detective, rather than requesting a clerical job. Her argument pointing out the unique qualifications of women as detectives persuaded Pinkerton to hire her, and to later put her in charge of Pinkerton’s “Female Detective Force.”

Allan Pinkerton (seated, right) at Antietam. The beardless man is thought to be Kate Warne in disguise. Image via Library of Congress, n.d.

Allan Pinkerton (seated, right) at Antietam. The clean-shaven man is thought to be Kate Warne in disguise. Image via Library of Congress, n.d.

Warne was quite successful as a detective. She acted as an intelligence operative before, during, and after the Civil War, and was instrumental in uncovering the “Baltimore Plot” to assassinate Lincoln on the way to his inauguration. She relayed key information and was part of the group that helped protect the President-elect during this time, as he traveled by train (a different one than announced earlier) between Harrisburg and Baltimore, in disguise.

Excerpt from Pinkerton's report, published in Norma Cuthbert's 1949 book: Lincoln and the Baltimore Plot, 1861.

Excerpt from Pinkerton’s report mentioning Kate Warne. Published in Norma Cuthbert’s 1949 book: Lincoln and the Baltimore Plot, 1861.

My gift to you:

I wanted to find a way to say “thank you” to everyone who reads my books and follows my posts. Your support means so much to me! Where would I be without my readers? So, during the month of March, I’m giving away Never Sleep to every subscriber. And this is exclusive access; I won’t be putting it up on Amazon or anywhere else until April. 

How to get Never SleepThe story will be available for download as a mobi (Kindle) and epub (iPad, Nook) on a password-protected page here at the website. Current subscribers will get an email newsletter tomorrow (didn’t want to send you guys two email notifications in one day) with the page link and a password. Future subscribers (during the month of March) will receive the same email newsletter with the link and password when they confirm their subscription.

If you have any difficulties getting it, drop me a line: contact@kbowenmysteries.com and I’ll directly email you the file.

Thanks again!

~Kathy

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This election day, thank the suffragists

This election day, thank the suffragists

With election day coming up  in the United States, my thoughts are turning to a woman’s right to vote. We are so accustomed to any U.S. citizen being allowed to cast a ballot that it’s difficult to conceive of parts of the world where that still isn’t the case. There’s an interesting story from last year’s post about how the amendment was finally ratified, if you’d like to check it out: a woman’s right to vote.

The suffragists sacrificed a great deal in order to agitate for change. It was a long, hard road that began with the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention of 1848 and continued on until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. If you’re curious about the Seneca Falls Convention, click here for my page on the subject.

A satirical portrayal of what the world would be like if women got the vote. 1869 lithograph by Currier and Ives, NY, via wikimedia commons (CC).

A satirical portrayal of what the world would be like if women got the vote. 1869 lithograph by Currier and Ives, NY, via wikimedia commons (CC).

Much of society, including women, resisted the idea of female suffrage. People made all sorts of dire predictions if women got the vote: “petticoat rule” would ensue; women would leave their children and their kitchens to meddle in men’s affairs; women would then make “unreasonable” demands for rights in other areas of their lives.

Just to give you an idea of the attitudes the suffragists were up against, here are two pictures from a widely-circulated handbook on “Household Tips” (date unknown, probably 1914-19):

 

women vote Fb

 

Here’s the inside of the pamphlet:

 

women vote anti ad p2

 

What a zinger: “You do not need a ballot to clean out your sink spout. A handful of potash and some boiling water is quicker and cheaper.” Wow.

The women’s suffrage movement gained ground during World War I, and activists suffered greatly for their cause during this time. They were mocked and spat upon as they marched; they were arrested and jailed; they were beaten and force-fed through the nose when they went on hunger strikes in prison.

One night, in 1917, Lucy Burns (an oft-arrested activist) and her fellow activists endured what has been termed the “Night of Terror” in the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. They were beaten by the guards who then withheld any medical attention for their injuries. To keep their spirits up, Lucy conducted a roll call of her fellow women suffragists and would not stop, despite the guards’ threats. They handcuffed her hands above her head to the cell door and left her that way all night. I’ve not been able to confirm it with additional sources, but one version of the story goes that her fellow activists showed their solidarity with Lucy by assuming the same posture and enduring it along with her in their separate cells. On another occasion, Lucy went on a hunger strike and was force-fed so violently that she had severe nosebleeds.

Mary Winsor (Penn), 1917. Photographer: Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress

Mary Winsor (Penn), 1917. Photographer: Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress

 

 

What the suffragists endured became widely known after their release, and the public outrage over women being treated so harshly for peaceably conducting marches and holding signs helped to fuel their cause. The experiences took their toll on Lucy Burns, who retired from public life as soon as the amendment was passed.

"Lucy Burns in Occoquan Workhouse" by Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party / Harris & Ewing, Washington, D.C. - Library of Congress / [1]. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lucy_Burns_in_Occoquan_Workhouse.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Lucy_Burns_in_Occoquan_Workhouse.jpg

“Lucy Burns in Occoquan Workhouse” by Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party / Harris & Ewing, Washington, D.C. – Library of Congress / [1]. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Women suffragists picketing in front of the White house. The first picket line - College day in the picket line line, 1917 via Library of Congress.

Women suffragists picketing in front of the White house. The first picket line – College day in the picket line line, 1917 via Library of Congress.

Want more information about the Occoquan Workhouse?

From the White House to the Workhouse to the Franchise

Struggle at the Workhouse

Photos from the Women’s Suffrage Movement (slideshow)

General info on the suffrage movement:

Suffragist History

 

What piece of history moves you and influences your life? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

UnseemlyAmbition small

P.S. – My Unseemly Ambition giveaway is in full swing! Click here for the list of prizes and how to get your name in the drawing (multiple times!).

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