Tag Archives: creativity

Jennifer Brown Book Signing 2

Creative Inspiration for Writers: Interview with Bestselling Author Jennifer Brown

We are excited to introduce you to bestselling author Jennifer Brown.  Jennifer writes women’s fiction and middle grade fiction.  Check out her latest suspense thriller SHADE ME.   For a complete list of Jennifer’s books please visit her website  www.JenniferBrownAuthor.com.

So how do we know an actual real-deal author?  Kristi is friends with Jennifer.  I asked them for a photo and this is what I received.

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As you can see they work out together and are both a little camera shy.  

We are grateful to Jennifer for giving us some insight and advice that keeps with this summers theme of creativity in life.   Do you ever wonder what surroundings a bestselling author works in?  What inspires them?  What other creative talents they have?  If so, read on!

 

1.  What inspires you creatively?

I have always found that enjoying other artistic endeavors (mine or otherwise) tends to inspire me. A great book, a meaningful song, a deep movie, a poem or painting that I connect with — when I see something great that someone else created, it makes me want to create, too.

2.  What kind of surroundings do you like to write in?

I can write in pretty much any kind of surrounding, but don’t love dark and gloomy areas. I tend to keep it to my kitchen table, where I’m surrounded by windows and can see and hear what the kids are up to. I can’t really write to music, unless it either has no words, or has words in a foreign language I can’t understand. My brain just latches onto words too easily, and it gets distracting.

3.  Who inspires you?

In terms of inspiring specific pieces, that could be different on any given day.  But in terms of who generally inspires me to write and makes me want to be better what I do?  Stephen King. He’s a master storyteller and I wish I could spin a yarn the way he does.  Also, Lin-Manuel Miranda, because he packs so much meaning into his work, and I love deep meaning in art. And Marian Keyes, because her work is light and fun and romantic and sexy.

4.  How old were you when you started writing?

Gosh, even before I could write, I was a storyteller. I would draw pictures and tell the story out loud as I turned the pages. I wrote my first short story when I was eight. I wrote a picture book in high school. I’ve just always written for my own entertainment. I started writing with the hope of publication in 2000. I was *mumblemumble* years old.

5. Do you have any other artistic outlets?

Here’s the thing. I can draw and paint pretty well, but it gives me the rage. Like, serious rage. I hate it so much, so I never do it. I do, however, play piano. It was something I wanted to do my whole life, but never had the opportunity until I was an adult. I’m self-taught and try to practice every night (when my cat, who loves nothing more than to walk across the keyboard, will let me).

6. How long does each stage of the writing process take?

Depends on the project, actually. It takes me a lot more time to write a 100,000 word YA or adult novel than it does to write a 40,000 word middle grade novel. Also, my writing availability fluctuates through the year, depending on how much I’m traveling to speak, whether there are holidays, or if I’m just personally busy. But generally, it goes something like this:

Writing the rough draft takes anywhere from 3-6 months. After turning it in, there is a several-month wait for my editor (and others in the publishing house) to read it and write a revision letter, and also suggest revisions on the manuscript itself (the length of time on this really fluctuates, depending on the editor’s other projects and workload). Depending on how heavy the revisions are, that stage can take me anywhere from 4-8 weeks to complete. Then I wait a couple months to either get another revision letter, or (if the editor feels the revisions are complete) to get copyedits. Copyedits are detail edits, and grammar tends to be pretty cut-and-dried, so they take much less time – hardly ever more than a couple weeks. From there, within a month or two, I get what’s called first pass pages, which is where the book is laid out and I can make one final look-through to fix any small errors that have been missed. That takes about a week. During this whole process, the editor (and others) is working with the designer to come up with a cover and any interior design, and not long after first pass pages, I will get ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Those tend to come out a few months before the book is released, to give reviewers time to look at and review the book before it comes out. I would say the entire process, from idea to bookshelf, can take around 18-24 months. Patience is a must-have skill for any writer.

7.  What advice do you have for kids & adults who dream of being a published author?

It’s never too early; it’s never too late. Read. Read a ton, actually. And try to absorb what you’re reading in terms of style and craft. Pay attention to what makes a story good and what makes a story bad (in your opinion). Write. Every day. Even if you’re just playing with bits and pieces of stories and techniques. And, finally, believe in yourself. Too many would-be authors give up too easily. You are going to have days, weeks, months, years, where you are certain that you stink and it will never happen for you. You will get rejected. You will get bad reviews or hateful emails or harsh critiques. That’s just part of being in the business. Sometimes the writer who gets published isn’t necessarily the best at writing; she’s just the best at believing in herself and sticking with it the longest.

We so appreciate Jennifer taking the time to share herself with us.  We’d like to congratulate her on her nomination for the 2016-17 Gateway Award for Torn Away!


Don’t go yet!  We have exciting news!

Jennifer is hosting a give-away on her Facebook page.  You could win a signed book by Jennifer Brown and this fabulous necklace from our Literacy Kansas City Collection.

Hang Ups Live Love Read Necklace

Hang Ups Live Love Read Necklace

Here’s how you enter:

  • Visit Jennifer Brown’s Facebook page and find the post announcing this contest.  Don’t forget to “like” her page to keep up with news and announcements.
  • Post a comment and link on her contest post telling her which of our Hang Ups products you absolutely love.  You can find us at www.hangupsinkc.com.
  • The contest runs from August 9th through August 26th, 2016.  It is open to US Residents only.
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20 Ways To Nurture Your Creative Spirit

We are dedicating this entire summer of blog posts to creativity.  We’ll share some DIY projects, introduce you to some REALLY cool people who inspire us and tell you what we’ve learned as artists and business owners.

We are all creative in our own way.  Even if you don’t think you are creative you probably have some creative mojo tucked away. Creativity is like a muscle – the more you use it the stronger it gets.   Sometimes you make something U-G-L-Y…embrace it, keep it, have fun with it!  We still laugh about some of our ugliest and most unfortunate creations from our early jewelry making days.  Sometimes you make something beautiful and never want to give it away or sell it.  Creativity is good for the soul.

We thought it would be fun to share a list of ways that we stay creatively energized.  Hopefully some of them will inspire you.

  1. Keep lists of amazing and inspiring people we meet.
  2. Hang out with happy, interesting people.
  3. Ask for feedback from people we respect & admire.
  4. Walk away from a project that’s frustrating us.  Often time and space cures what is going wrong.
  5. We embrace our mistakes – sometimes those end up our favorite creations.  At the very least they give us a good laugh.
  6. Sleep well, eat well and play often.
  7. We do something that makes us happy every day.  Even on crazy days, even if it’s just for a minute or two.
  8. Take risks with our art or projects.  We like to dream BIG and this takes us way out of our comfort zone at times.
  9. Get outside.  Walk, ride a bike, go for a run.
  10. Make lists of all our ideas: possible and impossible.
  11. Clean up our work area.  This is a big one.
  12. Attend a creative class or better yet a conference (our absolute favorite is Craftcation in Ventura, California).  We also love online classes at Craftsy).
  13. Carry a journal or sketchbook.
  14. Go to a museum, craft fair or art show.
  15. Take a trip – even if it’s local, a change of scenery is inspiring.
  16. Join an online creative challenge (ie. #yearofmaking) or create your own challenge.
  17. Embrace quiet – take time away from social media, phones, TV, music and people in general.  Giving ourselves time to think is invaluable.  Even if it’s only for 10 minutes on busy days.
  18. We recommend posting something you’ve made on social media.  The positive feedback may surprise you and will definitely motivate you.
  19. Hand-write a letter to a friend or family member on pretty writing paper.
  20. Turn off electronics for a few hours every day.  Too much time on Facebook or Pinterest take time away from making.

If you are thinking about getting a little more creative we highly recommend the book Make it Mighty Ugly by Kim Werker.    In this fun book Kim offers exercise and advice for getting creative.  We feel very lucky to have met Kim at Craftcation.  Her energy and courage in creativity are infectious!

Now log off and do something fun and creative.  We promise that you won’t regret it!

Meet Our Creative Families

Our last two blog posts have featured an inside look at how we make jewelry and where we create.  We thought we’d finish off this “getting to know us” series by introducing you to our creative families.  Creativity comes in many different forms and as parents we encourage any form that makes our kids happy.  We try to lead by example, taking on new creative projects that stretch and inspire us.

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Kristi’s husband Matt is very musically talented. He plays everything from stand-up bass, violin, mandolin, keyboards, guitar, and more. In school he was part of a Barbershop Quartet and played in the Jazz band. His current favorite instrument is the violin but since he loves bluegrass music so much we’ll call it a fiddle.

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Kristi’s eldest daughter, Amy, is a talented pianist and violinist. She plays violin in her school’s Chamber Orchestra and takes private violin and piano lessons. She will be heading to All-State Solo and Ensemble Festival at the end of April, where she will perform on both violin and piano.

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Kristi’s youngest daughter, Mary Alice, has participated in Musical Theater for years. She is taking a break to focus on volleyball this year but she is looking forward to being on the debate team when she enters high school next year.

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Carolyn’s husband, Dwayne, is camera shy but check out the mural that he hand-painted for their sons bedroom. The volcano is textured and that Brachiosaurus is running so hard from the erupting volcano that he’s bursting through the wall.

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Carolyn’s eldest son, Charlie, plays viola with the 7th grade and 8th grade orchestras at his middle school. Charlie has also been taking private guitar lessons for 4 years. He’s working really hard at mastering Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now for his upcoming recital. Charlie loves to write fiction as well as producing movies with his brother Ben.

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Carolyn’s youngest son, Ben, is an author. At the age of 10 he is already submitting his short stories to magazines for publication. Ben loves writing and producing short movies with his brother. Ben is also working on his musical side by taking piano lessons from Amy.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know us a little better over the past month and a half.  We’ve had fun sharing our process, workspace and finally our families with you.  We hope that, like us, you are doing something that makes your heart sing.

The Christmas Rush Is Over – Now What?

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Have you ever wondered what handmade entrepreneurs do once the Christmas rush is over? The first thing we do is take some time to relax and recover from an incredibly busy season of making, completing special orders, working shows and fulfilling, packing and mailing online and phone orders.  Then we clean our studios, which look like a tornado has been through them.  Kristi & I use this down time to take creative classes, business courses and attend a conference.  This is a fun time of year because we get to dream big.  Imagine what we could do with this fresh new year?  We thought we’d share with you some of the things we do to strenghen our creative muscles and grow our business acumen.

At the Craftcation Conference last March, Kristi took a class on working with Precious Metal Clay.  This is a process of creating precious metal pendants and charms from a special clay.  What Kristi created in the class was beautiful.  So last fall we purchased a kiln so that we can start making our own charms and pendants.  Kristi recently took a class with artist Gale Schlagel via the PMC Connection to learn more about this tricky process.  Now we are ready to fire our new kiln up!

We just signed up for a FREE e-course with Tara Swiger called The Power of Confidence designed to defeat self-doubt and build business confidence.  Tara Swiger is an author, maker & business consultant who we met last year in California at Craftcation.  We were very impressed with her very sharp, analytical mind and energy level.

While we’re talking about the amazing Tara Swiger, we have also signed on for her Flight Plan SessionWe have some pretty awesome goals for 2016.  She will work with us to build a marketing plan and system to accomplish our goals.  We are very excited to be working with her to grow our business!

MidWest CraftCon is a newly established conference for Makers.  Similar to Craftcation, they offer a wide range of classes from “maker” business skills to creative fun.  This March, Kristi & I will be attending this conference, located in Columbus, Ohio.  We are looking forward to making new creative like-minded friends from the Mid-West.  We are especially excited about keynote speakers Lisa Congden from Lisa Congden Art + Illistration and author & creative business guru Abby Glassenberg from While She Naps.  We’re also excited to be able to meet with Tara Swiger in person to work on our marketing plan since she is speaking at the conference.  Both Craftcation and MidWest CraftCon are perfect for creative people who are considering selling their arts & crafts to people with established businesses.

This only takes us until the end of February – imagine what could happen with the rest of the year!

We believe that expressing ourselves creatively is good for the soul.  We challenge you to make room in your busy schedule to try something new creatively this year. Get ideas and document your journey on Instagram using the hashtag #yearofmaking.  See the awesome Create doodle below?  Kristi drew that as part of our #yearofmaking challenge.

Have fun!

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Taking Flight With Lu & Ed, a MON-STOROUSLY Cool Company

We are thrilled to introduce you to Cody, the human behind a mon-storously successful small business that is environmentally responsible and gives back to the community.  IMG_2664

Q:  Can you tell us a little about yourself and how Lu & Ed was started?
A:  I’m Cody, a monster making mom living in the Midwest, and owner of Lu & Ed! I moved my small family to Kansas City from the East Coast in 2009 and downsized majorly – into my mother-in-law’s basement. Desperate for some storage that wouldn’t take up much of our precious floor space, I dreamed up toy storage for my son that we could hang on the back of the doors for him to put his toys in, in the form of a monster he could “feed”. The next day, I drafted the pattern and with the help of my mother-in-law, learned to use a sewing machine, and several hours and many laughs later, the very first Mon-stor ever was born.
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Q: Where can we purchase your Monster?
A:  I opened my Storenvy shop (http://luanded.com) in 2009 and have been selling there exclusively ever since! It is a free to list, use and sell platform and the people behind it are super passionate and always readily available to answer questions and help their sellers succeed! They have really helped me shape my brand & products into what they are today. ♥
Q:  What are you most proud of in your business?
A: As Mon-stors have evolved over the years, so have my efforts to run a green business. I think it’s important to do good where you can, and I knew I could make a positive ecological impact with products and business practices. In 2011, I switched from purchasing new fabrics to purchasing post-production fabrics from thrift stores and textile discards from factories. When people learned about my eco-efforts they started donating fabric, bedding, and clothing to me to turn into Mon-stors. It takes a bit more effort, but I am proud to say now all Mon-stors are made from 100% upcycled and recycled fabrics. I package and ship all of my products in recycled food boxes and use biodegradable tape. Even my business cards are eco-friendly now, printed on recycled paper that is biodegradable. Saving the world – one monster at a time!
Q: Can you please tell us a little about your social media schedule and how it impacts your sales?
A:  Community is so important when you are an entrepreneur.  I have built a cozy & happy tribe of monster lovers on the internet and I am so thankful for the communities that I am a part of that helped me get where I am. I think when a  lot of people think of social media, they think “marketing”. When I think of social media I think “community”. I don’t use social media solely to sell my stuff – I view each person I interact with as a friend, and that helps me build lasting connections and opens the doors for so many more opportunities and partnerships and conversations!
Q:  What is your advice for someone considering launching a business in the handmade marketplace?
A:  My biggest advice for someone just starting out in the indie world is this: Success does not happen overnight. It doesn’t even happen in a few weeks, and most likely not even in a few months. It can take YEARS before you “make it”. Go into to this prepared for a long, hard road. Join communities and build organic friendships in the industry. Be kind to everyone, even the naysayers and bullies, and always be positive. Don’t complain about how slow the road is or how hard it is because perspective is 90% of your success – if you are excited and positive about your business and efforts, that is contagious. Others will be too!
And the big one? Always keep learning, from the pros. I read Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com all the time, even if it isn’t geared towards the handmade niche it is invaluable information from marketing and small business professionals. Try to only take advice from writers that can quote the source of their information and statistics and have the experience to back their content. You can never learn enough, because things evolve and change quickly, so make sure you are consuming good information while it’s fresh off the press and apply it in any way possible to help your business grow!
Q:  How do you give back to your community?
A:  As Lu & Ed has grown so has my desire to contribute to my local community of children in need. I reached out to artists I admire & collaborated with them to create a program I call Team Team Lu & Ed that proudly supports Drumm Farm with as much as 100% from Team Lu & Ed products going to the group  home environment for children in the Missouri foster care system, helping make the lives of the children who reside there a little more wonderful!
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Check out Cody’s Mon-sters – how could they NOT bring joy to all children – young & old?  Lu & Ed (www.luanded.com) is also a part of the Made In Kansas City Initiative.  Check out this amazing group of local talent at www.handmadeinkc.com.

What is Creativity?

Sometimes snowy days are the best days for creativity.  For our friends in the Mid-West, we hope that you are keeping warm and staying off the roads.  For our friends in Eastern Canada, our snow is coming your way!  Enjoy by taking a little time to be creative.

 

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Taking Flight – A “Handmade” Entrepreneurial Advice Series

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Kristi & I are very excited to announce our new blog series – Taking Flight.  This series will focus on the entrepreneurial journey of several small business owners.  If you are thinking about starting your own “handmade” business or own a small business we invite you to become an active participant in this blog series.

Here is our call to action:  send us your questions, your fears and any advice you have to Carolyn@hangupsinkc.com.  If you want us to keep your questions/ feedback anonymous just let us know.

Our goal is to share knowledge and strength as well as to inspire small business owners and people who are thinking about starting their own business.  It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, geographically, as entrepreneurs we are all travelling a similar path.

Starting next week and continuing for the next several weeks we will feature a small business owner on a weekly basis.  Send us your questions and we will ask our entrepreneurial friends to share their wisdom.

 “Breathe in inspiration and trust yourself.  The answer is YES you can.”

DIY Reindeer Ornament from Monique of Farm House Quilts

Our friend Monique from Farm House Quilts has generously agreed to be our guest blogger this week.  She has prepared this super cute Reindeer Ornament DIY for you.  Visit Monique’s online store at www.zibbet.com/farmhousequilts.

This would be a fun craft to do with the kids or for your neighborhood ornament exchange.  Have fun with it and get your creative on!

Here’s what you will need:

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  • gluegun
  • three flat old fashioned clothespins
  • 2 googly eyes
  • 1 small red pompom
  • a piece of ribbon

Step 1:  Turn the clothespin upside down and glue the eyes and nose as shown.

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Step 2:  Glue the two unused clothespins together.

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Step 3:  Glue the “head” to the “body”.

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Step 4:  Take a length of ribbon and make into a bow.

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Step 5:  Glue the bow to the neck as shown.

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Your reindeer is now ready to “sit” on any branch of your Christmas tree!

Happy holidays!

DIY Christmas Ornament From Repurposed Measuring Stick

I love old wood yard & meter sticks.  They used to be given away free as marketing materials and now they average around $8 each at antique stores.  I decided to make a Christmas ornament out of one of the old folded measuring sticks that has been hanging around my workshop for a while.  You could make this ornament using an old ruler you have hanging around as well.

Before we get started we’d like to thank Tracy Spisak, photographer extraordinaire from Gallery Portaiture (www.galleryportraitureinc.com) for photographing this DIY project!

This is what you’ll need:

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  • Measuring stick or ruler cut to the size you’d like
  • Letters from your local craft store
  • Jump rings
  • Ribbon
  • 2 pairs of pliers
  • E6000 or Tacky Glue
  • Seasonal buttons or decoration

1.  Choose the festive word that you’d like to spell and drill corresponding holes in the bottom of the measuring stick to hang the letters from.  Then drill a hole in the top left hand and right hand corners to string the ribbon through.

2.  Run the jump ring through the hole in the top of the letter and the hole in your measuring stick.  To open and close your jump ring grasp it with a pair of pliers on each side of the split.  Then twist in opposite directions – basically one hand should be going towards you and the other away.  Never pry the jump ring directly apart horizontally.  Attach all of your letters.

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3.  Cut a piece of ribbon about a foot long.  Run one end of the ribbon through the right upper hole and one through the left upper hole on your measuring stick.  Knot the ends of the ribbon and trim the ends.

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4.  I added a silver glittery button to the ornament to give it some sparkle.  You could add anything that catches your eye.  I also tied a knot in the upper part of the ribbon for a little extra flair.

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5.  Show off your crafty skills all your friends!

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If you aren’t up to making your own ornament check out our website (www.hangupsinkc.com) to check out what our creations.  They make great teachers and hostess gifts!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hang Ups Holiday Ornament DIY – Scrabble Tile & Measuring Stick Ornament

Ornaments make great teacher gifts.  Teachers gifts are even more special when students help to create them.  You could have your child help design this ornament adding personal touches for their teacher.

A special thank you to Tracy Spisak from Gallery Portraiture (www.galleryportraitureinc.com) for photographing this DIY project!

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Vintage Measuring Stick Ornament

It is great if you have vintage wood Scrabble tiles for this project but not necessary. Hobby Lobby sells wood letter tiles that work great. Have your child spell our a word that reminds them of their teacher to personalize this gift.

Ingredients:

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  • Wood letter tiles.
  • Wood measuring stick – you could even use a wood ruler that you have hanging around at home.
  • Brown ink.
  • Ribbon.
  • Decorative touches like snowflakes, jingle bells or festive colored beads.
  • Jump Ring.
  • Pliars.
  • Glue.

You can personalize this ornament by adding charms, beads or Christmas findings that your child chooses.

Step 1:

We prepared a piece of inexpensive measuring stick that we found at an antique store by cutting it to the correct size to fit the word we chose, drilling a hole in the center of the top and bottom and sanding off all rough edges.  We wanted the wood letter tiles to have more of a vintage feel so we used a brown ink pad to softly antique the edges of the front and sides of the tile.

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Step 2:

We then used E6000 glue to attach the letter tiles to the measuring stick. You may prefer to stagger your letters left and right, center them or move them to one side as we do.  This is another design aspect your child can help with.

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Step 3:

We glued on snowflakes to give this ornament a festive feel.  This is the hard part…you need to leave this ornament alone for several hours to allow the glue to set.  E6000 takes several hours to bond securely but is very strong.  If you prefer using hot glue go ahead!

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Step 4:

Run a metal jump ring through the bottom hole in the ornament and hang either pretty beads, jingle bells or whatever you think is pretty from the bottom.  We chose a Santa bell.  When opening Jump rings never pull the edges away horizontally, always pull them apart as pictured below so that they go back into a perfect circle.  Next run a pretty ribbon through the top hole and PRESTO you have a beautiful and unique handmade ornament.

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