The Losing Game: Love in a Time of Loss with Lane Swift – Post + Giveaway

August 8, 2016

Love in a Time of Loss

Hi! I’m Lane Swift and I’m here to tell you about my new release, The Losing Game. It’s a story about two men, Lucas Green and Dante Okoro, who experience tragedies in their lives which they struggle to move past. Still, through pain and heartache, they find each other, and eventually find the love and the strength to move on. It’s a dark and weighty tale, with a hopeful and happy ending.

The story is set on the fictional Roseport Island, but is loosely based on Portsea Island in the south of England. It’s home to the city of Portsmouth which has a long naval and maritime history, as well as a lot of modern redevelopment. The whole island has a wealth of character and atmosphere.

The street below provided the inspiration for Mill Street where Dante has his shop:

Old Portsmouth day.jpg

 

The story is also set twenty years in the future. The main reason I chose to do that was because I wanted to explore how future technology, especially surveillance, might affect our everyday lives, behavior and freedom. How pervasive will social media be? Will CCTV really protect us from crime? Or will criminals find ways to get around it? These were important things to consider for this story, because Lucas wants to get away with a crime without getting caught.

A lot of authors will say that writing can be a cathartic experience; that their craft can help them to work through things that have caused them difficulty in their lives. This turned out to be the case for me with The Losing Game, though I didn’t realize it until the first draft was almost finished! In 2015, I lost two family members, one of whom was especially dear to me. Another was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and another had a tragic accident which has left her permanently disabled. For almost a year, I was mired in so much grief and helplessness, it’s little wonder those feelings found their way onto the page

The Losing Game is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and Lucas’s and Dante’s indomitable capacity to give each other and themselves a chance at love, in spite of how broken they are when they meet. But their future continues to get brighter, including after the end of this story. I’ve just finished the first draft of a sequel with a working title of The Gamble in which the two men work together to help a friend in need. I hope to have it ready for submission in a couple of months.

One of the things that keeps Lucas going through the tough times is his dream to travel. He wants to visit East Asia—a place he’s never been to before. I’ve travelled to a few countries in Asia, yet there are places much closer to home that I’d like to visit but haven’t. For example, Edinburgh in Scotland. How about you? Is there a place you dream of travelling to? And is it on the other side of the world, or somewhere much closer to home?

Leave a comment by 12th August 2016 and two lucky winners will each receive a copy of my first solo release with Dreamspinner Press, Dormant Heart, plus a voucher for $15 to spend in the Dreamspinner store.

You can find out more about me, Lane Swift, at:

Website: http://laneswift.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lane.swift.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaneSwift
Or you can email me at mrslaneswift@gmail.com

Check out The Losing Game today!

LosingGame[The]_postcard_front_DSP

Blurb:

Winchester Crown Court, October 2035: Richard Shaw leaves, a free man.

Grief-stricken and angry, Lucas Green is hell-bent on revenge against Richard Shaw, who killed his sister. Lucas has heard of a man who can help—the handsome and urbane owner of a boutique sex shop with a head for planning crimes. But Dante Okoro has a past he’s desperate to keep buried. Though Lucas piques his interest in more ways than one, Dante turns him away. Still, he wonders if he made the right decision….

An unexpected death brings Dante and Lucas together once more. This time they can’t ignore the chemistry between them. But courting a lover with lies is a dangerous game. Dante has been spying on Lucas, convinced he has plans to kill Shaw. Lucas has been spying on Shaw, waiting for the right moment to strike. If Dante admits his suspicions to Lucas, he’ll surely lose him. If he doesn’t, Lucas might do something reckless—and end up losing everything.

Time Lost: Writing Time Travel with C.B. Lewis – Post + Giveaway

July 29, 2016

C.B. Lewis joins us today to talk about new book Time Lost and writing time travel.

Writing Time Travel with CB Lewis

Don’t write time-travel. Just don’t. Consider this a little bit of sage advice from someone who has fallen headlong down the rabbit hole of paradoxes and the butterfly effect and can’t get back out.

I’m C.B. Lewis and apparently, I am a complete masochist, because I’m delighted to announce the release of Time Lost, the second book of my time-travel series, Out of Time.

Time Lost begins with DI Jacob Ofori dealing with what appears to be a missing person case. Of course, things are never that simple, especially when he has to investigate the Temporal Research Institute, the place where his missing person worked. Kit Rafferty is the unfortunate technician who gets a bit too caught up in the investigation and his attraction to Jacob. Despite their best intentions, Jacob and Kit are drawn to one another, risking their careers and reputations, in the middle of an investigation that could change history.

Both Time Lost and Time Waits (Book #1) messed with my poor wee writer brain. I started the first story for the Out of Time series years ago (let’s call it the Mark 1), but then realised I wanted to know more about certain characters who would appear in it. So I started sketching out characters. Next thing I know, I’ve written a 300+ page novel which was only meant to be backstory to Mark 1: Time Waits. (For those who haven’t read it, time-travel conspiracy theory turned adventure turned romance with a dash of spy-lite thrown in)

With that out of the way, I was sure I could go back to Mark 1, because I had the characters and I had some of the layers of history all sorted. Right?

HA! Dead wrong!

Trouble is when you go back 20 years in a story to Point A, you can’t just jump to Point X with no explanation. Time is linear, after all, and one event will lead to cascading ripples, and everything changes. So I figure, hey, I know the history of everything that happens between Time Waits and Mark 1 and why certain changes have happened. Can’t hurt to put some of it down in writing.

And so, Time Lost was born.

So, logically, you’d think I would be back to Mark 1 now, wouldn’t you? Turns out that the writer part of my brain is much more interested in time-hopping than I am, because it has just handed me another story, set between Time Waits and Mark 1, and honestly, I think my head is going to essplode with too many ideas.

Time-travel bad, tree pretty.

Just to wind things up here, you can go straight into Time Lost without reading Time Waits, but if you haven’t and you want a chance to dip a toe into the world of the TRI, I’m giving away a digital copy of Time Waits. To win it, I’d love to hear about your favourite point in history and whether or not you would actually want to go back to it if you had the chance. Comment for a chance to win :)

Check out Time Lost today!

TimeLost_postcard_front_DSP

eBook
Paperback

Blurb:

What began with a dead intruder and a missing scientist quickly becomes the most perplexing case of Detective Inspector Jacob Ofori’s career. Nothing about it makes sense, from the incredibly advanced technology found on the intruder to the scientist’s mysterious workplace, the Temporal Research Institute. Jacob’s gut tells him the TRI is hiding something, and the questions keep piling up: Who would abduct Sanders? What is the strange gate in his basement laboratory? How does it connect to similar gates in the TRI?

TRI engineer Kit Rafferty only wanted one night with the sexy older policeman, but Kit’s mouth tends to run away with him when he gets excited, and nothing gets him more excited than cutting-edge tech—like the intruder’s cybernetic eye. Suddenly Kit is pulled into the investigation—and into a relationship that could jeopardize both of their lives. Kit hates lying to Jacob, but he cannot reveal what really goes on at the TRI—time travel. Faced with time-jumping criminals but unable to share that knowledge with Jacob, Kit turns to a man who knows time travel firsthand: Janos Nagy.

 

Author Bio: 

C.B. Lewis is small and Scottish and can often be spotted perched around historical monuments with her notepad and pen. She loves to travel and just has one continent left to complete her travel bingo card. There are no cats, no puppies, no significant others, only a lot of ideas and an awful lot of typing. And occasionally, cake. Never forget the cake.

tumblr: http://cb-lewis.tumblr.com/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CB-Lewis-369293759939573/

Finding His Feet: Responsibilities with Sandra Bard – Post + Giveaway

July 22, 2016

Sandra Bard joins us today to chat about new book Finding His Feet, out this week!

Finding His Feet

Hi, I’m Sandra Bard and I’m here to talk about my second release from Dreamspinner, Finding His Feet.

First of all, Hayley, thank you for inviting me and for putting up with all the absurd questions I’ve thrown your way. I should also thank the wonderful team of editor and cover designers I worked with when this book was going through the different stages. Couldn’t have done it without you.

When I first started the book, my real life was suffering; a difficult job, with an impossible task of pleasing more bosses than I had students to teach. Each day was a dreadful experience, of getting up and going to work wondering what impossible request needed to be fulfilled. So many responsibilities, to my staff, to my students, to myself.

The book as written while I was fighting a silent war with a lot of people. Kaden, my main character, battled hardened and scarred, put on his high tech armor and went out to pretend he was alright, trying to keep himself useful in a world where he was afraid he would be discarded.

I would take the office laptop, a large piece of hardware that was probably new a good fifteen years ago and would type up at least a couple of paragraphs in-between lectures, paper marking and impossible administrative documentations. I even took my tablet with me to meetings and would type out a couple of lines between nodding my head at things like, ‘if you shift your work hours from seven to six, maybe you can complete all the necessary teaching hours’ to stop myself from screaming at idiots who did not know that each day only had 24 hours.

They became characters in my book, nothing major but they helped me shape my alternate world where war was a norm, where people accepted it.

Then of course, I had to travel for workshops and to teach in different locations. My laptop, a seventeen inch monstrosity which sounded like a hair dryer stayed home. Instead, I had to do my writing on a tablet, which was six years old and weighed too much to be held in one hand. I spent so much time in trains, my main characters met on a train. (This might have been where my idea of two distinct types of armor came from.)

Shun is the opposite of Kaden in many ways, he is light and laughter, cheerful and friendly and open… or so it would seem. But deep inside, Shun is as much a survivor as Kaden, having lived through his own war, with his own set of beliefs about how to live. He has his own secrets and his own agenda but not willing to compromise being human for the sake of that.

Kaden and Shun go through a lot of rough spots and their life is made even more interesting by the two cadets Kaden is in charge of, Wayland  and Bradley. Kaden, not the greatest person in charge of his life, now has to be responsible for more people.

Some of my fights with my brother and sister played a hand in shaping this sibling rivalry. As the eldest in the family I was expected to be sane, in control, lead by example and pick up the slack for everyone else. On top of my dead end job, the pressure was enormous.

Wayland is loosely based off a student of mine, a large eyed, earnest, small made thing who stood in front of the class once and preached to me about the evils of war while wiping away tears. (It was an oral exam not anything else.) Wayland has strong opinions about life even if they aren’t the ones needed to survive a war. Bradley was inspired by one of my close staff members, who is unsure about life but has a practical eye and the knowledge that life is not always nice.

As events build up, Kaden finds himself making more and more decisions, some of which might not be right. Through the course of Finding His Feet, Kaden slowly changes, to learn that there is more to life than fighting and being useful. Shun also changes in his own way, learning to look at the world from another person’s perspective and gaining something in the process, people to care about and love.

In the end, this is about two people saving each other and finding happiness in a bleak situation.

I made some changes to my life in the end, I changed my job (actually, I quit and stayed home for a month and actually finished writing this) and found the strength to tell several people to leave me alone. I learned to ask for help and to tell when I’d had enough. And my characters grew with me. So this is also the book that helped me preserve my sanity while I was struggling to find my feet and stand on my own against a hostile world.

Excerpt:

“I don’t see myself going over there to talk I,” Finzer spat, stressing peace as if it made his body cringe. “Not even if they ordered me.”

“But I hear you moved your wife and kid to a farm on the outskirts,” Alden said mildly, and Finzer flushed and looked away.

“I’m just protecting the next generation of fighters.” Finzer sounded impassioned, though he didn’t look all too happy quoting government propaganda.

“I for one would be happy if my kid didn’t grow up to be the next weapon,” Alden said firmly.

They all knew the government’s interest in armored warriors reproducing was to have more fighters for the future and not a sudden concern over the fall in the birthrate, as publicly claimed. The war between Joscal and the newly independent state of Haria had been going on for 130 years, and both sides expected it to last a hundred more. The Joscalian Army fought with all they had, sacrificing countless soldiers, not just armored units, for the sake of maintaining their border, while the Harians hid behind their remote drones. It was common knowledge that over a hundred million Joscalians had died in the first ten years of the war alone, and nowhere in the country was safe to bring up children.

Kaden snorted and looked away. He didn’t have kids… so not his concern.

“They’re even talking about sending a joint team to salvage what they can from Ground Zero,” Elisha added, sounding amused. Ground Zero was the starting point of the second phase of the war, when Haria had bombed the peaceful Joscalian island of Compen. Situated on the border between Joscal and Haria, it was coveted, and now officially out of bounds to both countries since the incident. “From what I hear, there’s not much to salvage, anyway. They’re even talking about letting some refugees settle near Compen Beach Town, but the island is still off-limits.”

“Makes sense.” Kaden nodded. “No one’s going to hand over that island unless they’re sure there’s nothing worth taking.”

“So everything’s in the planning stage, which is why there’s this long calm,” Claina concluded.

“It’s called a cease-fire,” Elisha told her sharply.

Kaden wasn’t sure he believed it. “Or they’re planning the biggest counterattack ever, and we need to be ready.”

“There is that.”

“From what I hear, our side is the one resisting the change in borders,” Alden added thoughtfully.

“Well, it is our country,” Finzer said firmly. “All of it.”

There was the sound of quick steps and everyone turned to the entrance to see a junior office helper walk in.

“Instructor Kaden Pace,” the helper said.

“Instructor… when did you become an instructor?” Finzer asked the same question Kaden was about to ask.

“I’m not.” Kaden got up and moved to the messenger. He took the message pad from the cadet and frowned. It read To: Instructor Kaden Pace. “Huh.”

“What does it say?” Elisha called, and Kaden realized everyone in the room had ceased whatever they were doing, which wasn’t much, to see what was about to happen.

“That….” Kaden frowned as he read the rest of the message. “I’ve got a mission.”

“That’s great,” Finzer said, and the others added their voices.

Though Kaden wasn’t exactly best friends with the rest, he spoke to them and hung around with them on a regular basis. Recruited at roughly the same time, they had been in a few skirmishes together.

“But it’s an observation mission. Two cadets, Bradley and Wayland Olgesh, who are in training. I’m supposed to watch over them until they achieve their Second Level Competency Grading.” Kaden frowned.

What the fuck was that? Then he remembered that was the same exam he’d taken in his third year of training, then called the Level Clearance 2. He’d been so young then; it had been close to twenty-three years ago, and he’d struggled over the obstacles and the stupid mission he’d been assigned. In a way, he’d expected battlefield missions to be as easy as his very first training operation, so simple to complete under the guidance of his now long-dead mentor.

“Hey, I remember those missions,” Elisha chipped in enthusiastically. “Mine was to guard a supply train from Morgan to Jalen.” Kaden remembered that she had not been a part of their camp during training but had transferred from Morgan after her marriage. “Nothing happened the entire way, not even raiders, but my mentor, Lavinia, was there. Felt better knowing she was watching my back.” She sighed. “She’s retired now, and I think one of last year’s cadets matched up to her armor.”

“Mine was to take a bunch of senior citizens from one of those old hospitals being evacuated to another,” Finzer said quickly, probably to break the depressing memories. No one wanted to talk about a time when their armor was going to be taken away. “I was glad Alden was there, because there was this particularly feisty old gal who kept pinching my bottom.”

“Your armor doesn’t expose your bottom,” Kaden blurted out, caught up in the moment despite himself.

“Well, it did, for that mission.”

The messenger cleared his throat pointedly, and Kaden looked at the pad in his hand. “This isn’t a real mission. I’m playing babysitter for two kids who’re going to go get their nature badge or something.” The administration never paired kids together unless there was a good reason. The kids were most likely too young to be married, so siblings, probably twins. Wonderful. He was stuck with a pair of boys—double the trouble.

Contest time! Comment by sharing an impossible situation you were in or having far too much work and being stuck juggling it all. One lucky winner will win an ebook copy of Finding His Feet!

Check out Finding His Feet today!

eBook
Paperback
All Romance E-books

 

C:\Users\ELTU\Desktop\blog tour\for pixie - trains and travelling\cover.jpg

Cover artist: Stef Masciandaro.
Release date : July 18th

 

Blurb:

Kaden Pace, a soldier injured while on a mission, hides the extent of his damage by wearing his high-tech armor, desperate to prove his worth to his administrators and make himself useful in order to hold on to his independence. But during a simple assignment to escort two cadets across the country to retrieve the armor of a dead warrior, things start to fall apart.

They meet Shun, a young man with a secret, who steals the armor they were supposed to recover. Chasing Shun brings them to an abandoned beach town, where they encounter even more trouble. Stranded in the deserted city, Kaden finds himself relying more and more on Shun, the person he’d come to capture, while fighting off an invasion from the neighboring country.

But even when he returns to his camp, Kaden’s problems are not over. Now he has to find a way to save Shun, whom he’s growing to care for, and keep his team alive as they make one last-ditch attempt to get back the armor Shun stole. Armor that is now in enemy hands, on an island in the middle of the sea, at ground zero where it all began.

 

Author Bio:

Sandra Bard started writing when she was quite young because there was always a story inside her head, but never thought of writing for an audience until recently. She only decided to try her hand at writing for the sake of being published after a series of events left her with some free time and in between jobs.  Now she has three jobs but writing is still her most favorite thing to do. Sandra grew up travelling the world from Africa to Asia and, though she now lectures full time at a university, dreams of having a job that wouldn’t tie her down to one place. She enjoys reading books, watching anime and, occasionally, visiting a fan-fiction site. She also dabbles in tai chi and yoga in the hope they would keep her flexible and help lose weight. She lives with her pets (fish, cats, and dogs) and has been a volunteer for an organization that takes care of stray dogs (there are many, where she lives) for over ten years.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7106154.Sandra_Bard
Tumblr: http://sandrabard.tumblr.com
Email: sandrabard123@gmail.com

Quinn Dressler’s Story Before Murder Most Yowl

June 28, 2016

Quinn Dressler joins us today to chat about new book Murder Most Yowl
and life leading up to her new release.

Quinn Dressler's

Hi to everyone who loves Dreamspinner Press.

My name is Quinn. I’ve been a reader, and lover, of Dreamspinner fiction for many years now, and I’m very proud to say that I have now joined the author ranks, as Dreamspinner will release my new cozy mystery novella, Murder Most Yowl on June 29th.

I remember the exact moment I discovered I could read gay fiction whenever I wanted. It was the day Evan Lysacek won his ice skating gold medal back in 2010. That was the day I discovered that Amazon made an app that worked with my Blackberry, and they had a gay fiction section in their Kindle store.

After that there was no going back. I started downloading book after book, and really enjoyed reading about men who overcame all obstacles to be together. MEN. Not a man and a woman. I finally could enjoy reading about pairings I was really interested in.

I read several novels, then started to pay attention to the company that published them. One name kept popping up over and over, Dreamspinner.

After a while it hit me, maybe I could try my hand at conjuring up a story or two of my own.

I’d always made up stories in my head ever since I was in school, but never really wrote them down until fan fiction hit the internet in the early 2000s. I participated in a few fandoms, but always felt a little confined. While sharing adventures with existing characters is great, it’s much more fun, and hard, to create an entire literary universe on your own.

So I put on my creative thinking cap and started to write.

I took a look at the Dreamspinner site and found they were looking for short stories for a line of anthology books. One was called Bare Studs. In this anthology they wanted stories about rugged men working rugged jobs. Growing up around airplanes I immediately thought about the strong men who work on the tarmac loading luggage into planes before every flight. That was the origin of my story Love on the Tarmac.

With that success to spur me on, I decided to take on the big task of writing a whole book. I love mysteries, especially the cozy kind with lots of romance, thrills and adventure. Each filled with warm and loving characters. I also love cats. I have raised five felines in my lifetime and am currently a pet parent to a sixth, Bailey. After years of antics I have plenty of cat stories to share, so I decided to combine m/m romance, mystery and kitties in one action packed story.

The result is Murder Most Yowl.

A former NCIS agent, Cameron Sherwood turned his back on law enforcement when a case led to the death of an innocent gay man. Instead he opened up his dream business, a shop that catered to cats. But when a friend is murdered and her cat injured, Cam didn’t hesitate to bump heads with a sexy, yet stubborn sheriff to make sure the cat is okay and a killer gets caught.

 

Here’s a sample.

 

“What do you mean the cat is gone?”

The Sheriff of Sunrise Cove loomed over me, eyes blazing, hoping to make me squirm in my kitchen chair. Handcuffs jiggled in front of my nose, the light bouncing off the shiny metal at a dozen odd angles.

Sheriff Jake O’Neil apparently thought he was a tough guy, but he was out of his league. I was tall and skinny, and people often underestimated me. The sheriff expected me to wilt under the strength of that steely gaze, but when it came to playing good cop, bad cop, I was an expert.

“As I’ve said three times, Sheriff, the cat needed immediate medical attention. I asked my assistant to come and take him to the vet then I waited for you.”

“You’re such a Good Samaritan.” Was that sarcasm? He leaned down and rattled the cuffs at my eye level. “You removed evidence from a crime scene.”

“I tried to save a cat’s life. That’s hardly tampering with evidence.”

“That’s not your call to make.” His hot breath washed against my skin.

“What would you do? Let the animal die?”

“Of course not. I’m not an ogre.”

I flinched away from his gaze. Clearly I’d hurt his feelings. I’d assumed he was a jerk, like nearly every small-town cop I’d ever worked with. It looked like I was wrong.

“Finding Ms. Welch’s body was a shock. I guess it knocked the sense right out of me. I’m sorry, Sheriff.”

“Well, I suppose you didn’t know any better.” O’Neill stood straight, and put his cuffs back on his belt. “Next time you call for help first.”

“I hope there never is a next time.”

O’Neill whispered, “Me too.”

So that’s how Yowl starts. What follows is a romp snark, love, a run in with the Russian mob, rich poor, dogs and… oh, yes, cats.

Got any great cat stories to share? I’d love to hear them.

Quinn's Cat

You can reach me at the following places:

Blog: https://quinndressler.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012216971417
Dreamspinner Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/quinn-dressler
Twitter: @dressler_quinn
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/41984299-quinn-dressler?utm_medium=api
Email: quinndressler@gmail.com

 

Until we chat again.

Quinn

Check out Murder Most Yowl today!

MurderMostYowl_postcard_front_DSP

Blurb:

Cat-sitting is a dangerous business.

Cameron Sherwood turned his back on law enforcement the night his investigation led to the death of an innocent gay man. Now Cam spends his time running a business that caters to his favorite animal, cats. But when Cam stumbles upon the body of a friend while feeding her feline, he can’t walk away. Dealing with a sexy yet stubborn sheriff, a matchmaking sister, and a terrifying blind date, Cam must somehow track down a killer, all while keeping the cats around him fed with his gourmet cat treats.

Liv Olteano chats about new book A King and a Prawn + Giveaway

June 20, 2016

Bert’s guide to winning hearts

In A King and a Pawn, the love interest – Will Sims – doesn’t come alone into the life of the main character – Bert. In fact, Will comes with six kids of various ages.

Aside from escorting the Sims family out of fey territory, Will’s first real interaction with them is inviting them over for dinner. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that he’s a bit of a foodie and a good cook. But his solution to start winning over the kids and Will is to feed them one pretty awesome and entirely tasty meal:

 

There were going to be six of us, including kids. A two- or three-course meal wouldn’t do. I wanted it to be more of a family dinner kind of feel, rather than a reception. They’d almost certainly had enough protocol to last them a lifetime already.

So I decided to go with pork-and-beef mix lasagna topped off with plenty of raw eggs to make it nice, crusty, and brown like a pie. It wasn’t too pretentious, was easy to make, delicious to eat, and was filling but left room for dessert. When eating with kids, you had to have dessert—at least, that was how it had been with Alf. The little guy always loved tasty treats without being too picky about the name or even the looks of things. That was key to getting a kid to eat your cooking: you had to earn their trust, make them feel sure whatever you gave them tasted awesome. And I’d gotten pretty good at that. And at guessing what someone liked.

So for dessert I went big: tangerine- and dark cherries-covered cheesecake, and what my mom liked to call basket cake—tiny dough baskets you baked set over some tea cups so they’d keep the tiny basket shape, then filled with all kinds of sliced fruit, sweet and bitter, and covered with a dusting of sugar. You set the basket cakes back in the oven for about half an hour until the fruit baked enough to get all mushy and juicy, but not entirely flopped into submission. When the basket cakes cooled off, they went into the fridge so the fruity goodness would be all the better. When served, you could top it off either with a spoonful of whipped cream or with a spoonful of ice cream, preferably flavored so it would complement the fruits you used. So sweet fruits in the baskets, bitter-flavored ice cream, perhaps lemon or even mint. Of course you’d ask each guest what they wanted, so it was best to have a few options ready. Because I’d already fed them ice cream, and I didn’t want to be so obviously spoiling them to win them over, I went with the whipped cream version tonight.

By the time I had the table arranged, my dining room smelled quite heavenly. I had sweetened fruit tea cooled off and ready to go, plus some red wine because we deserved a glass or two after the kind of day we had.

 

His efforts pay out too, as he learns during and after dinner:

 

I found out new and interesting things about fey during this dinner. For one, they seemed to have healthier appetites than I thought. Everyone went for seconds, and some of the kids went for thirds, actually, though smaller portions.

When I brought out the fruit baskets and topped each off with a fresh spoonful of whipped cream, Sarah and Hector clapped excitedly. Susannah and Jeremy contained their enthusiasm better, but I did see joy glowing in their eyes. And Will had, I think, five of those baskets between his second and third glass of wine.

 

Now that you’ve read that, are you feeling hungry, lol? I know I am.

When I wrote the scene, I had in mind the idea of family dinners as a way to connect/reconnect/maintain close ties. There’s a sense of communion when we share a meal with someone, even if it’s someone we’ve just met; and if they were the ones to cook it too, the strength of that newly forged bond is intensified. (Particularly for me, lol. I usually don’t cook. If you cook for me, I’m really impressed. I mean, more so if the food is actually tasty, haha. But even if it’s not some culinary feat, I’m going to be impressed. :D ).

In Bert’s case, it’s considerably more intense due to the fact that fey can sense the feelings of the cook as he prepared that food. So in a sense, cooking for the Sims family is a way for Bert to not only share food, but a bit of his heart in the process.

Did you woo someone by manifesting your culinary prowess, hehe?

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Check out A King and a Prawn today!

Dreamspinner Press:
eBook
Paperback

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Blurb:

Bert Cooper’s life used to be great, until his sister turned out to be a traitor. Now Bert feels the whole pack looks on him with doubt and suspicion. To prove his loyalty, he volunteers to be the first ambassador at Fey Court, gathering information to finally solve the Leader Murders and punish those plotting against the Council and community. At least, that was the plan….

When Bert meets Sir William Matthew Sims, Court Interrogator, and one hell of a sexy man, life becomes a balancing act. And when the Fey King is assassinated, things become really messy.

Pack politics, fey politics, treason, suspicions of treason…. Bert has to choose between being ruled by his fears or standing up for what—and who—he believes in. And it might just break his heart.

 

About Liv Olteano:

Voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional. Lover of diversity and quirky character, spamificating the world.

Be afraid, be very afraid. :D

Links:
Website:  http://liv.liviaolteano.com/
Blog:  http://blog.liviaolteano.com/
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Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LiviaOlteano
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Goodreads profile:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6952513.Liv_Olteano

 

 

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Charlie Cochet Drops by for a Chat About THIRDS: Beyond the Books!

June 8, 2016

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Hello, all! Charlie Cochet here celebrating the release of THIRDS Beyond the Books: Volume 1! Thank you so much for joining me on another stop of the blog tour. Today our resident cheesy doodle crunching THIRDS agent Dexter J. Daley is sharing with you one of his many, many, playlists.

Music plays a huge role in the THIRDS world—including the flash fiction stories—and more importantly, in Dex’s life. It makes up a big part of who he is. As you may know, Dex lives and breathes eighties music. Although he also enjoys some modern tunes, as well as songs dated before 1980, his heart belongs to the big hair bands, classic rock, and electro pop of the eighties. Here he’s put together a special playlist for the love of his life Sloane Brodie. I’m sure Sloane is weak at the knees just hearing it. Well, he’s certainly something.

I have a feeling Sloane’s going to have trouble getting through sexy times with a straight face if this playlist is involved. I see much lip syncing coming from Dex, and not nearly enough restraint from Sloane. Picture it. You know you want to. Here’s a little scene to help you along.

***

Sloane sat against the headboard, naked under the blankets, his wide eyes on Dex as his boyfriend lip-synced around the room to Diana Ross’s “Chain Reaction”.

“This isn’t sexy,” Sloane murmured, not sure what to make of the spectacle before him. “I was promised seduction. You and I clearly have very different definitions of what seduction means.”

It had started out great with Dex stripping for him to Aerosmith’s “Angel”. It was followed by Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” then a couple of cheesy and sappy love songs, which Sloane had endured, lost in Dex’s bright blue eyes, pouting pink lips, and that tight little ass wiggling in his sky blue boxer-briefs. Then it all sort of spiraled downhill.

Dex jumped on the bed singing about explosions. Sloane wanted explosions. He’d been promised explosions. Dex was definitely sexy. The faces he was making as he lip-synced were… something else. Dex ignored him, dropping to his knees as Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes” came on. Sloane was lost all right. Lost in Dex’s determination to sing rather than get jump his bones. Was he losing his appeal?

Sloane arched an eyebrow at Dex. “You got carried away, didn’t you? You hijacked your own seduction playlist and now I’ve got—What is this? “Cherish”? Seriously?”

There was only one thing to do. Sloane locked his gaze on Dex, stealthily got up while Dex had his eyes shut tight giving it all he had to Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is”, and then he did what jaguar Therians did best. He pounced.

Dex let out an impressive yelp as Sloane grabbed him, lifting him into his arms.

“Ooh, are we having An Officer and a Gentleman moment? I knew I should have added “Up Where We Belong” to the playlist.”

“I’m hijacking my seduction back,” Sloane said with a low growl, tossing Dex into the middle of the bed before climbing over him and pinning him to the mattress. He kissed Dex passionately, thrilled by the noises coming from Dex and the way he writhed with need under Sloane. He was going to show Dex real seduction. His hands roamed over Dex’s smooth, soft skin, his mouth devouring Dex’s plump lips until they were forced to come up for air. Beneath him, Dex let out a breathless chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Sloane asked, bemused. Mischief filled Dex’s pale blue eyes.

“Nothing.”

Sloane narrowed his eyes. He kissed Dex again, determined to teach him a lesson. To show him how it was done. He pulled back suddenly.

“Wait a minute.”

Dex bit down on his bottom lip. Sloane stared down at him. He looked gorgeous and sinfully ravished. He also had “guilty” written all over his pretty face.

Sloane gasped. “You did it on purpose!”

Dex burst into peals of laughter.

“Oh, you sneaky little bastard.”

Once Dex managed to catch his breath and his laughter downgraded to a chuckle, he planted a kiss on Sloane’s jaw.

“So, you gonna teach me how it’s done?”

How…?

Sloane grinned wickedly at his delicious prey. “Challenge accepted.”

***

Dexter J. Daley’s Songs to Seduce Your Jaguar Therian Partner by:

Dexter J. Daley’s Songs to Trick Your Jaguar Therian Partner into Seducing You When You Should Be Seducing Him.

Angel – Aerosmith
You’re the Inspiration – Chicago
Endless Love – Lionel Richie
I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston
Lost in Your Eyes – Debbie Gibson
Cherish – Madonna
I Wanna Know What Love Is – Foreigner

***

What music do you enjoy listening to? Any recommendations for Dex?

***

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Genre: Gay Paranormal Romance, Shifters
Length: Novella
Published: June 8th, 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Ebook ISBN-13: 9781634773072

Join us as we celebrate the THIRDS universe with this collection of flash fiction stories written to prompts submitted by fans. Sometimes we want to know more about our favorite characters. Where they came from, how they became who they are, their families, friendships, and past heartaches. These snippets of moments in time offer an inside look at the lives of our favorite THIRDS characters. Whether it’s first shifts, the forging of unbreakable bonds, or a night full of shenanigans, these stories are sure to enrich your THIRDS reading experience.

** All royalties earned from THIRDS Beyond the Books are being donated to Big Cat Rescue.

 

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PURCHASE LINKS

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | THIRDS HQ | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Newsletter | DSP |Amazon |Goodreads

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TOUR SCHEDULE

June 1 – MM Good Book Reviews
June 6th – Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy
June 7 – Oh My Shelves
June 8 – The Novel Approach
June 8 – Dreamspinner Blog

****

Release Day Event: June 8th – Love Bytes Reviews

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Werewolves, Witches, and Zombie Dogs…Oh My! With Stephen Osborne – Post + Giveaway

June 8, 2016

Werewolves, Witches, and Zombie Dogs…Oh My!

My name is Stephen Osborne, and I’m a spooky story junkie.

Today I’m pleased to announce the release of Under a Blood-red Moon, the 5th book in the Duncan Andrews series. Duncan, Robbie, and I have been through a lot together. We’ve dealt with nasty ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and demons. And with Under a Blood-red Moon, we get…werewolves! I love werewolves. Always have. Ever since I saw Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man, I’ve been fascinated by those wonderful lycanthropes. The beast within. The primordial power. It was inevitable that Duncan would have to deal with a werewolf pack sooner or later.

And werewolves come in many forms, of course. There are the half man, half wolf types that walk upright, snarl a lot, and have a lot of yak hair glued onto their faces. There are the ones that actually become wolves and run around on all fours, howling at the moon. Some become wolves by magic, some by being bitten by a wolf. What a lot of people don’t realize is that quite a lot of the werewolf lore we know was made up by screenwriter Curt Siodmak. When he was writing the movie The Wolf Man, he invented a lot of stuff. The pentagram on the hand of the next victim was a Siodmak addition to the lore. And if you pay attention to the movie, you’ll notice that the full moon isn’t important (that came later). In The Wolf Man, it’s the autumn moon that causes the transformation, which must make things tough for a lycanthrope when he’s got evening plans anytime during the fall.

I’ve loved spooky stories my whole life. I recall staying up on Friday nights to watch horror movies on channel 4. The Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein were all favorites. But even better was a soap opera that was on when I was a wee child called Dark Shadows. I used to rush home from school to catch the happenings at Collinwood and the Collins family, who dealt with werewolves, vampires, and witches on a daily basis. I love Dark Shadows to this day, and I credit it for giving me a love of story, and a love of the macabre.

I hope everyone enjoys Under a Blood-red Moon, and the continuing adventures of Duncan and Robbie. To celebrate, I’d like to offer a free copy of one of my backlist titles! For a chance to win, please comment (with your email or some way to contact you) and tell me one of your favorite horror stories. It can be a short story, a novel, a movie, a TV show, or even a true ghost story you know of. A winner will be chosen on June 11th. Good luck, and thanks for everything!

If you’d like to contact me, you can find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stephen.osborne2 or my website https://authorstephenosbornecom.wordpress.com

Check out Under a Blood-red Moon today!

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Blurb:

Private Detective Duncan Andrews is back, along with the usual gang: Robbie, Gina, Nick, and Daisy, the zombie bulldog! Duncan is trying to figure out how his boyfriend, Robbie, will fit in with the team now that he is no longer a ghost. That worry is soon set aside when Duncan accepts a new case to locate a missing young man named Graig Betz. Duncan soon learns Graig is part of a werewolf pack that is terrorizing Indianapolis. The pack is led by a witch, Ashley Campbell, an old rival of Gina’s. Duncan and his team must try to rescue and cure Graig and stop the wolf pack from destroying an entire city.

 

Workplace Romance: Love in Bloom or Courting Disaster? with Julie Lynn Hayes – Post + Giveaway

May 26, 2016

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Hi, I’m Julie Hayes, long-time Dreamspinner author, here to talk about my new novella, Bad Dogs and Drag Queens, first book in my Rose and Thorne series.

Vinnie Delarosa and Ethan Thorne are partners —on and off the clock. They’re federal undercover agents, and they met when they were first assigned to one another. It wasn’t exactly a match made in heaven, but five years later, they are very much in love and very together.

They work primarily in the southeastern part of the country, but have traveled as far as LA (don’t remind Vinnie, he’s still steaming about that!). They have a government-paid apartment in Richmond, Virginia, and life is good.

Vinnie and Ethan come from different backgrounds, but that doesn’t matter. They’re totally devoted to one another. Vinnie might come off as a little insecure, and a whole lot mouthy, but he’d protect Ethan with his life. And ditto for Ethan, who is a very laid-back, very gallant and sweet guy. They fit together perfectly.  Now. In the beginning… now that’s another story.

Vinnie and Ethan are sent to Roanoke to help out with a mugging problem and end up with more than they bargained for. After that, they’re assigned to go undercover in one of the biggest gay bars in Roanoke to find out who’s harassing patrons and employees. It seems inevitable that Vinnie will end up in a dress!

I originally introduced these two in a 500 word flash that I posted on FB, a story so short they didn’t have names. I thought that would be the end, but my good friend Chris T. Kat said she’d like to know more about them. And suddenly, Vinnie and Ethan were born! I am very grateful to Chris for that!

Have you ever had a romance that began in the workplace? I’ve met both my husbands that way. Not exactly a stirring commendation lol If you did, how did it work out for  you? Would you recommend it or advise against it? Leave a comment below and I will pick a winner (in 3 days), and that winner will receive their choice of books from my backlist.

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Julie Lynn Hayes

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Check out Bad Dogs and Drag Queens today!

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Blurb:

Vinnie Delarosa and Ethan Thorne are partners—on and off the clock. Federal undercover detectives, they’re part of a covert task force designed to promote goodwill between the feds and local authorities. They lend an unobtrusive helping hand wherever it’s needed. No credit required.

Vinnie and Ethan work primarily in the Southeast region of the United States and live together in Richmond, Virginia. A mugger problem brings them to Roanoke, where Vinnie is thrown out as bait to catch the man who’s been snatching purses in a city park, but they end up with more than they bargained for. Why is Vinnie always the one who has to wear the dress? Ethan says it’s because Vinnie looks much prettier in a skirt. How can he argue with that?

Expecting to return to Richmond afterward, Vinnie and Ethan find themselves assigned a new case instead. They are to go undercover at The Stroll, one of the biggest gay nightclubs in Roanoke. Someone is terrorizing both the customers and the performers. Could they be dealing with a hate crime? Someone has to protect the drag queens of Roanoke, so it’s Vinnie and Ethan to the rescue!

The author is donating 10% of the royalties from this book to No Kid Hungry. Visit nokidhungry.org for more information about this organization.

The College Experience with Aishlar Snow

May 10, 2016

The College Experience

Hi! I’m Aishlar Snow, author of I Experimented Once in College, and I’m excited to be sharing my first published work with you. I’d like to thank Dreamspinner Press for the opportunity to share.

My inspiration for the book came during a bout of nostalgia for my college days. I had a pretty rocky college experience where I faced down a number of serious situations, but I still look back on it and remember how I met my fiance – and my best friend – there. My main character, William, faces similarly daunting challenges during the semester, and he also ends up finding love and friendship along the way.

While I was writing, one of the things I enjoyed most was painting a picture of a magical university with all the same quirks and routines of a modern one. The freshmen are fresh-faced and often lost, those about to graduate don’t have their books half the time, and throughout the crazy rollercoaster semester the RA plays mediator to such a variety of student concerns you can only find in a soap opera. It’s a confusing place, college, no matter what year you’re in. Maybe your friend is still undecided in his third year, you’re sitting on boxes because none of your roommates remembered to buy chairs, and you can never figure why that one campus building is out in the middle of nowhere. There is a universal quality to college, ineffable, no matter if it’s planted in the real world or fantasy.

Even the music I listened to while writing had ties to my college days, although not in the way you might expect. When I started college in 2009 I listened to a lot of older classics because they were comforting and energetic. My working title for the book was actually “Do You Believe in Magic?” from the 1965 song by The Lovin’ Spoonful. My playlist also included “Magic” by Pilot (1974), “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club (1985), and “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics (1983) among others. These familiar songs brought me back to memories of college as well as setting the stage – with lyrics I could relate to the story – for a few of my favorite scenes.

Weirdly, I threw a handful of 2000′s club mixes into the playlist at one point while writing a scene that never made it into the book. When I was a freshman, my friends dragged me to my first club, and that experience was so profound that I knew I had to write William reluctantly stuck in a magical nightclub. For me, that first glimpse into the world of nightlife and dancefloors and shady under-the-stairwell hookups was as shocking as it was fascinating. Writing William, a reserved and tightly buttoned-up PhD student, in a club setting where he was forced to unwind required club mixes that were pretty jarring after the 80′s hits. In the end, I had a better version of the scene with the setting changed to a professor’s office, but maybe the next book can incorporate a magical nightclub?

I’ve asked my fiance what it was like living with me while I wrote I Experimented Once in College over the course of a month, and his contribution was, “You were kind of a brat.” When asked to elaborate, he shrugged, but then he started laughing at the look on my face, so I think we’re good.

In reality, writing a book in a month, while doable, can be a real whirlwind. I was working at a public library at the time, and I had just finished my Masters in Library Science. Much like William, I was overqualified for my clerical position and growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of high-level positions. I used that frustration to illustrate William’s situation at Efeldon University, especially at the beginning of the book. William knows his worth, and he isn’t afraid to say when he’s being underutilized. It is that frustration in part that contributes to his antagonistic relationship to Taliesin, someone who should be a mentor figure but is more often an additional source of irritation for him. During the month when I wrote I Experimented Once in College, I led a very busy, work-filled life; I wouldn’t recommend it every month, but it was a blast!

Readers, do you have certain songs that remind you of high school or college? Were they popular songs at the time, or were they favorites from another decade? You can reach me at aishlarsnow@gmail.com, @Aishlar, and aishlarsnow.blogspot.com, or by commenting on this post. I would love to hear what’s on your mind!

Check out I Experimented Once in College today!

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Blurb:

PhD candidate William Yderis comes to Efeldon University to teach and finish his degree in charmcrafting. For methodical, sedate, and scholarly William, the school defies his expectations—and not in a good way. The biggest surprise comes when William meets his boss, absent-minded Archmage Taliesin Karsus, a man as infuriating as he is sexy.

As William struggles to carve out his place at the university, he is drawn in to Tal’s chaotic experiments… and drawn to Tal despite his logical mind’s protests. And if Tal’s wavering affection isn’t enough to complicate William’s studies, he uncovers a plot involving an ambitious staff member, brainwashed students, sexual assault, and a threat to the lives of everyone on campus. When it comes time to face the danger, William is on his own. For the first time in his life, he’ll have to trust in his heart instead of his head.

 

August Li’s The Kitchen Boy

April 7, 2016

August Li's The Kitchen Boy

Hi everybody. I’m August (Gus) Li, here at the blog today to talk about my novella The Kitchen Boy.

If you’ve read much of my work, you probably know I like to put a lot of pressure on my characters to see how dealing with conflict will force them to adapt and hopefully grow. In a lot of my books, characters face large-scale battles, conspiracies, assassinations, and powerful magic. I took a little bit of a different approach to this book. There’s still magic, and there’s political intrigue, some fights, and a body count. There are characters with selfish motivations, and there are betrayals. But the main conflict for my main character, Yoli, is internal, which leads to the topic I’m interested in exploring.

Does personal interest have a place in romance?

It’s easy to say no, that of course a character should put aside personal pursuits to chase love, to sacrifice selfish goals for the greater prize of a lasting connection with another person. But I like to poke around in the gray areas where things aren’t so simple. Love and partnership is a wonderful thing to have, but is there a point when its price is too high? What if a character must give up a lucrative career to be with another, or leave his homeland? Do we as readers cheer, or do we have to wonder if he made the right decision? What makes it a fair trade for the character who is giving something up? What does the love interest have to provide to balance the scales?

Or, as is the case in my book, what if the character is given a choice between loyalty to the man he loves and safety, freedom from being hurt, having his basic needs met, and the opportunity to realize his dream? It sounds too good to be true, and, in a way, it is, but walking away will make his life much easier and more comfortable. It might even mean the difference between life and death. It’s an interesting conflict to explore, because the desire to find love is such a basic and compelling one. But self-preservation is also a strong need. And not every character is a tragic hero who would rather die than lose they person he loves. Some characters are more practical. Some characters have also learned from experience that they have to look out for themselves.

As my character finds out, loyalty is lovely as a concept, but can become messy in practice. He wants to be an idealist, to stick to his beliefs no matter the opposition, but he also wants a future, and he wants that future to include enough to eat and the chance to do something he finds fulfilling. He’s put in a position where he must make an impossible choice. You’ll have to read the book to see how he reconciles everything, but does a certain amount of self-interest make for a bad romance protagonist?

Nobody likes a self-absorbed jerk who only cares about himself, but personally, I also don’t like a character without his own interests, without an investment in his own success, or who doesn’t use his agency to ensure a satisfying outcome for himself. I don’t like a character who only cares about what his love interest wants, at the expense of his own wishes and goals.  Most characters are never forced into a situation where they must, in absolute terms, choose between one and the other, but putting them there makes their most basic personality rise to the surface. As a writer, moving that dial between selfish jerk and doormat is a delicate balancing act. Push it too far, and the result is an unlikable character—no one cares about his success because he really doesn’t deserve it. Wiggle it in the other direction, and you end up with a character who lacks believability at best, comes across kind of deluded and pathetic at worst. Most people have a strong survival instinct, but most people also want to be loved—and to see those they love thrive. If they cannot have it both ways, what do they do?

So how do you like your protagonists? Self-sacrificing idealists or practical people who look out for themselves? It’s somewhere in between for me. Do you prefer characters that lean more one way or the other? What lines can a character not cross without losing your affection?

Check out The Kitchen Boy today!

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Blurb:

Kitchen servant Yoli is one of only three men who know a carefully guarded secret about High Commander Koehen, the brilliant general who united their lands against a common invader. The enemy wants that secret, and they are willing to use either kindness or cruelty to obtain it.

Yoli must decide if his loyalties lie with the commander, who has shown him more affection than anyone in Yoli’s life, or with his own best interests. High Commander Koehen’s attention is capricious at best—he summons Yoli only when it is convenient for him, and Yoli knows there’s little hope of a future together. Is a glimmer of a hope for love worth sacrificing a chance for prosperity beyond his wildest dreams?

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