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DVD Review

I apologize for not being more active, but not having other reviewers or books to review, it's been a little difficult. However I want to let you know about this wonderful DVD "God's Not Dead." Working at the library I found it on our shelves and took it home. When I brought it back I raved about it. I wanted to take it out again, but it seems word gets around. It's always on hold for someone else. That's great.

The opening scene is in a freshman college philosophy class. The professor states he is an atheist, and asks that if everyone will sign a paper with 3 little words on it he can dispense of the dust and get to the subject. Those 3 words are "God Is Dead." One student cannot sign that. He is given 3 chances to argue the case of the existence of God before the class.

Fueled by hate on one side and a determined love of God on the other this is not your simple movie. The poor kid researches and goes off on a journey of his own to state his case. The end is nothing short of amazing. I guess telling people stuff like this is one of the reasons I can't get a hold of it a second time. It's really that good.

For more you can go here:

To purchase a copy try these links:
Barnes & Noble

May our Lord be with you now and always. Remember, God is in control, even when things look like they're crashing all around you. David

Saturday, May 12, 2007

PETTICOAT RANCH, by Mary Connealy

Day 7 Saturday

For our last day we are pleased to have Mary Connealy here for an interview. I figured most of us would like to get to know more about her, so why don't we. - David

CFRB: After reading PETTICOAT RANCH I really think people would like to know a little more about you and your writing. They can actually find a lot of this information on your website, correct?

Mary: You really think they want to know more about me?? I’m married for thirty years to my high school sweetheart, Ivan. We’ve got four daughters who have just a hint of the qualities of my four girls in Petticoat Ranch. I’m a farmer’s wife and a GED Instructor. Besides writing books. You can find out more about me at and and I’d love it if you checked any of those out and you can contact me or leave a message and I’ll find it.

CFRB: Actually, I do think people would like to know more about you. How long have you been writing?

Mary: I’d been writing about ten years before I got a contract for my first book—GOLDEN DAYS, which is out in May from Heartsong Presents. That was September of 2004. PETTICOAT RANCH sold second but made it onto the shelves first.

CFRB: PETTICOAT RANCH is an unusual, and enjoyable story. Do you like writing Westerns, or is this something new for you?

Mary: In those long, long ten years of writing before I finally received a contract I wrote everything. I decided that if no one was going to publish my work, I might as well entertain myself. So I wrote whatever appealed to me. I’ve written historical westerns, cop dramas, thrillers—including one about a demon possessed serial killer and a lady cop with the spiritual gift of discerning spirits, gothic romances, sweet romances, even plays and children’s books. I’ve got four books written of a middle grade novel series I call Rent-A-Brain about kid geniuses. I’ve got one book of a seven book series about a young angel attending Cherub Academy, my Christian answer to Harry Potter. Whatever I write seems to end up being comedy…yes even the demon possessed serial killer book and the gothic. My characters just cannot keep from sassing each other.

CFRB: You blended a number of different genres together, did that come natural, or was it difficult for you?

Mary: I didn’t mean to. I just had a story to tell and went for it. Once PETTICOAT RANCH was done I was kind of stuck with it. It didn’t fit anywhere and I didn’t know how to pitch it. Then I read Lori Copeland’s MEN OF THE SADDLE and BRIDES OF THE WEST series and there it was; historical, suspenseful, inspirational, romantic comedy. Since then I’ve found more. DeeAnne Gist’s BRIDE MOST BEGRUDING, Cathy Marie HAKE’S LETTER PERFECT. So I didn’t start out to mix genres. I just told a story.

CFRB: I can certainly relate to that. I've told people to just tell the story. Start at the beginning and don't quit until you finish. Another question, it seems as though you based Sophie's girls on your own girls, is he right, or is it just a coincidence that you both happen to have four daughters?

Mary: Well, I’ll admit the girls were in part the inspiration for my books. Joslyn, my oldest is very practical and responsible, like Mandy. Wendy, my second daughter is an animal lover. Shelly, daughter number three has always been a daddy’s girl and was a tom boy for a long time trying to keep up with Ivan. I feel bad for my youngest, Katy, because Laura, the baby in Petticoat Ranch pretty much spends the book trying to stick her foot in her mouth and screaming, so not much way to develop a Katy-like personality there. But Katy may prefer that in her mother’s work. Of course the girls are all fictionalized. Beyond that little bit of similarity I’ve certainly branched out in whatever way the story called for.

CFRB: What was the most challenging part of writing PETTICOAT RANCH?

Mary: You know, I just love to write. PETTICOAT RANCH has been as much fun as I’ve ever had writing a book, although since it’s finished (and contracted YAY!) book two in this series CALICO CANYON is, I think a more flat out comedy. But in PETTICOAT, making those girls act normal and making it drive Clay crazy and having Sophie in the middle trying to figure out what is wrong with that man, just made me laugh. I wrote that book and snickered until my family though I was nuts. The most challenging part is the marketing. Is that a fair answer? I’m doing okay…I hope, but it was unexpected and I’m much more comfortable behind the computer than doing book signings or (horrors) giving speeches. Still, I’ve been okay. It takes all my nerves to do public appearances and people have all been really kind. But I made a commitment to myself, and to Barbour that I’d do whatever was asked of me to promote the book.

CFRB: Humor does seems to be the “language” you use to get your point across. Is humor an important aspect to you?

Mary: I just can’t seem to NOT take the laugh line. It comes naturally to me and although certain parts of the book call for drama and seriousness, even those…to me…need a breather and that breather is comedy. Humor is the most fun for me to write. I especially love a really complex scene, with lots of characters and lots of dialog, all coming on top of other dialog, with stage movements and misunderstandings, is pure fun. I need to go over it again and again, add more, make sure the reader gets it, even if the characters are completely confused.

CFRB: Sounds like a lot of work, but the kind that would be a lot of fun as well. What are some of the goals you hope to reach, or the message you want to get across in PETTICOAT RANCH?

Mary: The underlying theme in PETTICOAT RANCH is that anger is destructive. That sounds so deep for what ended up being a really lighthearted novel. I believe that Satan is in most Christian anger. I know there is righteous anger. I know Jesus got angry. But that’s no excuse to spend your life furious about the constant assault on people of Christian faith in this world. Often I think our anger is as simple as the old image of the devil sitting on one shoulder and an angel on the other. The devil whispering in your ear that ‘He deserves to be punished.’ ‘You need to get even’ ‘Your anger is righteous’ The angel saying, ‘God wants you to react to this extremely aggravating situation with love.’ ‘Forgive him.’ ‘Smile in the face of her unkindness.’ ‘Be patient.’ But Sophie, Clay and Adam are all on a different place on what I saw as an arc of forgiveness. I mainly created Adam because I wanted someone, a good guy, whose rage was white hot. The harm done to him was brand new and his anger was absolutely justified. Sophie has been dealing with her anger for two years and she’s still angry but she’s done some healing. Clay has known someone killed his brother for a few weeks and he’s still furious but with his new wife and family, some of that rage is diluted. I started out with Clay being killing mad but I didn’t like what that did to him as a husband and father, so I created a secondary character to be that close to the edge.

CFRB: How important is it to you that this is a Christ-based story?

Mary: I told you I’d been writing for ten years. I still remember the first time I heard of Steeple Hill. When Harlequin began that new line of Christian romances all I’d been writing fell into place for me. I wasn’t writing specifically Christian books, but I was writing books I wasn’t ashamed of…as a Christian. Guess what? Not much market for those. The only line of books I found that accepted unsolicited manuscripts was Silhouette, a sweet line of Harlequin. When Love Inspired began it was like a light coming on for me. My books now needed a faith thread but that wasn’t hard. I realized I was already writing books with Christian characters and Christian morals, so the faith thread was there, just not spoken. It was like I’d been writing for a genre, Christian fiction, that wouldn’t be invented for years. Of course once I started looking at Christian fiction, I found lots of publishers. Including Barbour who offered me a contract.

CFRB: What advice would you give writers on the art of writing?

Mary: My advice is simple and possibly useless. Write. Keep writing. Write some more. I think it’s a simple as practice, practice, practice. Come out of the box with an explosion. I think of my books as Three Explosions and a Conclusion. Someone else said that first, but I can’t remember who. Explode, either physically or emotionally or both from the first word. Then 1/3 of the way through, another explosion, then at the 2/3 point again some action, a turning point, make it important and big, then an explosive conclusion, including that black moment. If you’re writing a 70,000 word book, when you’re getting to word number 20,000 start thinking what you’re going to blow up. Whose heart needs to be broken HARD right now? Can I start shooting at anybody?

CFRB: You have another book coming out. Could you tell us a little about it?

Mary: GOLDEN DAYS is due to be released from Heartsong Presents in May. It’s hard to find because it’s a book club. But it can be done! Go to and you can find it there. It’ll be available on Amazon eventually but the book club members get it first so you’ll have to wait. It’s available at some bookstores but I’m not sure which ones. If anyone finds it in a bookstore I’d love to hear about it. And a bookstore can order it for you even if they don’t have it on the shelves.

CFRB: You made your own video book trailer. Do you think that this is important in promoting your book?

Mary: I mainly figured out how to do it from watching what Dave was doing on the CFRB blog. Man it was hard, hard, hard the first time. I am NOT a good computer geek. Geek maybe, but not with computers. I enjoyed it and posted a copy of it on and After the screaming, monstrous, painful, sky high learning curve had been climbed it was kind of fun. I did PETTICOAT RANCH first then GOLDEN DAYS went pretty fast.

CFRB: What are your future goals, other than the 2nd novel you have coming out?

Mary: Well, in those ten years of being rejected I followed my own advice (which is why I believe in it, I suppose) I’ve got twenty books on my computer. That’s all done, finished, ready for someone to buy. Maybe some of the earlier ones need work, but I still loved those stories I told. I’ve not got contracts for four books, all from Barbour. I recently signed a contract for a CALICO CANYON, a sequel to PETTICOAT RANCH. CALICO CANYON will be out next summer. If you’ve read PETTICOAT RANCH you’ll recognize these characters. The fussy school marm Miss Grace Calhoun and Daniel Reeves the father of five unruly boys. She expels his sons from school, he gets her fired. Through a perfectly innocent compromising situation, they’re forced to marry the next day. The boys are horrified, Daniel is a trapped rat. Grace is overwhelmed and scared to death…the boys almost killed her at school. Now there’s no escape.
CALICO CANYON does for a fussy woman thrust into an all-male world what Petticoat Ranch did for a mountain man who finds himself surrounded by girls. I’m done with CALICO CANYON and am just finishing a third book in this series that I hope they’ll want. I’ve also got a cozy mystery, OF MICE…AND MURDER, coming from Heartsong Presents Mysteries—this is a cozy mystery line that launches in January 2008. I had a lot of fun with OF MICE…AND MURDER and am working on a sequel Heartsong Presents Mysteries has expressed interest in.

CFRB: I hope you'll let us take these on tour. If they're anything like PETTICOAT RANCH they'll be wonderful. Thank you for your time Mary. It's been a pleasure having you here. May the Lord bless the works of your hands.

Mary: Thank you for letting me be part of Christian Fiction Review Blog. I’m nervous and excited about the whole blog roll event. And I went to the Chat the other night to get my feet wet. That will be May 31st. Maybe you can give more details about that. God bless you.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Day 6 Friday

Mary's Profile on her blog reads: “Mary Connealy has three books in bookstores now or coming soon from Barbour Publishing. Mary, is married to Ivan a farmer, and she is the mother of four beautiful daughters, Joslyn, Wendy, Shelly and Katy. You can find Mary on the internet like a middle-aged, female Where's Waldo at! Mary is a GED Instructor by day and an author by night. And so she can remember what she's doing, she likes to wear a little crown and a Wonder Woman cape while she types.”

From contacts with her as one of CFRB's members I can tell you that while she has an amazing ability to laugh at hardships, she takes her writing very seriously. She writes, what I guess you could call, “serious humor”. That's humor that gets her through the rough places. And as Clay McClellan would say, “She's a God-fearin' woman.' In fact, I wonder just how much like Sophie she is herself. I strongly suspect she is very much like that strong woman who took to raising four daughters by herself after her husband was murdered (that's Sophie, her girls and her husband. Mary's husband and girls are doing just fine from what I understand).

English teachers and others are always telling us to write about what we know, so I'm fairly certain that her daughters also played a role in patterning Sophie's daughters after. The fact that she happens to have the same number of girls as her heroine tells me something about that. I don't know about Mary's husband, but I think Ivan must have added some wit and wisdom by his very presence. To say that he is Clay may be overstating things, but I think Mary was able to more clearly depict some of the problems a man and a woman have, especially when they are falling in love because of some of the experiences she's had with her own husband. I'm just guessing, but I'll tell you this, PETTICOAT RANCH is chock full of characters that come to life.

Don't miss tomorrow's post. I saved the best for last. Tomorrow we'll be having an interview with Mary Connealy. I think you'll enjoy it. I think I'm getting better at this. I hope you guys are too. See, there are times when we'll need to pull together, times when I'll need someone to fill in for me. I'm sure they're times when Jackie, Cynthia, Karina and the rest could use a break. Think about ministering to Christ by being able to say, “Hey, brother, (or sister), why don't you let me do that for you this week so you can get some writing done. I know how busy you've been and really appreciate all that you've done for us.” Jesus teaches us that when we do things like that we're actually doing it for Him. It's like Jesus was standing there and you had the privilege of helping Him. See you all tomorrow. God bless.

Featured at Amazon.Com

Don't miss her site at Real Life Petticoat Ranch

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Day 5 Thursday

Sophie's girls. It only seems right to mention these cute little monsters, or these monstrous little cuties, depending on how you look at it. As I've been saying she has 4 girls. Mandy, the oldest, followed by Beth, then Sally and finally Laura, the baby of the bunch. These girls are important to the story on several levels. They add to the drama in times of suspense. They add that special family type of humor that makes this an incredible book. And they are all different.

It would have been easy for Mary Connealy to do a cookie cutter thing in creating these little girls. But the closest she comes to that is they're all blonds. Mandy, the eldest, is closest to Sophie, although clearly her own person. She's normally in charge of the girls when Sophie has to leave the house for one reason or another. Beth, the 2nd oldest, has a fondness for animals. She's gentle in her mannerisms and if no-one else can get an animal to do something you can count on Beth. She'll get it done. 3rd in line is Sally. Sally was a “Daddy's girl” and when Clay shows up looking like her Pa come back to life she instinctively is drawn to him. Laura is the baby of the bunch and spends most of the book either sleeping or one of them tying to get her to sleep. They are all so different.

Yet, in other ways they are so very much alike. From their blond hair, the way they giggle when something strikes them funny or cry at the drop of a hat. Both of which drives Clay up a wall. They're determined too, obedient and pretty much faithful at least to their “Ma”. This contrast between similarities and differences is very realistic and I'm sure you've met thees girls before, under different names, and probably not under the same roof. Putting them all in the same place adds to some interesting mements.

Featured at Amazon.Com

Don't miss her site at Real Life Petticoat Ranch

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Day 4 Wednesday

Now to my favorite. Comedy. Not something you'd expect of a mystery writer maybe, but I love comedy and PETTICOAT RANCH has it to overflowing. There's been some good writing and some good comical moments in some of the other writings I've read for CFRB so far, but Mary had me belly-laughing. That's not something I normally do, even when it's good. But I just couldn't help myself.

One of the comic tacks that is taken here is Sophie's actions where they meet her emotions, and later where they meet Clay's brusque mannerisms. It's comedy that takes birth from pain, sorrow, anger, frustration and pride. Sophie acts and reacts in such a normal and believable manner because of this added layer.

Clay is a bit like Sophie, proving that opposites repel, not attract one another. Yet God wants them to be attracted to one another and the road getting there clearly goes against the grain for him. Here's a case in point (don't kill me for this Mary); once Clay is up and about after his brush with death at the beginning of the book he takes stock of the situation Sophie is in. He goes into town to buy some much needed supplies. Yet before he leaves he asks Sophie if she understands what needs to be done. She replies that she does. Then, almost as a last minute thought he asks her if she's a “God-fearin' woman”. She says she is, wondering what these questions mean. Well, Clay bought supplies alright. They included the preacher and announces they need to get married right away. She goes ballistic. The nerve of him, deciding to force himself into her life. The least he could have done was ask. Seems in his mind those 2 small questions he asked before leaving were what he considered his proposal. The really funny thing is Sophie actually goes through with it and the fun really begins.

When we look at Sophie and Clay we see ourselves and can't help but laugh. A while back some guy wrote a book call MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS. I've never read the book and I'm not necessarily endorsing in here, but the idea of 2 people, men and women, who talk, think and act so vastly different from one another is just about on the mark. I've thought to myself, as I watched my wife fluttering around the house, “If she wants me to help she'll ask.” I usually go back to my book or my DVD or whatever. The trouble is she's thinking, “What's wrong with him? Can't he see I'm swamped and need some help here?” Both expect the other to know what they're thinking and neither one does. It creates some problems, but in the long haul we can look back and say, “There goes Sophie and Clay, at it again.

Featured at Amazon.Com

Don't miss her site at Real Life Petticoat Ranch

Monday, May 07, 2007


Day 3 Tuesday

Romance. This is one of my least favorite genres, but every once in a while an author manages to pull it off in a way that even I find myself liking it. This is one of those times. The beauty of this romance is that the people seem realistic. It's not about some Prince Charming riding into the story to save his princess. It's about two people, very much like you and me, who are thrown into a situation where love blossoms all on its own. For these two, Clay and Sophie, it's a true miracle.

Sophie is used to looking out for herself and her girls. She takes the intrusion of Clay into her life as nothing but an unwanted aggravation. Besides, she's not trying to be found. She's trying to hide out from the people who killed her husband. So when Clay informs her they will be going to church she's really riled. And that's just one instance. Time and again they clash always leaving Sophie wondering if she shouldn't have left him in the ravine where she found him.

With Clay it's much the same story. He's used to riding the range and hanging out with other men. Now he's suddenly thrust into a world of women. When he lays down the law the girls cry. And when they cry he wishes he were back on the range. He's as stubborn as Sophie, which not only makes for a good story, but is realistic. Two people becoming one, like the Bible says, doesn't happen overnight. And these two find out just how true that is. So who has to change? Sophie or Clay? Hmmm.

Built into this is the love of God. He understands Sophie's needs, but He also understands the needs that Clay has. Neither admit to having these needs, but as the story moves forward you can see the Lord drawing them closer and closer together. So in that sense it's also a romance about our relationship with God. When we make Him the center of our life, He is able to take us and make us into what pleases us and others as well. This is one of those back stories that comes up when you take a closer look. So take a closer look. Buy the book and discover your own fascinations with it.

Featured at Amazon.Com

Don't miss her site at Real Life Petticoat Ranch

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Day 2 Monday

Okay, as we enter day 2 of the tour let's look at the suspense in the story. I've already touched on it out of necessity, but let's go into this more deeply. Cliff Edwards was never the kind of man to run a ranch. He was bull-headed enough, but not knowledgeable enough. Perhaps it was his lack of knowledge that made him a good target. Actually I think it was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. By the time you open the book Cliff haas already been dead for two years, murdered by “vigilantes”. I put that word in quotes because they weren't seeking justice, but something else. Enter the suspense.

Everything may have gone smoothly if it hadn't been for Clay showing up on Sophie's ranch. Because of his appearance, and a riotous string of events that putting these two together created, that the bad guys learn that Sophie hasn't really left. They thought she went home to her folks, but she didn't have anyone to go home to. So sticking close to home, but hiding out in an abandoned ranch, she takes care of herself and her 4 girls. When Clay shows up he brings them out of hiding and unknowingly has put a big old bull's eye on her back.

Clay and Sophie learn to get along, much the way a person carrying nitroglycerin gets along with the unstable compound. Much of their focus is on each other, the girls or themselves. While each has a reason to go after those who killed Cliff, they put that off to the side. It seems more important to keep the household in order. In doing so they give these black-hatted guys the chance to mount a campaign against them. No matter where you are in the book, in the background is this insidious plot to “finish the job” they started when they kill Cliff.

The one thing Clay and Sophie have in their favor is their unfailing trust in God. With stumbles and mistakes made all along the way, reminding us that we are so much like them, their trust in God never wavers. In the end it is this that is their saving grace. Although how that comes about I'm not going to tell you either. You're simply going to have to read it for yourself.

Featured at Amazon.Com

Don't miss her site at Real Life Petticoat Ranch


It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...sorry, that's about someone else. Yet you get the same kind of feel though with PETTICOAT RANCH. Is it a Western? Is it a Romance? Is it a Suspense? Is it a Comedy? With the most unique talent at combining genres and depicting her characters Mary Connealy leaves you wondering just what genre to place this book in. It neatly falls into any one of them. This is something I found truly awesome, especially since I'm not a big romance fan. Yet with the infusion of these other aspects she was able to get me to not only read, but truly enjoy this story, romance and all.

Let's take these one at a time. Western. This is a true old western story, told in the fashion that us “Baby Boomers” relished on TV when we were growing up. There's the harsh, unrelenting nature one had to deal with in the old west. No paved roads. No automobiles. No convenient stores. No modern appliances to make the daily chores easy. Yet there were those great qualities of human nature that overcame these obstacles. This is what we enjoyed watching our favorite westerns on TV as kids. And it is this that she brings back to life again in her novel.

Now in a western you have someone who wears the black hat and someone who wears a white hat. The bad guy verses the good guy. Mary makes it a little more complex, and enjoyable, than that. Sophie Edwards witnessed the brutal execution of her husband and has taken her 4 small girls into hiding. The men who killed her husband did so under the false premise of carrying out justice. She knows better, but has little time to seek revenge. In comes Clay McClellan, a man she at first fears, but later on spends much of the time arguing with. Clay has been hunting down these murderers on his own, well, as a deputized Texas Ranger. He's not used to family life, especially women. With little but raw courage and several firearms they take on the villains. How that comes about you'll have to read for yourself.

The story takes place in the panhandle of Texas, a wild and unforgiving place. The villains are just as unforgiving. Yet they serve a just God. One of the interesting this about this story is the ability to show that God has a sense of humor as well as one of compassion and justice. I truly urge everyone to go out and get this novel. Read it and enjoy it. You won't regret it.

Featured at Amazon.Com

Don't miss her site at Real Life Petticoat Ranch

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Writing Christian Fiction, by David Brollier

I have always been impressed by all the talent within the Christian community, and yet equally frustrated over the unwillingness of publishers, in particular, to accept and use these talents for the Lord.

Although I've actually only sold one poem and published something like 4 (not counting my website where there was at one time over 100 different works), I have been writing fairly steadily since 1977.

To my chagrine I happened to start with science fiction. I've just about completed my first detective novel and what you've said about the balance between good writing and good CHRISTIAN writing is all too often true (Christian Literature and Living, January 2002).

Publishers are still afraid to put something out too near the main stream.

Writers make one of two mistakes here. They either cater to the publisher to sell the book and end up with a very nice Sunday School story, or they water the Christianity down so much that the whole purpose of writing it in the first place is lost.

Believe it or not the Bible tells us how to write.

We are to be

1. Bold; "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Without starting here there is no reason to go further.
We are to get down into the real world. "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

Although Jesus walked the streets of His world He did not become like those in the streets. Christian authors should take note that when we write we should do so to reach down into our world without becoming like them. This leads to
2. We are to be an example. "Ye are the light of the world."

Our writing should not compromise the values taught by God in His Word, nor should it sound condescending. It shouldn't sound as if only some will make it and others will not. Through our characters we have the unique opportunity to display the ups and downs Christians go through.

We can show the world that Christianity is a growing relationship with God, it is a progress. Some seem closer than others, but none have made it.

In following these 3 simple steps we will be able to show a sermon rather than preach one.

To the publishers I say this, "You cannot serve two masters". Jesus said this talking to the people about their love of money. Now money is not bad in itself, but the love of it is. Publishers who are interested only in the "bottom line" haven't really seen the REAL bottom line ... how many people they are reaching for the kingdom of Christ.

When they can answer that question they will find there are some wonderful writers out here, unwilling to compromise, unashamed of the Gospel of Christ. And should they loose money and gain one person for the kingdom of God it would be worth much more than making a lot of money and leading no one to the Lord.

(Note: This was published on another website while I was in the process of writing THE 3RD COVENANT. The steps to GREAT Christian writing remain the same, however. David)

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