Stories and More Stories

So many writerly things happening lately. After being on a bit of a (if unasked-for) hiatus for a year, these past several months my imagination has felt the need to make up for lost time. After about a month of simply trying to get the skeletons of all my ideas down on paper, I finally had to take a step back and decide which one to pursue first. As you may remember from a previous post, I chose to focus on a chapter book for children (ages 7-12) and I am happy to announce today that my revisions for this story are finished at last.

You know what that means! I will be asking 2 or 3 beta readers to look over the story and offer feedback, criticism, and advice. Never having written anything in this age category before, I’ll admit I’m a little nervous of the results. But it was a story I felt I had to tell, so though it may need even more revisions, I am ready to share it with at least a few others at this point, and with everyone a short way down the road.

I wished to put off writing a full-length novel for the time being, simply because I have so many other things going on in my life that I know I don’t have the time to devote to it. Despite this, a story idea for a trilogy (YA fantasy of course!) has been stubbornly clamoring at the back of my mind for a long time now and I had to give in finally and at least write the outline for the first book . . . which led to writing the outline for the second and third books . . . which led to writing character sketches and fleshing out some scenes that I had in my mind . . . which . . . well, you get the point. This trilogy is daunting to me, and will probably not be written in full until some time in the future, but it is most certainly not an idea that is fading. The opposite, in fact. When characters start talking to you in the middle of every-day tasks on a daily basis, and when scenes play out so vividly in your head that you rush to the nearest scrap of paper to get them down, you know there’s no escaping the story.

In the meantime, to fill my time between outlining trilogies and revising a children’s book, I have also been working on some fantasy short stories which I would love to publish as a collection one day. So many of these ideas are so exciting to me, yet aren’t full enough for a novel. Answer? Put it in a short story! I’m so thrilled about some of these stories, I can’t wait to get all my ideas explored and written.

With my newly-written and revised children’s chapter book has also come my desire to add a few illustrations within the book itself. I won’t decide on this for certain until I’ve spoken with my agent and some others who have had experience to see if this is a feasible option. But it has led me lately to scouring book store aisles and Pinterest boards for samples of artwork that I admire.

 

Illustrations have such an impact on our feelings for a story. I’d love to know what some of your own favorite illustrations or artists are!

Also, what have you been up to this end-of-summer?

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AMA’s and Other News

AMA POSTS

Kate ForsythSome of you may already be members of the Fairy-Tale Forum, a Facebook page that fellow author Shonna Slayton and I started a few months ago. If you are, you will know that we have frequent AMA (Ask Me Anything) posts from invited guests. We have had talented artists, authors, crafters, bloggers, podcasters, and more visiting our page, and it is always SUCH a blast.

If you’re not a member of our page, please come visit! Check out the past AMA guest Thirteenth Princessposts, along with all the other intriguing and even fascinating things our other members post on a daily basis.

I’m excited to say that I recently booked Diane Zahler for an AMA on June 26th, and we will have author Kate Forsyth visiting sometime in July. You won’t want to miss your opportunity to ask these wonderful authors anything you like about their work, life, or fairy-tales in general! See this past AMA post from when Gail Carson Levin was our guest.

OTHER NEWS

I recently had a historical flash fiction story published in Splickety Magazine, featuring one of my favorite historical figures, Eleanor of Aquitaine. You can purchase the paper or digital version of the magazine here. This issue features some pretty great authors, such as Gillian Bronte Adams and Julie Berry.Splickety June

Short stories have abounded recently, it seems. Other than the above flash fiction story, I have written two other stories as well (titled, at least for now: The Demon in the Hills and The Fox Prince). Throughout the past months I have written down several ideas for other short stories as well, and hope to publish all of them together in a book sometime in the future.

Edits on my middle-grade novel are . . . slow. But still happening when I get a spare half-hour here and there. Once edits are done and the manuscript is sent to my beta readers, I will want to find a good illustrator to come up with a few small images for this story. I just don’t think it would be complete without that!

SUMMER

This summer has been flying by already, writing, working, spending time traveling and seeing friends, enjoying every moment I spend with my 10-year-old son.

How has your summer been treating you? What books are you reading? What plans do you have?

 

 

Fairy Tale Giveaway

FAIRY-TALE FORUM

For those of you who haven’t heard, author Shonna Slayton and I have started a shiny new group on Facebook called Fairy-Tale Forum. If you’re not part of it yet, please come on over and join! We have lots of fun stuff planned, and hope to see some fun fairy-tale-ish things from the rest of you as well!Beauty-and-the-Beast-fairy-tale

This week we have been having an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with editor and fairy-tale blogger Tahlia Kirk (Timeless Tales Magazine, anyone?!). She is so talented, I can’t even tell you. Please head over to our group and ask her whatever you’d like . . . she’s very responsive and so very fun to chat with!

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST GIVEAWAY

Also, beginning today, we have an awesome giveaway in honor of the upcoming Beauty and the Beast movie. Here’s what we’re giving away! I’m so thrilled!

Beauty and the Beast pinterest

Any thoughts on Beauty and the Beast in general? Where does it fall in your lineup of favorite fairy tales? Who are your favorite characters? What do you love (or not love!) about it? Will you be going to see the new movie?

 

A New Chapter

Friends . . . It has been a while since I’ve blogged! I’ve missed you. We have some catching up to do!

A WISH MADE OF GLASS – AUDIOBOOK

First things first: A Wish Made of Glass has been made into an audio book!! If any of you follow my Facebook page, you will have seen my occasional posts on the exciting progress of the audiobook – what a fun process! I auditioned several narrators, and was absolutely thrilled with Keely, the lady I ended up choosing. Keely’s voice is mesmerizing and whimsical and just perfect for my little tale. I couldn’t be happier with her lovely rendition of it, and I think you’ll love it too.

I have several FREE audio books to give away, too (of course! You knew I would!). In order to receive one, you only have to do two little things for me: Write a review of it to post on Amazon, and share either your review or the link to the audio book on as many of your social media as you’re comfortable doing so. See . . . not so bad!

If you’d like to be considered for receiving a free code for the audio book, email me at ashleew@zoho.com and let me know why you’re interested, and what social media you’d plan on sharing the book through (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). Preference will be given to those who also have blogs they plan to share on. If you’ve already read A Wish Made of Glass – no worries! You still qualify for receiving a free copy!

NEW CHAPTERS

Life has thrown some huge changes at me this past year or so. Some good and some bad, including two big moves, a change in schools for my almost-10-year-old son, and a brand new job for me. Needless to say, amidst all these changes, my writing has had to sit on the back burner. That doesn’t mean that everything that has been happening to me hasn’t been grist for the mill . . . when life gets complicated and sad and stressful and unexpectedly joyful, that’s where the real stories come from! So, story ideas abound, and you’ll often find me scribbling away on the back of a receipt or church bulletin, to capture the next idea or snippet of an idea before it floats away.

About 3 or 4 months ago, when my son was having a hard night, I lay in bed with him and told him a bedtime story (something I haven’t done in ages!). That story, which was for his own courage and comfort, sparked something in me, and I couldn’t let it go. A few weeks after telling it to him, I began writing it. And just a couple weeks ago, I finished the rough draft of what is now a 14,000-word children’s book. Yes, it’s different from what I’m used to writing. But still fantasy, still full of fun and whimsy and even some heartbreak. I’m so excited to be able to do my preliminary revisions and then gather a few beta readers to help me on the next step to publishing this story.

Tell me what this near year has been like for you so far . . .?

Are Fairy Tales a Waste of Time?

This is a guest post by Brent King.

As a Christian urban fantasy author I have been confronted, as have many of my writing partners, by those who doubt that fantasy, or fairy stories, have any anchor in the real world. Worse yet, some have argued that they take their reader far out of this world into an imaginary place that has no connection to reality.

Is this true? Are fairy stories a mindless waste of time? Do they lure our minds away from reality into an anchorless world of fantasy?

What Fairy Tales Do

It’s true, when we experience a good fairy tale it allows us to open up a place inside of us where we can actually believe its enchantments. It is thrilling to go adventuring with Kyran and Posy, or on a quest with Frodo, but does it snow-white-933491really have anything to do with our world?

The answer is a resounding “yes.” Fairy tales:

  • give us a lens to see the world in a startling new way.
  • help us to see our lives not only as they are, but as they could be (or perhaps should be).
  • touch us in their most signature way by how we experience their endings: that sudden, unexpected joy that washes over us in the miraculous grace of what Tolkien called the “eucatastrophe.”

But How Can This Be?

Fairy stories are only successful to the extent that they reflect our world. Who would be moved by a story to which they could not relate? The only reason why the fairy world attracts us is because it is fashioned after the truth of our world.

Indeed the fairy world is our world, a world of wonder we can experience in the real—right now. There is awe, wonder, and amazement in our world. There is beauty and redemption beyond all our evil and brokenness. The problem is that our eyes are often too compromised, shaken, pacified, unfocused, jaded, or injured to see it.

take-532097Where Fairy Tales Shine

This is where fantasy shines. In a world where the simple virtues of God have become routine and expected, a fairy tale catches us off-guard and we are surprised by the truth. It breaks through what CS Lewis referred to as our “stained-glass and Sunday school associations,” and the result is pure delight. This was JRR Tolkien’s point in his lecture on fairy tales:

“The peculiar quality of the ”joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth.”

Teaching by Delighting

A good story both delights and teaches, and that is the power of a great fairy tale. It teaches by delighting. This anchors the fairy tale deep in the real world, powerfully connecting it to our lives in ways that are essential to society.

Are Fairy Tales A Waste of Time?

Are fairy tales a waste of time? Only if teaching truth is a waste of time. There is realm of awe and wonder in our world, scenes of beauty and redemption, yet many of us would miss them without a good story, indeed, without a grounding fairy tale.

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Brent KingBrent King is a freelance writer of Christian urban fantasy from Lake Oswego, Oregon. He also works as a massage therapist and health consultant. He has two sons, 20 and 23, who live in British Columbia, Canada.
Brent’s first book, The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in The Lord of the Rings, was published in January, 2014. His debut novel, The Fiercest Fight, was published in November 2015.
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Literary Losers – Interview with a Villain

You may remember the review I wrote on Nathan Lumbatis’ spectacular new book, Daniel and the Sun Sword. Well, today I feel very privileged to be featuring a video interview between Nathan and the antagonist of his exciting story. You’ll really want to see this . . . it made me smile 🙂

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Thirteen-year-old Daniel is about to be adopted. But when he learns his new family wants him as a slave, he runs away with the help of his new daniel and the sun swordneighbors, the naïve and cowardly Ben, and Raylin, a mysterious girl with a shady past.

He begins to second-guess his decision when the cave they hide in transports them to the ruins of Machu Picchu, where they find themselves embroiled in a battle between ancient gods of Life and Death. To top things off, the God of Life draws Daniel into the fray by adopting him as his son and setting him on a quest to complete a broken, mystical sword, a task that will pit him against the god of the underworld.

Now, Daniel and his friends have just one weekend to find the shards before a hoard of supernatural enemies catch up. But that’s not all they face. A trap has been set that even Daniel wouldn’t expect, and he just took the bait.

Will the power of his Heavenly Father be enough to save them?

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INTERVIEW WITH A VILLAIN

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PURCHASE THE BOOK HERE

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR HERE

The Fiercest Fight: Character Interview

I’m thrilled to announce the release of an awesome new book that you Christian fantasy lovers will not want to miss.  Adventure, danger, romance, dark creatures, life and death, and a strong and true message…you’ll find that and much more in The Fiercest Fight.  Also…that cover is simply amazing – I dare you to disagree with me!

Without further ado, here’s a fun and tantalizing character interview between the author, Brent King, and the protagonist of The Fiercest Fight, Tristan.

Character Interview with Tristan

Brent:
Hey! This is the first post in a blog tour to celebrate the release my debut fantasy novel, The Fiercest Fight. I can’t think of a better way to start than with an interview of my protagonist, Tristan.

Tristan:
*leans back in his chair and runs his fingers through his hair*
But I’m going to ask the first question: Why did you give me your red hair? You must have known how my schoolmates would tease me.

Brent:
Yeah, I did. But all you have to know is how to smile and say, “I know. Isn’t it cool?” It’s a small price to pay for such a distinguishing feature.

Tristan:
*shifts in his seat*
Easy for you to say! The guys were relentless.

Brent:
So is that what you hate worst about life?The Fiercest Fight Cover

Tristan:
Well, not exactly.
*removes sunglasses, shifts glowing eyes*
It used to be, but unfortunately, life got more complex. My issues now make my red hair trouble seem juvenile.

Brent:
*squints into Tristan’s eyes* It sounds like you’ve grown up a bit then.

Tristan:
I had to.

Brent:
Was it scary?

Tristan:
*slips sunglasses back on and nods*
Sometimes.
You would be scared too if you had to face…uh…do you believe in monsters?

Brent:
I-well…
*twirls a pencil in between fingers*
I’m not sure…

Tristan:
You would if you were me.

Brent:
I would?

Tristan:
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone?

Brent:
I thought I was asking the questions.
*eyes twinkle*

Tristan:
*lifts up hand and stares at it, flexing his fingers*
Well, to answer my own question then, I’ve hurt people pretty bad. I wish the beast had never come to me. He’s a fearsome—

Brent:
Beast?

Tristan:
*nods*
You wouldn’t understand. It’s too…unbelievable. Even Pastor Mike had a hard time at first.

Brent:
Are you talking about a wildcat or a wolf?

Tristan:
*rises and shakes his head*
Much worse than that! This creature would make you believe in God…or at least search for Him.

Brent:
I do believe in God. Do you?

Tristan:
Yes.
He offered me life or death. It wasn’t easy, but I chose death.

Brent:
*rises and shakes Tristan’s hand*
That’s a bit cryptic, but I wanted it that way.
*grins*

Tristan:
Thanks a lot!

Brent:
*calls after Tristan as he exits*
You’re welcome, and thanks for the chance to ask a few questions.

Well, there you have it: a few words with my protagonist. If you have any further questions for him, don’t hesitate to leave them below. I’ll make sure he answers them.

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FOLLOW THIS LINK TO ENTER INTO THE GREAT GIVEAWAY BEING OFFERED BY THE AUTHOR!

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Brent KingBrent King is a freelance writer of Christian fantasy and historical fiction from Lake Oswego, Oregon. Brent is a musician, a waterman, and has two sons, 20 and 23, who live in British Columbia, Canada. Brent’s first book, The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in The Lord of the Rings, was published in January, 2014.

8 Things You May Not Know About Cinderella

Before I wrote my own version of Cinderella, I researched the “original” versions of it. Surprisingly, there are several, and this story I thought I knew so well actually goes back further than I ever dreamed.

I took several of the elements I liked the most from the old tales, added quite a few elements of my very own and, in the end, mixed them up and simply wrote the story I wanted to write. A Wish Made of Glass is not a strict retelling of Cinderella by any means. Still, it was fun to discover some of the unknown-to-me details of this apparently rather ancient story, not to mention some fun facts about items or things that happen within the tale. Here are a few you might find rather intriguing:

  1. The story of Rhodopis is considered to be the earliest version of the Cinderella story (published 7 BC). It’s about a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt.
  2. Ye Xian is a ninth century Chinese version of the Cinderella story. In it, the poor stepsisters and stepmother arerhodopis punished by being crushed to death by stones in a cave.
  3. It was common for servants and scullions to be soiled with ash in the days of the first Cinderella versions, partly because of the natural dirtiness of their work, and partly because they lived in cold conditions and had to draw very close to the fire to get warm.
  4. According to mechanical engineers, it would have taken specially-made glass, or what we call “safety glass” today, for Cinderella’s slippers to have withstood the strain of her walking and dancing, not to mention running from the ball at the stroke of midnight . . . Of course, we know that the slippers were made from magic, so of course there was never any real danger they’d break – right?
  5. One of the earlier versions of Cinderella was Charles Perrault’s rendition (Cindrillon, 1697), in which the famous slippers were made of glass. However, in the Brothers Grimm version (1812), the glass slippers are not glass at all, but “pure gold.”
  6. In Perrault’s version, Cinderella forgives her stepsisters. In the Brothers Grimm version, however, the stepsisters undergo cruel punishment in the form of blindness. If you think that’s bad, the first German version is worst of all, in which the stepsisters are condemned to dance with metal red-hot shoes until they are dead.
  7. Giambattista Basile’s Italian version of Cinderella (Cenerentola) includes fairies (yay!).
  8. Perrault put his own touch on the Cinderella story by choosing lizards to become the footmen. In his time, it was a known and laughed-at fact that footmen were lazy. The image of a lizard lying motionless in the sun apparently brought to Perrault’s mind the idea of a lazy footman. Perrault is also the one credited with adding the pumpkin and the fairy godmother to the original tale. What would the Cinderella story be without those classic touches?!

Do you know any details, ancient or modern, of the Cinderella tale that are little known or simply extremely interesting? What are they?

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Enter to win this FAIRY TALE PACKAGE GIVEAWAY

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We’re All Evil Stepchildren

Cinderella has never been one of my favorite fairy tales. Maybe that’s because its familiarity through the years has turned it a bit drab for me. Maybe it’s because the danger isn’t fierce enough or the stakes aren’t high enough.

Or maybe . . . maybe it’s because I can’t relate to a girl who is nothing more than a victim. A girl with a princess-like beauty whom never does anything wrong except in the eyes of her “evil” step-mother and stepsisters. A girl whose beauty and mere lack of evil are all it take for her to win not only a prince, but a kingdom.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely do things wrong. A lot. I say the wrong things, I’m clumsy, I’m impatient, I’m unkind, I’m none-too-beautiful. Basically, I’m human. How could I possibly write a story about a girl like Cinderella? I’m not qualified. I can’t understand her. I’ve never even been able to care much about her, try as I might.

So when considering retelling this story, I decided I wouldn’t write about Cinderella at all. Simple as that.

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

Instead, I wrote through the eyes of somebody I could understand: the stepsister (in my story, there’s just one). As a teen who went through some rough times, I often felt like the freak, the ugly, awkward girl, the misunderstood girl, the girl who used sarcasm like a shield, the girl people were uncomfortable having around because of her random bursts of emotion and sometimes rather brutal honesty. The girl . . . well, you get the picture.

Evil. Many times that’s how I felt. That’s what I believed people thought of me. That’s how they seemed to look at me. Therefore that’s what I began to believe I was in truth. Evil. Warped.

Then God stepped in. He had had enough.

“You’re not evil,” He whispered to me. “Your heart is beautiful and kind and loving. It is desirable to Me.”

The things I had never been able to see before because of my own blindness and self-loathing became apparent when God showed them to me through His eyes, through His grace. But then, that’s natural, isn’t it? That’s how it’s supposed to happen, the rescuing of our souls. My heart is beautiful because it’s God’s. My kindness and love are really only an extension of God’s own kindness and love.

When I began to think back on my own love story with God, I knew I must make it a part of this story I was writing. I have never been a Cinderella, ready from birth for Heaven. I needed redemption. I need redemption on a daily basis. But not from an evil stepmother or stepsisters. Not from any outside source of oppression. No, I needed saving from myself, and from the person Satan has plans for me to become. Because I am the evil stepsister. Or at least I was . . .

Those are the times God patiently reminds me that I am now His true daughter – a stepchild no longer.

When He took me in I became a princess in truth, and I share in a Kingdom more beautiful than any prince could have offered Cinderella. Right now I can’t always see that Kingdom, though it’s both in me and all around me. Sometimes I catch glimpses of it clearly, sometimes I only feel its nearness. But someday I plan on living there and claiming my happy-ever-after once and for all.

Tell me, what fairy tale could be better than that?

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You’ve got four more days to enter your name for this FAIRY TALE PACKAGE GIVEAWAY!

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CLICK HERE TO ENTER

The World of A WISH MADE OF GLASS

Instead of simply introducing the characters in A Wish Made of Glass, I thought I’d go a little further and give you a peek into some of the enchanting places and settings in my story as well. I saw them all so clearly as I wrote them, people and places and props alike, it was such a pleasure to find images that mirrored what was in my imagination already, and now show and describe them to you.

Welcome to the world of A Wish Made of Glass.

Isidore child

Isidore

Isidore

She is the one who tells this story. She is the stepsister, the outsider, the stormy and dark protagonist who is, in fact, her own worst enemy. Yet I’ve always found that, in both books and real life, people who have known the greatest pain and heartbreak have the largest capacity for joy and love.

Blessing1

Blessing

Blessing

Here is the girl on whom the actual Cinderella character is based. Although soft-hearted and soft-spoken, don’t be fooled. Blessing has real struggles of her own, too.

Anthony

Anthony2

Anthony

Isidore’s father’s heart has a huge amount of love for everyone, his daughter most of all. It’s a love that means so much to Isidore that she doesn’t want to share it with anyone – not even her beloved new stepsister, Blessing, much to her father’s heartbreak.

Hazel

Hazel

Hazel

After Isidore’s mother dies, her father hires a nursemaid: Hazel. Isidore wouldn’t have been the same without her dear maid, who becomes more of a mother and friend to her than anything else. This tale-weaving, long-suffering, opinionated lady supports Isidore through every heartache and joy.

The fey man

fey prince

Fey man

He’s ageless, as are all the fey folk. He’s completely unfamiliar, yet Isidore feels she knows him somehow. He’s one of the fey creatures who live hidden in the forest. I saw him clearly in my mind as I wrote him, although finding an image that looks like him was extremely difficult! I suppose this picture will have to suffice . . .

lord auren1

Lord Auren

Lord Auren

The mysterious young lord who holds a ball, rumored to be searching for a wife. He is young and kind-hearted and rather shy, but most assuredly knows his own mind and is a true lord of the manor.

Midland forest

Midland Forest

Midland forest

This is the place Isidore grew up, the place she first met and danced with the fey folk as a little girl. The trees here are, “squat, woven-trunked, whispering things” which make up much of the fabric of Isidore’s childhood, just as the fey themselves do. Green and moss-covered and full to the brim with whimsy and magic and memories, the Midland forest is a true fairy tale wood.

Northern forest

Northern forest

Northern forest

Different entirely from the Midland forest, the trees in the North are “straight and proud and tall. They wear their leaves like a gathering of giant kings donning their crowns.” Isidore soon learns the invisible paths in this wood, which lays just beyond the garden hedge of her new home. She wanders here often, seeking comfort when heartache starts to haunt her. The forest’s cold stillness echoes her own heart.

gardens5

Stepmother’s gardens

Stepmother’s gardens

Although Isidore may not be enchanted with her new home in the North, the gardens surrounding it are another story, especially after all the memories she and Blessing make together there, playing tag and whispering sisterly secrets.

Masquerade

masquerade2Oh, the masquerade. How fun, honestly? I’ve always wanted to go to one. Second best: writing about one. Lord Auren throws a masquerade in an attempt to find a bride. Does he succeed in finding the woman he could love among the masked attendees? You’ll have to read the story to find out . . .  In the meantime, check out the Pinterest board of masks I created, some of which inspired descriptions in my novella.

 

 

 

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Enter to win this fairy tale package giveaway (Aug 24-30) which includes a masquerade mask, a signed paperback copy of A Wish Made of Glass, and a set of 5 custom-painted enchanted forest greeting cards.

*Only US addressees may enter*

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CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY