Interview: Mary Hogan, author of LEFT: A LOVE STORY


Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I was a nerdy, chubby, lonely kid who felt like the only nerdy, chubby, lonely kid in the world. My middle school librarian took pity on me and introduced me to books about girls like me. I devoured them! Back then, there were so few young adult novels I felt bereft when I’d read them all. So, I started writing stories about girls like me. And women like me. And families like mine.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I like to think my work is a nice blend of humor and heartbreak. Like life.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

I’m obsessed with the “Anns”: Ann Patchett, Anne Tyler, Annie Proulx. I read my first Anne Tyler novel, “Searching for Caleb” one night in my college dorm room. I found it in the lounge. Wow. How could a person write so well? That night I decided to aim for the pinnacle: to be an Ann. Still working in it.


Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

I walk my dog in the park with my ear buds in and the other end tucked into my pocket so people will think I’m talking to someone when I’m actually plotting the next chapter aloud.

How many donuts are you capable of eating in one sitting?

Capable or willing? Capable: Numerous, especially if hot. Not pretty.

Willing: None.

Say there’s like a whole box of your favorite snack in a room all by themselves. Say I left them there and told you not to eat any until I got back. How long would it take you to disobey my wishes?

I would never disobey you. My parents taught me that bad girls go to hell.

If I gave you a pencil and piece of paper and told you to draw something funny, what would you draw?

This sentence: Ifs, ands, and butts. Then, I’d draw a bottom. See, you’re smiling, aren’t you? 

Do you have a favorite Girl Scout Cookie?

I LOVE anything with the word, “butter” in it. So, I’d have to say Butter Cookies.

How many times does it take for you to listen to a song that you love before you actually hate it instead?

My favorite song is still, “Call Me Maybe.” Nuf said.

Finally, and this one is important, so please pay attention What do you think cats dream about?

No idea. I have a dog. But I DO know that dogs dream about running because their feet wiggle in their sleep.

This or That?

Tea or Coffee? Strong, black coffee

Winter or Summer? Winter

Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla (with chocolate chips)

Vintage or New? Vintage

Fried or Scrambled? Fried, over medium




It started as a dream vacation in Spain, with Fay and Paul Agarra enjoying all the delights of a European holiday. A respected New York City judge, Paul has always been the man Fay can rely on, no matter what. When he inexplicably disappears from a Barcelona street corner, Fay knows something is terribly wrong. Once reunited, Paul shrugs off the episode as a simple misunderstanding—but Fay suspects her almost perfect life has taken a dark and sudden turn. Soon there are more signs that Paul is beginning to change. Bouts of forgetfulness lead to mistakes in the courtroom. Simple tasks cause unexplainable outbursts of anger. Fay’s worst suspicions are realized when she learns her husband—her rock, her love, her everything—is succumbing to the ravages of dementia. As her husband transforms before her very eyes, Fay copes with her fears by retreating into a fantasy life filled with promise instead of pain. In Fay’s invented world, she imagines herself living a glamorous life free from heartache, with a handsome neighbor she barely knows rescuing her from a future she can’t accept. Poignant and beautifully crafted, Left is an unforgettable tale about life’s aching uncertainties—and a woman who discovers that somewhere between hope and reality, an unexpected future will find its way forward.



“A touching novel. The book poignantly portrays Faye’s struggle to come to terms with…uncomfortable yet necessary questions about the conditions of love.”—Publishers Weekly

“Hogan (The Woman in the Photo, 2016) does a good job of mixing humor and heartbreak in this sharply observed novel, drawn from her own experience.”Booklist





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MARY HOGAN is the bestselling author of Two Sisters and the historical novel, The Woman in the Photo. Previous novels include the young adult titles, The Serious Kiss, Perfect Girl and Pretty Face (HarperCollins).

Mary lives in New York City with her husband, actor Robert Hogan, and their Catahoula Leopard rescue dog, Lucy. Find out more at 


Interview: Ann Mah, author of THE LOST VINTAGE


A Conversation with Ann Mah, author of The Lost Vintage

You were inspired to write The Lost Vintage after volunteering for the wine harvest in France, which you documented in a travel piece for the New York Times. When did you know you wanted to write this novel?

I first visited Burgundy in 2010 to research an article on Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vineyards in France. The minute I set foot in the region, I was captivated by the vine-covered slopes and charming villages. And if I sensed ghosts there, hovering amid the beauty, they only added to my fascination. I think the seed for this novel was planted then. A few years later, I volunteered to pick grapes at the harvest in Champagne. Harvest volunteers are often given free room and board, and I was put up in an empty attic apartment at the vineyard house. The rooms hadn’t been touched since the 1960s: they were sparsely decorated with mid-century hospital furniture; the floors creaked; the wallpaper was peeling; and at night the rural silence was deafening – and bone-chilling. Even though I was exhausted from long days of physical labor, whenever I lay down to sleep, my imagination would cartwheel. And so, I slept with the lights on, and when I woke, I wrote in my journal. This story was born from those wild scribblings.

Kate, the protagonist in The Lost Vintage, is a wine expert and is studying for the prestigious Master of Wine exam. What is your own history with wine? Do you consider yourself an expert?

It was important to me to be able to write accurately about the wine world, so as part of the research for this book, I took classes through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, which is the same organization that administers the Master of Wine program. I learned just enough to know I’m definitely not an expert! As part of the class we did blind tastings, in which we smelled and tasted different wines and identified flavors from the wine aroma wheel. People would call out things like “dill,” “petrol,” or “green peppers,” and everyone would argue until the teacher came down with the final verdict. My fellow classmates were really competitive. I used to joke that it was like a blood sport.   

As a food and travel writer, of course, you’re always weaving narrative into evocative sensory descriptions of what you’re tasting or seeing, and that skill is apparent in The Lost Vintage, as well. How did you find writing about food and wine different in fiction, if at all?

When I’m writing an article, I’m trying to accurately relate an experience. But for fiction, I can’t imagine two better metaphors than food and wine – they speak to our deepest desires (or disgusts), our most visceral memories. You can communicate so much through a character’s favorite foods. As well, the dinner table remains my absolute favorite setting to write a scene of family conflict – everyone is tidily in one place, but each person has their own motivations and distractions.  

Much of your book deals with history, in particular that of World War II in Europe, and how people reconcile their family legacy with their own values. What prompted you to challenge your characters in this way?

As I mentioned, I was captivated by the beauty of Burgundy – but I felt something ominous there, too. I didn’t really understand it until I started researching World War II and learned more about the “épuration sauvage,” the spontaneous “wild purge” that punished thousands of women throughout France in the days and weeks following the Liberation. Accused of “horizontal collaboration,” or sleeping with the enemy, these women were targeted by vigilante justice and publicly humiliated. Their heads were shaved, they were stripped, paraded through town, smeared with tar, stoned, kicked, beaten, and sometimes killed. Yes, some of them had slept with Germans. Some of them were prostitutes. But some had been raped. Some were women who merely worked for German soldiers, as was the case with one cleaning lady. Some were framed and falsely accused out of jealousy. Many were mothers desperate to feed their starving children. In almost every case, their punishment was far worse than their male counterparts. These women – over 20,000 of them! – were the most vulnerable members of society, and they became scapegoats for a humiliated nation. I felt it was important for their story to finally be told.  

The Lost Vintage shows that though there were many French résistants acting during the war, there were also many French people who essentially supported the Nazis through complicity, often for survival’s sake. As Rose says at one point, “It’s much safer to do nothing.” Do you think these actions are wartime phenomena, or are there ways in which we can show courage or remain complicit in a similar way in day to day life?

I think World War II is ultimately a morality tale and so many years after it, we’d all like to believe we’d have fought for the right side. Of course, the reality is always more complicated – and wartime complicates things even further. I think a lot of regret and shame about the war still lingers in France. If I learned anything while researching this book, it’s that small actions can have unforeseen and lingering consequences.


The Lost Vintage cover


Kate has spent years building her career as a sommelier in San Francisco, despite a weakness for identifying Burgundian vintages. While she’s carefully managed to avoid them thus far, she can no longer do so as she faces her final attempt at passing the notoriously difficult Master of Wine Examination. With the test only a few months away, she travels to her family’s vineyard in Burgundy—a place she has purposefully avoided for nearly a decade—to help with les vendanges, the annual grape harvest. While there, she does everything she can to bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian wine, while also ignoring both the bittersweet memories of her childhood and Jean-Luc, her first love.

While Kate helps her cousin, Nico, and his wife clear the enormous basement of the vineyard house, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, dozens of Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. As Kate digs into her family’s history, her search takes her back to the dark days of WWII and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed: a great–half aunt who was a teenager during the Nazi occupation. As she learns more about her family, the line between resistance and collaboration blurs, driving Kate to question who, exactly, her family aided during the difficult years of the war and the fate of six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection.




The Lost Vintage Ann Mah authorphoto_credit Katia Grimmer-Laversanne

Ann Mah is a food and travel writer based in Paris and Washington, DC. She is the author of the food memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating and Kitchen Chinese, a novel. She regularly contributes to the New York Times’ Travel section, and has written for Condé Nast Traveler,,, Food52, and others.

You can learn more at




Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
I write in several genres–literary/contemporary fiction, fantasy fiction, romance, and women’s fiction. I even wrote an original fairy tale. I write in the genres that interest me. As far as I’m concerned, there are no lines that can’t be crossed. All my romance/women’s fiction have “ghosts” in them. My fantasy has a literary bend. My contemporary has a bit of whimsy in it. Anything goes.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive? The most useful thing for me was honesty. Complete, brutal, ultimately kind honesty. No matter how innate your knowledge, how lovely your natural voice, no one comes into this writing thing an expert. And no one learns anything about this craft by having one’s ego stroked. Back in the beginning, I had plenty of friends, family, and critique partners telling me what a good writer I was. Nice? Yes and no. I was blind to my own shortcomings–until a pro who’d gotten one cringe-worthy manuscript too many opened my eyes to all I was doing wrong. He shredded the fifty pages I sent, pointed out every single mistake, and explained why it was oh-so-wrong. He didn’t have to do that. A form rejection would have sufficed. Whether he’d finally snapped or saw something worth his time, he was brutal. It hurt like hell. I’m grateful to him to this day. The least helpful for me, as you might guess, was the praise. It got in the way of learning. There was no room for my ego in this process. I let it go, and whew! Was it liberating. My motto in life is “Modesty is for suckers,” largely because of that literary ass-kicking. I know what I’m good at–show me what I’m doing wrong.

What do you like to read in your free time?
Mostly Women’s Fiction, Literary/Contemporary Fiction. I do love dystopia, and fantasy of all kinds. I’ll read anything by Sarah Addison Allen, Fredrik Backman, and Patricia McKillip. Anything.

What projects are you working on at the present?
Currently, I’m working on Thirty Days Dancing on the Edge of the World. It has a dual timeline, 2009 and 1947 (and continues through the 1990s.) After the financial crisis of 2008, Mallory, a fifty-two year old Financial Advisor, has lost everything. After two suicide attempts, she winds up at Seaside, a mental rehabilitation facility (a once-upon-a-time beach resort) in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Seaside is nothing like the psychiatric ward; it’s a place to land, and to launch. There, Mallory meets others in need of a safe place to regain their balance, including Vonnie, the old woman who owns the place. Her past is the 1947-1990 part of the novel, showing the then and now differences between how mental health–and women–was viewed and treated.

What do your plans for future projects include? Since finishing The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) I’ve completed three novels. I’m hoping one (or more!) of these will be on my publishing horizon. I write nine to four, every day, five days a week, and have no plans to change that. Once Thirty Days is finished, there are several more sitting in files waiting for their turns. I’m leaning towards one about dragons in New York City–real or imagined? That’s what the reader gets to decide.


What is your go-to method for getting rid of hiccups?
Sugar on the tip of my tongue. Works every time.

If I gave you a pencil and piece of paper and told you to draw something funny, what would you draw?
There’s a little character I’ve drawn on restaurant placemats since my kids were little–a hillbilly guy with a big nose, looking over a fence. You only see his eyes, nose and straw hat. He’s always saying, “yo-ho!” like a pirate. I have no idea why I do that, who the hillbilly is, or why he’s my go-to doodle. Maybe a past life experience trying to express itself.

How many friendships have you ruined because you refused to play a game of Monopoly mercifully?
0. I’m the least competitive person of all time. I’d rather you win than upset you. Unless it’s Scrabble. Then, I will annihilate you if I can.

Do you have a favorite Girl Scout Cookie? Tagalongs!

Finally, and this one is important, so please pay attention What do you think cats dream about?
World domination. At least, household domination. They whisper in our ears as we sleep. No, really! I’ve caught them doing it. They pretend they were innocently cuddling close, but I’m savvy to their wily ways.

This or That? 

Dogs or Cats? Cats (my furry overlords are not making me say that. Send help. Please!)

Marvel or DC Comics? Marvel!

Winter or Summer? Winter

TexMex or Italian? Italian! As if there is any other rational answer.

Vintage or New? Vintage




Alfonse Carducci was a literary giant who lived his life to excess—lovers, alcohol, parties, and literary rivalries. But now he’s come to the Bar Harbor Home for the Elderly to spend the remainder of his days among kindred spirits: the publishing industry’s nearly gone but never forgotten greats. Only now, at the end of his life, does he comprehend the price of appeasing every desire, and the consequences of forsaking love to pursue greatness. For Alfonse has an unshakeable case of writer’s block that distresses him much more than his precarious health.

Set on the water in one of New England’s most beautiful locales, the Bar Harbor Home was established specifically for elderly writers needing a place to live out their golden years—or final days—in understated luxury and surrounded by congenial literary company. A faithful staff of nurses and orderlies surround the writers, and are drawn into their orbit, as they are forced to reckon with their own life stories. Among them are Cecibel Bringer, a young woman who knows first-hand the cost of chasing excess. A terrible accident destroyed her face and her sister in a split-second decision that Cecibel can never forgive, though she has tried to forget. Living quietly as an orderly, refusing to risk again the cost of love, Cecibel never anticipated the impact of meeting her favorite writer, Alfonse Carducci—or the effect he would have on her existence. In Cecibel, Alfonse finds a muse who returns him to the passion he thought he lost. As the words flow from him, weaving a tale taken up by the other residents of the Pen, Cecibel is reawakened to the idea of love and forgiveness.






Terri-Lynne DeFino was born and raised in New Jersey, but escaped to the wilds of Connecticut where she still lives with her husband, and her cats. If you knock on her door, she’ll invite you in and feed you. That’s what Jersey Italian women do, because you can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl. She is the author of the Bitterly Suite romance series published by Kensington Lyrical.



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Excerpt: THE CHESAPEAKE BRIDE by Mariah Stewart



11th in The Chesapeake Diaries series

by: Mariah Stewart

Published by: Pocket Books

Release Date: August 29, 2017

ISBN 9781501154355; $7.99



I love the changing of the seasons—and I think summer into fall might be a favorite, being as how I relate to the whole “autumn of my years” thing. That’s how I see myself, anyway. If sixty is the new forty, I believe seventy must be the new fifty, eighty the new sixty, and so on. Therefore, I fall into that third quadrant. Don’t try to change my mind or confuse me with facts.

One of the reasons I love this time of the year: the steady influx of tourists into St. Dennis begins to wane. Not that I don’t love our visitors. Why, without them, St. Dennis would have continued to languish and would never have become the Eastern Shore mecca it now is. But there’s something sweet about having your hometown belong to you and yours again, even if it’s just for a while. I know soon enough the holidays will be upon us and many will flock to town for all the beautiful festivities—the Christmas House Tour, the weekend of caroling, the tree lighting at the square on Old St. Mary’s Church Road, Christmas at the Inn (a favorite of mine), and, oh, yes, the shopping! But this little respite between the beginning of September, when the families leave to return their offspring to school, and the holiday madness belongs to us, we old St. Dennis folk who like a little downtime.

Not to say there’s nothing going on here! There are new babies to celebrate and a special wedding on the horizon, one that makes me especially weepy. My dear nephew, Alec, will be marrying his lovely Lisbeth in an event that will be the talk of both St. Dennis and Cannonball Island for a long time to come. I’m not privy to all the details, mind you, but since my daughter, Lucy, is planning the wedding, I’ve heard bits and squeaks of what she has in mind, and it will, no doubt, be perfectly wonderful.

When we were children, Mama told us that when good folks passed, they earned a star in the heavens where they could sit and shine down on all the goings-on here on earth. Our brothers scoffed, but we girls believed her, and so it is that I know my beloved sister, Carole, will be watching happily from her star as her son marries his bride out on the point in just a few more weeks.

Thinking about the point makes me think of all the changes that are coming to Cannonball Island soon. So much, it could make your head spin! For the first time in roughly two hundred years, new dwellings will be going up on what had once been barren land. I heard from one in the know that some of the older homesteads—mostly those that have fallen into ruin or have been abandoned—will be replaced with new versions more suitable to modern living. Some are up in arms about this, but frankly, it’s about time. Those dilapidated old shells offer no shelter and, if anything, detract from the beauty of the island. My good friend Ruby Carter—the island’s matriarch—has given her blessing, and that’s good enough for me. Besides, Alec will be serving as the environmental consultant, so I feel confident that all will be well. The new homes are being designed with the island’s history in mind, so the legacy of those early settlers will be well protected. The architect is a lovely young woman who is serious about this project, so I know, eventually, all will be well.

Of course I do.

I know, too, that a certain islander with a “rolling stone” reputation will be finding his rolling days coming to a halt


before too long. It will be amusing, to say the least, to see him meet his match. Will he be bested?

The smart money’s on the new girl. That’s all I have to say about that.

And so much excitement over all the goings-on at the mouth of the river on the other side of Cannonball Island! Who knew such mysteries lay beneath the water, waiting to be discovered—and now that they have been, well, the flurry of activity these days has my poor old head spinning like an old-fashioned top. I cannot wait to see what they find, and I’m more than happy that one of the principal players is staying at the inn. Not that I’d pry, but if one overhears a snippet of conversation now and then . . . well, let’s just say it’s good to keep informed. Now, how all this is going to affect the construction that was slated to begin in November, well, I suppose everyone will have to wait and see. Could be there will be delays, which will keep the new girl around for a while longer and will keep the rolling stone on his toes.

My, what fun this will be~

Grace ~


Praise for The Chesapeake Bride, Book 11 in The Chesapeake Diaries:

“Stewart succeeds in giving both Owen and Cass a smooth blend of strength and vulnerability, and the setting of this heartwarming romance will draw readers in with its island-life charm.”— Publishers Weekly

Strengths: Noteworthy historical content; Engaging characters; Strong Romance; HEA…Measure of Love: Teaspoon…Mood: Poignant and lighthearted…Why You Should Read this: Definitely will appeal to readers wanting a strong romance. And the genealogy and historical aspects are a perfect addition to a pleasing story!”— Heroes and Heartbreakers Women’s Fiction Best Bet for August 2017

“The Chesapeake Bride is a small-town romance which will leave readers wanting more of the charming characters and unforgettable story. I enjoyed this book so much that I am still running some of the scenes through my head, which shows how fantastic the story is. Another great read by an outstanding author. A Recommended Read!”— Romance Junkies, Five Heart Review

“The romance is slow and sweet…the lack of unnecessary melodrama, angst, and over-the-top gestures makes this a refreshing contemporary romance between two adults who act as such.”— Kirkus Reviews 

Praise for Driftwood Point, Book 10 in The Chesapeake Diaries:

“This second-chance-at-love romance is gentle and sweet…The colorful friendship between the family matriarchs…charms. Stewart seamlessly checks in with former series protagonists and introduces future romantic pairings without stealing attention from Lisbeth and Alec.”

—RT Book Reviews 

Praise for That Chesapeake Summer, Book 9 in The Chesapeake Diaries:

“[That Chesapeake Summer] deftly uses the tools of the genre to explore issues of identity, truth, and smalltown kinship…Stewart offers a strong statement on the power of love and trust, a fitting theme for this big-hearted small town romance.” — Publishers Weekly

“A touching story of self-discovery and homecoming that is sure to warm readers’ hearts…fans are sure to feel right at home in Stewart’s idyllic seaside setting and follow this emotional journey with avid interest.” — RT Book Reviews

 Praise for The Last Chance Matinee, Book One in The Hudson Sisters Series:

“The popcorn, the red velvet seats, the glittering Hollywood stars on-screen…I’ve enjoyed all aspects of going to the movies since I was a kid…so when I saw a vintage theater on the cover of this book, I quickly swiped it up…The tale was a sweet reminder of the importance of family. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!” — First for Women magazine, July 2017

“[This] lively, warmhearted series starter will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.” — Booklist

“A good read, with a nice blend of mystery, family drama, and romance.” — Library Journal




New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart returns to the cherished Maryland shores of St. Dennis withTHE CHESAPEAKE BRIDE (Pocket Books; August 29, 2017; $7.99), the charming story of a jaded architect who meets the one man who could finally melt her heart—if she’s willing to let him in.

Cassidy Logan has sworn off good-looking adventurers, having just divorced the one she’d married. Now working with her father’s construction company to build ecologically friendly, historically accurate homes on the Chesapeake Bay, she’s designing them for Cannonball Island. Knowing there’s been no new construction on the island in almost one hundred years, Cass is sensitive to the heritage and history of the sparsely populated island, and has come up with plans so perfect she’s determined to buy one for herself to live in. Even the fact that Owen Parker—whom she dismisses as a lightweight and a player— seems to be everywhere she goes isn’t enough to deter her from building her dream house.

Owen is and always has been sinfully handsome and wickedly clever, a magnet for mischief as well as the girls in St. Dennis. He’s also a rolling stone, going and doing whatever appeals to him, from flying a mail plane in Alaska to working on a cattle ranch in Australia and a shrimp boat in Louisiana, to surfing and diving in Costa Rica. When an old friend offers him a job salvaging a sunken ship in the Chesapeake, Owen gladly accepts. Something’s been telling him it’s about time to head home to Cannonball Island, and a job is as good an excuse as any. He’s totally smitten with the pretty architect, but it seems he’s finally met a woman who’s immune to his charms. Sooner or later, Owen will have to face the reason why he always runs, because this time, leaving just might be harder than staying.





Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories.  A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens.  Visit her website at, like her on Facebook at AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram at mariah_stewart_books.

Upcoming store event with Mariah:

Thursday, August 31st, 6:30 pm (Note: This event was rescheduled due to the storm.)

Bethany Beach Books

99 Garfield Parkway

P.O. Box 904

Bethany Beach, DE 19930



Look for Gallery Books’ second installment in Mariah Stewart’s all-new trade original women’s fiction series, The Hudson Sisters, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish—and discover themselves in the process. Book 2, The Sugarhouse Blues, will publish March 2018!



We’re celebrating The Chesapeake Bride and Summer 2017 with one giveaway for Driftwood Point, 10th  in The Chesapeake Diaries Series by Mariah Stewart! The last day for entries will be Friday, September 22nd (the official last day of summer!) The winner will receive one copy of Driftwood Point. U.S. only, please. You can enter at the participating blogs listed below – but you can only win once!

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Interview with Mariah Stewart, author of the Hudson Sisters Series


Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I don’t think I actively made a choice – my stories just naturally fell into the realm of women’s fiction, often with an emphasis on romance (because love does in fact make the world go ‘round!).

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I’ve always had a very active imagination!

When I was seven, I contracted whooping cough and was very sick for thirteen weeks – the entire summer! Every other day, my mother would send my older brother to our little town library where the kind librarian would load him up with a selection of books for me to read. By the end of the summer, I’d gone through the books for my reading level several times. My mom bought me a black and white composition book, and told me to write my own stories (anything to keep me busy and not thinking about the fact that every other kid in our neighborhood was having a great summer playing outside while I was confined to the house). My paternal grandmother’s stories about growing up in a tiny village outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, did a lot to feed my imagination.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was seven! See above! But my first published books came out in 1995 from Pocket Books.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I write mostly women’s fiction, sometimes with an emphasis on romantic relationships. I’ve also written suspense and romantic suspense.

How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?

I like to think my stories are about people who act morally and who try to honor their relationships and contribute to the world I create for them. Over the years I’ve had hundreds of emails from people who tell me they wished they lived next door to one of my characters, or wish a specific character was real so they could be friends. Even some of the villains in my romantic suspense novels had a redeeming quality or two!

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

Definitely character-driven novels with strong women protagonists that focus on the importance of relationships – family, friends, significant others. My books are all set within the framework and patterns of life in a small town, and explore the importance of friendship and how all our relationships impact our lives, how the past affects the present and the future, how our lives are often the product of our decisions.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

The first fifty pages! Always the hardest for me!

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

This book is the eleventh in the Chesapeake Diaries series. I love going back to my fictional town, St. Dennis, and the characters who inhabit that world. The last few books in the series have seen the setting move to Cannonball Island, which is across a narrow river from St. Dennis, so I could explore another families and a different culture than the one in St. Dennis. One of the things I love the most is making up the histories of places and families – so much fun!

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?  What impact have they had on your writing?

I think the author who had the most influence on my writing was Lucy Maud Montgomery. Reading about Anne of Green Gables fed my imagination, and in some ways, Anne and I are soul sisters. She was the first character I read about who I felt expressed herself in ways that I totally related to!

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

For me, most useful – reading. Reading. Reading. Reading. The best way to stretch your mind!

Least useful? Self-doubt.

What do you like to read in your free time?

Free time? What is free time? Right now, I’m planning my daughter’s wedding and trying to keep the garden from getting out of control!

I do read every chance I get.

What book do you wish you could have written?

Absolutely anything by James Lee Burke – I think he’s brilliant.

Oh, and George R.R. Martin’s world building defies the abilities of mere mortals. I’d love to have written the entire Song of Ice and Fire series – because I’d know how it ends! Who will survive? Who will sit on the Iron Throne?

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Again, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Odd though this might sound, 99% of the time, when my characters show up, they tell me who they are. But I always have characters show up I hadn’t planned for – they just walk into a scene and there they are. When I was writing Mercy Street, a woman showed up and just started talking. I knew she was an older woman, with some authority over the male protagonist who was a dot com billionaire, but she was bossing him around and he was fine with that. Not his grandmother, I knew, but someone close. And I couldn’t find a name for her. Tried out dozens, but none were right. So I had to leave a blank space for her name, like, “—- said.”

One day I got an email from a woman named Trula Comfort (is that the best name EVER?) and I knew right away it was The Name. I wrote back and asked if I could borrow her name, and she kindly agreed.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Since I hate – HATE – airplanes (total claustrophobic!) – I’d want to be able to fly. Without going through airports.

When my kids were little, I convinced them I had Mommy Magic. I guess that’s sort of a superpower!

What literary character is most like you?

Definitely Anne Shirley – still!

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

If I were an animal in a zoo, I’d be looking for a way to get out!


Book 1 in The Hudson Sisters series


The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart

Publication Date: March 21, 2017

Publisher: Gallery Books

Look for Book 2 in 2018 and Book 3 in 2019!

Praise for The Last Chance Matinee:

“The popcorn, the red velvet seats, the glittering Hollywood stars on-screen…I’ve enjoyed all aspects of going to the movies since I was a kid,” reminisces Lauren Gatcombe, FIRST assistant editor. “So when I saw a vintage theater on the cover of this book, I quickly swiped it up.” When famed L.A. agent Fritz Hudson passes away, his daughter, Cara, discovers she has two half sisters whose existence were kept secret from her. The other shock: In order for the three sisters to receive their inheritances, they must restore an old movie theater in Fritz’s Pennsylvania hometown. There are trials and tribulations along the way, but the sisters decide to work together to turn their father’s dream into a reality. “I identified a lot with Cara as I read,” says Lauren. “And the tale was a sweet reminder of the importance of family. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!” First For Women magazine

“The combination of a quirky small-town setting, a family mystery, a gentle romance, and three estranged sisters is catnip for women’s-fiction fans, and the backdrop of the faded movie palace adds a fascinating element to the story. Stewart’s lively, warmhearted series starter [The Last Chance Matinee] will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.” — Booklist

“A good read, with a nice blend of mystery, family drama, and romance. Readers will look forward to the next installment.”— Library Journal

About The Last Chance Matinee:

From the New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the first novel in her all-new series, which follows a trio of reluctant sisters who set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish and, in the process, discover the truth not only about their pasts but about each other—and themselves—in a way that will forever alter their futures.

When celebrated and respected Fritz Hudson passes away suddenly, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended tragically. As his relationship with Honora was unraveling, Fritz was simultaneously falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa—but while Fritz adored Susa and fathered daughter Cara with her, he never quite managed to come clean about his West Coast Family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had, specifically one that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce; allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals; and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend; but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Will the sisters come together to turn their father’s dream into a reality – and will they come away with far more than they bargained for?

About Mariah Stewart:

Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories. She lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors county life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her at and follow her on and on Instagram @mariah_stewart_books.

About the series:

The Last Chance Matinee, Book 1 (March 21, 2017)
The Sugarhouse Blues, Book 2 (March 20, 2018)


UNTITLED Book 3 (coming in 2019)

Note:  Mariah Stewart’s separate series, the bestselling Chesapeake Diaries, has been a favorite with readers since 2010. The eleventh installment, The Chesapeake Bride, will publish August 29, 2017.

Upcoming store events with Mariah:

Wednesday, August 30th, 6:00 pm:  Barnes & Noble, Concord Mall – 4801 Concord Pike; Wilmington, DE 19803

Excerpt: COMFORT PLANS by Kimberly Fish

BNR Comfort Plans JPG
  Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Date of Publication: May 23, 2017
Number of Pages: 320
Scroll down for giveaway!

Colette Sheridan is being remodeled.

As a San Antonio architect, she’d have vowed her career was to investigate the history and create new functions for the structures everyone else saw as eyesores. The old German farmhouse in Comfort, Texas, might be the screeching end of that dream job. The assignment seemed so ideal at the start; generous clients, a stunning location, and a pocketful of letters that were surely meant to explain the ranch’s story. All that goodness crashed louder than a pile of two-by-fours when her grandfather announced he’d lured Colette’s ex-husband back to San Antonio to take over the family architecture firm. Now, not only does Colette have to endure the challenges posed by Beau Jefferson, the client’s handpicked contractor, a house that resists efforts to be modernized, and letters that may hold the secret to buried treasure, but she also has to decide if she has the courage to fight for her future.
Set against the backdrop of the Texas Hill Country, Colette and Beau have to rely on plans neither of them constructed in order to navigate the changes of a house with a story to tell, and a future they couldn’t even imagine.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.”
–Vickie Phelps,Author of Moved, Left No Address


Excerpt, Chapter 1, Part 3

from Comfort Plans

Continued from the Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/5/17 Stop

Scooping up a handful of chiffon, Colette scooted across the leather driver’s seat and wondered if her grandfather followed-through with a candidate, if a new president at Sheridan’s would gain much traction in the market. The boutique firm specialized in historical restoration and had a niche in South Texas. Since Nathan Sheridan was the guru of that style, she doubted anyone would ever replicate the success her grandfather had maintained in an industry that could change on the whims of the stock market.

Point number twelve for why he needed to groom a stronger replacement.

She backed out of the driveway but stole one last glance at the man who never went a day without Brylcreem. His custom-tailored shirt was rolled at the sleeves, and he was wearing his dress slacks on a Saturday night. The Big Ben of her world—he was classy, reliable, and just as unbending as any national monument London had ever produced.

He was flagging her to roll down her window.

Colette cranked the window below her nose. “Yes?”

“Aren’t you at all curious who I’ve finally selected to manage my empire?”

Empire was a bit of a leap. The last quarter-profits weren’t anything to get excited about. “Knowing that you would scour the face of the earth to find someone worthy of the Sheridan name and that it’s taken you years since the last serious candidate, I’m hopeful this man is capable of carrying your legacy forward.”

“That’s a lot of faith from the girl who questioned me about the wisdom of maintaining my breakfast ritual at Earl Abel’s.”

He did have a nasty habit of smothering all forms of nutrition with sausage gravy, which was another reason to force him into a doctor’s appointment.

“I’m looking out for your general health because I want you to hang around and torment me for years to come.” Which was true. She adored her resident curmudgeon and delighted in being one of the few people in the world who could make him laugh.

His lips turned down even more than usual. “I’m one of the short timers, which is why I want to know that you and my firm are going to be in good hands.”

She shivered. “Don’t talk like that. You know what Momma says about positive thinking.”

“Your mother is a flake.”

Colette sighed and knew she’d be even later to this wedding than was acceptable. “I can see you want to tell me who you’ve hired, so what’s his name? Or am I supposed to guess based on last month’s Architectural Digest article about the ‘it guy’ from Los Angeles?”

She’d seen her grandfather poring over those pages like they were printed in gold leaf. She hadn’t seen anything brilliant when she’d snatched the article from the breakfast table, but her inability to see modern trends was another excuse she’d offered as to why she’d make a lousy president of the firm.

Finish reading Chapter One on the Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/13/17 Stop

Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won The Writer’s League of Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting.
She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats and in 2017, released the first novel in a series set during the World War II years in Longview, Texas – The Big Inch.
She lives with her family in East Texas.
July 31 – August 14, 2017
(U.S. Only)

Excerpt 1
Books in the Garden
Character Interview
Guest Post 1
Excerpt 2
Video Guest Post
Excerpt 3
Guest Post 2
Excerpt 4
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Review: BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS by Camille Di Maio

  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Historical / Family
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: May 16, 2017
Number of Pages: 334
Scroll down for Giveaway!
(I received an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review)
This is a story of love in it’s purest form.  It’s about sacrifice and family.  It’s about finding oneself amidst the crisis of your life.  It is truly a beautiful story.
This book cannot be classified into any particular genre.  It’s realistic fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, mystery, and romance.  Di Maio’s writing has springboarded from it’s already lofty place (with her debut novel, THE MEMORY OF US) with the story of Della Lee.  As the story unfolds, the author skillfully parallels four storylines, weaving them together like an elaborate tapestry to a beautiful and satisfying conclusion.  The characters are wonderful and the descriptions are so fantastic.  I could almost feel the heat on my skin as I read about Puerto Pasar I really can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed the writing in this book.
Absolutely DEVOURED this book! Best book I’ve read all year. It has history, romance, intrigue and wonderful characters that make you feel like you’ve known them all of your life. What an amazing story this turned out to be. I loved Di Maio’s first book, but this one blows it out of the water! I’d give it 10 stars if I could!
After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar. She’s free from confinement—and ready to tell her secrets before it’s too late.

She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears. He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who’s visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens. Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as “Port of Regret.” But they don’t anticipate how their lives will be changed forever.

Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.

Check out the book trailer!
Praise for Before the Rain Falls:
Still wiping away tears! Before the Rain Falls is simultaneously heartbreaking, hopeful, and joyous: a story of complex characters with varied pasts and bright futures. Loved it! – Jennifer B. on Goodreads
This novel takes readers on an emotional, fast-paced, ride through one sister’s journey to self, redemption, and the true meaning of “freedom.” – Nicole W. on Goodreads
There is romance, mystery, and secrets that are kept till the very end that will have you not wanting this beautifully written story to end. – Carol B. on Goodreads
Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She overdoses on goodies at farmer’s markets (justifying them by her support for local bakeries) and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it doesn’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal. The Memory of Us is Camille’s debut novel. Her second, Before the Rain Falls was released on May 16, 2017.


  May 17-31, 2017 
Excerpt 1
Author Interview
Guest Post
Excerpt 2
Deleted Scene
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Review: I JUST CAME HERE TO DANCE by Susan Mary Malone

Susan Mary Malone
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: White Bird Publications
Date of Publication: September 15, 2016
Number of Pages: 340


Scroll down for Giveaway!
Paula Anne Fairbanks understands all about the unexamined life. And she likes hers that way—until her world gets ripped smooth apart.
Running from reality, Paula falls under the mythological yarns being spun on Diana Maclean’s porch. Surely Paula’s own choices aren’t to blame for the summer of insanity she spends under the spells of Diana…who is, after all, known as the White Witch of Sociable,  Texas.
I JUST CAME HERE TO DANCE, a modern allegory, waltzes atop the line between the creative and the crazy, the sacred and the maligned. Through myths it weaves together the multi-layers of personal Self with that of the collective whole. And finally, Paula Anne and the townsfolk learn the simplest of truths: that the fire’s ashes produce wisdom and courage, just as the stories say.

     “Malone’s voice is one of the most charming I’ve read.  It brings the story and her characters to life.  I feel like I grew up with Paula right over the hill from the lively little town of Sociable, Texas.”  –New York Times bestselling author M. Leighton
“Susan Mary Malone pens well-crafted characters that are so vivid you can picture them in an award winning movie or television series.” –New York Times bestselling author Mary Honey B Morrison
“. . . a magical story about love ripped apart, a life examined, and then healed.  To be read slowly, to savor as one would a tall cool glass of lemonade, on a hot afternoon, watching the world become new.”  –Ginnie Siena Bivona, author of Ida Mae Tutweiler and the Traveling Tea Party, made into a Hallmark TV film, Bound by a Secret
Sociable, Texas.  We grow ’em big in Texas.  And this story is no exception.
Paula Ann Fairbanks’s life just changed.  After years of a shell of a marriage, she’s discovered her husband’s infidelity with a childhood friend (small towns are small…LOL).  Now she’s left a bit directionless,  but finds the friendship of the local eccentric, Diana, a great place to start her journey to self-discovery.  As she listens to the stories of the other characters on Diana’s porch, she learns about herself and her place in the world.
Small town, Texas.  Bigger than life characters.  Malone does it right here.  An excellent use of dialect to help her bring these women (and the men as well) to life on the page.
Growing up in Texas, and visiting family in small towns, I knew a few people who reminded me of some of these characters.  Malone has captured the true spirit of the just how BIG (and small) these small town folks truly are!  I recommend this book.


Texas native Susan Mary Malone has published two novels, co-authored four nonfiction books, and written many short stories. Her happiness is fiction, wine, and Labrador Retrievers, the latter of which she raises, trains, and shows. Literature is her love. In addition to writing, she edits; fifty-plus Malone-edited books have sold to traditional publishers, and one of them was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame film (while another is in production, set to be released in 2015). Her stories revolve around the passions and purpose, the myths and meaning of women’s lives. Which often involves wine. She does, however, try to keep the Labradors out of that.





September 26October 5, 2016


Guest Post
Author Interview
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Interview: Yvonne Georgina Puig, author of A WIFE OF NOBLE CHARACTER

Yvonne Georgina Puig

Genre: Women‘s Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: August 2, 2016
Number of Pages: 320

 Scroll down for Giveaway!

Thirty-year-old Vivienne Cally is wealthy in name only. Orphaned as a child and raised by a cold but regal aunt, Vivienne was taught to rely on her beauty and Texas tradition, and is expected to marry a wealthy and respectable man who will honor the Cally name. Friends with Houston’s richest and most prominent families, she’s a beloved fixture at the social events big and small, and suffers no shortage of access to some of the city’s most eligible bachelors. Preston Duffin has known Vivienne and her set since childhood.  He’s never shared their social aspirations or their status but is liked and respected for his sharp wit and intelligence. About to graduate from a prestigious architecture program, he is both fascinated and repelled by this group of friends he sits on the cusp of. He’s long admired Vivienne’s beauty and grace, but isn’t sure he holds any place in such a traditional life. Intrigued by Preston’s ambitions and the extent to which he challenges the only way of life she’s ever known, Vivienne both courts Preston’s attention, and rebuffs his critiques of her predictable and antiquated priorities and values.

Inspired by Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Yvonne Georgina Puig’s A Wife of Noble Character shares the original novel’s astute social commentary at the same time that it illuminates the trappings and rewards of coming of age that are wholly unique to the twenty-first century. Charming and shrewd at once, this Texas love story takes readers from Houston to Paris and Switzerland and back again, and will speak to both fans of Wharton and anyone who has every struggled to find their way in life.


“A fun take on Edith Wharton’s classic.”—Marie Claire

“A Wife of Noble Character is equal parts wry social commentary and heart-fluttering romance — an insightful journey for both the head and the heart.” —Refinery29

“This sharply drawn novel about Houston’s oil-money elite strikes a beautiful balance—rollicking at times while deeply felt at others.”—

“A compelling and complicated love story…The characters hearken back to Wharton’s while still not feeling like archetypes, and the interior narration matches the introspective style of Wharton’s writing.”—Book Riot

“A Wife of Noble Character possesses something that is intrinsically Houstonian: a sense of humor. . . Apparently, no matter how far you move, Houston sticks with you; Puig has the local milieu down cold.”—Texas Monthly

“In this vivid, socially acute novel of manners set in oil-money Houston society, Yvonne Puig charms us with prose and braces us with insight—a masterful, sharp-eyed and eloquent debut.” —Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint it Black

“A fresh, funny look at what it means to be an adult in the 21st century and a juicy Texan comedy of manners, at its heart, A Wife of Noble Character is a good old fashioned love story.” —Sarah Bird, author of Above the East China Sea

“A Wife of Noble Character is a wildly unique creation: A social novel that is simultaneously classic and utterly modern. I found it sharply insightful, lyrically written, and often laugh-out-loud funny; and could barely put it down until the last page. Puig is a talented satirist and a breathtakingly astute observer of character.”—Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything



What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I had fun a lot of fun with the secondary characters—Randal, the wannabe-Texan dermatologist, Kitty, the ex-pat in Paris from Beaumont, and Blad, Vivienne’s close friend, a gay man who grew up in conservative neighborhood in Houston.
How does your book relate to your spiritual life?

It relates deeply to my spiritual life. I believe writing is a spiritual practice. And I believe inner growth must be spiritual if it is going to stick – and that requires ‘walking that lonesome valley by yourself,’ to paraphrase Woody Guthrie. I’m interested in how struggle shapes people spiritually, and I wanted Vivienne, the protagonist, to experience that.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I also teach essay writing at USC. I find the balance challenging because I want to give teaching my all, but I admit that writing is always there in the back of my mind, sort of tapping me on the shoulder.
What do you like to read in your free time?

Novels, psychology books, books about faith.
What book do you wish you could have written?

The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. That book still blows me away and makes my heart ache.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Larry McMurtry and Edith Wharton above all. I’m inspired by McMurtry’s sense of humor and I love Wharton’s sharp eye and wit. Edith Wharton was also such an inspiring and courageous individual, someone who grew so much in her lifetime and remained devoted to her sense of wonder. I could go on and on about both of them.
Who would you cast to play your characters in a movie version of your book?

I would love to see Kathy Bates as Kitty.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

I don’t enjoy writing about myself. Never say never—but I can’t imagine writing a memoir.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

I would love to have a little bit of land to start a garden and create a sanctuary for rescued animals. I would also love to write a book that inspires children — a book that sparks their imaginations and helps them to believe in themselves.


Yvonne Georgina Puig’s fiction and essays have appeared in Salon, Variety, Los Angeles Magazine, and The Texas Observer, among others. She holds a Masters in Professional Writing from USC. She lives in Santa Monica with her husband.



Ends 11PM CST, September 25, 2016
Check out the other blog stops on the tour:
9/14 Video Guest Post 1 Texas Book Lover
9/15 Review My Book Fix Blog
9/16 Author Interview 1 Missus Gonzo
9/17 Excerpt The Page Unbound
9/18 Review Reading By Moonlight
9/19 Guest Post 2 The Crazy Booksellers
9/20 Video Guest Post 3 A Novel Reality
9/21 Review Hall Ways Blog
9/22 Author Interview 2 The Librarian Talks
9/23 Review It’s a Jenn World
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