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#WW: Website Wonders

25 Feb

Website Wonders:

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of February’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Reading, as well as Inspiration and Art. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Writing:

25 Things You Should Know About Antagonists: A great article all writers should read.

What age did the greatest authors publish their most famous works? I knew this was going to be fascinating the second I clicked on it.

Little-Known Punctuation Marks for National Punctuation Day: Because I’ve been spending a lot more time being an editor recently.

10277289_793694487366040_5427893777820977871_n

Reading:

10 Books That Will Absolutely Blow Your Mind: My favorite book – The Stranger by Albert Camus – is on this list.

House Of Books: The Most Majestically Beautiful Libraries Around The World Photographed By Franck Bohbot: No description needed. These gorgeous photos are enough.

32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life: How many of these changed your life? Me Talk Pretty One Day was the first book I read of Sedaris’, and he’s still one of my favorite authors. I also agree with Beloved, The Giver, World War Z (not the movie. Boo.), and Never Let Me Go.

Inspiration and art:

These Incredible Paintings Will Both Amaze And Confuse You: Beautiful. Unnerving. Imaginative. This is very strange, but it won’t allow me to add this link to the text, so here it the URL: (http://theawesomedaily.com/incredible-paintings-of-rob-gonsalves)

How to Be Creative and Find Your Brilliance: 10 Superb Articles: We could all use more tips.

Check back next month for more articles!

P.S.

I just received this review for my editing services from an amazing, upcoming author, and I could not be happier and more grateful than I am right now.

“Shannon’s content review and editing services worked wonders for my manuscript. She was quick, professional, and wonderful to work with. As a well-established author with behind-the-scenes experience, I found her input to be invaluable. Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned veteran, I highly recommend her services.” – A.I. Kemp

Please check out my services or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for anything. :]

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Writing Horror

23 Feb

Intro:

Monday brings us a new blog post by a new guest blogger.

Remember, if you want to guest blog, check out the information below this post, but be sure to read today’s post first! When author Alex Laybourne was asked why he chose to be a horror writer, he responded that horror chose him. Today, he is talking about the stigmas horror writers have to deal with in today’s market, but he goes much deeper than that, and his words are definitely worth the triumph in the end.

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Horror Writing

As a writer, I have found that there is a range of reactions that will come from that proclamation whenever anybody asks what I do. Sure, I have an office job, but I always respond with both of my jobs. Writing is, after all, a fulltime endeavour.

However, there is only one reaction that I get when people hear that I am a horror writer. It is usually accompanied by a slight step backwards, and they avert their gaze. Why? Well, I write horror. It must mean that I am about to try and murder them all for the sake of research. I mean, that is what I am, right? I am darkness. I must live in a basement where blood coats the walls and the screams of the damned are the lullaby upon which I drift off into the restful world of nightmares.

Blood of the Tainted ebook coverIn the modern world, writers are more and more approachable than ever, yet I still find that there is a stigma attached to being a horror writer. Maybe stigma is the wrong word, so let’s say that there is a certain level of expectation that comes with it.

To many people, horror is about blood, guts, and gore. What they know of horror is what they see in movies. Why is this? It is, in part, because people only think of slasher movies when they think of horror. Anything else seems to get the label of Psychological Thriller or some other titillating genre twist, which creates a feeling of expectant anticipation in the audience. Something that horror does not give.

Yet the truth behind it all is far different. We horror writers are no different than anybody else that puts ink to paper. We are no different than anybody else that goes to work in an office. Ok, our heads may be programmed in such a way that when we see certain things or hear certain snippets of a conversation we get ideas, but there are for plot and characters, rather than anything darker than that.

There is a very interesting wave of great horror writers out there at the moment, making waves in the indie scene and pushing the boundaries of genre to the limits and then some. I could throw around phrases like ‘ground breaking’ or ‘genre defining’ but I don’t wish to be labelled pretentious. All of these writers, these masters of the dark, are husbands or close to it. They are fathers and damned good ones. Hands on parents, too. They can be found watching cartoons or changing nappies (diapers) rather than hunching over Ouija boards, summoning the devil’s minions to help ensure their souls have the clean black gleam.

Sure, we write things that concern darkness, but what horror often gives, is hope. More often than not they are stories of triumph over adversity. Yes, we deal with the subjects that most people are afraid to think about. Yes, we take readers by the hand through nightmare worlds, but what we also do, is bring them out the other side. We help them face their fears; we allow readers, if only for a short time, to conquer their fears. Whether they do it by closing the book when it gets too much, or by reading it all in one sitting, they are standing up to what scares them, and not backing down.

The next time somebody tells you that they are a horror writer, remember that we slave just as hard over our words as the next Booker Prize nominee does. We have poured as much of ourselves into our work as any other author, and while it may never be a good idea to ask us what we are currently working on, never let the genre fool you. After all, it is nothing but a means by which bookstores can line their shelves. At the end of the day, genre means nothing.

I think it’s only fair that I end this with a quote from Stephen King.

“At parties, people usually approach the writer of horror fiction with a mixture of wonder and trepidation. … Most of us, you see, look and seem (and ARE) perfectly ordinary. We don’t drown houseguests in the bathtub, torture the children, or sacrifice the cat at midnight inside of a pentagram. There are no locked closets or screams from the cellar. Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, looks like a moderately successful used car salesman. Ray Bradbury bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Charles M. Shulz, creator of Peanuts.”

Me

Alex Laybourne

Bio:

Born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that Alex Laybourne became a horror writer.

From an early age he attended schools which were at least 30 minutes’ drive away from his home, and so most of his free time was spent alone.

He claims to have been a writer as long as he can remember. With a wild and vivid imagination he finds it all too easy to just drift away into his own mind and explore the worlds he creates. It is a place where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue

He is married and has four wonderful children; James, Logan, Ashleigh and Damon. His biggest dream for them is that they grow up, and spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is.

Links:

Blood of the Tainted (artwork by Richard van Ekeren)

Diaries of the Damned

Website

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW The Reader’s Reaction

18 Feb

#WW The Reader’s Reaction:

I can admit the worst thing a reader ever wrote to me. It was 2007, I was 16, Golden Eagle Publishing had released my first novel, and Honesty Box was the hottest app on Facebook. My high school self was naïve enough to have one of these, and one day, I found myself staring at the message, “you are the bastardization of the English language.”

::blink blink::

I’ve tried not to think about this message often. In fact, I confess I’ve tried to completely kick it out of my mind – especially since I think it had more to do with high school bullying than anything notable. But the most common type of bullying I faced for writing a book in high school followed this script:

honesty-boxA fellow student would say, “Go write a book.”

Normally, I never responded, but sometimes I snapped and stupidly said, “I already did.”

Which almost always got, “Now, go write a good one.”

::sigh::

Perhaps, this affected me more than I would like to admit. A few months later, when I ran into issues with my publisher, I didn’t fight it much, and in turn, November Snow was taken off of the market. I can’t say I minded much. I think I was a little relieved. That’s probably why seven years passed between my first and second publication. Now that I’m 23, my coping skills have definitely grown.

Writers always get responses – both good and bad – and some days are more uplifting than others. Some days are even downright hilarious. Not in the mocking way, of course, but in the this-reader-could-be-my-best-friend sort of way. Some days, readers make your day, and other days, a reader’s comment inspires your next piece of work. Sometimes, they teach you by pointing out levels of confusion or confliction, and other times, they talk about how your work taught them something about life. The combination is a beautiful thing.

I have plenty of stories I wish I could tell you about all of the wonderful readers who have reviewed my novels, shared quotes, tweeted encouraging messages, and sent me an email just to explain their emotions – but the important part is how the uplifting readers always overcome the negative ones. I could share hundreds, but I would like to share a few to show types:

The Encouraging Reader:

Pau from Pau’s Castles recently read Death Before Daylight. In fact, she’s read all three books of The Timely Death Trilogy, and she even took the time to review them – and she goes even further. She LIVE tweeted to me about everything – her reactions, her jokes, her emotions (including how she squealed in the middle of class while reading), and her overall encouragement. Readers – WOW – you all make my entire life when you do this. I cannot begin to explain how delighted I feel when I am able to talk to readers and connect with them as friends. Joking about my own work with someone is surreal. The friendship between a reader and an author is unlike any other type of friendship I’ve ever had, but it brings me just as much love, comfort, and joy.

pau1

The Confused Reader that brings laughter into my overly serious writing life:

I want to clarify that this is not condescending laughter. This is more like a friend, even if the reader never knows it. I actually enjoy moments where readers have pointed out confusion or mislabeled something because it’s often something I (and many editors) overlooked. My most recent example came from numerous readers over Take Me Tomorrow. A few readers have compared the dictator, Wheston Phelps to Michael Phelps – the Olympic swimmer – instead of who I intended – Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church – and I’ve had a great giggle over that image-switch. If you’re one of the readers who thought of Michael Phelps instead of Fred, please don’t worry! I had a great giggle, and I feel like it’s more of an inside joke than anything else. Also, more people thought of Michael than Fred. (A handshake goes out to Just Another Girl and Her Books who pointed out many topics, including Fred Phelps, that went overlooked in Take Me Tomorrow. If you’re curious what the sequels might show, this review definitely foreshadows a lot of it).

The Critical Reader

And sometimes the negative can help me take a step back and laugh at myself. In fact, these have begun to remind me of my initial editing process. The clearest example I can think of was when my editor for Seconds Before Sunrise was going through the first chapter and saw, “Robb grabbed his plaid sh*t” instead of his shirt. Yep. That editing mistake happened. That’s embarrassing. And – trust me – I will never, EVER make that mistake again. Every time I write the word “shirt”, I will cringe. (And then, I will laugh uncontrollably).

Me as a Reader

I am a reader, too, and while I’m not everyone’s reader, my day is made when I tweet to an author and they actually tweet back to me. This recently happened to me when I sent a message to Stephen Collins, the graphic novelist of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. (Read it if you haven’t by the way)! It was literal Christmas for me.

Stephen

No matter how many readers authors come in contact with, I think we can find ourselves in their reviews, but more importantly, we connect with friends. To think that I might be able to bring joy to a reader in the way Stephen Collins brought joy to me, fills me with a lot of hope and understanding that I didn’t have when I was 16. I am very grateful for all the readers who have helped me grow since then, and I continue to love my readers more than anything else. It’s also nice to have reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble instead of Honesty Box.

~SAT

A big shout-out goes out to Charles E. Yallowitz for posting my guest article – Balancing the Editor’s Life with an Author’s Dream – on Legends of Windemere. Check his website out by clicking the link! In my article, I discuss balancing my life as an editor and an author, and I hope you enjoy the read.

I also want to give a gigantic shout-out to JK and CK from House Kelley! About one month ago, this wonderful couple guided me to Clean Teen Publishing, and I thank them for their guidance. Check their writing out, say hi, give them a big hug, and write with them. They are fantastic.

#MondayBlogs: Writing Relatable Teens

16 Feb

Intro:

What better way to start off the week than with a great guest post from YA author, Ava Bloomfield? Writing is a complicated journey, but with Ava’s help, everyone can create believable teen characters. Feel free to share your tips in the comments below!

Writing Relatable Teens

Nobody wants to grow up. We learned that in Peter Pan. So how does an adult write a relatable YA character? How does anyone write a relatable character?

It’s a subjective thing; we all know that. It’s impossible to wholly judge a character for their realism while we go about our particular lives, with our particular experiences, in our particular way. It fits that novel writing is such a personal process, in that context; our characters are born from us after all.

AvaSo what makes Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower just as ‘relatable’ as, say, Bella Swan from Twilight?

Some argue those two aren’t remotely comparable. Some would say they’re too different; one is ‘deep’ and one is…well, Bella Swan. It’s all subjective anyway, so how do you guarantee you’ll write a Charlie and not a Bella?

The answer is simply that it depends on the journey, not the character itself. We can relate to almost anything if the underlying themes ring true to its audience.

While Charlie is coming of age, Bella is experience her first love. Or infatuation. Whatever you call it, there are inferences to be drawn. Just because Perks examines abuse and mental health issues doesn’t mean that Twilight’s love story is a vacuous waste of time by comparison. Didn’t Jane tell an unconventional love story with Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre?

Granted, Meyer doesn’t hold a candle to Charlotte Bronte.

But when we put the calibre of any particular writer aside, it’s easy to see that there’s room for any variation on topic. It’s how the writer weaves their message through a character that makes them believable, relatable.

Characters in YA aren’t just reflections of ourselves, or unfathomable things we just dreamed up one day. They’re extensions of ourselves. Teen characters are ghosts of our past, holding hands with today. In my experience, the whole process of writing about a young character is as familiar as it is daunting. We set out to write about a ‘real’ teenager, with battles to face, and through their development we thread together the fragments of our experience.

That ‘thread’ I’m talking about is a sensation that never leaves us. It’s the sensation of being on the cusp of adulthood, unprepared; plunged utterly defenseless into the wolf-pit that is the world. And it’s that thread that binds the YA writer with their characters and entwines them; it’s a natural occurrence. It’s necessary. It’s our link with our former selves, however near or far that is.

But therein lays the opportunity for disaster. By the logic of what I’ve just described, writing YA characters would be purely therapeutic. We’d confront our demons and wrap things up neatly in the end. We’d snuff out conflict in a way we never could in the real world, because we’ve walked that path before. And that’s not realistic at all.

Teen characters have to be monumental screw-ups in one fashion or another. They’re the lessons we wish we’d learned, failing all over again. There’s nothing palatable about success without sacrifice, is there? It’s as true for the protagonist as it is for the writer.

To write an authentic teenager, we give away the depths of what makes us who we are today. It’s not slaying the demon that wins the battle for any YA character; it’s the metamorphosis they experience on their journey. It’s the awareness that they aren’t the same person they were before.

And you, the writer, will have experienced it with them.

Charlie from Perks wasn’t the same come the end. Bella from Twilight wasn’t the same either. It’s all in the journey. It’s in the believability of their transformation.

The reader will experience that metamorphosis and evolve. The writer connects with its reader by way of character. Within that thread of experience, binding it all, is a common vein we share.

Isn’t that why we read YA, after all? It’s more than just an escape, and it’s certainly more than nostalgia. It’s a way of holding hands. It’s a way of saying, ‘I hear you’ that transcends any other medium.

Writing a relatable teen character is like shouting your deepest secrets into the void and waiting for them to echo back to you. Just know you’re not the only one listening out for it.

Bio:

Ava Bloomfield lives by the sea with her partner Matt and their Scottish Terrier, Sputnik. When she’s not busy with her day job as a transcriber, Ava can be found rummaging in charity shops for hidden treasure, mooching about in her local library, or writing her next novel.

Ava writes stand alone books about angsty teenagers. Check out: Honest, All Girls Cry, Leap and Beyond on Goodreads.

Ways of chumming up to Ava: TwitterBlog.

Alternatively, send her a psychic message over the cosmos. She’s not quite tuned into it yet, but she’s certain it’ll happen any day now.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW Huzzah! I Have A New Publisher

11 Feb

Huzzah! I Have A New Publisher

The day has come! If you follow me on Facebook, I promised today would be the day I announce the future. Let me start off by first saying something so cliché, we all know it is true: I couldn’t have done this without you.

Really. I couldn’t have. In fact, it was one of you who helped me connect with my new publisher.

That’s right. If you haven’t guessed from the title, I have signed with Clean Teen Publishing. I am unbelievably grateful for this talented and passionate group of people taking me in, and I look forward to the future more than ever before! The Timely Death Trilogy will be re-released this summer and fall, and I will keep everyone updated as the books receive new covers, new sneak peeks, and more!

::dancesaroundmylittleoffice::

I cannot contain the excitement long enough to write a comprehensible declaration of admiration, but here is the official Clean Teen Publishing Press Release.

Facebook Banner 9-17-14

Check out these novels from Clean Teen Publishing!

Fine Lines

Fine Lines

If you’re searching for the second announcement I promised to make today, don’t fret! I haven’t forgotten. My personal essay – Nowhere – was published in the winter edition of the literary magazine, Fine Lines! This has also been one of the most wonderful moments of my writing life recently because I’ve always wanted to get a piece of nonfiction published. This is one of my “bucket list” writing goals, so to speak, so look out for more information on that as well.

::takeshugebreath:: (I sometimes forget to breathe when I get excited).

Oh, what an emotional month this has been. A little over a month ago, I shared I Lost My Publisher with you, and I wrote this:

“I am thankful I had the opportunity to share stories with the world, and I will never forget the readers and writers I’ve met along the way. I can only dream of ever meeting this surreal reality again – not as a future fantasy or a broken past – but as my writer life reborn.”

Now, one month later, I am here to write a follow-up: This is my rebirth, and you all have brought me to this moment. If I could hug you all, I would, and hopefully, I’ll get the chance to meet you one day. Until then, I am proud to announce I am continuing this writing dream of mine, and I am grateful to have your support and encouragement along the way. You will always be the ink in my pen.

I love you all,

~SAT

For more updates, connect with my new publisher on their Website, Facebook, & Twitter.

#MondayBlogs: The Merits of Fan Fiction

9 Feb

Intro:

With Monday’s arrival, we meet another guest blogger. Today is brought to you by S.A. Starcevic, the writer behind the website Bookshelf of Doom. As an aspiring author, Starcevic shares his thoughts on writing and publishing often, and today is no exception. He is talking about Fan Fiction, a type of writing that is debated regularly, so feel free to share your thoughts over this controversial writing style in the comments below!

The Merits of Fan Fiction

I have a confession. Like a lot of authors, I started writing as a way to reimagine characters from much-loved books and TV shows in fresh and interesting scenarios. Nothing was ever published (thank God), and I quickly abandoned the exercise. Why?

It felt like cheating.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was taking the easy way out – which, now that I think about it, it probably is because I’ve always had lofty dreams of writing a bestseller and sitting cosily alongside other authors whose work I adore on the NYT Bestseller List. As such, writing has never been just a hobby, meaning I always had publication* in mind. Even as a kid, I wrote the way an accountant crunches numbers – as a professional pursuit. Oh, it was also incredibly fun and satisfying, but those authors who labour over a first draft, submit the story to a publisher, and then sit back while the trained publicists do all the promotion? Yeah, I’m not like them. I actually find the marketing and publishing process more fun than the writing itself.

*(Fan fiction cannot be published. Ever. Making money off somebody else’s world is not just a breach of copyright, it’s morally reprehensible.)

Cassandra Clare was catapulted into the Holy Grail of movie deals with her YA series. Amazingly, she started out writing Harry Potter fan fiction - some of which is still floating around the internet today.

Cassandra Clare was catapulted into the Holy Grail of movie deals with her YA series. Amazingly, she started out writing Harry Potter fan fiction – some of which is still floating around the internet today.

I know a lot of people scoff at fan fiction authors, which is silly, because some of the most talented writers of our age cut their teeth on sites like Wattpad and Fan Fiction Net. The majority of fan fiction is terrible, and that’s OK too, because for a lot of teens (and adults too!) who are just tentatively beginning to write, having an established setting and a cast of characters to draw upon is kind of like a crutch. It allows them to develop their voice, test what style suits them, and receive feedback from readers who won’t judge or criticise.

I don’t read fan fiction. I think it’s an important foothold in the writing industry, and authors shouldn’t resent it, because a lot of fan fiction authors are actually fans who love their work and will happily buy their stuff at a bookstore. However, I just can’t stomach the grievous spelling mistakes and clunky sentence syntax. Sorry.

That said, if you want to use Untouchable as a foundation to write your own worlds and stories, knock yourself out. Just don’t plagiarise, because then I’d have to release the hounds. And by hounds, I mean lawyers. Lawyers who are the equivalent of rabid Rottweilers.

Ahem.

Bio:

At age 10, Seb wrote his first novel and convinced himself it was going to be a bestseller. Spoiler: It wasn’t. Since then, he’s dreamed of being a great many things, such as: historian, writer, editor, and paleontologist. While he is none of those things, he still retains a childish fascination with dinosaurs, and can be found agonizing over correct comma usage. Nowadays, he lives out his editor fantasies through the Corner Club Press, and dreams of the day he finally finishes a novel. In the meantime, he posts about writing and other assorted nonsense here, and is currently querying his superhero story, Untouchable. Oh, and he’s still in high school.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: I Am Not Special

7 Feb

#SATurday: I Am Not Special

Some nights, I do not feel like writing – but, in all honesty, I understand that I do feel like writing. After all, I always do. Even when I “hate” it, I redefine my hate as fighting through a passionate struggle – or I label it with some other momentary expression to explain my lack of love. It is a temporary disconnect, one that always – and undoubtedly – heals. That being said, a contradiction timelessly arises.

What happened to all my passions I disconnected with forever?

Allow me to clarify…I truly believe writing is my all-time passion, my purpose in life, per se, but there have been other activities I have loved and admired and explored and lost. While I’ve always wanted to be a writer, my preschool self wanted to try cheerleading, and my later school years brought basketball, yearbook, photography, track, tennis, gymnastics, a part-time job, and a little club called Goal 0 into my life – all while moving around and writing novels in my free time.

I guess I could call myself an overachiever – at least, at that age – but I never considered myself one. There was always a boy who went to school more than I did or a girl who ran faster or a new kid who had lived in more places than I have.

I’ve never seen myself as special.

Although those six words may sound dreary or in desperate need of some self-confidence training, I don’t read them that way. I look at them backward.

“Special as myself seen never I’ve.” may not make sense, so please allow me to reword it slightly to explain further:

Special as myself, seen never have I.

To me, focusing on oneself too much does not allow us to truly see the world around us. In contrast – because I always love a good contradiction – I believe we must know ourselves before we can help others or the world, but stretching self-knowledge into too much self-importance is where we destroy ourselves and each other.

four2

The ways that make us special are not meant to outshine another person’s unique traits. When I was younger, I did not understand that, so I overcompensated to try to seal a hole in my heart I held toward myself, and some days, I still succumb to this pain. I am human, after all.

During times I consider myself to be overcompensating, I have fleeting but terrifying emotions that consume me. Instead of realizing that I am already helping people, I irrationally desire to become special because I believe that “special” label will finally allow me to help others. In fact, I believe it will be the only way for me to achieve my goals. This is where my soul’s focus is confused. No matter what happens, I now feel as if I am failing, even when I am not, so I continue to push, push, and push forward – often, in the wrong direction – as if it will help, and the longer it continues, the harder I push. This is a breeding ground for overcompensation.

During overcompensation I fail to recognize the destructive nature of this thought-process – how it can deter your focus, warp your goals, and desensitize your true wish that you want to fulfill. In the example above, this happened when I thought being “special” would allow me to help people rather than simply trying to help people.

In writing, we often see this happen in the writer who always talks about writing but never actually writes – and oddly enough, that is how I began this piece, and in reality, that is also how I’m ending it. I am not an exception, I am not perfect, and I am not special. And I am accepting how perfectly okay I am with that.

Being special isn’t about sticking out or labeling someone as unique or even changing the world. It is about fighting every day to be honest about who you truly are while finding the energy to fulfill your life role in whatever way you decide it should be. Whether or not you change the world does not matter in the end.

In the end, the important lesson is not to see yourself as special, but to see the world for what it is and everything we can be every day.

I don’t see myself as special.

I am too focused on seeing the life all around me. Perhaps, it’ll even inspire me to write again.

~SAT on #SATurday

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