White Nectarine Prosecco Sangría with Ginger & Elderflower, and why I said YES to a cookbook deal (!)

This refreshing prosecco sangría recipe is full of floral flavors from white nectarines, fresh ginger, wildflower honey, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and dry prosecco. Substitute white or yellow peaches or nectarines to your heart’s content. 

**Update: My book Alternative Baker: Reinventing Dessert with Gluten-Free Grains and Flours is now available!**

My Cookbook Journey

I’ve had this secret eating away at me for months and I’m so excited to finally get to share it here. I’m writing and photographing a cookbook. My first one. Hopefully it won’t be the last. It’s all about baking with alternative grains and flours, with every recipe hinging on a seasonal fruit or vegetable. It’s tentatively titled Alternative Baker: Reinventing Dessert with Gluten-Free Grains and Flours. Each of the 100+ recipes, 95% of which are brand-new, gets its own full-color image, shot by yours truly.  The manuscript is due this October and the photos a month later. The release date is tentatively set for April 2016.

From Book Deal to Bupkes (And Back Again)

Many of you will remember that I was offered a book deal a little over a year ago that turned out to be a no-go, and I wanted to talk a bit about what happened in the interim and how this one came to fruition.

Last spring, I wrote this post. I got a ton of amazing feedback. Most of it supported my decision, but a few comments were from people who worked in publishing saying, “Uh, that was actually a pretty good offer, yo.” That was hard to hear, but I still felt at peace with my decision to continue exploring my options. I worked on finishing my proposal and reached out to a few different agents, most of whom couldn’t take me on.

Finding a Literary Agent

I had read an interview on Dianne Jacob’s site with literary agent Danielle Svetcov and was planning to reach out to her, when a friend of a friend offered to introduce us. It turns out Danielle is, like, THE cookbook agent in the Bay Area, but luckily I didn’t know that at the time when we spoke a year ago. All I knew was that she had authored her own humorous cookbook and that I liked her immediately.

“I needed to get out of the office so I’m going to walk in the woods while we talk, is that ok?” she said when I picked up the phone. We talked for the better part of an hour, which was amazing as other agents were available for nothing more than a brief email. She told me about another client of hers whose book she felt had sold too early in the game, before the author had a big enough following to let them command more control over the book’s aesthetics. “If we try to sell your book now, we’re going to get a lot of rejections and it won’t be fun.” She essentially told me to keep working on my blog and call her in a year for a state-of-career call. She was encouraging, but it’s hard to hear “not yet.”

Saved by Sandwiches

Devastation mixed with relief as I hung up. I cried. I went back to working full-time on my blog. I made these sandwiches, landed in the ER, and my traffic doubled. I still don’t get it.

I don’t know if it was the sandwiches, but late that fall, a publisher reached out asking me to author a book with them. Danielle said to loop her in if any publishers called so I did, and we had a conference call with the head publisher.  Instead of telling me what book he wanted me to write, he spent half an hour gently questioning me about what I like to cook. I got the feeling that this publisher would be on my team, advocating for my success and supporting my creative vision. When we hung up, Danielle let me know that she was impressed, too.

Cookbook Deal: The Nitty Gritty

The publisher asked me to submit a synopsis about the book concept we’d discussed, then a handful of recipes and sample images, and they eventually made us an offer. The numbers were roughly double what the previous offer had been; it would still be just enough to cover expenses when all was said and done, but it was better. Danielle pointed out that it can be advantageous to take a lowish advance for your first book as it’s easier to “earn out” the advance through sales and begin earning royalties – all of which marks a book as successful in the eyes of most publishers. Only 3 in 10 books succeed in that sense. If your first book isn’t “successful” by these standards, it can be difficult to wrangle another book deal. With a too-high advance, you can be doomed to fail right out of the gate because it will be nigh impossible to earn-out.

This publisher also separated the photography fee from the book advance, which is important for two reasons.

  1.  If the photo fees are rolled into the advance, the book has to earn out that sum as well.
  2. The separate photo deal made me feel like a professional photographer; it was a sign of respect. I could write AND I could shoot, and the publisher had acknowledged that. The other publisher that had made me an offer had rolled the fees into one advance, claiming it made no difference (which wasn’t true); this had given me yet another reason to mistrust the other publisher and ultimately decline the offer.

My publisher is a fairly small operation, but they are distributed by one of the “Big Five” publishers, Macmillan, meaning that the book should get the same distribution (exposure in stores) that a book from a larger publisher would. When I asked Danielle if we should wait for a bigger publisher, she explained that with a big publisher a new author like myself would simply get less one-on-one attention and have less control over the book.

All in all, this seemed like a decent first book experience. I accepted!

Why I Really Said Yes to a Book Deal

Over the past year, I’ve learned that the manner in which I’m treated in a working relationship is equally (if not more) important than cold hard numbers. During my interactions with the first publisher who made me an offer over a year ago, I was a bundle of nerves. I couldn’t put my finger on what bothered me; I felt anxious before every interaction, confused and insecure afterward. Something about his manner just rubbed me the wrong way; we just didn’t click. His nasty side came out when my consultant and I began questioning his contract, and his words turned contemptuous. Writing a book was hard enough, I didn’t want to fight against the very person who should be cheering me on the most! How would I have the energy to do the actual work? I was relieved when the low royalty rate gave me a tangible reason to decline; I just didn’t want to work with this person.

White Peach Prosecco Sangria
Sparkling White Wine Sangria

In contrast, this team treated me with kindness and respect. I feel comfortable asking questions and giving feedback on design details. My agent Danielle is a wealth of knowledge who I’m very grateful to have guiding me through this experience. In all, this team makes me feel valued, and that enables me to do my best work.

sparkling white sangria

A Bookload of Work

I’ve been working on this book since January and let me tell you, it’s a lot! It’s like having 2 full-time jobs (I think – I’ve never even had 1 real full-time job…). Each week I develop, shoot and write 3-4 recipes. Since most recipes take 3 or 4 tries to get right (8 is my record so far for some finicky though insanely tasty cookies), each week is a blur of shopping, baking, shooting, washing dishes (or more frequently, begging Jay to), photo editing, writing, sending recipes out for testing, and lots of exercise to counteract the effects of all the butter. We are drowning in desserts; definitely a first world problem, but still. I actually had a dream the other night that I was trying to do a cleanse but every restaurant I went to tried to make me eat butter.

sparkling sangria recipe

But deep down, past the busyness and schedules and spreadsheets and too much sugar and SO MANY DISHES, I’m all tingly with anticipation. Come next April, I’ll be holding a copy of my very own book filled up with 100+ gems of recipes, each well-tested and flanked by a pretty picture (and hopefully you will too!). I promise to keep you posted through the rest of the process and share as much as I can. Thank you for following along on this journey!

Sparkling Prosecco Sangría

To celebrate all this hullabaloo, I got some flowers and made us some sparkling prosecco sangría full of all my favorite things and inspired by this gorgeous recipe from Feasting at Home. There’s fresh ginger for a bit of zip, St. Germain elderflower liqueur for a punch of flavor, white nectarines whose red skins give the drink a rosy hue, lemon juice and honey for balance, and prosecco, sparkling water, and ice to refresh. This thirst-quenching libation boasts a full-bodied floral taste that is downright intoxicating. Serve it over lots of ice, and be sure to nom those slices of booze-soaked nectarines; they’re the best part.

Looking for more Sangría recipes? Try these:

Looking for more St. Germain Cocktails & Recipes? Try these:

Sparkling Peach Sangria

Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, or Twitter, subscribe to receive new posts via email, or become a sponsor.

White Nectarine Prosecco Sangría with Ginger + Elderflower

Inspired by Feasting at Home’s Peach and Elderflower Sangría

Feel free to use white or yellow peaches or nectarines here. Since fruit and wines vary in sweetness, add more lemon or honey to your taste. Do add the prosecco and sparkling water shortly before serving to retain the bubbles.
Makes 6-8 servings

2 tablespoons mild honey
1/3 cup (35 g) finely chopped fresh ginger
2 medium-sized white nectarines or peaches, chopped
2 medium-sized white nectarines or peaches, sliced
1/4 cup strained lemon juice
1 (750 ml) bottle prosecco or other dry white sparkling wine such as cava, chilled
1 cup St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, chilled
1-2 cups sparkling water, chilled

In a large measuring pitcher, muddle together the honey and chopped ginger until the juices run out of the ginger, 1 minute. Muddle in the chopped nectarines and lemon juice until well crushed. (Alternatively, pulse the mixture in a food processor or with an immersion blender to speed up this process.) Stir in half of the prosecco. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into a large punch bowl or pitcher, pressing on the fruit pulp to extract all the good stuff. Discard the pulp.Add the rest of the prosecco, the St. Germain and the sliced nectarines to the sangría. Taste, adding more lemon juice if you feel the drink it needs it. Add ice and sparkling water to the pitcher, and serve within the hour while the drink is bubbly, ladling it into cups with bits of the fruit.

133 thoughts on “White Nectarine Prosecco Sangría with Ginger & Elderflower, and why I said YES to a cookbook deal (!)”

  1. Congrats on your book deal! And a BIG thank you for being so candid and honest about the book publishing process; writing a cookbook is something that I find myself mulling over a lot, but always shelve after realizing I just don't have the time, resources, or information I need to make it work. That's why posts like these are so important — it really helps demystify such a complicated process!

    1. Thank you so much Michelle!! We'll have to meet up one o' these days and talk shop. A Hummingbird High cookbook would be off the charts awesome!

    1. Oh wow, your stone fruit feast looks amazing! Let me know how you like it with the St. Germain – I love that stuff. Thanks for the kind note!

  2. Woohoo! I'm so excited for you Alanna and SO excited for your book next year. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to love every single recipe in it. Thank you too for the refreshing openness and honesty in your cookbook posts – I'm sure that for many people the whole world of publishing a cookbook seems totally murky and unfathomable so posts like this are so important.

  3. Congrats on the book deal, I love your blog and your photo's are to die for!!! I shall certainly be purchasing. My favourite recipe at the moment is your cardamom and fig breakfast bake, so amazingly delicious!

  4. I will definitely pre-order your book as soon as it's available. I'm glad that you went with your gut and found just the right fit with your agent and publisher.

  5. Hooray!!! I have been waiting for this announcement since our tea date in February, wanting to ask you how things have been going but not wanting to write anything about it publicly until you put it out on here. I'm so so so happy for you, friend! It's going to be an absolute beauty of a book, and I can't wait to hold it in my hands! xoxo

  6. Congratulations. I have made a number of recipes from your blog (you had me at hello Gluten Free Congo Bars), but hadn't read your "About" until today – very interesting so I am subscribing. I am not gluten free but have a number of friends and family who range from Celiac's to gluten free curious so I will be looking forward to seeing it in my inbox and I will be buying your book – your photography is so beautiful.
    Very nice to meet you. I am Cathy

  7. Alanna, truly, no one deserves this more than you do. Your work is impeccable, and I give you so much credit for holding out for the offer you deserve and the publisher that gives you the respect you command for ALL Of your skill sets. Many, many congratulations!! I absolutely can't wait to see the book in all of its glory!

  8. You must and should be proud of yourself, the book deal must be a dream come true. And honestly , there cannot be too many beautiful cook books out there, let alone with tried and tested recipes plus amazing photos (which as we all know isn´t at all true for too many titles). Congratulations on your wonderful success- how fitting we can now all take a sip on a refreshing summer sangria cocktail. Cheers !

  9. Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! (I never use the word gosh actually).

    It took all my willpower not to scroll down here and comment right after I read the words 'and why I said YES to a book deal'. Not only am I happy and excited for you, but most of all glad to hear you are comfortable in this new relationship.

    If you need a recipe tester now that the secret is out, let me know!!

    Except for this one – I had a mealy nectarine experience and am a bit put out.

  10. What an empowering post to read! Thank you so much for sharing your experience so honestly. I wish I was able to work with more respectful people, but finances make it appear virtually impossible to take further risk…your post inspires me to keep looking for a way.

    Really look forward to the cookbook, I know it will be gorgeous and tasty food and photos!

  11. Omg Alanna!!! I'm so excited for you!!! This post was so informational, beautiful, and so interesting!!! Your enthusiasm for cooking really shows through in all of your posts, recipes, and photos. I look forward to all the recipes + photos coming in that book!!! :DDD
    Oh can I just say something about your photos? They're absolutely gorgeous… Every single one! Alllllll those action shots and the final product; I don't know how you do it so beautifully!!!!
    And your recipes? They're all so creative and delicious! It's no wonder that you're writing a cookbook!
    Ug, you're such an inspiration…

    1. Oh my goodness, you are so sweet! Thank you so much for the kind words, Anne! Your blog is fabulous – I'm loving the recipes and photos! Serious kudos!

  12. Congratulations, Alanna! I had an inkling–don't know where it came from–that you were working on a cookbook. Maybe I got the news from your Mom. Anyway, it sounds like it should be a great success. I tell everyone here in Portland that the gluten-free, alternative flour desert deserts you have come up with are just great. The fact that I can't tell them from the best regular-flour deserts (except even better, in most cases), is an indication to me of how good they are. I don't even usually like gluten free deserts! I look forward to the book and will definitely put in for a pre-order.

  13. By the way, I'm really glad you didn't take the earlier book deal. This one sounds much, much better. Working with people who respect you and are really helpful is so important. And the book business can be so cut-throat.

  14. Congratulations!! This post took me about an hour to read, because I read all the other earlier posts you linked to, you have such a beautiful writing style, and your photography is just gorgeous! I can't wait to buy your cookbook and follow along on your journey – thank you for sharing!

  15. I'm with Stephan Tobin! I'm so glad you're working with people who truly respect and appreciate your work. This is wonderful news. Congratulations! Way to be true to yourself <3

  16. Alanna, huge CONGRATS to you!!! I am going to be anxiously awaiting the release of your book. I already can't even wait! So happy to hear you found a publisher that appreciates and respects your beautiful work. Hooray! <3

  17. I'm always happy to hear good news from my blogger friends, but it's extra happy with you because MY WORD, I genuinely cannot wait to get my hands on your book! It's going to be so beautiful. Congrats Alanna! xo

  18. I am absolutely thrilled you got the book deal you felt you could accept, Alanna! Your talent simply needs to be seen and I can't wait to be able to give your books as gifts to my friends. :-) Thank you for sharing your journey so openly. I got an offer a few months ago that I had to turn down. Although it was flattering I knew it wasn't the right publisher for me. Your story makes me believe that maybe one day I can also write a book I would be proud of. xx

  19. I can't wait for this! After taste testing so many of the recipes, I've been dying to have them so I can eat them whenever I want! I'm so excited to see your book on the shelves and hold it in my hands. It's going to be so gorgeous with so many inspiring recipes. Loveeeee! Congrats a bazillion times!!

  20. What exciting news Alanna! Sangria to celebrate is definitely in order ;) Your recipes and photography are beautiful, they deserved to be in printed format – I can't wait to see the finished product xx

  21. Congratulations Alanna!!!!! I am so happy for you!!!! I remember reading that post about you rejecting that book deal and thinking how you did the right thing just because it didn't feel right and you didn't feel good about it. I also knew that with your kind of talent and gorgeous work you do, sooner or later, the right deal will come. And it did yaaay! I am so excited about your book, specially since I changed my diet/lifestyle for health reasons this year and my new blog is slowly taking that shape as well, more oriented to healthier kind of food… Go girl!! :-)

  22. This is so exciting! I could hardly contain myself reading this post — it makes me so happy to know you not only landed a book deal, but landed one you're really happy with (it seems that almost never happens anymore). I can't wait to be holding a copy of your book in my hands. Congrats, congrats! (Also, this cocktail sounds SUPERB. The moment nectarines look ripe here, I am making this!)

  23. Can I just say how EXCITED I am about this book? I am so happy to hear that you found the deal that made you feel comfortable. I cannot wait for next April to get my hands on that book.
    As always, this sangria sounds and looks incredible Alanna. Wishing you all the best of luck.. Cheers!

  24. Can I just say how EXCITED I am about this book? I am so happy to hear that you found the deal that made you feel comfortable. I cannot wait for next April to get my hands on that book.
    As always, this sangria sounds and looks incredible Alanna. Wishing you all the best of luck.. Cheers!

  25. Can I just say how EXCITED I am about this book? I am so happy to hear that you found the deal that made you feel comfortable. I cannot wait for next April to get my hands on that book.
    As always, this sangria sounds and looks incredible Alanna. Wishing you all the best of luck.. Cheers!

  26. Congrats on your book deal, I´m so happy you got one that feels right for you and that you can work with people that are supportive and not trying to push you into something thats not you. I´m so curious what your book will turn out like. Happy writing and baking!

  27. Alanna! I'm so happy for you, and I can't wait to hold your masterpiece in my hands. Thank you for being so bold and honest and forthcoming about your process. It's meant a lot to me as I navigate {somewhat} similar waters. All my love, all the time, xo!

  28. Congratulations, Alanna! Based on the work you've put into your blog, I know your book will be amazing… You should try to come to Toronto when you do a book tour! Also, I'm excited to try the sangria. (I've been hooked on St. Germaine elderflower liqueur since I tried your vieux mot, so it sounds like it will be right up my alley.)

  29. Two things in absolutely the wrong order:
    (1) We love the sangria recipe–I ran out for nectarines the moment I finished the piece because I *knew* it was going to be wonderful–and I do admire and appreciate your continuing devotion to fresh fruit/herbs/everything in food and drink.
    (2) Congratulations on the book deal! It's so great when good things happen to good people! Let us all know when we can pre-order it.

  30. All of us have known for quite sometimes that you are super talented, and now, for a little short while, the rest of the world will know it, too.
    So happy for you, Alanna. Congratulations, my lovely friend :)

  31. First of all: CONGRATS!! <3 <3 we are sure that your book is going to be so beautiful and can´t wait to see it!! and thanks so much for this beautiful post and your honest words. Very interesting and helpful! <3

  32. So deserving! I'm thrilled for you Alanna, and you're right — you can write AND take photographs! You're also a fabulous cook, and wonderful person; so glad to see you in this career milestone.

  33. This is so exciting, and I'm thrilled that an otherwise shaky experience turned out to be worth the wait. I think your listening to your gut was wisdom whispering. Good going, Alanna! And for sharing your journey with us, thank you. Your partnership with your agent and publisher sounds like an excellent match! So looking forward to explore what you've got cookin for us… next April! Yeeeee!! Oh and this Sangria! A delightful way to celebrate an event worth waiting for! Go go go Alanna!!!

  34. Congratulations Alanna! I am so excited for you, and for all of us who will be able to cook from your book next year! Thank you so much for sharing in detail your journey to a book deal. Congratulations again! Let's drink sangria and celebrate!

  35. First of all: congrats!!!!!!! Alanna: you deserve this so, so much! I'm very proud of you and very excited too! Your pictures truly stand out each and every time. And the subject of your book? YES! Big time! I'm so gonna buy one of the first books immediately!

    Also: you can't imagine how much I recognize in this post. It's almost scary. I had the exact same situation with a publisher (two, in fact) a year before and it was so terrible at that time. Afterwards, I'm kind of thankful for the experience, but it was hard back then. And look at me now: I just finished all the texts, recipes and pictures for my cookbook and have a wonderful book team and publisher now. I work closely together with the graphic designer and it's such a joy. It's a bit scary, incredibly tough and intense and so amazing at the same time.

    I love that you're in the same boat and with you all the best of luck. Can't wait to see the end result!!! xoxo

  36. Congratulations! This does sound like a much better situation on all fronts. Super excited to check out the finished product in months to come! And definitely have a couple glasses of this beautiful sangria — it sounds like the perfect way to celebrate.

  37. I'm so happy for you!!! Congratulations!! I knew that when you turned the last one down it would only be a matter of time before the right deal came along for you! You are so talented and I cannot wait to see your finished cookbook!! I will most definitely be getting one! These beautiful drinks look like the perfect way to celebrate :)

  38. HUGE CONGRATS!!!! And thank you for this wonderful and candid post. I cannot wait till you've turned in your final edits and we're reading the woohoo, it's almost over but until then, enjoy this process. You're kicking butt over there right now. :D :D

  39. Mazal tov, felicidades, congratulations!!!! This is such magnificent news! You have truly earned this! I am sure this will be the first of many beautiful published works you will put forward. I can't wait for it to come out! Hopefully in time for Thanksgiving baking ;)

  40. Congratulations!! It sounds like you have the perfect fit with your publisher and it was meant to happen this way. You have the best photos in the blogosphere and I can't wait for the amazingness to come in your book. Any chance your cookbook will also include some dairy-free and egg-free options?

  41. Alannaaaaa!!!!!!!! Congrats! I am really excited about the book (a photo for every recipe is the best!) but, mostly, I'm excited for you. This sounds like an amazing experience and I am so glad that things came to fruition for you in a bigger and better way. I truly cannot wait to hold a copy of your (sure to be) gorgeous book in my hands. CHEERS!!

  42. Yippie!!! Congrats (again ;)) Alanna! Well deserved. Kudos for holding out for something wonderful that felt right. Always listen to that voice inside your head, no matter how maddening. :D Now, may I please fly over for a celebratory sangria, or four!!

  43. Wow, fantastic news and well deserved – congratulations! Thank you for the honest insight into the process. I actually started following your blog with those sandwiches… I think your link was posted on another website which I followed, and loved the story, your writing style and (of course) the recipes…. good luck, and stay sane with all the sugar x

  44. Congrats, your book will be amazing! Your recipes are gorgeous and inspiring. I've only made a few but your chocolate coconut pots de creme were the most delicious things I've ever eaten. Easy-yet-astounding recipes like that are my favorite kind!

  45. Congratulations, I'm so excited for you! It must be very validating to know that waiting was the right choice. Thank you for being so open about your decision – I can't wait to see the book!


  46. It's been a long time since I've commented, but I think I de-lurked the first time when you were weighing your earlier book deal. I'm very excited for you. I read your blog each Saturday with my coffee before heading out to the local farmer's market. I can't wait to slide your name into place on my shelves, or to pull it out and take it to the kitchen. So glad you hung in there and I wish you very good luck with the work of the book!

  47. Oh my gosh, this is such amazing news! Mucho congrats lady! Also, I'm sending you an email to cash in that raincheck! Or perhaps I can just come over and watch you in action/eat desserts? :)

  48. Wow congrats! So happy for you!! Sounds like it was worth the wait to find the right team to work with you. Thanks for this informative post and the previous one about your book offers – so interesting and helpful to hear more about the process!

  49. I never comment on blogs but I made this sangria tonight and it was amazing! I pureed everything in the food processor so it was a fine pulp and it was a huge hit. Couple questions…do you have a winter version of this and I assume for larger portions just double or triple? Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. Aw, well thank you so much for the note – it made my day! :) I'm glad to know that pureeing the sangria worked! Did you strain it afterward?

      I don't have a winter version, but I'll make note of the request and work on one! Maybe with pears and pomegranate? Or some fun citrus like grapefruit! Thanks for the great idea!

  50. Omg Alanna a-way-belated CONGRATULATIONS to you!!!! I'm so happy you decided to take the deal–all the reasons you laid out for taking it make so much sense, but really, I think that gut intuition is the most important. You are SO wise for holding out for the right team to make your book happen and I am so excited to see the beautiful thing when it comes out!!! I will be the first (okay, after your family) to tell EVERYONE I know about it so you can smash your earn out ;) ;) Also, I may be back for a week in mid-August so if you still need help eating your way out of a mound of butter, you know who to call ;)

    1. Erika! Thank you so much for the sweet note! I definitely want to feed you butter when you're back in town, so let's def make that happen. :) :) (Sorry about the previous comment – was using Jay's computer and didn't realize I was leaving a comment as him!)

  51. I am so happy for you – my apologies that it took me this long to come to your post and congratulate you. I can’t wait to read your book. And this sangria – I don’t care if it is Fall already, I shall make it xx

  52. You are amazing. I just found you as I searched for a sauce for some crab cakes ha! Just love your story, your journey and someone living from their truth and heart. How inspiring! What a perfect find on this fine Saturday in Vancouver, BC.

  53. I know I’m late to the party here to finally be reading this blog post, especially since I have your book :)

    I’ve been following along with your photography and recipes but have just recently found myself looking through your archive and reading your posts. Wow, what a refreshing, down-to-earth experience your site and work is. Thank you for so wonderfully sharing this story and so many others. I truly love stopping by your site and am always inspired by you!

    1. Hi Lauren! Aw, thank you for the incredibly kind words – that means a lot to me! Now I’m ravenous after looking at your gorgeous blog. <3 <3 <3

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