Tag Archives | blogging

Fall Planning, A Special Offer and Off I Go

I’ve been working hard getting clients set for my absence while I’m in France, and I’ve found myself with a bit of time this week. And so I’ve been planning. If there’s one thing I love to do in this life, it is to plan.  Give me a calendar or a planner or a workbook or a template and I’m a happy camper.

When I get home, I’ll have three months left to make my mark on this year. Three short months! And I’ve got tons I want to write, novels, books, blog posts and newsletters.  So in order to accomplish it all, I’m going to need to be organized.  Hence the planning. (Never mind that sometimes I get so enraptured with my planning that I never get to the actual action-taking.)

But here’s the deal.  In all that planning, I know the unexpected will happen. Like people wanting to hire me.  And so I had an idea. (Those are my husband’s most dreaded words in all the world, by the way. Because when I utter them it usually means he’ll be moving furniture or painting walls or digging up a garden bed to create a sculpture garden.) What if I could get an idea who might want to work with me now, to aid me in my planning.

Just think, in the final three months of this year, you could:

–Write the first draft of a novel (Nanowrimo is coming right up)

–Start a blog

–Write and submit article and essay ideas

–Complete a couple of short stories or a novella

–Write a book proposal

The sky’s the limit! Wouldn’t it be great to end this year on a high note, knowing you’ve accomplished your biggest goals? (Because if you are like me, writing is always the biggest goal.)

So, in order to entice you to sign up  and pay, I’m offering a special deal. I’ll add in one session to my one-month package, which brings the total to five sessions, and I’ll add in two session to my three-month, paid-in-advance sessions, bringing the total to 14 freaking sessions! Geez, people, this is  smoking hot deal.

And yes, you are correct, there is a catch.  Because I don’t want to worry about administrative things while I’m in France, to take advantage of this offer, you need to sign up by the end of Labor Day weekend.  That’s midnight, Pacific time on September 5th.  And here’s the other catch: I’m not going to have time to chat with you beforehand. We can communicate via email, but no phone calls. Oh, and one more catch, which is that our coaching will begin in October.

But you can use the sessions any time you want, over as long as you want. And we can work on whatever you want. (For the record, each session is one phone call and me reading up to 20 pages of your work).

Here are the pay buttons. I look forward to working with you!

Three months coaching + two bonus sessions for $1200



One month coaching + one bonus session for $450


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Dire Straits: No Internet for a Week

Yes, you read that headline correctly. I was without internet for a week. One whole freaking week. Of course, as luck would have it, I was out of town for part of that time, but still. Come on.

It started when a car ran into a pole a few blocks away. Sheared the damn thing off, so that the top part of it was dangling from the electrical wire.  Power went out to our entire neighborhood early Friday morning.  Let me tell you, it was downright creepy to awaken before dawn that day and realize there was no fan running, no clock, no glowing lights from the power strip. And most of all–no sound from outside. Nothing. You don’t realize how much noise all our things make until they all go away. I had the oddest feeling that the electrical grid of the whole country had been taken out. But luckily, it was just my zip code. And the power came back on within a couple of hours.

All except the internet.

I can live without the TV, and the landline (which is disconnected anyway). But internet? No way.

Okay, okay, okay.  So I do have a smart phone.  It’s not as if I was totally disconnected from the world. But I am old of a certain age and it turns out I’m lousy at managing my life and my clients and my business from my phone. Really lousy.  Careful as I am to scroll through all my emails, I still miss some. And there’s no way to send attachments from the phone.

I know. Whine, whine, whine.

Anyway, I called Comcast (sorry, I just can’t get used to calling them Xfinity) and scheduled an appointment for the next Wednesday, when I would be back home. So much for all those TV ads I saw while watching The Voice. You know, the ones about how Comcast now schedules evening appointments, when it is convenient for their customers. Ha! Nope, they couldn’t come when hub was home in the evenings. The earliest appointment that I would be home for was quite a few days hence.

I went to the beach for a few days and my husband came home early. Bless his heart, because he was able to download messages (hello, data usage), he thought the internet was back up and so I canceled the appointment.  But, no.  The internet was not back up. It didn’t work at all. Another call to Comcast, and another appointment a few days out.

But! There was hope! Turns out we had an “end-of-life” modem (I swear to you it was only two years old) that had refused to come back on with the rest of its brothers and sisters.  And all we had to do was dash up to the Comcast service center, four minutes away, and get a new one.  At said service center we were assured that all we had to do was plug it in and everything would work again. (Oh, and routers are no longer needed–cool!)

But…you guessed. We plugged it in and everything worked except the internet. Sigh. So I waited until yesterday when the nice cable guy, Ben, came over and hung out and fixed all my things. He even moved my new, improved start-of-life modem/router away from the bedroom where I’m sure it was emitting all kinds of foul vibes while we slept.

So now I have the interwebs again.

Yes, I know this should have been a lovely amount of extra time to work on my rewrite. And it was. Except I still had clients who were expecting responses from me. And emails to answer. And blog posts to write. And dealing with a tech fail takes time, people! But really, I’m whining on the yacht, because: smart phone.

But I thought you might want to know why I’ve not been blogging.  And….I would also like to let you know that after this tale of woe I’m going to need to take to my couch and read for awhile. No, actually, I’ve got to hunker down and get the rewrite finished.

And so I’m taking a brief blogging hiatus.  I’ll be back the week of the 15th.  However, I do send out a newsletter every other week, so if you’re not on my list, sign up over there on the right so you can get it.  I used to do a whole formal ezine thing but lately I’ve just been writing what I call love letters on various writerly topics.  I don’t post them on the blog, so the content is completely different. It comes out Sunday (next one will be August 14th).

Okay? Okay.

Oh, by the way, the France retreat is now full. Woot woot! But we’ll be going again next year, so if you’re interested, do let me know.  Debbie and I are working on a new website for Let’s Go Write and once that is done we’re going to get very official about a mailing list and actually send information out on it, too!

So now I’m going to go work on my rewrite. Actually, I’m going to go have a glass of wine and sit outside and talk to my husband.  Yes, I’m still speaking to him, even though he told me to cancel the first Comcast appointment. I’m not bitter. No, not me.

See you on the 15th.

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Otherwhere: January 16, 2016

6a00d8341cb7f353ef01b7c6cefc78970b-320wiFirst of all, can you believe it is the middle of January already? Geesh, time flies.  I guess being out of town the first week of the month made it fly all the faster.  By the way, my wise meditation teacher has a theory on why we think that time goes faster as we age: because we’ve done the same things so many times that we are doing them mindlessly.  And if we took the time to do them mindfully, time would slow down again. I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly struggling to be more mindful, so this is good impetus.

Anyway, there’s lots going on around the interwebs this month, even if it is January.  When I was a kid, I hated January.  It seemed do depressing and blah after the holidays.  Now I see it differently–and I love it.  The month feels clean and fresh to me, and the unlimited blank canvas of the year stretches before me.   I’m thinking up ideas for books and content, and getting inspired about things I can do.  Accordingly, I’ve got a mixed bag of links today.  (Oh, when do I have anything but a mixed bag? It is just the way my brain works.)

Writing

How to tell if a subplot is leading you astray, by the always-reliable Janice Hardy.

Stealing time.  We all need more of it!

Creating strong female protagonists.  Always a concern of mine.

The importance of play.

How to find the meaning of life through writing.  Victoria Mixon, author of this post, is listed on the link below.  Nice bit of synchronicity.

Larry Brooks on his rabid belief in story structure.  He will hunt you down and kill you if you don’t follow his method exactly. Or at least that’s how his writing comes off.  He drives me nuts, but he does make some good points, though his bombastic voice often makes me resist his advice.

A list of the best writing blogs.  Some of these are very familiar to me (and probably you), but others, not so much. I can’t quite figure out why they refer to all of them as “copywriting” blogs, though.  Ah well, its a great reference.

Marketing

Creating your author brand.  This relates four easy steps to take. I like.

How to boost your freelance income with a blog.

Making money from your poetry.  I’m still dubious, but the article has some good ideas.

Guilty Pleasures/Time Sucks

I’m in love with a mad Russian and his name is Eugene Kaspersky.  He’s the head of an international cyber-security firm and he flies around the world in his spare time, which is always.  Goes to obscure places (Kamchatka, anyone?) and takes tons of great photos, which he accompanies with wry commentary.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got.  Have a great weekend and share any great links, writing-related or otherwise, you might come across–including your very own blog!

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Otherwhere: Only One Day Late This Week!

It appears that Christmas is kicking my ass.  Appears that way, because it feels like I’ve been crazy xmas_christmas_miniature_109097_lbusy, so busy that I’ve not collected my usual round-up of links.  But I’m not running around shopping like crazy because I refuse to spend time in malls and do most of it online.  And I gave up writing Christmas cards years ago.  I do, however, decorate the house and spend tons of time with family.  This past weekend we rode the Holiday Express train in the pouring rain, which is a blast.  And today we’re celebrating the four-year-old’s birthday with corn dogs and mac and cheese. And let us not forget the cheese cake I made last night that has so much cream cheese and peanut butter in it that it weighs ten pounds, I swear.  You so want to come to dinner now, don’t you?

Anyway, I didn’t save links for you but I decided that I could still do my weekly Otherwhere post by sharing some of my favorite places on the web and you can go soak up all the richness of them yourself.   So here we go:

Writing

Writer Unboxed is a blog written by a variety of people, some better than others, but it is always worth checking out.

Jane Friedman always has the inside scoop on publishing.

Janice Hardy writes Fiction University.  I think she publishes every day, which is astounding, especially because her posts are usually full of useful information on writing.

For you freelancers, Anne Wayman’s long-running blog About Freelance Writing has a bunch of great stuff, always.

Food

I just discovered Center Cut Cook and have founds some great recipes on this blog.  The author of it has her hands full with a husband suffering from cancer and a child with a serious medical problem so I always click on a few ads while I’m there.

I’ve been reading Kath Eats Real Food for years, and I’m not quite sure why because the constant perfection of the author gets a bit wearying.  But I do like her take on healthy food, so…

Okay, you really have to have a taste for rich food to follow The Pioneer Woman.  She’s become an industry onto herself with product lines at Walmart and a Food Network show, but I like her photos of the cattle on the ranch.

Knitting and Stitching

Of course I couldn’t resist adding a few under this category.

There’s Mason-Dixon Knitting, which just started up again after a few month’s absence.

And I love Fringe Association.  She’s got fabulous items in her store.

Alabama Chanin speaks for itself. Swoon.

And Sublime Stitching always has interesting things going on.

Farming

Yes, farming.  I’m a confirmed city girl, but I love reading about people mucking about in the mud.  I really only have one favorite under this category and that is:

Celi’s The Kitchen Garden. She runs a small family farm in Illinois and blogs daily, with tons of photos.  I marvel at her energy and fortitude and live very vicariously through her blog.  Though I’d love to go stay in her cabin and write for a week or two some time.

General

Oh, there’s BuzzFeed, which is aimed at a demographic much younger than me as far as I can tell, but I enjoy it anyway.  Sometimes their stories make me howl with laughter and that’s a great thing in anyone’s world.

And there’s Brain Pickings, which is an incredible weekly labor of love.

And Jezebel, also for younger women than me, but hey, I write women’s fiction, I need to know what’s going on in the minds of the younger generation. (Having a daughter and a daughter-in-law helps, too.)

Okay, honestly, I didn’t expect the list to get this out of control.  I’ve got more, but I’ll spare you and myself.  In the meantime, what are your go-to blogs?

Image by Jeff Belmonte, from Every Stock Photo.

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While She Was Out

PrintshopI grew up partially in my Dad's printing plant.  One of the many things I loved about that was hanging out in the front office, which was cleaner and more organized than the rest of the shop, but not by much.  And one of the best things about the office was the office supplies.  I particularly loved the pads of paper headlined "While You Were Out" with handy pre-printed lines to write the message on. I LOVED those pads.  

Alas, they did not survive.  But check out the photo to the left of some simple scratch pads that did. The business itself did not survive the onset on computerized printing in the eighties, and went bankrupt.  Tough times.  But I digress.

Because the point is that I will be out.  Overseas. Across the pond. Gone fishing.  Whatever.  It is time for the annual Let's Go Write workshop in France, this year in Collioure.  Last year, I think I actually managed to post once or twice, but maybe I just made that up.  It might well happen this year, too.  

But I have also made provisions for while I am out.  I have lined up a couple of fun oldie but goodie posts from the archives, written and scheduled a couple of new ones, and also created a couple of link posts that I think you'll like, drawing on the eight years of content (and 1266 posts) from this blog. So there you have it.  All will not be lost.  There will be a dim shadow of a Charlotte here.

But, alas, I've put the Inventive Writing Prompt blog and weekly posts on hiatus until I get back. But don't despair.  As of this writing, there are 392 prompts there, so that ought to keep you busy for awhile.

One more thing–don't forget that my Get Your Novel Written Now class starts in October, and I've extended the early bird registration until I get back so go SIGN UP NOW.

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Forced, Kicking and Screaming, To a New Blog Design

Drawing-sketch-doodles-339634-lYou may have noticed something slightly different upon landing here today.  Yeah, that's right, I've got a new blog design.

This was not entirely my choice.  I've known for quite some time that my old design looked dated and it is one of my goals for this year to update it and redesign it.  But 2015 has been a whirlwind, and I'm now working on rewrite #2 for my agent, and THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER. So in my thinking, the blog re-design could wait.  

But the Google Gods had other plans for me.  Apparently, by the end of this month, if you have a blog or website that is not responsive (i.e., not configured to be easily read on a tablet or smartphone), you are going to the bottom of the Google search engine heap.  And Google has always been good to me, so I didn't want that to happen.

In truth, I would have been blissfully unaware of all of this, were it not for my most amazing and wonderful VA, Elizabeth Jackson.  (VA stands for Virtual Assistant.  Its the best invention ever. Elizabeth lives in Spain and I live in Portland, but we work together nearly every day.) Somehow, she knows this stuff.  And then she figures out how to deal with it and save me from the wrath of Google.

So here we are with a new design.  I will tell you straight out that it is not my favorite, but it will do for now. Once I have a chance to sort things out in my brain and figure out what I really want, it will change again.  But that won't be for awhile.  

What do you think? Like it or hate it?  Are you changing your blog design to be responsive?

Image by Dan4th.

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A Blog Update

If you've tried to access my blog in the last few days you might have had issues.   That's because Typepad experienced a massive DOS attack.  Yeah, I had to look it up, too–DOS means Denial of Service. Apparently, the cyber thugs send huge amounts of traffic to a site and then ask for a ransom to make it stop.  When the site pays the ransom, they do it again–and ask for more.  As far as I know, Typepad was not dumb enough to pay a ransom, but they paid the price in other ways.

It started last Thursday when blogs went down.  They came back up and we thought all was well. Friday morning, down again.  Back up, only to go down on Saturday.  This was repeated on Sunday and Monday until finally on Monday they went down for the count.  I only just got my blog back today (Tuesday) around 3 PM.

I have to say, it was weird not having my blog up.  After seven years of blogging, it has been one of my steadiest companions, and to have it suddenly inaccessible felt very strange.  But I also knew that Typepad was doing all that it could to deal with the situation.  Let me just say–I've been told for years I should migrate to WordPress and stubbornly refused.  I like Typepad.  They are host to some of the most beautiful blogs on the interwebs.  When I started blogging, nobody had heard of WordPress.  I liked Typepad then and I like Typepad now.  I'm familiar with the interface, and I like the fact that if I need help I get it promptly and cheerfully.  So I'm not changing.

Here's one of the cool results of this situation: I've made some fabulous new blogging friends.  A bunch of us hung out on Twitter on the #typepadstatus thread and consoled each other and tweeted back and forth and that was a lot of fun.  Of course, there were also the folks who demanded immediate access and to know what was going on–geez, people, entitled much?  Honestly, it wasn't Typepad's fault.

So I'm back.  Yay!  Thanks for those of you who tweeted or emailed–I so appreciate you!  I'm here for the duration and I'm not switching to WordPress, even though, as Seth Godin says, all the cool kids tell me to. 

Thanks, Typepad.  And thanks to you, my loyal readers for hanging in there!  

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Winners of the Birthday Giveaway! (With an Explanation and a Question)

File0001840689115Before I reveal the three winners of the birthday giveaway, an explanation and a question.

The Explanation

When I started this project seven years ago, it was the style to name your blog. (It still is, to a certain degree at least.)  So I came up with the idea for the name Wordstrumpet.  Inspired by one of my favorite blogs at the time, the Yarn Harlot, I thought that combining "word" and "strumpet" would signify that I was a lush for writing.

Turns out lots of people don't know about strumpets.  No, a strumpet is not a sweet delicacy, but rather a wanton woman (so perhaps some might indeed call her a sweet delicacy).  Oh, and that reminds me–my original tagline was "wanton for words."  Geesh, that's cute.  And I'd forgotten it until now.

And then, because I put the two words together, another unexpected thing happened.  People also called it Words Trumpet.  As in, trumpeting your words for all to hear.  This became a delightful surprise and never bothered me when people mis-read it.  Hey, it worked both ways, right?

(I'm pretty sure you can assign deep psychological meaning to how people read the name, what each person sees in it. You Words Trumpet people–clean and sparkly brains.  Wordstrumpet folks–not even going there.)

But then a couple of years in I realized I needed to brand myself and that using the title Wordstrumpet, however you read it, was not doing that.  So I changed the name to Charlotte Rains Dixon.  (When the blog got redesigned, there was supposed to be a tiny Wordstrumpet in the corner of the banner, but that got lost somehow.) 

The Question

Funny, though, some people still think of this blog as Wordstrumpet.  And its awkward, when people ask me the name of my blog to say, "Charlotte Rains Dixon."  Its root name is still Wordstrumpet and since that is its birth name, I'm fond of it.  (I'm wanton like that.)

Over the next few months, I'm planning to do some freshening up of the place and so here's my question:

Should I go back to calling the blog Wordstrumpet?  Or should I keep it as it is, Charlotte Rains Dixon?

If I decide to do this, it would probably read something like "Charlotte Rains Dixon's Wordstrumpet" in the banner.  Too much?  Good idea?  (Bear in mind name recognition is a good thing, a very good thing, when it comes to selling books.)

The Winners

Okay, thank you for taking time with my self-indulgent questions.  I know you only read this far to find out who won (chosen by random name generator), and here you go:

Walter Ruggieri--25 page manuscript review

Maureen Lee–Digital download of Emma Jean's Bad Behavior

Leigh Lauck–Signed copy of Emma Jean's Bad Behavior

Please email me at wordstrumpet@gmail.com with the words Contest Winner in the subject line and we'll make arrangements for the giving of the gifts.

And please, leave a comment, answering my question. I'd love to hear your opinion!

Photo by aconant.

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7 Things About Writing I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Blogging (With Giveaway!)

Birthday_party_celebration_261267_lSo, this week (yesterday, to be exact) is the seven year anniversary of my blog. Yep, I've been at this game for 7 years! I'm amazed, too, in some ways, and in other ways, not. Because from the minute I started blogging all those years ago I felt comfortable in this medium.  Sure, there have been times when I've lapsed in my posting (though surprisingly not all that often) and times when I was certain I'd never think of another thing to say about writing or the writing life.  But clearly I've recovered from those periods, because, well, here I am.

In my family we celebrate everything, so I think we need a Wordstrumpet birthday celebration, don't you? To that end, I'm giving away a few prizes which you'll have to read to the end to find out about. And in the meantime, I'll share with you what I've learned about writing in the past 7 years–because in many ways I feel I've come into my own as a writer as I've written this blog.  And I'm quite sure the two are not coincidental.

By the way, before we get started, you can read my first blog post here.

Okay, let's get on with it.  Here we go:

7 Things I've Learned About Writing

 1.  Let it Rip.  As mentioned above, blogging has turned out to be a natural medium for me.  Once I get an idea for a post, I rarely am blocked over it.  Most often, I just start writing and let it flow.  And flow it does.  This has spilled over into my other writing, too.  I find it far easier these days to throw words at the page, glumping them out so I can come back and rewrite them later.

2.  Not Everything is Perfect.  I've written over a thousand posts these past seven years and some of them are not that great.  A lot of them are really good, though–or at least I think they are!  When you're writing a lot of words, you are not always going to hit it out of the park and you'll drive yourself crazy if you try.  I'm not advocating you write crap, far from it.  Just loosen up on your standards a bit in order to get the words on the page.  

3.  It's All About Connection.  You guys–my loyal readers–are what keep me going and keep me writing posts.  I love the comments you leave, which always had immeasurably to the topic.  I love connecting with you!  And when you think about it, that's the essence of writing, isn't it?  Writing is a loop.  We put words on the page expecting somebody to read them, which is why we're all so obsessed with publishing.  The popular image of writers is of us in the ivory tower, all alone, writing, but I believe we desperately need connection.

4.  Social Media is Not a Waste of Time.  (And Twitter is about far more than what people ate for lunch.) I've met many people whose friendship I treasure on Twitter and through blogging.  We read and comment on each other's posts, support each other's book launches, and cheer each other on through all kinds of life events.  I've made business connections and hired people through Twitter. And I've even sold some books.  So don't shy away from using social media to build your author platform.  You can read a post I wrote about it here.

5. You've Got to Put Yourself Out There.  This is hard.  At least, I think it is.  You've got to get your work to a certain point and then let it go and let it seek its own place in the world.  Blogging has taught me how to put myself out in the world over and over and over again and bear the response, good or bad.  True story: when I first started my blog I told people about it but then told them not to look at it, because I was too nervous about what they'd think! Truly, I believe that fearing rejection (by our tribe, not agents and publishers)is such a primal response that we often refrain from putting our work in the world.

6.  Authenticity is Key.  This is, of course, closely related to #5.  You've got to put yourself out there as your own authentic self.  Because, you know, everybody else is taken.  

7.  Everything is Related to Writing.  When I started this blog, I had vague ideas of covering writing.  And then, as it developed, I realized I talked a lot about the writing life–how we writers move through our days, how we get inspired or blocked, what happens when we travel or new babies (in my case, grandchildren) come into our lives and suddenly everything changes.  And so I started writing about all of that.  And somewhere along the line, I realized, if you are a writer, the writing life encompasses everything–because everything is related to writing.  Period.

Okay, that's that.  And now onto the part you read all this way for: the presents!  Here they are:

–A signed print copy of my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.  (Makes a lovely gift if you already have a copy).

–A digital download of my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.

–A critique of your work–up to 25 pages.

Here's what you must do to enter: leave a comment telling me what you've learned in your writing lately (or over the last 7 years).  I will draw names randomly on Friday, April 4th, and announce the winners that day.

And truly, thank you all for reading and leaving comments and emailing me and supporting me in a million ways.  I treasure each one of you.

Photo by foobean01.

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Call For Guest Posts

I'm going to be away the last week in April (at the Diamond writing retreat I'm co-leading) and the first week of May (in Maui, for a spiritual retreat with the women of my church.)

The Diamond retreat is at an old hotel that was once a stagecoach stop that does not have Wi-Fi or cell phone service, but the good news is that there 's a traveler's stop a few miles away that does.

The Maui retreat has no Wi-Fi.  Gulp.  I'll be without my computer for a week.  This is like saying I'll be without my arm for a week. 

But the point of all this is that I am going to have two weeks away from blogging.  And so I have had an idea.  I'm calling for guest posts.  I'm really interested in anything you have to say, but I'd especially like it if you wrote on this topic:

A Day in the Life of A Writer (or if you're an artist or creative, that's fine, too). 

Here's an example of what I mean in this post I wrote a few years ago.

I'm fascinated when I get to peek into the daily lives of other writers, and I think my readers will be, too. 

If you'd like to participate, email me at charlotte@charlotterainsdixon.com, putting GUEST POST in the subject line and I'll fill you in on the details.

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