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Author Spotlight—Meet Stephanie Collins


Happy Love Month! I can’t think of a better way of spreading love than by sharing my love of reading and writing with you.  So, today, I am sharing with you a fellow author, hard-working mother of four, loving wife, and the unsuspecting author of a true medical drama/unconventional love story called With Angel’s Wings.  Stephanie is a member of Rave Writers – International Society of Authors (RWISA). Join me in welcoming award-winning author Stephanie Collins and learn more about this amazing gal in our interview. ~Bette A. Stevens
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Stephanie Collins, author of award-winning memoir With Angel Wings

Welcome, Stephanie Collins. How long have you been writing?

I began writing therapeutically in 1996. It was sometime around 2010 when I started seriously considering turning those writings into a book.

How many books have you authored?

I never intended to be an author at all. As I said, I wrote therapeutically through some rough times in my life, and later turned that into my one and only book—With Angel’s Wings.

Do you have a writing schedule?

I’ve been asked a number of times to write a sequel. That project doesn’t feel right to me, so I “compromised,” and write a monthly blog that acts as something of a continuation to the book’s epilogue. Writing once a month feels like a comfortable pace. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic, and the length of time between posts gives me plenty of time to find a new, interesting subject matter to focus on.

You’re a member of RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA). Why do you think you were accepted into this exclusive group?

I was accepted into RWISA because I didn’t have a lot to do with the writing process. I am in awe of REAL authors. I wrote a memoir. I didn’t have to come up with a plot or a storyline. I didn’t have to worry about character development or believable dialogue. Someone with a much higher pay grade (and apparently a rather twisted sense of humor) took care of all that for me. I just had to play my role, then honestly and accurately document what happened. Now, living it…THAT was a challenge. Writing it down was a relative walk in the park. Heck, I didn’t even have to have good grammar; I had a great editor for that!

Modesty aside, what separates your writing from the millions of other writers in the world?

In all seriousness, what sets our story apart is the story, itself; not my writing. It’s all about the content. I’m not the star of my book (as a character or as the author), it’s the circumstances I and the rest of my family faced. Having a compelling, intriguing and thought-provoking story that demonstrates humanity (at its best or worst…or, better yet, a little of both) and touches the reader’s heart—that’s what can make a story great. Like I said, I am in awe of fiction authors when they can create that for us readers. As an author I was “lucky” enough to have all of that taken care of for me. I guess you could say I had the best writer of all on my staff! I WILL take credit for finding a great editor before I ever shared our story with anyone. That’s advice I’ll give to EVERY author. Find. A. Good. Editor!

If you could spend a day picking the brain of one author, who would that be? Why?

There are a number of authors I’d love to sit and chat with. I’m a romance junkie, and something of a history buff, so I’d have a particularly great time talking with any historical romance author who has done extensive research. One that comes to mind (off the top of my head) is Pamela Clare, who wrote a historical romance trilogy that had to do with the origins of the US Rangers. The love stories were great, but I was fascinated by the history of the Rangers, and would love to chat further about all she learned in her research.

Are you a die-hard INDIE writer who loves having complete control of your work, or, if you were offered a publishing contract today, would you sign on the dotted line?

I’m a fan of being an indie author. I’m a bit of a control freak (and by “a bit” I mean JUST shy of obsessive/compulsive), so I guess it fits my personality. I started off with a small publisher (who was also my editor). We were a great team, I learned a lot from her, and was happy to begin my publication journey with her. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor about a year after we published, so she had to sell her business. The woman who bought the business was NOT at the same level as the woman she had bought the business from. To make a long story short, I fired her and went solo. I have LOVED being an indie author. I don’t know that I would have been so successful as an indie author without the lessons I learned from my publisher, so I’m thankful for that experience, but I can’t imagine ever accepting a publishing deal in the future.

As an author, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years I hope to be pretty much where I am now as an author. I set out to educate people about some realities of special needs parenting. I think I’m rather successful in getting the message out there. If I’m still reaching new people in five years, I’ll be ecstatic.

What is the ONE tool that has been the most beneficial tool in the marketing of your books?

My marketing “plan” heavily relies on social media. It has been an AMAZING marketing tool…at JUST the right price! Twitter has been, by far, the most useful tool for me, but I try to keep up with multiple pages (mostly Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest).

Name one writer that you know of, member or non-member of RRBC, who you feel should be added to the RWISA Roster of elite members? Why?

I read Amie O’Brien’s “The Merchant’s Pearl” months ago, and I still find myself thinking about the story. It was a unique, memorable, and touching read. I can’t think of better qualifiers for mention, recognition, and addition to the RWISA library.

What is the one piece of advice that you could share that would be most valuable for those aspiring to not only be writers, but those aspiring to be great writers?

Write with your heart. If it doesn’t reach you it won’t reach your readers. Then find a good editor.

Do you believe that writers who churn out several books a year are really putting out quality work?

I’ve never paid too close attention to the publication dates of the series I’ve read (or multiple stand-alone books by a single author), so I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer that question. I’ve certainly read books that felt rushed (lack of editing, “shallow” plots, etc.), but I don’t know if that was due to rushing, neglect, or lack of writing talent (or some special combination of the three).

If you had promised your fans a book by a certain date only to find that your book wasn’t the best it could be, would you go ahead and publish your book just to meet that self-imposed deadline and deliver as promised, or, would you disappoint your fans and shelve the book until it was absolutely ready? No matter your reason, please explain why?

I wouldn’t want my name attached to anything that is less than the best I feel it can be. That has actually happened in the past, and I’m still horrified. I had my book translated to Spanish. It was a reputable agency and the translator had a good track record. The book was in Spanish, though, and I’m not fluent in Spanish. I just assumed it was fine and I published it. Not long after publication (and THANKFULLY before I made any sales) I had a friend from Madrid and another friend from Mexico City read a sample. Both women said it was a horrible translation. I immediately pulled the book off the market. After some legal intervention, the translation agency gave me the choice of a few new translators to re-translate the book. I chose a gentleman who I felt would do the best job. He finished the translation months ago, and—despite the fact both of the women who read samples from the previous translation have given it a thumb’s up, I hesitate to put it back on the market until I can find at least one more person to check it over.

In your opinion, what makes a book “a great book?”

A “great book” is one that the reader thoroughly enjoys reading. What might have been a “great book” to you last week might not be this week, because last week you were in a different mood. A book that you’re not enjoying today you may enjoy next month. There are things that, in my opinion, make books more difficult or frustrating to read (editing concerns, proofreading concerns, inconsistencies in the story, etc.), but I don’t think there’s anything specific that makes a story “great.” Reading is subjective—even to a single reader. I read “great books” as a kid that I’m sure I would roll my eyes through today, wondering what I was thinking to ever consider it a “great read.” So, I guess you could say what makes a book “great” is the perfect combination of content and current reader mindset.

If you received a review of your book which stated that there were editing & proofing “issues,” what’s the first thing you would do? And the second?

I have occasionally been alerted to typo’s in my book and I, of course, made the corrections as soon as I could. That process is much easier now that I’m independently published. With other issues mentioned, however, I carefully consider what is said. I recently received a review that suggested I get the book re-edited because the reader didn’t care for the amount of inner dialogue included. I respect and value the reader’s opinion, but I don’t think I will act upon that particular suggestion. I have received reviews that specifically commend the quality of editing, and others who specifically mention their appreciation for the inner dialogue. I think you have to balance out what is truly an editing issue and what is reader preference. Certainly, if you see a trend in reader feedback, you should seriously consider making adjustments. You can’t please everyone, though, so—to some extent—you have to follow your heart.

with-angel-wing-cover-for-rwisa-tourWhy You Need to Face Down the Fear of Publishing a Memoir by Stephanie Collins

In what felt like the blink of an eye, I went from being a young woman wrestling with a temperamental marriage to a single mother of an asthmatic, autistic toddler and an epileptic infant in heart failure. There was suddenly an overabundance of OMG moments, WTH moments, and “Hold my head in my hands in utter disbelief while I try to just breathe through it” moments. I began writing therapeutically.

Then other people (specifically nurses and therapists) began to read what I had written, and urged me to share our story, insisting it would be helpful to other special needs families. I wanted to help others if I could, but my heart was laid bare over those pages, and I feared judgement—as a writer, as a woman, and scariest of all—as a mother. After years of similar feedback, however, I decided to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and offer my exposed, bleeding soul to the world.

I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the generally supportive response from readers. Here is why I am thankful to have been talked into publication, and why others with important stories to share should work through whatever fears of judgement they may have: A mother in of a special needs, medically fragile toddler reached out to me via social media about 2 years ago. She said, “I recently stumbled upon your book. Reading it gave me hope that things will get better when hope is hard to come by. Also, before reading it, I never felt understood. I’ve ordered 3 more copies to give to family and friends. I’m hoping if they read about you, they’ll better understand me. Thank you so much!” Now, tell me; could there be any bigger reward for taking a leap of faith than that?

Find out more Stephanie Collins, take a look inside her award-winning memoir and follow her:

Thank you for supporting our RWISA (RAVE WRITERS-INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Members!  Please follow and support the entire tour by visiting 4WillsPub~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

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HOLIDAY SALE! 5✰ Historical Fiction by Bette A. Stevens—Only 99¢ for a Limited Time


dbs-99%c2%a2-limited-time-2016

“Stevens’ skill with dialect also makes this book unique. She doesn’t overdo it, but lets it flow like spring water or rain in the forest.
~ Mary Clark, author

Dog Bone Soup by Bette A. Stevens (Historical Fiction/Ages 11-Adult) set in rural New England—only 99¢ for a Limited Time at YOUR AMAZON http://bit.ly/1HGpCsZ.

This 1950s and 60s coming-of-age novel (ages 11-adult) has been likened to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn by more than one reviewer. You’ll find Mary Clark’s complete review below.

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The Finer Spirit

“This is a wonderfully engaging and thought-provoking story. Bette Stevens’ young boy growing up in poverty in 1960s America, reminds me of another child, adrift on a raft on a mighty river, and the issues illuminated by that author of social stigma, individual resilience, and integrity. Huckleberry Finn is also poor and an outsider, and yet becomes a symbol for the equality of all humanity, and the finer spirit in all of us, in Mark Twain’s hands. I felt a similar quality in Stevens’ distinctive book.

“Stevens’ skill with dialect also makes this book unique. She doesn’t overdo it, but lets it flow like spring water or rain in the forest. Her descriptions take you into the scene and the characters’ minds. I felt I was in the family’s cabin, fishing by the river, riding a bike into town, being bullied and ostracized, and ashamed of a parent’s bad behavior. This book is a rare treat. I highly recommend it.” ~ Mary Clark, author

 Happy Holidays & Happy Reading!

It’s the perfect time of year to download a copy for you—and to gift a copy or two to those readers who are special to youDOG BONE SOUP by Bette A. Stevens—for only 99¢ for a Limited Time at YOUR AMAZON http://bit.ly/1HGpCsZ. You’ll be glad you did!

About the author

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of Monarch butterflies—an endangered species (and for milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Stevens is the author of AMAZING MATILDA, an award-winning picture book; The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!, a home/school resource  incorporating hands-on math and writing; and PURE TRASH, the short story prequel to her début novel, DOG BONE SOUP, a Boomer’s coming-of-age story set in 1950s and 60s New England.

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A #FREE BOOK for YOU to download thru November 29—It’s “PURE TRASH” by Bette A. Stevens


pt-free-ebook-limited-time (Excerpt from latest of 47 reviews)

Pure Trash is Pure Gold

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“Bette Stevens’s ‘Pure Trash’ is a quick and delightful read. It’s the story of a nine-year-old boy named Shawn, whose family is poor, and whose father is an alcoholic. On account of this unfortunate combination, he and his younger brother Willie are scorned throughout the community.

“This little story employs excellent mid-twentieth century dialogue, making you feel like you’re a part of the sleepy little town the author has invited you to. It begins with a lighthearted feeling: two young boys off to enjoy a carefree Saturday. But, as the story progresses, we’re faced [with]the harsher realities of the world: cruelty and judgment, and unfairness on account of things that people can’t even control…”
~ C.M. Blackwood

Read the entire review, take a “Look Inside” the book and download your complimentary copy of PURE TRASH from author Bette A. Stevens. It’s #FREE from November 25 through November 29, 2016 on YOUR AMAZON at http://amzn.to/1T5tMAZ

ABOUT THE BOOK

PURE TRASH by Maine author Bette A. Stevens (Ages 11-adult) In this short story adventure set in New England in the 1950s, two young boys set out on a Saturday adventure you won’t want to miss! Experience the joy of a carefree Saturday and the blistering pain of feeling not quite good enough as you hop on a bike and ride into town with two delightful young boys who find adventure at every turn. Shawn and Willie Daniels live in the woods with no indoor water or plumbing. Dad spends most of his hard-earned money on beer. Prejudice, class division, alcoholism, poverty, injustice, and bullying are cleverly woven into this 1950s adventure short. PURE TRASH is the short story prequel to DOG BONE SOUP, Stevens’s début novel DOG BONE SOUP. 

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The Countdown’s On—DOG BONE SOUP by Bette A. Stevens ONLY 99¢ through November 28


“Stevens’ skill with dialect also makes this book unique. She doesn’t overdo it, but lets it flow like spring water or rain in the forest.

Dog Bone Soup by Bette A. Stevens is available for only 99¢ beginning on Black Friday (November 25th) through Cyber Monday (November 28th).  This 1950s and 60s coming-of-age novel (ages 11-adult) has been likened to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn by more than one reviewer. You’ll find one of those reviews below.

Grab a copy…or two…or more of Dog Bone Soup while the Countdown’s on at YOUR AMAZON http://bit.ly/1HGpCsZ. You’ll be glad you did!

dbs-a-remarkable-taleThe Finer Spirit

“This is a wonderfully engaging and thought-provoking story. Bette Stevens’ young boy growing up in poverty in 1960s America, reminds me of another child, adrift on a raft on a mighty river, and the issues illuminated by that author of social stigma, individual resilience, and integrity. Huckleberry Finn is also poor and an outsider, and yet becomes a symbol for the equality of all humanity, and the finer spirit in all of us, in Mark Twain’s hands. I felt a similar quality in Stevens’ distinctive book.

“Stevens’ skill with dialect also makes this book unique. She doesn’t overdo it, but lets it flow like spring water or rain in the forest. Her descriptions take you into the scene and the characters’ minds. I felt I was in the family’s cabin, fishing by the river, riding a bike into town, being bullied and ostracized, and ashamed of a parent’s bad behavior. This book is a rare treat. I highly recommend it.” ~ Mary Clark, author

About the author

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of Monarch butterflies—an endangered species (and for milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Stevens is the author of AMAZING MATILDA, an award-winning picture book; The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!, a home/school resource  incorporating hands-on math and writing; and PURE TRASH, the short story prequel to her début novel, DOG BONE SOUP, a Boomer’s coming-of-age story set in 1950s and 60s New England.

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Thank You, Jim Trelease! – The Power of Reading Aloud to Children


Invest in our future…
READ to a CHILD today! ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Oxford Tutoring

Picture copy.jpg My son, Matt, reading to my four grandchildren.

Reading aloud to my four children is one of the fondest memories I have of their growing up years.  They are all adults now with their own families and busy lives, but I have wonderful memories of cuddling on the couch with them, reading stories together, watching their eyes light up as we traveled to other lands and other times through story.

As a teacher, reading to my children seemed a natural part of the parenting process.  Even when they were babies, they would sit on my lap as we enjoyed books like Pat the Bunny.  As they grew older, we graduated to story books.  Some were fairy tales, some were Bible stories, but all were chances to bond together over printed word. They had their favorites that they asked to be read to them over and over and over. We went…

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NEW RELEASE: “The Truth She Knew” by J. A. Owenby


Looking for an unforgettable contemporary fiction read? I’m delighted to introduce you to J.A. Owenby and give you a peek into the first novel in her “Truth” series.

ibe-jao-ttsk-cover-ebook-the-truth-she-knewGripping Page-turner!

The Truth She Knew by J.A. Owenby is the compelling story of a young woman torn between loyalty to an abusive, controlling, mentally ill mother and her desire to find love and seek out a life of her own. This gripping page–turner brings light to the darkness of a secretly dysfunctional family and takes the reader through a journey they will not soon forget—a journey through the plight of the victims of those affected by the mentally ill. Owenby skillfully weaves a poignant story of first love into the protagonist’s plight. I look forward to reading more from this talented writer. Highly recommended for readers age 18+. ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

Book blurb

Mama didn’t want me. In fact, she would’ve traded my soul back for someone different if God would’ve let her, but he didn’t, so she was stuck with me.

For eighteen-year-old Lacey, life at home is a roller coaster. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be good enough to truly deserve Mama’s love.

But when Lacey enters college and meets Walker, everything starts to change. Suddenly, Lacey is face to face with the realization that maybe what she’s always seen as normal really isn’t. Her entire life—and everything she’s ever believed about herself and her family—is abruptly hanging in midair.

Lacey is left facing two paths, and she has to make a choice. The first means walking away from everything she’s ever known. The other means never really knowing the truth.

The Truth She Knew offers an honest and powerful glimpse into mental illness, the meaning of true love, and the psychological waltz that a daughter dances as she endures her mother’s unpredictable emotions, manipulation, and abuse.

Excerpt

I leaned on the table and propped my chin on my hand.

“I’m dating someone.” I couldn’t control the grin that spread across my face. The Joker had nothing on me.

“Whaaat? Who? When? Where? Fill me in!” she squealed as she set her sandwich down, picked up her drink, and situated herself to hear the full story.

“Well, there’s not a lot to tell, but his name is Walker. I met him at Joss’s party last month and we’ve gone out for three weeks, and . . . he’s gorgeous, Emma!”

She leaned farther across the table and her eyes widened as I told her how we met at the party, Tammy’s rude attempt to distract him, the repercussions of Walker calling after 9 p.m., and our first few dates.

“First of all, Lacey Anne Beaumont, you’re in big trouble for holding out on me,” she said, waving her finger at me.

“I’m sorry, I just didn’t want to say anything until I knew it was real. And, I haven’t seen you to tell you,” I said.

Emma leaned back in her chair and bolted upright again.

“Holy crap, Lacey, your mom doesn’t have any idea?”

“No! Dammit, Emma, what am I going to do?” I asked and slumped in my chair.

“Well, so far he sounds acceptable, but in order to fully support this relationship I need to meet this Walker Farren. Second, I do not want to be anywhere close by when you tell your mom you’re dating him. She does not respond well to you dating. Granted, your last choice was complete gutter material, but maybe this one’s different.” She took a sip of her iced tea.

“Emma, I’m in trouble. I shouldn’t be with him, but I like him, and I mean really like him. He’s different—there’s something special about him.”

“Well, good grief, don’t knock it. Who cares why as long as he’s good to you? And who says you’re in trouble? Because your mom says you make bad choices? Well, the last one wasn’t a hit by any means, but that doesn’t mean you’re not capable of having a good boyfriend in your life. Besides, everyone knows she hates men.”

“Emma! I don’t want to talk about this again,” I said. A frown crept across my face at how quickly the conversation had turned in an uncomfortable direction.

Author Bio

J.A. Owenby lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats.

Owenby is the published author of six short stories, and she is working on her second full-length novel. She also runs her own business as a professional resume writer and interview coach—helping people find jobs they love.

J.A. is an avid reader of thrillers, romance, new adult, and young adult novels. She loves music, movies, and good wine. And call her crazy, but she loves the rainy Pacific Northwest; she gets her best story ideas while listening to the rain pattering against the windows in front of the fireplace.

You can follow the progress of her upcoming novel on Facebook at Author J.A. Owenby, on Twitter @jaowenby, and her website at www.jaowenby.com.

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“Soup for the soul” It’s DOG BONE SOUP by Bette A. Stevens—ONLY 99¢ thru SEPT 3rd!


DOG BONE SOUP—a poignant family drama and coming of age story by Bette A Stevens—takes readers on an incredible journey through 1950s and 60s rural America.

DBS 99¢ Limited TOM SAWYER & HUCKLEBERRY“Adventures and misadventures to the likes of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry…” ~Frank Scozzari, author

DOG BONE SOUP by Bette A. Stevens
99¢ SALE
: Aug 28–Sept 3, 2016

Grab a copy today at YOUR AMAZON http://viewauthor.at/BetteAStevens

Take a step back in time to “The Good Old Days” with protagonist Shawn Daniels as he encounters the challenges and experiences the glories of growing up poor in an era when many families were living the American Dream.

“Shawn Daniels and his siblings shake off extreme poverty, hunger, a dilapidated homestead and a drunken father, to somehow embark upon an idyllic childhood. Bette A. Stevens has crafted a remarkable tale of hope and happiness in the face of despair.” —Charles Bray (Founder of the Indietribe, a body dedicated to supporting self-published authors http://www.theindietribe.com)

Book Description

Shawn Daniels isn’t your typical American boomer boy. Shawn is a poor boy and his father is the town drunk. Shawn’s family has no indoor plumbing or running water, but they do have a TV. After all, Dad deserves the rewards of his labor. Meanwhile, Shawn and his brother Willie keep the firewood cut and stacked, haul in water for cooking and cleaning and do all that needs to doing around the ramshackle place they call home. But when chores are done, these resourceful kids set out on boundless adventures that don’t cost a dime.

On a bitter New England day in 1964, Shawn is on his way to boot camp to soak up the southern sun and strike out on a new adventure—in a place where he believes it’s possible to make his dreams come true. Find out where this Boomer’s been and where he’s going in DOG BONE SOUP.

DOG BONE SOUP, A Boomer’s Journey by Bette A. Stevens
Available at YOUR AMAZON http://bit.ly/1HGpCsZ

Author Bio

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies—an endangered species (and milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Stevens is the author of AMAZING MATILDA, an award-winning picture book; The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!, a home/school resource incorporating hands-on math and writing; and PURE TRASH, the short story prequel to her début novel, DOG BONE SOUP, a Boomer’s coming of age story.

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