• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

The Knight of the Garden Gnomes… #familylife #countyourblessings

For those new to the Swamp, indulge me and allow me to give you a little backstory. (Yes, I’m aware it’s a big no-no to start any story with backstory).

Years ago when our family (Knight, Prankster Duo, Hellhound and me) moved to the Swamp we brought along the Knight’s Garden Gnomes. This brilliant pair had made a life long career of tending and creating the most stunning gardens–one of which was the Knight’s–and the time had come for them to turn the responsibilities over to the rest of the Gnomish population. Their presence in our humble shack was a blessing–the Prankster Duo blossomed with their smiles and laughter, the Hellhound found a new best bud with Mr. Gnome, and our home was complete.

Then, a few years in Mr. Gnome had a run in with the insidious invader cancercraptis, a sneaky band of miscreants who leave much chaos and tears in their wake. Yet, due to the foresight of having the Gnomes move in with the Knight and I, we were able to beat the invaders back and into submission, until it decided to leave the field. Unfortunately, like many battles, there were no guarantees they wouldn’t try again. But we remained vigilant.

A couple more skirmishes broke out. Once they even brought back-up, hoping to interrupt the steady, solid beat of Mr. Gnome’s heart. Again, with speed and some really good herbalists, we kept the gardens of our Gnomes safe. Years passed, and we grew complacent–no sightings of the creepers meant they were scared to come back.

We were wrong.

Recently cancercraptis have found a couple, very small openings to Mr. Gnome. The herbalists recommend a new concoction, one that would be much easier than its harsher sibling, Chem T. The Knight, Mr. and Mrs. Gnome, the Wandering Sister, and I held a council to discuss our options. Majority decision was to try the new elixir.

It sucked.

The ties to its sibling, Chem T., were too close. It wreaked havoc. We told the herbalist, “No more. It’s not worth it.”

The invader is slow moving, enough so you can’t tell when its there, so Mr. Gnome decided he’d rather tend his garden how he wanted, for however long the sun shone and the rain fell. He’d leave it up to Mama Nature to decide how far the weed-like invaders could reach.

Hard as it is to stand by and not torch everything to the ground, just “to be sure”, we continue to honor Mr. Gnome’s wishes.

This week, the herbalist once again adjusted one of his many herbs. This time to help ensure Mr. Gnome’s heart continued its steady pace. Once again the side effects of the new herb were frighteningly horrible. So after a frantic weekend to determine which herb was the culprit, I’m happy to report Mr. Gnome is puttering in his garden. Not quite his normal self, but close enough for horseshoes. Close enough, for us to smile instead of frown.

So the reason for this little tale–I know we hear it all the time. We see it all over social media. But through these ongoing skirmishes, I have come to appreciate all the beautiful blooms each garden presents. The smile of Mr. Gnome when the oldest of the Prankster Duo continues to dip his head for kisses, just like when he was toddling around no higher than my knees (and yes, that’s pretty damn short), even though he now towers over me and the Gnomes. The laughter of my youngest as he practices his foreign tongues with Mrs. Gnome, creating words never meant to be uttered. Or the quiet ember that glows bright when my Knight, leaves behind the daily encounters and with utter patience, talks about everything and nothing, so Mr. and Mrs. Gnome know they are loved and wanted.

When the dragons of duty torch our days or the scoundrels of stress leave us frustrated and furious, remember to take a moment and appreciate the delicate blooms around you.

The 7 Evil Dwarves are back with a new Swamp! #7EDs

On the tail end of our journey through the writing workshops over the last month, I wanted to see if you all have checked out the reswampped home of the 7 Evil Dwarves (www.7evildwarves.com)? We’ve added some new stops.

Since I spent most of June doing writer marketing stuff, release stuff, and setting things into place for the second PSY-IV Team book, I also threw in remodeling my site, which in turn bled over into reswammping the 7ED site. We’ve let the mud creep up over the last few months. Some of the dwarves have huddled inside their shacks refusing to venture out into the common areas, so we as a group decided it was time to get ourselves back in shape. (Okay, yes, maybe I pushed…a little…with a bulldozer…but the results are worth it, right?)

To ensure we stay on track, we set up a new blog schedule. Every day a dwarf will post. Doesn’t matter how long or short, they will post so our visitors know we aren’t a ghost swamp.

We added a page listing all our author interviews (in alpha order, because my CDO kicked in). These interviews are us asking writers we admire questions, so check out the list and feel free to spend some time in the Swamp Guest Archives tab.

You’ll notice we number a bit more than 7, but we have a couple of dwarves who hold honorary positions, so we’re not kicking them out. We each have a page, so take the time to give the hairy eyeball to each one.

There’s a tab–Writings of the Dwarves–this is a must see. Here you will find all our literary accomplishments, along with links to access them. Our goal, to add a few more names and titles by this time next year.

You’ll notice there’s a tab titled, SWAMP TALES. This requires constant checking because we have gathered around the campfire and began a story–just for you readers. Each of us takes a piece in round robin format. Of course, at the time of writing this post, it’s a bit snarly, but I’m sure we’ll find our way out…soon…or else!

Then there’s another page for all those writers out there who are looking for some helpful sites and communities. Doesn’t matter your genre, feel free to click and play.

Take your time, mosey around my place (www.jamigray.com) and check out the first chapter of each book, sign up for my newsletter. (So far, I’ve only sent out one and I’ll probably send one more out later this year, which means, that’s what? Two a year. Shouldn’t crowd your in-box too much.) Then check out the nooks and crannies at the Swamp.

Let us know what’s working, what isn’t, and what you might expect but didn’t find.

 

Welcome Home, Anna Conda

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Greetings and Salutations honorable readers of the blog,

I hope you didn’t miss last week’s blog, Robert Louis Stevenson came for a visit to discuss The Body Snatcher, and The Strange Case Of Dr. Jeckyll And Mr. Hyde. It seems that doctors in fiction are much maligned. There was Dr. Moreau;  from The Island of Dr. Moreau, by H.G.Wells; Dr. Frankenstein; from Mary Shelly’s, Frankenstein; Dr. Herbert West; from H.P. Lovecraft’s, Herbert West Reanimator; and who could forget Dr. Hannibal Lecter, from The Silence of The Lambs, by Thomas Harris. These are but a few of the more renown doctors of horror. There are countless tales of doctors whose experiments have ended badly for people. Sometimes the balance of the world is at stake. That is not to say literature presents all doctors in a negative light, but in the realm of horror when a doctor enters the scene, it’s time to duck and cover. 

Speaking of doctors, please welcome one of the Swamps more celebrated residents Dr. Anna Conda. Anna has starred in such films as Anaconda, Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid, Anaconda 3: The Offspring, and a myriad of National Geographic’s specials. Harvard Law has just bestowed her with an honorary degree for her contribution to maintaining the reputations of snakes everywhere.

“Hey Anna, welcome home. Will you be staying a while or do you have to jet off to another thrilling film location?”

“Thanks for that warm welcome everyone. No Eerie, I won’t be leaving for a while. I’m taking some time off to recuperate.”

“Great, it will be a pleasure having your smiling face around the place for a change. What can you tell us about this honorary degree?”

“I don’t know that much really. My agent called and said something about Harvard Law’s alumni working in Washington D.C. as politicians and lobbyists. Then something about me being a famous snake. The next thing I know, I’m staying in a beautiful suite at The Charles Hotel in Boston.”

“So this had something to do with politicians, lobbyists, and snakes. I see the connection now. Will you be called on to perform any public speaking engagements?”

“My agent said anything of that nature would be negotiated by him. Have you met my agent King Cobra?”

“I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure.”

“Well King, made sure I was treated like royalty during my stay in Boston. They gave the cutest little hat with a tassel and everything.”0511-0703-2014-1738.jpg

“I’m very happy for you. What are you plans for your stay at home?”

“I thought I’d catch up on my water colors. I can never find the time to paint when I travel.”

“I heard they’re having a welcome home party for you over at The Slice Your Own Deli tonight.”

“Yes, I’m very excited to see everyone. I’ve missed you all so much.”

Mischievous Raven appears in a noisy rustle of ebony feathers. “Hey Anna, How you doin‘?” Mischievous tries to arch his eyebrows. (Which is comical if you’ve ever seen a raven be seductive.)

“Hi Mischievous,”Anna, all but purrs, (can a snake purr?) “Are you coming to my party tonight?”

“Wouldn’t miss it, Baby. Maybe you and I can get a little alone time later.”

Anna moves close and wraps around Mischievous. “I’d like that Sugar.”

“Not to tight baby.” Mischievous squirms.

“Sorry Sugar, sometimes my passion gets away from me.”

“Save it for later. I heard Maggot Brain is performing tonight in honor of your return.”

“That’s wonderful. I love their song I”m infected for you? It’s a real mood setter.” Anna puts another wrap on Mischievous.

“I know the one.” Mischievous does a little grind.

“Hey hey, this is a family show, You two ought to get a room.” I use my hat to conceal my eyes.

“I’d better go shed my skin so I’m ready for tonight.” Anna, slithers off.

“Whew, she’s hot.” Mischievous shakes out his rumpled feathers. “I better go.”

“I thought you were going to tell our guests about your visit to the Left Coast?”

“Later, I got things to go, places to see, and people to do, my man. Later.”

Sorry folks, it’ looks like it’s that time again. As is our custom, I leave you with Prince.

“There’s a dark side to everything.”
Prince

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf Aka Dave Benneman

Haunted By Literary Ghosts of Horror

Greetings and Salutations noble readers of the blog,

Tonight we are in the unconsecrated graveyard of the old Catholic Church. If you’ve accompanied me to this location before, you know you are in for a special treat. Tonight’s guest is not specifically known as a horror writer. His vast body of work includes, travel logs, poetry, historical observations, letters, novels and short stories. His best known work is Treasure Island. With no further ado, please give it up for, Robert Louis Stevenson.

“Welcome Robert, please make yourself comfortable.”

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Our guest Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson's Grave on Mt. Vaea Samoa

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Grave on Mt. Vaea Samoa

 

“Thank you so much for having me. My impression was you wanted to talk about my more fanciful work.”

“That’s true, but I can’t begin without first telling you what an impact Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Black Arrow had on me as a boy. I’ve fancied myself a ‘Young Jim Hawkins’ on more than one occasion. Hiding in the apple barrel, or keeping a weather eye out for a seafaring man with one leg.”

“It’s kind of you to say sir.”

“To your point, we here are most interested in your tales as they relate to the unexplained. The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde for example.”

“A most interesting tale of a good man, who in the name of science, commits atrocities.”

“The doctor over reaching is certainly a recurring theme in literature. Mary Shelly’s Dr. Frankenstein is possibly the most well-known.”

“Quite, Mary’s concept of man subjugating the Creator has always been one of my favorites. How I would have relished a summer on Lake Geneva with the likes of Percy and Mary Shelly, Lord Byron, Dr. Pollidori.”

“The good Doctor Jekyll creates an elixir that separates good from evil in a man. Is this a discourse on the dual nature of man?”

“Exactly, it illustrates how our good, tempers our bad, by showing what our natures are like when isolated.”

“Some will point to this story as an example of an individual suffering from mental illness. Dissociative Identity Disorder, Manic Depression, Schizophrenia, and Psychosis are the most closely related diagnosis. Did you know someone who suffered from any of these illnesses?”

“Of course, we all encounter people in our lives who suffer from disorders of the brain. The earliest physicians recognized that there are illnesses that they could label, but not treat.”

“Speaking of doctors.  Dr. Jekyll is not the only antagonist doctor you’ve written about. Of course I’m thinking of Dr. Toddy Macfarlane. The Body Snatcher is one of my favorite short stories. One I often read  when the I’m moved to scare someone.”

“I too, am quite fond of that tale.” His broad smile reaches past his eyes lighting up the night. “‘Did you think me dead? We are not so easily shut of our acquaintance.'”

“Very nice Robert, I don’t suppose you’ve memorized every line of every thing you’ve written.”

“Hardly sir, but at least one telling line from all the fiction to be sure. And much of the poetry. It seems in my current state my faculties have remained sharp. Oh, but if I could only write something from grave, the stories I could tell.”

“What keeps you from it?”

His countenance darkens at my question. “There are powers to be reckoned with. Formal Federations that must be abided. They do not take kindly to one who would disregard their authority.”

“We had a visitor who simply walked away from here into the world of the living. That must be against the rules.”

“Yes, quite, to remark that the regime was distressed by that act of indifference would be to understate the obvious.”

“I’m getting the wrap it sign Robert. Can you stay a while after my guests have gone?”

“I’ll stay until I get the hook as they say on the stage.”

“Wonderful, give me a moment.”

“Folks I suggest you make your way from the cemetery while the spirits are protecting us. Mr. Stevenson has agreed to hang around a while for those who are willing to risk it.”

Next week I expect Mischievous Raven will be back from his business meetings on the left coast. in the interim be safe.

As is our custom, I leave you with this quote.

“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”
― Van Morrison

Writ On,

Eerie Dwarf, AKA Dave Benneman

P.S.

Mr. Stevenson kept us through the night until dawn broke telling tails of his life on Samoa and sailing the South Pacific. I say this as an explanation as to why this did not get posted last night. My apologies for any inconvenience.

E.D.

 

 

The Monastery of The Werewolf Monks

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Greetings and salutations distinguished readers of the blog,

Please keep your voices down some of the intrepid visitors who joined us last week for our adventure into the Impenetrable Forest are still recovering. Sadly some did not complete the trip, but that’s what we call acceptable losses. If everyone made it through it wouldn’t really be dangerous.

last remains of one of our followers after the piranha hummingbird attack.

last remains of one of our followers after the piranha hummingbird attack.

This is the famous monastery of the monastic order of The Werewolf Monks. They have made us feel very welcome. As to the reason we’re visiting, to be honest, they weren’t as much help as I’d hoped. They won’t help with the horde of hungry, shambling, zombies. (I know too many adjectives, but every once in a while you have to cut loose.)So rather than go home to a bunch of angry neighbors, I thought we’d hang out here for a while. Brother Lawrence has agreed to give us a tour.

“Grrrreetings folks and welcome to the monastery, if you’ll all follow me. I hope you don’t mind stairs we have many of them. We’ll start with one of Eerie’s favorite places.”

At the top of the stairs Brother Lawerence opens a narrow wooden door banded with iron straps. Once inside the guests are treated to the stunning three-story library.

“We have books, manuscripts and scrolls that date back to 1,200 years BC. This room for example contains the renaissance period. A most prolific time for men to put their ideas down on paper. For instance we have the largest collection of Leonardo Da Vinci’s work including diagrams of machines that wouldn’t be built for two more centuries. Through that doorway is Eerie’s favorite room of study. It contains writings about vampires, witches, fairies, dragons, trolls, leprechauns, elves, dwarves, and all the creatures that are today thought to be mythological.” 

10404508_814719525212964_1708668224599247983_n“Excuse me Brother Lawrence, but shouldn’t you share these precious works with the rest of the world,” a guest asked.

“Grrrrrrrr, the rest of the world does not deserve these works. Nor would they take them seriously. You would do well to remember you are a guest here.” Brother Lawrence salivates.

I move quickly insinuating myself between my visitor and Brother Lawrence whose nails have already begun grow. “Sorry Brother Lawrence, they mean no harm they are only human. Allowances must be extended.”

“Of course you right, Eerie, but it’s been a while since I’ve fed, and I have no patience for such impudence!”

“Why don’t I finish showing them around?”

“Very well, keep them out of the basement. We’re pressing a fresh crop for the new wines.”

“Yes of course. No basement.”

“Bother Lawrence comes from a long line of Werewolves, his family name is Talbot.”

Folks if you’ll follow me, I show you to the chapel. Down that corridor are the monks sleeping quarters and the room where they take their repast. Silence once we enter the chapel. I’ll answer any questions you have when we leave.” The smell of incense is strong when we enter the chapel. The light passing through the stained glass windows is diffused into rainbows. The altar is simple and dominated by a stone carved into a large table with a depression designed to drain fluids to the end where a collection barrel sits.

“I hope you got a good look at the windows. Each one depicts the many stages of the moon throughout the year. Of course the best known panel is the Blood Moon that dominates the chapel at the center of the altar. The stain glass work dates back to the 12th century.”

“What was that table for on the altar?”

“That is where they prepare the Eucharist.”

“Which is what exactly?”

“You would have to make an application to become a monk and go through years of training before you will learn the secrets of the Holy Sacraments.”

“It looks like–“

“Like we’re almost out of time. This way. Come along. No stragglers please. This is the complimentary wine tasting area and gift shop. Please sample some wines and browse as long as you like. You can purchase any of the wines to take home with you. I’ll see you all next week.”

Whew, I thought that guy would never shut up. It’s been a long day, I think we better wrap it up and I have a wrap it up quote ready for you.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.” H. P. Lovecraft

Write On,

Errie Dwarf  AKA Dave Benneman

 

 

 

 

 

The Impenetrable Forest

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Greetings and Salutations Insightful readers of the blog,

Sorry about the interruption last week. I hope the zombies didn’t eat too many of you as you made your way here. The muses only rounded up 20 of our missing zombies last week. Mischievous is meeting with the producers of The Walking Dead today. He will try to appease them after we shorted the order by 5 zombies. The muses got distracted when they were searching around Dreamer Dwarf’s cottage. It seems the pretty flowers she grows do more than provide a colorful backdrop. Some of them can be ingested for medicinal purposes. The muses aren’t sick mind you, unless using Dreamer’s flowers for recreational use is an illness. In short, last weeks search was abandoned by the muses for more nefarious motives.

Today we will be embarking on a dangerous excursion through the Impenetrable Forest to seek the assistance of the Werewolf Monks. They live in the monastery on the other side of the forest. I hope their extensive library and knowledge can help us with the zombies. Who currently have The Swamp surrounded. They’re scaring away visitors and eating everything in sight.

While in the forest keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. In the event we lose cabin pressure a mask will drop down from the overhead compartment, place the mask over your nose and mouth and… sorry wrong script.

15 YARDS TO THE IMPENETRABLE FOREST TURN BACK NOW

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Pay no attention to that sign. it’s there to scare you away.

10 YARDS TO THE IMPENETRABLE FOREST YOU ARE IN IMMINENT DANGER

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Stay close together now. If you get separated from the group blow the whistle that I handed out earlier.

5 YARDS TO THE IMPENETRABLE FOREST YOUR DEATH AWAITS

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Stay alert it is mating season for the Piranha Hummingbirds, they are especially hungry during this time of year. When the Piranha Hummingbirds attack the only way to identify your remains is through dental records. They pick your skeleton completely clean.

WELCOME TO THE IMPENETRABLE FOREST

WE HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR BRIEF VISIT

HAVE A NICE DAY

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It is most important to be silent as we venture in. The Killer Koalas are vicious, but slow. We will stay in a tight formation. Hold hands with your neighbor. Don’t scream under any circumstances. Human screams drive the Giant Vampire Tarantulas crazy. Does everyone have a partner? Good.

Any questions? Listen up people, the question is, what happens if Killer Koalas attack? If you’re attacked by Killer Koalas, trip the person next to you and run like hell. Don’t Scream.

Next. Don’t worry about The Piranha Hummingbirds. They are to busy finding mates, they shouldn’t be a problem.

All right one more, then we’ve got to go before it’s gets dark. What if someone screams?  Good question. Get down on the forest floor, tuck your head between your legs, and kiss your butt goodbye. If your remains are ever found, a dry husk will be all that’s left. Giant Vampire Tarantulas drain every last drop of moisture from you. Then they use your dried carcass to build there nests. Nothing gets wasted in nature.

Let’s review the rules. Don’t scream. Stay together. Don’t scream. Watch for Piranha Hummingbirds . Don’t scream.

Let’s go I’ll see you all on the other side.

One last thing, this weeks quote, it may be the last.

This one come from Tom Waits. The song Mr. Siegal

“Where they live hard, die young
And have a good lookin’ corpse every time”

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf AKA Dave Benneman

 

 

Free Range Organic Zombies Abound

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Greetings and Salutations most reputable readers of the blog,

(deep, intimidating voice of announcer) Eerie’s message has been preempted for this important announcement from Dave Benneman.

If you are a returning visitor to The 7 Evil Dwarves blog site you are accustomed to the chaos the reigns supreme here. We are a critique group from various backgrounds and experiences. We started our joint blog several years ago on a whim. The idea is to keep fresh content up 7 days a week. The fly in the soup is of course that we have no rules. So on any given week you find discussions about honing the craft, or someone sharing a recent experience at a conference, or it may not be related to writing at all. Our content is as diverse as our group. I say this here to encourage you to keep coming back because I’m certain you will find something for you.

My day is Friday. On Fridays you will join Eerie Dwarf and his ragtag band of misfits on a variety of adventures. This is always written off the cuff with much tongue in cheek, strictly for entertainment. Friday is about getting in touch with the my creative brain and your inner child. I hope you get a an opportunity to laugh out loud at Eerie’s antics. It is all in fun.

Sunday is the day we update Swamp Tales, which is a round robin style story where each writer picks up where the last writer left off. It is total chaos with 7 different styles and voices all steering the story for a few paragraphs. Sometimes we will feature guests who want to toss in their two cents. To check it out, click on the Swamp Tales tab.

Because we are writers and insecure by nature please click like if something tickles you. If you’re really moved leave a comment. When you find yourself dumbstruck, tell your friends. If any of these things happens regularly you might want to become a follower. This is the only way we can learn what you like.

(Announcer, a little less intimidating this time) Now returning to the regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

“I’m coming as fast as I can Mischievous, not all of us were born with wings you know.”

“Not only do you not have wings, you were short-changed in the leg department too. If I were you I’d hire C.Rock Adile to sue for Legligence.” Mischievous flies into a tree he’s laughing so hard. “Ouch, that smarts.”

“It serves you right for making fun of my stature.” Eerie looks up to see his guests have finally arrived. “Oh hello folks. Give us a few minutes there seems to problem with our herd of zombies.”

“Hurry, you can see the corral from here.” Mischievous hops up and down pointing.

Eerie stops in his tracks. “What happened here? Where are the Zombies?”

“I don’t know. They were here last night. This morning I found the gate unlocked.”

“This is terrible.”

“I know I have an order to ship tomorrow for The Walking Dead. Where am I going to get 25 Free Range Organic Zombies (registered Trademark) in time to ship tomorrow.”

“I think your missing the bigger picture. When did you feed them last?”

“Yesterday, why?”

“So we have how many hungry Zombies wandering around.”

“There were 97  yesterday.”

RESERVATIONS SUGGESTED

RESERVATIONS SUGGESTED

“This is bad. This really bad. Go check that new Zombie restaurant that opened last week. If they’re hungry, maybe we’ll catch them there.”

“And what do you propose I do if I find them. Now that they’ve tasted freedom, so to speak, I don’t think they’ll come back because I ask them nicely.”

“You keep an eye on them. I’ll gather the muses. If anyone can get them back in the cages it’s them. Now go. What are you waiting for.”

“Your not getting HER too, are you?” Mischievous’ voice shakes.

“Of course, if Wicked can spare her. Don’t worry, she was kidding about needing a new feather pillow.”

“Maybe the zombies will get the best of her, then I won’t have worry at all. Although I bet she’s too tough for our Free Range Organic Zombies taste.”

“Stop stalling, the sooner we get them back where they belong the better.” Mischievous alights in a rustle of ebony. “As you can see folks we’re kind of busy today. I’ll issue you all free passes to return next week. In the mean time, be careful on your way home. Zombies abound.”

As is our custom on Friday, I leave you with a quote. (some weeks it may be the only thing worth showing up for).

“Let’s do what you fear most
. That from which you recoil
, but which still makes your eyes moist”  Lou Reed

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf AKA Dave Benneman

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to The Swamp

Greetings and Salutations Discerning Readers of the blog,

My sidekick Mischievous Raven said he would join today , but alas, he is either late or not coming. Not unlike his moniker, which he comes by honestly, I’m sure he’s up to no good wherever he is. I thought we’d take a moment and meet some of the other colorful residents of The Swamp. On the right where all the packing boxes are stacked up is the shack of Wicked Dwarf, (whispers conspiratorially) she moves often. I wouldn’t mention it to her though she’s sensitive about her gypsy blood. When she’s not packing or unpacking, she’s chasing down the Prankster Duo, keeping the Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor in check, or writing.

As Jami Gray her Kyn Chronicles will take you behind the curtain where you will discover your sharing the planet with some pretty foreboding creatures. And you thought it was all fairy tales. Shifters, Witches, Fey, and yes, even Demons are walking amongst us. (Even Demons, that’s kind of catchy. But I digress.) Not all of them are good sharers, and that’s where the trouble begins. Within this unsavory group there is an elite squad of Wraiths who police the Kyn community and keep us barely drooling humans safe. When her muse comes calling we generally clear out of the neighborhood. Mischievous is especially frightened of her.

A sudden rustle of wind and a flash of ebony. “Did I hear my name mentioned.”

Ahh, Mischievous, good of you to join us. We’re just doing a little tour.

“Is Her Deadliness here?” He points one quaking wing at Wicked’s door.

No, I don’t think so. Wicked is taking a short break. I’m sure her muse is off sharpening her knives and swords.

“Oh yes, one must keep the tools of the trade sharp, even if that trade is killing things.”

I’m sure you exaggerate.

“I think not, do you remember when she commented on what a lovely black feather boa I would make. Or that time on Troll mountain when she suggested raven stew for dinner.”

She’s probably teasing.

“Uh huh. and the pope wears a spinner beanie. When she teases you about making you less of a man, with that gleam in her eye, while she slides her finger along a shiny blade and then licks blood from the cut, (Mischievous takes a deep breath) Call me. I want to be there.”

Okay I get it. Relax. Say hi to our visitors.

“Hi, have any of you seen a cranky crocodile moping around?” Turning his head 180 degrees he looks back.

What have you done to C.Rock Adile, now?

“Someone had to shut him up. I was at the Slice your own Deli for breakfast and he was going on about how important he is, having worked for the crown and all that. You know what a blowhard he is.”

Yes, but you can’t expect the whole world to be quiet because you were hung over.

“It wasn’t even noon yet. Something had to done, so I slipped a laxative in his Swamp Juice. He suddenly had to go, and go, and go. Hahaha.”

I hope he doesn’t figure out what happened, for your sake.

“He’s always grouching at someone. Speaking of the Deli, today’s dinner special is Toad Tacos.”

We best go then you know how crowded it gets. I guess we’ll continue the tour nest week. Your welcome to join us at the deli for dinner. The Toad Tacos are one of their specialties.

If you’re looking for something to read this summer Check out www.Jami Gray.com

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If you have slogged through all this, may I direct your attention to the SWAMP TALES tab above. Each of the Evil 7 writes a piece of a story picking up where someone else left off.

This weeks quote comes from Jungleland, By Bruce Sringsteen

“And the poets down here
Don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be”

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf AKA Dave Benneman

Ch..ch..changes…

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

–Bob Dylan

So here’s the deal. The morning I signed my second publishing contract with Muse It Up Publishing for HUNTED BY THE PAST (coming Summer 2014) and danced my way into my dearest Starbucks to embark upon my writing day for SHADOW’S CURSE, I got a phone call.

Not the kind of phone call I expected while I was riding high from signing my name to a brand, spankin’ new contract. Nope, this phone call was all about how my life can change in the time it takes a cell phone to ring.

The Knight and I decided to rent our little shack when the Garden Gnomes came to live with us. It’s been great. Unfortunately our Giant landlords have decided they would like to reinvent themselves, sell our shack and continue on another path. 

I’ve got nothing against that, go forth and do what’s best for you and yours. No harm, no foul.

However, now me and mine have three months to relocate. Umm, yeah, if I had any inkling this was coming, I could have prepared better. Instead, I’m now asking sleep to take an extended vacation while I figure out exactly what the Knight and I need to do to get this new adventure under way. 

While we had planned on making a shack our own someday, we hadn’t quite thought we’d be doing it RIGHT FRICKIN’ NOW. 

I’m not a great change person. Change and I argue over things. So for the last couple of days, we’ve been having a hell of an argument.

*Sigh* But I know how it goes, so I’m pulling up my big girl panties, making plans, altering others, and determined to hit deadlines, even if it means mainlining caffeine. 

Guess life was just getting a little too quiet, or I tempted fate once too many times about being able to plan things. 

Time to rock-n-roll.

*heading for the door to scour the neighboring abodes*

Come meet #NYT’s most awesome #RomanticSuspense Authoress @CindyGerard and her edgy, sexy men…. #giveaway #RomSus #THEWAYHOME #BOI #ONEEYEDJACKS

Okay everyone, breathe with me as I try not to hyperventilate from my squees of delight. Today I’m so honored to host the most awesome Cindy Gerard.  If you haven’t discovered her, you must add her to your TBR piles. Not only does she have the fantastic Black Ops, Inc. Series, but her latest group of hotties belong to the One Eyed Jacks. You don’t want to miss out on these great romantic suspense titles!  

And because of how truly fantastic she is, Cindy will be giving away THREE e-book copies of her title WHEN SOMEBODY LOVES YOU to our wonderful audience of commenters! All you have to do is leave a comment here (or over at 7 Evil Dwarves site) sharing your favorite heart pounding moment ( a proposal, your first trip to a haunted house, an interview, first day at school/work), whatever got your pulse rate up!  Will announce our winners on both sites on Nov. 15th!

Put your hands together for Ms. Cindy Gerard!

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If you were to hold a dinner party for six, who would you invite and share at least one question you would have for each? Your guests don’t have to be alive and if you really want to make it fun, you can use favorite fictional characters. 

I would really love to have dinner with all the BOI characters – especially Johnny Reed – and from the One Eyed Jacks series, Mike Primetime Brown.  These guys make me laugh.  And the question I would have for them is:  What do you think of cougars???  :o)

–*giggle*, let me know what their answer is, I might have to stop by at an opportune moment!

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten.  Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?

I was sure I would be a nurse or a veterinarian or an actress, or a singer, or wait … a playwrite.  As you can see, I wanted the whole ball of wax. 

–been there and so cool to see it happen all over again with the boys in my home…

If your character(s) came with a warning label, what would it say?

Warning: anyone tampering with this man (men) are subject to getting caught in the middle of dangerous situations, apt to lose their heart, and will never be the same again.

–sign me up!

If you turned your laptop/computer/pen/typewriter (yes, some of still use these!) over to your character(s), how would they describe you?

Oh dear.  I’m almost afraid to explore that one.  Hopefully they’d say I’m kind and patient and generous but I suspect they’d say I’m bossy, impatient and determined to have my own way.

–yeah, but our characters would get bored if we were nice to them…

Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue (yes classic fan girl behavior).  Who could reduce you to such a level and how do you imagine your initial meeting?

There are many who could prompt an “I’m not worthy” moment.  Lee Child would be one.  LaVryle Spencer would be another.  I would imagine I’d pretty much stand there, starry eyed and stiff as a post, willing some pearl of wisdom to come out of my mouth but stuck, instead with a tongue tied hello.  I suck at hero worship.

–does this mean if I get a chance to meet you in actual person, you’ll forgive me for not being able to provide some witty repartee beyond “Errrppp!”?

Whether we’re plotters or pantsers (outlines not needed), creating our stories takes us on very memorable journeys.  Sometimes we may be part way through before we realize some major aspect of our story is just not working (plot, character, setting).  Have you ever hit this sharp, pointy snag and if so, how did you escape? We’re you battered and bruised or a bloody mess?

Frankly, it’s rare that I don’t hit a snag and I always feel battered and bruised when I finish a book.  There are days when I feel like I’m crawling over broken glass naked just to get a scene right.  I think all authors experience it.  Unfortunately, I think it’s also called: The Creative Process.  It’s unavoidable.  Let’s face it.  If it was easy, anyone could do it. 

–*wipes forehead free of sweat* So guess it doesn’t ever go away, uh? Oh well…

Share one uniquely strange experience you’ve had that remains crystal clear to this day.

A few years ago I visited the Korean War monument in D.C.  I’ve never had such an experience as the sense of reality, pain, cold, and fear that our military men had in that battle field depiction.  The statues were larger than life yet so lifelike in expression I literally felt all of those things as well as the loss they experienced.  Very chilling and very moving.  I stood and cried like a baby.

—I did the same at Pearl Harbor a few years back, so I get it. So hard to stand in the midst of such history and not be impacted…

What is some of the best advice you were ever given?

Be kind to people

What is the best advice you can share with others? 

Be kind to people

—  :0)

Share if you dare, one of your favorite research experiences. Did you join a ghost hunters group? Did you step outside your comfort zone and into the wild world of your characters?

I jumped off a 40 foot cliff into the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon so I could experience what it might feel like if you were running for your life and ran out of room.  And no, I’d never do it again. :o)

–Ok, you win this one, Cindy. No way will I ever be able to top that. I get dizzy at the top of buildings, much less the Grand Canyon…

Now our favorite part–our BULLET LIST…

Blades, guns, fists or feet? 

Food.  It’s a great weapon J

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time? 

Rapunzel

Greatest one liner of all time? 

“Did you ever feel like the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?”  Old lonesome George Gobel

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain? 

Sarcastic Witticism.  For sure :o)

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

 A 90 gallon fresh water aquarium.

Favorite supernatural creature?

I’m holding out for the Lac Ness Monster to be real.

Want a peek into THE WAY HOME! I know you do, so here you go…

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THE WAY HOME – EXCERPT

PROLOGUE

Afghanistan – July

It wasn’t the memory he would have chosen – not when he couldn’t even remember his own name – but he knew that he used to have nightmares about vampires.  Hiding under his bed and in dark closets.  Swooping down on their Dracula wings, sinking their fangs into his neck and sucking out his blood.

How ironic, then, that he’d become a vampire of sorts: a creature who lived in the night, hid from the light, and sucked sustenance as though it were blood from a young Afghani woman who despised him but wouldn’t let him die.  She brought him food, water and medicine.  And opiates that she liberally laced in all three.

He watched her now through an opiate induced haze,  physically incapacitated and totally dependent on her. He knew that her name was Rabia and that shecould ill afford the things she brought for him. He also knew that if he were caught while she harbored the escaped American soldier a horde of Taliban warlords were searching for, not only would he be tortured, interrogated and finally executed, so would she.

So he didn’t know why she continued to help him, but he had no option but to accept it.  Just as he had no choice but to believe what she’d told him in heavily accented English about who he was … because he didn’t remember.  He didn’t remember being an American soldier, or what had happened to him, or how he’d escaped from the Taliban and ended up here.

The panic and anguish that stalked him whenever the opiates wore off were as huge and dark as the cave where she hid him. So he gladly relinquished both to the apathy induced by the poppy. Apathy was painless. Apathy made it tolerable to know that weeks, maybe months of his life were gone. His memories … gone.

Only the vampire dreams remained of who he’d been. And only the woman kept him alive.

He studied her now as she prepared his meal in the dim light of an oil lamp, in a silence that embodied their uneasy and unnatural bond as shifting shadows danced along the curved rock wall and dust swept into the cave on a wind that never quit blowing. He knew scattered words in Pashtu but didn’t know why he knew them. She had a passing command of English but rarely chose to use it. More irony that she represented the one constant in a life that had been reduced to pain, fear and the vertigo that crippled him even more than the opiates.  And he didn’t know whether to thank her for keeping him alive, or hate her.

Moving his head slowly to avoid triggering another vertigo attack, he pulled the ragged blanket around him against the chill of the cave floor.

Because he was too weak to feed himself, he watched her eyes as she offered spoonfuls of lukewarm soup.  He couldn’t see her features beneath the dark scarf she wore over her head and wrapped around her neck to cover her face. He could only see those eyes, onyx black, winter cold and void of any emotion but weary disdain.

It had been the same thing every day for twenty-three days. He’d used a small pebble to scratch a mark on the rock wall every day since he’d regained consciousness.  She would appear wearing dark, baggy trousers beneath an encompassing scarf or burqa that covered her from head to knees completely hiding her body beneath yards of coarse, draping cotton.  The scent of the summer heat and the scorch of the sun that she brought with her were reminders that a world existed outside this cave.  A world that wasn’t dank and dark and cold.  A world that was hostile and foreign and where, she assured him, he was not safe.

For twenty-three days she had been the only soul he’d seen and she had yet to look him directly in the eye.  He wouldn’t recognize her if he saw her on the street.  Not that he would ever leave here. If the pain and the vertigo didn’t keep him flat on his back, the ankle shackle that chained him to the rock wall would. And then there was the poppy.  Who knew how deeply he’d been dragged down that rabbit hole?

Some days – the lucid ones, when he couldn’t fight the fear – he would lie here shivering and wish for death.  When pain ripped through his head, when the dizziness became so crippling it reduced him to lying rigidly still, hugging the rock floor in a desperate and futile attempt to stop the nausea, that’s when despair crushed him. And he would beg her to let him die.

Always, she refused.  She continued to risk all to make certain he stayed alive and he had no idea why.

He knew only that every time she appeared on quiet feet and condemning silence, he felt both shame and gratitude because she hadn’t forgotten him … the way he’d forgotten everything but the need to leave this place that even God had forsaken and find his way back home.

If only he knew where home was.

CHAPTER 1

Northern Minnesota – July

Today, of all days, Jess Albert needed routine. Most days she got it. Shop keeping wasn’t exactly a glamorous, high profile or lucrative occupation. In fact, every day was pretty much a repeat of the day before and the day before that. Little mini ground hogs days stacked up like cord wood one on top of the other.  All that was about to change, however, to the tune of the old bell fixed above the Crossroads General Store’s front door.

“Until tomorrow my little lotus blossom.  Dream of me.”

Jess grinned as one of her regulars, Boots England, delivered his standard good bye, tucked his newspaper under his arm and limped toward the door on his recently replaced knee.

“One of these days Marcia’s going to show up with a shovel and bash one of us over the head if you keep flirting with me like that.”

“Ah, but what’s life without a little danger?”  He wiggled his bushy white eye brows, blew her a kiss and let himself outside on a hot rush of July air to get in his Saab and drive the four miles back to his lakeside cabin for his afternoon nap and his wife of almost fifty years.

The bell above the store’s front door dinged softly behind the irrepressible old flirt, sounding the same as it had since Jess’s father had first set up shop almost fifty years ago. Jess loved the sound of that bell. It was comforting and comfortable, the bedrock of her childhood, as ingrained in her psyche as the scent of sunscreen, bug spray and the cherry nut ice cream she’d already scooped gallons of this summer.

She’d spent her youth playing on the scarred pine floors, eventually working behind the counter and after burning out as an ER trauma nurse, finally taking over the store when her parents had retired and moved to Arizona three years ago. So yeah, she loved the sound of that old bell. She especially loved it because every time it rang it meant business which was good because her quarterly taxes were due soon and, as always, she was a little short on cash.

She also loved it because it meant she had another customer to help keep her mind off the fact that this particular day would be a tough one to get through. She glanced at the framed 8 X 10 photo of her and J.R. that hung on the wall behind the cash register. Suntanned and smiling, their whole lives ahead of them.  And then it wasn’t.  At least it wasn’t for J.R.

He would have been thirty-five today. If he’d been home and not deployed, she would have baked him a cake and some of his buddies on the base would have stopped by and they would have drank a little beer.

But the last birthday J.R. celebrated had been thousands of miles from home.  He’d been thirty-two.  Eight months later, he’d been dead.

“Too late to add these to the bill?”

She looked up at the young father making some last minute purchases before he and his son headed out onto the lake for a week of camping and fishing.  He’d added a map and two black ball caps with Lake Kabetogama embroidered across the bill in red to their growing stack of supplies.

“Not a problem.” She gave him a bright smile and harnessed her attention back to the business at hand.  “Anything else?”

The Crossroads Store was a North woods version of a Wal-mart – on a much smaller and less state of the art scale.  The store had been supplying locals and travelers alike for over eighty years.  You needed boots?  Whiskey?  Bait?  Groceries?  DVD rentals?  Anything you could think of the Crossroads provided.

“Yeah, throw in half a dozen C batteries and we’ll call it good, right, son?”

The boy looked to be around ten with flashing brown eyes and buzz cut blond hair.  He was the image of his father and antsy to start their grand ‘just guys’ adventure.

“Do you think we’ll see a bear?” Equal measures of hope and trepidation peppered the boy’s question.

“It’s a good possibility,” she said, feeding his excitement.  “Last DNR count, over a hundred and fifty black bears called Lake Kabetogama and this part of Voyagers National Park home. Where’re you camping?”

The dad dug into his breast pocket and quickly checked his camping permit. “Blue Fin Bay.”

“Ah.  Then there’s a pretty good chance you might spot one.”

The boy’s eyes grew as big as bobbers.

She couldn’t help but laugh as she continued ringing up their sale.  “Make sure to police your camp site every day and store your food in the bear proof lockers the park service provides.  You’ll be fine.”

The bell rang again in the background.  Jess glanced up from the cash register in time to see a pair of broad shoulders and the back of a baseball cap disappear down the center aisle toward the live bait tanks.

It was a sight she saw dozens of times a day during the summer season.  Another fisherman burning with fishing fever, hoping to get lucky and needing some bait.  Since she was on her own for a while until Kayla Burke, her mainstay summer help, got back from a bank run, she left the newcomer alone to figure out what he wanted while she finished ringing up twenty gallons of gas, a mocha cappuccino, a root beer and the rest of the groceries for the father and son campers.  She gave them directions to Wooden Frog Landing where they could put their boat in and wished them good luck.  Once they’d headed out the door, she decided she’d better check on Mr. Ball Cap.

Wiping her hands on a paper towel and heading out from behind the counter, she nearly tripped over Bear, her twelve week old Labrador pup. The dog was a mass of sleek, glossy black fur, big clumsy feet, and happily thumping tail.  Still fully spent from their run early this morning, Bear had ‘assumed the position’ and napped soundly by her feet.

“No, don’t get up.” She grinned at the oblivious dog and headed down a row of shelves stocked neatly with everything from canned goods to marshmallows to fishing lures, and walked toward the last place she’d seen the top of the ball cap disappear.

“Sorry for the wait.  What can I get you?”

“Not sure.  What do I need to catch the big ones?”

The voice stopped her cold.  And routine, mundane and comfortable shifted to excitement and chaos in one long, heavy heartbeat.  It didn’t matter that the row of stocked shelves hid him.  She knew exactly who was back there.

Tyler Brown.

Holy, holy cow. 

Talk about a blind side.  It had been a year ago February since she’d met this man and exchanged a very few words him.  No way should she have remembered the timber and the pitch of his voice so clearly after … what?  Eighteen months?  Yet she was one hundred percent certain it was him before she hesitantly made the final turn to face him.

“Surprise.”  He smiled, hopeful and expectant and even a little shy.  Coupled with his very large, very striking, and very unexpected presence, it set off a handspring of emotions in her stomach.

“Yeah,” she finally managed, along with a return smile that felt as forced as it felt necessary.  “You could definitely say this is a surprise.  Hello, Ty.”

She started to extend her hand, thought better of it and stuffed it into the back pocket of her shorts.  “Wow.  You’re a long way from home.”

A very long way.  Not merely a long way from Florida.  A long way from his life.  A heck of a long way from a cold winter night when he’d swooped in and out of her life like the storm he’d blown in on. And now here he was, back again.  One of the men who had been in the thick of a dangerous rescue.  A man who had made enough of an initial impression on her that she’d opened up her gun safe to him and three other virtual strangers based on his word alone.

Unable to stop herself, she started at Tyler Brown who looked nothing like J.R. but who she suspected was like him in every other way.  Every way but one.  Ty Brown was alive. J.R. wasn’t.  Her husband had died thousands of miles from home, fighting a war she’d never quite understood, hadn’t truly sanctioned and that she hadn’t been able to keep him from fighting.  Looking at Ty – who’d made her think of J.R. the first time she’d seen him – unsettled her as much as it confused her.  And yes, unfortunately, excited her.

Yup. Her day had gone from mundane to totally bonkers to the tune of a bell above the door.

“So.”  He looked expectant when she stood there. Guess he finally decided one of them needed to say something and since he’d brought this game into play, she was fine with it being him. “Thought I’d do some fishing.”

Florida was no longer surrounded by an ocean full of fish?

Because he had this little ‘if you buy that, I’ve got some farm land in the Sahara desert I’d love to sell you’ smile, she avoided the obvious questions like: What was he really doing here?  And the most damaging one: Why did it seem to matter so much?

“Early July’s not the best time of year.”  Two could play this game. “But I’m told fishing started to pick up a bit this week.”  She pasted on her shopkeeper smile and pretended her world hadn’t been tipped on end.  “You want live bait?”

His grinned, looking both thoughtful and amused, like he knew that she knew he hadn’t come all this way to fish but was willing to play it that way until she got used to the idea. “Live bait.  Yeah, sure.  Why not?  Live bait would be good.”

She moved behind the bubbling minnow tanks, hoping she didn’t appear as off balanced as she felt.  “Got a sale on flathead chubs.”

That spurred a soft chuckle.  “My lucky day.”

She could not look at him because for God sake, live bait had not brought him back to Kabetogama.  Neither had fishing but she wasn’t ready to process that yet.  Head down, she started scooping up minnows.  “Couple dozen do you?”

“I don’t know.  Will a couple dozen do me?”

He was laughing at her now … not unkindly but like he found her entertaining which meant he saw right through her.

Lord, she hoped he didn’t have her figured out.  Or maybe she did.  Then he could tell her exactly what was going on in her head because she didn’t have one solid clue.  Well, maybe one.  There hadn’t been a man in her life since J.R.  And there’d never been a man who triggered the physical reactions this man had at first sight all those months ago.  Reactions he triggered again today.

It had both unsettled and puzzled her that she had experienced such an instant and strong physical reaction to Ty Brown on that very brief first meeting.  But she’d chalked it up to a cold, isolating storm, the threat of imminent danger and a lot of long lonely nights alone in her bed.

But then he’d disappeared from her life as quickly as he’d come in to it.  Which had been good.  Which had been fine.  She’d actually been relieved when he hadn’t called even though he’d said he would – at least that’s what she’d told herself several times since.  She didn’t want to get involved with anyone.  She especially didn’t want to get involved with a man like Tyler Brown who was just like J.R.  Special Ops soldiers, whether active duty or retired, were always warriors.  They would always be the man leading the charge, putting themselves in danger, living for the adrenaline rush and dying for God and country and the guy next to him in the trenches.

She’d lived with that man.  She’d loved and tried to understand that man.  But neither love nor understanding had been enough to keep him home, keep him happy, or keep him alive.

CAN’T WAIT AND WANT TO GET IT NOW? GOOD, LET US LINK YOU…

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