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Viewing Blog: Anne Marie Pace's Journal, Most Recent at Top
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1. It has arrived at my house . . . and it's coming to your fave bookstore July 23!


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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover by Anne Marie Pace

Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover

by Anne Marie Pace

Giveaway ends July 23, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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3. The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop celebrates what writers are working on or what they have coming up next. Welcome to my stop!

I was tagged by my dear friend from the 2004 Highlights Foundation Workshop at Chautauqua, Kami Kinard, who is the author of THE BOY PROJECT. Last week she posted her Next Big Thing here and tagged me. I usually have several projects going on at any given time, so I'll write today about the book I'm closest to finishing.

1: What is the working title of your book? VAMPIRINA BALLERINA HOSTS A SLEEPOVER

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? When Hyperion asked for a sequel to VAMPIRINA BALLERINA, I brainstormed a list of possible scenarios, and then together with illustrator LeUyen Pham and our editor Kevin Lewis, we chose the sleepover idea.

3: What genre does your book come under? Picture book.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Gosh, I really haven't thought about that. Some readers have commented that Vampirina's family resembles the Addams family. All I know is that Vampirina is much, much sweeter than Wednesday Addams!

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Having become good friends with the dancers from her ballet class, Vampirina invites the whole crew to the castle to spend the night!

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? The book is being published in July by Disney-Hyperion. My agent is Linda Pratt of the Wernick & Pratt Agency.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The first draft took about 20 minutes, but there have been about 40 revisions since then!

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Some people seem to put VAMPIRINA BALLERINA on lists of Halloween books even though it really isn't a Halloween book, and I assume that may happen again. I did see a post from one reader who compared it to IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE. Let me know if you figure that out.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? I wanted a book that would include all of Vampirina's new friends. A sleepover seemed like an obvious way to get them together. As my editor pointed out, in the first book, Vampirina enters her (human) friends' world. In this book, they enter hers.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? I think Vampirina has multiple points of entry: it's got vampires (and mummies and bats and skeletons), dancing, friendship, humor and fabulous art from LeUyen Pham.

Thanks for checking out what I'm working on! Another great friend, Madelyn Rosenberg, has allowed me to tag her for next week: Check out her Next Big Thing on Wednesday, March 6!

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It has been a number of months now since my fabulous agent Linda Pratt told me that Disney Jr. might be interested in the option for television rights of VAMPIRINA BALLERINA. So for months, I've just smiled gratefully and bit my lip whenever a friend mentioned that VAMPIRINA might make a cute animated show.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the term "option," a quick definition: it doesn't meant VAMPIRINA BALLERINA is going to be a TV show. It means that Disney Jr. has the right to develop it if they wish, within a certain amount of time, and that we can't allow anyone else the rights to develop it.

I am so appreciative of all that my agent Linda Pratt and film agent Eddie Gamarra have done to bring this to fruition.

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5. My Best Friends, a scrapbook by Vampirina Ballerina

This little project was, for me, a celebration of dancing and of good friends. I especially enjoyed putting in all the pictures of little girls who dressed as Vampirina for Halloween--but remember, Vampirina dances all year long.

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6. Talking with the wee ones . . .

Yesterday I visited Foundations Child Development Center. I had planned to read to the three-year-old classes and the pre-Kindergarten. But when the toddler teachers asked if I'd read to their students, too, how could I say no? Of course, I've read to toddlers before, but always in a mixed-age group, where there'd be older kids to ask and answer questions.

But what to say to a group of only toddlers? The concepts of "author and illustrator" or "feeling embarrassed" or "practice, practice, practice" would be way above their heads. Of course, I knew that if nothing else, I could just read, but I wanted to do more.

Luckily, I found my answer in the book. The book cover is pretty obviously three colors: pink, white and black. So color became Impromptu Theme One. And in the line, "Remember to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed," I found Impromptu Theme Two: body parts.

At the end of the reading, we stood up to pliƩ and pirouette. THAT was a hit.


Thanks, Foundations, for a terrific visit with some adorable kids!!

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7. The day after Halloween . . .

When I was writing it, it never for a second occurred to me that VAMPIRINA BALLERINA was a Halloween book. Sure, it's about a vampire, but to me, it was always a ballet book.

That said, I'm absolutely tickled to hear that little girls dressed up as Vampirina for Halloween. Here are some photos:


VB2 pic


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8. What Ten Years Brings: Mid-Atlantic SCBWI 2012

This past weekend, I headed to Northern Virginia for my yearly trek to the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI conference. I wasn't speaking this year, but I was on the critique faculty. I like this; it gives me a chance to do something I think can be really useful, and it lets me meet new people.

Of course, the new people, the talks and panels, and the general atmosphere are a draw, but the biggest draw is seeing the friends I've been making over the last ten years. Yep, this was my 10 year anniversary of SCBWI-conference-going.

My first year, I sat alone the whole day. I enjoyed it, but I was definitely alone as I listened to authorities like Barry Goldblatt and Stephanie Lurie. The next year, I volunteered. And the friends started coming, in a trickle at first, but then conference after conference, year after year, I started collecting my peeps. And now, going to Mid-Atlantic SCBWI is like coming home.

Best of all, though, was a moment I didn't expect, a moment that left me teary and pulled at my chest. Karen Cushman was scheduled for the keynote, but an accident left her unable to come at the last minute and the conference organizers asked my bestie NBA-winning-author Kathryn Erskine to reprise her speech from last winter's NY SCBWI conference. Kathy was her usual charming and funny self as she flipped through her Powerpoint presentation on FOCUS. And then it happened. At the end of the presentation, she had a slideshow set up of book covers. A random person in the audience might have thought they were random book covers, or perhaps, some of Kathy's favorite books. But I knew better. Kathy was posting the covers of our friends' books, all published in, yes, the last ten years. There were books from Kristy Dempsey, Linda Urban, Loree Griffin Burns, Moira Donahue, Katy Duffield, Madelyn Rosenberg, Julie Swanson, Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren, Alma Fullerton, Sara Lewis Holmes . . . too many to list. Ten years ago, none of us were published. And now we are. You can see why I teared up.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Kathy, right before she went on for her keynote:

Linda Budzinski, Natalie Lorenzi, me, Laura Lowman Murray

Me and Madelyn Rosenberg

Agent Tina Dubois Wexler and her client, my friend Sara Lewis Holmes

Sara, me and Kathy

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9. Vampirina's in the NYTimes!


Check her out on pages 5 and 6 along with some other great monster books!

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10. Good news!

I've known this for a while, but I've been given leave to make it public now.

LeUyen Pham and I are working on a sequel to VAMPIRINA BALLERINA, tentatively titled VAMPIRINA HOLDS A SLEEPOVER. Yep, our favorite vampire ballerina has lots of new friends and she wants to invite them to the castle for a party. Will there be pizza? Will there be pillow fights? Will there be dancing?

You betcha!

Let the good times roll!

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11. Little Tidbits that Make Me Smile

1. thatgirlygirl was in a dance store the other day and her daughter overheard a little girl saying she was going to be Vampirina for Halloween. How cool is that! If you want to be Vampirina yourself, here's a link to a document that explains how to make her headband:



2. I was interviewed by a couple of our LJ compatriots. Here are the links, one to Debbi Michiko Florence's blog DEBtastic Reads, and one to Cynsations!



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12. Five for Friday

1. My oldest is registered to vote, and excited to be voting for the first time in a Presidential election year. I voted for the first time in 1983. I don't think I had a very interesting ballot, but it was a ballot and it mattered.

2. I'm watching something on HGTV called "Kitchen Cousins." I'm such a sucker for these shows in which a deserving family has their house redone. I want my house redone! (Oh, yeah, we did it ourselves. Mostly.)

3. I had lunch with author friends Kathy Erskine and Meg Medina at a little inn in Charlottesville this week. Mmmmmm. It was lovely to have a little break in the middle of the day with lovely company and delicious food.

4. I've been busy with Writer Life this week, but it's all been the business side, not the actual writing. Next week--back to the WIP. Summer is over and it's time to write again.

5. VAMPIRINA BALLERINA got very nice reviews from the Horn Book, Booklist and Children's Literature Comprehensive Database. :)

And now the commercial is over . . . back to Kitchen Cousins. I really hope the homeowners like green.

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13. Surprise of the week . . .

Out of curiosity, I started a thread on Verla's yesterday about how-much-is-too-much when it comes to book talk, particularly about one's own recently-released book. I had decided not to post this picture on Facebook because it seemed like overkill, even though I'm rather tickled by it. Several people asked to see it so I figure I'll post it here.

A college friend found VAMPIRINA at Neiman-Marcus, which I never would have expected, since I know Neiman-Marcus mainly for their fabulous and unaffordable shoes, not their children's section.

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On the topic of how-much-is-too-much, the Stupendous Mike Jung said it quite well: "My central rule of thumb about my public presence has always been to do it in a way that I enjoy, and if people are turned off/uninterested/irritated/etc. by it, it's absolutely their prerogative to disengage with me to whatever degree they see fit. Right now, I feel very celebratory, and I don't believe there's anything objectively wrong with the way I go about celebrating. Other people might have their own very subjective reactions and choose to unfriend/unfollow/ignore me, and I don't believe there's anything objectively wrong with that either."

For the rest of the thread, if you're interested, see here: http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php?topic=64112

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14. I survived! And I think I had fun!

More than anything, Saturday's launch party for VAMPIRINA BALLERINA is a blur to me. We had a lovely turnout, with lots of kids, which is really what I wanted. And any number of those little girls came in tutus or other dance wear (or put on the dress-up tutus and capes made by my friend Jessica Wiseman), and as you'll see below, we even had one fully-costumed Vampirina herself!

Some highlights that stand out from the blur:

1. The cupcake table. Isn't it gorgeous? My sister and her family decorated them.


2. Bringing together old and new friends. As you'd expect, friends from the pool and school and church came. But we also had two writers from Verla's come, whom I'd not met before: Jennifer Downey and Rebecca Barnhouse. That was awesome.

3. My photographers seemed to take more pictures of this adorable little ballerina than of any other. I wonder why?


4. Having a real-live Vampirina. I knew this particular little friend would probably dress up, but I had no idea how far she'd take it. Doesn't she look fabulous? And to top it off, she lost a tooth!


When we're talking blurs, the last hour of the party is definitely the blurriest part. I rented a ballet studio and its lobby, and the book signing was in the lobby, but the FUN stuff was in the studio. We had Pin the Spider on the Web, Dance Party, a Photo Booth, Rubber Ducky toss (I had one black vampire and four white mummy rubber ducks, mimicking the dance class in Vampirina, who perform SWAN LAKE). I think it was crazy-fun--BUT I didn't see any of it. I hope someone sends me pictures soon.

You know, I almost didn't have this party. I wasn't sure I could pull it off, and I wasn't sure it was an efficient use of my time. As a mom of four, I try to choose my projects wisely. But sometime in May, I threw up my hands and said, "What the hey!" And I did it. And I'm glad. Vampirina only gets one debut.

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The last time I posted was on August 7, the day VAMPIRINA BALLERINA was published. I called August 7 her birthday, but today really feels like her birthday, because today is the launch party.

I have had this idea in my head about the launch party for months. Dream big, I thought, and then I could scale down. At one point, I had abandoned my plans altogether, feeling like I couldn't pull it off, and if I couldn't pull it off, I didn't want to do it at all. Having a a couple of more typical book signings somewhere and going out for ice cream with my kids would suffice. Well, I thought better of that idea. And in the end, I didn't scale down too much, and it seems like it's going to happen.

I've rented a ballet studio. We have a dance teacher and dance music. We have games and crafts. And my sister decorated 200 cupcakes. Yes, 200--because there are something like 150 RSVPs.

I feel excited and nervous and overwhelmed--but mostly HAPPY.

I will take pictures and report back in the next few days, if I don't collapse from it all.

In the meantime, since most of you reading this live too far away to drop in, you can celebrate along with me by entering the Goodreads giveaway.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace

Vampirina Ballerina

by Anne Marie Pace

Giveaway ends September 07, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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16. Today's the day . . .

I thought it was tomorrow. I knew Vampirina's birthday was August 7, but I thought August 7 was on Wednesday. I counted wrong. (Hey, I'm a writer, not a mathematician.) When newport2newport pointed this out to me, I was floored.

I've been floored all along, really, that the ballerina how-to parody I envisioned in the summer of 2010 has evolved as it has. LeUyen Pham, you are beyond amazing. Every time I open the book, I find another example of your brilliance and your attention to detail. Kevin Lewis, thank you for your vision. Stephanie Lurie and everyone at Disney-Hyperion, thank you for your support. Thank you to my writer friends--on LJ, Verla's, Facebook, and most especially, SCBWI, my Charlottesville critique group, and my online group, the Funky Ducklings/Writing Retreat.

Finally, the book is dedicated to two Lindas, my agent Linda Pratt and my friend Linda Urban lurban. As Vampirina says, "Even without wings, you can leap higher than you think." When I felt wingless, my Lindas helped me soar.

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17. Things I've been doing this summer

Aside from sleeping, I think the activity taking up more of my time than any other is driving, and not anywhere fun! With two teens working and two younger ones with activities and friends, I drive-drive-drive all the time. I've also been doing a lot of decluttering. We are reorganizing some of the rooms in the house, which is a good time to sort unwanted stuff.

Okay, so that's dull.

Some better stuff:

helping my friend Jessica make tutus and capes (yes, for VAMPIRINA's friends!)
ordering Vampirina tattoos
finding one of Vampirina's mom's shirts at L.L. Bean and ordering one for myself to wear to events
figuring out cheap ways to make Vampirina's hair bow (it is so cute!)
planning a party!! Vampirina loves to dance, you know!!

Re the book launch: I really only sent invitations to people who have a reasonable chance of coming, so I didn't publicize much outside Virginia. But if you live in New Hampshire or Florida, and you really want to come, you are invited. Just e me for details. Yes, Virginia is hot in summer, but we have Monticello. It's not a bad road trip destination, as road trips go.

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18. Teachers Write!

Most of you diehard LJ folks probably know about Kate Messner's ambitious and excellent Teachers Write! camp that she's holding this summer on her blog.

I appreciated the chance to write a mini-lesson on one of my favorite topics, reading to write. (I did my master's thesis on writing to learn--maybe I just like that construction.)

Anyway, here's the link if you're interested:


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Dear Tennis Coach:

Since tennis begins at 8 a.m., emails that tell us tennis is cancelled because of the weather are more helpful if they come at 7:45 instead of 9:30.


Not Angry, Just Helpful

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20. Five for Friday -- CREPS

In high school, one of my social studies teachers taught us the initialism CREPS, standing for culture, religion, economics, politics, social. When you are writing about a historical event or movement, she wanted us to be sure to take into account those areas. So here is a CREPS Friday Five.

1. CULTURE. After watching the Tonys Sunday night, I rediscovered the amazing musical theater available on YouTube. I now have an ear worm of Hugh Jackman's 2005 Tony performance of "Not the Boy Next Door," that cannot be overcome, even by Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," the previous ear worm.

2. RELIGION. I've been thrilled to get the occasional Facebook updates from our youth minister as she has braved the wilds of Queens, NY, with a group of our youth, including my second daughter. In all the uploaded FB photos, C appears to be happy. I can't imagine picking up trash in parks is making her happy, so I guess it's something more intangible. Either way, I can't wait to see her this evening and hear the details of the trip.

3. ECONOMICS. My recent high school graduate started her post-school job today. She had a part-time job in Massachusetts, so it's not her first job, but it's the job that she will probably stay at for a while. So far, so good.

4. POLITICS. Um, geez. I don't want to go there. I will say that there was an interesting discussion on the Blue Boards this week about "blurb politics" that made me glad picture books generally don't get blurbed. :)

5. SOCIAL. If you look at "social" as parties, I have nothing to say. But if you think of it as "Anne Marie getting to see people in the outside world," then this week, I went to Bible Study (where we really do try to focus on Most Important Things, but often end up chatting) and a swim meet, where yes, while we are serious about our kids' swimming, we do a lot of chatting, too.

Well, that's my CREPS. It certainly makes for an organized entry, though it doesn't touch on some things. I guess I could have included my writing under culture, though somehow that seems a little overconfident. I will mention that VAMPIRINA BALLERINA got a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, which was then a featured review in PW Children's Bookshelf. And my agent wrote me that she'd started reading the novel I sent her last week and she had good things to say so far. (Of course, on page 151, the entire thing falls apart, but she's not there yet, so we'll just keep that to ourselves.)

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21. Five For Friday - Counting My Way Through the Week

1. Dropped in unexpectedly on ONE awesome agent, just to say hi and introduce her to the 2/3 of the fam who were traveling with me.

2. Bought TWO quarts of beautiful strawberries from a roadside stand.

3. Attended THREE graduations: my oldest daughter's high school graduation, my son's 8th grade graduation, and my niece's elementary school graduation.

4. Drove around the campuses of FOUR colleges: UMass-Amherst, Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Vassar.

5. Ate chocolate in FIVE forms: one of the cookies Daughter #2 made for the car ride, slices of Drake's Yodels ("Shannon House Sushi"), one bite of #2's Oreo Friend-Z, cookie dough ice cream with Hershey's syrup (at #1's graduation celebration), and three bites of #2's amazing Nutella and Marshmallow Fluff crepe from Amherst Creperie.

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22. Five for Friday

1. I'd like to begin by asking for your prayers for my poor little Daddy, who was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital yesterday afternoon straight from his doctor's appointment for heart issues. He is 79 years old, and cannot seem to catch a break in regards to his health. For the most part, he bears it with grace, but I know he is frustrated.

2. I am a slow novelist. I type fast, so I can do many words in a day, and when I'm able, I do lots of days in a row; but the time between productive periods is always long and often confused and open-ended. I started a new middle-grade in the summer of 2009, and I have just finished the fourth draft. It's not ready for prime time yet, but Agent Linda and I felt it was ready for her, so I hit "send" yesterday afternoon. All I can say for sure is that it's stronger than other novels at fourth draft stage, which makes me feel I am learning something along the way.

3. I'm picking up Number 2 from boarding school this weekend. What a year she has had! I've got my own Hermione. She is even going to be a prefect next year.

4. I'm picking Number 1 up from school this coming week, and SHE is graduating! Woo hoo! I know, I know--I just graduated from high school myself--last week as a matter of fact. Tricky thing, this time warp called life.

5. Um. Five. Um. Yeah. My dogs are cute? My kids are cute? I need a shower? I wish I had some strawberries? I wish I had some blueberries? I wish I had some chocolate?

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23. Five for Friday

1. The June/July issue of The 4:00 Book Hook will be coming out next Friday, and I think it's looking good. We've got a piece from our wonderful LJ friend [info]jbknowles, a really interesting interview with first-time author Michelle Cuevas, and all about picture book animals from Toni Buzzeo; and we've got the best giveaways we've ever had, with three chances to win! Wait until you see, and be sure to enter. If you aren't a subscriber, please email us at [email protected]

2. I woke up at 5 a.m. and was unable to get back to sleep. I passed the time writing a new picture book in my head, all about dinosaurs, which is a new topic for me. It was funnier when I was half-asleep than it was when I typed it out a little bit ago, but that can and will be rectified.

3. VAMPIRINA BALLERINA got its (her?) first review yesterday, a very happy-making one from School Library Journal. Eep. An excerpt is posted on my website. GO HERE TO CHECK IT OUT. Thank you, SLJ!

ETA: I received an advance copy of the book today. It. Has. Glitter.

4. I have until next Friday to complete this draft of my work-in-progress, a middle-grade novel. Yes, this is the novel I was going to finish by Labor Day last year. I do hate that I write slowly, but it seems to be my process, so I just need to persevere. It will not be close to done, but Agent Linda wants to see it, and I feel ready for her input. So write on, AM. You've got eight days.

5. Happy for fellow swim team parent John Milliken Thompson, whose novel THE RESERVOIR has made the Summer 2012 IndieNext list (yes, I know people who write for adults, too.). While wrangling swimmers poolside, we used to talk about our writing dreams. Now we're seeing some results. It's kinda nice. :)

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24. Three months from today . . .

Jo Knowles's lovely SEE YOU AT HARRY'S comes out tomorrow, which through one of those thought-chains we all have, made me calculate that VAMPIRINA BALLERINA comes out three months from today. And I haven't shared the cover here, so I will rectify that immediately.

Presenting . . . [imagine trumpet fanfare] VAMPIRINA!

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I am working on getting my homemade pizza as good as I possibly can, given the parameters with which I am faced. I have been working on this for about two months and have learned a lot.

1) Heat the pizza stone for about an hour before you bake the pizza.
2) Use bread flour, preferably King Arthur. Pamela Anderson's recipe from THE PERFECT RECIPE works well in the bread machine (one of my parameters is that the dough has to be made in the bread machine. I am not going to knead dough every week.)
3) Don Pepino makes a fabulous canned pizza sauce (another one of my parameters is that I am not going to make pizza sauce. Don't tell me how easy it is to make it and freeze it. I don't care.)
4) Turkey pepperoni is actually pretty good.
5) Pizza peels are not necessary, but they are helpful.

I just had three small slices of leftover pizza from last night and it made me very happy. Now I am going to work on making my novel as good as I possibly can. That is harder.

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