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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Excerpt from SOS MARRY ME! by Melissa McClone

Book 3 in The Wedding Planners Series
Serena's Story

Serena had a checklist for her Mr. Right: polite, attentive, articulate, smartly tailored. All qualities her parents had taught her to value. All qualities Rupert had possessed in spades.

All qualities Kane Wiley lacked.

She unfastened her seatbelt and moved back to where he'd secured the gowns.

What had Belle gotten her into?

Serena checked each of the dress bags. She repositioned three of them. Not much, but she felt better taking control. That is, taking care of her dresses. That was her job even if Kane didn't seem to realize that.

The man was arrogant and rude, the polar opposite of his kind and generous father, who epitomized a true gentleman. If not for the price of the flight--free, thanks to Charlie--and the ability to personally oversee the transport of the gowns, Serena would have found another way to Seattle. But any extra money the Wedding Belles had was going into a fund to pay for their cherished assistant's wedding next June. They couldn't afford to be too choosy after losing money on the Vandiver cancellation and the negative publicity that followed.

She thought about how much Julie and Matt were in love. Her other friends, too. Serena would find the same kind of love, the same kind of forever love, they had found. All she needed was her Mr. Right. One who just didn't look good on paper, but who she could love, too.

Looking out a window, she caught a glimpse of Kane as he performed his preflight walk-around. Light glinted off his sun-streaked light brown hair that fell past the collar of his dark leather jacket. A jacket that emphasized his broad shoulders.

Talk about Mr. Wrong.

Some women might find him good-looking. If they liked tall, classically handsome guys with chiseled jaw lines, square chins, sharpened noses and intense brown eyes.

Serena didn’t object to any of those things, exactly. She just preferred them packaged in a suit and tie, and paired with a short, styled haircut and clean-shaven face. She didn’t want a man who looked as if he'd rolled out of bed, bypassed the razor and brushed his fingers through his hair as an afterthought.

He glanced up at the plane, at the window she stared out of to be exact. His gaze met her. His eyes, the same color of her favorite dark chocolate, made her heart bump.


She hurried back to her seat, sunk into the comfortable leather club chair and fastened her seatbelt. The temperature in the cabin seemed to rise even though the door was still opened. She removed her coat, picked up her sketchpad and fanned herself.

What was the matter with her? Of course, she hadn't been sleeping well lately. Or eating, either. One good meal, and she'd feel better.

She'd like to take a bite out of Kane.


Her sketchpad fell onto her lap. She looked up.

Kane stood at the entrance to the plane. The interior suddenly seemed smaller. He appeared larger. She gulped.

"Excuse me?" Serena asked.

"Are you hot?"

"I-I..." Something about him made her flustered and tongue-tied and heated. She didn't like the feelings, either. "I'm a little warm."

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Wedding Carriages

I just watched Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version) again, and since I've been thinking about weddings, I couldn't help noting the wonderful carriages they were driving.

Mind you, I'm glad I don't have to spend my time traveling by horse and carriage, but for a day or a few hours? They're so romantic.
So here are some wonderful modes of transportation for weddings:

Now for a prince of a groom...


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wedding Trends...

People are always trying to predict trends, and weddings are no different. I don't know about predicting what tomorrow will bring, but here are some of the things I found that brides and grooms are doing now:

Green Weddings - recycling gold wedding bands, serving locally grown food, wearing bio-friendly all silk or cotton dresses, honeymooning at eco-resorts or having charitable event showers at soup kitchens.

Two wedding dresses - one for the ceremony and one for the reception

Black orchids for table decor - if you have the money, that is...

Tasting stations for the reception - wine and cheese stations, sushi bars, a champagne bar with mixers such as cranberry or pineapple juices included

A sweetheart table - where the bride and groom can sit alone

Having guests make crucial decisions - I've seen this one several places. The bride and groom ask their guests to vote on...anything from what kind of music should be played to whether the balding groom should shave his head or leave some hair up there.

Lots of red (including red wedding dresses)

Or black, with the bride wearing black and her bridesmaids dressed in white

It's all very interesting (and especially fun if you're not the person having to make the decision)!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Audra With Some Bad News

Hi, everyone.

Audra here. Those of you who are reading the series know by now that my groom didn't show up for my wedding day. I stood in the back of the church, dressed in my beautiful gown, listening to the string quartet, my friends gathered around me, my family sitting in the church -- all happily ready to share my big day -- and David simply decided I wasn't the one.

What was supposed to be the happiest day of my life turned into my biggest humiliation.

I've been trying to bounce back. And, truthfully, I can put on a pretty good show for my family and my wonderful friends from Wedding Belles, but deep down all those questions linger. Why wasn't I good enough? Could I have done something different? What did I do wrong?

Why am I nearly thirty and alone?

I have to tell you that being left like that...in such a public way...has caused me to doubt everything I believe about myself. I'm not the kind of person who would do something foolish like run away and start a whole new life...but, you know what? Some days I'm tempted.

How does a person bounce back from that kind of rejection?


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Something A Little Different - Part 2 (a note from Regina)

Hi, It's Regina. I stopped by and I saw that there was an earlier post about unusual weddings, so I decided to comment. I've spent a lot of my last few years attending weddings (the photographer is there for everything), so I've seen a lot, and what I haven't seen I've read about. I have to stay on top of what's going on in the world of weddings, you know. So, here are some of the weddings I've read about:

There have been pets as attendants:
There were weddings on skis:

And there were weddings on mountains, on ranches and near volcanoes. There weddings at castles, on sailboats and in an ice cathedral.

But what all of them had in common was hope and love and optimisim, and that's so wonderful. I love that about weddings. I love what I do for a living!

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Monday, May 26, 2008

A Secret Confession from Regina

I have to confess that even though Dell and I aren't in love (despite being married) that man just does things to my senses that…well, let's just say that Dell looks sooo good in an ordinary white dress shirt that it's just very unfair. A man shouldn't get to look so handsome without even lifting a finger.

So…being a photographer and having this amazing specimen of a man…I mean, a subject, before me all the time, I sometimes have to fight not to pull out my camera and start snapping photos of him.

I wonder what he would say to that. Most likely he'd wonder what in the world I was doing because I've never taken even one photo of Dell.

For a woman who practically sleeps with her camera that's saying a lot, but I just can't do it. He's such an aristocrat, such a private man.

How on earth did the two of us end up together? And what is going to happen to us?

Maybe I'd better take at least one photo so that I'll have something to remember him by when it's all over. It's too bad I can't go back in time and take a shot. If I could turn back the clock and take just one picture, I think it would be one of what he looked like that day when I came into his life. The mailman had mistakenly delivered some of Dell's mail to me and I rang his doorbell. When he opened it, he was dressed as formally as ever, but he hadn't yet buttoned his cuffs. There was something so sexy about that. And he was smiling. I remember him smiling. I wonder if he would have continued smiling had he known what a mess we would be in less than a year later…

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

What's Coming Up...and more

This week Regina stops by (twice), and it's also the last week to enter the May contest, so comment away.

With May well under way the flowers are blooming, and is there anything else that reminds a person of weddings so much as flowers do?

Not all of them are out yet, but already I'm anticipating.
Red roses for love, lily of the valley for happiness, calendulas for joy, lavender for devotion, and white roses for innocence or eternal love.

So...what are your favorite flowers? Do you have any of those in your garden?


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Where do those covers come from?

When I'm planning a book, I usually have some idea of what the hero and heroine look like, but the artist who creates the cover doesn't know what I'm thinking, so I (and probably most authors) send images to aid in the process of completing a cover.

So, here are some of the images I sent when I mailed in THE HEIR'S CONVENIENT WIFE:
Here are my original versions of Regina and Dell:

And here's a scene I included (just in case):
And some scenery:

And, of course, one of the dogs that appears in the book...just because he's cute:

Of course, these were just suggestions, a way to aid the artist, but I have to say that I love the actual cover!


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Friday, May 23, 2008

Hair-Dos and Do-Overs

With my 18th anniversary just a few days away, I've been thinking a bit about my own wedding day. And all the things I'd do-over, or do again.

The husband, I'd keep. He's not too bad ;-)

And my wedding dress...I loved that. The shoes, well they weren't the most comfortable shoes on the planet, so if I'd been smart, I'd have gotten better shoes, for sure.

What I would have done over FOR SURE is my hair and makeup. You know how you have this "vision" in your head of how you think your hair and makeup will look? Like, I had this friend who did long banana curls down the back of her head, and then had her veil cascading down over them, and wow, it was so gorgeous, and boy, oh, boy, did I want that for my hair too.

Except I overlooked a couple points. Like she had different hair than I did. Namely, naturally curly. Second, she had a professional hairdresser at her house the day of her wedding. Rather than her little old self sitting at the kitchen table with a hand mirror and a curling iron.

Uh-huh. And here I was, expecting the same results. How many ways can you spell naive?

Then there's the makeup. Let's just say I hadn't quite come into makeup smarts when I was that young. I was wearing all the wrong shades for my eyes and face, and as a result, my "lovely" mauve, purple and pink eye shadows ended up making me look like I had a black eye in my pictures. :-) I'm a blonde, with very fair skin, so those colors are NOT my colors. I know that now, 18 years later. I had no clue back then.

Now that I know better, I'd like a do-over for my photos and videos. Except, I'm a bit heavier...uh, okay, a lot more than a bit ;-) heavier than I was when I got married. So I need a do-over there, too.

Oh, forget it. That's what airbrushing is for ;-)


Thursday, May 22, 2008

On the Way to a Wedding Dress – Part 3

Here are some more wedding dress stories by friends (in this case, authors and artists) who were gracious enough to share.

The first story comes from Christina Wantz Fixemer:

In 1949, my grandmother saved her pennies for the white satin gown that featured a cathedral-length train. My mother wore it in 1971, followed by my aunt, then one of their cousins. The gown rested a final generation until 1999, when I was the last bride to wear it, by then a lovely cream tone that whispered of shared tradition.

Had I grown a mere half-inch taller, it would not have worked. The hem was let down the entire length, the fine tulle neckline replaced, and a bustle created for the weighty train. The other brides all carried the train over their elbow when not walking the aisle. At my reception, the bustle proved too much and cause brittle threads to snap at the waistline. Whether she was trying to spare me the guilty tears that lingered on my lashes, or because she truly didn't mind, she resolved the situation with a simple statement and a laugh: "If I was a fifty-year-old thread, I'd give way, too!"

The gown will not be worn again, as there would have to be too much work done to it, and because my grandmother went to a better place on December 26, 2004.


Christina Wantz Fixemer

Bio: I'm a SAHM, artist, book reviewer, and aspiring writer of paranormal romance and fantasy. My nom de plume will be MJ Twain in honor of my children--Zoe Morgan and Daniel Jay--and Samuel Clemons, a distant cousin.

And the next is from Denise Swanson, bestselling author of the Scumble River mysteries:

I was engaged for just under two years so I had a long time to think about my wedding dress. I was a big Scarlett O'Hara fan (in more ways than one) and wanted a dress that would look as if I was walking down the grand staircase at Tara. On the positive side, I had the money. When my grandfather passed away he left me $500 for a wedding dress. On the not so positive side, Scarlett was probably a size 4--I was not. I was also a fan of hats back in those days (1980) so instead of the traditional veil, I chose a hat. I now look back at the pictures and think, Oh, my heavens! I ended up looking as if Scarlett had gained fifty pounds, put on her best dress, and decided to go for a horseback ride. Which only proves that I was way too young and stupid to get married. Luckily, at least I picked the right man. We celebrated our 28th anniversary this January.

Denise Swanson http://www.deniseswanson.com/

Thank you, Christina and Denise for sharing your stories with us.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gaelic Wedding Cars...at last

So sorry, everyone, but my husband does not understand blogging and only just sent the images now ("What's the problem with that?" LOL). Aren't they gorgeous? I got my son to take the shots as mine always come out blurry.

Next I can show you a beach wedding in Australia...once I get my daughter's permission!

Melissa J


Click on the picture and read this guy's shoes. Hopefully, all grooms aren't as nervous as him!

Wedding day jitters. Everyone has them. No one wants them. They can come from two sources-worrying that everything will not go perfectly at the wedding or sudden doubts about getting married in general. Let’s concentrate on the last one.

In cruising the internet several suggestions seem to reoccur. So here we go in no particular order:

1. Take a deep breath-literally. Sit down somewhere for a few minutes, deep breathe, consciously relax every muscle from head to toe.

2. Pray or meditate, focusing on your blessings with a heart of gratitude.

3. Get a message if possible.

4. Take a bubble bath with candles, scents, and calming music.

5. Focus on your true love. Think about the reasons you love him/her. Remember the good times, the engagement, your shared plans for the future.

6. Take ten minutes to write a love note or talk on the phone to your honey. Reaffirm your love, your excitement about becoming his/her spouse.

7. Don’t be afraid to share your nerves with your groom. Chances are he’s feeling them too. You are there for each other. Remember that most of all.

8. Eat! Maintaining your sugar level throughout the day will keep you feeling positive and energetic.

One groom said he was most nervous about being in front of everyone during the actual ceremony (a common groom concern), so he looked at his bride, focused on her, how pretty she looked, the joy he felt in having her at his side, etc. As a result, he felt more connected to the moment and definitely more at peace.

Tell us:
Did you have wedding jitters?
Why? What was going through your mind?
What did you do to calm down!?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Music to Get Married By...

Last year I was cruising around the Internet doing research for The Wedding Planners when this amazing and beautiful music started flowing from my speakers. Transfixed, I ended up returning to the site later that day (and yes, I had to purchase a CD). The musician responsible for that extraordinary sound was Jamie Lawrence who is our guest today. Jamie and his wife, Lori (our guest last week), run Tropical Maui Weddings. To hear a sample of Jamie's music, click here and page down to the green "Listen" button. Here is the interview:

How long have you been singing professionally?
Ever since the 7th grade I guess. My friends and I had a garage rock band and we played for school functions, dances, etc.. I was the drummer back then and tried to sing as much as I had an opportunity to.

As a wedding singer, what song or songs do people request the most?
The song that gets requested the most is Maunaleo which is a Hawaiian song. Of the non Hawaiian songs, I get a lot of requests for the classic “The Wedding Song”, “When You Say Nothing At All”, and “Cross My Heart”.

What are some of the places you've traveled to professionally?
I have been to so many places as a result of my profession. I think the first wedding I was hired to do away from home was in Stillwater, MN. I was asked by writer LaVyrle Spencer to perform at her daughter Amy’s wedding. Since then I have been invited to sing at weddings in California, Arizona, Washington, Nebraska, New York, Washington DC, Canada, Germany, and even a castle in Southern France. I never thought that my work would take me on so many adventures. I have been blessed!

As an author, I get asked what my favorite books or authors are all the time. And while I do read a lot of romance, I also read many books completely out of my field. So…when you're not singing for weddings, what types of music do you like to sing or listen to?
This is going to sound a bit strange I think, but I rarely listen to any music at all. Even in the car, I seldom have the radio on. My wife and I have an office together in our home and she’s always got something playing. I think she plays the songs that she wants me to learn, hoping that I’ll start liking them the more she plays them. It works most of the time. When I do hear a song I like, it takes hold of me instantly and I know I have to do it. I can’t explain it. I get possessed and have to hear it a hundred times. Mostly it is the emotion of a song that captures my attention. By the time I pick up the guitar, I can already play it.

What's the biggest challenge you face as a wedding singer?
For me the challenge is to exceed the expectations of the wedding couple and their guests. Guests at a wedding want to feel romantic! They expect that. Through my music I am able to create the right romantic atmosphere. I think that’s the reason I have been so successful at this. Don’t ask me how I do it….. it’s not something I work at…. it’s just something I have been blessed with…. somehow.

How far ahead of time should people contact you?
Of course the earlier the better, especially if your date is set in stone. I have some availability as close as next month, but on the other hand, I have bookings as far as 2 years out. So earlier is definitely better to guarantee your date.

How involved are the bride and groom in the process of choosing music?
I am surprised at the number of couples who have no preferences when it comes to their music selections. I am often called upon to suggest music or to simply “play whatever I feel like playing.” I’m completely comfortable with that. I seem to get the best feedback from guests when I do pick the music. Of the couples that do get involved in song selection, the majority of song picks are made by the bride. I think the ratio may be somewhere around 70/30.

If you could plan the perfect musical experience for a bride and groom, what would it be?
This is one question that has many answers. I have had the pleasure of performing for thousands of weddings (wow, that’s a scary thought) and each one has been so different, so unique. The perfect musical experience would have been different for each of them. That experience is a “work in progress” that’s influenced by the desires and personalities of the wedding couple and their guests from the very beginning and continues throughout the wedding planning process. It is continually being adjusted and “fine tuned” right up to the end of the evening’s performance.

What are some of the best musical moments you can remember experiencing, at weddings or otherwise?
I have been blessed with so many great moments that I can hardly choose… Singing in that castle in France (Castlenou) was pretty memorable.
Also very special was a concert I was invited to perform at in St. Christoph, Austria, in a stone church built in 1386! The acoustics were amazing. The people and the food made it even more special.
My wife knows that I am a big James Taylor fan, so for my birthday, she gave me a trip to Syracuse, NY along with a couple of JT concert tickets. It was a magical evening!

What else would you like readers to know about you and your music?
Well…. Let’s see…. I’m currently going through the song selection process for my next recording project. It has been a long time since I have done a recording, so I’m actually looking forward to going through the process once again. My website is at http://www.jamielawrence.com/
and any information regarding future recordings will be posted there as it becomes available.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

A Visit from Belle

I just thought I’d stop by to see how things are going. After all, The Wedding Belles is my shop, and Regina, Callie, Serena, Audra, Natalie and Julie are my family now. They’re just like my own daughters, and I love them all to pieces.

I hate it when one of them gets hurt or is in pain or struggling, especially when I feel it’s a man causing one of them trouble. I tell you, I had a wonderful marriage before my husband died, but sometimes I think I got the last good man on earth.

That is, I’ve done my share of dating…more than my share of dating, but some of those men…well, I don't even want to waste my precious time thinking about those men. Not one of them can even get close to what my husband was. That man was…a man. A good man, the best and once you’ve had the best…well, you get the picture. So no, a new love isn’t for me.

But my girls? Oh, I just want them all to be happy, to find a love like the one I had and just hold on to it. So, seeing how Regina and Dell are dancing around each other lately…it has me worried.

I mean, Regina has the ring and she and Dell have had the ceremony, but I can tell there’s something really wrong. Of course, they had that…that thing happen earlier this year, but even so, that should have brought them together, not pushed them apart. But every time Regina tries to pretend that things are all right, well, I can just tell that she’s putting on her good trooper face to keep from worrying me. It’s as clear as a crystal wine goblet that that is not a true and happy marriage, at least not the way marriage is supposed to be.

I don’t know whether to shake the two of them or to hug them, but I really hope that something happens soon. Something good, that is.

If it doesn’t…well, look out world. Belle hates it when one of her ladies gets burned.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coming Up Next Week and Some Special Thoughts

Coming up this week, we'll have a visit from Belle. And Jamie Lawrence, who is a wedding singer and a pilot will be here on Tuesday (to check out Jamie's music in advance, click here to go to Jamie's page on the Tropical Maui Weddings site and page down to the green listen button in the last paragraph. I recommend clicking through to Mauneleo, which is absolutely beautiful).

But in the meantime, I thought I'd leave you with some wonderful wedding and romance quotations:

Two souls with but a single thought,Two hearts that beat as one.
- Franz Joseph von Munch-Bellinghausen

We come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.
- Sam Keen

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
- Mignon McLaughlin

Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.
- Amy Bloom

Marriage, ultimately, is the practice of becoming passionate friends.
- Harville Hendrix

My heart is ever at your service.
- William Shakespeare

Do you have any favorite quotes or sayings regarding love or marriage?


Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's all about the shoes...

If you've read The Heir's convenient Wife, you know that Regina, the heroine, has a thing for quirky, fun shoes. So what kind of shoes would she wear with a wedding dress?
I was wandering around the Internet (of course) and found an article about how some brides, since they're wearing a traditional long gown that covers their shoes completely might choose to wear shoes beneath that dress that are just for fun, just for the bride.

So, of course I had to go looking for some shoes that might be fun (not necessarily practical) to wear as long as no one was keeping score on whether the bride's shoes matched her dress.

In some cases the shoes I found didn't look very formal.

But some of them were pretty.

One of them was encrusted with crystals.

And all of them were fun.

So...what color and style of shoes would you choose...if you didn't need to be practical about matching your dress length, I mean?

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Gaelic Wedding Traditions

Recently my family travelled to Ireland. While I was there we passed a church with First Communion children leaving the church and a wedding about to go in, and it got me thinking. So I asked about a few traditions…

I found out they like to make certain all brides and grooms know their Gaelic names for the ceremony...my husband’s and mine are Seamus and Eilish, for example. The man at the Marsh library (fascinating place – you have to read rare books locked up in a cage!) who told us some of these things couldn't pronounce our son’s name in Gaelic, said it was way too hard (I would have loved to hear it though). Also they tend to do toasts with Guinness rather than champagne...and many wedding parties do a procession of sorts along the street after the ceremony. We watched the First Communion children leave in a procession, skipping, singing and chatting, and the wedding went in. The Garda there (police), were minding the peace of the, um, merry revellers, merry already at the wedding. Oh, and there’s a ton of good luck traditions...Irish lace only on the dresses...braided hair and a horseshoe hanging from the bride’s dress - oh, and to have a First Communion ceremony before the wedding is considered a blessing, too (which is why the wedding was on almost immediately after). The bells ringing for a wedding sounds joyous, but like the Greek “spitting on the bride” tradition, apparently it's to keep the Devil away...also to remind them of their vows to love each other in hard times.

The one tradition I particularly liked was the wedding ring one: the Claddagh ring. It's multi-purpose for a woman, but in marriage, it's beautiful. It's a ring with two hands clasping over a heart and crown, and when she wears it heart point down on the left hand, it's to connect her heart to his, forever.

And while we were there, a wedding car went past…it wasn’t quite a limo or Humvee, not a mini bus…but it was fabulous. An Irish wedding car! And as soon as my husband gets home I will get him to download the pic from his puter to the blog.

Melissa J

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Contest Reminder for May

Just a reminder that the winner of the May contest (with the prize being an assortment of books, a Jamie Lawrence There is Love CD, a green Murano glass heart necklace and a $25 gift certificate from Target) will be drawn from the comments section.

So be sure to participate and keep those comments coming!


Renewing Those Vows

If we're going to talk about getting married, why not talk about getting married again, or rather renewing your wedding vows? I love it when people choose to show the world that they're still madly in love years after the fact! Or even one year after the fact.

Think of the things you can do to make the second time around just as special (if not more special) than the first time around. Some suggestions I've seen include:
Finding a special romantic location (a beach, a garden, beside a waterfall, on a cruise ship) and inviting just a few close friends and family.

Have a dinner party and make an imovie from your wedding photos, complete with music.

Write your own vows unique to your situation.

Include your children or pets (or grandchildren) in the ceremony.

Have friends and family share special or fun moments they've shared with you.

Make a timeline/slideshow of your courtship and marriage.

Or...simply make it a personal (just the two of you) romantic restating of your love. And you can do that every day if you like!
What fun! It's like planning your wedding all over again!

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