Today, I have author Diane Merril Wigginton in the interview chair. We talk about her latest series release The Jeweled Dagger, a historical romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
Diane: When I sat down to write, Angelina’s Secret, I wanted to write a grand love story that incorporated adventure and suspense into the story line. Then when the idea formed for the second book, Isabella’s Heart, I just wanted to carry that same line of thinking in the plot. And you can’t have a series without writing at least three books, so I wrote Olivia’s Promise. After writing the three books I felt very accomplished and went on to write, Lara’s Story, about an Irish Immigrant who came to America during the Great Famine. It’s rich in culture, visualization and emotion.
2. What can we expect from you in the future?
Diane: I’ve just finished a Modern Romance and I am working on a Suspense/Thriller. The Modern Romance is complete and edited and I am currently getting ready to shop it around to agents.
3. Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in the Jeweled Dagger Series?
Diane: Book 1 of The Jeweled Dagger Series are of course Angelina, who is stubborn, loyal, smart, witty and strong-willed, and determined that she will never be possessed by any man because they are a bunch useless men, her father, brother and uncle are the exceptions to this rule of thumb.
Captain Jude Deveraux is a pirate and part of the French gentry. He’s strong, determined and usually gets what he wants, that is until Angelina comes along. He is smitten from the start and pursues her to England where he was educated so he knows how to blend in.
4. How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
Diane: It came to me in a dream. When I would get stuck, A.K.A. writers block, I would take a hot bath or go to bed and ponder the problem as I fell asleep and the answer would come to me. I don’t do outlines because I want to be as surprised by the twists and turns as my readers are.
5. Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Diane: It was about the secrets that Angelina was forced to keep, to protect the one man she found herself in love with and couldn’t live without, A.K.A, “Angelina’s Secret.”
6. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Diane: How it made me feel to get the words out there, and how freeing it felt to open up my heart and express my feelings and emotions so freely on the page.
7. Who designed your book covers?
Diane: I found a company called, IzzardInk and they helped me put it all together.
8. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Diane: They are completely from my imaginations.
9. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Diane: Each book is unique in the sense that I birthed the idea and the storylines. I like to describe, The Jeweled Dagger Series as Pirates of the Caribbean clashes with Downton Abby, while Lara’s Story is a roller coaster ride of emotions from start to end. Each book is meticulously fashioned to give you the most bang for your buck.
10. If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Diane: Sandalwood and Lavender, fresh, intoxicatingly sexy and makes you feel good but leaves you wanting more.
Title: Angelina’s Secret
Series: The Jeweled Dagger Series Book 1
Author: Diane Merril Wigginton
Genre: Historical Romance
Would you keep a secret to save someone you barely know?
Angelina Stewart is a beautiful, bold, independent woman hiding a terrible secret. After returning home from a sea voyage, she is touted as a hero for saving her family’s ship and crew from a band of ruthless pirates, but Angelina feels like such a fraud.
At the same time, her psychic abilities are becoming more pronounced as she attempts to unravel the mystery of London’s gruesome murders before she becomes the killer’s next victim.
Captain Jude Deveraux is leading a double life.
He and his band of French privateers steal, rob and plunder unsuspecting ships that have the misfortune of wandering into their domain. Awarded a title by the King of France for bravery during battle, The Duke of Bayonne, A.K.A. Pirate Captain, Jude Deveraux, takes what he wants from the world as he and his best friend, Honore live each day as if it were their last.
That is until the day Jude discovers that the only thing he truly wants is to capture the untamed heart of fiery tempered, Lady Stewart for his own.
Note: Angelina’s Secret is the unforgettable introduction to the “Jeweled Dagger” series
I was blessed to have twin brothers, Charlie and Jonathan, who had come into this world five years earlier and were as close as two brothers born of the same womb could be. They did everything together and were normal, rambunctious, five-year-old boys unaware of matters and circumstances beyond their little world.
Mother was a beautiful woman in her own right, and in a time when women were revered for their beauty and little else, my mother was a phenomenon. She was a smart, intelligent woman prone to show her witty nature. But Mother had a secret, a sixth sense about things that happened or were about to happen, and she was never wrong.
She told me once that certain gifts ran in our family and that I should always trust my instincts. At the time I was too young to understand what she was trying to say to me. It wasn’t until many years later her words to me made sense.
But I seem to be getting ahead of myself in the telling of my story. Something happened shortly after my birth that changed our family dynamics forever. Some say that a tragedy changes things for the worse, ripping the very foundation of a family. But I attest to you that tragedy only makes the strong things stronger and can bind a family together forever—eternally, linking everyone concerned like stitches of a tapestry tightly woven together for the betterment of all concerned. And so I tell you my tale of tragedy and adventure that leads to a great love so intricately woven through time that the bonds will never be broken.
Title: Isabella’s Heart
Series: The Jeweled Dagger Series Book 2
Author: Diane Merril Wigginton
Genre: Historical Romance
Haunted by a disturbing dream, she must face evils beyond her imagination
It is 1783 England and Isabella Deveraux is an independent, fearless young woman who has hardened her heart to everyone that mattered to her, until the night she experiences a disturbing dream about her twin brother, Charlie, on the eve of their 19th birthday. Charlie and his school mates have been abducted by the devil incarnate and she is resolved to do what ever it takes to save him, even if that means reconciling with her estranged family and placing her faith and life in the hands of an intimidating Irish mercenary Captain.
A mercenary who will do just about anything, for the right price.
Captain Aiden Townsend is more than willing to save the lives of three privileged schoolboys, for the right price. Jaded by his own devastating loss, Aiden has worked hard to keep his distance from the female persuasion until he is introduced to Lady Isabella Deveraux. As he sails his ship from England to Dublin, with the beautiful Lady Deveraux aboard, he formulates a plan to help her. But if his plan is to work, he must break through the walls that surround her heart while tearing down a few of his own.
“Hey, what do you think you are doing, young man?” the farrier, Tucker Parker, growled as he grabbed me by my coat, spinning me around. If it had not been for his strong grip on my collar, I would have hit the ground hard.
“Shhh!” I said, almost jumping out of my skin. “Tucker Parker, you scared ten years off my life,” I scolded pushing him off of me, as I leaned down and picked my hat up off the ground. “Keep it down before you awaken the entire place,” I groused, while dusting the hat off and placing it back upon my head. Then narrowing my eyes at him, I began tucking my hair back under the hat.
“Sorry, Isabella, I didn’t realize it was you. I thought someone was stealing a horse,” he replied, in a hushed tone. “Which begs the question, where exactly do you think you are going at this hour of the morning?” he asked, standing in front of me with his hands on his hips.
“I have to take care of something and I don’t need the entire Order of Saints coming down upon my head, if you must know. So you can help me, Tucker, or get out of my way,” I said in a loud, angry whisper.
“Why didn’t you come and get me to help you?” he asked. Then taking a second look at me, as if he was truly seeing me for the first time. “And why are you dressed like a boy, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I have a long ride ahead of me and I don’t want to attract any unwarranted attention, if you get my drift,” I added as quietly as I could, while throwing the blanket and saddle over Dodger’s back. “And why I didn’t seek you out at this wee hour of the morning is a silly question. You have known me for three years now and you know my history and general mistrust of men,” I replied, struggling to secure the saddle properly.
Taking hold of my arm, Tucker pulled me around to face him. He had a strange look in his eyes, before he stepped in even closer, as if he intended to kiss me.
Panic set in and I suddenly experienced a strange ringing between my ears. Bringing Tucker up short, I placed my hands against his chest, and gave him a hard shove, to stop any further advancement. “Have you lost your mind, Tucker Parker?” I cried, sounding a little harsher than I intended.
“You use to like it when I kissed you, Isabella Deveraux.”
“That was a long time ago.” I said, brushing him off as I turned back around to finish saddling Dodger. “I’m not that scared little girl any longer, trying to figure out which way is up.”
Taking a hold of my arm gently, he forced me to stop and look at him, “Then I will go with you, to make sure nothing happens to you.”
“No, you can’t,” I answered rather sternly.
“Why Izzy?” he asked, with that hurt look he always gets when I said or did something he didn’t quite understand. The sound of pain in his tone almost made me feel bad for being so harsh.
But dealing with Tucker’s delicate ego is not something I could handle, so I did what I always do in a situation like this, I pushed him even further away. “Tucker, I don’t have time for this,” I replied, irritated he was distracting me from my task.
“Oh now, look here,” he said, pointing at the strap, as if I had never saddled a horse in my life. “You’re doing it all wrong,” he said, shoving my hands out of the way.
“Keep it down, before you wake the entire stable up,” I scolded with just a hint of derision in my voice. Tucker proceeded to undo the leather strap, and then cinch it back up exactly as I had done it in the first place, only tighter. “If you don’t do it tight enough from the beginning, the saddle will slip and you will end up on the ground a mile down the road. You know Dodger is a prankster,” Tucker continued to pull on the strap until Dodger voiced his disdain, by stomping his hoof and swatting Tucker with his tail. “Dodger always inflates his belly when you slip the saddle on his back.”
“Thank you for your unwarranted assistance, but I really must be on my way,” I stated flatly, changing out the feedbag for a bridle.
“I can’t let you go off on your own, willy nilly through the countryside. What if something happens to you? I would be responsible,” Tucker countered, stepping in front of me, trying to impede my progress. Then reaching up, he took a hold of Dodger’s bridle, and refused to let go.
“As if you have anything to say about the matter,” I stated under my breath. Gingerly stepping around him, I placed my booted foot in the stirrup and swung myself up onto the saddle. Leaning over, I secured my other foot in the other stirrup, while avoiding eye contact with him.
Title: Olivia’s Promise
Series: The Jeweled Dagger Series Book 3
Author: Diane Merril Wigginton
Genre: Historical Romance
How far would you go to save your best friend from a fate worse than death?
Olivia Townsend is willing to do whatever it takes to save Lilly from just such a fate.
The year is 1804 and Lady Olivia Sophia Allen Townsend has just turned 20 years old. She is beautiful, well-educated and considered by some in polite society to be far too eccentric for her own good. When Olivia was younger, she was very open about her gift. She is not only able to see spirits, but she can talk to them as well. Being shunned by her peers has caused Olivia to turn her back on those who need her the most – spirits caught between two worlds. That is until her best friend Lilly Collins comes to her in the middle of the night and asks for her help. Lilly can’t remember what happened to her and finds herself in need of Olivia’s unique gifts.
Across the sea.
Olivia’s younger sister, Coco, is also gifted with a unique set of skills – she can touch someone and know things about them that they would sometimes prefer to keep hidden. Together, the sisters set off on a sea voyage, from Ireland to America, intent on solving the mystery of Lilly’s untimely death.
Southern elites, heirs to an empire.
Brody and Quinton Beaumont are fine-looking, eligible, southern gentlemen, and heirs to a successful cotton empire. They also happen to be twins, hiding a deep dark secret. Their mother, Annabelle Beaumont, died eight years earlier on the night of their annual birthday winter ball, yet she continues to rule over their plantation home with an iron fist.
Olivia, who has never been drawn to any man, feels an undeniable connection to Brody Beaumont, but first, she must figure out if she can trust him, and if he or his twin brother Quinton had anything to do with Lilly’s death.
“Olivia, wake up,” the horse whisper sounded harsh next to my ear.
Slowly I opened my sleep-filled eyes and recognized my best friend, whom I hadn’t seen in months, “Lilly. What is it? What’s the matter?” I asked, with a degree of shock at seeing her dress disheveled and torn, standing in my bed chambers. Slowly sitting up in bed, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
“I need your help,” she said, pulling her shawl tightly around her slender shoulders and sounding desperate as she walked to the end of my bed.
Reaching over to the night stand, I struck the flint and lit the candle, while absently answering her, “Anything, Lilly. Name it,” I replied, turning back around to get a better look at her. As my eyes adjusted and fell on Lilly, my heart sank to my stomach, because I just realized that she was no longer among the living. She was now just one of the many spirits paying me a midnight visit before crossing over to the other side. Quickly bringing my hand to my mouth to keep from crying out, tears filled my eyes and all I could do was stare at her ethereal form. The feeling of loss was so raw it hurt. I swallowed a gasp, at least I thought I had. Lilly’s eyes flew to my face.
“What’s wrong? Why are you staring at me like that, Olivia?”
“What happened to you, Lilly?” I cried, feeling despair overwhelm me. “I have been inquiring after you for months now, but all your sisters would say is that you were away visiting a relative in England.”
“I can’t remember off the top of my head where I’ve been exactly, but I don’t believe I went to England,” Lilly replied, with a stricken look.
“Then tell me where you did go.”
“That’s just it, I can’t remember. The only thing I do recall is feeling happy and excited that I was going someplace. Ever since Mama died, I’ve wanted to be happy again, Olivia,” Lilly whined. “Truly happy!” she added, with emphasis, poking out her bottom lip slightly. “I grew tired of the mask I wore every day to appear happy to everyone.” Lilly clutched her fist to her belly, then, wringing her hands in her gown, she began looking around with confusion, unable to remember how she had come to be there.
“We will figure this out. I just need you to stay calm. I have something to tell you and I’m not entirely certain how you are going to take it,” I prefaced my next statement, while climbing out of bed and walking over to her.
“Don’t be silly, Olivia, you can tell me anything.”
“Forgive me for being blunt, Lilly, but I don’t know any other way to say this,” I stated, through sniffles while trying to soften the blow. “You’re dead, Lilly.”
“That is ridiculous, Olivia Townsend. You don’t know what you are talking about,” Lilly retorted, looking down at her bare feet and torn dress, before running over to the full-length mirror. I followed behind her with my candle in hand. “I’m so sorry, Lilly.”
“No, no, no, no, no, no…” she kept repeating, bringing her hands to her face in disbelief, when she couldn’t see herself in the mirror. Her celestial form began to fade before my eyes.
“Lilly. Lilly, come back here. I insist you come back here this minute!” I stomped my bare foot on the hardwood floor. “Oh please, Lilly, I promise everything will be alright.” I cried, holding the candle a little higher. “Please come back, Lilly,” I sobbed.
The door to my room slowly opened and I turned suddenly in surprise.
“Olivia?” Coco’s voice was tentative as she looked back over her shoulder before stepping into my room and shutting the door. “Who were you talking to? I heard you calling out to Lilly and thought maybe you were having a bad dream.”
“It wasn’t a bad dream, Coco. It’s was a nightmare,” I sobbed into my hands, slumping into the nearest chair, wondering what I was going to do next.
“I don’t understand, Olivia. Tell me about your nightmare,” she sweetly coaxed, setting her candle down on the dresser and kneeling beside me.
“Oh, Coco,” I gasped, placing the candle next to me on the little table and covering my mouth with the back of my hand.
“What is it, Olivia? What’s happened?” “Why have I been cursed with this ability?” I snapped, suddenly angry that I had been given the ability to see spirits. I’d always considered it a gift and a blessing to help people to cross over to the other side when I was younger, but lately it had become a curse.
“What are you talking about, Olivia?” Coco questioned, “I don’t understand. You’re not making any sense.”
“Oh, never mind,” she uttered, reaching out to take my hand and easily slipping away to the place she goes when she sought answers. Coco closed her eyes and fell silent. Quickly turning loose of my hand, Coco jumped to her feet and gasped. Her beautiful eyes registered her shock and horror at what she had just witnessed. “This can’t be, Olivia! I don’t believe it.”
“You don’t believe it,” I sniffed, “I don’t believe it!” “How did this happen to her?”
“I never got that far in our conversation. When I told Lily she was dead, she disappeared on me, and I don’t know where she went,” I cried again as tears trailed down my cheeks.
“But she is coming back?”
“Where else would she go?” I bluntly stated.
Title: Lara’s Story
Author: Diane Merril Wigginton
Genre: Historical Romance
SHATTERED BY HEARTBREAK.
“When a heart breaks, it does not break evenly, cleaving in half exactly down the middle.”
Surrounded by her large, boisterous family in 1840s Ireland, Lara Flannigan has never known anything but love and belonging—until the day tragedy strikes, leaving her abandoned and forced into indentured servitude.
REMADE IN A NEW WORLD.
Just when all hope seems lost, Lara is discovered by a childless American couple, visiting Ireland to aid in the famine-relief effort. With barely a chance to look back, she’s swept away to a bustling new continent—and a dizzying new reality. One of petticoats, opulent townhouses, and the cold reaches of Philadelphia high society. Desperate for a future, Lara works tirelessly to fit into her new life… while still haunted by a past that won’t let her go. Set in a fascinating historical period, Lara’s Story is a gripping young adult novel that explores the strength of the human spirit and the power of forgiveness to heal a broken heart.
April 27, 1854
EVERY QUESTION BEGINS WITH a quest for answers, and every testimony of what is true begins with a test of our resolve. I am reminded of this simple formula as I stand here on this boardwalk, looking out to sea. Each life is a journey, defined by turns we take or the roads we choose or those which fate chooses for us. Some of us move from one place to another, along a well-worn path or the path less taken; it really doesn’t matter much as long as it leads you home again.
Memories of my home involuntarily flash through my mind as Mama’s words come back to me like a sounding board that has followed me my entire life. She would often tell my sisters and me, “Don’t ever make yerself smaller to satisfy the needs of another.” Mama was always insightful and perceptive when it came to her children.
Oh, how I still miss her so, even to this day. I smile to myself, wishing my ears could hear that beautiful, rhythmic sound of Mama’s voice again, just one more time as a terrible memory of the last day I saw her alive flashes through my mind and I vigorously shake my head to dispel the thought.
When a heart breaks it does not break evenly – cleaving in half exactly down the middle. It breaks, jagged and rough, cutting one to the very core of their soul. And while things may appear perfectly normal to the naked eye, beneath the surface lies the real tragedy, fragmented and splintered beyond reconciliation. Heartbreak is not an innocuous pain, easily excused like a stomach ache. It is more insidious, spreading throughout ones’ system, like an infection. Merely closing my eyes to the pain does not eliminate it in the least.
Just breathe in, then breathe out and move forward, I remind myself. This simple little mantra is something I taught myself so many years ago, and it has gotten me through more than a few dire situations.
I was born Lara Flannigan, on the twenty-first day of April, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and thirty-three. Mama liked to tell me it was a beautiful spring morn, the day I was born, which would have been an unusual occurrence for that time of year.
Mama also said, “I knew ye were special and destined for greatness the moment ye took yer first breath, don’t ye know. Cause the sun poked out from behind the clouds with yer first breath of life. Why twere’ like the Heavens above truly recognized that an angel had been born to me,” she teased.
If truth be told, I believe mama told this exact story to each of her six children. But I loved hearing it nonetheless.
I was the sixth child of the seven children born to Rory and Laurel Flannigan, and I was named for my Da’s mother. Our days were long and our lives were hard, but our nights belonged to us. I never knew life could be anything other than what I had experienced. My world was very small in those days, so I never missed the things I didn’t have.
I am an Irish immigrant and I came to America at the tender age of thirteen, a disillusioned child, harshly mistreated by the very people entrusted with my care. I tell you this not to solicit your sympathies but to impart knowledge and gain your understanding, for I was a pitiful, angry child who was unaware of how many things in my life were about to change. People meeting me today might say that I was more fortunate than most. Yet they would never have heard my story nor known that I suffered in silence. I did not wear my pain, like a badge of honor, but kept it deep inside of me, hidden away from the prying eyes of others.
Fear has made me keep my story to myself. I was afraid of the repercussions from the actions I took in the name of survival, when my whole world fell apart. Furthermore, I feared the behavior of peers, those who would use the circumstance of my birthplace and subsequent difficulties to hold me back or bludgeon me with my story like a weapon.
For many years I have pushed from my thoughts memories of home and all that happened there. And yet, every now and again I indulge myself with less painful memories of the past, that push their way to the surface, and I give myself permission to embrace them, loving, bold, nostalgic memories that are impossible to forget. This is especially true today as I find myself waiting, yet another day, for a ship to come in, one that I thought would never arrive upon these great American shores.
Oh, I have everything a person could ever desire. Enough food to ward off hunger for a lifetime. Good health, a beautiful home, fashionable clothes, and the love of my family. I truly have every comfort one could want at my disposal, yet still, I long to recover the missing pieces of myself torn from me the day I left my native land of Ireland. A loss that can still be keenly felt whenever I lay my head down upon my pillow at night. And even though I am far from familiar old haunts, I swear I hear the land beckoning to me in my dreams, calling from across the ocean, summoning me home to the cliffs of Dunmore Head on the westernmost shores of Ireland. Closing my eyes now, I can still recall the smell and taste of the breeze on my tongue and the tangy feel of her salty sea air as it mixes with the sweet scents of wildflowers growing on her craggy cliffs.
The memories grab hold of my soul, leaving me longing for home, even more this day.
“Ireland,” I whisper, as it all comes flooding back to me — the green grassy moors waving in the gentle breeze like waves on the ocean. I can still feel the way the grass tickled my bare feet when I walked upon it.
In my mind’s eye I can see the ancient moss-covered rocks and hills that seem to roll on forever, and the overwhelmingly familiar smells of home assault my senses and kindle even more longing inside me. Peat moss burning in the hearth, the earthy smells of fresh mud coming from our simple thatched roofed dwelling, built from wattle and daub that plastered the rocks and boulders in place to form walls. The rain that often leaked upon my head in the middle of the night whenever a storm blew in just right. The way the sweet earthy tones mingled with the bitter as they played across my tongue whenever I chewed on a blade of grass.
Vivid, sweet memories wash over me, transporting me back in time as I see myself as a little girl, sitting in the middle of a field of tall grass, watching with fascination as the wind blew the grass to-and-fro. Then I see myself laughing and playing among the cliffs again with my best friend, Jamie. There are so many precious and sweet memories that I had denied myself for so long.
I swallow hard to push down the lump that forms in my throat. I can recall every ridge, crag, twig, and moss-covered rock that littered our unyielding plot of land.
There were so many afternoons spent upon those cliffs, basking in the glorious sun after bathing in the ocean with Mama and my two sisters. Alana loved tickling me just to hear me laugh while I lay upon the warm cliffs, soaking up the last glorious rays of sunlight. A cool breeze would kick up, washing over my skin, and chilling my flesh with her gentle touch. Those were the days I thought would never end, and it is those same sweet memories that now make me mourn the loss of them all the more.
I shake my head quickly, dispelling any more memories of the past as I hold back more tears, attempting to keep them from escaping. Swiping at the unfortunate few that trickle down my cheeks, I feel anxious and frustrated all at the same time.
Please do not mistake my tears for weakness, for they convey more than mere words are able and can express so many different emotions.
One should never assume that there is only one reason to shed them. There are tears caused by overwhelming grief and pain and tears of contrition. There are tears of joy and love, or tears of annoyance caused by situations that are beyond your control. Yet my tears today are a culmination of so many different emotions that are simply hard for me to put into words.
I was born in Riverside, California in 1963. My family and I moved to San Diego when I was 7 and I never looked back. I had a very rich life growing up with my brother, David, and best friend Gigi. I married my husband, David in 1998 and we lived in Encinitas, California for a couple of years before moving to Herald, California in 2001. We have a blended family of 6 kids and truly enjoyed the rural life on a 5 1/2 acre ranch, 45 minutes south of Sacramento.
I love writing and creating stories that are different from and intriguing. I like to give my readers a little something extra and unexpected. I have always wanted to be a published author, but the timing never seemed right. Raising a family and working fulltime always took precedence.
Shortly after I turned 50 I decided that if I continued to put off my dreams, the time would never be right. So, with an idea in my head, I sat down and began writing. I wanted there to be no regrets in my life. What resulted was a historical romance, filled with adventure, suspense, and an underlying epic love story weaved in for good measure and “Angelina’s Secret” was born. I loved everything about the process of writing and there are currently three books in “The Jeweled Dagger Series.”
I am very excited about the future and thrilled to be writing fulltime now since I retired from my “9 to 5,” job at the end of April 2017. My husband retired shortly after me and our youngest was a sophomore in college so we decided that it was time that we had an adventure of our own. We made the move to Kalispell, Montana and the adventures just seem to happen every day. We go for hikes in our own backyard or take off for Glacier National Forest on a whim. We currently have seven grandkids, with another one due this August 2018. Being “Grandma and Grandpa” is the icing on the cake for us.
I count my blessings every day because I know how lucky I am. Life is good and now I can devote my days to doing what I really love, and that is writing and creating more stories.
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