15 February 2010

Please give a warm welcome to today's guest, Nicole Green

Hi Niki, Congratulations on the release of your debut novel Love Out of Order, and thank you for joining and talking to us here today.

On Saturday, you enjoyed your first book signing experience, how did it go?
I had a lot of fun meeting some new people and hopefully potential newconstant readers. And the event was pretty successful as these things go. I only had eight books left by the end of it! I signed theleftover stock and it's now on the bookstore's shelves!
I am posting a full comment on my experience in my blog on Tuesday, please come along and read it. 

When did you first start writing and when did it become more than a pleasurable pastime for you?
I first started writing when I was 7. I was obsessed with acquiring spiral-bound notebooks and writing stories in them. The earliest one I remember was a black and green one that I loved.
I actually started trying to get published almost as an accident. In 2007, I heard about something called the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. So I entered in its inaugural year with a much under-prepared manuscript. Clearly, I didn't win, but I did have something I'd never had before. A novel-length manuscript I thought might be
publication-worthy. So I worked on it, finishing up some parts I'd rushed in order to get it into the contest by the deadline and editing it more generally. Then, I decided to send it out to a few publishing houses. I chose one in particular because I enjoyed reading that publisher's romance novels. And they asked for more material. Later, I got a call from the editor, saying they'd be interested in the story if I made a few changes. That manuscript became Love Out of Order last year. I am really glad I entered that contest because it gave me the push I needed to try to get published!

Who was/is your inspiration to write?
You know, I would say my mom as far as writing to get published goes.  I always wrote. It was just something I did without even thinking about it, just simply because I enjoyed it. But she always thought I could get published. I always thought she was just being a mom and giving me the obligatory encouragement. Plus, I was horrified at the
 idea of anybody seeing anything I wrote. Ever! I hid all my writing from people, except my cousin. We even co-wrote a couple of stories, which was fun. But that's another story for another day. Anyway, my mom kept at me and eventually I started thinking maybe she was on to something.

Have you kept any samples of your earliest writings and do you ever go and read them?
Good question! I have them all stored away in big plastic containers at home. I haven't looked at the very earliest stuff, but over the winter break I went back and read something I wrote while I was in high school. It wasn't as cringe-worthy as I expected it to be, but it was...a little...strange to put it nicely. Still, I think the idea had some potential. But it was still nowhere near publishable quality. I really admire people like Hannah Mosk and Kody Keplinger who are publishing novels at such a young age. That's a difficult thing to do--to even be ready to accomplish writing ability wise.

Do you write straight to your computer or do you ever use pen and paper?
Mostly straight to my computer. However, I have taken recently to writing first drafts of short stories using pen and paper. There are definite advantages to the pen and paper. They give you more time to think than typing on a keyboard does. Still, I prefer the keyboard for novels because when I'm working on a novel, I tend to write a pretty large number of words per day and using pen and paper would just take too long.

Do you use personal experiences to hang a story on?
I think there's always a little bit of my life mixed in to each story. Some of my characters "borrow" traits from people I know. I don't think I've ever based a story on an actual event in my life, but I do take a lot of inspiration from things that happened to me. Things that I've observed and/or learned. To me, this is what the phrase "write
what you know" means.

Do you like silence or music in the back ground when you write, and if music what is your favourite and why?
Music. It's my inspiration. I actually did a blog post recently about this. I make a playlist (which is usually really long) and a soundtrack (I try to keep it around 15 songs or so) for each novel. Music helps me feel what the characters are feeling. It helps me get into a certain scene or mood. And sometimes the lyrics even inspire me to know just what to say. I've even gotten story ideas from lyrics before. As to my favorite, I'm not sure. I listen to everything and I do mean everything. If you backed me into a corner and told me I had to choose a favorite, I'd say singer-songwriters. Why? They always tell a story. I'm a big fan of stories.

Why did you choose the genre you have, to write in? Is there any other you might branch into one day? Have you set yourself any particular writing goals?
I've always enjoyed reading the types of romance that I write. That's actually why I wrote to the publisher who ended up giving me a contract. I also write young adult novels because I enjoy reading those, too. Eventually, I would like to put out one romance novel and one young adult novel a year. I would also like to get an agent and
I'm working on that now.

What other goals and dreams do you have?
I would like to first and foremost pass the bar and become a licensed lawyer. Then, I'd like to work in intellectual property law for a few years, more specifically copyright law. I'd eventually like to get my MFA in creative writing and complete a publishing course. After that; I'd like to get a job in the publishing industry, either at a publishing house or a literary agency. So as you see, most of these are long-term goals. And my far-off and unrealistic dream is to one day become a full-time writer.

Why do you say 'unrealistic?
The main reason I call it unrealistic is that the competition out here is so stiff. There areso many good writers out here. Readers have so many great books tochoose from. Who am I to think I'll sell enough books to supportmyself one day? Of course, if I could...dream come true! I'd love tobe the next Brenda Jackson or Nora Roberts if I could.
Thanks on the goals! I'm working hard on reaching them... :)

Do you have a particular writing space and routine?
Not really. I usually sit at my desk because it's the most comfortable writing space in my apartment. There's a coffeehouse I've come to really like and I've started meeting there with a couple of local writers at least once a week. I try to get up early enough in the mornings to do at least 30 minutes of writing before my day starts, but I can rarely manage that. I'm quite a night owl. So most of my writing happens late at night, or rather, in the wee hours of the morning, after I've finished everything else on the day's to-do list.

You enjoy a wide variety of books and writers, do you strive emulate any of them?
Not outright, but I'm sure it subconsciously comes out in my writing. However, there is one author who inspired me to write the very first draft of the novel that is now Love Out of Order. The one I wrote for the contest I mentioned earlier. I'd just read some of J.J. Murray's work right before the contest and I really liked the way he approached the contemporary romance novel. It was different from anything I'd read before. I also really like Crystal Hubbard's approach to contemporary romance now that I've discovered her.

Do you read while you are writing?
I sure do. I tend to read the opposite of the genre I'm writing--not always, but most of the time. For instance, if I'm writing romance at the moment, I'll read young adult and vice versa. Or I'll read something completely different like horror or an 
instream/commercial novel.

What are novels are you working on?
I'm currently working on what I hope will be the last round of revisions before I send off my second novel to the publisher for consideration. I've sent the first three chapters and the synopsis to my publisher, but I'm trying to polish the manuscript up some more
before I send the full thing off to the publisher. Once I send it, they'll let me know if they like it enough to buy it or not and we'll go from there. Also once I send it, I plan to start revisions on my NaNo 2009 project, which I hope will be my third published romance novel. I'm also working on a novella, which I plan to shop to some places that publish shorter length fiction.
I'm also writing a first draft of a young adult novel. I plan to query agents with this novel once it's ready for that stage.

Please tell us a little bit about your new novel?
Sure. Love Out of Order is a love story about law students. Here's the tag line: When a studious second-year law student complicates her life by falling in love, the risky romance she embarks on threatens to destroy her carefully created life.
You can buy it from most online book retailers. Here's a link to my publisher's website where you can also buy it:

Please will you share an excerpt with us?
Love to! In this scene, John and Denise are part of a team that's building a house for charity. John has just showed Denise how to properly sand wood: --

Not far into the sanding, John laughed and put his hand over my sanding hand. Heat flooded from that hand and over the rest of my body.
"Denise," he said, placing his hand on my back, "Have you ever sanded before?"
"No," I said, too busy being aware of how close his body was to mine to have time to feel embarrassed.
"It shows."
"Oh and you do?"
"Yeah. My uncle owns a bunch of construction companies." He said this as if everyone's uncles did and it wasn't a big deal. "I used to help out sometimes in the summers. Back in high school."
"Okay." I realized we were still in a strange embrace, one of his hands still on my back and the other still over mine, holding the sander to the wall.
His eyes moved over my face for a moment and I was frozen in his gaze. Somebody  shouted about needing more nails and broke the trance. I realized somebody should say anything before the awkwardness became any more stifling.
"Fine. You think you're so great? Show me how to sand a stupid wall then," I said, grinning.
He laughed and actually moved closer. I had never known sanding could be so much fun. He stood with his shoulder touching mine, pointing to the wall and giving out instructions in a low voice. The scent of his cologne mixed with sweat and sawdust filled the air around us and I couldn't get enough of it.
"So am I doing it right?" I asked, looking back at him, my hand moving across the wall the way he'd shown me.
"Oh yeah." It didn't sound like John was talking about the wall. He certainly wasn't looking at it. His emerald eyes burned into my brown ones.
I stopped sanding.

Nicole Green

Thank you Niki, for joining us today, and best wishes with your new book.
If you have enjoyed Niki's company today, please leave a comment.

6 February 2010

The Origins of Valentine's Day

It would appear the ancient Romans have a lot to answer for when it comes to Valentine’s Day and its origins.

Back then [approx AD 270] it had nothing to do with romance, love and marriage, but everything to do with Emperor Claudius II need to acquire more soldiers for his armies quickly to fight in his many and unpopular battles. Claudius the Cruel, as he is known, believed that the reason was that roman men did not want to leave their loves or families, so he simply banned marriage and engagements in Rome.

In defiance of the proclamation Valentine and Marius secretly married couples. When his actions were discovered, Valentine was apprehended and dragged before Prefect of Rome who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs. According to history this sentence was carried out on February 14th.

Valentine seems to be an unfortunate name to carry when confronting authority for records show there are three different saints called Valentine, and the were all martyred for their beliefs.

So how on earth did something we celebrate as the symbol of love and romance develop from such macabre origins?

The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavoured to do away with the pagan element in these feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. And as the Lupercalia began about the middle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint Valentine's Day for the celebration of this new feast. So it seems that the custom of young men choosing maidens for valentines, or saints as patrons for the coming year, arose in this way.

In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.

The boys then sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the strips of goat hide.

Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because they believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D.

All I can say is that I’m glad I wasn’t around then!! Give me flowers anytime.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Please tell us what is your most treasured Valentine Day’s memory? And what is your funniest?

4 February 2010


Recently, I came across a comment that indicated foreshadowing was a lazy way of creating backstory, and I so disagreed with the sentiment, I had to go trawling the net to see what I could find.

By definition foreshadow means - To present an indication or a suggestion of beforehand; presage.
If you take that comment literally, I suppose you could almost agree with the initial comment, but if it is used, as most writers do, to add tension, suspense and depth to a story, then dumping a load of backstory defies the original charge.  Instead of adding curiosity and engaing the reader's interest, it is more likey to bore them sufficiently and encourage them to sling the book across the room.

Foreshadowing is a skillful art of dropping hints of events and actions to come.  They may come in a few pages, or the reader may be well into the story when he/she get's that 'ah-ha' connection of the dropped clue in chapter one or two.

Foreshadowing can be so subtle the reader is lead in the direction the author want's them to go without feeling cheated at the end of the book, or it can be sledge-hammer blatant and like a road sign indicates the destination, but it is how the author reaches the destination that will hold the reader's attention until the final page.

In the literary sense, foreshadowing is a technique used to heighten suspense, add depth, and engage the reader through curiosity by dropping hints.

 On Writing.com  Suze the Rock Chic uses Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskerville to illustrate the skifull use of foreshadowing.  As she says, the story is packed full of foreshadowing, and you could be forgiving for thinnking that with the use of so much foreshadowing how on earth did Conan Doyle manage to fill the pages with so much suspense?

Doyle maximised the use of the tool and used every variant of it.  Dialogue, flashbacks, action and description, and it is all set out on a board of great preperation.

You can use foreshadowing  to set up a believable narrative. In other words, it prepares the reader for upcoming events or actions. Like most writing tools, it is how they are used that pursuades readers to come back for more.

Foreshadowing is a powerful tool all writers should become familiar with.

1 February 2010

Please give a warm welcome to today's guest, Clive Warner

Today, please welcome Clive Warner, owner of small press Citiria Publishing, author of "Rebody", "Appointment in Samara" and "Heart Bypass - The Road Map"
Rebody is still available, as is  "Heart Bypass - The Road Map"

Rebody is a SF satire on the American way of life.
 Heart Bypass - The Road Map  ~ I wrote this small nonfiction book as a guide for other patients. I bought several books by medical professionals that turned out to be pretty useless - those people had not experienced it themselves and had little idea of what the patient is going through.

We were talking recently about the importance romance plays in almost every genre of writing; please will you elaborate on this topic?
Back in the Bad Old Days otherwise known as the Golden Age for booksellers, let's say up to the 70's, in science fiction and much fantasy, for example, there was a kind of unwritten rule that there was never any sex in novels, and not a lot of romance either, in many of them.
Since the human race consists of both male and female this always seemed a very sterile way of writing a story. Actually come to think of it, most of the Star Trek series abode by the same rule. The crew of the Enterprise seems strangely sexless. They never have to go to the toilet either.
I didn't start by writing SF, that was just an accident. The first story that really worked was the international adventure, Appointment in Samara. I knew that agents were (a) mainly female, that (b) most book buyers are women, so I decided I simply had to write a strong female character into the story - one that would not only provide the romantic interest but also allow female readers to have an identification character in the thick of the action. I personally can't stand the sort of story where the heroine always falls over when the monster is chasing her and is pretty useless at anything - such as even starting the car to get away from the bad guy. So I wrote the female lead character as stronger in moral purpose than my male lead, if anything. So I tend to see separate lines of conflict in both the romantic interest and the main challenge(s) faced by the characters. Of course if the romance conflict can also strike sparks off the main challenges, that works best of all.
Apart from commercial and non-fiction, is there any genre you can think of that does not include at least one romantic scene in their books?
I believe there are probably quite a few. SF for instance still has many writers stuck in the past where this is concerned. And war fiction too; some of has romance, much of it not. And action-adventure stories - many of the 'Brand Names' really don't do romance. Clancy comes to mind. And some writers are anti-romance; I'm thinking of Patterson, whose novels to me are not far off a form of pornography in the way they exploit violence against women.

In your work as an international project engineer you travelled widely, do you use the locations you visited in your books?

- Yes, I do. I believe in absolute authenticity for locations. I want the reader to be able to fully experience that aspect and be comfortable in the knowledge that if the reader travelled, say, to Lagos, they'd instantly recognise the music, the beer being served, and all the myriad of little details in the scene.

Do you have a favourite location?
- Not really.

Where do you get your ideas from?
-Well, you already know where Rebody came from. I'm presently working on the backstory of "Broken Green Bottles" a general fiction novel set in northern England, 1959, and partly in north Africa (WW2), sixteen years earlier. The idea for the story came from my own childhood, plus a sepia photo of an uncle who died in the war. It was a story I just wanted to do; a story I felt I had to tell. The ideas just come to me.

Are there any special people who particularly inspire you?
That's a difficult question! There are some writers I consider major influences: Philip K Dick, J.G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock, HG Wells.

Are there any special people you have met and would like to meet?
-Interesting people I've met are: Bianca Jagger, Pete Townshend, Stevie Wonder, Rick Wakeman, Barbara Windsor, Ronan O'Rahilly, the CIA guy that attached himself to my Gambia expedition and smoked herb all the way up the river.
Who I'd like to meet: Richard Branson, Keith Richards, Paris Hilton, Mrs Clinton, President Calderon, Subcommandante Zero, Antony Gormley, Michael Moore, Uncle Ernie, The Pinball Wizard, Mr. Kite, John Clees.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’, and if the latter, how much preparation do you undertake before you start writing your story?
I really don't do any preparation at all once I have written down the premise. I have a general idea of story direction in my head, but nothing specific. All direction has to come straight from the characters. Really what I do is set the physical scene up in my mind as if I were constructing a set; then I "press the PLAY button" and watch the scene unfold. It is as if they themselves make decisions and act on them . . . I merely act as a reporter.
Sooner or later the scene "runs out of ideas" and then I have to stop writing until the mystical process of scene generation creates another one. If I get blocked - and it does happen - I generally have to backtrack until I locate the point the story took a wrong direction, and try again from there.
I really detest stories - you see it with Hollywood movies a LOT - where the characters just 'walk through' a predetermined plot.
The only thing I would add is that when I am working in third person, if there are more than three plot lines going on, I will have to establish time-lines for them all to come to conclusions, or risk getting the timing wrong.

The transition from project engineer to writer, publisher and professional editor is quite a leap, can you pin-point the moment when you decided to ‘pick up a pen and write’?
That's difficult. It started with short stories written for local radio in the UK. I spent years trying to write a novel. I didn't understand that I needed to have a hot premise, that the story had to be desperately trying to come out, as it were. And I wasted a lot of time using third person limited because it 'was the way you write a novel' so people told me. Then I decided to try first person and immediately realised it was what I'd been looking for. I do write in third limited these days, but I prefer first person by a long way.

When you write, do you prefer silence or do you enjoy music in the background and if so what is your favourite music?
I prefer solitude. For me, the ideal is to take the laptop into the woods where all I hear is the wind in the trees and the woodpeckers.

Do you have a set space and routine for writing?
Not really . . . I can and do write pretty much anywhere.

What are you working on now? – Not everyone wants to talk about their current project. If you feel like sharing, please will you tell us a bit about your WIP?
Right now I am finishing Broken Green Bottles, writing a textbook for the SAT exam - designed as a companion to the official GMAC guide - and I'm publishing Alien Seeding, by Perry Defiore, in the SF-Horror genre (one of Citiria's genres) so that involves me in quite a lot of design work for the cover, publicity, support for the author and so on. I'm also writing a short story for a competition.

In your multi roles of author, publisher and editor, how important are book reviews to you?
Extremely important. They're the only real way I can tell when I've made everyone happy.

How do you deal with a poor review, and when you receive glowing responses do you acknowledge them?
I've only had one bad review so far, and it was so vituperative that I think the reviewer had personal issues that made the story - it was Rebody, in fact - unacceptable to her. The reviewer even called me a 'potty mouth' because I'd used the words "poo" and "pee" (In a chapter set in a town run by genetically enhanced animals such as dogs and cats . . . )

The other day we were talking about how important it is for an author to promote their book if they want to sell today. Please will you share some of your experience and advice with us?
It is really down to the author these days. Actually, it always has been except for the megastars. Print media won't accept a review copy from any press except imprints of the six big publishers that have taken over the world. So unless you're with Random House or whatever, don't think your book stands any chance of appearing in the New York Times book review.
These days you need to be looking for sympathetic bloggers and similar places who're prepared to give new authors a decent chance. There's still an awful lot of snobbery in publishing.

You have your own publishing company , http://www.citiria.com/citiriapublishing/  so, wearing your publisher’s hat, please will you chare your opinions about the future direction you think the publishing industry is going, and are the bigger companies ready for the changes?
Everything is changing so fast it's hard to keep up. I cannot imagine for instance, bringing out a print book and then a paperback like in the "Good Old Days". I could do so, of course, but it would be pointless. The argument about "hardback first, paperback second" has become one of "Kindle first, or the paperback?"
For instance, I brought out Alien Seeding in Ebook for Mobipocket first, then the paperback, and now I am busy learning new angles - such as, how to prepare versions that can be read easily and conveniently on an iPhone, Blackberry, or other Personal Digitial Devices?
I have the feeling that the publishing industry may go the same way as the record labels. Once E-Readers such as the Kindle and Nook - and their successors - become THE way books are read - and it will happen sooner than we think, to judge by industry feedback - then I don't see any reason why consumers won't simply download the EBooks using Bit Torrent or whatever. Sure the Kindle etc has DRM, but they tried that with music too, and see where that got them.
I really don't think the big publishers are ready. The more the technology changes, the more they seem blinkered, blindly paying vast sums for ghostwritten 'celebrity' books that - usually - end up losing them money and being pulped. And let's face it, the sale - return - pulp model is an environmental horror. I don't see that publishers can justify the model for much longer, or support it financially for that matter.

There was a recent article about the future role of editors. Wearing your editorial hat, do you have any thoughts or opinions you’d like to share?
I think editors should become more and more essential as the potential for pretty much anyone to write a book is with us now, and even to be able to instantly publish it with the likes of Lulu etc.
Unfortunately what we see is that the overhelming majority of self-published writers are apparently unable to recognise the fact that their manuscripts need editing. Consequently the majority of self-published books remain unedited and chock full of egregious errors of every imaginable type: all the way from spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure, (copy editing) to unbelievable characters and / or stories.
Not only that, but most self published books do not even comply with the stylistic conventions for 'book beauty'. We see books set in Times Roman, a font designed for narrow newspaper columns; or Arial, a sans-serif font not designed to be read in large chunks. We see text that is ragged-right margin, books without page numbers . . . and books, mainly, whose authors having spent years, often, writing them, then use a "template cover". People do buy books by their covers! The first thing I learnt when I became a publisher was this: it is a business of zero mistakes. I really mean that.

As you are involved with both publishing and editing, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I was afraid you were going to ask that question. I'd say, you a solid peer group can be a big help. If you're serious, join your local Guild branch in the USA. You will find friendly, professional advice. If you're seriously into SF, for instance, join your local conference group. Same for horror. For any genre, really. And general fiction? Ah, that's more a solitary pursuit, but even there you can find a lot of support on the Internet. The Internet Writing Workshop is a good example. Its first moderator for the novels group taught me how to handle character transitions in limited third person. Before that I had no idea the problem even existed!

What key things should aspiring writers avoid?
Negative people. Too many rejections. If you really do get to the point where you think you'll never be published, and you've already written at least a couple of full length books, it's probably time to find a good editor. I think the worst mistake of all is to endlessly rewrite a first novel in the hope that in one more round of submissions it will win through. It probably won't. If you really have what it takes, you'll be able to write novel after novel after novel. Many writers break through with the third one or fourth. Very few with the first, unless they've got professional help.

Please share a couple of the most amusing incidents you have experienced as an editor and publisher.
This is going back a long time but back in England I once decided to join a "writers circle". It turned out to be eight middle-aged ladies who all seemed to think of themselves as Barbara Cartland look-alikes. (Actually I once met Barbara; she was completely nutty. But that is another story.)
I had brought along my work in progress, a thriller. Quite violent and sexual it was. (My unpublished second novel, about which I will say no more!)
They absolutely insisted I read a section from it. So I did.
I wasn't invited back . . . they were really shocked. Apart from that there hasn't really been anything out of the ordinary.

Please will you telll us a little bit more about Rebody?
The genesis of Rebody was pretty much spontaneous. I happened to have a Professor friend of mine staying with us over Christmas. He's always telling tall stories and I always fall for them. So, he told my family and I over dinner that he'd arranged cryogenic insurance to have his head frozen when he died, hopefully to be resurrected later on.
Now, immediately he said this, I thought about the US health system and its extravagant cost, and it seemed to me that there was an obvious flaw in the idea. Right now people can't afford more basic operations, so what would it cost to arrange a whole new body? So I told him, "By the time they are ready to wake you up, your savings will probably have been taken by your surviving relatives so how will you pay for a new body? You'll probably end up as a domestic slave, with your head driving a glorified vacuum cleaner around."
Immediately the words left my mouth an image of his head on top of a vacuum cleaner came to mind; in that instant I knew I had a story that had to be written, so I rushed to the computer and started typing as fast as I could. That's the way novels are with me: the premise (concept) comes to mind, and after that the characters build the story for me. I merely report what they do.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us before we finish?
I like huge breeds of dog, I write poetry, some of which has been published, I write novels, and I write nonfiction. I'm a firm believer in climate change and think that unless the human race curbs its appetite to breed more people, the planet will be stripped as if by a swarm of locusts.

If you've enjoyed sharing Cilve's experiences  or have any questions, please drop in and leave a comment

Clive, :-) thank you so much for sharing your time and experiences with us today.