Wednesday, October 31, 2012

image from morguefile.com
I feel like I'm having a very authentically spooky Halloween this year--in the dark, with lots of candles. Yeah, we got socked by Hurricane Sandy's powerful winds that toppled trees throughout my neighborhood and killed our electricity Monday night at 10 pm. The electric company estimates it will be restored November 1 at 11 pm. Yeah, that means three days of no electricity. Fun times. Fortunately my hubby's parents have taken us in for the time being.

Halloween is when we celebrate spooky things, which is really kind of strange when you think about it. In most cultures, spooky things are meant to be simply feared or appeased. And yet, here we are laughing about Uncle Harold being the perfect zombie and little Emily's dripping fangs looking oh-so-fabulous. What gives?

Though Halloween has roots in pagan practices, its edge has been somewhat lost because of newer Christian practices that sprung up around it--specifically All Saints Day (Nov 1) and All Souls Day (Nov 2) rituals that channeled all the previous death and spook obsession into celebrations of past heroes of the faith and lost loved ones. Though we're entering a post-Christian era, the sense that we can laugh at spooky things rather than cower is very much rooted in a faith that offers light in dark places and a leader who went through death and came back from it, triumphant. Evil didn't have the final word, and that's something worth celebrating.

How's everyone doing after Hurricane Sandy? What do you think of the "laughing at spooky things" aspect of Halloween?

Chance to win! (and other Ramble News)

Margo Berendsen is hosting an ebook giveaway of Never Gone that runs all week. Don't miss out, enter today! I also wrote a guest post for her about what's unique to a teen's grief experience and my particular take on it, as well as how cross-cultural family dynamics come into play in Never Gone.

I also got to be the special "Sit Down Sunday" guest on Ramblings of a Book Junkie. I talked a bit about how visual people experience grief, my style and all kinds of favorite things beyond raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 Laurel Garver
image from morguefile.com
I feel like I'm having a very authentically spooky Halloween this year--in the dark, with lots of candles. Yeah, we got socked by Hurricane Sandy's powerful winds that toppled trees throughout my neighborhood and killed our electricity Monday night at 10 pm. The electric company estimates it will be restored November 1 at 11 pm. Yeah, that means three days of no electricity. Fun times. Fortunately my hubby's parents have taken us in for the time being.

Halloween is when we celebrate spooky things, which is really kind of strange when you think about it. In most cultures, spooky things are meant to be simply feared or appeased. And yet, here we are laughing about Uncle Harold being the perfect zombie and little Emily's dripping fangs looking oh-so-fabulous. What gives?

Though Halloween has roots in pagan practices, its edge has been somewhat lost because of newer Christian practices that sprung up around it--specifically All Saints Day (Nov 1) and All Souls Day (Nov 2) rituals that channeled all the previous death and spook obsession into celebrations of past heroes of the faith and lost loved ones. Though we're entering a post-Christian era, the sense that we can laugh at spooky things rather than cower is very much rooted in a faith that offers light in dark places and a leader who went through death and came back from it, triumphant. Evil didn't have the final word, and that's something worth celebrating.

How's everyone doing after Hurricane Sandy? What do you think of the "laughing at spooky things" aspect of Halloween?

Chance to win! (and other Ramble News)

Margo Berendsen is hosting an ebook giveaway of Never Gone that runs all week. Don't miss out, enter today! I also wrote a guest post for her about what's unique to a teen's grief experience and my particular take on it, as well as how cross-cultural family dynamics come into play in Never Gone.

I also got to be the special "Sit Down Sunday" guest on Ramblings of a Book Junkie. I talked a bit about how visual people experience grief, my style and all kinds of favorite things beyond raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

Monday, October 29, 2012


by Leigh Talbert Moore
Author, The Truth About Faking

When I started writing The Truth About Faking, it wasn’t going to be as lighthearted as it turned out.  I planned for the main character Harley’s dad to have a crisis of faith because of a terrible disappointment. (Harley’s dad is a Presbyterian reverend.)

The story took a turn when Harley met Jason and then realized she liked him more than her “one true love” Trent—which created a whole different crisis for her. And maybe it was the mood I was in, but I couldn’t seem to keep the whole thing from being funny and romantic and sweet. My drama turned into a rom-com!

But one message I’d intended from the outset remained: Don’t judge others by their appearance. (The whole “book by its cover” adage.)

It’s a message we know by heart, yet I think until we’re actually surprised by someone or something, we pass appearance-based judgments all the time.

Harley decides Trent’s the one for her based on his appearance and his quiet politeness. The town in which Harley lives judges her mother based on appearance. They even decide Harley’s parents have a shaky marriage based on appearance.

Heck, even the town Shadow Falls isn’t shadowy nor does it have waterfalls…

Yeah, I was chasing a theme.

I also kept the religious elements in place. It was a risk maybe. Sometimes readers are put off by religion in books. But the consensus has been in this case, it makes the story more real.

In my experience, church and faith tend to be a big part of life in Small Town, USA. In addition, Christians are often just as guilty of judging books by their covers.

Ultimately, my goal was to make readers think, which I hope TTAF does. How often do we judge people wrongly? How important is it to keep one’s word when it might jeopardize one’s position in the community? 


Thanks so much for having me today, Laurel! I hope readers like my book!

----------------

Leigh Talbert Moore is a wife and mom by day, a writer by day, a reader by day, an editor when time permits, a chocoholic, a lover of YA and contemporary romance (really any great love story), and occasionally she sleeps.

The Truth About Faking is her debut young adult romance. You can find it on
AmazonB&N,  Smashwords and Kobo

ROUGE is the first book in her mature-YA/new adult romance series (available Nov. 11 in all major outlets).

Leigh loves hearing from readers; stop by and say hello:
-Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/leightmoore
-Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LeighTalbertMoore
-Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/leightmoore
-Blog: http://leightmoore.blogspot.com/
-Email: leightmoore(at)gmail(dot)com

Monday, October 29, 2012 Laurel Garver

by Leigh Talbert Moore
Author, The Truth About Faking

When I started writing The Truth About Faking, it wasn’t going to be as lighthearted as it turned out.  I planned for the main character Harley’s dad to have a crisis of faith because of a terrible disappointment. (Harley’s dad is a Presbyterian reverend.)

The story took a turn when Harley met Jason and then realized she liked him more than her “one true love” Trent—which created a whole different crisis for her. And maybe it was the mood I was in, but I couldn’t seem to keep the whole thing from being funny and romantic and sweet. My drama turned into a rom-com!

But one message I’d intended from the outset remained: Don’t judge others by their appearance. (The whole “book by its cover” adage.)

It’s a message we know by heart, yet I think until we’re actually surprised by someone or something, we pass appearance-based judgments all the time.

Harley decides Trent’s the one for her based on his appearance and his quiet politeness. The town in which Harley lives judges her mother based on appearance. They even decide Harley’s parents have a shaky marriage based on appearance.

Heck, even the town Shadow Falls isn’t shadowy nor does it have waterfalls…

Yeah, I was chasing a theme.

I also kept the religious elements in place. It was a risk maybe. Sometimes readers are put off by religion in books. But the consensus has been in this case, it makes the story more real.

In my experience, church and faith tend to be a big part of life in Small Town, USA. In addition, Christians are often just as guilty of judging books by their covers.

Ultimately, my goal was to make readers think, which I hope TTAF does. How often do we judge people wrongly? How important is it to keep one’s word when it might jeopardize one’s position in the community? 


Thanks so much for having me today, Laurel! I hope readers like my book!

----------------

Leigh Talbert Moore is a wife and mom by day, a writer by day, a reader by day, an editor when time permits, a chocoholic, a lover of YA and contemporary romance (really any great love story), and occasionally she sleeps.

The Truth About Faking is her debut young adult romance. You can find it on
AmazonB&N,  Smashwords and Kobo

ROUGE is the first book in her mature-YA/new adult romance series (available Nov. 11 in all major outlets).

Leigh loves hearing from readers; stop by and say hello:
-Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/leightmoore
-Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LeighTalbertMoore
-Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/leightmoore
-Blog: http://leightmoore.blogspot.com/
-Email: leightmoore(at)gmail(dot)com

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I'm over at Melissa Sarno's blog today, talking about a topic dear to my heart--"Let Setting Emerge from Character." I not only explain how I developed and researched settings for my novel, but also give some helpful tips on making setting and characterization support one another.

Why did I set the American portion of Never Gone in New York rather than Philadelphia? Is Ashmede, County Durham, UK a real place? Pop on over to learn the answers!

How important is setting in your work? 
Thursday, October 25, 2012 Laurel Garver
I'm over at Melissa Sarno's blog today, talking about a topic dear to my heart--"Let Setting Emerge from Character." I not only explain how I developed and researched settings for my novel, but also give some helpful tips on making setting and characterization support one another.

Why did I set the American portion of Never Gone in New York rather than Philadelphia? Is Ashmede, County Durham, UK a real place? Pop on over to learn the answers!

How important is setting in your work? 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yesterday was my very first school visit, in which I discussed editing and writing with my daughter's mixed 3rd-4th grade class (her private school has mostly mixed-grade classrooms to encourage peer mentoring).

In addition to talking about what editors do and describing how I switch gears to write fiction, I also shared a little about how to shape a story. The teachers want me to come back and do some more activities on the topic, because this is one of the toughest things for kids ages 8-10. Their ideas are big and sprawling and rapidly become overpopulated and never quite arrive anywhere.

One activity we did together was discuss a basic story arc, and pulled examples from the film How to Train Your Dragon (HtTYD). I think it might be helpful to writers at any level to take a look at these skeleton basics, because we too can lose the forest for the trees:


Eight point plot structure


1. Stasis

This is where we see the normal, every day life of the character--what sort of person they are, and what are the “rules” of the world they live in.

In HtTYD, we meet Hiccup, the techie geek boy with a laughable name, and learn that he lives in a medieval-type Viking culture that has some problems--their weather is terrible and they have a "pest" issue, namely that dragons regularly attack and steal from them. Hiccup is inept at the one thing that matters most--killing dragons. He longs to be respected.

2. Trigger

Something disrupts or changes your character’s normal world. It might be something bad, like Snow White’s stepmother turning against her, or something good like finding a treasure map.

In HtTYD, Hiccup actually succeeds at doing something his culture values--he takes down one of the most feared types of dragons, a Night Fury.

3. Quest

In response to the trigger, the main character wants to do something, whether it’s Snow White fleeing for safety or the map finder seeking the treasure.

In HtTYD, Hiccup realizes he does not want to kill the dragon he injured. He commits to understanding dragons differently than his culture does. 

4. Obstacles and surprises

This is the main portion of the story--the middle--where the main character sets out on the quest and stuff happens. Other characters help or hinder them. Nature and society helps or hinders them. There should be a mix of defeat and victory. The events shouldn’t be too random or too obvious. They should make sense based on who’s in the story and the rules of the story world.

In HtTYD, Hiccup leads a double life, rehabilitating an injured dragon while learning to fight them in training sessions with his peers. He earns Toothless's trust and helps the dragon fly again through trial and error of various prosthetic tails. Meanwhile, he also learns through trial and error how to gain mastery over dragons through what Toothless has taught him about dragon likes and fears. More complications arise as the Toothless rehab project is discovered by Ingrid. In trying to convince Ingrid to think differently about dragons, Hiccup is led to discover the real problem: Toothless and others are bullied by a much worse enemy, the "hive queen." Through a series of events, the village learns about the taming of Toothless and make him their pawn in the war against all dragons.

5. Decision

The ongoing troubles of the quest should lead the main character to decide something important to move the story forward.

In HtTYD, Hiccup decides to rescue Toothless from the villagers and try to stop their raid on the dragon hive, even if it means becoming even more of an outcast than he already is.

6. Climax

This is the big battle the main character has decided to face. It might be a fight with an enemy, or tackling an obstacle that seems impossible, or entering a final test or trial like a sports competition.

In HtTYD, the villagers uncover the truth of the "hive queen" dragon, and Hiccup and the village teens work together to battle this mighty monster with the help of their trained dragons.

7. Reversal

The place the character was before the big battle--their status--is reversed. He or she comes out on top, or maybe thought something would be easy, but fails.

In HtTYD, the teens defeat the "hive queen," proving once and for all that Hiccup's way of seeing the smaller dragons is correct and that he is indeed not inept, but more skilled than anyone else. Hiccup's father Stoic is no longer prideful, but humbled; no longer disdainful, but loving. 

8. Resolution

This is the new normal for the main character. The weakling who has won the battle wins respect. The foolish person who fails wins wisdom. In fairy tales, it’s usual to see the hero or heroine winning a partner, a domain, and a treasure.

In HtTYD, we see Hiccup bearing a "badge of honor" for his culture--a battle injury requiring a prosthesis like his mentor the blacksmith and like his dragon Toothless. We return to a riff on the opening exposition describing the village, but with a twist. Instead of  dragons being "pests" that bring harm, they are now "pets" that improve villagers' lives. 

Hiccup gains Ingrid's affections (partner), a place of respect in the village (domain), and  a tricked-out prosthetic foot-- a battle scar that makes others honor him (treasure).
While there are variations on this most basic of hero's quest, it's a helpful model to keep in mind when you aren't sure how to start a story, how to build toward a satisfying ending, or how to shape incidents into a cohesive whole.


Another back-to-basics...

I'm over at the Rabble Writers' blog today, talking about "Grief faces, not phases." In the post, I discuss how researching the grief process shaped my characterization of Danielle in Never Gone.

Have you used a skeleton plot structure to shape your stories? 
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 Laurel Garver
Yesterday was my very first school visit, in which I discussed editing and writing with my daughter's mixed 3rd-4th grade class (her private school has mostly mixed-grade classrooms to encourage peer mentoring).

In addition to talking about what editors do and describing how I switch gears to write fiction, I also shared a little about how to shape a story. The teachers want me to come back and do some more activities on the topic, because this is one of the toughest things for kids ages 8-10. Their ideas are big and sprawling and rapidly become overpopulated and never quite arrive anywhere.

One activity we did together was discuss a basic story arc, and pulled examples from the film How to Train Your Dragon (HtTYD). I think it might be helpful to writers at any level to take a look at these skeleton basics, because we too can lose the forest for the trees:


Eight point plot structure


1. Stasis

This is where we see the normal, every day life of the character--what sort of person they are, and what are the “rules” of the world they live in.

In HtTYD, we meet Hiccup, the techie geek boy with a laughable name, and learn that he lives in a medieval-type Viking culture that has some problems--their weather is terrible and they have a "pest" issue, namely that dragons regularly attack and steal from them. Hiccup is inept at the one thing that matters most--killing dragons. He longs to be respected.

2. Trigger

Something disrupts or changes your character’s normal world. It might be something bad, like Snow White’s stepmother turning against her, or something good like finding a treasure map.

In HtTYD, Hiccup actually succeeds at doing something his culture values--he takes down one of the most feared types of dragons, a Night Fury.

3. Quest

In response to the trigger, the main character wants to do something, whether it’s Snow White fleeing for safety or the map finder seeking the treasure.

In HtTYD, Hiccup realizes he does not want to kill the dragon he injured. He commits to understanding dragons differently than his culture does. 

4. Obstacles and surprises

This is the main portion of the story--the middle--where the main character sets out on the quest and stuff happens. Other characters help or hinder them. Nature and society helps or hinders them. There should be a mix of defeat and victory. The events shouldn’t be too random or too obvious. They should make sense based on who’s in the story and the rules of the story world.

In HtTYD, Hiccup leads a double life, rehabilitating an injured dragon while learning to fight them in training sessions with his peers. He earns Toothless's trust and helps the dragon fly again through trial and error of various prosthetic tails. Meanwhile, he also learns through trial and error how to gain mastery over dragons through what Toothless has taught him about dragon likes and fears. More complications arise as the Toothless rehab project is discovered by Ingrid. In trying to convince Ingrid to think differently about dragons, Hiccup is led to discover the real problem: Toothless and others are bullied by a much worse enemy, the "hive queen." Through a series of events, the village learns about the taming of Toothless and make him their pawn in the war against all dragons.

5. Decision

The ongoing troubles of the quest should lead the main character to decide something important to move the story forward.

In HtTYD, Hiccup decides to rescue Toothless from the villagers and try to stop their raid on the dragon hive, even if it means becoming even more of an outcast than he already is.

6. Climax

This is the big battle the main character has decided to face. It might be a fight with an enemy, or tackling an obstacle that seems impossible, or entering a final test or trial like a sports competition.

In HtTYD, the villagers uncover the truth of the "hive queen" dragon, and Hiccup and the village teens work together to battle this mighty monster with the help of their trained dragons.

7. Reversal

The place the character was before the big battle--their status--is reversed. He or she comes out on top, or maybe thought something would be easy, but fails.

In HtTYD, the teens defeat the "hive queen," proving once and for all that Hiccup's way of seeing the smaller dragons is correct and that he is indeed not inept, but more skilled than anyone else. Hiccup's father Stoic is no longer prideful, but humbled; no longer disdainful, but loving. 

8. Resolution

This is the new normal for the main character. The weakling who has won the battle wins respect. The foolish person who fails wins wisdom. In fairy tales, it’s usual to see the hero or heroine winning a partner, a domain, and a treasure.

In HtTYD, we see Hiccup bearing a "badge of honor" for his culture--a battle injury requiring a prosthesis like his mentor the blacksmith and like his dragon Toothless. We return to a riff on the opening exposition describing the village, but with a twist. Instead of  dragons being "pests" that bring harm, they are now "pets" that improve villagers' lives. 

Hiccup gains Ingrid's affections (partner), a place of respect in the village (domain), and  a tricked-out prosthetic foot-- a battle scar that makes others honor him (treasure).
While there are variations on this most basic of hero's quest, it's a helpful model to keep in mind when you aren't sure how to start a story, how to build toward a satisfying ending, or how to shape incidents into a cohesive whole.


Another back-to-basics...

I'm over at the Rabble Writers' blog today, talking about "Grief faces, not phases." In the post, I discuss how researching the grief process shaped my characterization of Danielle in Never Gone.

Have you used a skeleton plot structure to shape your stories? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Today I'm over at Karen Akin's blog discussing a tough topic--writing across the secular/sacred genre divide in a post entitled "Edgy? Clean? Writing across genre divides." As Karen notes in her introduction, it will interest anyone who has ever struggled with the question of where faith can fit in fiction. 

This was honestly the toughest post to write for my blog ramble. I know good people who have made hard decisions and altered their work to make it more salable to one market or the other. I mean no disrespect to those who've done this. It's perfectly fair and reasonable to want a publisher's backing to get a book on the market. 

And yet, my decision to self-publish has everything to do with this particular problem--the polarization of the markets.  I know plenty of readers who are frustrated with the lack of reading material that takes faith seriously but doesn't sanitize real life problems. 

The issue is a tough one for many considering what publishing path to take.

What do you think? 




Monday, October 22, 2012 Laurel Garver
Today I'm over at Karen Akin's blog discussing a tough topic--writing across the secular/sacred genre divide in a post entitled "Edgy? Clean? Writing across genre divides." As Karen notes in her introduction, it will interest anyone who has ever struggled with the question of where faith can fit in fiction. 

This was honestly the toughest post to write for my blog ramble. I know good people who have made hard decisions and altered their work to make it more salable to one market or the other. I mean no disrespect to those who've done this. It's perfectly fair and reasonable to want a publisher's backing to get a book on the market. 

And yet, my decision to self-publish has everything to do with this particular problem--the polarization of the markets.  I know plenty of readers who are frustrated with the lack of reading material that takes faith seriously but doesn't sanitize real life problems. 

The issue is a tough one for many considering what publishing path to take.

What do you think? 




Friday, October 19, 2012

Fellow Rabble Writer Madeline Sharples invited me to take part in The Look Challenge for writers. The premise is simple: find a passage in your manuscript or book that contains the word “look,” post it on your blog, and tag five other blogging writers to do the same.

Here's my excerpt, from Chapter 2 of my debut:

As I head toward the bathroom, a flash of blue by the front door catches my eye. Dad’s terry robe. And Dad, straightening frames. He frowns, probably deciding whether to swap some photos. When he gets to the second row, he turns and motions to me. Come.

My hands shake so badly I almost drop my makeup case. He’s still here. Right here. Maybe the phone call, the hospital, the surgeries weren’t real. Just a very vivid nightmare. My feet carry the rest of me, like a sleepwalker, toward him.

When I get there, he’s gone. Before me is the magic photo: the one split second in my short life that I look incredible. It’s not a coiffed, polished glamour shot. No, I’m sweaty and my clothes are rumpled. But I’m floating four feet in the air, my gawky tallness curved like a curlicue C around the high jump bar. My leading arm is like a ballerina’s, legs steely and lean, face full of happy peace. A swan moment.

I tag the following friends:
Deniz Bevan
Faith Elizabeth Hough
Connie Keller
Melissa Pearl
Melanie Schulz

I was surprised that "look" didn't appear more frequently in my story, which has as a theme "good vision" or seeing things correctly, rather than filtered through prejudices and pre-jududgments.

How much "look" ing happens in your work? Is vision the primary sense, or are your stories more strongly auditory and sound-centered?
Friday, October 19, 2012 Laurel Garver
Fellow Rabble Writer Madeline Sharples invited me to take part in The Look Challenge for writers. The premise is simple: find a passage in your manuscript or book that contains the word “look,” post it on your blog, and tag five other blogging writers to do the same.

Here's my excerpt, from Chapter 2 of my debut:

As I head toward the bathroom, a flash of blue by the front door catches my eye. Dad’s terry robe. And Dad, straightening frames. He frowns, probably deciding whether to swap some photos. When he gets to the second row, he turns and motions to me. Come.

My hands shake so badly I almost drop my makeup case. He’s still here. Right here. Maybe the phone call, the hospital, the surgeries weren’t real. Just a very vivid nightmare. My feet carry the rest of me, like a sleepwalker, toward him.

When I get there, he’s gone. Before me is the magic photo: the one split second in my short life that I look incredible. It’s not a coiffed, polished glamour shot. No, I’m sweaty and my clothes are rumpled. But I’m floating four feet in the air, my gawky tallness curved like a curlicue C around the high jump bar. My leading arm is like a ballerina’s, legs steely and lean, face full of happy peace. A swan moment.

I tag the following friends:
Deniz Bevan
Faith Elizabeth Hough
Connie Keller
Melissa Pearl
Melanie Schulz

I was surprised that "look" didn't appear more frequently in my story, which has as a theme "good vision" or seeing things correctly, rather than filtered through prejudices and pre-jududgments.

How much "look" ing happens in your work? Is vision the primary sense, or are your stories more strongly auditory and sound-centered?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

moreguefile.com
Today I'm over at Tyrean Martinson's blog, discussing "Why dads matter." This is a helpful post for anyone who has read Never Gone and wondered why I put my character into some of the tough situations I do.

I told Tyrean, "I was especially interested in exploring the father-daughter dynamic because girls first learn how to relate to boys from interacting with their dads."

But what happens when that teacher and protector figure is no longer in your life?

Pop on over to read more.

How much does psychology inform your writing? Do you agree or disagree with my premise about a father's role in a teen daughter's life?
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 Laurel Garver
moreguefile.com
Today I'm over at Tyrean Martinson's blog, discussing "Why dads matter." This is a helpful post for anyone who has read Never Gone and wondered why I put my character into some of the tough situations I do.

I told Tyrean, "I was especially interested in exploring the father-daughter dynamic because girls first learn how to relate to boys from interacting with their dads."

But what happens when that teacher and protector figure is no longer in your life?

Pop on over to read more.

How much does psychology inform your writing? Do you agree or disagree with my premise about a father's role in a teen daughter's life?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today I have the exciting privilege to be a featured guest at New Zealand blog YAlicious (going international makes me all kinds of excited!). Melissa and Brenda are fantastically supportive of indie authors--please go check out their awesome blog!

I love how our Internet-connected world enables us to build relationships with English-speaking writers and readers all over the globe. No longer is it an obstacle that Melissa and Brenda are across the international dateline from me (through the yesterday/tomorrow conversations get a bit confusing); we can correspond easily. When I think back to the paper and pen days of my childhood, having a pen pal in Texas was exotic for a Pennsylvanian. Now I have online friends in western Canada, South Africa, India, Australia and all over Europe. It's an exciting time to a writer, don't you think?

What benefits do you see in the Internet-connected writing and reading community?




Tuesday, October 16, 2012 Laurel Garver
Today I have the exciting privilege to be a featured guest at New Zealand blog YAlicious (going international makes me all kinds of excited!). Melissa and Brenda are fantastically supportive of indie authors--please go check out their awesome blog!

I love how our Internet-connected world enables us to build relationships with English-speaking writers and readers all over the globe. No longer is it an obstacle that Melissa and Brenda are across the international dateline from me (through the yesterday/tomorrow conversations get a bit confusing); we can correspond easily. When I think back to the paper and pen days of my childhood, having a pen pal in Texas was exotic for a Pennsylvanian. Now I have online friends in western Canada, South Africa, India, Australia and all over Europe. It's an exciting time to a writer, don't you think?

What benefits do you see in the Internet-connected writing and reading community?




Monday, October 15, 2012

Today I'm over at Lynn Simpson's blog, Connecting Stories, talking about the importance of support, both as a theme in my novel, and in my own life as a creative person. I also suggest six ways to offer support and encouragement to writers.

One way I could really use support today is votes for my sample chapters on Wattpad. It's a great place for my target audience to discover my book, provided they know it exists. Could some of you lovely blog buddies take a moment to pop over and vote it to greater visibility? THANKS!

How have you been encouraged and supported as a writer? How do you wish others in your world would support you? 
Monday, October 15, 2012 Laurel Garver
Today I'm over at Lynn Simpson's blog, Connecting Stories, talking about the importance of support, both as a theme in my novel, and in my own life as a creative person. I also suggest six ways to offer support and encouragement to writers.

One way I could really use support today is votes for my sample chapters on Wattpad. It's a great place for my target audience to discover my book, provided they know it exists. Could some of you lovely blog buddies take a moment to pop over and vote it to greater visibility? THANKS!

How have you been encouraged and supported as a writer? How do you wish others in your world would support you? 

Friday, October 12, 2012

They lurk in your manuscript, undetected by spell check, ready to ruin your reputation. Worse, you might not know that these devils do not belong.

What are these twisted, little enemies? Homophones.

This term, from the Latin, means "sound-alikes," not to be confused (as I have in the past) with homonyms, literally "name-alikes." Homonyms are things like the noun "beat," which could mean rhythm, the area a police officer patrols, or the subject area a journalist investigates. Every use is spelled the same.

Homophones, on the other hand, are words that sound the same, but have different meanings AND different spellings. Spell check will not find them because they are legitimate words in their own right. Homophone errors can be some of the hardest to ferret out in your work, in part because you may not be aware of the other term.

Educating yourself is key. And I find that mnemonic devices can really help, too. Here are a few I've tackled so far:

bare and bear
rain, rein and reign 
phase and faze

A few I plan to consider in the coming weeks:
whose and who's, they're and their
than and then
jibe and jive
pore and pour

Ramble news
I've been out and about talking to wonderful bloggers about many aspects of my debut. Here's a recap:
"The perfect fall-into-winter book": a review
Repulsion, Attraction, Connection: Romance is more than "hotness"
In loving memory: how autobiographical is Never Gone? (and a review)
Eleven book trailer tips
Why did I write Never Gone? Tackling "where is God when we suffer?"
Stories of our youth: empathy and transformation
Inspirations, and Why ghosts and God?

Coming next week: I'll be talking to Lynn Simpson on Monday about writer support and to Tyrean Martinson on Wednesday about "Why Dads matter."

What are some homophones that trip you up? Which set would you like me to tackle first?
Friday, October 12, 2012 Laurel Garver
They lurk in your manuscript, undetected by spell check, ready to ruin your reputation. Worse, you might not know that these devils do not belong.

What are these twisted, little enemies? Homophones.

This term, from the Latin, means "sound-alikes," not to be confused (as I have in the past) with homonyms, literally "name-alikes." Homonyms are things like the noun "beat," which could mean rhythm, the area a police officer patrols, or the subject area a journalist investigates. Every use is spelled the same.

Homophones, on the other hand, are words that sound the same, but have different meanings AND different spellings. Spell check will not find them because they are legitimate words in their own right. Homophone errors can be some of the hardest to ferret out in your work, in part because you may not be aware of the other term.

Educating yourself is key. And I find that mnemonic devices can really help, too. Here are a few I've tackled so far:

bare and bear
rain, rein and reign 
phase and faze

A few I plan to consider in the coming weeks:
whose and who's, they're and their
than and then
jibe and jive
pore and pour

Ramble news
I've been out and about talking to wonderful bloggers about many aspects of my debut. Here's a recap:
"The perfect fall-into-winter book": a review
Repulsion, Attraction, Connection: Romance is more than "hotness"
In loving memory: how autobiographical is Never Gone? (and a review)
Eleven book trailer tips
Why did I write Never Gone? Tackling "where is God when we suffer?"
Stories of our youth: empathy and transformation
Inspirations, and Why ghosts and God?

Coming next week: I'll be talking to Lynn Simpson on Monday about writer support and to Tyrean Martinson on Wednesday about "Why Dads matter."

What are some homophones that trip you up? Which set would you like me to tackle first?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yesterday afternoon my daughter and I watched what I believed would be a cute tween film, The Greening of Whitney Brown. About ten minutes in, I felt bad for Brooke Shields and Aidan Quinn for having their names attached to this clunker full of goofy, poorly motivated plot turns and thin characterization.

The biggest problem, according to my daughter, is that the story is "just like Cars." What does she mean? The story features a protagonist who is by all accounts a winner--competent, worshiped, healthy, wealthy. But he/she is simultaneously arrogant, impatient, unkind, boastful, rude. All the things that St. Paul in I Corinthians 13 says that love is NOT.

Both of these stories are based on the Greek tragedy plot, in which a hero full of hubris (false pride) suffers for it and is humbled, which leads to deep personal change, or to death if he refuses to change.

The tricky thing is, a certain segment of the audience will not connect with a Greek tragic hero. Their sense of a good story is shaped by the Judeo-Christian plot of the Messianic hero, figured in Moses and David, Jesus and Peter. These guys come from humble beginnings, get kicked around a lot, sacrifice for others and in the end are exalted.

Interestingly, both plot types assume that proud=bad and humble=good. But the Greek tragic hero method approaches the "lesson" from a punitive stance (punishing the wrong), while the Messianic hero method does so from a reward stance (honoring the right).

What does this mean for your writing? Be aware that getting your audience to connect with a hero who's arrogant and must get his comeuppance is extremely hard to pull off in certain genres. The only YA I've read that does this really well is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. You'd do well to study how she achieves an unlikable queen bee's metamorphosis into a humble and heroic figure.

I think the key to Oliver's success is that she sows seeds of hope for change into the characterization from the beginning. Neither Lightning McQueen nor Whitney Brown show any signs of having an identity apart from arrogantly putting others down. You want them to fail, and it's hard to hang onto audience when they wish nothing but bad for your protagonist.

Ramble news
Today, I'm over at Play off the Page, where Mary Aalgaard interviewed me about inspirations for Never Gone and why I mixed ghosts and God in the story.

Do you prefer to read about Greek tragic heroes or Messianic heroes? Can you think of other Greek tragic hero plots that worked well?
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Laurel Garver
Yesterday afternoon my daughter and I watched what I believed would be a cute tween film, The Greening of Whitney Brown. About ten minutes in, I felt bad for Brooke Shields and Aidan Quinn for having their names attached to this clunker full of goofy, poorly motivated plot turns and thin characterization.

The biggest problem, according to my daughter, is that the story is "just like Cars." What does she mean? The story features a protagonist who is by all accounts a winner--competent, worshiped, healthy, wealthy. But he/she is simultaneously arrogant, impatient, unkind, boastful, rude. All the things that St. Paul in I Corinthians 13 says that love is NOT.

Both of these stories are based on the Greek tragedy plot, in which a hero full of hubris (false pride) suffers for it and is humbled, which leads to deep personal change, or to death if he refuses to change.

The tricky thing is, a certain segment of the audience will not connect with a Greek tragic hero. Their sense of a good story is shaped by the Judeo-Christian plot of the Messianic hero, figured in Moses and David, Jesus and Peter. These guys come from humble beginnings, get kicked around a lot, sacrifice for others and in the end are exalted.

Interestingly, both plot types assume that proud=bad and humble=good. But the Greek tragic hero method approaches the "lesson" from a punitive stance (punishing the wrong), while the Messianic hero method does so from a reward stance (honoring the right).

What does this mean for your writing? Be aware that getting your audience to connect with a hero who's arrogant and must get his comeuppance is extremely hard to pull off in certain genres. The only YA I've read that does this really well is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. You'd do well to study how she achieves an unlikable queen bee's metamorphosis into a humble and heroic figure.

I think the key to Oliver's success is that she sows seeds of hope for change into the characterization from the beginning. Neither Lightning McQueen nor Whitney Brown show any signs of having an identity apart from arrogantly putting others down. You want them to fail, and it's hard to hang onto audience when they wish nothing but bad for your protagonist.

Ramble news
Today, I'm over at Play off the Page, where Mary Aalgaard interviewed me about inspirations for Never Gone and why I mixed ghosts and God in the story.

Do you prefer to read about Greek tragic heroes or Messianic heroes? Can you think of other Greek tragic hero plots that worked well?

Monday, October 08, 2012

morguefile.com
A question I get a lot is whether I  skipped hiring an editor when publishing my novel, since I'm already a professional editor. Surely I just did it myself.

My answer is an emphatic "No!"  See, I currently work on a scholarly journal of literary criticism. Our submissions come from all over the world--people who are smart enough to get into English PhD programs, or even teach in PhD programs. And you know what? Even these smart cookies have typos, misplaced modifiers, subject-verb agreement problems, comma splices, unclear antecedents and the like.

One truth is quite clear to me: we're all blind to our own faults as writers. We all need other sets of eyes on our work. All of us. Always.

Think about  it this way: If you were a surgeon, would you do your own appendectomy? Of course not. You'd want someone skilled who you trust to do it. Your manuscript is as close to you as another limb. You're intimately linked to some of your verbiage because you can't forget how it felt to toil over it. Also, your brain will trick you to see on the page what you meant to say, not what you actually typed.

But a surgeon does know enough about medicine to do quite a lot to improve his own health, short of performing surgery on himself. He doesn't just lay back and expect another surgeon to make him a healthy guy. He eats well, exercises, gets immunizations and check ups. He does what he can with resources he has ready access to. It's the same for us as writers. There's plenty we can do to  improve a novel's health before surgery a.k.a. final editing (yes, this metaphor is getting a bit weird, stay with me...).

I turned to critique groups first of all. I'm blessed to have some really great readers, including several published authors and journalists. They gave me amazing guidance on shaping the plot and characterization, speeding up the pace, fixing plot holes, completing character arcs. There's at least one in each group with an eagle eye for the simple stuff that could be really embarrassing  Like homophone errors (using phase instead of faze for example), weird tense slips, or knowing that Mother Teresa doesn't have an H in it, like nearly every other Theresa I know.  

And yet, I still hired an editor to do a final edit. I knew that in working with so many comments from so many readers (over 20 in all), I needed a strong hand to ensure the whole thing read smoothly. 

Should you try to self edit? Absolutely. You should strive to put the cleanest manuscript you can into an editor's hands, whether you publish traditionally or self-publish. I might say especially if you self-publish, because the messier your manuscript, the more hours of editing time you'll have to pay for out of pocket.

How you self-edit is a question too large for a blog post. I recommend a systematic approach and my favorite resource is Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon. It goes into considerably more depth than other editing resources I've tried that are decent supplements: Fiction First Aid by Ray Obstfeld and Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King. Lyon's book is chock full of checklists, a handy thing for the organizationally challenged.

Ramble News
"Deep personal change isn’t easy, and tragedy has a way of forcing us to grapple with our dark side." I said this and much more in an interview with Michelle Davidson Argyle in her October newsletter.You can view the full piece here. She's also holding an ebook giveaway of Never Gone. You need to subscribe to be eligible to enter.

Never Gone is being featured today at Bish Denham's blog.

The winner of the ebook giveaway at PK Hrezo's blog has been selected!

Have you ever been tempted to forgo working with an editor? Does the surgery metaphor make you reconsider? What are some ways you work to improve your manuscript's health?
Monday, October 08, 2012 Laurel Garver
morguefile.com
A question I get a lot is whether I  skipped hiring an editor when publishing my novel, since I'm already a professional editor. Surely I just did it myself.

My answer is an emphatic "No!"  See, I currently work on a scholarly journal of literary criticism. Our submissions come from all over the world--people who are smart enough to get into English PhD programs, or even teach in PhD programs. And you know what? Even these smart cookies have typos, misplaced modifiers, subject-verb agreement problems, comma splices, unclear antecedents and the like.

One truth is quite clear to me: we're all blind to our own faults as writers. We all need other sets of eyes on our work. All of us. Always.

Think about  it this way: If you were a surgeon, would you do your own appendectomy? Of course not. You'd want someone skilled who you trust to do it. Your manuscript is as close to you as another limb. You're intimately linked to some of your verbiage because you can't forget how it felt to toil over it. Also, your brain will trick you to see on the page what you meant to say, not what you actually typed.

But a surgeon does know enough about medicine to do quite a lot to improve his own health, short of performing surgery on himself. He doesn't just lay back and expect another surgeon to make him a healthy guy. He eats well, exercises, gets immunizations and check ups. He does what he can with resources he has ready access to. It's the same for us as writers. There's plenty we can do to  improve a novel's health before surgery a.k.a. final editing (yes, this metaphor is getting a bit weird, stay with me...).

I turned to critique groups first of all. I'm blessed to have some really great readers, including several published authors and journalists. They gave me amazing guidance on shaping the plot and characterization, speeding up the pace, fixing plot holes, completing character arcs. There's at least one in each group with an eagle eye for the simple stuff that could be really embarrassing  Like homophone errors (using phase instead of faze for example), weird tense slips, or knowing that Mother Teresa doesn't have an H in it, like nearly every other Theresa I know.  

And yet, I still hired an editor to do a final edit. I knew that in working with so many comments from so many readers (over 20 in all), I needed a strong hand to ensure the whole thing read smoothly. 

Should you try to self edit? Absolutely. You should strive to put the cleanest manuscript you can into an editor's hands, whether you publish traditionally or self-publish. I might say especially if you self-publish, because the messier your manuscript, the more hours of editing time you'll have to pay for out of pocket.

How you self-edit is a question too large for a blog post. I recommend a systematic approach and my favorite resource is Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon. It goes into considerably more depth than other editing resources I've tried that are decent supplements: Fiction First Aid by Ray Obstfeld and Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King. Lyon's book is chock full of checklists, a handy thing for the organizationally challenged.

Ramble News
"Deep personal change isn’t easy, and tragedy has a way of forcing us to grapple with our dark side." I said this and much more in an interview with Michelle Davidson Argyle in her October newsletter.You can view the full piece here. She's also holding an ebook giveaway of Never Gone. You need to subscribe to be eligible to enter.

Never Gone is being featured today at Bish Denham's blog.

The winner of the ebook giveaway at PK Hrezo's blog has been selected!

Have you ever been tempted to forgo working with an editor? Does the surgery metaphor make you reconsider? What are some ways you work to improve your manuscript's health?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

I'm over on Dare to Read today, blog of Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban, author of Two Moon Princess and Immortal Love, talking about why I wrote Never Gone, who I think the book would appeal to, the cover design and my publishing and marketing experiences and ideas.

Carmen bumped up the date from when I expected the interview to run, which opens a spot on my schedule next week Wednesday or Thursday. If you'd like a blogging break for a day on 10/10 or 10/11, let me know in the comments (with an e-mail address, please). I'd be happy to do a guest post on a topic of your choice, or an interview. (And if more than one of you volunteers, I also have slots in late November and early December.)

The ebook giveaway continues at PK Hrezo's blog. Easy entry--just give an e-mail address. Extra entries for tweeting and following me on Facebook and Twitter.

Tell me about what you're working on. Why are you working on this particular project? What ideas and themes drive your writing?
Thursday, October 04, 2012 Laurel Garver
I'm over on Dare to Read today, blog of Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban, author of Two Moon Princess and Immortal Love, talking about why I wrote Never Gone, who I think the book would appeal to, the cover design and my publishing and marketing experiences and ideas.

Carmen bumped up the date from when I expected the interview to run, which opens a spot on my schedule next week Wednesday or Thursday. If you'd like a blogging break for a day on 10/10 or 10/11, let me know in the comments (with an e-mail address, please). I'd be happy to do a guest post on a topic of your choice, or an interview. (And if more than one of you volunteers, I also have slots in late November and early December.)

The ebook giveaway continues at PK Hrezo's blog. Easy entry--just give an e-mail address. Extra entries for tweeting and following me on Facebook and Twitter.

Tell me about what you're working on. Why are you working on this particular project? What ideas and themes drive your writing?

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Today I'm discussing a book that shaped me as a reader and a writer over at Author Jennifer R. Hubbard's blogs on Blogger and Live Journal. Jenn asked specifically about something I'd read as a kid, and it was hard to choose just one title. But I think you'll see how my early reading experience shaped the kind of story I'm drawn to.

My ebook giveaway at PK Hrezo's blog runs through Saturday. If you haven't entered yet, pop on over HERE and do it! Super easy entry--just give an e-mail address. Extra entries for tweeting about it, as well as Twitter and Facebook follows.

What's a book you loved as a child that has deeply influenced you?
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 Laurel Garver
Today I'm discussing a book that shaped me as a reader and a writer over at Author Jennifer R. Hubbard's blogs on Blogger and Live Journal. Jenn asked specifically about something I'd read as a kid, and it was hard to choose just one title. But I think you'll see how my early reading experience shaped the kind of story I'm drawn to.

My ebook giveaway at PK Hrezo's blog runs through Saturday. If you haven't entered yet, pop on over HERE and do it! Super easy entry--just give an e-mail address. Extra entries for tweeting about it, as well as Twitter and Facebook follows.

What's a book you loved as a child that has deeply influenced you?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I recently finished a new novel by the lovely Leigh T. Moore, a YA romantic comedy called The Truth About Faking. 

This sparkling novel explores, among other things, the games we play in search of love. The protagonist Harley Andrews is certain her true love is Trent, the boy who doesn't really notice her (her inner monologues about it are so funny and true to life). She convinces the new boy in town, Jason,  to "fake date" her to help Trent "see the light." But the role playing leads to all sorts of strange complications Harley couldn't anticipate, including having feelings for the stand in.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that roles are a big problem in Shadow Falls. Harley's mother, for example,  defies expectations of what pastor's wife should be like, especially in conservative circles. She's into natural remedies and a massage therapist, which I thought was a brilliant choice on Moore's part,  because Christianity can often have a really fraught relationship with the body. Being fit and athletic is one thing, but massage is definitely on the fringe of dangerous territory. Yet Mrs. Andrews is incredibly professional about her work that is, after all, a way of relieving suffering--exactly the kind of thing a devout person should do. The church gossips who look for opportunities to make trouble for her look very petty in comparison.

But there's a price to paid for breaking stereotypes. And the biggest is the rift between mother and daughter when Harley herself begins questioning her mother's integrity. And that's where the core of the story got really interesting. The family plot and romantic plot  begin to echo each other in fascinating ways. Not only does Harley misjudge her mother and the student who works with her,  but she also jumps to all the wrong conclusions about the competing love interests, Trent and Jason. 

All these misperceptions begin to grown into mistrust, and then gossip, and wreak havoc in the small community. As things come to a head, Harley sees the how all these misperceptions play out, and how she's been on the wrong side. She's played her role as squeaky-clean pastor's daughter to a degree that she hasn't been loving to her family or living her faith well. Behind her "upright, good girl" mask, she has a compassionate heart and works hard to repair relationships.

Moore's dialogue is wonderfully authentic and witty, and her depiction of the intertwining lives of the ensemble of characters felt very real. I loved the nuanced view of the good and bad in Harley's church community also--a breath of fresh air when so many books for YA readers depict religious people in a thoroughly negative manner.

The fabulous voice and romantic tension kept me turning pages. The question of how we each contribute to problems in our community stuck with me long after I finished reading.

The Truth About Faking is available in paperback and as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

What have you been reading lately?
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 Laurel Garver
I recently finished a new novel by the lovely Leigh T. Moore, a YA romantic comedy called The Truth About Faking. 

This sparkling novel explores, among other things, the games we play in search of love. The protagonist Harley Andrews is certain her true love is Trent, the boy who doesn't really notice her (her inner monologues about it are so funny and true to life). She convinces the new boy in town, Jason,  to "fake date" her to help Trent "see the light." But the role playing leads to all sorts of strange complications Harley couldn't anticipate, including having feelings for the stand in.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that roles are a big problem in Shadow Falls. Harley's mother, for example,  defies expectations of what pastor's wife should be like, especially in conservative circles. She's into natural remedies and a massage therapist, which I thought was a brilliant choice on Moore's part,  because Christianity can often have a really fraught relationship with the body. Being fit and athletic is one thing, but massage is definitely on the fringe of dangerous territory. Yet Mrs. Andrews is incredibly professional about her work that is, after all, a way of relieving suffering--exactly the kind of thing a devout person should do. The church gossips who look for opportunities to make trouble for her look very petty in comparison.

But there's a price to paid for breaking stereotypes. And the biggest is the rift between mother and daughter when Harley herself begins questioning her mother's integrity. And that's where the core of the story got really interesting. The family plot and romantic plot  begin to echo each other in fascinating ways. Not only does Harley misjudge her mother and the student who works with her,  but she also jumps to all the wrong conclusions about the competing love interests, Trent and Jason. 

All these misperceptions begin to grown into mistrust, and then gossip, and wreak havoc in the small community. As things come to a head, Harley sees the how all these misperceptions play out, and how she's been on the wrong side. She's played her role as squeaky-clean pastor's daughter to a degree that she hasn't been loving to her family or living her faith well. Behind her "upright, good girl" mask, she has a compassionate heart and works hard to repair relationships.

Moore's dialogue is wonderfully authentic and witty, and her depiction of the intertwining lives of the ensemble of characters felt very real. I loved the nuanced view of the good and bad in Harley's church community also--a breath of fresh air when so many books for YA readers depict religious people in a thoroughly negative manner.

The fabulous voice and romantic tension kept me turning pages. The question of how we each contribute to problems in our community stuck with me long after I finished reading.

The Truth About Faking is available in paperback and as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

What have you been reading lately?

Monday, October 01, 2012

Happy October, friends! It's a cool, crisp day here in Philadelphia and autumn is beginning to weave its magic. I picked up my favorite cool-weather treat over the weekend at a Celtic music festival: Ribena! It's a British juice concentrate made from black currants that's super delicious made with hot water.

You know what else is magical? The wonderful friendships I've made with other bloggers. Today my friend PK Hrezo is hosting a giveaway of my debut novel Never Gone on her blog. Pop on over HERE to check it out and enter!

And the lovely Leigh Moore posted a review of Never Gone on her blog. A highlight: "It is so good. The writing is gorgeous the story is haunting (literally!) and it ends just perfectly."

Tomorrow I'll be back to talk about Leigh's sparkling YA contemporary novel, The Truth About Faking. Leigh and I will be doing a blog swap on October 29, which I'm very excited about, talking about how we handled religious themes in our books.

Go forth! Enter PK's giveaway! Check out Leigh's review!

Do you love autumn as much as I do? Why or why not?
Monday, October 01, 2012 Laurel Garver
Happy October, friends! It's a cool, crisp day here in Philadelphia and autumn is beginning to weave its magic. I picked up my favorite cool-weather treat over the weekend at a Celtic music festival: Ribena! It's a British juice concentrate made from black currants that's super delicious made with hot water.

You know what else is magical? The wonderful friendships I've made with other bloggers. Today my friend PK Hrezo is hosting a giveaway of my debut novel Never Gone on her blog. Pop on over HERE to check it out and enter!

And the lovely Leigh Moore posted a review of Never Gone on her blog. A highlight: "It is so good. The writing is gorgeous the story is haunting (literally!) and it ends just perfectly."

Tomorrow I'll be back to talk about Leigh's sparkling YA contemporary novel, The Truth About Faking. Leigh and I will be doing a blog swap on October 29, which I'm very excited about, talking about how we handled religious themes in our books.

Go forth! Enter PK's giveaway! Check out Leigh's review!

Do you love autumn as much as I do? Why or why not?