Friday, December 4, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 Success & December WotF Deadline

Now that NaNoWriMo is over and done with, time to return to the blog with a post regarding two matters: first a couple paragraphs reflecting on progress during November on the supernatural noir novel, Hum in the Highways, followed by a few paragraphs on plans for December, such as another short story for Writers of the Future by Dec. 31st.

First of all, progress during November was basically a success. I passed 50K and the novel is in relatively good shape, currently sitting at 52,412 words, with plenty more scene placeholders and transitions to fill in. I tried to fill in every section of the novel in equal proportion, and I found that a very motivating and useful approach for myself. The ending changed a great deal, for the better, and I will probably be cutting and refitting the current structure after finishing the complete draft (the goal for that is the end of January, due to other priorities in December).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Software and tools for planning a first draft: colored pencils, Scrivener, and more

Last week before NaNoWriMo begins. Everyone excited?

I wanted to run through some of my favorite tools for writing, in relation to planning for a first draft. Please share your favorites as well.

This year my planning has made the most use of Scrivener and Snowflake Pro, as well as the trusty ol' mix of pens, pencils, colored pencils, portable notebooks, lined paper and graph paper. I also enjoy using the timer of Write or Die 2, the word trackers from Svenja Gosen, and keeping notes and copies of documents on Google Drive and Evernote.

(1) Pens, Pencils, Portable Notebook, Lined and Graph Paper

This goes first, as it's the most important in my opinion. The screen is great and all but it can be draining. When I find myself gazing aimlessly, the screen can be part of the problem. So I stop, look away, take out pen and paper, and use that to write.

For my planning, I use a lot of graph paper to chart character and plot movements, and maps of locations, events, ideas, recurring elements, and so on. Colored pencils are great for this. I usually take 3-5 elements I'm interested in following in relation to a particular character or plot and chart them, before writing out summaries or further details that push my story into exciting territory.

I use lined paper and jot out the endless stream of ideas that is hard to record. If you're not getting a stream of ideas, try tapping into the areas of the story that excite you and explore those from different angles. Or try tapping into areas you don't think will excite you, and see if there's something you missed there - you never know. Tap in through freewriting, categorizing, visualizing while engaged in some physical activity, doodling, listing, interviewing, concrete poetry.

Another trick, take out several books you think might inspire you with the current project. Last night, I took out Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Alexievich's Voices From Chernobyl, Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters, Kiernan's Threshold, and Winterson's The Daylight Gate. Most of these are books in the 1st-person like the novel I'm about to start and with a theme or character background relevant to my current project. I then engrossed myself in a section from each. As I read, I marked passages I would need to revisit with sticky notes. I kept my handy black moleskin-style notebook nearby to jot out any ideas that came. And they came quickly. I had several pages of notes on character background, not copied from the books, but inspired by however the people in those books were discussing their problems. It can be one of the best ways to get inspiration. You just need to make sure you copy those notes to a relevant folder later on so that you can use those notes when needed. Or at the next opportunity, incorporate the notes directly into the file on whatever plot, place, character you were writing in relation to.

The portable notebook is a must. This allows me to continue writing, or at least gearing up to write, while out of the house, at work or wherever. If I could rid myself of the day job, I would, but it's important to not let a day job ruin what you really want to be working on, at least if you want to succeed, and by succeed, I mean continue writing deeper and to completion. So, take as many tiny breaks as you can to take note of useful ideas, to expand on planning, or to visualize scenes. Visualizing a scene is the perfect way to make your next writing session productive, and it's fine to do all the visualizing in your head without pen or paper, but I find it beneficial to take written on during or after visualization, as a lot can happen in life before you reach that writing session, and you don't want to lose that time spent visualizing.

(2) Scrivener. This is of course super popular, so I'll try to spare you too much praising. It allows me to keep everything together and easily found. It also makes it easy for me to line up my chapters and scenes with summaries and notes visible, then proceed to quickly reorganize them into a more suitable order. I usually spend a great deal of time planning with pen and pencil, lined paper and graph paper, jotting out notes on everything, making charts of the plot and character movements I forecast as most suitable to the story, making maps and free writes on world-building aspects. After that, I'll translate it all to Scrivener to make sure it's clear and easily found again.

So in my Scrivener this year, I have the manuscript folder with 4 Act folders divided into chapters based on character POVs, and each chapter folder is divided into 1-6 scene documents with quick descriptors and scene summaries. Below the manuscript folder, I have a daily targets folder with 30 documents set up with word goals for each day of November (currently it's 2000 per day on weekdays and 4000 per day on weekends - I'll start high and adjust it over the course of the month, if it's not working for me; if I miss a day, I'll make up for it by adjusting goals for future days, so no need to stress about it).

Next I have Characters and Places folders with one list of all of them for a quick look, then documents for each one with more detail. For my Places folder this year, I also included a signboards document, so that I can track the language used in a specific recurring element placed throughout the novel's story. It wouldn't be a bad idea to have a separate Objects folder to track such things. You can of course use keywords, tags, and whatnot, in Scrivener, which I have and will continue to use, but overall I prefer making a single document devoted to a specific type of elements and listing them all together for quick access. I spend enough time with search engines, that I'd prefer to minimize the time applying search engines to my own stories.

Following that, I have the Plotting folder with documents specific to beats that must happen, themes/mysteries to dig into, scene summaries, one-sentence story line, one-paragraph summary, one-page short synopsis, and an old story summaries for those ideas I dropped but might reuse in some way. I also have folder for Ideas (brainstorming), Change Log (anything I need to remember to go back and change after finishing the current draft), Older Drafts/Scenes (this makes it much smoother when cutting - you don't have to feel bad about losing that scene you love when it's still sitting in this folder), Related Readings (mostly to list readings that inspire the voice of specific characters in the story), Related Music, Research, Other, Templates, and Publishing.

(3) Snowflake Pro. You don't need this software. You honestly don't need any software. But it is worth using the snowflake method to some extent. I dig the approach of starting simple and building on it until you have your unique cold and gritty, refreshing and wet snowflake. As for the actual software, the lecture notes and examples are nice, the character charts to the point, and the functionality tying scene lists to the other character and plotting steps is a welcome touch. Still, you can do it all within Scrivener, so read up on the method and see if there's anything you can incorporate into your current writing approach.

(4) Write or Die 2. I definitely use this a lot, though not for every writing session. It was a godsend when I was writing all my scene summaries. I use the timer in reward mode, so I hear tibetan bowls when I hit 500 words. It's nice to have a writing area focused only on the specific thing you are writing. It's also nice to have a way to quickly adjust the word count goal and time limit of writing sessions. Perfect for  fitting in daily sessions in a life that's packed too full of other responsibilities. I do recommend getting a clear idea of what you will be writing before you start. If you're doing a random journal or freewrite, fine, but otherwise, no. You can write at quality and speed with no issue as long as you know what you'll be writing before you start. Keep that in mind and this is one of the best pieces of writing software out there.

(5) Svenja Gosen's NaNoWriMo Word Tracker Spreadsheets.
I love the work put into these. They include excellent word count and progress functionality and sections for character details and plot points. I just use it for the word tracking, as the rest I stick in my own custom folders in Scrivener, but it's not bad having those other bits in there. Not to mention, notes and examples are included if you need any jogging of the brain on particular elements.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Planned Novel for NaNoWriMo 2015

For NaNo this year, I'll be working on expanding one of my short stories into a novel, tentatively named Hum in the Highways. I've probably come up with my most promising outline for a story yet, so I'm rather excited to start the actual writing soon to see if it pans out. For now, I'm sharing the one-sentence storyline: an escaped convict battles lycanthropy with the aid of a manipulative cyborg poet.

The short story it's based on was a story I submitted to Writers of the Future at the end of September. The story was written in 2014 but set aside while I worked on other stuff - mostly the larger science-fiction novels that I'll be putting on hold. Then I expanded it into a full short story after joining the August writing prompt contest hosted by Eugene Writer's Anonymous. It was a high-tech fairy tale theme for that prompt, but my story insisted on remaining very noir in attitude and significantly post-apocalyptic in terms of tech.

It's definitely another case of me reveling in stories that cross-genres, which is no surprise since those are often the stories I enjoy as a reader. That being said, the story is being placed in the Horror/Supernatural genre as its touchstone. I certainly imagine most fans of this story will be fans of that particular genre. The main characters must repeatedly deal with a few horrific and supernatural elements in their attempts to be at peace with their mistakes and external pressures. Looking forward to sharing more in the future.

The other promising approach and change to writing I'm bringing to NaNo this time, is my writing schedule. I'm typically a night person, but that didn't seem to be entirely true anymore for whatever reasons (mostly likely culprits being having kids and starting a job at a kindergarten), so I decided to up and change my schedule. I now aim to get up at 4:30, start writing at 5 (or 5:30 at the very latest), and get in an hour to an hour half of writing every week day morning. My weekend mornings are similar: wake at 4:30, write from 5 or 5:30 until 9 or 10 am (aiming for about 3 hours). So far this schedule has been a great success and I seem to have a lot more energy than I did before. The word count goals for that schedule are 1500 words per day on weekdays, and 3000 words per day on weekends. And of course, challenges will come up, so I will remain flexible enough to carry on and adapt this as needs be.

That's all for now. Good luck to any other writers out there.


EDIT: sharing a few more details, in the form of a few Qs related to the storyline and a list of the major characters.

Storyline: An escaped convict battles lycanthropy with the aid of a manipulative cyborg poet.

Can they fend off the predators that lurk at the end of their careers? Can they avoid the agents that seek to shove them back in prison? Can they save their love from becoming a manipulative game between monsters?

Probably not.

Sum-up of Major Characters:

Atena Maverick is a leader who loves action and hates authority. She's also a hotel maid, a mechanic, a street fighter, and an ex-convict wanted for assault and murder. As she battles lycanthropy and the voices in her head, she's going to do everything in her power to prevent her relationship with Jewels from falling apart. That's the only good thing in her life after all.

Hervé Bijoux, known as Jewels to Atena, is a sexy, manipulative poet, who managed to crush cancer and stay alive thanks to the miracles of a new cyborg body. As a significant creative and social mover for the biggest corporation around, she does her best to balance caring for her bull-headed girlfriend and managing the on-demand rush of her career.

Madoc Rattigan, or Mute as his friends call him, is the sidekick, pervert, do-gooder, and general fuck-up. As an errand-boy and thief, he skates around the horrors of the city and the desert, barely a step away from another prison cell.

Ronald Weston is the manager of a center for juvenile delinquents and an insistent political power, who Atena despises and distrusts.

Cauthes Ganedin is a witch doctor for a gang roaming the barren deserts of the Highways, who Atena doesn't particularly like either.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Clive Barker on fantastic fiction in the Weaveworld intro

From the 2001 edition of Clive Barker's 1987 novel Weaveworld, the introduction written by him contains a reflection on the fantastic fiction I thought worth reading. I recommend reading the entire introduction, but this is the part that stood out to me:

In the past fourteen years I’ve gone through periods when I was thoroughly out of sorts with the novel, even on occasion irritated that it found such favor with readers when other stories seemed more worthy. And in the troughs of my discomfort, I made what with hindsight seems to be dubious judgements about fantastic fiction as a whole. I have been, I think, altogether too disparaging about the “escapist” elements of the genre, emphasizing its powers to address social, moral, and even philosophical issues at the expense of celebrating its dreamier virtues.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew

Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew
Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Focused workshop book that does its job with intelligence and is wise enough to keep authorial opinion clearly marked as exactly that. Highly recommended for writer's groups everywhere, but if you're a lone wolf like me then it's still quite valuable, as the book is written in a surprisingly flexible yet useful manner. You can find some examples of the writing exercises on my blog. A book I'll be coming back to again and again as the exercises within are worth repeating many times.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

POV exercise on "Being the Stranger" (Exercise 9 Part 2 from Steering the Craft)

Finally, an update to the blog. I've been busy with stuff (day job, family life, hobbies, so on and so forth). I must learn to consistently manage all of that better in order to make more updates on this blog. We're shooting for weekly updates here. C'mon.

Anyway, on to the post at hand. We're nearing the end of Steering the Craft. Four more exercises to go then we'll have one complete run-through posted on this blog. Finished this one last week so I might as well post it for interested readers.

Exercise 9 Part 2: Being the Stranger
Write a narrative of 200-600 words, a scene involving at least two people and some kind of action or event.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Pure Dialogue Exercise from Steering the Craft (Exercise 9, Part 1)

I'll be back with more later for Exercise 7 and 8 (which, along with novel progress, has kept me busy). For now, a quick one from Exercise 9, Part 1: Telling It Slant.

Part One: A & B
(Note that the assignment is quoted from page 119-120 of Steering the Craft by Ursula K Le Guin)
The goal of this exercise is to tell a story and present two characters through dialogue alone.
Write a page or two – word count would be misleading, as dialogue leaves a lot of unfilled lines -  a page or two of pure dialogue.
Write it like a play, with A and B as the characters’ names. No stage directions. No description of the characters. Nothing but what A says and B says. Everything the reader knows about who they are, where they are, and what’s going on, comes through what they say.
Note: A& B is not an exercise in writing a short story. It’s an exercise in one of the elements of storytelling. You may, in fact, come out with a quite satisfactory little playlet or performance piece, but the technique is not one to use much or often in narrative prose.

Note on the story: while A is a completely new character, B is actually based on a character from a work-in-progress. Rather unfair to the A bloke. Aw well. Comments welcome as always.
I always found writing pure dialogue a lot of fun and it leaves a lot of loose ends or open space from which to write a fuller story from. And there was some great explanation of this and the focus of this chapter (telling a story indirectly) in Steering the Craft - recommended.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Steering the Craft, Exercise 7, POV: The Decadent Serpent

Time to dive into Exercise 7: POV (page 91 of Steering the Craft)

To sum-up from the previous post:
200-350 words narrative sketch, event with 4+ people, little or no dialogue
Part 1.1: limited third person, 1st POV
Part 1.2: limited third person, 2nd POV
Part 2: detached narrator
Part 3: observer narrator, an onlooker POV told in first or third person
Part 4: involved author

I wanted to work with something completely new for this exercise. My brainstorm went with a weird sci-fi missing person story, but I'm going to come back to that on my second run through this. I put more energy into my second brainstorm. The first two POVs (part 1.1 and part 1.2) are done enough to post. The rest will follow later this week. As always, comments welcome. Enjoy!

The Decadent Serpent

Keep writing

Just noticed this post on Goodreads. For the writers who glance at my blog: quotes on beating back writer's block. At times, I argue that writer's block doesn't really exist, so perhaps my favorite quote here is Chuck Wendig's "I shove it out of the way and keep writing." But I suppose the main thing I do in order to keep writing is what B J Novak does: I write something else that seems like pure fun. Then when I get stuck on that, the first thing I was working on seems magically more appealing..."

If you do read this short post and link above and feel like commenting, you're more than welcome to, dear reader. Would love to hear your thoughts and advice on keeping on writing and beating back all the countless odds and ends that try to stop one from writing.

Now, to take a look at the fantasy narrative sketch I've been secretly working on in response to that previously mentioned exercise 7 (yes, there is also a weird sci-fi possibly horror one in response to that which is also still in the works). Be back later.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kameron Hurley's post on earnings from books

And a morning post before running off to work. One of the authors I like (I'm still reading through her Mirror Empire novel from late last year), Kameron Hurley wrote a blog post detailing earnings from her books. Somewhat obvious (we all know the writing business is tough), but thanks for bringing it to my attention i09: The Truth About Books, Money, Awards (And Not Quitting Your Day Job). The details are in the post itself though. Off to enjoy my day job and a beautiful ride through the snow. 'Til tonight then!

Steering the Craft, Exercise 7: POV

Been feeling exhausted due to my day job I guess (perhaps fighting off the hint of sickness as well?), and gotten distracted by several reads (this week I've been focused on The Scar by China Mieville, The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti, Ebb Tide by Thad Wind, and my listen to The Scar by Marina Dyachenko and Sergey Dyachenko - all great reads, will try to give them decent reviews when I finish them up) - I suppose I should get a Goodreads widget on this blog - but I am looking forward to getting a draft done for the next Steering The Craft exercise. I really like the next one: it has the writer write the same scene from several different POVs. Certainly could be used as an excellent brainstorming method, or character/setting/scene development technique, to use on current works-in-progress (which I admit is exactly what I've been using pretty much all of these exercises for thus far), but I decided to make up something completely new for this exercise. Was thinking something in the horror genre, but it looks like it may end up more odd sci-fi than anything dark or horrific. There's still time for it to warp though, so we'll have to wait and see. Tomorrow night should lend me plenty of writing time to make up for a busy week.

For now, the details on the exercise (there was a lot more detail on the POVs in the book that I would recommend reading - I found them all very concise and understandable explanations and examples):

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Steering The Craft, Exercise 6: The Old Woman

Exercise 6 is incomplete at the moment as the story struck me as deserving of expansion and some extra thought, but it may be worth a read for those interested in the writing process, which is, of course, one intended audience of this blog. Will update when more has been written, but for now, version one and two can be found below.

Exercise Six: The Old Woman

The assignment:

"This should run to a page or so; keep it short and not too ambitious, because you're going to have to write the same story at least twice.
The subject is this: An old woman is washing the dishes, or gardening, or editing a Ph.D. dissertation in mathematics, or... whatever you like, as she thinks about an event that happened in her youth.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Steering The Craft: Exercise 4, Part 3: Structural Repetition

I almost decided not to post part three of exercise four, or at least write an entirely new one for posting, as it contains possible minor spoilers of the series-in-progress, but the details may change a great deal, and hell, if it happens to stir up interest in any of you readers, I would love to know what begs more focus in your opinion and why. I'm sure this is an exercise I'll be repeating many times.
Anyhoo, onwards, to the content.

Exercise Four, Part Three: Structural Repetition

Assignment (quoted directly from the book): write a short narrative (350-1000 words) in which something is said or done, and then something is said or done that echoes or repeats it, perhaps in a different context, or by different people, or on a different scale. This can be a complete story, if you like, or a fragment of narrative.

*Note: I didn't stay within the assignment's word count. In fact, the draft below is in two parts and each part is about 1500 words or so. Each part contains two different characters echoing the other's situation. Let me know how it works for you. Who knows, the day in this exercise could be developed into a short story placed between the two planned books that have been written in an almost complete first draft.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Issues with Present Tense

I usually post quotes that strike me on my Goodreads account when I update the page number I've reached in a particular book I'm enjoying, usually just to remind myself to go back and read it at a later point, but I always get annoyed by the word limit. Seeing as such just happened with my read of Steering The Craft, I might as well start posting more quote on my revived blog.

Here's a fairly short quote regarding Ursula K Le Guin's opinion on the present tense. This is from an extended opinion section of Chapter Six (yes, this post is likely leading into a pending post of Exercise 6) - I really like how Le Guin made the decision to separate her opinion into sections, so as not to preclude discussion of the chapter focus (like say how Sol Stein on writing certainly does...) but still allow herself to share what she's found true over the years. Anyway, the quote to consider:

"[...] A narrow focus isn't more immediate: it merely leaves out more. By avoiding temporal context and historical trajectory, present-tense narrative simplifies the world [...] This avoidance of complexity leads away from inwardness, either of the characters' or the author's mind. So it may gain vividness, clarity, a linear simplicity, at the cost of a great deal else - including real, felt immediacy.
"Neither Schwartz nor I argue with the maxim 'Show, don't tell' if it means that it's better to narrate through examples not generalities, to be vivid not vague. But we both question the maxim when it's extended to mean: List actions and objects, but don't interpret, lest you be seen as judgmental; don't show emotion, lest you be seen as unsophisticated; keep your voice impersonal, lest you risk a genuinely immediate relationship to your reader.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Steering The Craft: Exercise 5: Chastity

Well, Exercise Four Part Three is proving quite useful for diving deeper into the world of my novel, revealing the name of a character's persona I suppose was already being fleshed out, but the piece is also now 2500 words and who knows if it will end up being shared here or not. In the meantime, enjoy a quick read through of the straightforward exercise below. It contains a completely new story to develop. Yeah! And eww, get off me adverb clumped with adjective. I mean to say, it contains a story that shines and glitters and glows. Or rather, it falls into a jungle.

Exercise Five: Chastity
Assignment: write a paragraph to a page (200 – 350 words) of descriptive narrative prose without adjectives or adverbs. No dialogue. The point is to give a vivid description of a scene or an action, using only verbs, nouns, pronouns, and articles. Adverbs of time (then, next, later, etc.) may be necessary, but be sparing. Be chaste.
Critiquing: would the piece be improved by the addition of an adjective or adverb here and there, or is it satisfactory without?

Guiredin stomped through the mud. The door clicked as his child closed it. They had said their farewells over a meal: they tore bread off in chunks and swished milk down after it then Guiredin clamped a hand on Melite’s shoulder and nodded. Melite smiled and hefted a bucket from the floor. Guiredin  jerked his jacket on and clambered onto his ride. The beast snorted, the beast shook its hair, and the beast tested its rider’s balance. Guiredin shrugged, let his beast warm up, and watched Melite walk into the barn.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Random Linkages Between Your Line and Somebody Else's Story

Try putting an unpublished line from whatever piece you're working on into the Google search engine and see what pops up. I did so by accident and stumbled onto Suldrun's Garden by Jack Vance, and Volume 1 of The Bitterbynde Trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. More to-reads for another day. Off to work with me. Go! Go!

Steering The Craft: Exercise 4, Part 3, Process Notes & Fantasy To Be Read Link

Well, Exercise 4 Part 3 of Steering The Craft is taking a whole lot longer than expected. I ended up deciding it would be about the city's Remembrance Day and the visiting father's. which of course meant I needed to do the exercise twice, two characters each time, in order to have four vital characters involved with about 500 words for each one, with it all connected as two parts within a 2000 word story, so I went ahead and stuck it in a new Scrivener project and am just about finished with the draft - it's looking like another 2-3 days.

In the meantime, I noticed a Jo Walton post on titled Eight Books From the Last Decade that Made Me Excited About Fantasy. Glancing over the post, it would seem I haven't read any of them, though several are on my list or have been read about, and they sound interesting, especially the one "about having a really good meal in a wonderful restaurant". I guess I've been more focused on science-fiction, dark fantasy and horror reads, and need to round out this year with a bit more fantasy. Not that I need to increase the size of my to-read list, and I already have a ton of books sitting on my shelves waiting to be read (my Samuel Delany novel, The Fall of the Towers keeps giving me an orange lazy eye), but such is the reader's sad state.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Steering The Craft: Exercise 4, Parts 1-3

Exercise Four, Part One: Verbal Repetition

Assignment: write a paragraph of narrative (150 words) that includes at least three repetitions of a noun, verb, or adjective (a noticeable word, not an invisible one like “was,” “said,” “did”.

Part One, First Draft:

Steering The Craft: Exercise 3, Parts 1 & 2

Exercise Three: Short and Long, Part One (from Steering The Craft)

Assignment: write a paragraph of narrative, 100-150 words, in sentences of seven or fewer words. No sentence fragments! Each must have a subject and a verb.

Part One, First Draft:

Steering The Craft: Exercise 2

Exercise Two: I Am Garcia Marquez (from Steering the Craft)

Assignment: write a paragraph to a page (150-350 words) of narrative with no punctuation (and no paragraphs or other breaking devices)

Exercise One, First Draft:

Steering The Craft: Exercise 1

A new year. 2014 was a mess with problems spilling over into the now, but I think I have finally reached a space from which I can get back into writing regularly and reach for that childhood dream/boon/curse, depending on how I feel like viewing writing. I tend to lean towards curse, but hey, let's not be negative.

Like I said, a new year, 2015, and things I are edging toward much, much better, which means, I might as well revive the writing blog - these figments certainly do die hard, don't they? *sigh*
I'd like to start this off with clear action. I've already finished 3 exercises from the current writing workshop book I'm reading through, and I'll go ahead post those here in separate posts, in case any readers surprise me and care to comment.