Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolution time!

First, the goals I set for 2009 and how I did on them:

1) Finish at least one short story every month. Well, I certainly didn't do this. I finished five stories (I think) this year.

2) Enter the Writers of the Future contest every quarter. Yes! Success! Two honorable mentions, one rejection and one TBA.

3) Submit stories! And when the rejections come back, resubmit. I definitely did this. In most instances, I had the next market lined up so that when the rejection rolled in, I could send the story back out the same day. Also, first sale!

4) Continue to do a lot of critiquing of others' work. Again, a success. I was part of several critique rounds this year and I hope learned a lot about writing (what works, what doesn't) in the process.

So three our of four isn't bad. Now, on with 2010:

1) Enter Writers of the Future every quarter. This is a goal I have to keep shooting for. I would love to say "Win WotF," but I have no control over what the judges will do. I just have to keep writing the best stories I can and putting them in the mail.

2) Get my stories critiqued but don't let the criticisms I receive make me rewrite the voice and individuality out of my work. I did this to myself a couple of times this past year, and it wasn't pretty.

3) Submit! Yes, I will keep writing stories and keep sending them to magazines, print and online, in the hopes of making more sales.

4) Most important: Write! You can't be a writer if you don't write. To help with this goal, I am now for the first time in possession of my very own laptop. That means I do not have to fight for time on the family computer, and when the volume level gets too loud in one part of the house, I can go elsewhere.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

First sale!

I just found out that "Cowboy Jake and the Moon Men" will be appearing in Issue #5 of Science Fiction Trails, and I am on cloud nine. It is my first sale and some much-needed validation that I can do this. I can write stories that editors will want to publish. Now, back to my writing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Time for some Humble Pie

I guess after two consecutive honorable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest, I have gotten a little big in the head. In my inexpert opinion, the story I submitted for last quarter is my best one. Because two stories of (again, in my opinion) inferior quality got HMs, I assumed this one would do just as well or better.

Nope.

I have received an e-mail saying my story did not win. Oh well. It just goes to show that everyone has a different opinion on what's good. The amazing thing is that I'm not overly disappointed. Maybe that's because I already had the next market lined up, and so within a half-hour of receiving my rejection, "Cowboy Jake" was sent off into the slush once again.

WOTF update

The first list of honorable mentions for the third quarter is posted, and I am not on the list. That could be a really good sign, or a really bad one, or just that K.D. Wentworth hasn't gotten to my story yet. The only sure thing it means: more waiting, agonzing and hoping.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More on WOTF

I've read online that Writers of the Future results will be posted tomorrow. No word on how many results or of what sort, but I'm going to guess it'll be the first set of honorable mentions. I'm hoping I'm not on the list, and here's why:

I sent in my story early in the quarter, which means under my (probably flawed) logic, if I'm going to get an honorable mention, it will be on the first list posted. But here's the thing: I don't want an HM. I'm crossing my fingers for semifinalist status. I've submitted enough times now that I'm of the viewpoint an HM is the nicest rejection in the industry (complete with a shiny certificate), but it's still a rejection. Maybe that means, when it comes to WOTF, I've crossed over from being giddy newcomer to jaded veteran.

Anyway, HM or higher or nothing at all, there's always next quarter. And the one after that, and the one after that ...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Update

It's been awhile since I posted, but because as I'm probably the only person who reads my own blog (except for the occasional surfer who stumbles across it), that won't matter much in the greater scheme of things.

I put my Writers of the Future submission for this quarter in the mail this morning. This one went through so many revisions that for the first time, I have little to no feel for how good it is. I guess I'll find out in about three or four months when the contest results start coming in.

Meanwhile, results have not yet been posted for last quarter. I sent in my story in mid-May, so it has been almost exactly four months during which my curiosity has morphed into anxiety. I have entered two times previously and received honorable mentions both times. I think my third submission, "Cowboy Jake and the Moon Men," is the best story of the lot and I'm crossing my fingers for semifinalist status. The anxiety part comes from the fear that it won't place at all.

The book I'm reading now is "Elantris" by Brandon Sanderson. It's excellently written with great characterizations but is too slow in its pacing for my taste. I'm almost 100 pages in, and not much has happened yet.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Breaking a rule

The book I am currently devouring (not literally, of course) is "Winds of the Marble Arch and Other Stories" by Connie Willis. The woman is a genius (plus she sets many of her stories in Denver, which is a nice bonus for me, a Denver native). I just finished "Fire Watch," which from what I understand was one of her earlier works and is fantastic. It's the second story in the collection that deals with the Blitz.

Here's what I like best about so many of her stories: She doesn't throw the speculative element in the reader's face in the first page but instead lets it build. In "Winds of the Marble Arch," the winds themselves don't show up until a few pages in. In "Blued Moon" and "Just Like the Ones I Used To Know," strange things happen but could simply be called coincidence except for a character saying near the end, "Hey, maybe this is what's going on ..."

It has been beaten into my head in the past year -- message boards, critique groups, etc ... -- that the speculative element must appear in the FIRST 13 LINES or you will lose the reader and/or editor who might buy the story. Ms. Willis shows that's not always the case. It seems the 13-line rule is one that can be broken, but to do so, the writer must be willing to pay the price. I suspect the price in this case is the possible loss of readers. Ms. Willis avoids that by writing so compellingly that it's impossible not to keep reading even though there are no aliens, werewolves or spaceships on the first page. But, as I said, Ms. Willis is a genius. I'm not. Still, it's worth experimenting with.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wish I was there

My name is Jennifer, and I am a geek. Therefore, this weekend, it's easy to know where I want to be. San Diego, at the annual geekfest known as Comic-Con.

Once again this year, I am a distant observer, devouring the updates on panels about my favorite television shows on the web. Chuck! Lost! 24! Heroes! Dollhouse! I'm laughing at and at the same time admiring the costumes, wondering how much those people spent to make themselves look that crazy.

In a few weeks, my sister and I will go to Atlanta for DragonCon, which is Comic-Con's younger sibling. Fewer big stars, fewer people (only 35,000 or so), but crazier costumes if that's possible. I'm looking forward to it, but this weekend, it can't get here soon enough.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

David Eddings

I was saddened about a month ago when I read about the death of one of my favorite authors, David Eddings. His books were a big part of my teenage years. After tonight, I also have great respect for David Eddings the person.

On tomorrow's front page of The Denver Post is a story about $10 million Eddings left to National Jewish to fund treatment and research of pediatric asthma. His wife apparently had asthma, but the donation came as a surprise to the hospital.

What a fantastic thing for him to do.

On another subject: I'm reading a Writers of the Future anthology published about four years ago. I recognize two writers' names in there: Cat Sparks and Ken Scholes, the latter of whom wrote a fun piece about Houdini escaping Hell. I'm trying to get a better idea of what kind of story the judges like.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What I'm reading

Today at the library, I picked up "Anathem" by Neal Stephenson. I was astounded at the heft of the hardback, about 900 pages. I haven't read a book that long since I gave up on Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series several years ago. I hope Stephenson keeps his tale moving at a faster pace.

Now this is a novel I know next to nothing about. I've never read anything by Stephenson, although the book jacket says he has written seven other novels. I picked it up because it is a nominee for the Hugo and winner of the Locus Award, and because I was looking for some fresh science fiction.

On the writing front, I've started another story (untitled for the moment) while I'm waiting for the critique process to run its course on "The Babel Project." I'm about 2,500 words in. This is going to be a long one, for me at least, and it is my first attempt at utilizing the principles I picked up from Rust Hills' "Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular." We'll see how it turns out.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rust Hills

Last year was the first time I had heard of L. Rust Hills, the former fiction editor of Esquire magazine. I edited his obituary for the newspaper. In it, the writer mentioned a book Hills had written: "Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular." The obit said the book was used in many creative-writing classes. I made note of the title with the intention of buying it, but I never did.

A week or two ago, a published writer on a message board I frequent mentioned that same book as being one that changed the way she writes. So I got off my butt and got it from my local library.

Now I see what the buzz is about.

Hills doesn't say anything extraordinary. There are no amazing revelations. But he does make me think about the techniques of writing short fiction in ways I haven't before. The key part of that being: He makes me think.

Probably the thing I'll take away the most is his insistence (rightly so) that a short story must have theme, action and character that all work together to create one harmonious unit. I haven't thought much about theme in my writing thus far. If I'm lucky, doing so will help me write better fiction.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

I'm hoping to leave work early enough that I can join my family for fireworks tonight. We'll see. It depends on whether there's breaking news, so I'm crossing my fingers for a quiet night.

On the writing front, I'm still working my way through editing a short story that will be my fourth-quarter entry to the Writers of the Future contest. It needs to be ready for my critique group by July 14. I've gotten the word count down more than 10 percent, and I haven't tackled one whole section yet. Sometimes I'm amazed at how puffy my writing is.

Current book on the nightstand: "The Dream Thief" by Shana Abe

Monday, June 29, 2009

First draft is done ... now what?

I've finished the first draft of my work-in-progress. It's about 6,000 words of near-future sci-fi. On the first draft, I simply tried to get it all out on paper without much attention paid to the language I used or whether I happened to write in a contradiction here or there. If it worked, I left it and moved on because if I worry about the details in this stage, I never reach "the end."

So, now onto the first rewrite: a macroedit. This is the time I focus on the big things: plot holes, inconsistencies and contradictions, character mistakes and such. I'll work on making the overall package a more believable whole, so a reader doesn't stop and say, "Wait a minute, that doesn't make sense."

The second rewrite will be the microedit. I'll look at individual sentences to fix grammar, tighten the language and replace weak words with better ones. The goal in this rewrite is to cut the story's length by 10 percent while not losing anything important in the process.

And after that, the story will go off to critique, to be ripped apart by a group of well-meaning writers. Whatever they say will go into rewrite No. 3.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Three by three

In writing, three is the magic number. Why three? I'll let Algis Budrys explain it:

"Because anything less is unsatisfying, because anything more is redundant, because Aristotle and Lewis Carroll said that what I tell you three times is true. Three times, on a rising scale of effort, commitment, and depth of knowledge of the problem and one’s self, is the correct number."

I noticed this at work in my own writing this morning when I put this paragraph on paper:

"When the next volunteer saw the extraction chair, she stopped. Her eyes widened and muscles clenched as though in stasis. Any moment now, Mark knew, she would do a 180 on those expensive black heels and hightail back to her comfortable life. But she didn't run. Instead, she made the sign of the cross and stepped into the room."

I'm not going to go into how good or bad this paragraph is. What I do want to call attention to is the last sentence. Read it out loud. To me, it feels unfinished and therefore leaves the entire paragraph unfinished. Why? Because the volunteer does two things, not three, which is simply not enough. So I rewrote the sentence: "Instead, she made the sign of the cross, took a calming breath and stepped into the room." Much better.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The day after

I spent the morning not doing chores or working on my writing but on watching Michael Jackson videos. I felt nostalgic, remembering the first time my parents let me watch "Thriller" -- back when MTV aired it at specifics times of day and warned that the content might not be suitable for younger viewers. My youngest watched "Thriller" on YouTube this morning and afterward wanted to watch the "dancing monsters" over and over and over. So much for unsuitable material.

My latest short story is coming along nicely. And I'm about halfway through "Think Like a Dinosaur." What amazes me the most about Kelly's short story collection is that many of the pieces aren't solidly sci-fi. The supernatural or sci-fi angles are subtle and sometimes don't appear until the very end of the narrative. But these stories all have strong characters, which I love, no matter the genre.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Honorable mention again!

The Writers of the Future contest this afternoon posted its honorable mentions, semi-finalists and finalists for the second quarter 2009. For the second quarter in a row, I received an honorable mention! I really wasn't expecting it, seeing as a WOTF blog post last month indicated the contest had received a huge number of entries. Now I just have to work to get myself up to the next level.

What I'm reading

I'm working my way through "Think Like a Dinosaur and Other Stories" by James Patrick Kelly. I have to admit I'd never heard of Mr. Kelly until this past summer when I attended my first (hopefully not last) WorldCon. I highly recommend this collection. I'm reading it from the POV of a novice writer trying to learn from one of the best.

I'm also plugging away on a new short story. This is my third attempt at using an idea I came up with several weeks ago. The first two attempts were fantasy-based and neither one ended up working for me. This attempt is more sci-fi. I hope I have finally found a plot and characters that gel with the original idea.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What I like and don't like in a novel

A discussion over at the Hatrack writers forum (on bad books we love and good books we hate) got me thinking about what turns me on or off to a novel. I'm finding that genre doesn't matter much to me anymore. I used to read nothing but sci-fi and fantasy, but I've branched out to mystery, mainstream fiction, classics and romance. I enjoy them all. Here's what does matter.

What I dislike (this category is much easier to do):
-- Bad copy editing.
-- Dumps of background information. (I recently read a romance in which the first chapter was the heroine's life story and the second chapter was the hero's life story. The actual story didn't start until the third chapter. And this book is nominated for a RITA. Ugh.)
-- Deux ex machina. No excuse for it, unless your name is Homer.
-- Writers who take several pages to describe what characters are wearing and how their hair looks and what color the carpet is. I tolerate description only when it advances the story or adds to character development. I'm pretty sure knowing that the carpet in a room is red shag doesn't fit either of those categories.
-- The writer holds back a critical piece of information until 50 pages before the end of the book. Even worse if the book is written from the POV of a character who has that information for the entire length of the story. (Again, I ran across this one recently in a RITA nominated book. Not the same book as above.)
-- Glacially slow pacing, to the point where I can sum up 200 pages of narrative in 25 words or less. (Major offender here: Robert Jordan)
-- Mysteries that I figure out long before the POV character does. This serves to make the POV character look stupid.

What I like:
-- The opposite of everything listed above. Basically, if you give me a believable, well-plotted, well-paced story, I'm on board.
-- Also critical: likeable main characters with emotional depth. Bonus points if I feel empathy toward them without feeling like the writer is manipulating me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A strange thing

So here's a first for me:

I have this story I finished many months ago and had critiqued twice, and the response both times was fairly negative. Lots of confusion about what was going on. Now this same story got an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest, but I was so discouraged by the bad feedback that I basically left it for dead and moved on.

Then this morning, when I was thinking about other things, it suddenly came to me how to fix the story. I hadn't even thought about it at all for weeks, but it must have been in the back of my mind. Otherwise, how could this have happened? I pulled itup on my computer after breakfast and got to work. I'm not done yet with the changes, but I've made good progress and I like what I have. Maybe the story isn't so dead after all.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Words to live by

Damon Lindelof, one of the masterminds behind "Lost," says: "At the end of the day, you can do anything you want [as a storyteller] so long as it's cool." (read the whole article here)

I think I'm going to post that quote right next to my computer, along with a couple other gems I've run across in the past few months:

Second draft = first draft - 10% (Stephen King)
"Exposition as dialogue, no." (e-mailed response to a story submission)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Beginnings and endings

My latest study: How do short stories begin and end?

I'm reading my latest Asimov's with this question in mind. In the best stories, what is it about the first few sentences that catches my attention? And how does the writer wrap up the story in the last couple of paragraphs?

The first part of that is easier for me than the second. I've had beat into my head over at the Hatrack writers forum that the first 13 lines of a story are critical, that you must catch the attention of the editor or reader before he/she gets to the end of the first page. Otherwise, they might not go on to the second. That is, of course, what is called the hook.

The latter part is the one I'm really focusing on. What I've learned so far is that stories don't need a long, drawn-out, explain-everything conclusion. The most recent story I read, by Jack Skillingstead ("Human Day") ended in such a way that you're left without a resolution to one of the most pressing questions of the whole narrative. And it works. I suppose the trick, overall, is simply to leave the reader with a sense of satisfaction.

That's easier said than done. For any given story, I'm usually told in critique that it would end just fine about two or three sentences earlier than what I've written. So I usually end up chopping off the last paragraph, and ta-da! The critiques are right.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy day

I found out this afternoon that I received an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest for the first quarter. Yeah! I didn't expect that, especially on my first time entering the contest, so I'm on cloud nine.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Three things I do to improve my writing

1) Write. Duh.

2) Read. And while I read, I analyze. What did the author do that I liked? What worked? What didn't? How is the story organized and paced?

3) Critique. I joined a critique group to get feedback on my own work (which is, as I've said before, my least favorite part of the process), but I learn so much more by critiquing other people's stories. In the almost-year that I've been part of Critters, my critiques have gone from "I don't know what the hell to say" to "I have way too much to say."

On a side note, I picked up the audio version of Janet Evanovich's "Plum Spooky" at the Post book sale today. I've never listened to an audio book before and I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Week of highs and lows

First off, I have to say how very sad I am that the Rocky Mountain News is no longer publishing. It seemed so wrong to open up the not-Rocky Saturday newspaper over breakfast. OTOH, this isn't horrible news for me professionally. The one newspaper in town now, The Denver Post, (which I happen to work for) now has a much better chance at long-term survival. That means I have a better chance at keeping my job. It's one of those scenarios when I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

In a highlight for the week, I just got back from lunch with three very good friends from elementary school. I see Tina occasionally, but Deidre and Christie I haven't seen in 15 or 20 years. We caught up, shared some stories, ate some good food, took photos and promised to get back together again soon. I hope we do because I had a lot of fun.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Two things

(1) I have a great idea for a mystery short story. Yes, mystery. Probably that's an extension of my recent reading of Ellery Queen magazine and the novels of Janet Evanovich. So it's time to do some outlining and character development.

(2) The family dog decided today would be a great day to start shedding his winter coat. Every time I touch him, a blizzard of hairs flies into the air. I brushed about two pounds of fur off of him this afternoon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The critiquing process

I have to take a moment here to rant. I hate, hate, hate getting my stories critiqued. From a logical standpoint, I know that if I sit on what's said for a few days, then come back for the rewrite, that I can fix the flaws and make the story better. From an emotional standpoint, it's like volunteering to stand naked in front of a firing squad.

I'm part of an online critique group, and I have a story up for bashing this week. I've received two critiques today -- one was extremely harsh and the other completely misread the intent of the story. It's almost enough to make me throw up my hands and throw the story in the paper shredder. However, I've received other critiques in the past week that have been positive for the most part. I guess not everyone has the same tastes or reads a story in the same way.

Sometimes I wonder whether my skin is thick enough for this writing thing.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Not a great week for writing

I've been laid flat the past couple of days by a cold I picked up from my kids (it's a rule of thumb that any time the kids get sick, I get sick), so I haven't done much writing. I've been tweaking what I hope will become the first chapter of a novel and revisions there are done now at least for the time being.

Also, the Tor website currently has up the first chapter of Ken Scholes' "Lamentation," which will be coming out sometime this month. I have never heard so much buzz about a new author, and it looks like it might be justified. After reading that first chapter, I sat back from my computer screen and thought, "Damn, I wish I could write like that."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

More on rejections

I ran my rejection passed a few people who have more experience with submissions than I do. The general consensus seems to be that the letter is a good sign that might mean I'm close to breaking into that particular market. However, one comment caught me off-guard. It was the suggestion that "personalized" letters are nothing of the sort. Rather, they're form letters in which the author's name and story title are inserted. As much as I had admit it, that makes sense. I'll have to wait until I get another rejection from that market (which I'm sure will happen sometime this year) to see whether it says the same thing.

In other news, I'm having a hell of a time revising the top of the first chapter of what will probably end up being a novel. First attempt was all description and no action. Second attempt started in the action but not at the pivotal point. Now I'm going into attempt three. Hopefully this time I can get it right.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rejected but not dejected

I got a rejection letter in the mail today from a professional market, and I have to say it's the nicest rejection I've received so far. Without saying who sent it (although it was the editor), here's what it said:

Many thanks for submitting "Pale," but I'm afraid this one's not for me. I didn't connect with this SF western, alas. Thanks anyway for sending it my way, and best luck to you with this one.

The editor got the name of the story wrong. Beyond that, though, I'm hoping it wasn't just blowing smoke. It sounded to me like "Cowboy Jake and the Moon Men" is good (he sounded slightly regretful, even) but the story doesn't hit the bull's eye on what this particular editor is looking for. I'm going to send the story out again tomorrow with hopes for better luck with a different editor. And I'll try this market again when I feel I have a story worthy of it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Description

Jenny Rappaport had an interesting post today about the ideal length of debut fantasy novels. Good information to have. What I found more helpful, though, from a pure writing standpoint was her short lesson on how to write description. Here's what I took away from it: If you feel an overwhelming urge to describe things, the least you can do is blend it into the action of the narrative.

Take this sentence: Piles of trash littered the alley, and laundry hung from cords strung between windows.

Now this one: Cynthia picked her way among piles of trash and ducked laundry that had been hung to dry on cords strung between windows.

Neither of those are great sentences, but the second one is much more interesting to me because there's action. The character, Cynthia, is doing something. Even better would be if Cynthia tripped over some trash and got tangled in the laundry, showing her clumsiness. Or if she stole a shirt that caught her eye.

I'm not a fan of lots of description. In critiques of my stories, I've often been told I should describe how the characters look or what they're wearing or tell more about the room their in. My take on that is, does any of that information (a) advance the plot or (b) add meaningfully to character development? If it doesn't, I don't include it.

Does it matter whether my main female character has blue eyes? As far as I'm concerned, no, unless the main male character thinks her eyes remind him of the sea near where he grew up. Then it's character development.

So if you use description, make it useful to your narrative. Otherwise, ask yourself if you really need it at all.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tally for a Saturday

Story rejections in the mail: 1

Stories that were rejected and sent right back out: 1

Stories being tweaked for critique: 2

Times the baby woke up last night: 3

Times 4-year-old woke up: 1 (and ran into the baby's room waking her up, too)

Hours of sleep: 6

Cups of coffee so far: 1 (amazingly)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday

Fridays don't mean as much to me as much of the world because my work week starts on Thursday. Oh well. It's also probably a bleak day for the people who work one floor down from me in the Rocky Mountain News newsroom. Today is the deadline for Scripts accepting bids for the newspaper.

In other news, I finished another short story last night. I wrote over two days, and I'm proud of it. This one is direct and uncomplicated, which is something lacking in some of my other stories. I just need a title and an edit, and it'll be ready for critique hell. OK, I say that but critiquing is a valuable process that helps flag problems big and small before I send a story out on submission. Don't ever underestimate the value of an outside opinion.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What I love about reading

I absolutely love the joy and excitement of discovering a new author. When I say new, I mean someone I have never read before, not necessarily someone who is publishing their debut novel (although sometimes it can mean that, too). I've had that experience this week. The author in question: Janet Evanovich.

Ms. Evanovich doesn't write in my comfort zone of fantasy and sci-fi. She writes romance and mystery and has done so for many years. Because I have a red-faced embarrassment about reading the former genre (that's just me, folks, I'm sure there are a zillion wonderful romance novels I'm missing out on), I picked up a novel of the latter genre.

"One for the Money" is the first in a long series. I read the first chapter online at Ms. Evanovich's website and what hit me more than anything is her writing style. She is conversational, quirky and witty. What she doesn't do is take herself seriously. The best comparison I can come up with is Robert Aspirin without the shameless punning.

So I'm hooked. I'm halfway through "One for the Money" and I'm sure will move on after to every other book in the series.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolution time

Here are the writing goals I have for 2009:
-- Finish at least one short story every month.
-- Enter the Writers of the Future contest every quarter.
-- Submit stories! And when the rejections come back, resubmit.
-- Continue to do a lot of critiquing of others' work.

I would put down something like "get published," but I really have no control over that. All I can do is write the best stories I can and hope I catch the attention of an editor. Or several.

I am going to try a new way of writing this year. I've often found that I can dictate a story to myself in my mind, but when I sit down to write it, everything I had come up with has floated away. So I now have a digital recorder, and I'm going to "write" verbally and then transcribe. We'll see if I can improve quantity and quality that way.