It’s Here! And it Needs to be Promoted…

I thought I would check in with y’all since I am so overloaded currently, that even pretending to write about my far-distant freak show past would be a useless exercise, so instead, I shall bring everyone up to date.

My alter-ego’s first book was released yesterday! Yee-ha! I have been a very well-behaved modern author, and have been booking and following through on a virtual blog tour promo schedule. There are giveaways, excerpts, thought-provoking (one can only hope) posts, interviews and such to deal with on a daily basis over the next few weeks. Once that concludes, than the stand alone comes out a little earlier than I originally thought: June 11th. This means another round of promo events. Then in August, the print version of the anthology comes out – more promos. September? Why that’s when the second book comes out. Hopefully, as suggested recently by the publisher, I will have turned in the first of my three-book series, so that an excerpt can be included in the back. Hmmmm…I sense a pattern here.

Many writers have lamented the fact that they have to be their own marketing gurus. It’s not that you don’t get support from your publisher, but that support can vary massively, depending on the publisher’s muscle. Translated: cash flow. I feel very fortunate with my marketing person and the publisher.  They take their business very seriously, and have been successful at it, when many others in the relatively new erotica genre have failed. My direct contact is communicative, creative and very involved. They have offered me multiple opportunities to get my name out there: writing articles, peer reviews, chat groups and so on. They’ve provided me with free review copies, in addition to the lists they already send out to. But they also have anywhere from 4 -8 new releases EVERY week, some are anthologies, so to think they are spending all of their energy on one book from an untried author is – as my boss at work would say – crack-smoking madness.

It’s here, and it needs to be promoted. It’s also my baby, my responsibility. Which means that every day I’m not taking advantage of the opportunity presented to me currently, is another day I’m slapping another writer trying to get their work out there in the face. In the interest of not slapping any of my wonderful writer compatriots in the face, I want to assure you that I have been staying on top of it. Of course, that means other things suffer. Like my writing.

The time and energy to keep up with writing my memoir pieces at this blog – which are for my soul, no less – has been greatly compromised. So has the writing time I need to put in to the first book in the series my new editor said she was very interested in, and would recommend to the publisher. That cannot be neglected. So now, even at this small level, all of this gives me a glimpse into a full-time writer’s future. It’s not unexpected. I figured it would be like this. Figuring and living are two very different things though.

Other little realizations: I still want to do this. I’m absolutely okay with climbing on to the writer hamster wheel. Also – writing guest blog posts and answering interview questions is helping me to think on my feet more. Writing under pressure and deadline is helping me to keep the writing flowing better. I am becoming –  I feel anyway – a well-oiled machine. Is this good? I think so. It beats sitting around wondering what to write about, and maybe getting a page or two down, or a couple random ideas, and then deciding I hate it later on. The other day I scheduled seven hours of writing on the new book, and gave myself a 5,000 word goal. I felt I was over-reaching a little, but I am feeling the pressure to get these guys out there – they are all going to be between 30-40,000 words each – so I need to quit screwing around. Once I set my mind to it – I hit 5,200 words in the allotted time. I even liked most of the words afterwards.

Speaking of which, I have another 5,000 word goal today. And of course, another promo blog post to do for the new baby…


Publication: The Never-Ending Rollercoaster Ride

So many things keep jumping up and chomping my behind, that then keep me from adhering to any type of decent schedule at this blog. Oh wait a minute – not my behind – my pseudonymous self who is leading a much more thrilling and adventurous life than I am.

So, here is where things stand: when last we met, I had just gotten the final edits turned in for my first release coming out May 7th. Yay! I had a wonderful experience with my editor, she had glowing things to say about me – I was feeling pretty damn-spankin’ good about life in publication land. I began to feel the mounting pressure of scheduling guest blog spots, arranging giveaways, lamenting that I’m too poor to attend the Romance Times convention in Chicago (where my publisher and fellow smut peddlers will be) and twittering like a raging maniac.

Then I opened my alter-ego’s email that contained a message from the art department. The subject line claimed it was the cover art for my book. Odd. I already received the cover art for the anthology my story will appear in about a month ago. I opened it up and actually cried. This wasn’t a “the world is crashing about my ears” crying. This was “OMFG – I can’t believe how GORGEOUS this is!” You see – this was the cover art for my story alone, that will be released as a stand-alone 90 days after the anthology comes out. I just stared at it and was wept. It was not only incredible artwork, but it epitomized the look and feel of my story. If the artist wasn’t in England, I would have run over and hugged her.

It’s really happening. It’s real. Somehow the anthology cover – while exciting to see my girl’s name on there – wasn’t the same as seeing my own title in all its glory. Okay, I realize we’re not talking the next Hemingway here, but seriously, for as long as I’ve waited to get frickin’ published – it was epic. Then came the really fun part, The Booty Box. Yes folks – the Booty Box. They have a merchandise page at the publisher website that includes things like thong underwear, tote bags, mugs and iPad cases with my book cover on it! There was also a T-shirt that said “Such & such publisher author (my name) ROCKS!”

Too funny. But very cool.

But wait, you ask. How is that like a rollercoaster? These all seem like “ups”. Yup. But then there was the email that arrived – I swear less than 10 minutes later. You know how on some emails you can see the first few words of the actual message? So, I see one from the actual publisher who has only contacted me one time to welcome me to the fold. Surely she must be writing to tell me how massively awesome I am, right? Yeah, right. The first few words in this case were “I’m sorry to inform you…”

Gasp. Choke. That seemed like a rather precipitous beginning. I’ve never really experienced a positive outcome from anything that began with those words.

I literally froze. Did I really want to descend from my heights of self-imagined grandeur and crash, burning in flames, to the dirt of this earth? Not especially. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. So I decided to live on the edge and open the email. Turns out my editor – who must be even more awesome than I originally realized – just received a full scholarship to get her Master’s in English at Oxford. She’s writing her thesis on Mid-Renaissance poetry. Damn. I guess that was a pretty good reason for her to put in her notice.

Sigh. So how self-involved could I be about this? I couldn’t help it. Pretty self-involved. She was the first one that said “I would like to publish your book”, and then sent me a contract. She’s not only the first professional editor I ever worked with, but it was a great experience. She’s also the one that I just submitted a new story to not a week earlier. The one who said she would like to see a synopsis on my 3 book series.

The publisher was very gracious, and let me know that I had been assigned a new editor who would contact me shortly. This new editor might not like my “voice” or story ideas. She may have other writers she’s more interested in working with – where’s the antacid! Also – those vague time references always make me nutty – I am waaaay too impatient. So I was going to have to wait. I thanked the publisher for taking the time to tell me personally what was going on, and that I would look forward to hearing from the new editor. Since the publisher also left it open at the end of her message to be sure and let her know if I had any questions or concerns – I tread lightly into that territory. I decided to save the series question for the new editor, but I did politely inquire about the submission I had just sent in for a Halloween anthology.

Five days went by with no communication. So now I was sweating bullets. Stomach twisting – all the angsty cliches you can possibly think of – I was living them.

The publisher answered me on the 5th day and apologized for not getting back to me sooner, but said that she had forwarded my submission to my new editor who would look it over the next day; but could I please send her the synopsis as well? That would be fine I thought – if I had her email! Since there was a time element involved, and I knew the publisher was busy, I contacted my current editor who is there until the end of the month. I was able to congratulate her and thank her for the experience of working with her, and then ask for the new editor’s email.

She got back to me right away, and I sent off the synopsis. Phew! Then I figured I had done all that I could, and probably wouldn’t hear anything for at least a few weeks. Apparently the rollercoaster had another plan in mind. Five minutes later, my new editor replied with a “speak of the devil”, saying she was just about to email me. Apparently, the anthology was already filled, but she loved my story ( she said something really glowing about it that I’m too embarrassed to put here – but I think I am going to make a poster out of it and hang it above my computer for the next time I get discouraged) and wondered if I would mind if they published it as a stand alone book. Mind? MIND?!?!?!?! Holy 2nd contract Batman – no I don’t mind!

There you have it. And I get that this is how it is. Been there done that in music. But in some ways, I feel that I have more to lose now with the writing. I think it has to do with the resilience we have when we’re young. When we think there’s forever and maybe even an extra day to achieve what we desire. When I got the “I’m sorry to inform you…” email, it felt like a cruel trick the universe was playing on me right after the heady feeling from my cover art on men’s boxer shorts.

Which reminds me, I wonder how much 11 GPB is in US dollars?

Spider Whisperers Rule!

I guess I now have a rep – too bad it’s not as an internationally best-selling writer. Hey, I’ll take what I can get. Sherry Roberts, author of  “Book of Mercy”, just posted an interview with me on her blog. This is it – go check it out:

And while you’re there, you really should check out her blog, and look into getting your very own copy of “Book of Mercy”. It is available from Amazon in print and Kindle versions:

The story centers on a woman in the small North Carolina town of Mercy, who has no idea she is about to disrupt the plans of a group of ladies who are intent on ridding the school library of “undesirable” (in their eyes) books. Sherry tackles the very serious subject of book banning with a great dose of humor. This is a recommended read!

I also recommend that I get some sleep tonight. But first – I must go and save my spider friends from certain annihilation at the hands of John’s slipper!

The Dog Ate My Homework

*See below

Okay, I don’t really have a dog. But I did get a book contract offer last week, does that count? In other words – I am not finishing NaNoWriMo with 50,000 + words. However, part of the reason I couldn’t put in the extra word time is that my alter-ego who writes all of the naughty stuff received a surprising email before Thanksgiving. It came from one of the larger romance/erotica publishers and was inquiring if she would be interested in getting one of her stories published in an anthology. Uh…yeah.

After the smelling salts were employed, I had a lot of book and author information forms to fill out, and now the contracts (contracts? CONTRACTS!) are being sent out, at which time I will be a part of their author group and assigned to my editor. Holy publishing dreams Batman! So, I had to make a determination that involved keeping my job during the busiest time of the year, and not being a flake within the first twenty-four hours of getting a publishing deal, something I have literally been wanting for actual decades.

The decision became that NaNoWriMo had to be put aside for this year. Now, that doesn’t mean that those 26,000 + words were wasted, and I say this to anyone out there who signed up and wrote 2, 10, 30 or even 75,000 words. They all count and they all matter. On the extreme plus side, I now have 26,000 more words to a full novel than I did on November 1st. I can continue to work on it, revise and get it ready, and then hopefully I will have a full book to present to my new publisher (tee-hee, makes me giddy!) after the anthology comes out in May.

It’s been an interesting ride this whole NaNo thing. It was quite excruciating for me at times to squeeeeeeze those words out when it felt so artificial and pointless. I know everyone works different, so I won’t even pretend to try and analyze why this was so difficult for me. I suspect it had to do with the length of what I was attempting to write. That is a subject that’s been brought up more than once or twice by other fellow writers – the daunting nature of hurling up an entire novel. But I think that was Chris Baty’s point, to get as much on paper as possible, shoot for 50 K, and prove to yourself a novel is not out of reach for you as a writer.

My 26,000 words put a novel squarely in my sights; I can actually envision an entire book now. I will have to go back and trim some nauseatingly pathetic sections, but overall, I can see it. It’s real to me. And fortunately, I allowed my alter-ego to steal my NaNo spot, so I’m working on something that I could take to my new publisher. Wow, that statement will never get old.

* Borrowed dog Zilla from friend. If I had homework – she would most definitely eat it. Right after she smothered me in dog kisses.


Writing, Reading, Reflecting

So this has been a different day for me. I’m home, it’s nice outside, the last gasp of summer is nearing, and I’ve been trying to catch up on some emails. It’s also a pretty intense anniversary for the country, and so the pall of that has been around everything. Yet – when I went out to do the inevitable day-off errands – the Sunday market was in full force, the participants in the local Classic Car show were making their way home in their extra-shiny vehicles, and the grocery store was bustling with crazed coupon clippers, screaming toddlers and freaks of nature who probably only EVER see the light of day to purchase sustenance. 

Life goes on. Through this and many other horrid events in human history, life grasps and claws its way forward. This is as it should be, and I’m grateful to be a part of the humanity that is good, and seeks to improve what little time we have here. I’m not going to list all of the ways one can accomplish this – I’m certainly not any kind of authority on that subject. Finding our own way is highly personal, and as with most things, quite subjective.

I just began reading Ellen Burstyn’s memoir, “Lessons in Becoming Myself”, where she describes her life through the veil of what she has learned through Sufism. I’m by no means finished reading it, but already I would recommend it as an honest portrayal of an artist’s journey and their process of self-realization. It’s all about exploration and connection, man. The perfect book for me to be reading in the backyard today, while looking out at the choppy Columbia River.

Before I sign off and immerse myself in my own little selfish world again, I want to mention that I will be doing a couple of blog posts coming up that feature two new writers that I was fortunate to come across while being a first reader for the Glass Woman Prize. (The contest deadline is September 21st, so there is still time to get your jewels sent in! Here’s the link:

So, in the next couple weeks, watch for Ana Nieto’s short story, “Glass Curtain”, and Laura Shumaker’s story, “Love Lessons”.  It was just one of those things where I was struck and moved by their stories; both deal with our human condition and the joy and agony that is a result of our connections to one another.

Until then!

Writing Ain’t Easy (I Said Wryly)

If that title doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. At this stage of the game, I cringe at the idea of blogging about anything too authoritatively in the way of writing criticism – especially as it deals with successful authors – but heck, I’m also an avid reader. I even occasionally paid attention in my English and writing classes. So when I run across a best-selling author with tons of books out and an avid following, writing in a genre I’m interested in, I wanna give it a try.

Obviously, not every best-selling author is a brilliant writer, especially when we’re talking about commercial fiction. And writers, like the rest of humanity, are individuals with their own style – or voice – and that is what makes them so addictive when we find what we can jive with.  It is also what makes them so loathsome when we find one whose “voice” makes you want to skin live puppies. (No puppies were harmed in the creation of this blog).

One of the biggest things that will send me into fits  is when authors use an excessive amount of adverbs, sometimes referred to as “wrylies”. For example:  “Bite me,” he said meanly. Or: “I’m a terrible writer,” she said sadly. This falls under writer 101 of things not to do. Even at my unbest-selling status as a writer, I’ve known that forever. So how do  major writers publishing books out of major publishing houses end up with book after book on the shelves filled with this type of lazy writing? Did the editors ever even read the thing?

Recently, I was reading one such book, and was immediately infuriated by it. The fact that the story was lame and went nowhere didn’t help it either. I kept reading, because this author had such a great reputation in this particular genre, and I was stunned; there must be something I was missing. Pretty soon, I was considering inventing a drinking game to how many times she used “he said/she said dryly”. Ironic that it rhymes with wryly. In one short chapter I counted dryly eight times. It was at the point where it was beginning to make me thirsty.

I mentioned this to some co-workers who are avid readers themselves, and both also happen to dabble in writing. After much laughter at the idiocy of this author, one of them later that day spotted the offending book on my desk. Her immediate reaction to seeing it was, “Oh my gosh! I love that book series, I’ve read the whole thing. If you want to borrow the rest, let me know, I’ve bought them in print AND downloaded them on my kindle!”

My reaction to this vacillated between extreme rage and crushing depression. Although I didn’t share that information with her, as I plan on still remaining employed. I did share it with my other co-worker though, and he said what I needed to hear:  “Then go do it better.” Exactly. 

I can whine and complain all I want about what other people are doing, and blablabla, but that’s not relevant. All that matters is that I do what I need to do. If I don’t like what people are writing in a particular genre, than I can just go do it myself, or I can shut up about it. Of course, me shutting up is unlikely to ever happen, but we all have our dreams.

In the meantime, if you would like details on my wryly drinking game tournament, please contact me. I said smugly.

Artistic Expression vs. Death

I know. Heavy title for such a silly woman as me. But I do have my moments, and this article caught my eye:

Apparently, a radical jihadist, ( I don’t want to refer to him as muslim, as that then places this evil mindset on a group of people who do not necessarily believe this way.) has threatened David Letterman on an al-Qaeda forum. The frequent poster made the threat because of  jokes Letterman made regarding the recent drone bombing of an al-Qaeda leader and Osama Bin Laden.

This is not incredibly surprising, since many, many people from world leaders on down have been threatened by al-Qaeda, radical Christians, Jews and any other religion, group and so on that you can come up with. All for statements or activities they found kill-worthy. The disturbing part of this though, is that the article’s author concludes their story with a recap of other artists who have been threatened or killed by muslims – or in the name of al-Qaeda – for their artistic expression.

One of the more notorious incidents like this would be the fallout from Salman Rushdie‘s novel “The Satanic Verses” of 1988, that forced the author into hiding for years out of fear for his life. Last year, the creators of South Park were threatened, and previously, so was a Dutch cartoonist.

The one that really struck me however, was the story of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh. He made a film that was a fictional study of abused Muslim women entitled “Submission”. Apparently, a Dutch muslim who was infuriated by this film killed the filmmaker in the streets. I really started to dwell on this. Here was someone who went to the monumental effort to put together a film, ( I don’t know how people do this – I get overwhelmed just at the thought. Turning on the computer everyday is epic enough for me) had the need to express this story, get it out there, and then lost their life solely because of their artistic expression. 

Was it worth it? I wonder if those close to Mr.van Gogh are angry that he put himself in that position, or if they applaud his courage to stand up for what he believed. I imagine it’s a mixture of both. I have no idea if I would have the cojones to put myself out there in such a way, and that bothers me.

There are things that I want to write about that I know some people might find offensive, will vehemently disagree with, or laugh at me for. I doubt anything I might write would become a death sentence – but who knows? Am I willing to put myself out there unabashedly and freely as an artist? When I was a young pup on the rock music scene, it was all about expression, man. This is how I FEEL, deal with it. But I’m not on Sunset Blvd. anymore.

Theo van Gogh’s film is something I want to watch. Had I been aware of it under normal circumstances, I would have wanted to watch it anyway. But now, it has another association with it. I want to see a film that I imagine a man had no reservations about creating, because his artistic expression was more important than any other consideration. I wonder if that still applies to me?

I’ll Never Climb Mount Everest

I don’t know where my bizarre obsession with Mount Everest sprouted from, but it took hold somewhere around 15 years ago. I bought every book that was available over a period of years –  even buying a couple I had missed last summer – about climber’s personal adventures. I received gift photo books from friends who realized that I was off on one of my goofy tangents. I wallowed in every detail about the killer mountain and what it must be like to actually BE there.

First, there is the hacking cough that almost everyone gets trekking through the filthy hovels in Nepal on their way to base camp. There’s the Rongbuk Buddhist temple that respectful climbers visit to be blessed by the Rinpoche before they dare to set foot on “Chomolungma”, the name Everest is still known by the Nepalese. There’s the acclimatization as you rise to the base camp elevation of 17,958 feet; at which point you’ve barely begun the actual climb, but are already completely wrung dry and ready to give up.

On a random side note: I was blessed by the same Rinpoche at a Buddhist gathering in L.A. that Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air) was blessed by on his Everest journey. Maybe this is my connection to the mountain obsession. Hey – I think I could put a beat to that last sentence. Uh, where were we?

Right. Everest. I will never climb Mt. Everest. After reading so many detailed and horrific stories, I truthfully never really wanted to. That whole Khumbu Icefall thing outside of base camp wasn’t really doing it for me. I could see myself now; one step beyond base camp all pumped for my journey and then AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!  – down a giant ice crevasse I go. So that was out. But I really, really wanted to see it. Finally, with all of the outlandish financial constraints combined with rigorous physical conditioning involved, plus the time put in and so on; it became clear to me at one point that I was not only not ever going to climb the big rock, but I was also unlikely to ever even see it from base camp, or at all.

But I can tell you exactly how to get there from the south side. I can take you through the icefall and up the south col across the ridge to the Hillary step – make sure the ropes have been laid ahead of time by the Sherpas – and then describe the view from the tiny summit at the top of the world. I can do this because so many really amazing writers have described it for me in such in-your-face detail, that I feel the biting icy cold, the fear of disorientation from lack of oxygen, the pain and exhaustion of just trying to do One. More. Step.

This is not to say that experiences don’t matter, not at all. I can have an unattainable (for me) experience, because others have lived it, and were able to translate those moments eloquently enough through words. On the flip side, I can also translate my experiences through words (one hopes they will at least be somewhat eloquent), and others can experience something that will never be real to them in their lives.

What’s even cooler? I can also write about stuff that’s not real for anyone, but is a what if? What if the zombie apocalypse REALLY happens? What if aliens come and whisk people away to their strange and spectacular world? What if society melts down and we have a whole new world to adapt to?

Books are the bomb. That’s why it’s okay that I’ll never climb Mount Everest. Krakauer, Norgay, Messner, Viesturs and others can tell me all about it.


Facebook Ebook Publishing???

Really? I suppose it’s possible. I mean, before myspace became the uncoolest thing on the planet, it went a long way in promoting indie bands and solo artists. That was the one reason that I always preferred myspace over facebook  – I could groove to tunes and find obscure new music.

So I suppose it isn’t that big of a stretch to see facebook take on the ebook craze challenge. According to an article in Publisher’s Weekly, , facebook just purchased Push Pop Press, a digital publisher I have actually never heard of before. When you read the article however, it seems that facebook may be more interested in the gaming possibilities, since facebook has so many wildly popular gaming apps as it is. That seems like a more natural progression.

In the ebook world, there are so many epublishers popping up. Many are genre specific, such as sci-fi, romance, horror, etc. For instance, the long-standing Avon publishing is just now getting into the ebook mode with Avon Impulse, a separate entity from their firmly established traditional press.

I’m not going to list off a ton of ebook publishers – for there are a ton, and more being born every day like rabbits in heat – but the phenomena reminds me of when everybody and their half-dead grandmother was opening a video store in the eighties. You could do no wrong. Video stores were the wave of the future – everyone could make tons of money from it, and it would last forever! Ooops.

So far – when you consider things from a self-publishing angle – Kindle publishing, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble seem to be the main contenders. But then there are all of the half-dead grandmother ebook presses you can submit to as a beginning author, who may or may not help your career. You need to look at them the same way you would have looked at a boutique or small press ten years ago. There will be those that are incredibly well-managed or connected and will proliferate among the giants, and there will be about ten times more that will fail miserably and drag your poor sad manuscript down with them.

In other words kiddies: the more things change, the more they remain the same. God I wish I’d said that. But I wrote it for a reason. There is no magic potion! Make intelligent and informed decisions when you decide where you want your writing to land, and how you want it to be handled.

We’ll see what happens to our buddies at facebook. In the meantime, when I’m not researching new ebook publishers – I might go check on how things are doing in Cityville.

Dystopian Regrets

I have no idea what’s going on most of the time. Really, I can be quite embarrassing. It wasn’t too long ago that I could be heard saying, “So, what is this “Twilight” exactly?” People just give me blank stares and then wonder why they are even wasting their time acknowledging me. And you call yourself a writer! For shame!

Sparkling vampires aside, I just don’t have the time – or attention span –  that I once did to immerse myself in the “next big thing”. This goes for technology, fashion, fad diets, politics, and any other latest thing that is being shoved down our consumerist throats. But really, I do care about cultural pursuits, and would like to be on top of the latest hot book releases; immersing myself as I once did when  I was wallowing in the music biz.

I am getting a little better. I almost have a clue about the Suzanne Collins penned YA dystopian trilogy “The Hunger Games“. I haven’t actually READ it yet – let’s not get crazy – but I know someone who has downloaded it onto their Kindle, and is considering reading it, so God I’m close. I’m also on top of things enough to have discovered (or let’s be truthful, just happened to notice) that the movie is being filmed and is scheduled for release in March 2012. Wow. I might be able to get it together enough to read the books before the movie comes out!

Bloody Disgusting Horror news Site ( has a blurb about the casting, along with the link to Entertainment Weekly’s story. Of minor note to me is that one of the stars, Liam Hemsworth, is the Australian younger brother to Thor star, Chris Hemsworth. Yum! Sorry, got distracted. What the hell were we talking about? Oh yeah. The Hunger Games.

I don’t know why I’m not reading this trilogy right now. Well, I don’t have it, that could be one pretty good reason, but I should be making this a priority. Not because it’s the latest hot thing, although that always makes me wonder and want to judge for myself, but because it is dystopian fiction. I have no idea why end of the world sagas have such an appeal for me, but they do. Maybe I’m just not the hugest fan of how things are now, so I want to imagine what would happen if????

I began experimenting with my own dystopian story – something I’ve tried to do in the past with little satisfaction – and have finally connected in a real way with something. It’s called “The Wilds People”, and could take years to write, or might be done during NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writer’s Month), but regardless, it feels real to me. I think this is the one. I’m projecting that this is how The Hunger Games happened for Suzanne Collins. I hope I’m right. There’s nothing worse than Dystopian regrets.