Friday, March 29, 2013

A Writer's Week #64: Gotcha Day and Other Holidays

Today is Good Friday, a solemn and holy day for Christians around the world. It has always been so for me. But for my family and nine others, this particular day of the year--March 29th--is special for another reason. You see, eight years ago today we were in China to meet our daughters. Today, Stephanie and I held our daughter Abigail--all of nine months old--for the first time.

Stephanie & Abigail in China
We call this day Gotcha Day, as in "I gotcha!", and it was the culmination of a long journey. For my wife it fulfilled a dream of adopting a child that she had had since being adopted herself. For me it was the completion of a dream that I had adopted 7 or so years before when Stephanie had asked me if I'd be willing to adopt a child.

A year or so after we had our son Christian, we decided that the time was right to start the search for his little sister. Our search led us to China and Abby. After a year and a half of paperwork, social worker interviews and letters to the Chinese government promising to be good parents and to always treat our daughter as one of our own, we left 3 year old Christian with my in-laws and my parents and took off from Newark airport the day before Easter bound for Hong Kong and then on to Changsha in China. Because China is 12 hours ahead of us, by the time we landed in Hong Kong 18 hours later we had missed Easter entirely.
The entire gang on the lobby steps of the China Marriott in Guangzhou

It was worth it. Abby was the final piece in the puzzle that is our family. Now, eight years later, I can't imagine life without her. In fact from the moment I received her on Gotcha Day, it seemed like she had always been with us. Ever since I met my wife and asked her to a sunrise Easter mass, Easter has been extra special to me. Gotcha Day makes it even more so.

Christian & Abby a few years ago
Happy Gotcha Day to Paul, Deb & Clare; Marie, Tommy, Christina & Julie Rose; Roseanne, Eddie & Gianna; Marcia, Den & Mia; Claudia, Eugene & Maria Pia; Maryanne, Tom & Megan; Joanne & Jaida; Patti & Cami; and Nina, David & Julia whose Gotcha Day came a little later and through infinitely more trying circumstances. We love you guys!

I also did some writing this week. I've got things ramped up a bit and have added a bunch of action to The Golden Dragon of Ang. This week resulted in 2,200 words written, which brings the tale up to 32,300 words, 140 pages and 30 chapters. The coming week should also see some fun publicity for the audio book version of Sharky and the Jewel. I'll give you a heads up when that appears.

On a totally unrelated front. I have pulled together a collection of inspirational short stories and poems that I wrote many years ago for the high school community group that I used to advise at my local church. I'm going to publish them in time for Christmas this year. I wrote one every year for the group's annual Christmas retreat for almost 17 years. Each one was written to reflect the theme of that year's retreat and were meant to be a relaxing interlude in the middle of the retreat--a kind of modern fairy tale. Anyway, I'll keep you updated on that project as it progresses. Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Favorite Books: Custer's Last Battle

I've mentioned before that my parents always managed to find some great books for me for Christmas. I've documented a few of them here in the past. Every once in a while they would give me a book that I had fallen in love with at the library.

One such book was Red Hawk's Account of Custer's Last Battle by Paul & Dorothy Goble. It was an account by a fictitious Sioux warrior of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It was based on the actual accounts from real Sioux warriors.

I took that book out from thee library a bunch of times to read it and pore over the illustrations. My parents, always observant, decided it would be a good one to get for Christmas. I was really excited. Very few things excited me like a book at Christmas. Okay, maybe a revolutionary war set complete with stone walls trees and a tin tavern gave me a bigger thrill at the age of 8 or 9, but not much else!

The account was eye opening for me. The book was published in 1969. I probably received it in 1973 or 74 or so. It was really the first time I'd read something that was sympathetic to Native Americans and gave their side of the story. Until then the only accounts of the American west that I had encountered were  John Wayne and Henry Fonda movies. Needless to say it was a revelation.

I also loved the illustrations. They were done in a Native American style by Paul Goble. The Sioux and
Cheyenne warriors were very interesting, but I have to admit I was fascinated but the army uniforms. At that point in time I loved the blue uniforms of civil war and Indian war period soldiers. Each of the figures on both sides had a personality--no two were the same. They really helped bring the story to life.

Anyway, mom and dad really came through again. I guess I took for granted that there was always going to be a present or two that I would really love under the tree. One of them was almost always a book.

Today, with video games a dime a dozen--or $45 dollars each--give the child in your life the gift of a good book. If you're not sure what they like, take them to the library and see what they gravitate to. Remember, books open up worlds for children, and you hold the key.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Inklings: Resolving Your Conflict

Your story got off to a great start. It has great characters and action. It moves along at a good pace and keeps the reader interested. So, can you celebrate your creation of a great piece of literature? Well, not yet. There is still something that needs to be done. Your story has to come to a satisfying conclusion. As an old ballplayer, Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Starting a story can be hard. Keeping it moving along and interesting in the middle can be a challenge. So after all that, how hard can writing the end of a story be? Try very hard. Think about it. You've worked hard to get your reader interested. You've got them wondering what's going to happen to your characters. They keep turning those pages to find out what happens next. The tension's building--and then the story just fizzles out. Nothing's resolved, no loose ends are tied up. The characters, and your readers, are left hanging.

Not good. As a reader, there's nothing worse than reading a book with a bad ending. It's like listening to someone tell a joke and forget the punch line. Ugh, I hate that, don't you? You feel like you've been cheated. As a writer, there is nothing worse. Whatever you do, don't cheat your reader!

How can you avoid doing that when writing your story? You can start by understanding what goes into a great ending. Here are a few things:

  • Climax--All the tension you've been building up in your plot needs to reach a breaking point, the climax. Will the hero unmask the villain, or will evil triumph? Does the boy get the girl, or is he dumped? You find out at the climax, the high point, of the story. If you don't have a climax--if the hero never confronts the villain, or if the boy does not kiss the girl, then your story just fizzles out. Ho hum, who cares?
  • Resolution--This is also known as tying up loose ends. After the climax, how is everything else resolved? Are there any subplots that have to be taken care of? Now that the boy has the girl, do they live happily ever after? If you've mentioned something earlier in the story, like the prince's cousin had been scheming to take the throne from the prince while he was busy wooing the fair maiden, you have to show how he was thwarted. Otherwise, the reader will be left hanging.
  • Happy, sad or somewhere in between--You also have to decide if your story will have a happy or sad ending, or a bittersweet or funny one. Hopefully when you outlined your story you had some idea of what was going to happen. Sometimes, though, things don't go the way you thought they would when you started writing. That's okay. Sometimes a surprise ending is fine. Just be sure that everything makes sense. The prince can't decide that instead of marrying the princess he's going to marry the shoemaker's daughter if you've never said anything about a shoemaker's daughter in the story. Again, this confuses the reader and makes them feel cheated. 

A great ending is the icing on the cake of a great story. It's something that will make it memorable in the minds of your readers. What are some of your favorite endings? Share them in the comments.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Writer's Week #63: Taking Stock

For about a month now I've been bumping along writing about 2,000 words a week. It's the weekly goal I've set myself. While it's not very challenging in and of itself, it is tremendously so when you add in everything else that I've got going on in my life. I've been hitting my goal pretty consistently, but I've felt that I've been in a rut. The thing was, I could not for the life of me figure out why.

Then on Monday as I was writing my latest Inklings post it hit me. The post was all about writing the middle of the story. I listed three things that you need from the middle of a story to keep it from getting bogged down--challenge your characters, pick up the pace and throw in some details and history. As I was writing the post, I suddenly had an uneasy feeling. Was I ignoring my own advice? I was worried that maybe I might be going a little bit astray in the middle of The Deliverers 3. After all, while I thought there was some good tension and suspense and also a little bit of a mystery going on, it did not seem to me that there was a whole lot of action.

Now, my wife had read it through and said that she thought the pace was good and that it was not boring. Okay, that's nice. I respect her opinion and she has never been wrong in the past, but I still had this uneasy feeling. The second book in the series, Order of the Crystal Lion has, I think, a lot of action in it. There's a lot of fighting, people getting captured, two storylines, etc. On the other hand, The Golden Dragon of Ang has had one abduction, no fights, and only one real storyline (although the groundwork has been laid for a second one). Uh oh, I thought, I may be in trouble.

So, I decided to take some time and read the story all the way through. I'm happy to say that I think things are pretty good. The pace is fine, there's tension and I really like what the new characters populating this latest world bring to the table. It made me feel a whole lot better and loosened me up. In fact, the day after I read it I wrote 1,400 words including the first battle of the book. There is also a chase that will take place in the next chapter. I don't know if this was an unconscious thing on my part, but as I was writing all the ideas kind of clicked. I think it was just the right part of the story for some action. Things had been leading up to it.

This week I wrote 2,200 words which puts me at 30,100, 27 chapters and 130 pages. Getting to 30,000 words feels good. I love those little milestones. I had been thinking the book would be about as long as the second which would put it at 61,000 words or so, but right now I'm not sure. The Deliverers still have a long way to go on this journey. Will I break 300 pages? Part of me thinks it would be neat, but the other part thinks that may be a bit too long for a middle grade novel--I'm not J.K. Rowling after all. Anyway, we'll see. Now that I'm sure of my direction again I'm hoping to get back to weeks of 2,500 words or more like I was doing at the beginning of the year. I'll let you know if that's the case next week.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Inklings: Middle, Keep the Story Moving

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the beginning of a story. Once you've set the whole thing in motion, you need to keep the momentum building. This happens in the middle of the story. Middles can be tricky things. Sometimes, your plot can get bogged down or start to wander.

In the beginning, your characters are introduced to some sort of conflict. They're launched into the story and are raring to go. Then they hit the middle. One off two things can happen. Either they scale the mountain, facing challenges and obstacles and overcoming them, or they get stuck inn the mud and sit there going nowhere.

So, how can you avoid getting stuck in the mud? How can your characters climb the heights? Here are a few good things to keep in mind as your story unfolds:

  • Keep challenging your characters--Don't let them relax for a second. Keep giving them problems to solve and obstacles to overcome. Maybe they don't always succeed. In fact, they probably shouldn't succeed all the time--after all who does? You don't want to set them up for failure, but you also don't want their journey to be a walk in the park. The more they struggle, the sweeter their victory will be in the end for them and the reader.
  • Pick up the pace--Keep the story moving. This can be difficult. Sometimes characters like to talk about things. They can talk about their situation a little, but you want to keep the pace exciting. Shorter chapters that cut back and forth from the main plot to a subplot can help you achieve this. Lots of action is also a good way to keep things moving.
  • Add details and history as you go--One of the great things about reading a story is to learn things along the way. Add in bits and pieces of characters' histories as the story unfolds. Sometimes it's tempting to divulge a character's entire life story right when you introduce them--don't. Save some of the good stuff for later in the story where it may have more of an impact. This will help keep the reader interested and provide an "aha!" moment. A reader likes nothing more than the feel they've put the pieces of a riddle together and found the answer. You want them to think "Oh, so that's why they acted that way. It makes sense now."
The middle is an important part of your story. In it you work to bring the characters and the reader through many twists and turns right up to the climax of the action of the story. When does that climax take place? We'll talk about that another time!

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Writer's Week #62: England's Green & Pleasant Land

It's been another quiet week here at Deliverers Publishing Headquarters. Work was hectic, and I've been fighting some form of illness that has left me tired and listless. Thoughts of Lyme disease were floating in my head until my wife came down with the same thing later in the week. While I'm sorry that she had to live my pain, I was strangely happy because it meant that what I was experiencing was just a bug.

Anyway, me being out of sorts made for a dull time on the marketing front. Narrator Jimm Singer and I are working on publicizing the audio version of Sharky and the Jewel. We've got a few reviewers listening to it, including Audiofile magazine, which has put us in their "review queue", so that's exciting. There will be more reviews on the way in the next month or so. I'll keep you all up to date when they appear.

One very nice and slightly surprising development this week were my first two overseas sales of the paperback version of Sharky and the Jewel. I check Amazon's UK store very infrequently, basically because I rarely sell anything (who knows I exist in England?). I've sold a few Kindle editions there, but I had no sales rank at all for the paperback version--that is, until I checked on Sunday. Lo and behold, I was ranked something like 525,000 or so. That meant I must have sold something! Could it be? I logged in to my CreateSpace account and sure enough, I had. In fact, I had sold not one, but two copies! I know that does not sound like much (it isn't), but it was just the idea of breaking new ground. Hopefully, I'll sell a few more going forward.

Of course after that little bit of success, I started check Amazon UK every day, hoping to see more sales. On Wednesday, I was pleased to discover that one reader had posted a 5 star review. Hey, I'm off an running. It's very exciting to have started selling at least a couple copies of my book in England, because I really regard that country as the cradle of great middle grade/YA fantasy. If I could ever manage to gain a following, even a small one, in England I would be one happy caballero.

In spite of being tired and having a couple nights of after hour events this week, I still managed to almost hit my writing goal. I wrote 1,822 words. That means The Golden Dragon of Ang stands at 27,922 words, 122 pages and 26 chapters.

To be honest, I probably would have surpassed my goal if it  had not been for a plot decision that I simply did not feel up to making. Eric and Kate are escaping from a bad situation. It became apparent that they were going to bump into someone surprising. I had to stop, because I really wasn't sure that it was the proper time to reveal that character's true nature. So, before I continue I have to sit and think about it a bit. I don't think it will be a difficult decision once I run things through my head, but it was just one decision too many for this particular week. Oh well, I'll let you know how that turns out next week! Have a good one!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Favorite Books: The Inside Story of the Miami Dolphins

As I look back on some of my favorite books from when I was growing up, a couple things strike me. One is the diversity of genres--fantasy, history, sports, fiction. The other is that many of them were Christmas presents from my parents. As I think about it, I discovered many books that I may not have found until later in my life--if at all--because my parents suggested them or gave them to me as gifts because they thought I'd like them. Most of the time they were right.

This week's book is one of those Christmas gifts. This book is about my favorite football team, the Miami Dolphins and it's called The Inside Story of the Miami Dolphins by Steve Perkins & Bill Braucher. I think I received it for Christmas of 1974. The book was published in 1973 and revised in 1974, right after the Dolphins had won back to back Super Bowls. I had just watched my first Super Bowl that past January--the Dolphins beat the Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII on a black and white TV set up specially in my room. Man, TV in my room! We only got that when we were sick. Little did I know that it would be the last title the Dolphins would win (so far anyway).

Anyway, my parents saw that I really liked the game, and in particular the Dolphins, so the next Christmas I was given a book about them. Now forgive me if I start sounding like an old man, but 40 years ago there were not a lot of places to read about your favorite sports team--especially if you lived in Connecticut and your team played in Florida. There was no internet, no ESPN. Papers ran stories only on the local teams. Even sports logo clothing was tough to come by. All I could find was a rinky dink Bob Griese #12 Dolphins shirt that I ordered from the Sears catalog. I once found a Dolphins pennant in the local Marshalls that I badgered my mom into buying when I was 10. I still had it when I came back from college 11 years later.

So with that in mind, imagine my fascination as I read this book. The inside story, wow! The writers covered the team during its legendary undefeated season and the following year--perhaps the greatest two year stretch any football team has ever had--and I had a front row seat. I must have read that book about 50 times. The icing on the cake were the seven pages of glorious black & white pictures in the center. Ah, simpler times. 

I've still got that book. It's practically falling apart now. But as I thumb through the yellowed pages and look at those black and white photos of my old heroes, I'm back in the 5th grade drawing pictures of football players during school, breaking in a baseball mitt by stuffing a ball in the pocket and sitting on it during school (ouch, how did I do that?), and trading baseball and football cards, hungering for the players that always seemed to escape my grasp. It really is true books--all books--are magic.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Inklings: Setting, Where Everything Happens

I think I may have jumped the gun a little last week when I discussed the first of the three parts of the story, the beginning. Before doing that, I had meant to talk about the setting, which is where your story takes place. The fun thing about writing fiction is that you can write about anything, anyone or any place.

Your story can take place anywhere. The only limit is your imagination. Setting encompasses a few things:

  • Place--Where does your story take place? It could be in your school or your neighborhood or your state. You may want to have it take place in another country. In the case of my Deliverers series, they start out in our world, but wind up taking place on other worlds that I pull from my imagination.
  • Time--Your story does not have to happen in the here and now. You can write about another time. Historical fiction novels like My Brother Sam Is Dead do this. Their authors do a magical job of bringing us to another time like the Civil War or Ancient Greece. 
  • Society--The types of societies you write about also make up part of the setting. In the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling uses modern day English society as the initial setting, then thrusts Harry into a secret society of witches and wizards unlike anything he--or we--have known before. This society has distinctly different customs from our society. That's one of the things that makes the series so much fun.
So now you have all the basics, an idea, characters, setting and an outline. You've made a beginning. You're off an writing! Next week, I'll talk about the meat of your story, the middle. See you then!

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Writer's Week #61: Calm Before the Storm

Winter is limping to its bitter end this week. We just had what I hope is the final snowstorm of the season. I am so over snow right now. We did not have too many storms this year, but the ones we had were big. So, bring on the sunshine, I'm ready for it!

This writer's week was rather slow and dull, unfortunately. There was not much going on except for some writing. On that front, I was not as prolific as I would have liked to have been. I've been fighting a cold, which has made me a little sluggish. Because of that, although things flowed really well when I did write, I didn't spend as much time as I could have writing. I guess I should relish this slow period, because I'm getting poised for a flurry of activity in the next few months. More on that a little later.

I wound up writing 2,000 words, which has been about my average for the last three or four weeks.. I really wish I could write 3,000 words a week, which is what I had been doing earlier on. Still, right now The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang is at 26,100 words over 24 chapters and 114 pages. It's coming along really nicely, and I'm generally pleased with the way the story is progressing.

I do have one concern, though. In the book, the Deliverers are visiting a place called the Dragon Islands. These are five islands that resemble parts of a dragon. Their adventure takes them to all five of the islands. That's fine, but here's the problem. I'm 114 pages into it and they're only on the second island. If I keep up this pace, this book is going to be even longer than book 2, which I think will wind up being about 270 pages. The way it stands now, book 3 could be over 300 pages easily. That's pretty long for a middle grade novel, unless your name is Rowling.

My wife has read it and says the pace seems to be okay. I have not read it all the way through, but I guess I should. If the pace is indeed all right, then I suppose I can live with whatever length it winds up being. If it does drag, then I can always cut, although for me that's hard.

I'm also a little worried that there is less action than in book 2 so far. Golden Dragon is more like Sharky and the Jewel in that there's a little more mystery to it. Like the first book, the characters have more distance to travel. Oh well, I still think it's good, it's just different. Each of the books seems to be its own animal. While they all have similarities, they are all radically different, and that's a good thing.

So, what's on the horizon? Well, more writing, obviously. Aside from that, narrator Jimm Singer and I are lining up reviewers for the audio version of Sharky and the Jewel so I should be sharing those with you starting this month. If you haven't checked it out you should--the link is at the top of this page. I should finally be getting a glimpse of the cover for book 2--I'll share it with you when I do. School visits will be starting soon and once Order of the Crystal Lion is out, I'll be appearing at some shows. I'll let you know the details as things are set up. Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Favorite Books: Charlotte's Web

As you've probably guessed by now, I'm an old school middle grade reader. While I like a lot of today's middle grade titles, I grew up with many of the older books that today are considered "classics". These books are what influenced me most in shaping my own writing style.

Take Charlotte's Web for example. The first time I read this book was when our teacher read it to us in 5th grade. I think today it may be considered 4th or even 3rd grade reading material, but I really enjoyed it as a 5th grader. I loved the idea that animals could talk and had their little own secret society in Farmer Zuckerman's barnyard.

E.B. White was such a great writer and had such command of the language. I could see the whole book playing out before my eyes so clearly. The emotions were vivid. He brought it all to life. The book had been so real that when I visited Sturbridge Village that fall, I was almost disappointed that the pigs and cattle and oxen didn't speak as they had in the book.

The values in the book also made an impression on me. Charlotte went to extremes to save her friend Wilbur's life, even as her life was ending. Wilbur paid back the favor by guarding Charlotte's eggs until they hatched. The book is truly a great story of

I was quite surprised when E.B. White popped up again when I was in college. I had never known much about his life, so I was surprised when his Elements of Style cropped up in an English class. Was this the E.B. White of Charlotte and Stuart Little? Yes by golly it was. Freaky. Then a little later on, I found out about his career at the New Yorker. I was astounded again. Clearly here was one talented writer for readers of all ages.

As an author I can learn a lot from E.B. White. I can not only admire the stories he wrote that appeal to both young and old, but learn from him as I peruse Elements of Style from time to time, cringing as he reminds me of some bad habits I've picked up over the years.

Yes, Charlotte's Web is a classic book written by an accomplished author who brought the world so much. That's why it's one of my favorite books.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Inklings: The Beginning, a Great Place to Start

Last week, we talked about writing an outline for your story. An outline is a great way to chart out its path by documenting the beginning, middle and end. I thought it might be a good idea to go into each of these sections a little more thoroughly. This week, we'll be talking about writing the beginning of your story.

So, how do you start a story? To tell you the truth, the beginning of a book is the hardest part for me to write. I've written two books and I've totally rewritten the first chapter both times. Check that--actually I rewrote the first chapter of my first book twice. On the second book I only had to redo it once. Even though I outlined my books, both times I thought of a better way to start it later.

 But why did I bother changing anything? The book was going along okay. I had made a start and was on my way. Why did I decide to go back and change how it started? I did that because a good beginning sets the tone for the entire story. In the beginning, you want to do three things:

  • Introduction of character and setting--The beginning introduces the reader to the main character(s) and the setting of the story. This is the part of your story where the reader can get to know whoever the story is about and where it takes place. Perhaps your main character is a boy who lives in New Jersey, or a toad who lives on the third planet orbiting Alpha Centari. Whatever characters and worlds you dream up, the beginning is where your reader meets them.

  • Hook 'em--The beginning is also the time to get them interested. You need to start your tale with something exciting--a hook. Starting right in the middle of the action is one good way to get your story off to a rousing start. Another is to begin with an off the wall first sentence. For example, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien starts, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." This is very simple, but it gets you wondering. A hobbit? What's a hobbit? In fact, it was that very question that prompted Tolkien to write The Hobbit in the first place. Once someone is interested in the story, they'll want to read more.

  • Get things moving--Once you've introduced the characters and the setting, and hooked them with some action or a good question, it's time to show them what this story of yours is all about.  You should introduce your main character to the problem they'll have to solve, the issue they'll have to tackle or the dragon they'll have to slay. It's time to send them out into the world to do what they have to do. As the story progresses, this problem will grow, but for now the best place to introduce it is in...the introduction!

Okay, now that you know what an introduction is all about, how will you attack yours? What can you do to hook your reader, get them to know your actors and the world in which they live and the problems they are faced with? It sounds like a tall order, but I know you can do it. After all, you have your outline. You know where you want to end up. It's time to head out on your writing journey. The fun has just begun!

What books have you read that have great beginnings? Share them in the Comments section below.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Writer's Week #60: Getting Closer

This week was another good one. I thought I wasn't going to have a chance to get a lot of writing done because I was taking this week to do the final prep on The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion. I was able to achieve my goal of getting the final edit, introduction, author's notes and everything else set.

So now, I've sent the manuscript over to Ana Vogel for her to lay out. Once the art is added, we'll be ready to go. I really can't wait. I'm hoping that I'll be able to share the cover with you in a couple of weeks, and that the book will be out in early April.

School visits will be starting later this month, and I'm looking into selling both books at some shows locally in April and May. I'll be sharing everything with you as it happens. This is the fun part, where I can meet kids at school and chat about writing with them. The shows are fun too, because I always meet interesting people and make new friends at them.

Meanwhile,, in the midst of all this, I still managed to hit my writing goal of 2,000 words this week. The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang is up to 24,100 words, 22 chapters and 106 pages. I'm not sure how long this one will be. I was thinking it was going to be about 60,000 words, but I don't know. I'd say they're about a third of the way through, so that would mean the book would be just under 75,000 words. That sounds kind of long to me.

I was worried that the book might not have enough action in it. The Deliverers 2 had a decent amount in it, and so far I don't think this one does. I let my wife read what I have so far, and she thinks there's enough action and suspense. That reassured me that I was on the right track. Anyway, I'll share anything that develops with you next week.