Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

I hope you're all having a great day, whether you're sitting at home or celebrating with family. 

I have to work today, but a shorter shift than normal, so I am excited.

Rachelle Gardner had a great post about your moment of truth. It really hit home for me, because I am facing a near total rewrite. It's daunting and scary and sometimes I just want to hide under the covers. But I keep going, because I love this story. And I am a writer and this is what we do.

Also, some good news. Remember how I talked about series breaking and Criminal Minds? Friday night my friend Liz texted me that CBS is giving the un-qualified character the axe, and bringing back the other actress. I like to think the network read my post about series breaking and decided to heed my sagely advice. 

Consequently, I am available for writing scripts for the next season, CBS. I shall await your phone call. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Series Breaking: Don't Let This Happen to You!

Okay, so for today, I am going to froth at the mouth a bit, but I seriously do have a point.

And for those of you looking at this post in your blog viewer, and don't want to listen to me expound upon my point, here it is up front: when you have a series of anything--comics, books, TV shows, you "break" that series by doing something radically different than you established in the first book/show/issue.

Still with me? 

*cricket cricket* 

Okay then!

There are a lot of examples of effectively executed series, and plenty of example of...not so effectively executed series. I am going to talk about a TV show near and dear to my heart, Criminal Minds. It's a police procedural about FBI agents who are profilers. They use clues and behavior to catch serial killers and other bad guys. This show has a very regular cast of characters. They've replaced regular cast members before, but this last season the show has dropped a major ball (all of this is entirely my own opinion).

In an effort to reach a younger audience, they got rid of two of the regular female characters and instead brought in a new (younger) female character. Most of this is pretty standard television shenanigans, but the big problem came with the new character, Ashely Seaver, and her lacking backstory.

They have spent the entire six seasons of the show talking about how these profilers are elite. They mentioned it in the very first episode of the series, that one does not just decide to become a profiler. You have to go through special classes, and have prior experience in the FBI before you would even be considered as a candidate for the team. The show set up the "rules" of their world, just like you set up the rules of your world when you write a book. People cannot fly. Magic needs spell components. Profilers are elite.

If you break these established rules, you break your series.

When the new character Seaver was introduced, it was as someone who hadn't graduated the FBI academy yet. They pulled her in for an episode because her father was a serial killer. They thought she could give an inside scoop on a gated community. 

Now she's a series regular. She hasn't met any of the requirements they set down, and yet, here she is. Profiling. To make matters worse, the TV show executives are aware that a lot of fans dislike the character (for those reasons and because most of us think she can't act well, and her character is generally annoying) The writers of the show have now tried to make Seaver seem cooler on subsequent episodes, but it just makes it worse.

When you have a series, you set up reader/viewer expectations. There will be no aliens on CSI: Miami (expect Horatio) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV show) did not suddenly turn into a police procedural. As writers, we hear about genre, and some of that goes into your series, but it's more than just that.

Your plucky always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride heroine in your romantic comedy series is not suddenly going to go goth. It's not that the characters can't evolve, but there are certain core traits inherent in your setting (the presence of aliens or police procedures), your characters (the lack of suicidal depression, the presence of manic hyperactivity), and your world (always set in New York City, never set in somewhere cold) that people are looking for to ground them. You break these elements at your risk and peril.

In the case of Criminal Minds, they broke a big rule (Profilers must be trained and have lots of prior experience) and made an exception for this character. Instead of addressing these problems in the show, and having the character SHOW us why she needs to be there, why it's okay she's an exception, they just tell us how essential she is, and how she's a part of the team. 

And my question is WHY? You must justify everything to your audience. You put something in the episode, in the book, in the comic because it matters in some way. It adds to the setting. It shows X aspect of the character's personality. It foreshadows the events to come. You cannot sit outside of the medium and say "Yes, this character is awesome and you all should really love her" and then do nothing to show us why. It comes down to that old sawhorse "Show don't tell". 

We don't want to be told someone is awesome. We don't want to be told why we should love or hate someone. You have to show us this person doing a triple back flip from a high dive while on fire and holding a box of orphaned kittens. You have to let the reader come to love or hate the characters through their actions, not through what you are telling them.

When you break a part of your series, the effect is tangible. Watching the later episodes of Criminal Minds is a very different experience than the earlier episodes. Because Seaver is so under-qualified, the other characters are having to break their characters to maneuver around her. Characters who would normally protest at a new person being there are staying silent. Characters who would made it harder on the new girl are welcoming her with open arms, because the TV exes know that there's a large portion of the fans who strongly dislike Seaver, and don't want the characters on the TV showing similar dislike. 

The entire show is getting warped around this one rule breaking. You can either ignore that the rule was broken or you try to explain it away. Both situations have their drawbacks.

The important point is to recognize what are the core elements in your series, and stick with them. If you choose to have the main character go through a major personality change, show the reasons why. Show the other characters commenting on this character's change. Show the consequences of those actions. Don't just hand wave it away.

Can you think of examples where a show or book broke character and it ruined things for you?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Time Travel and Regrets

Time travel movies have it easy.  

When you see the main character in a time travel plot make a mistake, there's a chance he could go back and fix things. A chance to endlessly say "Do over!". 

And I'm going to be honest. The thought of having a chance to go back and fix all the places where I feel like I messed up? That's really enticing to me. I didn't used to think in those terms. I try not to regret anything. I've never wanted to go back and change anything, even the hard times, because I feel like it's made me into the person I am. 

But lately I've thought that it would be really nice to invent time travel, just so I could fix a few things (in addition to investing in the proper stocks and other requisite time travel stuff). Sometimes you know when something big is happening to you. You fall in love. You get married. You break up with the love of your life. These decisions feel big.

But some decisions aren't big, all at once stuff. A lot of decisions you make are small, but over time have their own weight. I think it's these smaller decisions that make people say "If I'd known then what I knew now" because it's so subtle.

These regrets are hard to think about, to deal with, so we mostly just run off of auto-pilot. If you've been estranged from your best friend for a year because of some fight you had, it's really hard to go back and try to undo the damage. It's hard to sift through the hurt and pain, to try and go back to make things like they used to be. Part of doing that requires the ability to see the places that you've messed up; places where you dropped the ball. And that's not always easy.

And like I said, sometimes you don't know how vital something is until you see the after effects.

There's a song by The Fray that makes me think about that. It's called "How to Save a Life".

"Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life."

Between the chorus and the rest of the lyrics this song always makes me think of a situation where you didn't know some conversation you had was so important to someone, until it was too late. You would have done things differently if you had just known.

But since no one has invented time travel yet, you have to make the best out of the way things are now. If you do have regrets, it doesn't mean you can't try to fix things now, no matter how hard it is.

Because just like there's a lot of small decisions you make that lead to a estrangement, there's also a lot of smaller decisions you can make to bridge that gap. Don't let your fear of what might happen, and your desire to not open old wounds stop you from doing something you really want to. 

We all have regrets, and places where we feel like we failed. In our writing, in our dealings with people, in our own emotional development. But we can take those regrets, learn from them, and try to make things the way we want them to be. 

Just like getting a book published, we can't be too afraid to try.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Edits are Coming!

Editing is something I have talked about before, and I suspect I will be posting about it again.

Mostly because it's such an integral part of the writing process. I by no means think that everyone should edit the same way as me (I don't even use the same process over and over, but rather try new things with each book) but in case this gives people some ideas, I am going to give you a quick run down of some of the things I am doing to whip this book into shape: 

*(Cribbed this idea from Sol Stein in "Stein on Writing") Before re-reading the book, sit down and write down what the most memorable scene is. Chances are you haven't read this book in a few weeks or more. Figure out which one sticks out most in your mind and why. Is it an epic battle? A quiet moment of tenderness?

*Now figure out the least memorable scene. I usually have to flip through the book in order to figure out which scene I totally forgot about. It's usually a filler scene where the characters are just talking at each other. Now compare the boring scenes with the exciting one and figure out how you can improve the boring scene. If you can't, chances are you need to cut this scene.

*After that, I go through the entire book with a fine tooth comb. I have some paper next to me, and make notes on every single place that needs attention. Each place the character does something out of character, the worldbuilding falls apart, where the pacing slacks off or the story logic falls apart.

*Note cards. They are your friend. I take a pack of note cards and do a scene for each note card. This really helps me look at the entire book as a whole. It's your book in miniature form. If the scene is boring or I need to add to it I make notes on the note card. I can also play around with the story arc and see if I have any glaring plot holes. 

*Save the Cat Beat Sheet. Liz posted her rendition of Blake Synder's Save the Cat Beat Sheet in Excel, and boy has it saved my bacon with this book (alliteration!). I have two major subplots and a minor one in addition to the regular plot of the book. That's a lot of threads to keep track of. And sometimes I think it's enough threads to hang myself with! So this Beat Sheet is a real lifesaver. Basically it's a way to track your major plot events and shore up the book's internal structure.

*Lots of caffeine and chocolate. Enough said.

*Lots of thinking time. In an effort not to work myself into oblivion like last time, I am making sure I taking things slow and try not to push too hard. I am still working my butt off, but instead of revising every single spare second of the day, I make sure I spend some time with my friends and family.

This isn't a complete list (I haven't even begun to line edit) but this is as far as I have gotten. Since a good 50% of this book is going to be rewritten, I figure I'll blog as I progress through the process. 

Wish me lots of luck. And share! How do you approach a massive rewrite? How do you stay sane?

Monday, May 16, 2011


As I work through revision and come to the slow realization that large parts of this book are going to need to be rewritten (or scrapped altogether), I have thought about my identity as a writer.

It sounds like a weird thing to consider while I am revision, but it feels natural. Revision is the place a lot of books go to die. Finishing a book feels easy when you compare it to actually taking that same book and spiffing it up into something worthy of publication.

Revision feels like you're playing for keeps. You're not just writing a book, throwing it in a drawer, and writing another. Revision is a way of declaring on no uncertain terms you want other people to read this book. And if you want to have a writing career, you have to learn how to both write well and revise efficiently.

As I patiently work though the story and make my notes of where I failed the story, where the plot falls apart (where the plot stops existing altogether) I have thought about where I see myself in a a few years. For some reason, picturing myself revising another book make revising this book easier.

Because it's become part of my life and my identity. I don't think that writing is all you should ever do with your life, because sometimes you change and it might go away. I think people should read broadly, and live wildly, and take time to do things with their friends and family. You can't write about life if you aren't living. 

But being a writer is partially how I identify myself, how I see myself. I see myself a more a writer than a massage therapist (my day job). I like helping people get out of pain, but someday I am going to quit that job in favor of writing full time.

Thinking about myself as a writer, and taking that part of myself seriously makes it easier for me to slog through this revision. It's frustrating and depressing thinking that large parts of this book will need to be rewritten, but you know what?

That's what writers do. And I am a writer.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spread the Love

There's some great charity auctions going on right now. It's a win-win situation for you, because you donate money, receive some truly awesome things in the process, and you get to help out those in need.

So, here's a link to Joe Selby's post pulling most of the current charities together. Go look. You can win a critique and phone call from Kristen Nelson, among many other awesome things. 

Also, here is another link for Crits for Water. It's still running, you guys, and there's some awesome crits left, like from Sara Megibow.

And finally, Rachelle Gardner had a guest blogger that really spoke to me today. Marcus Brotherton talks about how you define your success. It's really easy during revision to loose sight of your goal, or forget what that goal is all together. For me, I don't want my goal to be "finish revision so I can get this puppy published". That's sort of putting the cart before the horse to me, and also, not why I am writing. 

I write because I love it. Plain and simple. I love telling stories. I want to be published because I want more people to read my stories. Sure, I would like the validation of having an agent fall in love with my book, and readers sending me nice emails about the characters, but I've been writing for years without those things.

Instead of feeling pressured and rushed to finished revision, like I have been, I should be remembering my real goal: revise the book so it matches with what I want it to be. Everything else will come with time. I just have to be patient and focus on what matters the most right now. Revising the book.

Soon enough it will be time for queries and agents, but that's not this day. This day I focus wholly on the book and making it as good as I can.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Revision Ferrets

Sometimes editing can be like having a nest of ferrets living inside your brain. Each ferret is designed to pay attention to one certain shiny thing.

So you'll have an exchange that looks like this while you're trying to be a good writer and Edit Your Book:

Plot-Hole Ferret: That would never work! How the heck does she get from here to there?

Me: True, I don't know why I wrote that. Maybe the Writing Badly Gremlins snuck in and added to the book while I wasn't paying attention--

Typo Ferret: Look! LOOK! You typed "woman" when you meant "women" again! LOOK!

Me: Right, I'll just mark that out with my red sharpie--

Food Ferret: I'm hungry, I wonder what's in the fridge?

Me: Damnit, nothing's changed in the refridgerator since the last five minutes when I stared at it's contents hoping food would magically appear. Now lets--

Distraction Ferret: We need to surf the Internet for...ummm...research.

And then all the ferrets start talking to you at once. At the very least, this looks like I have I have multiple personality disorder. At the worst...well, let's not go there. With drafting, you have one job. One.

Write the book.

Keep writing until you're finished.

There. Easy as a pie. But with revision? You have a ton of stuff to look at. Most writers stay sane by streamlining the process, which is what I have done, but it's still hard not to drive yourself insane thinking about all the details. The typos, and how you've brutalized grammar, and the characters are flat, and the plot doesn't hold up worth a darn, and so on. It's daunting and scary and sometimes you feel like you should just give up and write another book.

But writing is rewriting. You've heard that a billion times, but it's true. If you can't revise your work, you won't be able to tell a coherent story. Revision is every bit as important as drafting is. The cool thing about revision is you get a constant do over.

So just break it down into tiny chunks and ignore all the stupid ferrets chittering away in your brain, least we find you on the street muttering, "Can't sleep, typos will eat me."

Friday, May 6, 2011

How? Warning: This Post Contains Bird Poop

I have a very simple question. It shouldn't be that difficult to figure out, but my husband and I have been scratching our heads about this for a few days.

And my apologies if this is TMI or not appropriate (I did a quick search on agent blogs, but none of them have mentioned if bird poop is an acceptable blogging topic for aspiring authors) but I am not trying to be gross. I just honestly want to know.

How did bird poop end up on the side of my apartment wall? It's right between the door and the window. Here's a picture for reference:

You can see the bird's little gift to us in the middle. And before you run to the comments and tell me that all animals have to poop, let me give you some more perspective:

That's the hallway. There is several feet of walkway, a railing, and a large overhang past the balcony. My husband and I stood outside and looked around the apartment, trying to figure out the exact trajectory that would cause poop to land on the inside of our apartment balcony, against the wall. 

We have no answers. What you see to the left is a large tree. It's not like a bird could fly towards that exact spot and the wind just carried it's donation the rest of the way. There's a monstrously large tree in the way. The overhang should prevent the bird's butt from getting anywhere near the railing, much less three feet inside along our wall.

I keep trying to line up the trajectory, but no line I draw through the spot in question and the outside matches up. Then again, I am not a physics major. 

But still. Did the bird do a barrel roll through the hallway? There's nothing for them to perch on inside the walkway, so it didn't happen while they were hanging out. My husband's theory is during that bad windstorm/tornado watch we had a few days ago the bird got scared and the wind carried it. But I am not convinced.

Did I piss the birds off somehow? Has my apartment been marked for death? Am I in the middle of some sort of bird holy war? Is this their way of telling me I need "protection" and should donate in the form of bird seed and bread?

I am pretty sure it was the cardinals. There's two of them that like to sit on the tree outside and look smug. I mentioned how the cardinals always look smug on Twitter ( in birds...coincidence? I think not.) and the next day...bird poop on the side of my apartment.

I don't know. Perhaps those of you with a science background can work out the right angle for me. Because at the moment, I am going with blaming the cardinals.

And yes, I cleaned it up. Who knows what that's bird-code for? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Sound of Music

Wikiommons and I are BFF.
Okay guys, going to go on a bit of a excited rant today, but I just have to share.

You know how when you finish a rough draft, and like a good little writer, you wait a while to start revision? Only now as you're trying to revise, you can't remember why you loved this idea in the first place. Writing the book seems so long ago. It would be easier to just start another book, and leave this one out in the cold to die of exposure.

At least, that's what that evil voice inside your head is telling you.

The trick is to find a way to fall in love with your story all over again. You might have different methods, but for me I always go back to what made me fall in love with the story in the first place. 

Usually, it's the initial idea coupled with music. I guess it's just how my subconscious articulates my story ideas to me, but I've always made elaborate playlists for the book in general and characters specifically. Through listening to songs I can feel what my character feels, and even get images of scenes.

During writing, it keeps me going when I lose track of why I started the book. During revision, it has the extra benefit of reminding me why I love the book so much.  All I have to do is play a certain song, and I am right back to the first love. 

Elizabeth Davis showed me this awesome little widget called Grooveshark, where you can load music into a little mini playlist. Naturally I spent a few hours loading music so you guys could hear some of the songs that inspired me while I was writing "The Heart's Remains".  You should be proud of the restraint I showed; my first impulse was to put, like, a hundred songs into that bad boy. Then I thought, "Wait, no one is going to actually listen to this. Simmer down."

I was very, very impressed with Grooveshark's music selection. I have...varied music tastes. Songs are basically little books to me, so I've heard a lot of weird and strange songs. Rock, pop, symphonic metal, and indie are my favorite, but I have a little bit of everything in my music library. 

But Grooveshark came through for me. For example, Iced Earth, while well known in some circles, isn't exactly as popular as Lady Gaga. Also, the particular song of Iced Earth's that I wanted wasn't their most popular. But Grooveshark had both the album and live version, which makes me oh so happy because "A Question of Heaven" is one of the top three songs that fueled my inspiration. I wanted you guys to have the chance to hear if it the urge struck you. 

Word to the Wikicommons.
Even more obscure than Iced Earth are songs from "Dance of the Vampires". Here's the story behind "Dance of the Vampires" and where I show you what a geek I truly am.

"Dance of the Vampires" is a Broadway adaptation of a film called "The Fearless Vampire Hunters, or Excuse Me, but Your Fangs are in My Neck" directed by none other than Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown). It's every bit as campy and creepy as you would expect from the name. Then for some reason they thought it would make a great musical, and so it was made into a German musical, "Tanz Der Vampire". Jim Steinman, the guy that wrote Meat Loaf's music before they had a falling out, wrote the songs for the musical, so many of score sounds vaguely familiar.

THEN they decided to adapt it for Broadway. Michael Crawford himself took the lead, but after lots of creative problems, they canceled the shows and lost tons of money. Despite the problems the show had, the songs are awesome. If you're writing about vampires, doomed heroes, or just want to add some gothic horror to your mood music, this soundtrack is for you. The songs I found are "Endless Appetite", "Original Sin,", and "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Steve Barton and "Seize the Night" by Kyle Gordon. 

If you like those songs, there are two songs I couldn't find on Grooveshark that are amazing: "Braver than We Are" and "Dance of the Vampires." (note, "Dance of the Vampires" is the German version because I cannot find the English version on Youtube. But the German version is also awesome so you're not missing out. Elaine Caswell sings in the English version, so if you want to go spelunking on the Internets, my hat's off to you.)

Also, to highlight some awesome songs since I did load lots of them in there:

"Snuff" by Slipknot. I know, I know. You're thinking you hate heavy metal. But this song is slower and has less thrashing than you would think. Also, the lyrics are friggin' amazing, most notably "If I can change, I hope I never know." Seriously, this song just tears my heart out. Tragic villain, anyone?

Also, if you're looking for more villain/antagonist type songs, "Talons" by Bloc Party is a good choice. "I have been wicked. I have been arrogant." Sings the band, and so might your characters!

Oh yeah, HIM! HIM and I go way back. Yes, I went through a goth phase in high school, how did you know? The thing I like about HIM is their lyrics are very, very over the top. I mean, stuff like "Have no fear, there are wounds that are not meant to heal." But Valo, the lead singer, has a smooth, upbeat voice. So it's almost like he's giving you the thumbs up while he's talking about being sad. It takes the edge off for what could be too much melodrama. At least, that's my opinion. I've gone back and forth with some friends about how effective their songs are because of the melodramatic lyrics.

Nick Cave! Surely you guys have heard of him. He is one of the greatest male vocalists today, in my very humble opinion. I resisted the urge to upload five or six more of his songs in my Grooveshark player, just so you know. *pats self on the back*

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Sarah McLachlin's "Do What You Have to Do" called "Track 5" in Grooveshark. It's an amazing song. "I had the sense, to recognize that I don't know how to let you go." Maaaaaaaaan. 

So yeah. I give unto you a smidgen of my playlist for "The Heart's Remains." I have to stop talking about the songs right now, or this post is going to go on forever. (*Is hasn't already?* Someone snarks in the back. I heard you.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

PSA: Goals, Motivation, and Conflict

Just as a helpful reminder to all of you out there who are diligently writing, it's really great for your book if the main character has clear goals, motivation, and conflict. What would be equally great is having GMC through the entire book, and not just a few scenes here and there.

ALSO, if the stakes were clearly stated. That helps oodles. This way the really awesome twists and turns of your plot can fully be appreciated, because the reader knows exactly how the latest turn of events affects the character.

What's that? Why do I sound so sarcastic? No real reason, other than me realizing that I blatantly ignored the above advice during the first draft of "The Heart's Remains", that's all. The book starts with plot, and then subplot, and then the rest of the time is vaguely connected subplot, and then he ending comes along like a party crasher.

Yeah, I have some work to do. But that's okay. Because I love this idea (who doesn't love the idea of a steampunk setting and a demon summoning? Good times.) and I already have some ideas on how to fix things. I've also learned that I don't do very well with writing by the seat of my pants. 

I regret nothing. I have some great scenes in this book, now I just have to connect them in a way that makes sense. Sometimes the books you mess up the most in the first draft are the ones you learn lots from. 

This is going to be one of those times. Good for you and me, and fun for all.

So yeah, I just thought I would throw that helpful reminder out there for you guys.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Celebration! Warning: This Post Contains My Feet

Thank you everyone for the congratulations on finishing my rough draft. Also, thank you everyone who encouraged me to celebrate, despite my slightly off kilter enthusiasm. If there's one thing I can do well, it's celebrate.

In an effort not to let you down, I made sure to celebrate my very hardest. It mostly involved spending money, as the best celebrations often do. Here then, is a list of the things I did to celebrate:

1. Got a Massage

I am a massage therapist, so this isn't quite as decadent as you guys are thinking. The massage was free, since I trade out with my co-workers. But has been about six months since I made the time to get worked on, so it was a nice change.

2. Bought a Book

I already ordered some books a few weeks ago, so instead of just ordering more, I decided to order a comic compilation of Order of the Stick that I have been drooling over for a while. The added benefit is this book is a limited print run, so it's not like I can just order it any time.

3. Pedicure!

The Feet!
Lookit my feet! Lookit how pretty!

I love getting pedicures, but I never go. I feel like it's a waste of money because I can paint my own toenails. Also, I have a huge horde of nail polish (another fringe benefit from working at a spa) so I try to rotate through those. But my mom wanted to have lunch with me (Chinese Food!) and suggested we get pedicures. I was so there.

I apologize to those of you grossed out by feet. I tried to warn you. I know some people really don't like even the thought of feet, much less a picture of someone's feet, but in my defense I did just get a pedicure. They are extremely clean. 

Also, look at how pale I am! I don't tan AT ALL so I stay pasty white year round. 

4. Staples Shopping Spree!

I really just went in for ink and manila folders. I swear. My printer is screaming for mercy since I just printed off my rough draft and revision worksheets. 

But while I was there, I decided to browse...and wound up buying cork board (the roll to the far left), colored index cards, white index cards, Post-it notes, mechanical pencils, highlighters (buy one get one free!), tape, and those little legal pads. Aren't they cute? I am so excited about them.

I love office supplies. I mean, I LOVE them. Some women get really excited about buy new shoes, but not me. I get really happy when I get to buy index cards and highlighters. I don't know why; it's like I can feel the potential of the index cards. Think of the scenes I can write out on those index cards. Think of the words I can highlight. Think of the different colors that I can highlight in.

Let's ignore the fact that I already have about three packs of white index cards, and one pack of the colored ones. Clearly I was dangerously low. I might have run out.

So that's what I did. I celebrated the way a writer would, and did "Writer's Gone Wild" at Staples. Now I am armed with cute toenails and index cards and ready to face revision!