Don’t Erase, Highlight

I go back and forth on how I wish sentences to be worded, but the second I choose one way I decide I want to go back or a few days later I think I want to change it back. If I’m lucky to make that choice a second later, I can hit the undo button but if it is a few days later (as is often the case with me) I can’t quite remember how it was previously worded before and the undo button is useless.

Now the easiest way to do this would probably be to use the strike-through feature in Word or Google docs (the two I use, but whichever platform you use probably has one as well), but seeing the word(s) there bug me. They distract me when I’m reading through it and makes a few minutes of reading into a longer period of time. I have taken a leaf out of the FBI’s playbook and highlight the non-used words in black.

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Here, I have left the redacted words because this story is obviously still in it’s first draft and still deciding if I want to reword the sentences or not.

This method also helps when I work through my notes or “outline” like I mentioned in Different Outlines.

Different Outlines

In school you probably learned an outline structure similar to this one:

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But that’s not the only way to outline. Unless this method works for you, it doesn’t need to be that structured or you can use other templates that are the same just different starting letters and numbers.

Personally, I am not as structured in my outlines as above. That just happened because I copied those rules from a webpage (https://en.japantravel.com/guide/shrine-temple-etiquette/20924 ) as a quick reference. Most of the time my outline just looks like this:

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Each line starting with a capital letter is a different thought. It is just a rough sketch of what I want/need to happen in that chapter without being fleshed out. These quick notes are faster to write so I don’t forget anything. I also don’t have to worry about if I’m putting things in the right level of the outline structure or agonize over where it needs to go if it can fit into two or more categories.

Then it’s right below the words I’m typing and can see where I am headed with the story and the notes change into an actual story. The words above have been fleshed out from other notes, and those below are still needing to be applied.

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Then because I am very forgetful, instead of deleting the notes I’ve used I highlight them in black and move them to the end of the chapter’s notes. So if I need to go back and look at them, they are still there.

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This is just a trick that helps my writing process go smoother than keeping thousands of notebooks stashed all over the house (admittedly still have those too) and keeps my thoughts better organized than I have been able to do with pen and paper (probably because I use pen and hate pencils with a passion). You can use any color you want, I just chose yellow for notes and black for redacted because I use other colors for other color coding that I tend to do to help remember different characters.

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Word Tracking

Long time no read, sorry I’ve been pretty busy. Have been writing and reading, so that’s a plus. Thought I would share how I track everything word wise.

I am a tracker, I like to have a visual of my progress and love excel. I know there are others out there so naturally, I hunted the internet for different templates, but none really felt right for me. I would tweak the templates for a better fit, but still not right for me.

It took a while to figure out how I wanted everything to work, but finally came up with my daily spreadsheet.

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Just the basics: Code name of the project and how much I wrote in that for the day. Totals for overall and how much I have written per project in that one month. At the bottom I decide on a goal, keep an overall running total and then how much more I need to go. January was obviously a bit of a slow month as I only barely reached my goal.

Then, I wasn’t just satisfied with the daily numbers. I wanted to expand and see both monthly and yearly. It was a pain to figure out how to get the totals to show up on a different spreadsheet, but had a hay day when I got it where I wanted them.

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It’s simple and similar to the daily. Track the projects and number of projects I’ve worked on in the year (better understood for later) and pull the totals for the month from the daily page. It ends in totals for both monthly and project wise throughout the year. If they are blacked out as three of them are for January, that means I didn’t work on those projects at all that month.

The yearly page is my favorite because I have pulled the yearly totals used another formula for words per page and created charts to better visualize my work. This helps motivate me to work on different projects because I can see where I am putting most of my concentration and which books seem to be falling by the wayside.

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#ASI: Mandy Eve-Barnett

Hi, Mandy, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I am originally from England but moved to Canada ten years ago. This is the third continent; I have lived on, as I was born in South Africa. The sharp contrasts in culture, weather, landscape and experience have left traces in my soul that I draw upon for my writing. My lifelong interest in the natural world and fairy folklore, influence my writing style and some of the subjects I cover. Although, I have been creative my whole life, delving into paint, clay, textiles, and everything in between, it was not until I moved to Canada that I ‘found’ writing. It seems bizarre that I never tried writing as a creative outlet before, but I am now making up for lost time. My first book was published in 2011 and to date, I have four others published with two more launching in 2018!

Discuss your newest book. My novel, The Twesome Loop, starts its journey in the late 1990’s English countryside, where several characters make seemingly unrelated choices to travel to Italy. Melissa is fleeing a loveless marriage, Gerald wants to find his soul mate, Brett is motivated by greed and Nancy’s insatiable lust drives her. They are drawn not only by the beauty and life of Italy, but by an unexplained inner longing. Each is unaware that a pact made generations before, links their souls to each other and the beautiful villa they will stay in. A parallel story takes the reader to 1874, where a young woman’s happiness is sacrificed for her father’s ambition. Unable to resist she suffers at her older husbands hands until his brother offers a way to escape.

The story came about because I have been fascinated with reincarnation for decades and it was a way to incorporate it into a narrative. I also love England and Italy and enjoyed featuring both places. Sounds amazing!

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Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? When I came to Canada I promised myself a creative outlet. My children were older and did not need constant attention so I wanted to find something for me, not just for my creativity but also to meet new people in our new country. During our first library trip, a regular Saturday occurrence, I browsed the many leaflets displayed for local clubs and picked up a handful. As we left I saw a notice board promoting a writing group the following Tuesday. I sorted out the leaflet read the information and decided to attend. The first meeting was nerve racking – new people, new place, and new craft. I listened and stayed quiet for a couple of meetings then braved reading a brief story. The surprise ending had everyone gasp and that’s the moment I was hooked.

What are your current projects? Oh wow! This is going to be a list.

  1. YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria – publishing spring 2018 – chapter header illustrations to decide upon & complete.
  2. Adult speculative fiction, Life in Slake Patch – final editing & revisions -publishing fall 2018
  3. Adult western romance, Willow Tree Tears – final editing & revisions 2019
  4. Adult suspense/thriller, The Giving Thief – final editing & revisions 2019
  5. Sequel to adult romance novella, The Rython Kingdom – writing narrative 2019
  6. Finding a steam-punk anthology for my short story, The Toymaker
  7. Freelance work – ghost writing a business book

A lot to look forward to in the next year. Good luck. 🙂 

What books have most influenced your life most? I would have to say, I have been a compulsive reader my whole life and there are far too many books to mention. I loved magical themes, stories of the natural world and a broad spectrum of genres. However, I am a huge Stephen King fan, his skillful story telling is masterful and awe inspiring. King is such an inspiration to many, myself included. He is a great mentor, even if he is not aware of it.

What inspired you to write your first book? My first book was a children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare, so not a complicated or long narrative! It came about when I wrote a story prompted by a word prompt on my writing group’s website. The theme was Halloween but I didn’t want to write the usual ‘someone gets scared by something’ so wrote from the point of view of a young monster on his first scare. My friend and fellow writing group member, Linda persuaded me to publish it. And that was the start.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? This is a difficult question in the case of The Twesome Loop as there are four main characters whose lives are impacted by the discovery of their past lives. (see above question). The novel, Life in Slake Patch is set in an alternative future under matriarchal law. The sexes live in separate compounds and only have weekly visits. My main POV character is Evan – a young man living the life unchanged for generations. He becomes the vehicle for change, while fighting a band of dissents, holding a secret book and becoming married.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? In The Twesome Loop, I want my readers to see love can be a powerful thing across time but also that love can overcome religion, traditions and oppression. This is a good message, especially with Valentine’s day just a few days passed.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? For The Twesome Loop, I see Liam Hemsworth and Camilla Belle as the love torn lovers.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? Once I began writing short responses to word prompts, it soon became a flood of ideas crowding my mind. The more I wrote the longer the narratives and the more I became obsessed.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Unfortunately only part-time – I have a full time job as well as a freelance writing business. I also have roles as secretary for the local writer’s foundation and president of the local arts & culture council.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? To actually finish it, I wrote the first draft during a NaNoWriMo in 2010. It was revised and edited, put away and the process repeated seven times. I loved the story but the complication of two time periods and multiple characters back and forth across time took some careful plotting and continuity. NaNoWriMo is a daunting task within itself, but the complexities of your work make it twice as. That also means twice as rewarding. 

What is the easiest thing about writing? Sitting down and typing while the story unfolds on the page – I am a free flow writer, so do not plot prior to writing. I let the narrative and characters carry me on a journey.

What book are you reading now? I have just finished Sleeping Beauties and started 11/22/63 – yes I know both Stephen King and I don’t usually read them back to back but they were Christmas gifts. I will have to check out Sleeping Beauties, it’s one I haven’t heard of.

What is one random thing about you? I used to sit in graveyards cleaning the gravestones as a youth. I find graveyards so peaceful and think it is a respectable job, cleaning gravestones.

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? Most of my writing is on my laptop although I do jot down short stories in notebooks when an idea hits me.

What does your writing process look like? An idea will come to me, whether from a news story, an overheard dialogue, or even a photo and it sparks a character or setting in my mind. As I have said before, I let the story flow through me and even when it diverts in a direction I was not expecting I just go with it. I can sit and write, when left alone, for hours. Sometimes I listen to classical music but mostly in silence. It is my happy place.

How important are names to you in your books? I try to make sure the names reflect the character’s traits, time period and their place in the narrative.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I am spasmodic in my promotion and need to be more organized in avenues of advertising and target marketing.

What is your favorite book and why? You will find this interesting as it is not a Stephen King book. I love and re-read on a regular basis a book called Ferney by James Long. It centers on a young woman and an old man who are the reincarnations of past lives. It is a fabulously written book and the story totally mesmerizing.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Find a writing group who supports and encourages you and where you can receive constructive critique. Like the Authors Helping Authors Beyond Marketing (New budding group on Facebook).

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Apart from the day job – freelance projects, event planning for both non-profit organizations, traveling to book events and attending local author readings.

From where do you gain your inspiration? It is a common answer from writers – everywhere and everything but I have found unusual news stories, fairy folklore and the natural world to be my main sources of inspiration. I’ve been waiting to plug this in because I found it to be my favorite cover of one of your books!

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What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? As I am published through a small publishing company, I cannot comment on self-publishing. I will say that a smaller publisher enables me to have more control over the process, the design and look of the books and it is a far more personal service.

How do you market your books? I am prolific on social media, I have a blog where my books are featured, and my publisher’s website has all my titles. I regularly attend author readings and local and provincial literary events. My books are in the local libraries and independent book stores.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? Funny you should ask I have just had discussions with a PR company this week. It is a new venture for me.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Start local and build from there – try not to conquer the world in one go. Gauge how much you want to market and where and focus on that, spreading yourself too thin only exhausts you and leaves no time to write.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? I would say writing is 60% and marketing 40% – it is the writing I enjoy and if people read my stories now or in the future that is my reward.

What do you do to get book reviews? How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

I do not openly request book reviews apart from the occasional meme share on social media. When people buy my books I do request a review. I am keen to see what this PR company can do on this subject. Watch this space.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? When I was promoting The Twesome Loop I did entice readers by mentioning that it contained ‘spicy bits’ – several purchasers remarked on this strategy saying it was the reason they wanted to read it.

Which social network worked best for you? I find Facebook, twitter and Goodreads all have on par success for me. My blog seems to be the place readers and writers visit a great deal.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Without a doubt I would love to spend time with my literary hero, Stephen King. He is a skillful writer but also a fascinating personality, to sit down with him would be a dream come true. I would like to find out what makes the man tick.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? I would be honored to have written Ferney. It is the ultimate reincarnation story.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Don’t be afraid to try new styles, don’t restrict yourself to one genre explore them all. Let the story flow and do not edit as you go but later on once the narrative is finished.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? I am all over social media:

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/Mandyevebarnettcom/

Twitter: @mandyevebarnett

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477059.Mandy_Eve_Barnett

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/mandyevebarnett

Author Page: http://dreamwritepublishing.ca/authors/mandy-eve-barnett

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mandy-eve-barnett-58235250/

 

Greatest Fear #Boogeyman

Currently Reading: Slenderman by Willow Rose, A Storm of Swords (Song of Fire and Ice book 3) by George R.R. Martin, Beauty’s Punishment by Anne Rice and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.

Books Read: 20/85 Books pledged to read this year.

TBR List: 4997 I reread a couple of books, so technically my TBR didn’t go down….stupid I know.

Words Written: 18,828

I’m not talking about the fear of failure or dying. I’m talking about the scariest, nastiest thing that keeps you up at night. Some people have a fear of clowns or spiders that instantly causes them to freeze up.

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I’m working on a new book that involves a big bad boogeyman type coming after the MC (no names worked out yet it’s that new) and her family. While trying to think of the thing’s backstory, I tried coming up with my greatest fear and I can’t think of it.

I have things that freak me out and things that downright scare me, but nothing that makes me stop dead in my tracks or causes my entire body to shake uncontrollably.

Everyone has a greatest fear, but what does it mean if you can’t pinpoint it? Are we becoming oversensitized to violence, gore and horror in general that we no longer have a tangible greatest fear? No matter how irrational.

Think about it, horror movies have transitioned from what I consider horror to more gore than anything. Movies I do consider horror are now referred to as “psychological thrillers” like Black Swan with Natalie Portman or Shutter Island with Leonardo DiCaprio. They both have components of a broken psyche that make people do horrible things and not realize that they are the monsters. To me this is horror because it can and does happen. We learn at a young age that humans are the true monsters (thank you Scooby-Doo) and not things like the Boogeyman.

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Horror movies are now things like Sinister, Nightmare on Elm Street or Scream. Great movies but technically slasher flicks. Someone or something goes around filleting people, gratuitous boob shot and people dying because they had sex. It’s like an expensive “Abstinence” ad. Yes they are good but not horror.

My point is getting away from me, sorry.

Are there such things as greatest fears anymore or is everything now a psychological, non-tangible fear? Is that even real with the newest generation being more rewarded for just participating and told to not fear failure? Have we lost the ability to fear and have a great rush of adrenaline when we find that biggest fear? Is the horror genre dead?

Death to all #PlotBunnies

It is #NaNoWriMo, and all of a sudden these evil little Plot Bunnies are attacking me. In the past 16 days I have started not one, but THREE new stories on top of the 13 I have already been working on! Yes, the other day I finished one that I have been working on for the better part of two years but still! The total is now 15 and I have a feeling it is not going to get smaller, but grow before the month is over.

#ASI: Elizabeth Cash

Hi Elizabeth, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

-I was born in Lake City, FL but moved to St. Augustine when I was six. I’ve lived here since then and have grown to love it, and I consider it my hometown. I am 23-years-old, married to a crazy, wonderful man, and I have two wonderful kids. Aaliyah, who is 5, and Bentley, who is 2. They drive me insane and keep me whole. I’m extremely goofy and kindhearted.

Discuss your newest book.

-The Only Way Out is my debut novella. It is about a girl named Wednesday Emmerson, who struggles with depression and anxiety. She has been dealt a really bad hand in life. She is constantly having traumatic things happen to her. The final straw was Brian. Her boyfriend of three years. When he leaves her, she makes a decision that will change her life. And in the words of Rein, everything else is “Just another day in paradise.” I don’t want to give away too much because this is a short book, so you’ll have to read it to find out. I must read it to find out!

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Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

-I found that I truly loved writing when I was in my high school ENG 3 class. We had an assignment to do on The Catcher in the Rye, and we were prompted to create an alternate character for Holden. It was a lot of fun, and ever since then I would make alternate characters for characters I would read about to see if it would fit them or I would write a short story to finish a book that felt unfinished to me. Cool, #GOSCHOOL!

What are your current projects?

-At the moment I am working on a psychological thriller/horror. It is still in the baby stages of planning and plot twisting, but it will be gruesome and awesome. Sounds scary.

What books have most influenced your life most?

-Every book I have read has impacted me on some level. The one that influenced my life the most I believe would be Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter. It was a very emotionally raw and traumatic book. It took me forever to pick up another book because I didn’t want to feel all the feels like I did reading that. It was also one of the very first books that introduced me into the amazing book-hangover world.

What inspired you to write your first book?

-I have seen first hand what depression and anxiety can do to someone you love. My mother suffers from them, and my husband does as well. I wanted to give insight on what depression can do and how hard it is to overcome. It’s not just a get over it type of thing. It’s a constant pull, a constant battle to stay alive when all you want to do is curl up and wither away. That is great, I know a lot of people out there struggle with depression, it sounds like this book could be an inspiration for them.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

-Wednesday is a sweet girl but has been dealt a very sharty hand in life. She struggles with depression and anxiety. She does her best, but it seems like life has other plans and wants to keep her down. In the end, she finds out what it means to have a happy ending. Love the name, and she sounds very down to earth. I hope she gets her happy ending.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

-You are never alone, no matter what struggles you are going through. Even if you need to talk to a stranger, there are people who will be a listening ear and friend to you in your time of need.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

-I’d love to see Anne Hathway play Wednesday. She is an amazing actress and kills every role she has played.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

-It wouldn’t go away lol I have always loved to write short stories, and this was originally a short story that I had written and put away, but it wouldn’t leave me alone. In the back of my mind, the story kept growing, and eventually I sat down and finished it. All the good ones do that.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

-I wish I could write full-time. But I am a mother, a hospitality worker, and a full-time student at Ashford University. Between all that and adulating, I write half-time. Sometimes, none. I’d give my left leg to be able to be an author full-time and still have all my bills paid lol Wouldn’t we all? lol

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

-It was hard having to write such a broken character. I love Wednesday and she is an awesome person, but she has some serious demons that are truly heartbreaking.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

-Tori. Her bubbly personality made things a little brighter and a little easier to write.

What book are you reading now?

-I am in the process of reading CoHo’s Never Never series. I love her books and the way she writes.

What is one random thing about you?

-I am a weirdo who loves all the lacy and black things. Oh and I am a huge procrastinator. I am a ‘wait-last-minute-then-stress-out’ type of chick. Some times procrastination turns out to be very helpful.

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?

-It depends. If I’m at home, my computer is my go to. But I always keep a pad and pen just in case a good scene or plot twist decides to pop up in my mind.

What does your writing process look like?

-Very sloppy. Most authors like to have everything planned out, but I just go with the flow and take notes as I am writing. It can get confusing, but once I have everything written, I organize it and go from there.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

-I have to have background noise. Silence is such a buzz kill for me. If it’s quiet, I can’t write or concentrate.

How important are names to you in your books?

-They are very important to me. I want for the names I use to be unique and memorable. They have to match the character as well. Wednesday was originally Shelby, but it didn’t live with my character at all. So, I changed it and created Wednesday Emmerson.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?

-I will never format my books myself, ever again. I used Calibre and messed up so many things. My awesome author friend fixed everything for me and formatted it. It was horrible.

What is your favorite book and why?

-The Fish Tale Series. I read the whole series in three days, and it wrecked me and molded me and then killed me again just to tape me back together. It packed a huge punch and that’s what I love about it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

-Do no give up. It can get hard at times, but it’s worth it in the end.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

-Eat. I’m a big foodie. I am always eating. I even dance a little while eating because it makes me happy.

From where do you gain your inspiration?

-It comes from all over. The book I am working on now was a dream I had. Or more of a nightmare. The Only Way Out was inspired by my loved ones who struggle with depression. I have another book partly planned that was inspired by a photo my friend took. For me, inspiration comes from all over.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

-I love the freedom the self-publishing gives me. I make my deadlines, and I get to pick and choose who my editor will be or who will design my cover.

How do you market your books?

-Social media mainly.

Would you or do you use a PR agency?

-I would, but at the moment, I enjoy doing things on my own.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

-SHARE! On any and every social networking place you can. #SpreadtheLove!

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

-About half of it goes to marketing. I want people to get a feel for it before it comes out. I want them to become interested in my work and want to get it when it is released.

What do you do to get book reviews? How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

-I have been using promo pages on Facebook and Twitter. I try to share my book as much as possible for people get it and leave a review. Since it was just released, I do not have many reviews, but I will continue to do what I’m doing until the reviews grow.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?

-If someone wishes to review my book, I’d be more than happy to give them a copy. I also use promo pages for that as well. Some of them have a place you can submit your book for review. I have submitted my book to a few places already. I’m waiting to hear back.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?

-Since I’m new to all this, I don’t have one. I wish I did, though.

Which social network worked best for you?

-Facebook. There are so many people that use Facebook, and a good portion of them read. I’d say over half of my friends are authors, reviewers, and just book lovers in general.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?

-I did not. I just shared my little heart out on all of my social media pages.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

-I would love to meet either Edgar Allen Poe or Tim Burton. I have loved their work since I was a kid and it’d be amazing to meet someone I’ve looked up to since I was a kid. They are two of my favorites as well.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

-That’s a tough one. I’d go with SNAP by Tara Dawn. It is a series, but SNAP is the first book, and it is amazing. It’s one of those books that leaves you wondering what kind of world we live in and it takes you a while to figure out how you are gonna review it because words just don’t seem to do it justice.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

-Keep writing. No matter what. If you love it, keep going. I promise, in the end, once you upload it or have the print in your hands, you’ll feel so complete. Total euphoria comes from seeing your blood, sweat, and tears on the screen or in your hands.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Facebook lol I am a social media whore and I am on there all the time promoting an sharing my work.