Wednesday, September 18, 2019
I write fantasy and love reading it. But I have more than 20 science fiction romances published by a small press over the last twelve years. My educational background is science and I try to make sure even my science fiction still has the science part though not so much that I overwhelm my readers with too many dry facts.
My very first romance series was a post-apocalyptic Earth. The science part came into the apocalypse part. I was teaching health to high school students at the time and I always had one lesson on steroid usage. A wasting illness spread among humanity and consumption of a natural form of testosterone-laden berry gave people superior strength and stamina. It also carried exaggerated side effects of steroid use. Uncontrollable rage, infertility, and basically turned them into something less than human and very dangerous. I took a known fact about of the health risks of steroids and fictioned it up.
In another post-apocalyptic series, I took the futuristic hope of a universal vaccine and turned it into the near-end of humanity. The universal vaccine shut off the immune system of anyone who took it so a simple cold meant death. Hand the trait down to future generations, and the only survivors were those living in a domed city. EXCEPT, for the rugged individuals who lived off the grid and never received the vaccine. Vaccines and their supposed dangers are always in the news as is the search for vaccines for various ills. Again, I took known facts and fears and fictioned them up.
"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." H.G. Wells
I've used genetic engineering in one series, and again, this is a science issue sometimes making news headlines. Science learns more about human genetics every day. How far away from making super beings like the genetically engineered marines are in my Recon Marine Series. Yes, I fictioned it up.
Though I have a strong background in biology, I'm not a biologist. I know enough to be dangerous and incorporate those light facts into my writing in a way anyone can understand. Then I weave the fiction with the facts. Science fiction is born.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." Mark Twain
I think I invented a new word. Fictioned means to take some facts, exaggerate a little or a lot until the facts have morphed into fiction.
Ho much science do you like in your science fiction? Does your educational background or life experience help you in creating stories? Don't forget to visit more #Author Toolbox Blog Hop.
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
This month's optional question:
If you could pick one place in the world to sit and right your next story, where would it be and why?
That is a tough question. First of all, I have an awesome office at home and I have it all to myself on evenings and weekends. It's pretty much perfect and I shouldn't be greedy and wish for something better. That being said, I would love to spend a week at a dude ranch in Montana where I could horseback ride in the morning and evening, walk for miles and enjoy the big sky and write in between being outdoors.
My daughter moved to Boston this past weekend to begin her PhD program. I'm not a city person but I appreciate the history of Boston and its many lovely spots to have a seat in a coffee shop and write. Harvard Square is one of my favorite. Yes, I could spend a week writing there.
The question for me, could I stay on task in those beautiful places? I'd like to find out.
"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." Labor speech, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt
Work on my next book is going slow as I dealt with knee replacement and helping my daughter move. This time her move isn't simply going back to college. It's a real move that will last 5-7 years. Those are my excuses for writing only about 15K words the past two months.
I'm back to watching my granddaughter five days per week as her teacher parents go back to school. Such a little bundle of joy. She's speaking in full sentences and knows all her letters. (Her dad taught her the alphabet by watching Wheel of Fortune) She's only 2 and a half as of today. On our agenda, more library programs and swimming once per week to start. She loves learning and trying new things. Play doh last week.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Chinese proverb
I'm also back to exercising 5 or more days per week. Since I have my knee fixed, I can actually do downhills again and use the elliptical more than one day in a row. I feel younger with my bionic parts. LOL
I have a writers' meeting tonight, so I'll try to visit as many blogs as I can before and after. I seem to keep volunteering for things I don't have time for.
"Experience is what enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again." Earl Wilson
I'm enjoying the last season of Killjoys. Only a few episodes left. I'll really miss those characters. The last season of Poldark starts later this month. I'm looking forward to the last season of Supernatural starting up in October. There's a new show this fall called Evil that looks interesting. Not sure anything else will catch my interest. Seems I'm depending more and more on Netflix and Amazon when I have the urge for a little screen time.
Do you have an ideal writing spot in all the world? Do you get yourself in trouble by too much volunteering? Do you like the coming of fall?
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
I've spent the last five days thinking about what I should blog about this month. I'm going through one of those phases where I feel like I don't know anything about anything. It's not the same as impostor syndrome which we all know about. It's a feeling that I'm not expert enough on anything to give someone else advice. So I couldn't think of a topic to blog about. While mowing our huge lawn, inspiration hit me.
A blog is only useful if it draws readers. Drawing readers means I need interesting content. How do I come up with that content after blogging for over ten years? Here are some ideas I fall back on when I need a topic.
Guests!!! I love guests. Would you like to guest on my blog the next time you want to promote something. I try for one or two guests per month though the summer is a bit slow. I don't post excerpts, but I have some simple guidelines that means creating your post will only take you a short time. Contact me if you have something to promote. sgourleyauthor at gmail.
Five Things or Ten Things! Lists are wonderful things and numbers attract the eye when it comes to reading blogs. Chuck Wendig does posts with guests where they share five things they learned while writing their book. Here's an example by Rob Hart. You can come up with your own lists. Like five reasons you love your local bookstore. Five things you hated about season 8 of GoT. Five books or authors that inspired you to become a writer.
Quotes! By your favorite authors or quotes to inspire. Google your mood and you'll find lists of quotes. Or find them on Pinterest.
"Nothing is too small to know, and nothing is too big to attempt." Sir William C, Van Horne
"Some people are always grumbling that roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses." Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
Do you ever run dry of ideas for blogging? What can you add to my list? Want to be a guest on my blog? Are you jealous of my globe and dragon?
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
I'm skipping this month's question. The only thing that ever surprised me about my writing was when one of my publishers closed and even that has happened so often I'm no longer shocked when it happens.
A writing issue I am addressing today is writers' groups. Do you know now much it costs to be a member of IWSG? Zero dollars. The runners of this group spend countless hours behind the scene, all voluntarily. I'm on the board of the state-wide, multi-genre group, Pennwriters. Again, everyone on the board volunteers all their hours and there have been many, many hours of work. Members of Pennwriters pay the low price of $45 per year and receive lots and lots of benefits including a discount to the annual conference that amounts to more than the price of membership. That brings me to my point.
I am a long time member of RWA, Romance Writers of America. For over twenty years, I've paid to be a member of this organization and then an additional fee to belong to my local chapter of RWA. Each year as my career moves forward, I feel like I get less for my money. I won't to into the details of that list, but to pay $99 for RWA membership and then $28 to belong to my local group, I want it to be worth it. And I no longer feel that it is. When my membership expires later this month, I'm finished paying out that money.
I'm sure there are other RWA members on this loop, and I would welcome your thoughts.
On a more personal note, this is a dangerous time of year to shop. All those back to school supplies are on sale. So many clever and cute journals, pen, paper clips, and sticky notes. How is a writer to resist even though I need none of it? I managed to buy only one notebook and two post-it notes.
My knee rehab is complete. My orthopedic surgeon called me his best patient ever. Back to walking an hour a day or doing a day on my elliptical. Full range of motion and all the good stuff. Not quite back to writing 1,000 words per day but I'm getting there. Also, received another contract for the book I submitted in June.
I'm enjoying the last season of Killjoys on SyFy. My favorite show, The 100, ended its season last night and announced next season will be their last. Sorry to see it go, but I also like when a series knows when to end. I was very excited to learn that Amazon has renewed The Expanse for a 5th season before the 4th even airs. Endgame made me cry as much when I watched it at home as it did in the theater. Football season starts soon so I won't have much to say about TV except to complain how much football my dear husband watches.
Do you pay to be in any writing or other creative groups? Think RWA is too expensive? Do office supplies tempt you? See any good TV lately?
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
I shared in last month's Toolbox that I was having my knee replaced a few days after the hop. All went well and recovery is going smoothly and ahead of schedule. That doesn't mean I'm out jogging around the neighborhood yet, but I'm happy with the progress. On the not so good side, I can't sit at my desk for extended periods of time because my knee swells no matter how I try to prop it up and ice. So my writing progress on my current WIP is slower than I'd like.
My contribution to the Toolbox this month is likely a familiar craft item that all of us have dealt with throughout our careers. I received a contract for my 23rd romance novel from the small press who have published all my romance novels. Each time I receive a contract, my publisher asks me for a blurb, a short excerpt to share on their website, and a one-liner or a logline. Some authors call it the 'elevator pitch', meaning it can be shared at short notice. Even after 23 novels, I revert to a formula to create my loglines. Here are the two I use most often.
When __________ happens to ____________ (he/she/they) must ___________ or face ___________.
When situation happens, protagonist must act to defeat antagonist and prevent disaster.
The five things I figure out before I write the logline are:
Situation, protagonist, the action, the antagonist, and the disaster. Once I am satisfied with the logline, I can use that same sentence and expand it into the back cover blurb. Each of those five things can be expanded to a few sentences or combined into short paragraphs.
Do you use another formula for your loglines? Do you find them easy or do they drive you crazy?
Monday, July 8, 2019
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
First of note, thank you to the IWSG administrators for spotlighting me in the most recent newsletter. You really brightened my day.
Second of note, thank you to the administrators for all they do. I was once among their numbers and there is a massive amount of work that goes on behind the scenes of IWSG to make sure the group remains dynamic and offers so many FREE services to writers. I'm on the board of another writing group and I'm currently buried under responsibilities to help run that group. Anyone who volunteers in such a way, sacrifices a lot of their own writing time to give to other writers.
Third of note is the monthly optional question:
What personal traits have you written into your characters?
Are we supposed to do that? LOL I do write my characters to have qualities that I hope I have. Loyalty, honesty, and love of family. Add an burdening sense of responsibility and you have a too perfect character. (Not that I'm perfect or even close) So, always add a helping of traits I hope I don't have. Mistrust, wariness of relationships, and of course, the damage that caused all that.
Fourth note for today, I apologize for not haunting the blogs I usually do. About twelve days ago, I had knee replacement surgery so I've had trouble sitting at my computer for any extended period of time. No worries, I feel great. My top-notch surgeon used high tech robotic surgery. I was in pretty good shape going in. Surgery at 10 am. Woke up at noon. Got out of bed at 2 pm with the nurses' help. Went home the next day at noon. Six days later and I was walking without any assistant devices like a cane or walker. 30 staples are coming out today and then it's just a matter of finishing physical therapy. Unfortunately, my new knee is not bionic and I can't run 60 mph.
Is the year flying by for you? Have any fellow writers or bloggers you really appreciate? Does your personal character show up in your fiction writing? Would you be comfortable with a robot wielding the knife in the operating room?
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Writer, Take Care of Thy Self
It's summer in my neck of the woods. The outside calls to me, and I answer as often as I can. Two days from now, I'm having some orthopedic surgery. It's a good time to remind myself of the things we all should be doing to take care of ourselves. Writing requires one to sit down at the keyboard but sitting too long and too often isn't good for our health. Neither is being alone with all those rejections and frustrations. I've put together a list of the ways I'll be taking care of myself during the next few months of rehab while still keeping on with my writing.
*Drink lots of water. So simple but many of us don't drink enough. Remember coffee and tea can be counted toward our fluid intake but watch out for too much caffeine.
*Get around eight hours of sleep and never less than seven. Sleeping is essential for our health. Our bodies need that down time to make repairs. Not enough sleep is linked to things like weight gain, diabetes, emotional health, and more. Read about a few of them here.
*Find your tribe of writer friends who know what your job is like. Avoid people who tear you down with negativism and toxicity. Have coffee with a fellow writer.
*Eat healthy. Summer means more fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat greens. Make a smoothie and throw in some Greek yogurt.
*Get away from the phone, the computer, and electronics in general. Even if only for a few hours.
*Exercise. Walk out in the sunshine. Enjoy an early morning stroll or an evening when the stars start to peek through. In my neighborhood, either time of day means deer and their new fawns are out and about. But watch out for skunks. LOL
*Read. Read. Read. Visit the library. Dig into that TBR shelf. Check out all the books on your Kindle. I read about two books per week even when I'm writing a thousand words per day. Vary the genres too. Read everything.
"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." Stephen King
Can you add some healthy advice for your fellow writers? How much do you read every week? Do you have a favorite smoothie or salad dish?
Monday, June 17, 2019
Beast World MG Fantasy Series, book #3
by Tara Tyler
In BROKEN BRANCH FALLS, Gabe and his friends go on a quest to save their school, blowing up all the rules, and discover their origins.
Then they go to CRADLE ROCK and meet some real live humans, scaring them into attack mode. The Beasts realize they have to spread the truth ASAP.
Now, school's out, and Gabe is ready for a break from all the drama...
Gabe and his friends fly over the Great Sea for the wedding of the century: a dragon prince and a beautiful harpy. But Gabe can't relax on this vacation. Besides competing in rigorous wedding events, he overhears the nearby human village WINDY HOLLOW is in danger from an evil human scientist and a vengeful were-ogre experimenting on beasts. Gabe and his friends risk crossing the mountains to help, despite several warnings.
Maybe he's going too far this time, but he's in too deep to quit. It's do or die, hopefully not die!
Tara Tyler has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over the US, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her husband and one boy left in the nest. She has two series, Pop Travel (sci-fi detective thrillers) and Beast World (fantasy adventures), plus her UnPrincess novella series where the maidens save themselves. She's a commended blogger, contributed to several anthologies, and to fit in all these projects, she economizes her time, aka the Lazy Housewife—someday she might write a book on that... Make every day an adventure!
Check out the WINDY HOLLOW Release Blog Tour schedule:
6/20 - Heather Holden - How does she Create such Awesome Art?
6/22 - Ellen Jacobson - Interview
6/24 - Patricia Lynne - Keeping Magic Alive
6/26 - MJ Fifield - Fantasy World-Building
6/30 - SA Larsen - Special Newsletter & a Vlog?!
7/1 - Tara's IWSG post with updates and a Special Guest!
7/3 - Alex J. Cavanaugh - IWSG Day - Fantasy Movies
7/4 - Tonja Drecker - Kids in Books
7/8 - Christine Rains - Levels of Romance
7/10 - Heather M. Gardner - Binge Watching TV
7/15 - Tyrean Martinson - Hiking!
7/17 - Julie Flanders - Gotta Have Friends
And of course, there's a giveaway!
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Wednesday, June 5, 2019
This month's optional question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?
I write in two genres, science fiction romance and epic fantasy. I love both. Science fiction gives me a chance to include my science background and the space to make up some science. Almost all my science fiction is space opera though I have one dystopian series. I love epic fantasy with the chance to build a word and invent a magic system. I also love the idea of heroes and heroines that go on a journey to grow into the people who will defeat evil so good can triumph. I really like the tales where the protagonist starts out as a nobody who becomes the most important person in the world.
When the chess game is over, the pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, kings, and queens all go back in the same box. Italian proverb
Hope your summer, if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, offers you some time to relax. I also hope you're not getting wet every day like we have been in the northeast USA. We had nearly twice the average amount of rainfall for the month of May. I have one more week of watching my granddaughter before summer vacation is here for her parents who are both teachers. I love her, but I'll enjoy some time without my adorable little shadow on my heels.
The new season of Luther is here and next month we have Stranger Things season 3, so something to look forward to. In the meantime, I'm doing some re-watches of my favorite shows like Haven. Poldark's most recent season is on Amazon Prime, so I'll take that in also. Anything you're binge watching or catching up on during the summer months.
Do you write in more than one genre, and if you do, do you prefer one over the other? Have any vacations planned for the near future? Are you in a part of the country that has been inundated recently?
Monday, June 3, 2019
Jeff and Michelle’s lives had felt as perfect as their love for one another. A successful family business, wonderful children, and the hope of a long life together… until an inoperable brain tumor threatens to destroy the happily ever after they thought was guaranteed.
Will faith and sacrifice be enough to save the woman he can’t imagine life without?
Have you ever had someone say something as motivating as Vickie's friend who told her she was being selfish? Have you known a relationship where the man was the one to give up his career and stay home to care for an ailing loved one? Have you read a book that gave you hope and inspiration?
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Five Incredible Fact about TreesIt's only apt that since trees are a major character in Leaves of Fall that I share just how incredible they are in real life (despite not being able to shape shift into human form.) Here are five incredible facts about trees.
1: Trees can tell if deer are trying to eat them. Due to their ability to detect deer saliva, trees defend themselves by producing excess acids that cause their buds to taste bitter so that the deer will lose interest and leave them alone. (source)
3: One of the most dangerous trees in the world is the manchineel tree found in Florida and the Caribbean. Its sap is so poisonous and acidic that merest contact with human skin causes a breakout of blisters, and blindness can occur if it touches a person's eyes. (source)
5: Trees that live in cold climates stop growing during fall in anticipation of the first frost. Trees that had been embryos during cold winters stop growing a few weeks earlier than the rest of the forest. (source)
Birch promises he can get Armory home. He says not all trees wanted a war. Armory has no choice to trust him if she wants to see her family again.
Together, they trek across the ruins of America, meeting both human and trees who want nothing more than the fighting to stop. But the hatred between the two may be too deep to heal. Armory isn’t sure her friendship with Birch will be enough to convince the human race to take a chance on peace. Birch has a plan, though. He’s just not sure he’ll survive.
Snag on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or Smashwords for $2.99. (or 99cents if the pre-order price hasn't changed yet. ^_~)
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About the Author
Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.
Find Patricia around the web.
Website - http://www.patricialynne.com
Twitter - https://twitter.com/plynne_writes
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/plynnewrites/
Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/patricialynne07
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/635444.Patricia_Lynne
Amazon Author Page - https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01EM6YLAW
Smashwords - https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/patricialynne
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Like many writers who have been in this business for a while, I've had publishers close their doors or as one said, change their direction, leaving my published books as orphans. When this happens, there are two choices. Publish the books myself or find a publisher who will take on a previously published novel.
It would be nice if I never had to make that decision because the small presses I've been contracted with never went bankrupt. But it happens all the time. So far, I've had three different small presses go away while my books were with them. The first one declared bankruptcy and all the authors had their rights tied up for months. Fortunately, RWA stepped in with a legal team and helped us. My book hadn't even been published yet, but it was under contract. I did learn that those bankruptcy clauses in contracts are meaningless.
A little more than two years ago, I had two different fantasy series with two different small presses. I had signed a four book contract with one and had two books under contract with the other. Both publishers closed their doors within weeks of each other and within days of one of my books being released. I had blog appearances and other promotions all lined up when it happened. At least both presses made sure to return rights without any prompting.
It's difficult to tell how reliable a small press is and if they will stay in business. I've avoided self-publishing because I'm too lazy to do all the work involved. I want to write, edit, and rewrite, not design covers or hire outside editors. I don't want to do formatting or deal with Amazon. So, my romance publisher, NCP, offered to take on the four book fantasy series. It hasn't sold a lot but I trust the publisher to stay in business.
The second series has been sitting while I work on my romance career. I was determined to find a small press that would take on a previously published book. I've gathered three rejections and am waiting to hear back from another submission. I don't send out queries to just any small press. Here are the things I do first:
*Is their website professional?
*Is it more than a one person operation?
*How long have they been in business?
*How many books have they published?
*How many authors write for them?
*Are their book covers professional and attention grabbing?
*Do their books have good rankings and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads?
*I always buy and read at least two of their books in my genre to check quality of writing and editing.
*Check their social media to see if the publisher does promotion.
The small press I'm waiting to hear from fits all the above criteria. Hopefully, by next month, I can tell you if they've accepted my submission. If not, it's back to the search.
Do you or have you worked with a small press? Have you ever tried to place a previously published book with another publisher? Have you had the frustrating and depressing experience of having a publisher close on you?
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
How cool would it be to live on the Outer Rim? I bet the stars are beautiful out there. Did a movie or book hook you on a particular genre? Can you beat Diane's five rewrites on a scene?
Monday, May 6, 2019
Those who wish to sing always find a song. Swedish proverb
Let me start all over again. About ten days from now, I'll be on my way to the 32nd Annual Pennwriters Conference. This year, the conference in being held in Pittsburgh, PA. It's about a four hour car drive for me, but I like driving. I like it best when I'm driving by myself. Lots of plotting gets done during that time. Once at the conference, I'll reconnect with friends I haven't seen for a year and make some new ones. There's is an amazing amount of energy and positive vibes during the three day event. I always come away with dozens of ideas and the motivation to do something with them.
In addition, there are speakers and workshops that will give me new ideas for editing, promotion, and networking. I'm on the Pennwriters' board of directors and this conference takes a lot of man hours (mostly woman hours) to put together. A lot of the work is done before time, but there's also things to take care of on the weekend. And all those hours are put in by volunteers. Most people know that but few take the time to thank all those people working behind and in front of the scenes.
Many online communities are the same. Maintained by volunteers. And they give us so much as they use their time, their writing time or family time, to keep websites and blogs current and helpful. I don't want to start naming the ones I visit regularly and benefit from because I don't want to forget any of my favorites. What I want to say is THANK YOU.
The upcoming conference, the newsletter I subscribe to, and all those websites that give me ideas and motivation keep me going even when industry news tries to knock me down.
Not sure how I'm feeling about this season of GoT. I was so excited about the season going in, but I'm afraid they might drop the ball on all the buildup they've done over the years. All the hints and prophesies couldn't be misdirection, could they? I'll have to wait and see.
On the other hand, my other favorite show, The 100, had a great first episode for this season. Hope it keeps up the twists and tension. And season 4 of Lucifer is coming to Netflix this week.
Also, please return to visit on Wednesday when Diane Burton will be my guest to talk about her MG novel, Rescuing Mara's Father.
In the bad news category, weather forecast is for rain nearly every day this week. Blah. The weeds are taking over my landscape. Please send a little sunshine by way.
When the Sun rises, it rises for everyone. Cuban proverb
Are you a volunteer for an online or other writing group? What motivates you to stay with your writing career if not the income?
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
The optional question this month:
What was an early experience when you learned that language had power?
Can't think of a specific experience, but as I watch my granddaughter learn to talk, I believe that humans learn very early that language has power. Being able to communicate changes everything. She can let us know what she wants, what she needs, and comment on what's happening around her. Not all her words are clearly spoken, and I find myself acting as an interpreter for her with other people, but every day she learns a new word. It's always amazing to watch a child develop their language skills. She has many pieces of songs memorized and a few books such as Brown Bear.
I've finished that first draft of my next space opera romance that I expected to have finished a month ago. I'm letting it sit for at least another week before I start revising. Lots of works needs to be done before I send it off to my editor.
Happy May Day to all. The month of May come from the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants. I wish Maia would slow down the growth of all the weeds in my flowerbeds. So much rain is making it impossible to keep up with them. I haven't even thought about planting yet.
Plan your year in the spring, your day at dawn." Chinese Proverb
Game of Thrones has delivered on a terrific last season so far. I hate to see it end, but am also glad they're not trying to make it last beyond its story. Let's not talk about Avengers: End Game. Too soon.
Supernatural had an amazing cliffhanger to make sure I come back for its final season in the fall. The 100 returned for its short season on Tuesday so I have one show to keep me going through May and June. Killjoys will return sometime in the summer for its final season. Looking forward to it.
I started reading the Expanse books by James S. A. Corey on which the show was based. The books are pretty good. I've only read the first one and the TV series followed the books closer than most adaptations do.
Can't wait for fresh vegetables to be available at the local farmers' market. Cucumbers, sweet peppers, and berries of any kind are my favorites. I'm not so excited to have to mow the grass every six or seven days. A week without rain now and then would be good.
Are you ready for spring? Planting your own veggies this year? Any good TV you're looking forward to in the next few months?