Being a writer is not an easy way of life. Some people seem to think it is. They think we all sit around in our pajamas all day, sipping wine or a spirit of choice, tapping away at a keyboard and then playing games most of the time. Then we miraculously sell a book, make millions, and live on easy street while we play with our stories.
Oh how I wish it worked this way! I would be living the high life by now if it did. But, the reality is far different from what you see in the movies. In fact, the only reason that people take it on is because they love to do it or they have an idea that they just can’t let go of. For me, it is a bit of both. I have plenty of ideas that I want to put into words but, I love what I do. Like all writers, I want to do it full time.
There are things that I have to consider though. I have bills and a child to think about. While I want to write full time, that can’t happen without people buying my books and supporting what I do. It takes a great deal of time to produce a book. Then it takes even more time to publicize and promote a book once it is in print.
For me, there are challenges right now that I’m not used to facing. The fact that I have a child in the house full-time is new to me. It is a wonderful thing but juggling the kiddo and the writing is a big challenge for me. While I’m arguing to get her to finish her handwriting practice or reading a simple book my attention is wholly focused on her and getting that done so that she learns. As a mom I am responsible for her learning and understanding what she’s being taught. I take that seriously. But the moment the schoolwork is done there is the constant chirping of:
“Momma can I have a drink?”
“Momma what are we going to have for supper?”
“Momma what is that smell?”
“Can I watch a movie?”
“When will Daddy be home?”
“Can I go outside and play?”
“Watch this Momma!”
“Look at me Momma!”
So, it is a constant juggling act. My attention is rarely focused on the writing when I am working on it. I’m always listening for the silence and having to get up to see what she is into, when I send her to her room to play.
Charles did set up the desk at the window so that I could watch her and work at the same time. Where it is sitting I can see the majority of the yard. I only let her go out when there are other kids out there. Then there is the fact that we managed to get a TV and DVD player in her room. So, now, instead of having to write with Oliver and Company or the Care Bear Movie in the background, she can watch them in her room instead.
This whole process has been a learning curve for me. Trying to get keep it all in check, learn how to work with people around more often, and manage a household while trying to write is a challenge and a half. It is one that I welcome though. In fact, I wouldn’t have my life any other way right now.
Then there are the challenges that all writers face. The midnight oil burning as you pour over the manuscript wondering if you’ll ever be satisfied enough with it to call it finished. The agonizing over a pivotal scene and details like; whether or not the hero should have worn white or burnt orange as he slays the villain. The plot twists to add to the story come to mind. Did you put enough description into the prose? What statement about social issues are you presenting and will some humanities professor tear it apart and call you insane like they did Van Gogh.
We can’t forget the question of how to get the book into the hands of readers. Decisions about whether to hire an agent or not, traditional or indie publishing, and of course how are you going to market and get the book into the hands of readers all come to mind. You see, so much about writing isn’t really about the writing. Now it isn’t enough to simply write stories that fascinate people. You have to be fascinating yourself and wear a multitude of hats in order to put your work out there and get noticed.
It is all one big challenge after another really.
For me, I’m trying new ways to reach an audience. I’m attempting to narrow down who I am writing for. I’m looking into the options of crowdfunding the sequel to The Secret of the Storm and I’m trying to engage my audience using Facebook. And now I’m in the process of starting to set up a local area book tour. That will enable me to get out and meet the people who are making it possible for me to follow a dream and help support the family while staying home to be a mom and teacher to this little girl.
For everyone reading who has a creative person in their life: just remember that they need a little room to do their thing. I’m one of the lucky ones. Charles understands my need to work like I do. He’s a huge supporter of my work and what I do. In July there will be big changes for me in the writing field. I’m hoping to be able to announce a release date by the end of the month on The Fallen One. And I’m looking forward to promoting The Secret of the Storm locally as well. If you haven’t picked up your copy in print or for Kindle you can do so here.
Just remember folks, when you support an independent author, artist, or even a local business you aren’t padding the pockets of executives. You’re helping people stay in their homes, feed their kids, buy that jersey for a sport or leotards for dance classes etc. You’re helping to make lives better and giving back to your community to those who are giving what they know how to give to the world.
I am in a very different place than I was a year ago. The changes have been remarkable really. My level of happiness is through the roof. My energy level has its ups and downs but, overall I am going along just swimmingly. The move has been a big boost in motivation for me. There are just so many things going on at once that I have moments where I’m a bit overwhelmed. Adjusting to what is essentially a brand new life isn’t easy but, I have to say that this change has been pretty seamless.
I’ve gone from living with my parents to living in my own home with my fiance and our little girl. So, I’m not just part time momma anymore. In fact, we’ve had to seriously adjust to being mom full-time. There are things about being a full-time mom that are very different from having a kid a weekend here or there like I did with my ex. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade those weekends with her for the world. I always tried to treat her like she were my own kid – despite my ex’s constant reminders that she wasn’t mine or my responsibility. But having a little one in the house full-time is a very different experience.
Back on the 4th of June, I attended her Kindergarten graduation ceremony and her classroom party with her Dad. I was asked to be there and I gave up a trip to Florida with my mom to see family I haven’t seen in a long time in order to be there. Not to mention, the trip to Disney World. What was striking about this to me was that the teachers had asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. Every kid gave an answer that the teachers told the parents and families as they walked across the stage to shake the principal’s hand. For Kat, her answer was that she wanted to be a really good momma.
I am learning that I have to be an example to her. She mimics everything I do. For example; over the weekend we had the opportunity to have my parents over for dinner. My mom had just come back from her trip. She brought a pretty sentimental piece of furniture for my new home and we wanted to unload it from the truck so it wouldn’t be in the weather. I had borrowed her steam mop to get the floors done when we moved in. So, I took the opportunity to use it one more time before she took it back home with her.
I had asked Kat to stay in the other room as I did the kitchen and dining room. And she was being good and doing as she was asked. What was funny was when I looked over at her, she had our broom. As I was mopping the floors, she was pretending to mop with the broom. Every stroke I made, she matched. I thought it was just her playing around at first and laughed it off. But then, there were other things I started noticing; like her copying my mannerisms at the dinner table.
So, I am really starting to think about how I’m living my life. What do I want for her when she grows up? How can I show her what those things are and why they are better? And I came to a realization that the biggest thing I can do for her is set the example of living a healthy lifestyle.
I am already much more active than I have been in the past. Let’s face it though, writing requires me to be fairly sedentary for a great deal of time. I want to be even more active when I can. So when a family member suggested me coming two nights a week to do Zumba with her, I agreed. And I took Kat with me the first time.
Talk about a challenge! Oy Vey! We managed to get through half of the beginner set before we were all gasping for air and wanting water. I think it was a shocker for us all to see just how out of shape we really are. Yet, we were having fun while getting that mini-workout. I know it will take time to learn the moves. Frankly I want to get the DVD and do it at home. It was a blast and I can’t wait until I can actually dance like these people can who do it. I know it will help my coordination and I also know that if I cycle it out with yoga, I’ll likely get my flexibility back as well.
I’m excited though. I think I have found something that may prove to be my niche for exercise. More importantly I think I’ve found something that I can do that will allow me to help make physical activities fun for Kat as well. She had a ball trying to do the dance. So much so, that Charles and I are talking about how to get her into dance classes thinking that it may help with her coordination and balance. We’ll just see how things shape up over the summer. We have a lot to accomplish but we’re getting there.
Just continuing to plug along. And once I get unpacked and find my files again, I plan to get back to tracking everything like I was and posting the health sheets for you all to use as well. Just keep being patient with me. I just have a lot going on and I am still trying to stay on schedule to publish The Fallen One late this summer so I’m stretched a little thin.
My post about the Kickstarter fiasco last night. You know, the one where the douchebag was trying to produce a how-to guide on “getting women” that was more a guide on how to on sexual assault. The petition was met with some resistance initially. In fact, it seemed that Kickstarter was just ignoring the 60,000+ people who were against the funding of this project. However, as a signer of the petition I got an email from dosomething.org last night stating that “We Won”.
Kickstarter issued a formal statement of apology. You can view it here: Kickstater Apology . They donated $25,000.00 to RAINN, which is commendable considering that they gave Mr. Hoinsky the $16,000.00 + that was donated to his project. Apparently Mr. Hoinsky has agreed to meet with petition organizers though, what good that will do, I’m not entirely sure. I find it difficult to think that such a person can turn this into a positive project if he continues to produce what his examples exhibited.
I did a great deal of thinking and talking about this issue. My fiance and I actually discussed the whole situation at length and I realized a few things.
Yes, I was angry with Kickstarter for even allowing such a project to go onto the site and be presented to the public. I mean this, for me, is not considered a creative project. The project was not presented as satirical. Frankly, even if it had been presented as a comedic piece, I still would have found it offensive and in bad taste. However, if it had been presented as such, I could have justified it’s inclusion as a creative work. But the bottom line is that the examples submitted were nothing short of promoting sexual violence. I understand the reasons that Kickstarter hesitated and then funded the project. As a creator, if my project had funded, I would have expected to receive the funds as well. They wanted to fulfill their end of the bargain. Fact is, the process is so automated that by the time they acted, it was too late to stop the transfer of funds.
I get it. Really, I do. It still seems like too little too late.
There was no reason, given the severity of the allegations against this project, that it could not be suspended pending an investigation into the project and its compliance with the terms of service. As a creator, yes, it would have been an inconvenience to not receive the funds immediately. The fact is, if my project was on the level I know I would have received my funds once their inquiries were concluded. The fact that Kickstarter failed to act at all is my complaint.
After all the discussion – especially with Charles – I realized that while I was upset with Kickstarter, I was more upset with the fact that there were people out there willing to promote and support such an endeavor at all.
We’re living in the year 2013. I had hoped that, by and large, we had evolved beyond thinking that one sex or the other is there to be objectified. That we would somehow find a way to get past the nonsense that says women are there simply to fulfill some sort of physical need. That we can find a way to respect one another and live with a certain amount of respect for our fellow human beings.
Then, I remembered that every time you turn on the television, watch the news, or read online or in print you see story after story about people being abducted, raped, beaten, murdered, and tortured. If it isn’t here in the USA, its somewhere else. That, is what is really disheartening for me. That we can’t just live and let live. We can’t seem to get past our propensity to hurt one another. That there are handbooks on how to do these things and then, there are people out there, like Mr. Hoinsky, who are more than happy to put the ideas in people’s heads to do nothing more than harm others.
Yes, it is just sad to me that we can’t seem to get beyond it all.
It has once again been a while since I last posted. I am happy to say that I have a good excuse for my absence. One that, in all honesty, I should have talked about prior to it all happening but, with everything that’s happened in the last two years, I was afraid of jinxing it. Considering how hard my fiance and I have been working toward this for a while, I didn’t want to speak prematurely. Then when it happened it was all so fast that honestly, my head is still spinning.
We got our own apartment finally. Not that the arrangement we were both in was all that bad, it wasn’t. It was just time for us to have our own space for a change and get on with our own family life. So, we’ve done just that. Yes, there are still things to work out. But things are all coming together finally. It seems like it has been a long time in coming honestly. I couldn’t be happier though.
Writing is, of course, going slow at the moment. Unpacking takes a toll on you. But, after next week it seems I will be back in the saddle on a regular basis. And let me just say that will feel pretty good. I am feeling very inspired in the new apartment though, I don’t think it is the apartment itself so much as it is the company within it. Having the ability to feel like I have my household again is something that I have wanted for a while. To actually have it is a little surreal right now. Things have become blissfully normal.
I am keeping this short to get back to work on things while I have a chance. Just know that I’m working on scheduling things. If you email me it may take me a week to respond. Just be aware and I’ll say thanks in advance for your patience. I’ll be back to posting regularly soon.
I am adding a treat for you this weekend. As I’m prepping for some pretty big changes, I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy an excerpt from my debut novel The Secret of the Storm. Remember that it is available for purchase on Kindle and in print through Createspace and Amazon.com.
Parkside Brew House, the local coffeehouse, seemed to be a vintage favorite; with its café tables, large windows, and counters full of petit-fours and pastries. It was picturesque. Richard Wheadon was oblivious to this part of his surroundings. He saw it daily. He was lost to a momentary obsession. In the quiet corner beyond the pastry case, a table played host to a woman who was reading a brown paper-covered book. She sat alone; with curly auburn hair that was twisted over her shoulder, thick eyelashes, and a seeming perfectly shaped mouth. Her eyes rarely left the print. A silver necklace held a charm that centered on her chest and her glasses rested on her nose. A long jacket was draped over a chair beside her. A notebook and pen accompanied her ceramic coffee cup bearing the logo of the place on the dark wood table in front of her.
Richard had been sitting at the opposite end of the lounge watching her for the past few minutes. He watched her making notes in the notebook. He drank in her careful consideration of the text she was reading. He had been intrigued at her expressions and the way her brow furled as she read from time to time. He’d spent the past ten minutes talking himself up for rejection and arguing that he quite likely, stood no chance with such a beautiful creature. After all, he wasn’t the epitome of masculinity. Being such a bookish person, he wasn’t prone to long hours at the gym. Nor was he the athletic sort to take up jogging or biking. He walked a college campus on a daily basis out of sheer necessity, not to impress women. In truth if he had been able to afford one of those Segway devices, he would have been thrilled to use it to get about the campus.
Rick, as he was known to his friends and colleagues, had always had to rely on his knowledge of poetry, literature, films, and the arts to get women. Dating was something, unlike his career as an English professor, that he had never been a success at. Granted he was not without companions, but dating was not nearly as exciting, in his opinion, as people made it out to be. He preferred to get to know someone. Not spend a thousand dollars on a meal trying to overcompensate for his lack of fashion sense and physique. He liked to think that this was a conscious choice, but the fact was, he was an English professor. Along with that lack of fashion sense and physique, came the English professor’s salary; that had little chance of impressing anyone.
He didn’t think he was bad-looking. He wasn’t lean precisely, but he wasn’t stocky or well-built. Rick was just not a typical guy. When he looked in the mirror in the mornings he saw a bumbling schmuck just trying to make it through the day. And every morning he considered what would happen if he just stopped shaving and grew a beard. He thought that it might make him seem more mature to some women. But, the reality was that he would sink into the job and forget about the idea of women until moments like this – when he saw one who simply captivated him.
Having gathered his courage, he gathered up his books and his own paper cup and started over to her table. He paused just a moment when he reached what he thought of as her personal space. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to notice his hesitation. “Hi,” he said.
“Hello,” she replied, as she looked up at him with captivating hazel eyes. She offered him a warm smile.
“Is this seat taken?” He indicated the opposite seat with a nod and smile. For a moment, it crossed his mind that she may have thought that he wanted to take the chair for another table. This had happened to him before. But then, she told him to have a seat.
He extended his hand. “Rick Wheadon, and you are?”
“Elora, Elora Castain, nice to meet you Mr. Wheadon.”
“Call me Rick,” he said, pausing again as he sat down. Rick suddenly felt at a loss for conversation. He could start rattling off poetry, but that seemed too forward. It likely didn’t matter to Ms. Castain that he could recite a number of romantic poems by Shakespeare or Mr. Poe. In fact, it crossed his mind that the exhibition of his literary knowledge would only serve to put her off. No, Rick thought it best to stick to small talk and so opted for a clichéd remark. “So, I haven’t seen you in here before.”
Her smile broadened and when she spoke, there was a chuckle beneath her words. Her amusement was something Rick found instantly soothing. That small laugh was like music to his ears and he couldn’t help but let his own match hers. At least, it seemed to help lessen his fear of being completely inadequate.
“I’m new in town. I’ve only just arrived actually.”
“Well, I’m glad you decided to stop in our little port-side town. We certainly have a lot to offer here. Museums, fishing, sailing, arts, you name it we can get it within an hour’s drive or so.” Oh my God, he thought. Why would you ask this beautiful woman to go fishing you idiot? You don’t even like to fish. Maybe dad is right. Maybe I am gay. Hoping that she didn’t notice his internal chastising, he tried to steer the conversation toward her. “So where are you from?”
“Oh here and there,” she said. “I was born here actually. However, my family moved away when I was about five.”
“What brings you back here; work, love?” He wanted to wince as that last overly inquisitive word flew from his mouth like an unexpected bat from an old attic window. Somehow, he held it back.
“Neither, my grandmother passed away actually. I am seeing to her remains and taking possession of the house she left to me.” Her smile that had previously shadowed the light on her face, now fell into a line. Only the flimsiest curves at the edges of her mouth, provided any clue that it had been there at all.
“You’re Alice Walsingham’s heir then?” Rick asked in disbelief.
“I’m afraid I am,” she smiled her half smile.
“You’ve my sincerest condolences for your loss.” Rick could feel a mask of incredulity creeping up onto his face. He did his best to shake it off. “So, you are staying at Walsingham Manor?” he asked, perhaps more quickly and sharply than he had intended to.
Rick sat back in his seat and cocked his head with the best smirk he could muster. “For as long as I can remember there have been stories about that house and your family. Especially about your grandmother,” he said.
“Stories? What sort of stories?” she leaned on the table with her elbows propping her chin up. A curious grin forming on her lips.
Rick was happy to see it – proud even. However, the cost of that pride had painted him into a corner. Now, he would have to speak, which might prove difficult with both feet in his mouth. “I don’t know that I’m the one whom you should hear them from. I mean I only know the stories, I didn’t personally know your grandmother. I don’t want you to think that I’m the type of person who bases an opinion of someone on the town gossip.”
“You don’t have to give me details. Honestly, I had only met the woman twice that I can recall. My parents kept me away from her for reasons unbeknownst to me. I’m quite sure my mother will go ballistic when I tell her I’ve decided to stay at the house.”
“Why are you staying if it will cause that big of a stir?” he asked, hoping that the awkwardness of the moment had passed. He watched her expression change to puzzlement as she considered the question. After a long pause, she drew in a deep breath and answered.
“In all honesty, I don’t know, it just feels like I’ve come home. I can’t explain it any other way. It feels like I belong there; if that makes any sense at all.”
Rick watched her shoulders rise and fall as she sat back. It did make sense, and he said so. Then he took another drink of his coffee and returned the cup to the table, watching it settle back into the ring he had spilled upon sitting down. He didn’t know what to tell her and what to keep his mouth shut about. He figured that it would do no harm to tell some of the things he had heard. As long as she understood that they were gossip as far as he knew. “I will tell you that many said she was an oddball. Very rarely was she ever seen in town. She was like the town’s hermit. Then, on stormy nights, if you were driving down the road you would see her on that balcony, her arms outstretched. It was an eerie sight. I saw her like that myself once.”
“So she was a bit eccentric. My whole family is like that. I’m sure I have a few eccentricities myself. So often people judge others before they get to really know them,” Elora said. “It’s a shame really. She was quite a generous soul, as I knew her. But then I’m sure I was family as well.”
“True, and I’m sure you were the apple of her eye,” Rick said with a wink. He thought that it may have been the smoothest thing he had done all afternoon.
There was that laugh again as she looked at her watch. Then she tipped her mug up one last time and smiled. “Rick, it’s been a pleasure, and I’d love to stay and chat but I’m due at an appointment.”
Rick stood with her and smiled as she gathered her things from the table. “I hope I’ll see you around town. Maybe we could have lunch?” he asked, knowing full well that the day-date had been the touch of death to similar situations in the past. But, somehow it rolled off his tongue like an old song he had been rehearsing it in the shower.
She said nothing; snatched his smooth, brown cardboard cup from his hand and her ink pen from her purse. She scribbled something on the side and handed it back to him. She smiled and backed away.
His eyes stayed fixed on hers, only losing their grasp as she turned and walked away. He watched as her shape fell from sight. He looked down at the cup, and smiled. It was a telephone number. And below, a simple, one-word note that made his heart nearly burst. It read, “Dinner!!!”
My life has been a little crazier than usual lately. I have been on the go all week and I didn’t take my laptop with me for many of the errands I was running. Among the list of things to happen this week was my six year old graduating from Kindergarten, fiance got a new job, helping out family with errands, and trying to make plans for summer vacation and homeschooling. Yes, this writer feels like she’s run a race this week already. So, is it any wonder that I decided to take a nap this afternoon while it was storming and overslept? Not to me. I’m still fighting a nasty cold and trying to hold things together and keep working on writing.
My nap is over though. And I’m trying to make up for some lost time in the word count and editing departments. So, I’ve turned on my “feel-good music” and I’m trying to find my rhythm for a night of escapism into my manuscript. Yes, Michael Buble is crooning at me through my headphones, I’m surrounded by notes, dogs, and cats watching my type away and yes, I love it.
But let me get to the heart of why I am blogging today. Big events have happened this week. Not only did my little girl become a first grader but her Momma became a published author with a debut novel out on the market.
Yes, The Secret of the Storm is out in print now. I announced it the other day briefly. I do, however, want to take the time to encourage you all to take time to review it and pick up either the ebook or the print version.
I did a lot of work on that novel. Elora and I went through so many changes as I wrote and edited that manuscript. Her story is one that will always stick with me because it was so similar to my own life. Now it is a work of fiction, mind you. However, Elora and I both found ourselves in situations that we didn’t expect and we both had to make the best of them. Elora’s life changed dramatically. So did mine. And the truth is, just as Elora’s will continue to change if I go on with a sequel, my life had changed in leaps and bounds as well.
When I was writing The Secret of the Storm, I spent a lot of time listening to music and writing. This is a habit that I continue to have today when I work. Yet, back when I was initially drafting an online friend actually turned me on to a band called The Tea Party. I’ve since fallen in love with their deep lyrics and their overall sound. We won’t mention just how incredibly sexy Jeff Martin’s voice is… okay, yes we will. They’ve stuck with me as a favorite over the years. You’ll find them on nearly every playlist that I use to compose. So, I thought I would simply share one of the songs that I heard more than a few times while writing.
First off, apologies to all of you dear followers and readers. If you’ve been following for the last couple weeks, you’ll know that I’ve been trying to keep something of a schedule here on The Writer’s Studio while finishing continuity edits and trying to juggle everything else going on. I have been slacking a bit the last few days though. For that, I do apologize.
You see, I am incredibly blessed. I have an amazing family that includes my fiance and our six year old. A whole group of extended family and well, because I enjoy it, I spend a good amount of time over there with them. The weekends are the typical time for me to spend all day but, Charles has had a few days off from his job and it is our little girl’s last week of Kindergarten.
We are all excited to be attending her graduation tomorrow morning. So, why am I sitting here at nearly midnight, when I have to get up at six in the A.M.? It would be an excellent question to ask.
The answer is really quite simple though. There was more big news for me today. After more than two and a half weeks of waiting Amazon finally sent me the news that the technical glitch was fixed. That means, The Secret of the Storm is now available for purchase as a paperback edition as well as in ebook for the Kindle. It also means that I can finally start planning a book-launch event and booking signing events here in East Texas.
It is all very exciting for me. I’m sure that it will be something that I talk about often in the weeks ahead. Not to worry though, the blog isn’t going to become one big promotion for the book. There are plenty of other things I have to talk about and give my two bits on.
That being said, the state of the fluff lately is up in the air. I’ve been on the go, lost my voice intermittently thanks to some sort of allergy attack or cold, and haven’t been paying much attention to what I’m eating. So, we’re going to have to jump back on the band wagon at some point. I think I’m going go back to doing my “health sheets” to track and maybe that will give me some motivation. You’d think that a pending wedding would be enough, right?
Keeping it simple so that I can still get some rest. If you have ideas for book-launch events, how to get the word out about the book, or just words of encouragement (this is my first “major event” with our daughter as someone she calls Mom) I will gladly take them in comments or by email. If you haven’t liked my facebook page, feel free to. There is a box on the right for easy access. I look forward to meeting all the readers as time goes on. And yes, I do try to answer all my messages.
Wish me luck! And thanks for sticking with me. Share a link. My philosophy around here is; the more the merrier.
No fancy images today folks. I am truly keeping this post simple since I have things I need to get started with already. I got a late start today thanks to this summer allergy/cold thing I have going on. Between the coughing, interrupted sleep, and heat amping up here in Texas, I feel like I’m fighting to keep myself above water in the energy department. But, we keep moving and keep going whether we want to or not. I am, however, trying some different medicine today in an attempt to knock it out completely. We shall see what happens though.
Last night, my fiance was later getting home than I thought he would be. We ended up waiting for the kiddo to eat with the other kids and then we took her out for ice cream. It was her last full week of school and she was really good all week so, we opted for family ice cream outing. Of course, Dad and I got dinner while she devoured her sundae. Then we made a trip to Walmart. She got a new outfit and a kite so, I suppose at some point this weekend we’ll brave a trip to the park and let her try to fly it.
As for me, I’m going to focus on trying to stay cool and enjoying myself. I know that he’s helping with a project but I’m sure I can find somewhere to sit and work for a while if I try. I haven’t seen them much this week so I’m looking forward to spending time with them.