My Top 3 Underrated Fantasy Creatures

Happy February! If you were here last February, you may remember that I participated in Jenelle Schmidt’s Fantasy Month…and it’s back!

If you’re here, I’m going to guess you love fantasy as much as I do, so be sure to hop over and see the other Fantasy Month blog posts, or hop over to Instagram to see some bookstagram posts on the theme. I’ll be participating as I can (though I missed a couple days already because I’ve been sick), and if you want to participate, check out the Insta prompts here:

You can find more information on Jenelle’s Instagram or on her blog, linked above.

And now, back to the fantasy goodness and today’s topic: my favorite underrated fantasy creatures!

Skoffin

First on my list is one I learned about last year when Janeen Ippolito’s If Wishes were Curses came out…the skoffin! (There is an accent over that i.)

Anyway, what is a skoffin, you ask? It is an Icelandic creature that’s a cross between a cat and an arctic fox. And its gaze will kill you immediately.

Of course there’s more to it than that, but it’s leading to the development of some interesting future projects for me. Hubs and I went to Iceland for our honeymoon, and I just can’t get over the location and the lore. This is just one more example of something I can’t wait to use in my own writing.

Do you know any books, besides the one I mentioned above, that have a skoffin? I’d love to hear about it!

Selkies

I kind of love selkie lore. But for those of you unfamiliar with this one, they are seal creatures that can come on land by shedding their seal skin and take on the form of a person, usually a maiden. Selkies can be captured by a person in possession of their seal skin, which prevents them from returning to the sea.

Selkies had an episode in Lost Girl, but I have to admit I haven’t seen much beyond that episode (though I know it’s not a clean watch, for those of you concerned about content). Seanan McGuire has a selkie in her October Daye series, and I believe Jenelle Schmidt is working on a selkie story as well, but do you have any that you love?

Djinn and Genies

I’m a little partial to this one, of course (check out my This Curse series, book 1 out now and book 2 on its way!). I love genies and djinn in fiction, and they’re not super common. As I mentioned above, Janeen Ippolito also has a series of genies (urban fantasy) with other creatures, and Rachel Caine’s Weather Wardens books also involves djinn (caution: Weather Wardens are NOT clean fiction). I am also partial to I Dream of Jeannie. 😉

Do you know and love other genie books?

Concluding thoughts

These are three of my top underrated fantasy creatures, but there are so many others out there. I also love kitsune and am working on some fox shifter urban fantasy that expands kitsune lore to a worldwide scale, but we are starting to see more kitsune in publication. And of course I love more typical fantasy creatures, like werewolves/shifters, fae, and mermaids, but they get plenty of attention. 😉

But now I’d love to hear from you. What kinds of fantasy creatures do you wish you saw more of in fiction? What are they like? Where did you learn about them? Let’s chat in the comments!

Change is Scary…but Important

January is a season of changes. We may want to change our lifestyle to be healthier or find tools to be more productive. Perhaps we want to try something new or improve something we used to do. But no matter what goals you may (or may not) be setting this year, one thing holds them together: they all involve change.

And that’s good! Change is important to life. If there is no change, we can’t advance in our career and personal goals. If we stay in our safe little boxes, we’ll never see anything new or discover all there is that life has to offer. Change is critical.

Change allows us to become the people we want to be. Without it, we are stuck. But with it, we grow in who we are, in what we were meant to do. We learn about ourselves and the world we live in.

But change is also terrifying. If you choose to change or make a change, then the results can be uncertain, and uncertainty can be scary. Many (I daresay most) people crave stability. And changing yourself or your world always involves leaving that safe stability, at least for a time. And if you don’t choose it, you have the added bonus of coping with the change, figuring out how it fits into your life, and then figuring out how to move forward.

But you know what? I’m glad of change. Terrified, but glad.

Because of change, I’ve begun doing the scariest things I’ve ever done. I started sharing my work with the world.

Because of change, I’m a better person. I learned many of the ways I can be unfair to the people around me and the ways I have been biased. And I am learning every day to be better, to change my attitudes and behaviors.

Because of change, I’m finding the life I feel I was meant to live. Because of one of the greatest upheavals of my life less than 5 years ago, I was able to meet my husband, which led to my writing career (at least off of my hard drive) and two trips to foreign countries that taught me SO MUCH. And I know there is so much more coming. And I’m both scared and excited. And I think that’s good.

So yeah, change is different. Change is scary.

But change is vital to keep us growing and learning and living life to the fullest.

So let’s embrace it together and find out what good things change will bring our way in 2020. ❤

~~~

What about you? What do you think about change? Does it scare you as much as it scares me? Excite you? What big changes have happened in your life, and what good things have they brought you?

Let’s chat in the comments!

Underwriting vs. Overwriting: Which Are You?

Do you write too much? Or not enough? And what does that mean for traditional publication?

There is so much advice floating around out there about how important it is to follow the expected and established word counts in the industry. For example, many agents, editors, and publishers will not consider works that fall outside of expected word count ranges, and it may even be a reason to reject the work.

The reason is pretty simple: these word counts have been established based on audience and genre, and falling outside these ranges can be indicators of serious deficiencies in the novel (or that it may not be a novel at all, but rather a shorter story) or a lack of knowledge of the industry by the author.

And honestly, with such an overcrowded market, some agents will look for any reason to reject manuscripts, just because they have so many submissions (at least that’s what I’ve heard… please, feel free to hop in the comments and correct me if I’m wrong!).

So it becomes necessary for those of us seeking traditional publication in any form to pay attention to our word counts. And that can identify your writing tendencies.

Underwriting is when a writer will finish a first draft with a lower word count than they need. So, for example, Sea of Broken Glass was only 74k words at the end of the first draft. For reference, a typical young adult fantasy (the genre for SoBG) is expected to be between 80 and 100k words. Once again, anything outside of that range, and traditional publishers or agents may reject it for not conforming to industry standards.

But when I finished at 74k, SoBG was missing a lot of scenes and details that were needed to pull the story together. And when I rewrote it (draft 2), I ended up adding over 20k words. Right now, while it’s with betas, it’s a little over 96k words long, by far the longest thing I’ve ever written.

It just didn’t start that way.

And then there’s the opposite problem, overwriting. In overwriting, a writer will write WAY more words than needed for a book. So let’s take an example from a friend of mine. She had a YA fantasy that clocked in at near 200k words… twice as much as most agents and publishers will allow. So when she went back to editing, instead of bulking it out, she had to find ways to cut her word count by a lot.

Every writer has their own style when it comes to drafting and editing, and even specific books by the same writer can be different from a writer’s “normal.” But in general, the more works a writer writes, the closer they may get to their target word counts after draft one and the more they will recognize where they tend to fall on the scale.

So that’s me! Underwriters unite!

In the next couple of weeks, we will discuss a few ways to resolve either of these issues, first for the underwriters, then for the overwriters. Hopefully with a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you can figure out how to drag your novel closer to its target word count.

Until then, let’s talk in the comments! Where do you fall on this spectrum? Do you follow traditional word counts for your works?

~~~

NEWS!

Of the Clouds releases next Saturday, so Friday’s post will be moved to Saturday, and this blog post series will continue after that! Hooray!!!

Spring! (And Creating a Book)

What do spring and creating a book have in common? Let’s find out!

Hi, friends! This morning I noticed my first green leaves on my commute to work! Usually, I don’t see the little development of spring growing around me; I see it all at once, as I open my eyes one morning to be surrounded by lush, green trees.

But today, I saw the tiny green leaves, the bright red buds on trees. And, of course, I’ve been noticing the flowers blooming on trees all week. That’s my favorite.

And it got me thinking about how the development of a story is like the birth of spring. How, you may ask? Well, let me tell you.

Every story starts with an idea, just like every plant that blooms in the spring started as a seed. That seed may have been deposited a long time ago, just waiting for conditions to be right to sprout, or it may have just been dropped and immediately sprinted into growth and development. And this is true for stories, as well. For example, I started a story a few years back that I got partway through and then just stopped. And then I had a new, fresh idea of what I wanted it to be, and it is developing from this old seed I thought was dead.

And while we’re on the metaphor, did you know that seeds can be dormant for thousands (maybe more, I’m a cell biologist, not a botanist!) of years and still grow when placed into the right set of conditions? Amazing, right? And so can a story. You may have had an idea twenty years ago and just now found what you wanted to really make it bloom.

Your seed is growing!

So time passes and you write your first draft. It’s a mess. But, as I recently heard it so eloquently stated, the first draft is simply to make the story exist. This is like the skeleton of the trees from winter. They’re there, but there’s not much to them. Yet.

After the story exists, then we start to make it functional. We rearrange the order of scenes or re-plot the storyline or subplots. These are like the buds and the tiny baby leaves. They are starting to become what we know will one day be a majestic forest full of majestic trees. As long as we continue to feed it sunlight and water and nutrients (feed your ideas and work on the story).

And then we can finally get to the mature story. This is where we get an effective draft, one that tells the story we want to tell and shares the message we want to share. Like the fully bloomed leaves on a tree, they’re finally doing their job of absorbing sunlight and creating food… our book can now feed readers’ imaginations and thoughts.

I’m so happy spring is finally here, and I am loving every minute of the development of my current works. This Cursed Flame is already at the final stage, heading into a summer of fun (you can pre-order it on Amazon and here for all other retailers), Sea of Broken Glass is at the second stage, growing its shoots and flowers, and the Secret New Project is a seedling still making its skeleton. I am in love with all three of these projects (and some other, smaller ones for the future), and I can’t wait to share them with everybody.

So what about you? What stage is your writing in? Or, if you don’t write, what are some books that remind you of spring? Let’s chat in the comments!

Warm Wishes and Ugly Sweaters

Books can be like ugly sweaters. Read on to find out why.

Hello reader and writer friends! Christmas is almost upon us! Merry Christmas! And for those of you who celebrate other holidays, happy holidays!

Today I was thinking about the idea of the Ugly Sweater, mostly because my job had an ugly sweater party this week. I remember growing up with these sweaters… and actually associating them with the whole idea of “uncool.” They were the kinds of sweaters worn by older people (let’s face it, as teens we think parents and grandparents are uncool) or the social outcasts. But as is the case with many things from my childhood (geek and nerd culture, for one), this “uncool” thing is now the “cool uncool thing.”

And you know what? I think this can apply to writing, too. Genres go through cycles of popularity, and books are ridiculed and lauded in the same breath. It just shows you that everything goes through cycles, and every book has its audience. A great example of this is Anne Rice and her vampire stories… she once talked about how her books go through cycles of sales that rise and fall every few years, as vampires go in and out of popularity.

Much the same can be said for many genres. They go in and out so quickly that if you miss one good release time, another will be coming.

So my wish for you this season is that you will find your cool uncool things and love them. That you will flaunt your love for them. And if you’re writing them, that readers will flock to it. Don’t be afraid to write (and read) the things you love, just because you love them.

And have a wonderful holiday season, friends. ❤

The Key to Finishing Your First Novel

For most of my life, I never finished writing a book.

Let me backtrack. I started writing when I was in elementary school, a time when I was reading almost exclusively Westerns. I would make the covers (in pencil, on folded computer paper), write the first couple of (extremely short) chapters, then drop it before it was finished. In fifth grade, I finished a few small stories that were class assignments. Then, late in middle school, I finished writing my first book. And didn’t edit or revise a thing. I printed it off and gave it to my fifth grade English teacher to see. But after that came another decade of unfinished work, except for one other story I somehow managed to finish and, again, never touch or revise after the first draft was completed.

Then, in grad school, I finished writing three books within a year and actually went back to polish and revise the first. Since then, I haven’t given up on writing very many books, and then only with good reason.

So what changed? I learned something key: Discipline is a better friend than inspiration.

You see, up until that point, I had only been writing whenever I felt “inspired”. Honestly, I think this is such a common pitfall, particularly for young and new writers. When we start out, we tend to feel like we can only write when we feel like writing or when the ideas are flowing.

But it’s a lie, and honestly, it’s partly laziness and partly a misconception and idealization of the life of a writer.

Writers don’t only write when inspired; writers write out of discipline. As Louis L’Amour put it:

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.Louis l'amour

We don’t always feel like writing. We don’t always want to open up that document. Sometimes we just want to binge-watch Netflix or nap. But here’s the truth. If you want to be a serious writer, if you might be considering a writing career, you must start to write even when you’re not inspired. Even if it’s just a few words at a time. Start to build your writing habit and schedule and then stick to it! That is the only way you will finish that first novel.

But I am interested in what helps you to sit down and open that last page. Tell me your stories! How did you finish your first book? Do you have any other advice for new writers? Tell me in the comments.

The Writer’s Support System

Let’s face it: writing can be a solitary and lonely activity. It’s easy to let yourself get sucked into your world and forget about what exists around you or to become so involved in the process of writing and publishing that you forget about people who can help you. And it can be incredibly discouraging and disheartening; our lives are filled with rejections.

My friends, it doesn’t have to be this way, and, quite honestly, it’s better if it isn’t. For your health and your stories.

Writers need other people. Why? Here are a few of the biggest reasons.

1. Writers need teachers. Even the ones we consider masters of writing, like Stephen King or Anne Lamott, will tell you this. We all need teachers. We instruct and inform each other, we can make each other better writers. We can learn so much about our storytelling, our writing flaws, and our writing strengths if we just take the time to ask other writers.

2. Writers get stuck in their heads. If you made it into the querying minefield already, you might be more familiar with this feeling than most. We’re constantly surrounded by comparison: what books you compare your manuscript to, what authors you know have gotten offers, how well your story is told compared to similar ones, how many offers or requests you receive compared to your friends or the average… it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.

3. Writers need encouragement. Because of reason number two, we might need a bit more encouragement than the average person. This is often because of our creative natures: we strive for perfection and beat ourselves up when we can’t reach it. And, like I mentioned above, our professional lives are filled with rejection.

So now that we know why we need a support system, what exactly is it?

A support system is a network of friends, family, and professionals tailored to meet specific needs. In our case, it should be our professional network of agents, publishers, and authors we have met and corresponded with, our family (but not always), and both writer and non-writer friends. Let’s break down the roles of each of these spokes on the wheel.

Professional networks. Now, these people aren’t directly your support system, but they can certainly provide you with industry relevant advice. When it’s appropriate to do so, you can seek out answers to questions or knowledge they might be able to share with you. You can even simply follow these professionals on your social media outlet of choice; their feeds tend to be full of gems of wisdom for your professional development.

Family. This one can be tricky and really varies from person to person. Family, theoretically, should be the people who support and encourage you and your dreams no matter what they are or how difficult they are to achieve. Realistically, this doesn’t always happen. It can be hard for them to understand, especially if you plan on making writing your career. And family doesn’t always act like family. But if it is possible, and if they at least understand enough to do this, lean on them for emotional support when the writing gets tough. And if you can’t do that, lean on your friends.

Non-writer friends. This is very similar to family. Just like family, they might not be the most supportive, even to the extent of thinking you’re wasting time. But on the other hand, some of these friends will be your biggest cheerleaders, and these are important people to have behind you. If you’re struggling with an idea or comparing yourself or your work to something else, talk to them and allow them to build you up again.

Here’s a couple examples for you: when I was writing my first novel, the one currently being posted at Wattpad, I hit so many blocks of where I was going. One of my closest friends, a non-writer, had so much enthusiasm for my project! We talked about it so much, and ultimately, she was one of the key people who helped me finish it. Talking to her really helped me regain joy in my project and work through difficult scenes.

Writer friends. These are the people who really understand, the ones who know the process and understand the intense emotional swings that go along with it. They get it when you have writer’s block, when you think your story isn’t good enough, when you are ready to throw in the towel and quit writing forever (but let’s be honest, we’d never actually be able to do that). They are the ones who can realistically, with understanding and a no-guff attitude, push you toward your dreams.

So just how important is the support system of a writer? Here’s an example: last night, I found myself nearly three days behind in NaNoWriMo. That’s 1667 words per day that I didn’t write. It felt like too much. It was overwhelming, and I was about to give up. Then my fiance, another non-writer but active advocate for this story in particular, pushed me to sit down and pound out the words. He knew how much writing meant to me and how much I wanted to finally be able to complete NaNo. Because of him, I got over 3000 words down within two hours. Without him, I would have quit. I feel like I have a good person on my side to get me to the end of NaNo with enough words.

So I implore you, fellow writers. Find your support systems, and hold onto them for all they’re worth. If your current support system drags you down or discourages you, find new people to inject life and excitement to your writing life. Don’t discuss your writing life with negative people. We have enough negativity for our own work; we don’t need to hear it from someone who’s supposed to be on our side.

So how about you? Tell me about your support system and your greatest writing advocates!

Night Tales

I recently went on my annual family vacation, and this time things were a little different.

First, my boyfriend came with us. I’ve never had someone to bring along before, and he’s never been to the Outer Banks, NC. My family has been going there for at least a decade, nearly every summer. So for us, there really wasn’t anything new. But for him? It was all new.

And this time there was something new for me, too.

Boyfriend wasn’t really interested in most of the usual tourist-y things: climbing lighthouses, visiting the Wright Memorial (he would have wanted to go, but the museum is under construction until fall 2018, so we decided to postpone that one), going to the Roanoke Island Festival Park, etc. Instead, the one thing he wanted to do is something none of us had ever done before. He wanted to go kayaking at night.

Now, we had done some kayaking tours in past years, mostly around the Alligator River (I’ve never seen any alligators, but some of my family has). Those tours were pretty awesome, but we always went early in the day to avoid the summer heat. But to go at night… that was something all of us were afraid to do. So afraid, in fact, that only I would go with boyfriend this time around.

So we signed up for the Maritime Forest Bioluminescence Tour. I dreaded the coming of the night, afraid to be lost in the dark, by myself, in a salt marsh. Who knew what lurked just beyond my sight? How much would I really be able to see? How would I find my way back?

Turned out that a huge storm system rolled in and we were forced to reschedule right as I was starting to get excited about the tour.

So we went the next night to the Bodie Island Bioluminescence Tour. The night was warm and clear, the moon was nowhere to be seen, and even if it was, there wouldn’t be much light as it was in the waning phases. We also found out this was the better of the two tours being offered. It was a perfect night for such a tour.

All we really expected to see were fireflies, but it was so much better than that.

We left the shore into the super calm waters across from the Bodie Island Lighthouse. It was so quiet, and it got even more quiet (and dark) the further we got from the highway. We saw the International Space Station fly by overhead. The stars became clearer and more abundant. We could even see the cloudy light of the Milky Way overhead.

And then something happened that I had never expected to see in my life: bioluminescent plankton began to glow and sparkle with every stroke of the paddles. Every drop to fall from the paddle, every stroke, every hand drawn through the warm water stirred up these plankton.

It was magical.

The guides instructed us to put our hands six inches down and snap our fingers if we couldn’t quite tell, if they just looked like bubbles, but it just became more and more apparent the farther we paddled from shore (and the light pollution). I put my hand in the water, which terrified and exhilarated me at the same time. Around my hand, the plankton were almost a white cloud of light, and the bright blue of their glow grew brighter as they drifted away from me. It truly did look like magic.

All around, fish began jumping in the water. You see, small fish are attracted to the bioluminescence of the plankton, and they pursue it for their dinner. The glow then also attracts larger fish, the ones who were jumping, to go after these small predator fish. So the glow attracts the predators of the plankton’s predators, thereby protecting them. Weird, right? But so cool (I know, I know. But hey, I’m a biologist!). Other than the fact that one of these larger fish jumped out of the water and right into my shoulder! I smelled like fish the rest of the night, and it scared me more than anything else. And now I have a funny story to share!

But, besides sharing this magical experience with you, there is a point to my story.

If we never do something because we are afraid, we miss out on something that could be truly magical. Perhaps this applies to your creative processes, such as writing or drawing. Perhaps it is in sharing what you create. Perhaps it applies to an activity that scares you, like this nighttime excursion scared me.

Sometimes we need to do things that scare us, because those can end up being some of our best experiences. And if we can’t do them alone, we find those people who push us and encourage us.

So this is my learned lesson shared with you: do the things that scare you. And if you are having trouble on your own, find those people to push you past your comfort zone. Let the magic happen.

As for me, I’ll be forever grateful to boyfriend for making me go on this tour. I have beautiful memories with him and of the experience, I have a painting to make of the experience, I have material for my writing, and I have pride in knowing I did something no one else in my family would do.

It was a good night, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Yes, You’re Still a Writer.

Writers write. Right? That’s what it means to be a writer. But what about those times that you need to take a break?

This is life. We encounter problems like lack of time (even if we try to make the time, sometimes we can’t), health problems (physical or mental), and unexpected obligations or tasks that require our time and energy (in work, our personal life, or both). Sometimes we are so drained or unable to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) that we just can’t write. So we don’t.

You’ll probably see a lot of advice out there telling you that in order to call yourself a writer, you must write every day. I have said before that in order to be a writer you must write. But I know it isn’t reasonable and shouldn’t be expected that a writer writes every single day.

Instead, I think it’s more realistic to say that a writer writes when he or she can, regardless of inspiration. It’s about dedication. Practice writing is important to making your writing better. But sometimes writers can’t write, and that’s when they often sit and think about writing. Or the fact that they’re not writing. It’s a guilty cycle. When you write, you don’t feel like a real writer. When you don’t write, you feel like a bad writer.

My advice is usually to try to make yourself write something every day. Even if that something is a sentence. But if you can’t, it’s really okay. I promise. You don’t stop being a writer. It’s okay to take a break when you need to. It’s okay to skip days. I’ve skipped days, I’ve taken long breaks for months. I’ve had years where I barely wrote a word. I’ve felt the guilt and the itch of not being able to write for one reason or another. But I’ve learned that it’s okay.

Think about the stars. Do they go away when the sun comes out? No! The sunlight just keeps us from being able to see them for a while. But as soon as the sun goes down, the stars come back as bright as ever.

It’s the same thing with writing. If you’re taking a break from writing, think of yourself as a star during the day. You’re still a writer, you just aren’t showing your writer side for the time being. It will come back, if that’s what you want.

So don’t stress yourself out so much. Write when you can, when you have the time and energy and health to put into it. If you can’t, don’t count yourself out. Come back to it when you are able, and focus your energy on where it needs to be in the moment.

Don’t let anyone tell you that means you’re not a writer. You are still a writer.

How to Keep Writing in the Middle of Health Problems

Nearly every writer will be faced with a health issue at some point in their life that will interfere with their ability to write. As writers, this lack of creative activity can be disheartening, guilt-inducing, and crippling. So when these problems in our physical or mental health occur, how do we keep ourselves creating through the troubles?

1. Understand the illness. The first step in overcoming a problem is understanding what to expect and knowing how to evaluate your ability. For example, someone with depression is likely to have motivational problems and fatigue while someone with a physical illness such as multiple sclerosis or cancer may be forced to contend with pain and lack of energy. When you know what to expect, you can create a plan to address those problems if or when they arise with your doctors, family, and friends. They all want to help you.

2. Know your limits… don’t overextend yourself. Once you understand the illness, take it easy while you understand how it is affecting your mind and body. Pay attention to when you have overextended yourself or when you haven’t pushed yourself enough. Take notes on what makes things better or worse. This can also help you create a plan and a schedule to keep working.

3. Set reasonable goals. Only you can define what is reasonable, but use your knowledge of yourself from point 2 to define it. For me, for a while my goal was simply to write one sentence per day. Maybe for you what it looks like is keeping a journal or writing one paragraph from a writing prompt or cutting down to one writing day per week. And I will be the first to tell you that it isn’t easy to maintain, and you may fall into a creative drought in which nothing is accomplished. It’s okay. Don’t waste the energy on blaming or berating yourself, no matter how justified it feels. You will get past it, and being sick isn’t your fault. Just take care of yourself. Which leads to…

4. Your health comes first. Creativity and creative energy will follow. Make your health and recovery a priority. Talk to the doctors. Follow their instructions. Take your medications. Get enough food, sleep, and exercise. And I know that can also be hard to maintain. That brings me to my last point…

5. Get support. Find an accountability partner to ask you about your health, well-being, and writing. Trust your loved ones to be there for you and encourage you, even when it feels like they don’t or that you are a burden. They do care, and you aren’t a burden. They care, and they want to help. Beyond your loved ones, find support groups. Meeting with other people going through similar things can be very encouraging and helpful to your overall recovery. Find encouraging blogs or posts online and make yourself a motivational or inspirational file, Pinterest board, collage, whatever works for you. I myself have both a Pinterest board and a file on my computer filled with things that encourage me when things aren’t going so well for me.

Whatever you’re going through, please remember that you aren’t alone. There are people who understand, people who have experienced or are experiencing similar issues, people who care, and people who can and want to help. Reach out.

And whatever happens, do your best to keep writing. For a writer, writing can be one of the best forms of self care.

Chin up, my friends. It’s going to be okay.