Conference - Day 3

This morning began with a fabulous omelet from the hotel.  I need to mention this because whatever spices they used made it scrumptious.  Armed with enough protein to last me for several hours, I began my day.  The hum in the hotel was palpable and it began early. I was downstairs and ready to start before seven and already meetings were being held and networking was going on. Heads were close together as fellow writers discussed their books with editors or agents at quiet (somewhat quiet because of the hum) tables.  A section of the lounge was even reserved for networking – a clever idea if you ask me, but one problem – the wireless at the hotel had ceased to operate.  I was unable to post my blog for yesterday and I wonder if I will be able to post today.

Went to the opening ceremony with Tess Gerritsen, Steve Barry, and Diana Gabaldon. Questions had been sent in ahead of time for the panel discussion which was lively and thoroughly entertaining.  The room echoed with laughter and applause several times as their comments hit a cohesive mark and touched us at the same time.  Fellow writers appreciate the tales of how each other started and most of all, we love to hear the bumps along the way and funny tales of bizarre fans, etc. By the time we finished there, I was ready for a bit of networking so I headed to the lounge.  Part of me hoped I could connect to the internet but alas, the internet was once again asleep in its bed and unable to be awoken.  I think having several thousand women writers who truly enjoy their craft made it far too tired to get up because no one was able to connect all day long.  I’m sorry, I failed to mention it works if you want to pay $17.95 per day for your hotel room.  I already pay for my phone and my home internet, I did not think I should pay for it here, especially when the hotel claimed to have it free in the lounge area.  Okay, I have complained enough for today on that subject.

Margot and I decided to work on her pitch and proceeded to do so when a lovely lady asked if she could share our area.  I love meeting new people so I agreed.  We realized we had a love for the same jewelry – Lia Sophia.  She loved my bracelet and necklace and once I mentioned it was Lia Sophia, she showed me hers.  We hit it off immediately and after we introduced ourselves I was thrilled to be meeting Jessica Faust.  I have been reading their blog for months now, so it was a pleasure to meet the woman in person.  To say she is funny and personable is an understatement.  She is so down-to-Earth, she helped melt away all my fears about my upcoming pitch on Friday, and Margot’s as well.

Luncheon was nothing to write home about since the food was unrecognizable, but the keynote speaker was one of my favorite historical writers – Madeline Hunter.  When I was feeling a bit disconnected several years ago from the craft, I picked up one of her books and before long, not only was I hooked on her books, but my love for writing my historicals was revived.  Thank you, Madeline.

After spending the afternoon seeing Spiderman, (which was fun for all the special effects), I headed back to the hotel to prepare for the Stroke of Midnight reception which proved to be entertaining in big, bold letters!  How could it not with burlesque performers as the main show? What a delight to learn about this art form which has had a revival long before the movie with Cher.  They sang and danced and made us all laugh at ourselves which in a room full of writers is quite a feat. I received an Honorable Mention for my novel, Harvest Moon, which pleased me.  I would have LOVED to have gotten 1st place, but there is time for that. From this reception I hurried to my own chapter’s reception – a Champagne and Chocolate reception, where I became the unofficial photographer of the night.

Meeting new people and exchanging business cards is so much fun.  I met some delightful young authors who are on the verge of their careers and ready to explode. I also got to meet Abby Gaines! This lovely woman is from New Zealand and was nice enough to take my daughter in for a few days when my daughter was traveling. I did not meet her until last night and found her to be just generous and funny in person as she was when we were emailing each other. This society of writers has made me realize how lucky I am to be part of such a great circle of women who not only open their doors, but their hearts to kindred spirits.  Thank you Abby!

So, what now? Abby and Blythe Gifford mentioned the Harlequin Pajama party, so off I went.  This was a fabulous time.  They had hats and masks for us to wear and I quickly donned a bunny mask and my alter ego kicked in.  The party came alive after that.  I met two young ladies who work for Harlequin’s Social Media in Canada. Here is my shout out to Amy Wilkins and Larissa Walker!  I promised them I would mention them in my blog and I have to tweet about them as well. The party was a smashing success and I carried the party with me to the lounge where I chatted with two authors – another one from Canada (by the way, I have met several ladies from Canada lately and they are all wonderful).  One of the ladies is a Golden Heart finalist.  Good luck, Tirisza (I hope I spelled it correctly because I don’t have my program with me at the moment).

Back at my room, I chatted for a couple hours with my roommates about my day, their day, and what our plans are for tomorrow.  See you then, because I am tired.

Conference - Day 2

This is the day the conference truly starts to hop.  Thousands of women converge on the hotel from every state and dozens of countries around the world. The hotel lobby hummed with an increase of excitement as friends greeted each other, some for the first time in person.  Others looked for fellow chapter members to connect and register. Lines were everywhere. Where yesterday we could still get on the elevator without a wait, today the lines before each elevator had grown exponentially.  Here’s what I do not understand – there is an electronic keypad where the guest types in their floor. Then the keypad tells them which elevator to take - from A to Z.   One would think it would calculate the number of requests for an elevator and then direct others to one of the empty elevators but it does not. You must wait for that elevator to close to punch in your number again and then wait for a different elevator.  My other complaint is that if you are on a floor above 26, you have to ride the elevator down before you can go up to 28 or higher. So if you caught that – you have to go down before you can go up, and then in order to go back to your own floor, you have to go down several floors below your floor and then go back up to get to your room.  Sounds confusing, doesn’t it?

Breakfast at Pigalle’s was not what we expected. I think we just picked the wrong day. When we arrived, we decided to get the buffet which unfortunately got cold before we could finish eating because there as a fan overhead. We asked for it to be turned down low, and once it was, everything was much better.  Margot went off to her seminar which left me alone to wander the city because there were no workshops to attend just yet.  I decided to get some welcome presents for my roommates who would be arriving today. Once I did that, I went to the lounge with my computer and worked on my blog and my pitch. Being prepared is half the battle.  I need to work on my salesmanship-. I need to walk up to other authors and introduce myself.  Networking. That’s what they call it.
In the past, I have not been especially good at networking, but remember – this is a new year and I have a new found energy coursing through my body. I will not be afraid to meet new people, to network, and to tell them about my books and what I am currently working.  New motto – HAVE NO FEAR.

I used this new motto to go into the city on my own.  With no one to wander with me I took off towards Rockefeller Plaza.  IT was my goal.  I imagined eating lunch near the golden man as my backdrop. But instead, I spied a beautiful square teaming with businessmen and women eating their lunch around an inviting water fountain near Time Warner on Avenue of the Americas.  Perfect.  Street vendors lined the street and with this new motto – have no fear, I decided to purchase a lunch and sit down and people watch.  Did you know you can tell an awful lot about a person by the shoes they wear? I decided to look at the feet as they strode past. No two feet are alike.  Sometimes I would look up at the faces to see what the person looked like attached to those feet.  Try it sometime – it’s amazing what you will learn.  Younger girls/women wear sandals and flip flops when they are out and about.  Sensible shoes are worn by women over the age of 35 (sorry, but it’s true) and yet they are stylish.  Some fabulous shoes where seen strutting by.  Younger women with long legs wore 3-5 inch heels and had no problem navigating the streets and the many holes in the sidewalks because of the grates above the subway system.  Men are men. They wear sensible shoes – brown or black – some lace up and some slip on, but as far as I’m concerned the men have it easy.

Did some wonderful networking later that night after returning from the play.  I met several ladies who founded Romance University. I recognized the name of their site immediately because I accessed them myself when it came to an editing issue. The ladies were lovely and full of life. Adrienne Giordano is one of the co-founders and has her first book out and it’s part of a series. Buy it! Her website is to check out what she has coming out in the future as well.  A dynamic lady who made me realize that having NO FEAR is exactly what I need. 

Enjoy the rest of your day and I’ll let you know what else I learned tomorrow.  Expect to hear about the opening session with Tess Gerritsen, Diana Gabaldon, and Steve Berry.  It sounds like a fascinating panel discussion.

Conference - Day 1

As usual I got up way too early for my trip to NY but just the prospect of seeing the cowboy with the guitar as Cristy calls him filled me with anticipation.  For anyone else who has been to NY more than once we call him the Naked Cowboy.

All my little chicks were sleeping as I prepared to leave.  I guess it’s difficult to say little anymore when they are so much older but I guess like any mother I still think of my children as little.  I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that my youngest graduated from elementary school two weeks ago.

So I kissed them all goodbye, a habit I got into early on in my marriage since my husband is a cop (you never know when it will be the last day to see those you love).  Told them I loved them and met my sweetie outside for the trip.  My husband does not like to fly or I would have brought him along for this trip.  My son climbed into the car as well.  Tall and handsome, I can say this because I’m his mother, joined us on the trip to the airport.  Hard to believe he’s only 17, but there you go – life showing me it hasn’t stopped in the least but continued to move on.  My son hefted my suitcase into the back of my husband’s Element and off we went.

First let me say I was shocked by all the limos heading to the airport at 6:30 in the morning.  There must be a lot of executives leaving for work at that time.  I peered into several to get a glimpse and was not surprised to see older gentlemen looking tense as their limos wove their way through traffic.  Just a footnote – I only live 5 minutes from the airport but it took over twenty to get there.

Of course none of this dampened my enthusiasm.  As I mentioned before like George Bailey, I love the sounds of ship anchors, plane engines, and train whistles.

Where am I now? In the air above beautiful white clouds on my way to NY.  We hit a bit of turbulence a while back – the first time I have ever left my seat while buckled in my seat.  A few women screamed.  I didn’t see who they were but unless men scream like women, I would venture to say the women were a bit put off by the sudden drop in altitude.  My guess is they don’t ride roller coasters like the Raging Bull or it would not have alarmed them so much.

Why didn’t I scream? I had dozed off for a few minutes in preparation for my time in NY because I knew I wouldn’t sleep much.  I was a bit jarred when it was over.  I nervously laughed to my companion (actually just the guy sitting next to me) because when I woke from the midair flight, I bumped his arm, but otherwise the turbulence merely reminded me of where I was.  I don’t frighten easily when I fly.

I’ll be meeting Margot at the airport and we’ll share a ride into the city.

Several hours later:

As all good stories mine continued to progress in true form.  Arrived at LaGuardia and needed to find a bus to get to the main terminal because apparently Delta has its own little area separate from the rest.  I met Margot with the help of Karen Harris and we secured seats on a shuttle.  Let me tell you – this was so much fun!  Our driver had to take a group of people to the pier for a cruise first, but he was exactly what we needed to start our trip.  Animated and filled with NY flare, he told us all about the sights while maneuvering expertly through the clogged city streets like a professional race car driver.  The twists and turns were quickly handled and we got an amazing thrill.  I asked about the Cash Cab driver and our driver joked about hoping to ride with him one day and answer all his questions.

After arriving at the hotel, we checked in.  My room was on the 26th floor with an outstanding view of Times Square.  We ate lunch at the hotel and had a waitress with the most fabulous NY accent.  We knew we had at last arrived!

I have to add a side note – we saw a naked cowboy or should I say cowgirl? She was about 60 something, with her boobs hanging to her navel.  On each nipple was a pasty star!  Welcome to NY!

Touring NY with Margot, whom I soon realized is a kindred spirit, was perfect.  The weather was glorious – only high 70s and sunny! We headed toward Central Park and chatted about Law and Order and how we shouldn’t walk about the park after dark.  We are such nerds!

We were in search of chocolate!  Margot needed chocolate for the champagne reception so the search was on. We found a very nice girl at what used to be Tavern on the Green who looked up locations for us.  Strolling through Central Park was exactly what we needed.  Then we headed toward 5th Avenue.  We passed the Helmsley hotel – remember that woman? The Queen of Mean who left her fortune to her dogs?  Then we saw the Plaza – the place where all little girls hope to be married in June (remember that movie?).  Along the way we were accosted by many men trying to sell us something.  Did we scream tourist or what?

At the Plaza we saw Kirsti Alley who looked fabulous!  I guess Dancing with the Stars works!  We arranged to have High tea on Friday and then we returned to 5th Avenue.  Talk about shops! Bergdorfs, Tiffany, Harry Winstons (we wondered if we could get our jewels for the reception on Friday from there), and more.  You name it, we saw it! 

And we found chocolate! Bought sooooo much chocolate!

We went into St. Thomas’ and St. Patrick’s cathedrals and said a prayer and, after admiring the architecture, took pictures (discreetly).  Then we saw Rockefeller Plaza and took the appropriate pictures with the golden statue behind us.

Have you had enough?

Neither had we.  We dropped off the chocolate to find a lovely tray for Margot of Margaritas and water, which we decided to enjoy later.  Back at Times Square we went to Juniors to eat their famous steak burgers!  We of course had to walk it off!  Strolling along (doesn’t sound like we’re working anything off, does it?) the theater district we found our theaters for the upcoming plays as well as Sardi’s for dinner.  We also stumbled across a place where I ate before – Pigalle’s and decided to enjoy breakfast there the next day.

Back at Margot’s room we worked on her pitches.  To our surprise, after tweaking Nickolai’s story it was after 11!  Talk about a full day!

I returned to my own room and worked on my own stuff, called my sweetie to tell him of my day, and showered.  One a.m.!  Ready for bed and ready for the next day.

My Bags Are Packed!

Nothing to me is more spine-tingling than the day I leave for a trip!  My husband always teases me about this roving spirit I have.  I remember a line from "It's a Wonderful Life" when George says the most exciting sounds in the world are: anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles!  I understand completely what he means.  When I arrive at the airport on the verge of an adventure, I know that no matter where I am going I will have an inspiring trip! If you are like me, a writer, you always come home from a trip filled with ideas for new stories and new characters.

When I was younger, the sound was train whistles.  I knew if I was traveling on a train, I was going to visit my grandparents at the shore (Jersey shore it was).  When I met my husband I learned to love airplane engine sounds.  My first flight was to Chicago to visit him.  I was hooked.  I could not even tell you how many trips I have logged over the past 27 years.  In the last three years I learned to love a new sound - ship anchors.  I have been on three cruises and WOW, I would go again tomorrow if someone invited me.

So, here I go, ready to embark on a new trip.  A trip that could change my life. If you are heading to New York - I'll see you there!

Vivienne   xoxoxoxoxo

Edit, Revise, and Tweak!

If you remember, I made a promise to myself in January when I began this blog - to submit to at least one contest per month.  I have been on target thus far, and if I do say so myself, I have been doing a great job. Every time I get the results, I am reminded why I write - because I love it. I enjoy creating new worlds and characters. I enjoy telling their stories.

Contests are a wonderful vehicle to fix what needs fixing before I send my manuscripts off to an editor or agent. I am of the mind to not send anything in unless it is finished. I just don't want to be in the position of getting "the call" and not having a completed manuscript to send off straight-away. If there is one thing I have learned from the contests it's that there are many opinions out there. Just like there are many different editors and agents, readers' opinions differ greatly. But when you enter a contest you can learn how to make your manuscript stronger, more cohesive, and most of all - more appealing to the audience you seek.

At first, contests scared me. I was afraid to read what was written about my manuscripts. What I learned was the judges were just like me - authors. Some were published and some were not, but one thing we all had in common - writing the best novel we could. When they read my novel, they are looking at it with a critical eye to help me become published.  When I read "I can't wait to read this some day" I am filled with pride over all the hard work.

A few times I have read the following comment - "publishable as is".  Once or twice, I have read "needs a bit of polishing first". No matter what the final comments, I know the judge has given up their valuable time to read my manuscript and give me advice. They are not doing it out of malice or jealousy but out of the desire to help me. Trust me, I am more than grateful for the help.

Here's my question to you - what was the most valuable advice your received after entering a contest?

What's In a Name - Apparently a lot if you are Titled

If you haven’t noticed, I love historical romances. I love to read them. I love to write them. One of the hardest parts is the title. What do you call your hero? Do you want to have a simple Mister? No, that’s too blasé, besides every girl dreams of being swept off her feet by a man with a title. Especially a man with a title who has an incredibly sexy accent. Come on, you know you have fantasized about this, just like me! (wink). What girl hasn’t thought of her prince charming coming in to rescue her? As a child we grew up on Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty.  Our kids have had Ariel (who marries Prince Eric), Belle (who marries the prince who used to be a Beast), and now Rapunzel (who is really the long lost daughter of a king and queen). Of course the last one did not marry a prince, did she? Okay, so I got that one wrong. But there is the American girl who marries a prince in the Frog Princess. (there! I have redeemed myself!)
Let’s get back to titles.
Since I have problems keeping them straight, I figured I’m not the only one, so a brief refresher course for all of us is probably a good idea. What I really need is a cheat sheet while I’m writing. Something right in front of my face, so I don’t make a huge faux pas and have a historical buff call me to task on it. I used to have a lovely office where all my inspirations were on the wall. Where post-its where stuck here and there to help jar my memory. Where maps and family trees where placed strategically so I wouldn’t have to look far. But once the kids got older, my office got phased out and now I type on my laptop wherever I happen to be at the time – so this leaves no place to hang my post-its.  I guess my blog has become my new post-it.
Titles. We all like them but only a few have them.
Order of rank
  1. King/Queen
  2. Prince/Princess
  3. Duke/Duchess - 24 in England
  4. Marquis/Marchioness - 34 in England
  5. Earl/Countess - 191 in England
  6. Viscount/Viscountess - 115 in England
  7. Baron/Baroness     

Duke – call him “Your Grace” if you are a servant. But if you are so lucky to have one as your friend, just call him Duke So-and-So.
Duchess – also called “Your Grace” by servants.
·        Children of Dukes/Duchesses – are called “Lord firstname” or Lady “firstname” – as in Lord William or Lady Catherine.
·        Sometimes the eldest son of a duke/duchess would also carry a lesser title.
·        Wife of deceased duke where the son has now inherited – dowager duchess
Marquis/Marchioness – called “your lordship or ladyship” by servants.
·        Friends would call them by their title name – example – Marquis of Summerville would be called Summerville.
·        They could also be called Lord or Lady Summerville. The son would usually carry the father’s second title.
Earl/Countess – Known as Earl of Summerville, but would be called Summerville by friends.
·        Servants would call them my lord or my lady. 
·        Daughters are called Lady “firstname” and first born sons are also called Lord “firstname” such as Lady Suzanne or Lord William.
·         Any other sons are just called “Honorable John Summerville”. The son would carry the father’s second title until he inherited usually that of viscount.
Viscount/Viscountess – servants called them “my lord/lady” or “lordship/ladyship”. 
·        Friends just call him Summerville. 
·        Viscount and Viscountess would be called Lord and Lady Summerville. 
Baron/Baroness – are just called Lord/Lady Summerville. Servants call them my lord/lady or lordship/ladyship. 
·        Their children are just called Mr. Summerville or Miss Summerville.  
·        They can also be called Lord Summerville or Lady Summerville.
Baronet – would be called Sir William or Sir William Summerville. The wife of a baronet would be Lady Summerville.
Knight – would be called Sir William or Sir William Summerville. The wife of a knight would be Lady Summerville.

So how does a title get passed on?
  • Some titles are hereditary and are passed down to eldest sons. If there are no sons, the titles are passed to the closest male heir – like a nephew. In very rare circumstances, the title can be passed down through the daughter if there are no males. Otherwise, this title dies out. 
  • Life peerages are different from hereditary peerages because they only last as long as that person lives. These titles do not get passed down to the oldest sons.  Life peerages are usually baron or baroness.

The Dreaded Interview

At some time in our lives, we have all been on an interview. Most of us have been on so many interviews we can elaborate the do's and don'ts of each one – where we did well and where it went horribly wrong. Coming up is the RWA conference in New York City. If you are a published author or aspiring published author in romance, this is the place to be. New York is the one conference no one wants to miss. The hotel gets booked way too quickly and thousands of authors clamor to sign up so they can spend 5 minutes pitching their manuscript to an editor or agent. This is where the interview looms over our heads. How do we prepare for this 5 minute do-or-die moment where we present our babies to another person who will decide if it's good enough to publish?

  1. You can wing it. Come on – you know you've been there. You've thought about this a million times. The thought goes through your head – I'll just walk in and wing it! I don't need to memorize anything. I know what my book is all about. I know my characters. I know the plot. I'll walk in, shake his/her head and then just wing it!
  2. Write out your blurb on index cards – You've done this one too. Before you left for the conference, you wrote down all the important points – the genre, word count, hero's arc and heroine's arc. The main plot points to entice the editor/agent. Then once you got there, you practiced it over and over again UNTIL – you decided – forget about this – I'm just going to wing it!
  3. Worked on your pitch with a partner. You sat down with a fellow writer, someone you trust and did your pitches together. Of course, you both decided they sounded great and you were ready to go. In the back of your mind, you thought about all the things you would change if you were the other person and then realized your own pitch needed work too. But you just couldn't tell your friend because then they would worry that theirs needed work too. Ah, the blissful feeling of ignorance.
  4. If you are member of a critique group, not only have you worked on this pitch with a partner, but you've brought it to a meeting and done it out loud in front of everyone and waited, palms sweating, as everyone told you how to tweak it. This can be a harrowing experience. The moment of dread when twenty people tell you how to fix what you thought was perfect in the first place. (Remember my last journal entry about imperfections?)

The pitch is essentially a job interview. You are applying for the most important job of your life – published author. This is even worse than giving birth. When you give birth, no one sits you down all dressed up in your professional best and asks you to tell them all about this newborn who will come squalling into your life. After all, you don't know what this baby's character arc will be. You don't even know his/her personality yet. No one asks you if you are prepared for the next lord-only-knows number of years to raise this baby. When you bring your book in front of another person, it is like bringing out your baby – presenting it to the world and saying – Isn't this wonderful? You should buy this because I have poured hours upon hours into raising this baby into the perfect book.

If you are lucky, the editor/agent will request either a partial or full manuscript. I have yet to leave an interview without a request. But here's the rub – just because they requested it does not mean they will make an offer. Remember when I mentioned thousands of authors are present? This means many of them (the unpublished like me) will be jostling for a chance to become published. The last time I pitched, I was extremely excited. The editor loved my concept. Loved my hero and heroine and requested a partial. I mailed it off and over two years later still did not hear back. Oh, I waited the appropriate amount of time before sending a lovely email and asking how she was. When she finally responded, it was to tell me she had misplaced my manuscript and finally located it. When she read it – she loved it! BUT – unfortunately they no longer needed strong hero books and wished me luck finding a place for it. WOW! It was good, but now they didn't need it. Makes you wonder if she had read it two years before if her company would have needed strong hero based books.

Okay, so let's go back to the interview – you have now prepared your pitch. I know you have. Whether you decided to wing it, write it down on index cards, OR you practiced in front of a mirror until you knew it by heart, you are ready. ALMOST. Now it's time to find the perfect clothes to wear. What do you mean I have to find the perfect clothes? Shouldn't my pitch be enough to sell me as an author? Wish this were true, but you are a product too. You go along with your book. When you walk into the room on trembling knees to meet the editor/agent, it is your appearance which will make the first impression. The head to toe look. Remember how the hero perceives the heroine for the first time and vice versa? It is the same with an agent/editor and you. When you meet eyes, you immediately do the head to toe scan. DO you like what you see? Does this person look like someone you can trust with your baby?

My advice – be comfortable and professional. If you are not comfortable you will look miserable. Be you. Add the one touch that shows a tiny bit of your personality. Perhaps it's a treasured pin from your great-grandmother or you love scarves. Remember you are part of the product. It makes me think of American Idol. Come on, admit it, you have seen it and heard Simon Cowel state – "you're the entire package". Remember that not only your book will be packaged, but so will you. You will go on book tours. You will meet people. You will speak to newspaper reporters and television hosts (once you sell big-time, which you will). Your picture will be inside the book. If you are historical author – do you look the part? And I don't mean you wear a period piece costume to the interview. I mean do you look romantic and yet serious at the same time? If you're not sure what I mean, look at the pictures of authors you emulate. When you read their brief bio, do you say – "Wow, I want to read her/his books?"

A dear friend at my writer's group – Chicago-North – who was also an actress would come to our meetings right before conference and explain how to pitch. She would give us pointers on presentation and enunciation. Her advice always made me realize that it wasn't just the book that was being analyzed, but me as well. So remember – when you prepare for your pitch, it's like going on a job interview. You have to convince this person you and your book are worth taking a risk on. So what's my advice?

  1. Write it out – what is your brand? Your main characters' arcs?
  2. Practice, practice, practice – I cannot emphasize this enough – practice alone in front of a mirror, with a good friend you trust, and before your group if you have time. You want to be careful of your hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions while presenting. Body language is important.
  3. Find the right clothes – remember comfort is important, but the overall appearance is essential.
  4. Relax – I know this sounds hard, but you need to relax. There is nothing worse than shaking hands with the editor/agent of your dreams and realizing too late that your hand was sweaty or shook the entire tie.

See you at Nationals! And . . . knock them dead!