It's Raining (Regency) Men!

Fran wasn't able to post today, so I thought I would steal her date this month. Who doesn't like men in Regency attire? This link/video from Victoriana Magazine cracks me up every time I watch it. Love me some Mr. Darcy, although my favorite Regency hero is Fran's duke.

And since we're talking about heroes, one of my favorite tumblr sites introduced to me by my Canadian friend is called Hot British Men. What is it about those English accents?

Heroes Dating Game (Melissa Robbins)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Much to my delight, we have been discussing heroes this month. Since my stories take place during WW2, I have loads of heroes running around, so I thought I would interview three of my soldiers with a bit of dating game fun. Hopefully their girls don't mind.

Bachelor #1 American, First Lieutenant Jackson Spencer, U.S. Army Air Force fighter pilot

Bachelor #2, Englishman, Squadron Leader Basil Godfrey, Royal Air Force fighter pilot

Bachelor #3 Englishman, Warrant Officer Seamus O'Malley, Royal Air Force policeman

Mel: Hi boys!

All: Hello Mel!

Mel: Let's jump right in, bachelors. Where would you take a girl on a first date?

Basil: A picnic to the Sandwick Castle ruins. The view is marvelous and we'll have champagne and delightful desserts.

Mel: Desserts? Wow, that would be cool with all the rationing going on.

Seamus: There's an Italian restaurant in town. I would take my girl there for a romantic candlelit dinner.

Jack: Antonio's?

Seamus: Why are you snickering?

Jack: No reason. Great choice. I hear they have a great chicken fettuccine Alfredo. [kiss] Perfetto.

Mel: What about you, Jack? The theme seems to be dining. Would you take your date to Antonio's?

Jack: Of course, I love Italian, but it would depend on the girl and what she likes. For a first date, I would love to take her swing dancing, but if she's up for anything, I would fly her in my plane.

Mel: Wow, a plane ride? That would be a memorable first date. Next question, what three things do you never leave the house without?

Jack: Clean underwear. That doesn't count as one of my three, does it? That should be a given. Let's see, my ring and a picture of my girl. My third would be my whistle and flying jacket. The whistle is attached to the jacket, so those two count as one.

Mel: A whistle?

Jack: Technically, pilots blow on the whistle when they bale out in the Channel and need to be rescued, but they have become lucky charms. Mine was a gift, so it's extra special.

Basil: Pilot gear, a cigar, and keys to my Bentley.

Seamus: All of us should bring our identity cards. If we're stopped and can't identify ourselves, we could be detained as spies. My other items are my cross and pocket watch.

Mel: What are your best qualities?

Basil: Debonaire and a great pilot

Jack: [laughs] I hear I'm a fantastic kisser.

Seamus: Lalalalala. I don't want to hear that.

Jack: I heard you're a 'ruddy brilliant' kisser, O'Malley.

Seamus: Who told you that?

Mel: Seamus, your face is the color of your hair! Jack, who did tell you that?

Jack: [shrugs] Girls talk to each other and don't always notice when guys are listening, but to get back to the question, I would like to add that I'm fiercely loyal to the people I care about and would do anything for them and I mean anything.

Seamus: You would do anything. No doubt about that. Did she really tell the other girls that? Blimey, I can't think right now. Can I skip to the next question?

Mel: Why are you still blushing? Okay what's your favorite quality in a woman?

Seamus: Trust

Jack: Hey, what's that look for, O'Malley? I'm all about trust too. For me, it's a woman who isn't afraid to be herself, even if it goes against the norm and I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, but an hour glass figure doesn't hurt. My girl has nice curves. Ooo, la, la.

Basil: Loyalty to king and country and a nice bum.

Jack: Oh yeah, a nice bum.

Seamus: You lot are terrible! She is going to kill you when she sees you, Jack.

Mel: At least they're being honest. Next question, you've just been told you have a few months to live, what do you do?

Jack: Darlin', we're soldiers. Basil and I are fighter pilots and Seamus is a policeman. We could die tomorrow. I, for one, live every day like it would be my last and enjoy it with the people I care most about. Then hopefully, when I die, I could take a few Krauts with me.

Basil: Spencer is right. If I knew I was going to die, which is a strong possibility nowadays, I would spend my days fighting the Jerries to my last breath.

Seamus: I would be with my family and my girl.

Mel: With today being Thanksgiving, how do you make the holidays special?

Jack: I'm thousands of miles away from my family. So the holidays would be special if I could spend it with them. If not, I would celebrate in the officers' mess with my soldier friends who are like brothers to me. Hopefully, my girl will be there too with lots of mistletoe hanging around.

Basil: Before the war, my family held the grandest parties for holidays in London or at our country estate.

Seamus: I love spending Christmas with my family. Dad plays his fiddle and my sisters dance. Mum cooks a goose. Hmm, Christmas pudding.

Jack: Stop O'Malley. You're making me hungry. Roasted turkey with dressing. Green bean casserole. You're evil, Mel asking a question like that with rationing going on. Can we go back to talking about girls?

Mel: Okay, I'll put you out of your misery. For our final question, so the ladies can know just how dishy you boys are, which actor would you like to play you in a movie?

Jack: I would want to play myself, but if I had to choose, Justin Hartley. He'll have to wear colored contacts, though. I have handsome baby blues. [bats eyelashes]

Basil: Ben Barnes

Mel: Ooo, Prince Caspian.

Basil: Yes, but shorter hair in back.

Seamus: Simon Woods

Jack: With or without the crazy Mr. Bingley hair?

Seamus: Not funny, Spencer.

Mel: Thank you boys for answering my questions. So, ladies, which hero would you choose? For you Connor fans out there wondering where he is, Connor is in the manor library snogging his girl, but he might come up for air and stop by in the comment section, along with my other boys should any of you have more questions for them.

Now writers out there, did you see what I did? Imagine your heroes and other characters on a dating game and ask them questions like these. Their answers may surprise you.

Creating a Hero (Penny Rader)

Since our theme this month is Heroes, I poked around the internet for hints about creating a hero.  Here's a bit of what I found.  Enjoy!

Build Your Own Romance Hero (Nicole Jordan)     

  • Hero appearance
  • Hero name
  • Basic personality type
  • Making him human and unique

  1. Challenge stereotypes.
  2. What matters isn’t WHO your character is, it’s HOW you’ll write him.
  3. Be wary of the too-perfect hero trap.

Creating Your Hero’s Fatal Flaw (Laurie Schnebly Campbell)

Laurie gives an awesome program on creating characters using enneagrams and says “It's easy to find ideas for the fatal flaws our characters will have to overcome, because the enneagram theorists say that each of the nine types has a deadly sin within them. Although the math is off, because there are seven deadly sins and nine enneagram types, so they made up two more sins which fit the types.

Find Your Hero in Category Romance (Catherine Mann and Joanne Rock)

  • Give him flaws.
  • Give him quirks.
  • Make him studly.
  • Give him an element of danger.
  • Make him worthy of the challenge.

So if writing your hero as a sexy, take charge kind of guy makes him merely ordinary, how do you create a hero so unique your reader is going to fall for him in a big way?--By showing the little boy within the man. 
I don’t mean you should have him exhibiting childish, immature behavior, but rather show what hurts him, excites his enthusiasm, makes him proud. Show his soft spot. Is he a sucker for kids, does he love animals, worry about his mother? You can get away with a lot in terms of macho behavior (romance heroes tend to be larger than life in this aspect) as long as he demonstrates what Suzanne Brockmann refers to as the save-the-kitty factor. 

How to Be aRomantic Hero (Diane Perkins)

 1.      Be flawed.
 2.      Be self-assured.
 3.      Be tough.
 4.      Be controlled.
 5.      Be trustworthy.
 6.      Be ethical.
 7.      Value equality.
 8.      Be physically fit.
 9.      Be sexually generous.
10.  Finally, be sure to have dark-as-night hair with a habit of falling waywardly across your forehead.

Romance Writing: Heroes (Loribeth Swanson)
  • He must be well defined by the author to the reader.
  • He is strong whether it’s obvious or subtle.
  • He acts with integrity.
  • If his actions are bad, then he has a good reason to act so.

Ten Steps to a Yummy Hero (Vicki Lewis Thompson)

  1. Does he reflect current social values?
  2. Does he possess universal hero traits?
  3. Does he compare favorably with current movie and television heroes?
  4. Does he compare favorably with the heroes of best-selling authors?
  5. Does he conform to the specific kind of romance you are writing?
  6. Does he reflect your personal style?
  7. Does his behavior seem well motivated?
  8. Have you put him in heroic situations?
  9. Do you have a clear picture of what he looks like?
  10. Have you fallen in love?

What attracts you to a guy?  I usually notice eyes first.  And dark hair.  (You probably figured that out from the pics.) A great smile.  And a bit of a five o'clock shadow. Yum.

What traits are non-negotiable for you in a hero?  I'd love to hear your top three. Or five.  Mine?  Hmmm.  I'm going to go with brave/courageous, selfless, honorable, smart, and a sense of humor. 

Heroes: A Sampling of Heroes, Starla Kaye Style

Essentially my view of fictional heroes is similar to what has been previously said by Nina, Rox, and Reese. So I’m not going to add yet another definition. Instead I will share tidbits about some of the heroes from my Decadent Publishing stories.

Maggie’s Secret Wish, part of the 1 Night Stand series from Decadent Publishing, gave me a chance to meet and fall in love with Ian MacDonald, just as Maggie did. Sometimes it is nice when a reviewer sees your characters and their conflicts they way you do. In this case, the reviewer from Sizzling Hot Reviews did and these are her thoughts:

Maggie has always picked out losers when it came to boyfriends. Her last one left her after a night of sex and made her doubt her own worth. Her best friend encourages her to send an email to Madame Eve to get back on the dating horse, but Maggie has been having a fantasy that she only shares with Madame Eve…and Madame Eve finds the perfect man to make it happen.

Ian MacDonald is a dashing Scottish man with a darling accent who is able to make any woman swoon. He writes erotica novels for a living and services women as a Dom part time. Jaded with his life, he takes his friend up on the suggestion to apply with Madame Eve and 1 Night Stand Dating Agency for a hot night with no commitments.

Maggie’s Secret Wish is an amazing story of a woman who wants to explore her sexuality. Madame Eve seems to know just what Maggie needs and sets about to make it happen. But Maggie is nervous and tries to back out. Even Ian takes some prodding to agree to it. Yet when the two come together, it is combustible! The idea of having a person know you so intimately that they can take care of your every need is a fantasy that everyone has. Maggie’s Secret Wish explores this concept in an exciting and tantalizing way. Just the idea of a man like Ian made me short of breath! I couldn’t imagine having him at my fingertips!

Starting Over was my second book in the 1 Night Stand series for Decadent Publishing. In this one I had a chance to explore another romance sub-genre that I hadn’t tried, GLBT. I wanted to try this, but I didn’t want to write your typical gay romance. I wanted to show men that any romance reader could feel strongly about, feel the pain they had suffered in the past, and pull for them as they struggled to move forward with their lives. As before, I will show you how a reviewer successfully understood the type of heroes I meant to create. Speedy from The Reader’s Roundtable After Dark said:

Starting Over
is a coming of age story for Corbin Bradley who has already come of age. He’s been married and now, as an established and successful businessman, he’s finally come to terms with the fact that he can’t avoid his homosexuality. Through a push by his ex-wife, Corbin reaches out to a high-end matchmaking service and is paired off with Matt DuCharme. Matt had lost his lover and business partner in a tragic accident and had not moved on with his life. Through prodding of friends and his own inner voice saying “move-on” he also reached out to this same matchmaking service and the structure framing the story is set in motion.

Corbin and Matt each have unique histories and each has believable reasons to feel nervous and skeptical. Corbin is starting a new chapter of his life. As he explores the physical side of being gay, he takes to is it like a sex-starved teenager. Matt, still grieving, struggles with the guilt he feels as his attraction to Corbin unfolds. What I liked best about this story was how sweet and innocent the emotions were, each man experiencing pure, raw thoughts and feelings; one’s we can all relate to. Yet the sex between them was red hot and unapologetic. It was the perfect mix for me as a reader who loves an emotional journey but who is tantalized by the descriptions and visions evoked when reading sex scenes. What can I say? I love a heart-tugging romp fest.

My point is that fictional heroes vary so much and yet they all share something: they all touch a reader’s heart. Or they should. If they don’t, then the author hasn’t done his/her job.

What's In a Hero?

Every person, every reader, and every writer thinks they know what a hero is. But. What is a hero when it comes to romance?

Let's take a look.

The list of usual heroic attributes:
Something about him is out of societies' norm.
Could be he perfers not to wear wigs when wigs are the fashion.
Hair. Rarely is a hero bald.
Teeth. Heroes usually have most of them.
Height. Rarely is a hero short.
Legs. Rarely is a hero short-legged or knock-kneed.
Clothing. A Hero wears clothing that distinguishes him in some way.
Heroes save or protect something weaker or smaller.
Heroes are busy. Even stricken with ennui, they seethe about it.
Things. Heroes own something they treasure deeply.
Thinking. Rare is the hero who is short on brains.
Oddly, romance heroes can be blind, crippled, or crazed, but are rarely deaf.

What's this list all about? It is about definition. We think we have men around us who we watch and think we could be attracted to, but when the reality of story romance heroes begin to be put on paper, if they don't match the norm of expectations, they will fall flat. On the other hand, if they are not also distinguished in an expected form that is actually unexpected for our every day life, their story will also fall flat. It is the combination that intrigues the reader.

I thought of many of my storybook heroes and spent some time thinking about my life's heroes. They had few things in common. But then, one is fantasy, the other is real. I hope this article sparks some thoughts about how we think about heroes and what our expectations are in our fantasy ones. As well as our writing, we need to read, to understand and enjoy stories from a reader's perspective, for what we write becomes someone else's fantasy. Does your writing really contain a heroic person?

Types of Heroes

Like Reese, I'm running late.  Unlike Reese, I can't claim blindness by mascara wand.  (Hope your eye is better, Reese!)  But I'm here and eager to blog about heroes and the different types we write about and read.

There are many different types of heroes, making it difficult to pick one or even two.  But like plots, there are standards on which heroes are based.  In The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines- Sixteen Master Archetypes, authors Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders list 8 hero archetypes.

  • The CHIEF
  • The BAD BOY
The list is definitely a good starting point, and each archetype has strengths and flaws.  But don't stop there,   because nobody, not even the heroes we create, should be pigeonholed into a specific "type."  For instance, what's wrong with a swashbuckling (fearless and exciting) professor (expert and analytical)?  Absolutely nothing!  Or what about a lost soul (devoted and vulnerable) chief (goal oriented and responsible)?  Or any other combination that suits the type of hero you like or would like to create.

My favorites to write are crosses between the Charmer, the Swashbuckler, and the Bad Boy, sometimes all used together, and sometimes used with other archetypes.  My favorites to read probably fall into those same archetypes, but I haven't yet mentally tagged them that way.  I have three super favorites that have never been dethroned, along with several others that made me sigh happily.  Those three include:

  • Nick DeAngelo in Only Forever by Linda Lael Miller.  Nick is an unforgettable hero for me.  He's a charmer, for sure, and although I was often not happy with the heroine's wishy-washy-ness where he was concerned, he's one of my top three favorite heroes.
  • Houston Leigh in Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath.  Although I haven't read a lot of historical romances in more recent years, this one touched my heart.  Houston is a wounded hero (an archetype that's left out of the above list), both physically and emotionally.  In spite of it, he's a beautiful character and totally unforgettable.
  • John Lee Carter in A Sparkle in the Cowboy's Eyes by Peggy Moreland.  John Lee the Bad Boy had me gritting my teeth at his macho maleness, yet the Charmer in him kept me reading...and laughing.  It's a great balance of characterizations, and all in all, John Lee is lovable. The moment his cluelessness evaporates and he realizes he loves the heroine is one of the best aha! moments I've ever read.  Peggy writes with emotion and a wonderful sense of humor.  I love all of her books, but John Lee leads the pack.
We each have our favorite type of heroes.  Some like a take-charge and noble Warrior.  Others may have a special fondness for a brooding lost soul.  Whatever they are, they must have three-dimensional characteristics that make them real to us.  And no matter what odds they face or how much the heroine denies her feelings for them, they manage to bring us to a more than satisfactory happily ever after ending.

“Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero's heart.”

My Magnificent Seven by J Vincent

In my Honour series--Napoleonic spy-mystery-romances--I have what I think of as my Magnificent Seven. The movie by that name starred Yul Brenner in 1960. There was this scene of the seven men reining to a halt atop a rise as shown on the dvd cover on the left. Instead of cowboys imagine five English cavalry officers from the 15th Light Dragoons during the Napoleonic wars, specifically the Peninsular War (war in Portugal and Spain). Add two English spies--a serious young Englishman and a young French émigré who pretends to be a fop (an effeminate fribble; a name borrowed from a celebrated character of that kind, in the play Miss in her Teens (1746) by David Garrick and you have my seven. Just like the men who made up the Magnificent Seven my heroes have a variety of character flaws and strengths.

Take Major Quentin Bellaport from the first book, Honour’s Debt. He’s a fairly ordinary man who quarreled with his father as a young man, stormed off to join a regiment and has never made peace. Not that he hasn’t tried. In the stubbornness department the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as they say. His father has been recalcitrant when it comes to letting by-gones-be bygones. Quentin has a strong sense of honor which he follows despite inconvenience and obstacles. He’s trustworthy, courageous, and determined to repay a nonmonetarya debt. His main flaw is an ability to see a problem from another’s point of view. Fortunately for him, the heroine in Debt is more than ready to teach that.

In book two, Honour’s Choice you’ll find the serious young Englishman. Hadleigh Tarrant, who orphaned as a child was raised by his uncle, the Earl of Tarrant. Interested in beetles, Hadleigh collects and studies them. The more easy going emigré and fellow orphan also raised by the Tretains, André Ribeymon (the pretend fop), convinces Hadleigh to join him in becoming a government agent. Captured, Hadleigh is tortured but reveals nothing. He is near death when discovered by the heroine of Choice. Recovering, Hadleigh becomes depressed, turns to alcohol as a buffer but then realizing he is in love fights his way to sobriety and the decision to pursue his love. That she is eight years older, a bit of a dowd, and stubbornly resistant to his courting does not deter Hadleigh. He gives up believing it best for her until André hints she is in danger.

In book three, Honour’s Compromise you’ll find Lieutenant James Vincouer. A young man, brash and bold, he is also courageous and willing to give his life for his friends during the dangerous retreat through Spanish mountains in the dead of winter when the English army is pursued by a force five times larger led by Napoleon. He is almost captured but saved by Spanish guerillas and begins sending intelligence reports to the commander of the English army in Spain which is led by the future Duke of Wellington. Beneath his bravado Jamey hides a broken heart. He of course would disagree with that assessment. Hasn’t he after all given the woman who broke his heart the sobriquet of The Glacier? Aren’t the battle royals they have proof there is no love lost between them? If he has gone out of his way to rescue her, it is only because he is a gentleman, he protests. Jamey doth protest too much but he proves remarkably stubborn in admitting the truth of the matter until Cecilia faces extreme danger.

Captain Lucian Merristorm is a regency bad boy. He is known for drinking, wenching, and galloping into battle with no regard for death. Most do not realize it is what he desperately seeks.

Major Lord Blake Danbury, youngest son of a duke. He is besieged by ennui—extreme boredom—and cannot be troubled to be bothered by anyone or anything. Ordered by Wellington to escort a young French lad to England he has no idea how far from lethargic detachment he will come before he discovers the lad is a lady.

And what of young naïve Lieutenant Samuel Goodchurch who can be taken in by one and all and goes through life quoting from the Bible? Molded, hardened, and scarred by the battles in Spain will he retain the gentleness, the kindness that first guided others to protect him?

Seven very different men who all share an underlying goodness even when they don’t realize it. Some are more flawed than others; some have longer journeys to travel to the truth of whom they are and what they hold most dear. All share a love of country, the desire to protect the women they love, and a willingness to go to any extent, accept any hardship to do so. Are their flaws more important than their strengths? What characteristic do you consider the most important in your heroes?


I have to confess something. I’m a slow writer so why I put off writing this blog until the last minute, I will never know. I started composing this while getting dressed and putting my face on. Normally I can multitask with the best of them, but today, not so much.

That’s why I’ve got on one dark blue sock and one black sock. And I’ve got one eye closed. You see, I was attacked by the mascara wand and now, may or may not be permanently blinded in my left eye.

Note to self: Separate my socks better and under no circumstances DO NOT type and attempt to apply make-up at the same time.

Now to the blog topic. Heroes. Pause for the appreciative sigh………… and batting of my one good eye. How do you take your heroes? Tall dark and handsome with magnificent hair they sweep away from their piercing blue eyes, chiseled jaw lines and full lips ripe for kissing, broad shoulders, a dusting of chest hair veeing down to their rock-hard abs, narrow waists and just enough hip action to hold up their pressed Wranglers.

Unless your heroine is Barbie, you should shoot from something a little less Ken-like.

Some might argue that we read to escape reality, and I’d have to agree, but I love reading and writing about men who’ve been tossed headfirst into the throes of real life and escaped with their dignity intact. I love men with battle scars and life experiences under their belts. Having said that, I believe it’s our job as writers to make these regular Joes interesting enough for us to fall head-over-heels in love with as much as a the picture perfect man in the listed above.

If you want to read about an on-the-run hero who is so beat up and unrecognizable the heroine calls him Frankenstein for the first half of the book, read Walking After Midnight by Karen Robards.

The hero in my latest work-in-progress is a small town sheriff. Ho-hum right? What if I tell you he’s an on-the-wagon alcoholic that he struggles to keep secret? And his brother owns the local bar. The sheriff plays the saxophone in a weekend band—at the bar where everyone is more than willing to buy him a drink. A little more interesting, right? What if I told you the sheriff always seems to need a haircut, a shave, an ironing board, and just rescued the heroine from an amorous pig hours after he arrested her for having a gun the bank parking lot? A little more intriguing? Hmmm. Still lacking that awe factor. What if I add that the sheriff gave up his dream to raise his ex-girlfriend’s teenage son—a kid that’s not even his—just to give the kid a better life?

Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and degrees of hotness. So, tell me, how do you like your heroes?



My writing year. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Hello from Patricia Davids.
2011 has been one of the worst years of my life, but as we all know, nothing lasts forever. Not even bad years.

My writing career has taken a hit, too, because of my personal loss. It's hard to write romance when the love of your life is gone. Still, I love the idea of people falling in love. Losing my husband didn't destroy that.

Writing through the hard times is something almost every writer will face in their lifetime. Be it the loss of a job, a divorce, the death of a spouse, a parent, or a child, we all get to ride the emotional rollercoaster as we continue to balance work, family and writing.

How can we keep our plates spinning in the air while we're on such a wild ride? The secret is knowing what's important.

1. You are important.
Your emotional and physical well-being is important not only to you but to everyone in your life. If you not well, how can you take care of others? Make time to take care of yourself. Eat well, park in the space farest away from your work or the supermarket and walk that extra little bit. Go to bed and get some sleep. (Did you know people who get eight to nine hours of sleep have an easier time losing weight? I may just stay in bed for 12 hrs.)

2. Your love is important. Share it.
Make sure the people you love know that you love them. A text, a phone call, a note in the mail, a dozen roses, it doesn't matter how you say it, just say it. Hugs are a powerful way to convey the message and they improve the mental well-being of the hugger and the huggie.

3. Do the things you love to do.
Read, paint, write, take a drive, ride a horse, play bingo or hopscotch. If you enjoy it, you need to do it. Me-time is sometimes the hardest thing to find. It seems that everyone needs a piece of our time and before we know it, the day is gone. Make an effort to gift yourself with a piece of your own time. Let the answering machine pick up that phone call, put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the outside of your door to let your family know you need this time and stand up for yourself when they interupt. Let's face it, we're normally at their complete beck and call, so they may have a hard time adjusting to leaving you alone. If you allow the interuptions, no one will take your needs seriously and you will eventually resent the fact that you give and never seem to get in return.

4. Consider what's really important to you.
In ten years, what do you want to look back and see that you have accomplished?
A clean house?
Folded laundry?
Happy kids?
College or additonal education?
Amazing vacation memories?
One completed novel?
Ten completed novels?

5. Be realistic.
Know that what is important today may not be important to you tomorrow. Don't be afraid to change your goals. You can put one plate down and pick up another. Life will throw major and minor hurdles at you that you have no control over. When you fall off the horse, you don't always have to jump back on. First, make sure you and horse are okay.

I know what I want to look back and see in ten years. I want to look back and see that I've continued to grow as a writer. What do you hope to see?