Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Announcing: Black Oracle by MIchael Cristiano out now!

Humans, you are not alone.

"Joachim is a hunter in the jungle of a post-apocalyptic Earth. Though generations have passed since the Great Death, something has evolved in the trees beyond the giant glowing mushrooms, mutants that want to see human entrails spread along the jungle floor.

And now they've taken Joachim’s wife.

To get her back, Joachim will have to give the leader of these demons something in return: immortality. A creature knows when he is going to die, after all. Plunged into a world of magic and darkness, Joachim must find the only woman who knows where the ingredients are. She is a prophetess known as the Black Oracle living in the realm of Zalm, but she’s a little preoccupied at the moment. She leads a rebellion against the ruthless High Council, and when Joachim seeks her out, he too finds himself consumed by her struggle.

In a story of betrayal, prophecy, and bloodshed, Joachim has ten days to retrieve the ingredients and return to Earth all while evading the High Council’s army, one that wants the Black Oracle and her associates killed — Joachim included."

“The Black Oracle” is a New Adult post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, and it is available now. You can pick up an eBook copy on Amazon here or a paperback copy here. Check out the excerpt below and join the adventure today.


 “Darcie had been sitting in the doorway when he returned to the village not yet two evenings ago. The day had been hot, and Joachim was sweaty and dirty and tired. He lowered his rucksack, and she closed the book she had been reading, one from Baruch’s Old Earth library, like all the others. 

“Welcome home.”

He’d spent the last six weeks in the arms of the jungle, the cold, dark, unforgiving wilderness that never truly felt right even on the most beautiful of days. Joachim had hunted in those trees all his life, but nothing compared to Darcie. In her eyes, he was home.

 “How did the great hunters fare?” she teased. “Did you take down three alligators this time? How about an elephant? Will we have enough elephant meat to last us until next summer?”

 “Not quite,” Joachim replied.

 She stood with her hands on her waist. From the back, someone would think that she was upset if not for the expression on her face. She watched him from under her brow, her chin turned slightly downward. She smiled.

 “I missed you,” he whispered as he snuck his hands onto her hips.

 “No, you didn’t.” She smirked. “You and Ben and Trent are like children out there—like young boys. And the jungle is your little paradise.”

 “What if I told you that you are my paradise?” He kissed her neck.

 She snorted. “Oh, please. Think you can just walk in here and woo me with some flattery?”

 “I know I can.”

 Darcie’s arms snaked around him. Her lips were as intoxicating as barley sweetened in the sun, and soon, he lifted her off of her feet and pressed her against the wall.

 “Joachim!” she exclaimed. “The neighbors.”

 “There’s no one watching.”

 She laughed and hit him lightly on the chest.

 “How was everything while I was gone?” Joachim asked.

 “Fine,” Darcie said. “Boring.” They went inside the dwelling. There was simmering jackalope stew on the stove. “Ophelia’s ceiling had a leak last week,” Darcie continued. “A big rainstorm pushed through here, and it ripped some of the roof off. Did you get a storm out there in the jungle too?” 

“Yes,” Joachim said. “I’m not even sure my rucksack is dried all the way through yet.”

 He dipped his finger into the stew. It tasted salty.

 “And how are you?” he asked.

 Darcie played with a lock of her dark hair and bit her bottom lip. She reminded him of the day they married. There had been no parent left to walk Darcie down the aisle, so she walked herself. The whole time she eyed him: shy yet eager. Almost childlike.

 “I’m pregnant,” she said. He almost dropped his hand back into the stew. A little boy, she had just called him, alluding to his exhilaration whenever he entered the jungle. And Darcie was right: he often became so energized that he did feel like a little boy—and he felt like one again now. He felt like laughing, like scooping Darcie up and twirling her around. He could feel life bursting through his chest: ravenous innocence and maddening excitement. They’d been yearning for a child for so long. 

“You are?”

 “I found out into the second week of the hunt.” She touched his face. “I skipped my cycle, and I told Jolyne. She ran a test and told me I was expecting.”

 Joachim cried. The hunter was supposed to be brave, but being brave sometimes meant having courage to show his emotions. He wept for her, smiling and laughing through the tears, and she cried too.

 She spent the night tight to his chest and coiled in his arms like a huntress in camouflaging paints, like a butterfly in a cocoon.

 Like she was protected by a shield.

 Joachim wished she were there for him to protect now. She hadn’t mentioned the creatures that evening, and he doubted she even knew that they had come while he was away. But now she was gone, and so he had to be too. If he waited too long, the creatures would keep her away from him forever.

 If she wasn’t already.”

Michael Cristiano is a Canadian writer. His relentless obsession with writing began long before he could spell the words 'relentless obsession'. Growing up in endless suburban sprawl, he spent most of his childhood pretending to be Harry Potter and attempting to get published by the age of thirteen. When he isn’t writing or reading, he can be found planning his next backpacking trip around the world. He is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto with studies in Foreign Language and Linguistics. Previously, he attended a Regional Arts high school where he majored in drama. He is fond of all things dramatic. Michael currently resides in the Greater Toronto Area, and he is using his years as a twenty-something to establish what he hopes will be a long career in writing. He works in editing and acquisitions for Curiosity Quills Press, and his freelance work has appeared on websites such as Nexopia, FluentU, and BlushPost. The Black Oracle, his debut novel, is out now. Like him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Muse/Character Blog Hop: The Faux Fountain Pen Blog-aversary Party!

+Sarah Foster is having a party today. She invited me and said I could bring a friend, so I'm bringing Patricia O'Neill, a main character in Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel. I don't get out much, so forgive me any social faux pas, please.

1. Who is your muse (or character)? Tell us a little bit about him/her and why you brought them. 

This is Patricia O'Neill. She's been a bit of a loner here lately, and I'm hoping she'll meet someone here at your party. It can be hard to find a companion who is comfortable with her kind of strength and independence. She also needs to let off a little steam, especially if she's going to keep her alter ego in check. (Don't worry-she promised not to destroy your furniture; it's been months since she destroyed anything by accident).

She says I need to get out more, too. Selling books is not a game for introverts, after all. (Sigh) She's probably right.

2. What are you guys wearing? Dressing up or keeping it casual?

Patricia is rocking a new Dolce&Gabbana suit. She was really annoyed when that incident at the coffee shop last month destroyed her favorite Armani jacket, but was thrilled to find this suit to replace it. She really likes how slim fitting pants are coming back in. They let her show off her hours in the gym. She's in amazing shape for a woman of any age. (Don't tell anyone, but she's almost sixty!)

Me? Well I was just going to wear my usual sarcastic teeshirt, jeans, and Converse, but Patricia insisted on dressing me up. So, I've got this sundress. It was a compromise. She wanted me to wear a power-suit like her, but I convinced her that they just aren't the same on short-ish, round-ish women like me. I'd be fine in the dress if it weren't for the heels. I'm trying not to move around too much. I already fell twice since we got here, and I haven't even had a drink yet. I miss my Converse.

3. It's a potluck! Did you bring something yummy?

I made cookies! Another of our friends from Going Through the Change, Leonel, shared the recipe with me. These are called polvorones. He and his husband couldn't come. They've got the grandkids tonight, but Leonel sends his best wishes for a happy blog-aversary. He says you can't go wrong with cookies. He ought to know. He used to be the queen of the bake sales back in his PTA mom days. (It's a long story)

Patricia doesn't cook, but she picked up a nice bottle of wine. She said you should let it breathe a little while before serving it.

4. Open bar! What are you both drinking (booze or otherwise)? 

Patricia got stuck on martinis in her boardroom days. You'd better let her just make it herself. She's particular.  Do you have any hard cider? I never developed a taste for beer, and I'm a total lightweight when it comes to cocktails.

5. Wallflowers or social butterflies? 

I'm a wallflower by nature, but that's part of why I brought Patricia. She really knows how to work a room and she promised to help me network and not look like such a dork.

6. What song(s) will you and your muse sing for karaoke?

I love to sing! Patricia and I were singing a mean version of I Will Survive in the car on the way over. I'll see if I can talk her into performing with me for you all.

7. What's your favorite party game?

Have you ever played JS Joust? It's a lot of fun, and always gets me giggling.

What's that, Patricia?

Oh yeah…the shoes. I'd totally fall on my face. Let's see…are we too old for charades? Or never-have-I-ever?  Truth or dare? Let's go for it!

8. Which one of you is more likely to end up dancing on a table top?

Oh dear Lord, I hope neither of us! This drink isn't that strong is it?

9. Has your muse been a good date and would you ever hang out with them again?

I'd hang out with Patricia anytime (I'm almost done with the sequel and she's amazing in it!), but I think she found me a little boring. Still, if she invites me, you know I'll be there! Thanks for having us. It's good to get out and it can be hard to find a party that lets you bring your imaginary friends.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My First Book Fair, Behind the Table

So, this past weekend, I had my first author table at a book fair. It was at Read Local NC, a new event in Durham organized by Light Messages.

I shared my table with Jon Batson, another local author who has been at this a bit longer. He had some ten or twelve books to hawk, and he and his kind and funny wife had an approach all worked out. He was really good at the getting out and meeting people part for certain.

I, on the other hand, was fighting the introverted side of myself the whole way. Luckily, even for someone like me, events like these hand you a lot of built-in opportunities. People walk up to the table, and you have to say something. Even just "hello" is a good start. Children come up and you can give them colorful bookmarks printed with book information or hand them coloring pages (I printed some black and white versions of the art +Charles C. Dowd made for me last Christmas. (Jessica was very popular with little girls).

People ask questions. I'm a teacher and a mom, so questions are my forté. In fact, I probably annoy people by giving really full answers to questions that were meant to be merely polite because that teacher hat is so firmly squared on my noggin.

Given what my book is about (menopausal superheroes), my favorite part was people-watching for "realization dawning." People would walk by the table, casually reading the titles, then stop and double-take (Thanks again +Polina Sapershteyn for that wonderful, eye-catching cover). Or they'd be standing there talking to me or Jon and reading covers as they did. They'd stop and their eyes would grow wide. That was definitely a thrill.

Of course, not everyone who stopped by bought a copy of my book, and if I assess the event in terms of a dollars-per-hour spent, I didn't break even. Then again, maybe I did. That's the thing. You don't know which of those people went home and ordered your book from their favorite bookseller after the event, or gave your bookmark or coloring page to someone else who then bought your book. I also made a couple of contacts that might lead to being invited to future things, like interviews on the radio, panels, and blog posts.

So, my takeaway: these events might not be immediately profitable, and are exhausting, but the long term payoff potential is high.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

An Interview with K.Lynn: Author of His Womanly Ways

It's my pleasure to introduce you to K.Lynn, a talented writer in my critique group.  Her fantastic genderswap novel, His Womanly Ways, is now available for preorder on Torquere Press. She was kind enough to answer a few interview questions about herself and her book. Enjoy!

·      I love a good origin story. Please tell me how this story got its start.

NaNoWrimo! I had never done it before, so I figured I'd give it a try, and this story came full-force as a result of the experience. This novel is unlike my usual fare of works, and perhaps that's why it came so fast to me. I let myself go and just saw where the plot would take me. And it turns out that it took me to quite an interesting place. The only thing I knew going in was that I wanted to do a genderswap book, but one that was unlike those I had read prior. I hope that I've succeeded on that front.

After I had a complete manuscript for His Womanly Ways, I put it away for a long, long time and moved on to other novels. Last year, I took it out again, because I had started to gain recognition for my short stories in various anthologies, and I had a pseudonym I wrote under for the genre, so I figured I'd polish it and send it out to publishers to see if anyone was interested. I knew I loved the journey of the characters and the writing, but I didn't know if anyone else would. Thankfully, they did, and I had a number of offers that I could choose between on where the best home for my book would be.

·      What was the hardest part of writing this story?

I was terrified going into the process for NaNoWriMo, because I had completed a novel the year prior and it took me a couple of months to get it finished. To think about writing a novel in a month was insanity, but at least it would give me a good start on the storyline. I never aimed to win, but win it I did with 51,000 words at the end of the month, and I continued on through the next month to finish up the remaining 15,000 words needed to have a complete story.

What is usually the hardest part of writing the story for my other publications became an advantage in this one. When I have a long time to contemplate and write, I'll often consider not only where the story's going, but also how it will be received by the audience at large. That changes the way it's constructed a bit. With His Womanly Ways, it was an experiment for myself. I wanted to write a genderswap story and I didn't constrain myself by wondering what the audience would think, or if it was a good fit for the publishing marketplace. My intention wasn't the ultimate goal of publishing, but the ultimate goal of finishing and entertaining myself. Now, I have the chance to entertain others as well.

·      What are you reading right now?

Fanfiction, which is probably why the concept of exploring whatever topics come to mind has always appealed to me in writing. There doesn't seem to be any plots off-limits in fandom, which is very freeing. And it was the mindset that I took on for this novel. Have fun, write what you want to write and what you want to read. And the act of writing within fandom has been very beneficial to a number of writers who went on to publish professionally. I recently wrote a think-piece for Media Res that explored using fanfiction in the classroom to teach the structure of writing. The framework that fandom gives, the built-in audience and the guidance that readers provide through feedback, is a great way to spread your wings and see how far you can go as a writer.

·      If we can't get enough of your words, where can we find more of them?

It is a very busy few months for me in publishing. Not only do I have this novel coming out, but in the middle of June I have a story in an anthology from Torquere Press around the concept of LGBT parenthood, I have a novella coming out from Less Than Three Press on July 1st that focuses on a transgender character and her potential romantic involvement with a certain coffee shop employee, I have a novella from Dreamspinner Press out also in July that is about a blind artist and his emerging romance with a veterinarian, and I have another novella coming out later this fall that is about a noted novelist who is getting over the death of his long-time partner and not looking for love, but love finds him anyway. You can see all my releases on my website (

The Book: His Womanly Ways

The Author: K. Lynn

K. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, K. Lynn increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn's work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works will expand in the future. Contact K. Lynn at or follow her on Twitter @WriterKLynn

Friday, May 8, 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Reflections

This was my second run at the A to Z Blogging Challenge. In some ways, I did great! I had all my posts ready well in advance and because I'd gotten my blog, Google+, Twitter and Facebook accounts all interlinked in a feed-loop, they all automatically went out into the wilds of the internet without my having to do anything on a day to day basis. That organization was really important and kept the output angle from becoming overwhelming.

I also think I wrote some very good posts. A few I'm very proud of.

So, at least in terms of output, I feel good.

Now, on the networking/interaction angle, my mileage varied. April was an incredibly busy month for me (given how busy a normal month is, it's saying something that I'll call this one especially busy). It was my book launch month and I was still teaching school full time. My younger daughter had a birthday. So did I! Because I'm greedy that way, I wasn't willing to drop any of the other balls I was already juggling to take on this new one.

So, if I was going to get in my writing time--which I DEFINITELY was, I could spare maybe 30 minutes a day for blogging stuff. That wasn't enough time. There were days that I didn't even make it to my 5 assigned blogs (I was a minion this year for Tremp's Troops). I tried to reciprocate for everyone who visited me as well, but I just couldn't find time for the random exploration of the Twitter hashtag or cruising through the Linky like I did last year.

I think there are plenty of good reasons for this, given the busy busy business of my life in April, but it doesn't mean that I don't feel bad. I know that all these other bloggers worked hard, too, and I would have liked to have found more time to explore and support what they did. Plus, meeting new people and finding new connections was part of what I loved last year.

I did still find a few new blogs to follow though. Would I do it again? You bet! I really enjoy writing and reading my way through the alphabet. Maybe next year, I'll do poetry, since April is also National Poetry Month. We can start with Eliot: April is the cruelest month . . .

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

#IWSG: I made it! Now what?

My debut novel (Going Through the Change) launched just two weeks ago.  The few months leading up to it was a frenzy of activity, lining up promotional opportunities and planning my launch party. I was so busy! There was barely time to think and that was probably good, because there also wasn't time to drown myself in doubt. There was simply too much to do. 

Now, that has slowed a little bit. And I find myself up here on the small mountain I just climbed, looking out at the horizon and feeling a bit of, "Well, now what?"
I guess I expected to feel more like I had finished something. Maybe I should have a planned some kind of graduation ceremony for myself. On book launch day (a Thursday), I wasn't celebrating: I took my little girl to the dentist and worked on last minute party shopping. But adult life is like that: the milestones just happen on a random day and you still have to do the dishes. (I celebrated on Saturday with a wonderful book launch party at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill). 

And now, it's already about the next steps: finding new promotional opportunities, going to book fairs and cons, finding an agent to help me sell the heck out of all the rights we can, writing the next book, incorporating as an author, learning the business of how the business of all this works. Whew! 

Still, I am living my dream. (My dreams require a lot of elbow grease, apparently.)

How do you celebrate the milestones of your writing life? And once you've gotten there, now what?

This posting is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To check out other posts by writers in a variety of places in their careers, check out the participant list. This group is one of the most open and supportive groups of people I have ever been associated with. You should check them out!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Writing While Mom-ing: Writer Mama Bloghop
+Sharon Bayliss invited me to be a part of her Writer Mama Bloghop and share my "insights" into writing while Momming. So, what it's worth, here are my two cents:

Writing while Mom-ing is challenging, for certain, but I don't know if it's more challenging than writing while doing anything else. When I wasn't a mother, the first twenty-eight years of my life, I wanted to write, and, arguably, I had the time. I certainly had many hours a day that were mine to fill as I chose, but as often as not, I'd choose something else-reading, tennis, dating, movies, hiking, teaching something extra, hanging out with friends, traveling, studying, talking, sleeping. I regarded writing as something one did when the inspiration struck. Sometimes when I look back at that time of life, I feel like I wasted a lot of time. Other times, I think that I needed to do what I did then to know what I know now. In all that navel gazing, I garnered experience and knowledge that serves me now. So who knows?

When I had one child, I continued to write sporadically. I wrote detailed and beautiful journals about mothering, essays about family and life, and a fair amount of poetry. I even published some of this work, but I still didn't take it all that seriously. It still wasn't a vocation, just a hobby. I would be a writer "someday."

Then, as life does, it took turns. I moved, divorced, moved again, married again, moved again, and had a second child. After my second child was born, the urge to write, too often ignored in the past few years of upheaval and turmoil, cried loudly to be filled. My husband (the second one-the RIGHT one) believed in me, and understood that I needed to write to feel right in the heart of me, so he helped me find a local critique group. I began to write much more regularly. Just knowing that someone was expecting me to have pages ready when it was my turn was enough to make me write them. 

I learned a lot during that time, but I still really struggled to make serious progress. I was teaching full time, mom-ing two lovely daughters, and building the foundation of my new marriage. There was a lot on my plate. Maybe I wasn't ready yet. Maybe I still didn't take myself seriously. I'd been working on one novel for four years (and one that I later abandoned for three years before that).

Then, suddenly, I was going to be forty-two (I know I should have known it was coming, but it was still a surprise). For some reason, forty-two was the year that bothered me, the way that some people are upset by turning thirty or forty or fifty or other milestone years. Douglas Adams wrote in Hitchhiker's Guide that forty-two was the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. So, I decided that forty-two was the year to either make a go of being a writer for real, or to let it go. 

So, I committed to a daily writing habit (using the Magic Spreadsheet gamification tool to track myself) a few months before that forty-second birthday and in all the days since (I've just turned forty-four), I have only missed ONE day of writing. At first it was really hard. My initial goal was two-hundred-fifty words a day. It doesn't sound like much, but if you write two-hundred-fifty words a day, you can have a novel-length manuscript in about a year. I was ready to start finishing things a little faster. Life was feeling shorter. And it worked beautifully for me. I've finished three novels since then and have first drafts of two more.

Besides that daily writing habit, which keeps me "in the flow" of my story all the time and saves me hours of floundering away trying to remember what my vision was in the first place, my other tricks have been learning to write amid chaos and noise and in shorter sessions. Some days, I write for thirty minutes on the Mom couch at the kids' krav maga lessons and fifteen more after the youngest has gone to sleep. Some days, I write early in the morning before anyone else is up. Some days, I write in a car moving down the highway (my husband is driving on these days) ignoring everyone else in the car until I feel carsick and have to stop. 

Now for those who think I am ignoring my children and husband for this, you're only half right. How many times have we all read or heard that good mothers are happy in themselves? Some degree of selfishness is necessary for personal happiness. And my writing is my selfishness. That doesn't mean I don't still give. 

And, as a mother of daughters, I would argue that it's VITAL for my girls to see their mother reaching for and working toward her dreams, and their parents balancing each other's needs and wants in a healthy give and take. We are their model for love and marriage, and I want my girls to find relationships that support them in their personal endeavors and help them be all that they can and wish to be. Being a writer is being a better mother because it's being a better me. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Guest Post: Katie Teller, Author of Kiya: Hope of the Pharoah

It's my pleasure to introduce you to Katie Teller, a fellow Curiosity Quills author. I had the privilege of being a guest author at her book's birthday party yesterday on Facebook. Her book recently turned two. In case you missed that fun, enjoy hearing from Katie here! I asked her to write about lessons learned to share with my readers here.


Two years! Wow. I've learned a lot since Kiya's release. Here are some of them:

Writing. Yes, thanks to great editors, like Mary Harris who edited all three Kiya books, as well as fantastic Critique Partner's and Beta readers, my writing has improved enormously. I'm far from perfect, but I've learned essentials like show vs tell, passive voice, improved grammar and so forth. When I dig up old manuscripts for edits, I'm surprised by the development I've gone through.

A Thick Skin. You know what they say, haters are gonna hate. At first those nasty reviewers really hurt me, and I fell for the rookie mistake of reading them. Bad idea, unless you enjoy crying and self doubt. Over time though, I learned to keep things in perspective. Bad reviews make my positive reviews look legitimate, which they are, but without bad reviews people believe the five star love is fake. So although some are just downright mean and there's no other way to say it, most reviews are positive and come from people who genuinely love the book. It's a learning curve, and I'm getting there.

Promotion Is A Beast. A necessary evil in the writing world is promoting your book. The trouble is
how to balance too much or too little. I'm terrified of spamming people, so I'm probably more on the too little side. What I do tend to do is find ways to help others and join in so people are exposed to me, thus become exposed to my books. Unfortunately though, promoting often sucks my creative spirit and I log for the times when I could write raw, unadulterated stories from my heart without stressing over keeping the promoting rolling.

Being an Author can be a 24/7 Job. Once a book is live, it's live all the time. Websites don't shut down for the night. This means sometimes I can be up late promoting a sale, or up early sharing a new release. There's no time frames for inspiration either, which is hard when you;re a mother and wife as well, both of which are also full time jobs that don't have a financial pay off. Finding time is a conscious decision, and I get a little peeved when people say to me "I'd write a book if I could find some time" like I somehow miraculously have abundant spare time between the chores, potty accidents, preschool, showering the hubby with love, doing my church duties, being pregnant and all that implies, and trying to fit in some sleep. So, often my "author time" is early morning or late at night, when it's quiet enough because everyone else is sleeping.

Kiya's Release Saved Us. No joke. When Kiya first released, my husband was without work. Within a few months, we were close to losing our home because we couldn't pay the mortgage with the meager income of my part time office job. Then, theKiya royalties started coming through and they were just enough to cover our mortgage. As time passed, we wracked up debts to get us by, so when my hubby did get a job, my royalties moved to paying off those debts. Now it goes toward prenatal bills/insurance. The Kiya Trilogy has literally saved us with the financial benefits of the extra income. I couldn't be more grateful.


Born and raised in Australia, Katie's early years of day dreaming in the "bush", and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.