Things I Learned At RWA

JT Ellison

Last week I ventured down to Orlando for the RWA conference. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, RWA is Romance Writers of America. RWA is to romance writers what ITW eventually could be for thriller writers, and I say eventually because RWA has 10,000 writers on its rolls, 145 chapters, and a conference that quite simply smokes everything I’ve ever been to. That’s not a knock on ITW – I adore the organization, have bled, sweated and cried for them, and thought this year’s Thrillerfest was the best yet. Pretty impressive considering they’re only 5 years old.

But RWA is… different.

After the event was moved to Orlando from Nashville after the Flood, I had my doubts about attending. A – I was terribly upset that they’d pulled out (*more on that later). I felt like if they’d given us a chance, we could have worked out the conference, and the hotels, etc. But I was doing a workshop with Allison, and didn’t want to shirk my obligations there. B – it was my husband’s birthday. Birthdays are a big deal in the Ellison household. We’d planned around RWA, with so many of our friends coming to town, we were going to have a lovely little party. Suddenly, all that went up in smoke. C – it’s been a BIG travel year. Another plane, another hotel, another five days away from work, just rang my bell (and my wallet. This is a pricey con, the most expensive out there. BUT ALL INCLUSIVE – so it really saves you money.)

If it had been anywhere but Orlando, I would have bailed. But we’ve got family in the central Florida region, so I planned to go ahead. Big mistake. One I won’t make again in the future. Traffic, driving unfamiliar roads, and being walloping sick with some sort of plague we caught in New York that necessitated two rounds of antibiotics (which I’m still on) made it a real pain in the ass. And I couldn’t do any of the big events, because driving 90 minutes at midnight seemed like a bad idea.

So I stuck to the days, and attended the lunches, and some workshops.

And found out that all my preconceived notions about RWA were wrong, wrong, wrong.

I’m honestly not sure where to begin.

Let’s start with the Literacy Signing. 600 authors. Lines of people that numbered in the thousands. $60,000+ raised for literacy. Holy Smokes, right?

I went in planning to watch and learn, and was shocked and surprised to find that several people knew me, came to see me, and were sharing me with their friends. Those are the finest, most uplifting words an author can hear – “I loved it so much I had to tell all my friends to read it.” Sharing is good. It makes us happy.

Or the Harlequin signing, where I signed for 90 minutes without a break (granted, I was next to Heather Graham) and came out just rocked with excitement – that’s a lot of new readers to touch in one sitting.

Revelation number one: Alex and Allison and Toni have been preaching it for a while now, but the literacy and HQN events proved it. Romance readers READ, and not just romance. They read everything. Ignore them at your own peril, I’ll tell you that. I think it sometimes takes seeing something with your own eyes for it to register fully. Well, if you have any trust in me whatsoever, listen to what I’m saying. If you’re a writer,  published or not, you should go to RWA at least once. It’s a magnificent display of publishing – still in its glorious hey dey, still reaching millions of people, still the coolest, craziest and most uplifting job in the world. Anyone who thinks books are dead needs to go to this conference.

And the girl power was unmistakable. Alex and I met a sweet girl from Germany who has the soul of a poet (you can read it in people’s eyes, truly) and when she asked how we knew each other, and Alex said we were probably burned together at the stake for being witches in a past life SHE GOT IT. Hoo-rah! Sometimes the boys look at us, well, strangely is the best term. It was fun to swim in the estrogen ocean for once.

Revelation number two: I learned that the umbrella of “romantic suspense” is much, much broader than I’d originally thought. I have an ongoing love story. It’s not predominant, and I’ve always heard that for RS the rule is the romance must predominate and the suspense must come second. Well, I figured out this weekend that that’s all a matter of very subjective taste. I’m a thriller writer, no doubt, but I’m probably just one orgasm away from being solid romantic suspense.

Therein lies the rub – the boy books have sex, and no one’s calling them romances. John Sandford has Lucas Davenport get it on with his wife (and in previous books, an indiscriminant amount of women) and no one would ever think to call him RS. So why does a woman writer have to be labeled that way? Because women won’t pick up a Sandford book knowing they’re going to get some hot sex? What about Barry Eisler? Lee Child? Vince Flynn?

Revelation number three: I guess it’s safe to say that though I read and enjoy romantic suspense and straight romance, I’ve always avoided the label so I could maintain a base of male readers. Which is kind of stupid thinking, but you know, I’m new, and I’m going to make mistakes. Coming out of RWA, I’m not even sure that the genre labels matter. I’m realizing we get ourselves pretty twerped out over exactly where we fit into the pie, and that’s just not as vital to know anymore, because the genres are melding anyway. Write the best damn story you can possibly come up with, and you’ll attract readers. Their gender doesn’t matter.

Revelation number four: What’s important is branding. I think the brand is the key. After a great deal of thinking, here’s what I came up with (with a major nod to Alex Kava for planting this thought…)

People know that if they pick up a novel by JT Ellison, they’ll get a strong female lead, a fast-paced story centering on a crime, and a glimpse into Nashville, Tennessee. Three little things that are very brand specific, and none have anything to do with genre labels.

I’ll tell you something else. I started reading JD Robb’s SEDUCTION IN DEATH on my way home. That book is as dark and nasty – possibly even more so – than any of mine. I’d always thought it was romance heavy, and boy was I wrong. I see how a master makes this work – you can have sex, and violence, and ruminations on love and relationships, all against the backdrop of a futuristic world, without it having to have a label. It’s simply a great story.

Lightbulb. Over. Head.

Revelation number five: RWA is what this is all about. There are so many different kinds of writers there. I walked away inspired, scared, confused and eventually inspired again. I am already making plans to go to #RWA11 in New York next June. And this time, I’m going to take in every little bit this conference has to offer, whether I’m feeling up for it or not.

I realize I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I took away from RWA. But I’ve detained you long enough. So next post, I’m going to talk about one of the workshops I attended, given by Donald Mass, and the bizarre revelation I had about what voice really is.

So let’s talk about labels today. I’d love to hear from some of our industry professionals on just how much they should matter to the writer as he/she are writing, or whether it’s a marketing tool for the publishers more than anything else. And for the readers: is there a genre you won’t pick up and read because you have a preconceived notion of what will lie therein? Any revelations you’ve had about different writers or genres?

Wine of the Week: Villa Pozzi Nero D’Avola – this wine was truly spectacular. Dark, jammy, smoky – one of the finest nero d’avolas I’ve ever had, and ridiculously inexpensive.

*A note about the RWA move from Nashville to Orlando. After seeing the massive scale that this conference covers, from all the attendees to incredible organizers and goodies and workshops and dinners and lunches and parties and awards and even the incredible conference program, I now completely understand WHY they had to move. And had to move they did – to be honest, that the conference ran as smoothly as it did was a feat of Herculean proportions, and my hat is off to RWA for pulling it off. I rescind any previous snark about pulling out of Nashville. But I do hope y’all will think about coming back. We have a lot to offer.

28 thoughts on “Things I Learned At RWA

  1. PK the Bookeemonster

    What a great time you had and I love having revelations.
    What label do I avoid … probably noir or contemporary fiction. The first because I anticipate bleak and darker than dark and my taste right now doesn’t go there. And no contemporary fiction because I anticipate angst with no purpose. Oh, one more: "award winner". That to me equals booorrring. 🙂
    About five years ago I completed an MBA with the purpose of opening a book store (yeah yeah, can’t make money). The store was going to combine the two top selling genres: mysteries and romance. I hadn’t read romance since my tween years so I did "research" to find out who the authors were. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what I found and I still dabble there from time to time. Even if one didn’t read romance, the romance blogs are really good, too.

  2. Chuck

    Cool entry JT. Guess what I don’t read…ROMANCE! Or, what I have a preconceived as being Romance. Alas, maybe you’ve opened my eyes to something I’m missing. Chrissy might cock her eye at me if I roll into bed tonight with a paperback showing a damsel in a tattered gown, panting before her rippling lover, but hey, what the heck, right? 🙂

    I hope to see RWA sooN!

  3. Zoë Sharp

    Hi JT

    This sounds wonderful. Where is it next year? I want to start my travel plans early!

    And I’m a HUGE JD Robb fan. I think I’ve read all the Eve Dallas series. Love ’em.

  4. Debby J

    Great blog, JT. RWA is a wonderful organization and their conferences are fantastic. I don’t think there’s an organization out there that gives better support to writers–published, unpublished, and people who are just toying with the idea of writing. Thanks for spreading the word.

  5. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Wonderful post, JT, thanks – now I don’t have to write it! 😉

    One thing I think is truly fantastic about RWA is the way the chapters all over the country really take the time and effort to prep chapter members to go to this conference and pitch. If you are working the RWA program, and you have any drive at all, unless you truly can’t put two words together in a row you are going to get published.

    I kind of avoid the genre I’m often classified in, horror, unless it’s an author I know who I am sure won’t be giving me rape or torture. So that puts me in an uncomfortable position, genre-wise. I wish horror was openly divided into as many subgenres as romance is, so that I could distance myself from the horror that I myself avoid. I love that people are starting to call my books "supernatural mystery/thrillers." Amen to that!

  6. Mikaela

    I do think that Thriller and Romantic Suspense are like Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. They are so similar that often is hard to tell the difference. I think it has to do with subplots, though. If the Romance is a subplot, then it is Thriller or Urban Fantasy. If it is a part of the main plot then it is Romantic Suspense or Paranormal Fantasy.

    Just my two cent.

  7. KarinNH

    I don’t usually read horror, because I am a big chicken with a vivid imagination, or westerns. But I read pretty much everything else. And I am sometimes amused at people’s reactions. I work in academia (and teach writing and literature) and the prejudices–whoo boy!

    I’ve been told that romances are only for people whose marriages are lacking, silenced an entire table of colleagues when asked what I was reading and responded with non-fiction titles, heard a professor moan that no one would take his work seriously when another company acquired his publisher, and so on.

    I just laugh. And then teach courses that mix up classics like Beowulf and Shakespeare with things like science fiction, non-fiction, and fantasy.

  8. Karen in Ohio

    I’m with Cornelia, now I want to go, as well. It sounds like a blast.

    It never occurred to me, until I started reading writer blogs, that I gravitated to or from any particular genre. But in my stack of TBR are books with a horror slant, and I cannot bring myself to read them. They just keep getting shuffled to the bottom of the stack. I’ve read two of your books, Alex, and now that you mention it, thank you for not including rape and torture. They’re good reads without that kind of stuff, which thoroughly creeps me out. I spent way too many nights alone to want to torture myself with more of those nightmares.

    I do enjoy well-crafted crime fiction, like Allison’s books set in San Francisco, although some of them are pretty dark, too. But my favorite type of mystery is the PD James/Ruth Rendell type, with lots of character development and a lot of the gory details left to the imagination. And of course I do love cozies, although I’m getting annoyed at dingbat young women barreling into places they have no business going, because they "have to" help/find out/save. Oh, please. At least Stephanie Plum has a legitimate reason for blundering into trouble, although I’m also finding those books to be too formulaic and a big yawn because they’re all the same. Commit to one guy, for heaven’s sake.

    Maybe I’m just getting old. Nah.

  9. Judy Wirzberger

    JT- What a grand experience for you. I can’t believe I have to wait two weeks to find out what you learned about voice from Maass – the original tension on every page guy. Love his teaching.

  10. JT Ellison

    Howdy, folks! I’m sorry I’m late – had a bit of a lie in this morning.

    PK, your bookstore sounds brilliant! I’d shop there. Though I’m finding the more crime fiction I write the more non-crime fiction I want to read. So I’d be in your romance section!

    Chuck, Ahem… Chrissy might benefit from your nocturnal romance reading. I’m just saying. And thank you again for the flowers – they’re brightening up my workspace as we speak.

    Zoë, it’s June 28 – July 1. I can’t wait to go back.

    Debby, I dare say you’re right – I would love to find a percentage that tell exactly how many careers were launched through RWA. I’m betting it’s a big, big number.

    Alex, you were a first hand witness to me wandering around with my jaw on the floor – thank you for helping the experience along. That lunch with Jayne Ann Krentz really opened my eyes. I missed Nora Roberts two events, but I’m downloading them the minute they go on the site. Reinvention, indeed.

  11. JT Ellison

    Mikaela, you’re right. The differences are so subtle – it’s all in the subplots, and the characters reactions. Good call. Thanks for that insight!

    Karin, I love that you’re broadening your student’s minds. I had a prof who told me my work read too much like B-grade detective fiction – well, DUH, that’s what I was writing!

    Louise – I think it’s something you’ve already figured out. You’re one of the best examples I know, to be honest.

    Cornelia, you must! It’s in New York next year – surely you can make it happen. We can have a Murderati RWA lunch like we did at Thrillerfest! (And a note, the fact that so many Murderati writers go to RWA should be a clue…)

    Karen, I have a couple of PD James that I haven’t tried yet. I’m with you on horror though – I’m not a huge fan. Everything else I can do, even cozies, if the writing rocks.

    Judy, I found myself hanging on his every word – even though I despise writing exercises, I spent the time listening to his approach – and sure enough, had a breakthrough. It was so cool!

  12. Eika

    Feels funny to say this, given what this post is on, but, like earlier-commenter Chuck, I don’t read Romance.

    It’s mainly a personal preference: I have never been able to understand how falling in love and the difficulties involved in it could be that interesting. I don’t much care about it in real life, either, so it makes sense.

    There have been a few books I’ve read with romances as the main plot that worked, but they were really, really special. Subplots are fine; romance as a complication is fine; but main plot doesn’t work for me. (The book I’m thinking of- I can’t think of the name right now- was in an incredibly well-developed fantasy world where the heirs to two kingdoms agree to marry to stop a generations-old war. One side is a culture of bird-shapeshifters where physical contact and public affection is taboo; the other side features snake-people who grow up sleeping in piles like puppies and are known for public displays; both sides will mount assassination attempts if they suspect their ruler isn’t actually in love, so they fake it. Really rather incredible to read, because of all the political intrigue.)

    I’ll probably never attend RWA, even though this kindof makes me want to. It just seems to me that any writer who prefers books without romance entirely would be better off staying away.

  13. Dudley Forster

    First, I avoid westerns, that’s all my dad read, and I probably have issues there. I have to agree with Chuck about romances. However, as Allison, in response to one of my posts so kindly pointed out, my view of romances was the classic stereotypical one and the genre is much border than my definition. So I’ll say I avoid the classic stereotypical romances. I have Allison’s THE PREY on my Kindle in the TBR folder. We’ll see if she gains a convert to romantic suspense.

    I think the proliferation of genres and subgenres can create confusion. I don’t care for traditional horror so I skip that section of the store and miss Alex’s books. I have had that happen with some urban fantasy, I was looking for a Kim Harrison book and the clerk said they were in the horror section. I explained to the clerk that her books were not horror but urban fantasy. Her reaction was, “Yes, that is why they’re in the horror section. “

    As for the RWA, who knows, I might just have to go see what it is all about, besides with all three of my daughters grown and out of the house I kind of miss the estrogen.

  14. Allison Brennan

    Dudley, thanks for trying THE PREY–but I warn you, it’s my first book. 15 books later, I’ve gotten better 🙂 At least I hope so :/

    BTW, just so people understand, it is incredibly difficult for a female author to break out as a straight thriller writer. The "romantic suspense" label doesn’t mean that the romance is the primary story. It CAN mean that, but you’re just as likely to find the romance as the secondary storyline. I am labeled romantic suspense, I have a romance in all my books, but it’s always secondary to the main suspense storyline. Early Lisa Gardner, Karen Rose, JD Robb, Mariah Stewart–we’re all labelled (or were labeled, in LGs case) "romantic suspense" even though we’re primarily writing suspense with romantic elements.

    On JT’s point about the gender of readers: I completely agree. I don’t write books for women or for men; I write books I would want to read, that I love to write, otherwise why would I work 6-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week? The truth is that romance readers, in general, read widely. Women buy 70-80% of the books. But that doesn’t mean that women readers are all romance readers. I just think that romance gets a bum rap and the worst cover or most lurid author or over-the-top fan gets the press and everyone snickers and doesn’t even report that 99% of books classified as romance do not have the stereotypical "bodice ripper" cover that was popular in the 70s and 80s.

    Final point: ITW can not be RWA. RWA is fabulous, and I love the organization, but it is PRIMARILY for unpublished authors. It’s the only major writing organization that accepts unpublished authors as full members. We have "PAN"-the Published Author Network–but only about 20% of RWAs membership are published. There is no tiered system like ITW. Now there is a great symbiotic relationship between the published and unpublished writers, and most of us give back to the organization because it helped us early on, but RWA doesn’t focus as much on things that help published authors in their career (other than having the conference where we can meet with our editor/agent/publisher once a year; attend parties; network; etc.) We don’t have anthologies, we don’t have any promotional opportunities to READERS outside of a few like the member magazine or Romance Sells, or signing in the BEA booth. RWA does a great job promoting the genre of romance to librarians and booksellers. But the mission statement of the two organizations are very different.

    Okay, sorry, enough said!

  15. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    All right, that’s it! I’m definitely going to the RWA conference next year! Thanks for the great pitch, JT!

  16. toni mcgee causey

    Fabulous post, JT. And isn’t it just huge and overwhelming? I love those light bulb moments.

    It took me a couple of years of going to get used to the scope of the event. It’s really difficult to explain the incredible amount of people and events at RWA. I am constantly learning… and not just from the panels (though I will buy the CD and listen to them if I miss something great)… but from the conversations to be had. I ended up becoming friends with people who’ve made remarks–just in casual discussion–which completely rocked my world and changed how I approached story and how to accomplish specifics that were blocking me. And a million other things.

    But the most important thing is what you said at the top: these are readers who cross all sorts of genre lines. Constantly. Voraciously. They have very likely been what’s kept the industry afloat during the really harsh economic times, because they *do* cross all of those genre lines. It astonishes me that writers will still see the word "romance" and presume the stereotype without doing the homework.

    Like Alex, I’ll veer away from horror and for the same reasons, though I love Alex’s work–I think of hers as mystical/supernatural. Mythic. So I will read horror only if someone’s rec’d it to me and I know ahead of time I’m not going to get a rape or brutalization scene. I’ll read pretty much everything else.

  17. becky hutchison

    Responding to what Chuck said about the stereotypical romance covers, I’ve noticed for awhile that at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, free ebooks with erotica and sexy romance seem to be the biggest downloads. My theory is that both men and women feel safe downloading these sexy ebooks because there are no covers showing to even hint at what they’re reading. Maybe that’s your solution, Chuck?

    I try to stay away from books in which children are harmed. I rarely read thrillers written by men, as I don’t like the "look how tough I am" scenes. I generally stay away from horror because I’m a wimp (but from reading Murderati, I decided to try Alex’s books and love them). And I don’t read fantasy or science fiction because, sadly, I can’t keep the names of people or places straight. I read the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and kept forgetting who was who. Once I saw the movie, I heard the strange names enough that I finally understood who the people were. Then I was able to finish the first book and speed through the others in the series.

    Other than those categories, I’ll read most anything. My first love is mystery, particularly cozies, but I like contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and non-fiction. I even like books in the much maligned chick lit and new age genres.

  18. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Karen, I walked away from Hollywood when I did because I was being pressured to include torture and rape in rewrites of my scripts and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to control what might happen down the line, and I wasn’t going to participate in it.

    It really bothers me that Borders shelves my books in "horror". But it shouldn’t be that way. There’s plenty of smart, psychological horror that doesn’t go for the lowest common denominator.

    I agree with Allison that ITW and RWA have different slants. "Thriller" is not as inclusive an umbrella genre as "Romance". But in a way, it could be. Romance is great about inclusivity (yes, I made that word up) – and building a tent big enough to include even (gasp) Joe Konrath.

    Yes to more men at RWA!!! Only if they’ll dance at the Harlequin party, though.

  19. JT Ellison

    Eika, what struck me most about RWA was the fact that it was so focused on the craft of writing, not so much on the craft of building a romantic scene between hero and heroine. It was so much broader than "romance". You should go : )

    Dudley, I know that the books have to be shelved somewhere, and sometimes it’s really hard on the booksellers because even they know the book could fit into two or three different sections. I know one store I was in shelved Diana Gabaldon in romance, and historical, and fic/lit, and science fiction. Oh were that the case with us all… I’m curious to see where my new Taylor book goes, because the listings on it have occult – so it might get placed in horror. We’ll see what happens.

    Allison, as always, you raise an excellent point. I love ITW, and you’re right, the mission statements are different. But ITW is starting to do a lot more teaching, and focusing quite a bit on debuts, and helping new writers pitch to agents. It seems only natural that in ten years, they might have the umbrella all the way open. It’s certainly possible, though perhaps not the direction the board is looking for.

  20. JT Ellison

    Stephen, you’ll love it. And you’ll make a huge splash. I’d plan on wearing some sort of armor if I were you…

    Pari, you would love it. Though I have to admit, I am looking forward to Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe just as much. : )

    Toni I think that’s exactly it – it’s going to take a couple of times to really gather it all in. It’s just nice for me to go to something and be reminded that I’m still so far away from achieving my goals – and I mean that in a really good way. I am really enjoying learning the ladder, so to speak, and it’s nice to think that I’m just on the bottom rung and I have so much to look forward to!

    Becky, now that’s a fascinating study – if no one would see the cover and know what you’re reading, would you be more likely to read it? The advent of ebooks will certainly tell that tale, you know?

    Alex, I love that you aren’t willing to compromise on some things. You’re my hero!!!

  21. Jeff Abbott

    I have not attended the RWA conference but I do want to share an RWA experience I had, to show how wonderful this group is. I have a talk I give on writing villains where I use clips from famous films to explore their psychology. I developed the talk for a University of Texas lecture, but I’ve given it to a number of writers groups: geared for mystery, screenwriting, etc.

    The Austin RWA chapter invited me to come talk (my wonderful webmaster is a member). They had BY FAR the biggest number of attendees at any writer’s group meeting I’ve attended. Before the program, they shared news and setbacks with each other, and they are tremendously supportive of each other (safe to say, they are the most mutually supportive group I have ever seen). They had Barnes and Noble there to sell my books and I’ve never sold so many books at a talk before. And my books don’t feature a lot of romance (although I do think they feature a lot of emotion.) They were marvelous hosts and very generous readers.

    I had never dealt with RWA before, but I left that night deeply impressed with the group and the membership.

  22. Allison Brennan

    Pari, RWA in 2012 is in San Diego. The room rates are usually really good, but a lot of people stay with friends and family to save money. They offer usually one meal and a continental breakfast each day, though I can’t speak too highly for the food at banquets that serve nearly 2000 people . . . RWA is definitely a writers organization and conference, not aimed at readers, but since all writers are readers first there’s a lot for us. There are publisher giveaways and signings and lots of free books (as well as book swaps so if you get something in your bag you don’t want to read, you can swap with another.) The bad thing about RWA in 2011 is that it’s back-to-back with Thrillerfest. I’m thinking about sending two of my kids to an away camp for those two weeks so they don’t miss me as much!

  23. Jennifer Brooks

    JT, this is a perfect recap (and then some) of what you were telling us the other night at writers’ group. I’m much more confident now in saying I write romantic suspense, because I know it’s going to be good to be under that umbrella.

    As far as mysteries, suspense and thrillers, I’ll read just about anything that isn’t too incredibly dark as far as the violence-on-the-page aspect – I really don’t care to SEE that kind of thing (I reviewed a book once a long time ago that had a scene that actually made me physically sick, and I vowed ‘never again’). Your books I love, of course, mostly because they’re so stunningly well written. I’m a sucker for a good love story; if there’s a little suspense or intrigue built into or around it, great – if not, that’s okay too. And I love anything and everything that has to do with magic/fantasy – mythical creatures and powerful wizards and all. Science fiction, not so much, but I haven’t read too many of those yet anyway.

    I am DEFINITELY putting the RWA conference on my calendar for the future, and will start saving my pennies immediately.

  24. becky hutchison

    Yay! to Alex for sticking with her principles and not bending to the pressure of Hollywood!

    Jeff, if you’re ever in the DC/Baltimore area, please let the Chesapeake Sisters in Crime chapter know. We’re always looking for unique speakers, and your villian presentation would garner lots of interest here.

    JT, this has been an interesting blog. Now I want to go to RWA too.

  25. JT Ellison

    Jeff, I think you hit it – the generosity at RWA was amazing. They’re good folks, without a doubt.

    Miss Jennifer, I’m holding you to that… ; )

    Becky, thank you – but the credit goes to everyone who commented today. Thanks y’all – this has been great!


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