Guest Blog: What Not To Do When Making a Book into a Film

Please enjoy this guest blog by Hannah Stiller!

We’ve all had a favorite book made into a movie. Since films like Gone with the Wind and earlier, Hollywood has been turning well-loved literature into visual masterpieces. However, it is undeniable that among the many, many renditions there are some that are better than others. This is not the purest argument where a book to film is not good unless it is the word for word visualization of what each individual person who read the book saw, rather I would like to suggest a standard to hold these films to which movies based off of books in the past have set. Here are three suggestions for successfully turning a book into a good film.

  1. Keep the storyline the same

Some of the worst book to film movies take way too much liberty when changing the storyline. Others such as The Fellowship of the Ring, and Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe do it gracefully. The filmmakers of these saw that there were too many details (think Tom Bombadil in the Fellowship) which would not translate into film. Other films such as Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief misidentify plot points for details and end up changing the whole flow of the story.

  1. Don’t introduce new or change existing characters.

Book lovers around the world create strong ties of identification with characters from their favorite stories. That those characters will change when they are put on the screen is a possibility, but there are many which go far over the line. Tauriel in The Hobbit, for example, was not an original character in Tolkien’s book (neither was Legolas but that’s a different argument). The introduction of her character completely changed the story arguably for the worse. Changing characters can also be harmful as exemplified in Jack Reacher, a tall dark hero portrayed by a short Tom Cruise. The movie itself can be considered good, but its interpretation of the book is pretty poor.

  1. Don’t Consult the Fans

Hear me out. Some of the best book to films have been created by directors and producers with highly critical eyes, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Jason Bourne. Some of the worst have been brought to life by fans of the books, Percy Jackson, Beautiful Creatures, Divergent, and Valerian. While this can be a topic of great debate, history strongly suggests that an unbiased opinion often has the clearest vision.

Do you agree with these suggestions? There are certainly many others and possibly no perfect way to turn a book into a film, but we all love a good story and hated to see them turn out badly. Comment below if you think of more ways to make a good book into a good movie.

Guest Blog: The “Hollywood Mindset” and its Effect on Today’s Society

Please enjoy this guest blog post by Taylor Starcher!

Technology is one of man’s greatest innovations, something that continues to improve and become increasingly beneficial every single day.  Although the saying, ‘with power comes great responsibility’ is strikingly true in the world of media where humans can access virtually anything from mobile devices, computers, and televisions.  Hollywood has portrayed the ideas of success, wealth, and the perfect image in today’s society, painting a portrait of an unrealistic lifestyle that causes issues among people’s mindsets.

A strong example of generational celebrities would be the Kardashian family as a whole.  Not only have they succeeded in making the family name famous but generated a significant amount of wealth.  From their television show, ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ to each member’s social media accounts, they are one of the most known families in the world.  These Hollywood stars might be extremely well known, but does that make them appropriate role models?  The present culture strives from influential people that are able to drive social or political movements, gain supporters, and have the power to in a sense, “change the world.”  The Kardashians, just being one example, do all of these things with the millions of people following and watching their every move on a day to day basis.

Let us embrace the pop culture in America but remember the importance of things or people rather than fame and fortune.  Celebrities will always have their fame and fortune to make them influential people among pop culture, but society needs to recognize morally correct decisions, regardless of one’s specific religion.  Although media is pertinent to connection points today, in both personal and business aspects, the “old-school” styles of face-to-face interaction or enjoyment of family values are important to uphold outside of Hollywood’s ideas of a lifestyle.

Today’s pop culture is surrounded by sex, drugs, scandals, gossip, and not to mention, impractical realities focused on fame.  Most reality television shows are so misconstrued and morally out of line that they make them ridiculous and not anyone’s reality but the people on the show.  Even then, people are either acting or not truly showing the extent of their real life.  Everything is for show and to portray a sense of this perfect life.  This causes people, especially the younger generations, to have false ideas of what their life should look like or what they should strive to achieve.

Within the Christian faith, pop culture can be a tough subject matter to know what is right or wrong.  Although, too often Christians find problems within every aspect of pop culture, making it nearly impossible to be around it.  This is not an easy aspect to cut out because of how relevant it is in everyday life.  The key is balancing media by understanding how it personally affects an individual’s lifestyle choices and their mindset toward healthy decisions.  Christians should be slower to judge everything and quicker to find the good in pop culture in which to surround themselves. Pop culture can simply be an adding factor to understanding others’ ideas and then Christians can take that to love others in whatever place they are at.

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Romans 12:2).

Hollywood has brought us award-winning films, important performances that have impacted people’s personal lives, and ideas that have benefitted our culture.  The negative factors of Hollywood lifestyles can outweigh the positives, but it is important to focus on the reality of situations and not let fame or fortune define one’s life.  Pop culture will always be around; it is just necessary to not let it control and influence unhealthy lifestyle choices.  If Christians keep their eyes focused on God and how their life can be benefitting His kingdom, their choices within what media they take in will be more constructive and beneficial.  Using technological advances and media in the world positively can make us have better communication, freedom of expression, and a stronger community.

 

Guest Blog: Exercising Your Way through Writers Block

Please enjoy this guest blog post by Rachael Mossgrove!

Picture this: You are sitting at your desk preparing to write the paper of a lifetime.  You are fully prepared.  Music softly playing in the background.  A cup of freshly brewed coffee sitting beside you.

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You place your hands on the keyboard to start writing and…nothing.

No ideas. No words. No nothing.

Zilch.

You take a few seconds to think, take a sip of coffee, take a deep breath, and try again.  Still nothing.

All of us have experienced this all too relatable scenario.  It happens to every writer and is unfortunately inevitable.

The dreadful case of “writer’s block.”

Nothing is more frustrating than wanting or needing to write content, but not being able to do so.

Once writer’s block has an iron grip on you, it is difficult to free yourself.

That being said, how exactly do we combat this beast?  Defeat the enemy that has stolen our creativity and productivity for far too long?

There are many strategies to overcoming writer’s block, however, there is one in particular that I have found to be persistently effective.  Working out or hitting the gym.

Get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.

Movement is critical to getting out of your rut.  Staying dormant at your desk in front of your computer will not create the momentum needed to get the creative juices flowing.

Try a brisk walk.  Do a hip-hop cardio workout.  Get a lift in.  Or if you’re feeling extra frustrated, work on your left hook with that punching bag that’s been hanging in your garage.

Anything to get moving.

After an adequate amount of exercise, return to your desk and take another stab at writing.

For many, the exercise and time away are the golden tickets to defeating their writer’s block.

Not one of those people?  Have no fear.

There is one last fool proof tactic to taking down writer’s block once and for all.

And that is by writing.  Anything.  Even if it is gibberish.

It does not have to be good, first drafts are never the best regardless.  It just has to be written and from there you are able to re-work and tweak until you have a tangible product.

This may not be the most time effective tactic, but if you do this, you WILL get through your block.

Be the one who keeps pushing through.

Just keep writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blog: 3 Easy Surprise Date Ideas for a Rainy Day

Please enjoy this guest blog post written by Stephanie Grindley:

whinny the pooh Picture Credit: Pinterest

Sometimes your Saturday afternoon date can feel ruined thanks to spring weather, but don’t let a gloomy day get you down. Here are just a couple creative (tested out) ways to spark romance in your relationship, and get to know your significant other all while staying comfy at home.

  1. At home paint and sip

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(Personally Tested Dat)

Roll out a big table cloth, break out the wicker basket, pour your partner a glass of Rose’…But instead of being in a field, you’re in your living room! This date is a great way to let your creativity shine, even though the sun may not be. Start by choosing a painting (the best way is through free YouTube tutorials). Choose one that reminds you of your significant other, and have your partner do the same. With two painting tutorials selected, get painting while watching the tutorials with headphones in, so as not to distract the other and keep it a surprise until the end. Reward yourself with wine breaks with your companion when each new brush stroke has been completed. Finally, have a grand reveal at the end…And if they turned out alright, hang them up in the living room.

All you’ll need (These supplies mentioned can be purchased at your typical Walmart):

  • New wine to try
  • A cheese and crackers platter
  • Two blank canvases
  • Acrylic paint tube set (24 colors is plenty)
  • Paintbrush set (designed for acrylic paint)
  • A cheap tablecloth
  1. Spin an unordinary dinner

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Ramen Sliders: Credit- Taste of Home

(This date helps lower anxiety and indecision about what to have for dinner.)

Take that empty bottle of wine you just used for the paint and sip, and set up a “Spin the Bottle” scene– Except with food you have chosen out from your fridge/cupboard. Place the food in a circle around the bottle and then, SPIN! Whatever two items the bottle lands on, you have to use in your dinner dish. Do this a couple times and you’ll have a 3-course meal in seconds. Though probably not a typical pasta night, it allows for collaboration with your partner to make the meal items work together and breaks the stigma that only one person in the relationship does the cooking.

All you’ll need:

  • A bottle
  • 10-15 random food items (Ex: 5 veggies to choose from, 5 starches, 5 proteins) (This might require running to the grocery store first.)
  • A Recipe search engine to look up meals that have the selected food items in them.
  1. Read a book together

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Peaceful, rainy-days make you want to snuggle with a warm cup of tea and read a good book. But you don’t have to do it alone. Make a list of areas of interest between you and your partner. Start with: Time (What time period you would like the novel to be set in), Place (What setting/location are you both intrigued about), and Space (What kind of dimension/world does the novel take place in- Fiction/Non-Fiction, etc.) Allow this to be a get-to-know process with your partner’s interests. Once researched and narrowed down, find the book. Check out your local library, or if you don’t want to leave your cozy bed, find online books through Kindle.

Take turns reading the book to each other. Pausing at the end of each chapter to discuss.

A fun response to reading the book could be reenacting a date that took place in one of the books.  Such as, composing metaphors, like Hazel Grace and Augustus did in Fault In Our Stars. Write encouraging notes/metaphors to each other in a calligraphy style that could then be framed and put on the fridge.

Reading books together is a great way to strike some conversation, new ideas, and intimacy.

By the end of the novel, ask response questions:

  • What character did you resonate with the most?
  • What part of the plot took you by surprise?
  • How do we fit into this story?

 

Some Classic Suggestions:

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Giver by Louis Lowery

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

 

Some Short Romance Novels to definitely check out:

Picking Daisy by Kimberly Miller

Eveline by James Joyce

The Notebook by Nicolas Sparks

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

 

 

And maybe if this date inspires you both enough, consider writing short stories together!

Guest Blog: Creative Perfectionism is Real and it’s Crippling

Please enjoy this guest blog post by Grace McNamara: 

Last semester, I did an independent study on creating a website for my little calligraphy business Written With Grace. My hope for the semester was to design a beautiful website full of original products that I am proud of. I wanted there to be a simple checkout process and a place to inquire about custom orders or wedding services. Unfortunately, my dreams don’t just come to life easy peasy. That season of life was filled with a lot of hesitation, trial, and error, and doubt due to my own creative perfection. Good news– I did finally post the website and I am proud of it, but I learned a lot on the way.

Personally, I don’t really think creativity and perfectionism should go hand in hand. To me, spending time creating should not be crippling, but quite the opposite– freeing and fun! I often find myself overwhelmed with all the ideas in my head– dreams to start a business, try felted wool art, take up videography, etc. All these hopes and dreams are overwhelming but exciting. To me, launching my calligraphy business was a leap in the right direction. I just wanted people to be proud of my accomplishments– which is a dangerous place to be in —  and then I really thought I would be freed from this cycle of perfection.

To start, I made products I was proud of. This process is challenging but exciting to me. I love to create and be inspired by other amazing artists. The creating process was fun and peaceful. Then, the more daunting part– the website. I finally bite the bullet and bought the website because then I knew there was no going back. I was locked in. The fact that this project was an independent study, with a deadline was helpful. If it wasn’t for the deadline, lies in my head saying “this isn’t good enough” would have stopped me in my tracks.

Now, this isn’t necessarily based in insecurity. I wouldn’t say I’m insecure. Instead, the issues lie in knowing my own strengths– what I am capable of–  and being overwhelmed by the thought of sharing it with the whole wide web. Putting yourself out there is incredibly bold and brave. It is so important. It allows for confidence to try our more dreams– such as felted wool art or videography.

Thankfully, I was bold and stepped out of my comfort zone because my website has been one of my favorite achievements to date. It has taught me how to market and network, the art of design, customer relations, and most importantly, how to get over the fear of not being perfect. Creative perfectionism is a real problem among many– not just creatives. Taking baby steps, working hard, and just going for it is so worth it. Seriously, even if it means closing your eyes when you click “make website visible,” who cares! The website is still visible and it’s a check off the bucket list.

The experience I had with my website was invaluable. Something I didn’t even know I dealt with– and have been dealing with– was brought to light and I was able to tackle it head-on. Creative Perfectionism is not uncommon and there are helpful tips to overcome it so creatives can keep on doing what they do best.

Guest Blog: Tired of Movies? See a Play Instead!

Please enjoy this guest blog post written by Emory Ujano: 

In today’s day and age of having to choose between a romance, an action, or a funny movie that isn’t really that funny, sometimes going to a movie seems to be more of a chore than an intriguing experience. Seeing a live-action play where characters seem to be easier to connect to, as they are just a few steps away, can be a refreshing change to the usual screen time we get every day.

A great example of a well-performing theatre is the Blackfriar’s Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia. It is also an American Shakespeare Center that gives a fresh look on Richard III and As You Like It, while also giving modern takes on stories like Emma by Jane Austen. The interesting aspects of this theatre specifically are that it was built to replicate Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. This means that it is an arena-like stage that has keeps all the lights on. Seeing other audience members during the play allows for a community feel that only adds on to the experience. This also adds difficulty for the actors to produce a believability to the audience in terms of the special effects being used. This only makes these performers more impressive as flower petals fall from the ceiling and trees are made out of the columns right in front of your seat.

With even modern shows and musicals like Hamilton, Lion King, or Wicked, people still come together for a night of sophistication in the enjoyment of theatre. This drastically conflicts the pajama dressed individuals who hide their own snacks in their pockets at the movies, to a black tie occasion on Broadway. Therefore, mixing up the environment of entertainment that can only spice up your experience.

If the East Coast is a little out of range for your travels, local theatre can also bring an enriching adventure to your door. Traveling theatre comes through major cities that offer an array of shows for all the different tastes and preferences. If ticket prices are an issue, go to the local high school or college play! This is a small look at upcoming performers who might surprise you on the quality of acting they possess.

No matter the show, this form of art creates a timeless perspective on entertainment that stands in its own category. For centuries, the theatre has become not only a source of enjoyment but also has created a literal platform for actors to share their talents in telling you a story that can change your perspective, drag you through various emotions, and maybe even take you out of your life for a few hours.

As the acclaimed playwright, Thornton Wilder states, “I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

Guest Blog: The Top 5 Episode of Love, Death, and Robots You Should Watch

Please enjoy this guest blog post written by Andrew Karp:

Among the plethora of Netflix original series that have come out over the past couple of years, Love, Death, and Robots stands out; bold and unapologetic with its mature, science fiction atmosphere. Being touted as the first adult animated series on the platform, Love, Death, and Robots shows that Netflix is more than willing to step away from the norm and deliver a wild, sensational anthology of unmatched proportion. Directed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller, the 18 episode series covers everything from alternative forms of Hitler’s death to a super-intelligent yogurt taking over America, to archeologists discovering the lost tomb of Dracula. Miller called the show a “love letter to nerds” as it expresses the varied possibilities that the sci-fi genre has to offer. A word of warning, however, as the show pulls no punches in what it is willing to show. Graphical violence and nudity are commonplace among most of the episodes. The show is gleeful in these depictions, brandishing unique visuals in fun and creative ways that hadn’t yet been explored in an animated Netflix original. Above all else, Love, Death, and Robots is an explosion of imaginative animation. If you want to know where to start, look no further than these episodes that present some of the best that the series has to offer.

Sonnie’s Edge

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Episode 1. The introductory episode to the series invites us to an underground fighting ring. Rather than fighting with their own fists, however, combatants pilot alien-like monsters to do the dirty work. Right out of the gate we get a feel for the tone of Love, Death, and Robots. Colorful animation and interesting monster design welcome us into this world alongside a barebones fight that cares little for subtlety. This episode also lets us know that the series won’t shy away from showing some skin, giving us a well-rounded introduction into our sci-fi anthology.

Suits

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Episode 4. We find ourselves in the country. Surrounded by loving neighbors and fields of crops, we know this is home. And what better way to protect that home by hopping into your mech and shooting down some interdimensional insect monsters? With animation that teeters on the edge between 2D and 3D, we are welcomed into the world of Hank and Beth as they team up with their neighbors to fend off an impending threat. The clean and polished mecha style found in classic Japanese anime such as Gurren Lagann and Neon Genesis Evangelion is brought to a more rustic feel as these homemade suits shift and clank with each movement. With no gore or sexual themes in sight, Suits stands as its own feet as a purely enjoyable story.

Lucky 13

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Episode 13 (appropriately). Sony Pictures Animation struts its stuff with this installment. The photo-realistic animation welcomes us to a futuristic army base and to Lieutenant Colby, a rookie who must fly drop ship number 13. Two crews were lost under the protection of ‘Unlucky 13’, but Colby gives the old bucket of bolts a chance. Arguably the most impressive in terms of lifelike visuals, Lucky 13 is a welcome tale of loyalty among the other episodes and themes.

Good Hunting

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Episode 8. One of the few episodes with full 2D animation, Good Hunting boasts the most interesting setting among the stories in Love, Death, and Robots. Feudal Japan gets a steampunk makeover, transforming the location itself as well as altering some of the traditional creatures found in Japanese folklore. Fans of myth or history are sure to find something to enjoy from this installment, and it’s sure to leave an impression over other episodes in the series.

Zima Blue

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Episode 14. Among the excessive violence and in-your-face sexual themes, Zima Blue stands alone as a story of discontentedness and simplicity. The universe is painted for us in all its grandeur, with colors splashed across the screen leaving us to marvel at its spectacle. From all the larger than life stories that are presented in Love, Death, and Robots, Zima Blue asks us to consider the beauty in the simple, personal aspects of life. If some of the mature content mentioned before turns you off to the series as a whole, I still strongly encourage you to take the time and watch this one episode. I’m sure you’ll see why once you do.

Guest Blog: Avengers Hype

Please enjoy this guest blog post written by Payton Durbin!

Hype is defined as extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion, and Avengers: Endgame has had some of the most extravagant buildup of this that I have ever seen. We will finally see the conclusion to a conflict that began with the first Avengers film in 2012. Seven years of hype for this moment, but how did Marvel do this and will it pay off.

The post-credit scene of the first Avengers film was one of the best teasers that I have seen in theaters. We are in space with a servant talking to a shaded figure and when he is done speaking, he turns around and it is revealed as Thanos. With the success of the first Avengers film, it was not a surprise to see the internet blow up with theories about what Marvel was going to do with the franchise with this simple 5-second reveal of a character. It is here the hype begins for Endgame.

After this Marvel had many solo movies, most of them being involved with the infinity stones. These are the most powerful things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and for the people that did their research after seeing the Thanos reveal they would have discovered that Thanos’ plan is to gather all of these infinity stones and use them to achieve his goal. These small little story beats were actually a great way of explaining what each of the stones are, while also being little pieces of hype for when Thanos shows up for his fight against the Avengers.

Finally, after three years of waiting the audience got Avengers two, only to be teased with a different villain. People were still happy with the film but were at the end there was another teaser for Thanos, but this one almost guaranteed that the next Avengers film would have Thanos be the main villain. The shot shows a glove known as the infinity gauntlet; this glove has the ability to control all the infinity stones. Thanos puts on the glove and says, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”

Proceeding this we got new solo films about new characters that would be involved in Avengers three to help buildup the hype for Thanos. Added more characters showed that the Avengers needed all the help they could get in order to stand a chance against Thanos. Some people questioned, do they really need all these heroes with the comic book fans answering they need more, to be honest. All these movies and character to build up to Avengers: Infinity War.

After three more years of waiting Avengers: Infinity War came out. With this much time going by with a total of eighteen movies in the MCU people were beginning to be burnt out of the MCU, but Infinity War was fantastic and had one of the most stunning endings I have seen in theaters. I remember hearing a kid say as I walked out the theater, “Am I going to disappear too?” A film with that impact is incredible, but that is just it. The villain won in the end, meaning it was not over yet. There was still one more Avengers film to end it all.

There would be one more year of build to the conclusion of this saga: Avengers: Endgame. Seven whole years of waiting for the conclusion, will this build up pay off? I believe it will, currently all three Avengers films are in the top ten of the top grossing films of all time, with Avengers: Infinity War being number four. Tickets have been sold out for the early premiere weeks before Endgame’s release and with the power of social media, people do not want to be spoiled so they have the urge to see it opening weekend if possible. I have no doubt this film will be the top grossing film of all time. With all the hype around it, I would be surprised if it did not become the top-grossing film.

Yoga for writers

The last year has been pretty crazy for me. One of the many ways I’ve used to maintain some level of sanity (still not sure I can call it that, but I digress…) is by doing yoga.

I’ve noticed the benefits of yoga in many areas of my life, but in terms of writing my practice has inspired, challenged, and encouraged me when I’ve needed it. Because I tend to become focused on writing and will often stay seated for hours on end, I cramp physically and emotionally in many parts of my body. But yoga allows me to take time away, clear my mind and muscles, and jump back into writing that is quickly more effective than if I’d remained solely in my writing chair.

There are some great yoga videos on YouTube that are fast, fun, and more importantly, calming when you need it. Because life is crazy, I know I sometimes need to be reminded to breathe. Yoga does that for me.

I’ve included some amazing links below to some practices that have helped me. These instructors also have numerous other videos available if you subscribe to their channels, which I highly recommend. You’ll also notice that the videos go from about five minutes to an hour, which allows you to choose the length and intensity (and even muscle group or area) that is appropriate for you.

Let me know if you enjoy any of these practices or ideas—or if you have other yoga, exercise, or practices that help you through your writing day.

Here are two of my favorite yogis:

Happy writing!

 

 

A little about me…

Welcome to my blog!

I’ve been writing since I was in junior high school when a friend said we should write stories. It’s been years since then– and I’ve earned three degrees in writing and teach the subject at the college level. I still write all the time (my first novel, Picking Daisy, is set for publication in late August and I am working on several others too, in addition to a few screenplays). I’m open to exploring different writing areas and genres, but the main focus of my blog will be fiction writing.

My goal is to use this blog to encourage others in their writing, but I’m also open to entertaining your thoughts and answering questions as well.

I know the writing process is unique to each person, but I intend to give you some tips, tricks, and inspiration that I hope will be helpful in your writing. Take what you want, add to the conversation, and interact with others as you see fit and are able. It should be a fun time!

Some features I’m planning for the blog include writing tips on specific areas like character development and dialogue, recommended writing books and products, a question or conversation of the week/ month, giveaways, guest bloggers, and author interviews. If you’d like to see something else included in my posts, please let me know and I’ll do my best to accommodate you and your writing needs/ interests.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first post. I’m looking forward to getting to know you! Happy writing!