#summersparks Thursday Thinking: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story

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9 Ways to Tighten Your Story

 

Donna Earnhardt wrote a terrific post, Burning Down the House, that covered how reading out loud helps to revise. Then, saputnam had a great comment about how she color-codes her submissions, and that reminded me of another way to revise. Then that got me to thinking of other ways to revise. That lead me to thinking, just how !any ways are there to revise. Here’s my list:

  • Read out loud (thanks Donna)
    This not only gets your brain working, but your ears as well. You will stutter and stumble over words and phrases that are out of place and don’t belong.
  • Read backwards (thanks again Donna)
    This will help see gaps in your plot, where you need to rearrange or add to build the right sequence.
  • Read to an audience (Donna is the bomb)
    This is where you can see how people react. Did they laugh? Was there an Ah-ha! moment.
  • Observe a reading.
    Here’s where you combine watching you audience reactions with listening to the story to see of things are off, Make notes. Don’t have a reader? Record yourself and play it back.
  • Highlight your text.
    Use different colors for dialog, action, passive texts. This will give you a color-coded visual of your story.
  • Cut up text and place in a storyboard.
    This will show pacing. you can see where there are holes and where text !at be too heavy.
  • Draw it out. (thanks Alison)
    You can also use doodles of your text to make sure your story is moving forward and hasn’t stalled out. In picture books, every word counts!
  • Draw a story arc. (thanks Alayne)
    This is also called ‘The W Factor’ or ‘The Heartbeat of the Story’ and shows pacing well too. Here you go up and down determined by the conflicts and resolutions -aka Cause and Effect– of your story.
  • Read, read, read.
    Yes read your story, parts of your story, and then read it some more. Make it flow effortlessly!
  • Set it aside.
    How is this revision?Think of wine, if you taste it right away, sure it will be good, but if you put it away. Don’t open it. The body develops. When you taste it again, there will be notes that highlight the flavor. The body will be fuller. It will be like tasting it for the first time. The same can happen with your story. You will have separated yourself from the text and can see it with fresh eyes. Mistakes will pop out. Things will make you smile. You will get the goosies when you read THE LINE.

So what are some of the ways you revise? Do you have a routine that is different from those listed?

:::Leave a comment:::
Let me know how you tighten a story.

 DON’T FORGET:

You have one more day to finish qualifying for the raffle prizes!!! All entries must be done by Friday, July 11th, at 11:59 pm, est. THAT’S A WRAP post will explain the steps to qualify!

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks Follow-Up: TIPS

Summer SparksTIPS TO FOLLOW A WRITING CHALLENGE

 

My mind is still whirling. What a lot to cover in only two weeks! Sometimes that can leave everything in a jumble. Add several ideas sparking to the mix and you can feel overwhelmed. Here are a few tips I have found that helps me out:

  1. Make a list of your ideas where you can see them all at one time.
  2. Star or check each one that has promise to flesh out into a story.
  3. Look at that group and see which ones are really grabbing your attention.
  4. Pick one or two and start researching, note taking, and writing.

I have found by narrowing them down by importance, I get a better feel for what I want to work on. Of course I have had an occasional loud mouth that demanded attention. When that happens, I KNOW what I want to work on.

Things I also consider before I get too far into my writing:

  1. Has the subject been written about?
  2. Has my angle been written about?
  3. How  can I make my story unique?
  4. What way can I market this idea? (<– Yes, I start that now)
  5. What other layers can I bring into the story to add depth?

There are so many things that come into writing. I have found that the more I do it, the easier steps come. I automatically pull up Amazon and do a search now. My mind starts visualizing ways I can market a book, different ways to promote, and who I can approach, outside of bookstores, to sell my book(s).

The main thing to remember is to BREATHE and enjoy the writing process.

Happy Writing!
~t

 

 DON’T FORGET:

You have three more days to finish qualifying for the raffle prizes!!! All entries must be done by Friday, July 11th, at 11:59 pm, est.

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks and that’s a wrap!

Summer Sparks

Oh my goodness!  What a whirl wind of two weeks.
Have you been inspired? I hope those sparks flew and a few caught.
Not only that, I hope you gathered more information on the writing process and will be able to incorporate it into your own writing to improve.

Did you miss a few days? Is okay.  You have until Friday,  July 11th at 11:59 pm, est. to finish the challenge and qualify for prize swag. Time cannot be extended because it is scheduled through Rafflecopter. So make sure you have them finished and logged in to any of the raffles you want to enter!

So lets look at what you need to do now:

  • Registered for prize swag
  • Have at least 14 new story sparks.
  • Take the pledge:

I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.

No wait,  wrong pledge.   ; p
Now raise your right hand and say:

I promise that I have had at least 14 new story sparks during the Summer Spark Writing Challenge.

  • Now comment below that you have done these three things and include your name too.

I will have two more follow up post during the week and finally,  FINALLY, I will post the winners Saturday, July 12th.

Thank you so much for participating. I hope you have gotten as much out of this experience as I have. Have a safe and fun 4th of July weekend for those of you celebrating!

Happy writing!
~t

 

DON’T FORGET:

You have five more days to finish qualifying for the raffle prizes!!! All entries must be done by Friday, July 11th, at 11:59 pm, est.

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks DAY 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line by Kirsti Call

Summer Sparks5 Ways to Hook your Reader with Your Very First Line
By Kirsti Call

 

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Richard Peck said: “You’re only as good as your opening line.” How do we keep our readers intrigued and wanting more? Here are five ideas to get our juices flowing.

 

1. Ask a question.  Asking a question gets readers thinking. Not a Box immediately asks: “Why are you sitting in a box?”  We want to turn the page to find out the answer. The Day the Babies Crawled Away questions: “Remember the day the babies crawled away?”  This piques our interest.  We want to know what happened on that fateful day.  Did the babies survive?  Where did they go?

2. Make people wonder.    The first line in A Christmas Carol is: “Marley was dead to begin with.” This makes us wonder how he is involved in the story as a dead character.

3. Take People by Surprise. Mustache Baby declares: “When Baby Billy was born, his family noticed something odd: He had a mustache.”  A baby with a mustache?  We have to read on.  Leonardo the Terrible Monster tells us: “Leonardo was a terrible monster…he couldn’t scare anyone.”  A monster who isn’t scary?  I can’t wait to turn the page.

4. State an opinion.    Pride and Prejudice starts with an opinion that foreshadows the theme of the book and makes you want to read on:  “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

5. Use word play. Being Frank starts with: “Frank was always frank” and  Bridget’s Beret is similar: “Bridget was drawn to drawing.”  There’s nothing  better than the clever use of words to get people wanting more.

Kirsti Call

Kirsti Call

I love everything about reading.  I love the weight of a book in my hands.  I love the way words create pictures in my head and bring me to another world.  I love how books teach me about life and love and who I am and who I want to be.

As a kid I couldn’t help reading all day.  I hid my book under my desk and read in class.  I read as I walked home from school, always slightly surprised out of my reverie by the elderly lady in the neighborhood who announced: “There goes the bookworm again!”  

I had reading parties with my siblings.  The five of us piled on top of each other like kindling in a fire, our limbs touching as our minds burned with the need to read.   After bedtime I read with a flashlight, my book hidden under the covers as I forced myself to stay awake for just one more page.

My love of reading made writing a necessity.  If only I could write things in a way that would help people want to crawl inside my book and never leave!  I hope you enjoy my books. Thanks for visiting!

–     –     –     –     –     –

Kirsti Call lives near Andover, MA with her husband and five children.

She loves reading, writing and singing.

On sunny days you will find her on the tire swing in her backyard and on rainy days you will find her dancing with her umbrella.

Kirsti is the author of:

The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall

The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall

FIND KIRSTI CALL:

Website
Facebook
Twitter

Writing Prompt:

Take a few minutes right now to incorporate questions, wonder, surprise, opinion and word play in ten first sentences.  These sentences might just spark an idea for an entire story.  Also, consider the first sentence of your work in progress.  How can you make it irresistible?

 

Kirsti will be giving away one copy of …

The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall

 

to those of you who PRE-REGISTERED, COMMENT on this post, and COMPLETE the challenge.

Go to this RAFFLECOPTER LINK TO ENTER into the drawing to win under Kirsti’s post!

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks DAY 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic by: Kelly Halls

Summer Sparks

Hello everyone and WELCOME TO SUMMER SPARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kelly Halls is kicking off our writing challenge by blogging about non-fiction. What better way to celebrate? So dig in and get those creative juices going…

IN CELEBRATION OF SUMMER MAGIC

by Kelly Halls

People often ask me why I write the strange books I write. And my answer should be, “Summer magic.” Because growing up in suburban 1960s Houston, magic was all around me. It was not the fictional kind that transformed Harry Potter, but it was magic none the less. And summer brought that magic to life.

Every morning, June to August, I’d fill my belly with cereal and set out to explore with my best friend Craig. At school, I was confined to little girl dresses and the lady-like expectations that went with them. But in the summer, I was truly free. In t-shirts, jeans and sneakers, I’d hike with Craig deep into the woods to build a fort — shade against the relentless heat of the summer tropics.

The quest for the perfect hiding place, revealed creatures looking for the same thing; animals I considered kindred spirits. There were frogs, toads, lizards, salamanders and garter snakes we could touch; there were coral, copperhead cottonmouth and rattle snakes we could not. But accidents happened.

At seven, I slipped my hand into a four inch hole. Deeper and deeper I reached, until my body was flat on the ground, my cheek firmly pressed against the warm dirt. That’s when I felt it — the cool, smooth skin of a living thing at the bottom of the hole. Far too smooth. “Where are the bumps,” I remember wondering, as I gently pulled the creature to the surface. The answer was soon chillingly clear. The bumps — the whole toad was inside the smooth, cool body of the venomous copperhead snake. And I was lucky to be alive. But there was magic in danger averted, too.

Once we found the perfect place, Craig and I made the fort our own. A sun baked cow scull marked its secret entrance. Tiny discarded bottles dangled from scraps of fishing line on branches bent by hurricane gales. A broken shard of ancient pottery became a priceless treasure and the corner stone of our make-shift wilderness kitchen.  Flat stones became shovels to dig deep, damp holes in the ground — secret spaces in which to hide our rations; peanuts and animal crackers highjacked from home in brown paper lunch bags.

As we dug the subterranean pantries, we discovered beetles and earwigs, pillbugs and millepedes, juicy wriggling worms. We never felt the need to dispatch the creatures of the woods, poisonous or not. For us, they were not enemies, they were soulmates — proof of balance in our natural world.

Each day ended when we heard our fathers whistle — two fingered trumpeting that flew through the air to remind us it was time for dinner. Craig would run his way and I would run mine. Then we’d meet after dinner to play four square in the driveway or kickball in the neighbor’s giant front yard. As the light sunk behind the trees, we’d spin, circles in place, eyes turned skyward until we collapsed to watch the dizzy swirl of stars above us.

Once the stars stilled, lightning bugs appeared with bioluminescent beacons. They’d float and turn, rise and fall, each in search of a mate Fueled by the ache to continue their species, they’d herald their enchantment with shimmering green light. And we’d run barefoot, chasing the glow to feign the hope to capture. It was fun to pretend, but trial and error had taught us — fireflies were fragile and far to delicate to contain. The beauty only survived if they did.

None of my explorations were about the hunt. They were the physical manifestations of joy, and kinship with the natural world. They were the celebration of my magical world.

I live far from Texas now. Fireflies don’t visit Spokane, Washington. The winters are too cold to sustain them, even in hibernation. But the memories are as clear today as they have ever been. They are just as clear as the reason I now write the books I do. I loved learning to explore, but I am afraid today’s kids might not know how.

Are today’s kids celebrating discoveries of their own? Or are they lost in a world too busy, too technologically focused, and too far removed from the concept of wilderness to spark the inspiration to explore?

I am afraid of the answer to that question, but I do not surrender. I call instead to people prepared to write nonfiction for young readers. I ask them to remember the magic that inspired their curiosities, and to consider passing it on.

I want kids to know there are rocks to raise, forts to build and secrets to unearth even if the wilderness I once knew has been beat back by urban growth. I want them to know magic is alive and well in their natural world, if they are willing to search for it. We as nonfiction writers can spark the flame. We can build a bridge from the past to the future. We can inspire new questions and the passionate search for answers unknown.

We can keep the magic alive, but only if we celebrate its wonder. So I’m hoping, how I’m hoping, that you will. Long live the magic of our natural world. And long live the writers willing to share it.

Kelly Halls

KellyMilnerHallsNEW2011b

 

Kelly Halls is  a nonfiction writer for young readers.  And it all started in elementary school.

Kelly says:
“When my third-grade teacher in Friendswood, Texas, told me I was a good writer, I didn’t really understand what she meant — that I should be a professional writer.
I’d always been the weird kid – the kid who asked too many questions, the kid who couldn’t stop talking to her neighbors, the kid who couldn’t find a book she wanted to read. But the thought of being a writer at first drew a complete blank.
     High school in California brought my  third-grade teacher’s words back to me, thanks to the high school newspaper.  Journalism was a forum for questions and conversation, and it turned out that elementary-school teacher was right.  I could write.  
     Writing for adults didn’t really work for me.  I got bored, plus I didn’t have that  “killer” instinct to go for the BIG stories, even if people got hurt.  Writing for kids was ideal.  Weird topics.  No mean stuff.  So I started with magazines and newspapers.
Within five years, I’d been paid to write more than 1,500 bylined articles and reviews for publications including 
Highlights for ChildrenAsk!,DigTeen PEOPLEGuidepost for Kids,Guideposts for Teens,  the Chicago Tribune KidNews, the Atlanta Journal Constitution News for Kids, the Denver Post, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Washington PostWriters Digest,BooklistBook Links, The Book Reporter Network, and dozens of others all over the country.
     When editor Tanya Dean Anderson leftGuidepost for Teens to help create a publishing house expressly for reluctant readers, a new phase of my career was born.  Together, we created six critically acclaimed nonfiction picture books that made being “weird” really cool.
     Kids respond, and I know it–thanks to school visits all over the country. I’m living my dream.  I’m not just writing fun books, I’m helping kids know it’s okay to be whoever they turn out to be.
Weird is no longer a bad word once we share a day together. Weird is a destination we share. Weird is a really fun state of mind.

FIND KELLY HALLS:

Website
Facebook
Twitter

 

WRITING PROMPT:

Think back to your childhood. What was some of the things you enjoyed doing? Did you have any interesting hobbies? Do anything different from the rest of your friends? Write down a list or a paragraph of these things and see if any sparks begin to fly.

 

Kelly will be giving away one copy of …

In Search Of Squatch book

IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH

to those of you who PRE-REGISTERED, COMMENT on this post, and COMPLETE the challenge.

Go to this RAFFLECOPTER LINK TO ENTER into the drawing to win under Kelly’s post!

 

~~~JOIN THE SUMMER SPARKS FB GROUP TO CONTINUE THE DISCUSSION~~~

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

Monday Marketing: INSTAGRAM *smile*

instagram

Smile….

Cheese….

*snap

Who likes to take photos? I think we all do and most of us have phones that actually double as a camera. With a handy dandy tool at your finger tips, why not make it work for you and do some marketing?
Yep, I said marketing on Instagram.

HOW…

Take pictures -Lots of Pictures- use your phone or tablet. There is an app you can download and then connect with right on your device. I love the efficiency of being able to take and share my photos. It doesn’t matter if you are doing this for your family or your fans. People like to be in each others business. YOU might as well put the business you want out there. Who knows? Maybe you get a few new fans to follow you and maybe some loyal customers too.

WHY…

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but a picture is worth a thousand words! You can show people exactly what you are talking about. A cake? A piece of jewelry? A book? SHOW THEM IN A PICTURE!

WHO…

So you are thinking… WHO will be interested in what I have to offer. YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED! Seriously. Remember those hashtags I talked about when using Twitter? WELL GUESS WHAT! You can use them on Instagram too. HECK, you can connect your Instagram with Twitter! I DO THIS!!!! It gives you great coverage with two social media outlets. I have my Instagram connected with Facebook too. The hashtags can be searched and connected with others who have used them, very convenient. So you get a gathering of people without even knowing them. Some will wind up following you to see what you post next.

WHAT…

What to post? Well that depends. Do you want to keep it business? What do you do? I write. So I might take a picture of my laptop on my desk, at my dining room table, in my back yard, at the beach (snort, I wish), or where ever I might be. I can post pictures of cover art, book signings, author visits, boxes when my books arrive, are you getting the picture here?  🙂  Be creative with your pictures too, have fun.
I also post pictures of my dogs, children, scenes, and anything that interests me.  *yes, the giant whoopie cushion got my attention!* I don’t have my account focus only on my business. I think people like to see that I enjoy things and I’m not out there ONLY promoting my book. They get a sense of a real person.

So go out. Take some pictures. Take a selfie. Do a silly face. Just remember….

~SMILE~

Til next time,
~t

*If you have found this post to be of valuable, please feel free to like and share on your social media.
*DON’T MISS ONE POST! Sign up for email updates on the right column.

Tuesday Tips: 4 Facebook Tips

Last Monday I talked about marketing with Facebook. Today I thought I would give you 4 ways to utilize Facebook for your marketing needs.

4 Facebook Tips

I utilize Facebook more than most social media outlets. Why? I guess it suits my tastes more. I have friends that LOVE Twitter. I have friends that use Tumbler. (something I haven’t even touched yet.) I like the versatility that Facebook offers and the fact that I can create and invite people to different things and not aggravate everyone on their newsfeed. All this is a plus for me.

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Do you use all the features on Facebook?
Have you had a successful event?
What groups do you think are a necessity?
What are your other ideas? I’d love to know what you think!

Happy writing!
~t

*If you have found this post to be of valuable, please feel free to like and share on your social media.
*DON’T MISS ONE POST! Sign up for updates on the right column.