Sunday, June 15, 2014

QK Round 2: Remember Me versus Maidens, Monks, & Murder

Entry Nickname: Remember Me
Word Count: 75,000
Genre: Adult/Historical Fiction


Fifteen-year-old Katya watched her family starve to death one by one. She buried her dreams of a happy ending along with the bullet-riddled body of the love of her life. Her survival during Stalin’s assault on Ukraine is a testament to her strength, but it came at an unforgivable price.  Now, in the twilight of her life, the secrets she has kept buried for decades have come back to haunt her.

Summer Porter just wanted to stop the nightmares, and nearly died doing so when she accidentally overdosed in high school. Doctors labeled her schizophrenic, but the dreams she’s endured her whole life are something far different. While away at college, she discovers that painting the horrifying images in her mind prevents the dreams. A normal life seems almost possible, till she moves back home. There, the night terrors return and the lure of a quick pill fix threatens everything she has worked so hard for.

Desperate for a change, Summer jumps at the chance to move in with her ailing great-grandmother Katya. Their renewed relationship compels the old woman to do something she swore she’d never do: rip open the scars of her youth and tell her life story. Hearing this confession awakens an inexplicable connection between the two women. This bond may be Summer’s only opportunity to understand and end her nightmares for good and Katya’s last chance at the forgiveness she has spent a lifetime yearning for.

First 250 Words: 

When the first shot rang out, the basket my mother had packed slipped from my fingers. Bread spilled to the ground, forgotten, as I raced towards my aunt’s house. Alina yelled for me to stop, but her voice barely whispered in my ear. All I could hear was my cousin Sasha screaming. 

My sister caught up and tackled me to the ground. We landed in a snowdrift next to my aunt and uncle’s barn, hidden from view.  I had almost made it to the yard.  Her speed saved my life that day, but I was too foolish to thank her for it then.

“Katya!” Alina hissed into my ear. Our limbs tangled and our heavy cloaks twisted around us, but it didn’t stop me from trying to wrestle away from her.  My arm throbbed where her hand dug into it. “Stop! You can’t let them see us!”

“I don’t care!” I wrenched my left leg from under her and rolled onto my stomach.  Snow made its way into my boots and under my thick skirts. The icy crystals numbing my leg scarcely registered. Desperation pushed me forward. “We have to help them!”

I yanked off my cumbersome cloak and left it so I could crawl away from her.  Sasha’s screams had stopped, but I was close enough now to hear her quiet whimpering and my uncle’s pleading voice.

“Please!” Alina begged from behind me. “You know it’s too late for them!”


Entry Nickname: Maidens, Monks, & Murder
Title: A Serpent in the Garden
Word Count: 60,000
Genre: YA Historical Mystery


Amid the grit and splendor of twelfth century Germany, an impetuous teenage noblewoman investigates a brutal murder.

When a young woman is killed near the abbey of St. Nicholas, fifteen-year-old Eva von Hirschburg is moved by similarities between the victim and her own dead mother. She vows to find the culprit and convinces peace-loving Brother Clement to help, but the two clash when Eva accuses a man Clement wants to protect.

As she hunts for evidence, Eva is courted by the charismatic Lord Friderich. Eva is enticed by Friderich’s wit and vitality, but fears he is only looking for an indiscretion. Worse, Friderich distrusts Clement and wants Eva to relinquish her obsession with the murdered woman.

Is Friderich trying to protect Eva, or is he trying to protect the murderer? Eva cannot capture the killer alone, but trusting the wrong person could cost Eva her heart and her life.


No one prayed for my mother's soul. No one spoke of her. My uncle Baldric forbade it. But I refused to forget her. She died fifteen years ago when I was only a babe, but every morning, before the rest of the castle woke, I went to the chapel to plead for her deliverance.

Darkness filled the room, intensifying the smell of incense and the aching in my legs as I knelt on the stone floor. I recited the De Profundis, the Miserere, and the Requiem Aeternam, prayers suitable for someone suffering in Purgatory. I considered praying that my uncle Arnulf might finally drink himself to death, but I decided against it. I stood and walked out to the chapel garden.

On my right loomed the bergfried, a defensive tower and, in troubled times, a holding place for prisoners. On my left, the crenellated battlements of the south wall snapped at the sapphire sky. I shuddered, feeling like a mouse trapped in the jaws of a lion. Most ladies would count themselves lucky to have a guardian as wise and temperate as Baron Baldric, but I despised being kept out of duty rather than love. And most ladies do not have to contend with an uncle as reckless and cruel as his brother, Baron Arnulf.

I walked toward the archway that led to the main courtyard. A voice cried out. “Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me. Overthrow them that fight against me. Take hold of arms and shield, and rise up to help me.”


  1. Judges, reply here with your comment and vote.

    1. Remember Me
      This sounds fantastic. The time jump in the second paragraph confused me. Maybe see if you can make it clearer early on that Summer is Katya’s granddaughter. But other than that, it flowed well. I really want to read these women’s stories.

      I wrote notes as I read through the first 250. The first paragraph starts out without any grounding. The character has bread, but I don’t know where she is. She’s running to her aunt’s house, but I don’t know from where. Alina is yelling but I don’t know who she is. Maybe add a few more descriptors to the paragraph, because I started out picturing them in a city, then it’s later revealed that it’s snowing and there is a barn. Maybe something like: Bread fell into the snow, forgotten, as I raced around the barn toward my aunt’s house. My sister yelled for me to stop, but Alina’s voice barely…

      Oh, is Katya is telling this story to someone? (Her speed saved my life that day, but I was too foolish to thank her for it then.) This makes me think she’s narrating her story to someone. If so, can this be clearer?

      Other than being a bit confused about where all of the action was occurring, I really enjoyed how you brought tension to the narrative. And the details you put were enough to keep it from being a descriptive info dump. And wow, what a cliffhanger.

      Maidens, Monks, & Murder
      I love historical novels. I’m intrigued by the setting. The problem with the query is that I don’t really know much about the Eva. You tell us that she’s impetuous, but I don’t see it in the query. It’s really vague.

      I wrote notes as I read through the first 250. Now this is where you shine. I felt like I was transported back to twelfth century Germany. I could smell the incense. And I felt Eva’s pain as she prayed for her mother. If you could take the voice and description you show in the first 250 and show this in your query, it would be fantastic.

      So this is a really difficult choice for me. I would read both of these stories. Based on query alone, I would choose Remember Me. But luckily, it’s not based only on the query. The first 250 saved Maiden, Monks, & Murder because the descriptions are so rich that I didn’t want to stop reading it.
      Grr, I hate having to choose between two amazing stories. I’m going to vote for the one which captured me the most.

      My vote goes to Maidens, Monks, & Murder.

      Excellent query! Katya and Summer seem real, even in these few paragraphs. I feel drawn to both of them and would love to learn more about their struggles and, especially, about the relationship between them. I have in mind a touching, emotional story—which, in my opinion, is evidenced in the opening 250. Katya’s desperation to save her family is palpable there. I would love to keep reading.

      I like the query, although I wish I knew a bit more about Eva. Most of anything, I get her sense of wanting to solve the mystery of this woman’s death and how it relates to her mother’s, but little else. She didn’t feel quite as real as the characters in Query#1. In the 250, there was great level of detail about Eva’s morning routine and the castle—which was well executed—but still I didn’t find very much to help me connect with the main character.


      Query - Well done. The opening paragraph was particularly strong, as I was immediately intrigued to know more about the "unforgivable price" for Katya's survival. The second paragraph threw me off at first, until I read that Summer was Katya's granddaughter. You might want to introduce this sooner, rather than waiting for the third paragraph, so we know what the connection is between the two characters. There doesn't seem to be a lot at stake in the present day, however, I sense that the Katya's story will have a lot of tension, especially as we learn what she did in order to survive. I could see this story being very popular with book clubs.

      First 250 - Great writing. I was immediately drawn into the story. There's a definite sense of danger and urgency that made me want to keep reading, even as I worried for Katya and Alina's survival.

      Query - I'm not sure if you need the opening "hook" because it doesn't do much except establish the time period. The query was well done, with a clear sense of conflict and stakes, but I almost wished it was longer. I just wanted to know a little bit more about 15yo Eva, besides the fact that she was an impetuous noblewoman.

      First 250 - The voice was really strong in the first 250, and I loved the description. I definitely got a strong sense of place, and a feeling of a medieval atmosphere.

      Both of these were strong entries, and it was hard to decide. In the end, I decided based on the pages. Although the writing in Maidens is lovely, the urgency and tension in Remember Me really hooked me.



      Query: This is a really strong query. It can’t be easy trying to get two plots into short paragraphs. I like the beginning but I think the second sentence is actually stronger than the first. I’d like to see it start with “Fifteen-year-old Katya buried her dreams of a happy…” because that is the sentence that made me sit up. I was also wondering if Summer is dreaming of Katya’s youth? Whether or not she is, I think we should get some hint of what Summer’s night terrors are about because right now we get vague words to describe them but a nice vivid image would make it mean something to me. I love the last paragraph and think it does a good job tying the two plots together. The stakes are clearly laid out and I’d definitely love to know more!

      First 250: Now that is a killer opening! The short, descriptive sentences paint a vivid picture and I can feel the desperation from both characters. I wouldn’t change a thing and want to know what happens next!


      Query: I’m not sure how I feel about the opening sentence. I know that a logline is sometimes used to distill the plot in a single sentence (which is really hard to do so kudos) but I think the second sentence is actually much stronger. Plus, using the word “noblewoman” in the first sentence and “young woman” in the next makes me think we are reading about the same person which is a little confusing. I’d almost rather the query start with the second sentence and you can add in the 12th century Germany part right after “the abbey of St Nicholas”. However, besides that tiny thing, I think the rest of the query is wonderful. We get a clear picture of the characters, the setting and the plot. I’d love to know more!

      First 250: This beginning is amazing at establishing setting and the character’s routine. I know a few of the other commenters think that we don’t get too much of Eva here but I actually learned a lot about her from the beginning—mainly that she is willing to go against her Uncle’s wishes to pray for her mother’s soul, which shows me she is rebellious in an era when that doesn’t seem like such a good thing. The detail about her surroundings is wonderful and I’d definitely keep reading.

      Both of these entries are so strong that is makes it hard to decide. Though I think the urgency in Remember Me is really strong in the first 250, I like the voice just a little better in Maidens, Monks and Murder.


    5. Remember Me: Your query explains the story and characters pretty well, but could do with some clarifying. For example, I'm guessing this is told from both their POVs? Tell us that flat out to make it clearer. Then also clarify their ages. Starting with 'Fifteen-year-old Katya' is confusing - because I expect the whole story to be about her as a teen. Change it to 'As a teen, Katya...' and it'd be clearer.

      Similarly you talk about Summer at high school, at college, and then mention 'her whole life' - which means I have no clue how old she is. Tell us. And I'd also open with Summer being Katya's granddaughter.

      Your opening page starts with a gripping scene, but the prose isn't quite doing it for me. The words obscure the scene for me rather than bring it alive. Omit needless or overly ornate words, write in straightforward prose, especially for an action scene, and give us some more grounding in the setting. I also think having a bit of build-up so we care about the characters before we get to this place would make this scene much more compelling and frightening.

      Maidens, Monks, & Murder: Your query is clear and succinct, and a murder mystery in 12th century Germany sounds interesting and different to me. (Although I don't read much adult historical, so it may not be.) I'd just try to get some of Eva's voice into it to bring it alive more.

      I like your first page. Again, clear and succinct; nice punchy opening line; atmospheric setting; and the bit about her uncle drinking himself to death lightened the atmosphere and made me smile.

      The only part that I think needs rewriting is: 'I shuddered, feeling like a mouse trapped in the jaws of a lion. Most ladies would count themselves lucky to have a guardian as wise and temperate as Baron Baldric, but I despised being kept out of duty rather than love. And most ladies do not have to contend with an uncle as reckless and cruel as his brother, Baron Arnulf.' The opening simile is melodramatic, and what follows is rather clunky telling. So I'd probably edit out those lines and slip in that information more subtly elsewhere.


    6. Remember Me
      I wonder if you have the right genre. Is this set in modern time and just looking back at the Katya's past, which is what brings in the historical aspects? The granddaughter is having the grandmother's memories, yes? To me, that would make it Magical Realism. (It's possible I only came to that conclusion because I've read a short pitch of this before (around pitch wars maybe? I think it was a twitter pitch I helped crit at some point)
      This query is great and clearly you're getting interest without getting into details about what those nightmares really are, I love that because it allows the real twists to come about in the story. Great job!

      Maidens, Monks, Murder.
      I couldn't really get into this because the query feels so OLD. It does not read as a YA at all. the first page is much better in that way, keeping the historical feel and appropriate voice but in a relatable way. Remember who your audience is. "impetuous teenage noblewoman" is the first bit that turns me off. It does not give the feeling of tennager,even with teenager in the phrase. I'd cut that first line all together and start with "When a young woman..." and try to add in a little more voice/personality. Don't tell me she's impetuous (its not a good word for this anyway. How many teens will know it?) SHOW ME.

      Victory to Remember Me

    7. NOTE: Since I focused on queries in round 1, this time I'm focusing on the first 250 words.

      First sentences jump right into the action, but with enough description to anchor the reader in the setting - great job.

      There are quite a few characters thrown into the first paragraph already - who is Alina?

      Also, it took a re-read for me to figure out the set-up; I'd initially thought they were running FROM the gunshots, and that Sasha was WITH them, not in the house.

      I like the opening line. It definitely catches my attention. But it seems to be contradicted at the end of the paragraph where she DOES pray for her mother's soul. Maybe "No one ELSE prayed for my mother's soul" would be more accurate?

      Love the descriptions... very atmospheric.

      Victory to MAIDENS, MONKS & MURDER

    8. Remember Me

      Query: I believe one-by-one should by hyphenated. The repetition of the phrase “of her life” sticks out, so swap one out. The easier would be “now in her twilight years” I think. I’m don’t understand why the first paragraph is in present tense when it was in the past, and the second paragraph is in past tense while it’s in the present. Otherwise, this query does a great job of meshing the two storylines without bogging the letter down.

      250: The edits made from the last round are evident, the pace quicker, the prose tighter. Just suggesting a few more cuts. Second paragraph, my sister tackled me to the ground insinuates that she caught up with the MC, so no need to say it. The her in her speed refers back to the aunt as the last female we read about, so swap in Alina’s name. Third paragraph, we don’t need “from here” after “didn’t stop me from trying to wrestle away.” Other than little things like this, well done.

      Maidens, Monks, & Murder

      Query: Well written and to the point. I know who the main character is, what they are doing, why they’re doing it, who’s helping, and who’s possibly in the way of that goal. Nicely done.

      250: The story starts off slow, with description (very visual, but nothing to pull the reader in) and background information. Starting out with the want to go pray for her mother’s soul is fine, but then we get two paragraphs about the characters uncles. We haven’t met either, for a second I didn’t even realize there were two, and I’m wondering if we need the information about them right at this moment, or if this word real estate might be better utilized getting to know the MC and forming a connection with her before we’re told about family she doesn’t care about.

      Both stories are compelling historical, nor normally something I go for, but anything well written will always capture my attention. That being said, I while both have strong writing, one pulled me in faster and I made a more immediate connection to the MC and what was happening on the page. Victory goes to Remember Me.

  2. Remember Me:
    The changes you've made to your query make it a lot stronger. I understand more about Summer's motivation, which helps a lot. You've also immediately got me feeling sorry for Katya. I also like that you've clarified the stakes.

    In the second sentence of the first 250, use "toward" instead of "towards." The other thing I noticed is that, in three sentences of dialogue, you use "them" three times. I'd consider rewriting one, or remove it entirely from the last line - it's not really needed. You could just say, "You know it's too late." Otherwise, this is great. I still love it.

    Maidens, Monks, & Murder
    This sounds like a great premise. The query feels short. I'd like a little more about what happens. Also consider rewriting the question as a statement. But otherwise, this is really good.

    You've set the scene really well in the first 250, but I wonder if there's too much backstory. I know a lot about the MC's morning routine and a bit about her family, but I don't know much about who she is or what makes this particular morning any more different than every other day. Maybe it would help to move the first paragraph? I'd just like to see a little more of the current action than the character's background. But the writing is good enough to keep me reading a little longer.

    1. Just piping in as an editor. Towards is preferable unless the character is using American English. But both are 100% interchangeable. Towards is more British, Toward is more American.

  3. The Gossamer Veil—
    The concept has been done before, but I'm definitely interested. Here are a few things that would get me to stop reading in the first 250 words, though.
    1) “Katya!” Alina hissed into my ear.—One, cut your dialogue tags. Use "said." Two, you can't hiss a word that doesn't have an S in it.
    2) "I yanked off my cumbersome cloak and left it so I could crawl away from her." This kind of alliteration shows me you haven't read your text out loud. Doing so would fix a lot of the awkward phrasing I'm reading in these 250 words.
    3) Wordiness in both the query and the excerpt. Cut out unnecessary adjectives, pay attention to breath units.

    I'd ask for a revise and resubmit, because I think there's potential here.

    A Serpent in the Garden—

    I do like the first paragraph of the 250 (even if "babe" makes me wince), and I like the idea of the story (I'm a fan of medieval history and mysteries), but medieval mysteries are a dime a dozen, and I fear this writing isn't strong enough to get representation.
    1) Cut that first sentence of the query. It's set up, and I'm not convinced that 12th century Germany has much splendor or that your protagonist is impetuous. Adjectives mean nothing unless you can prove them.
    2) There is a lot going on in each sentence of the query. Try to keep to one idea or per sentence.
    3) The second paragraph in your 250 is full of "I did this, I did this, and I did this, and I did this." I'd stop reading here. Vary the syntax and look into writing without filtering.
    4) "Crenellated battlements" is redundant. It's like saying "the striped pinstriped pants."
    5) "...south wall snapped at the sapphire sky. I shuddered"—see my note on alliteration above.

  4. As I did in the other match up, I caution both writers against trying to put too much information in query letters. It confuses and bogs it down.

    Remember Me: you mention things in their past that haunt ( motivate) but without a touch more detail I don't develop a sense of empathy/interest. Try to get closer to the specifics while trimming some extraneous stuff.

    MM&M: Good job giving me an immediate sense of time and place, so important with historicals.

    Victory goes to Maidens, Monks & Murder

  5. I haven't read the other comments so I apologize for any repetition...

    Remember Me: The transition between the first and the second paragraphs was too abrupt for me to follow. I was still caught up in Katya's story, so in order to care about this new character named Summer, I need to know sooner how she is connected to Katya and the things I've learned about so far. For the 250, I thought for almost the entire sample that Katya was trying to run _away_ from the shots. It wasn't until the last sentence that I realized she wasn't trying to get away from the shooting, and then I had to go back and read the whole thing over. It would be helpful to learn sooner where the shots are coming from, and get a hint of Katya's motivation in running.

    MM&M: I thought the query did a good job of laying out your story in a concise way. I loved the mood and the visual images in the 250. My only suggestion is to rephrase the sentence, "And most ladies do not have to contend with an uncle as reckless and cruel as his brother, Baron Arnulf" I get what you were saying, but the pronoun "his" sounded awkward, since you'd moved on from talking about Baron Baldric by then and your most recent subject was "most ladies." Otherwise, I thought it was very well done. Good work and good luck!

  6. Remember Me
    I like the changes to the query, especially the second paragraph introducing Summer. I think the query works as is, although if you were so inclined you might consider a one sentence opener that somehow introduces both characters to us at the same time. That might smooth any concerns about two separate paragraphs introducing two separate characters (i.e., it would set the reader up to expect it).

    I liked the original 250, and I think the minor changes made here work well.

    Maidens, Monks, & Murder
    As before, I have little to offer on this one. I find the premise in the query intriguing, the stakes clear, and the characters compelling. Although the query is largely unchanged, I do like the new final sentence. I think it provides a stronger hook and plays up both the danger as well as the romantic aspects of the story. Likewise in the 250, little has changed, but then I liked it the first time too :-)

    Best of luck to both entries!

  7. Hey, it's me, M @rattify :)


    Query: This might be the most emotionally charged query I've read. Both women have their tragedies and pain laid bare before us. Well done.

    I have a couple of polishing suggestions. First, I'd cut "Fifteen-year-old" from the first sentence. I don't think it's necessary and the fact distracts from the heart of the sentence, the death of her family. We know this happened to her when she was young because you tell us later that this is a long time in her past, so you aren't losing anything by cutting it. Also, the specific mention of age risks agents getting the impression that this is a YA query.

    I'm a bit confused by the unforgivable price. Mainly because of the "testament to her strength" bit, which confuses me because, if she made some kind of dark bargain or something, then it's not a testament anymore. Does that make sense? I think you can cut "is a testament to her strength, but". That way, you still give us the time/place info, and the mystique of the price, without the confusing contrast in the wording. I think the result is more intriguing.

    250: So much tension! I especially like the line about her sister's speed saving her life, but she was too foolish to thank her. I like it because it lets me know that this is being told from a long way in the future, that she has grown in the meantime, and also that they really are in deadly danger.

    Again, only a couple of specific polishing suggestions:

    Katya does something to her ear twice - first whispers, then hisses. I would cut the first one entirely, as it isn't necessary. See: "Alina yelled for me to stop, but all I could hear was my cousin Sasha screaming." It works, and now the paragraph moves faster.

    You can cut "voice" in "my uncle's pleading voice" and then you get a nice symmetry between cousin's whimpering and uncle's pleading.

    I wouldn't worry TOO much about alliteration (I know others have criticized it). I like it, I use it myself, and I know I'm not alone. "Cumbersome cloak" works for me. But you could change "could crawl" if you want to have less of it to avoid setting off any red flags with agents who aren't huge alliteration fans.

    I can totally see this on bestseller shelves. I think it has a much broader appeal than most historical fiction.


    Query: You do a great job giving us character, motivations and stakes, as well as several obstacles she faces and choices she must make. It's hard getting all that into a query and you did a great job distilling your book into a potent story-shot. I especially liked the phrasing of "only looking for an indiscretion"--so tasteful.

    I think you'll be better off cutting that logline first paragraph. I know some agents actively dislike loglines, and the other paragraphs tell us a more exciting story. You could put the setting and time next to the word count boilerplate, and attach her age to her name.

    250: What a chilling first line! This tells us so much about her and what motivates her. My only suggestion is that I have issue with "snapped." Battlements are such a solid, heavy thing that a dynamic verb like "Snap" doesn't fit. Good luck!

  8. Oooh. I remember both of these from the first round. I think both of you made great changes. These are both so strong, that I bet the judges found this difficult to judge.

    Remember Me: I still think you lead with a very compelling opening scene. Others have mentioned places that could use polishing, so I won't. I would definitely read more of your book.

    MM&M: I wasn't nearly as confused with all of the character names this time around :) I like that you name your character's motivation right at the start. It helps to know what's driving them, and tells us more about them than a flat physical description would. I like that.



    I’d reorder the first paragraph to provide a clearer transition between your two POVs: Fifteen-year-old Katya’s survival during Stalin’s assault on Ukraine is a testament to her strength, but it came at an unforgivable price. She watched her family starve to death, and then she buried her dreams of a happy ending with the bullet-riddled body of the love of her life. Now, in the twilight of her life, the secrets she’s tried to keep buried for decades resurface when her great-granddaughter, Summer, moves in.

    Summer’s battling her own demons: nightmares, an overdose, etc. I think you can condense a bit and then weave the two women’s story since that is what the book will be. Just an idea. It seems a bit disconnected.

    I like the 250, though you could probably tweak a little. Does bread “spill” or is tumble a better word? I don’t think you need “caught up” because if she’s tackled by her sister, then the reader will know the sister caught up. The “that day” in the next paragraph threw me a bit—is this Katya telling her story to someone? If so, I’m wondering if you need to say that somewhere before then. Not sure. And then the last sentence, I’d drop the “for them.” I think in the moment it’d be more natural for her to say, “It’s too late!”

    MAIDENS, MONKS, et al.

    Query: There’s so much back-and-forth nowadays about having a hook in the beginning. On my entry I had judges specifically say how much they loved it and it was “definitely a keeper,” and then other judges didn’t like it. So, I have no input on that debate other than to say I liked yours and thought it set the stage nice so I knew what to look for in the following paragraphs. Good luck whatever you decide.

    My only trip up was the dreaded question you have in the last paragraph. Since so many agents say questions are a turn off, is there a way you can rephrase? “As Eva gets closer to finding out the truth, she begins to doubt Friderich’s motives. Maybe she’s imagining things, but instead of protecting her, he seems awfully interested in protecting the murderer. Eva cannot capture the killer alone, but trusting the wrong person could cost Eva her heart and her life.” I know that sucks, but you get the idea . . . ;-)


    I liked it. I don’t read historical fiction, but it seemed to set the scene, give an insight into Eva’s relationship to her mother, her uncle, and the baron. For 250 words, I’m not sure what else you need!

    Good luck to both!