Friday, February 25, 2011

Early Entertainment!

Is there anything more precious than a young child's mind? Everything is brand new! From a Jack-in-the-box to a dinosaur story, from a robin's egg to counting pennies, from a wiggly worm to falling snowflakes, the world is amazing and full of wonderful experiences.

Our writing often strives to entertain and educate, no matter what subject fills the pages. And early television for children employed this creative idea, as well. It was friendly, funny, and just plain goofy. Exactly what audiences of all ages loved. Not cartoons...but real people who demonstated various responses to all kinds of situations. Not fairy tales, but life experiences and how to react to them.

When I first taught kindergarten Sesame Street was controversial! It was too loud, too busy, full of too many characters, jumped from one scene to flashing numbers and letters. Would a child be able to keep up, make sense of it, know what was really the purpose of a particular skit?

But then the viewpoint changed. Kids loved it! The show was well written, showed children things they otherwise would not have seen, and best of all it snuck in learning! And adults found out they liked it, too! Oscar, Cookie Monster, Elmo, Big Bird and a gazillion muppet characters. Who could resist such a stellar cast?

Funny now, when you think about how fast our world and the world of kiddies today revolves with booming technology, ebooks, e picture books, and go, go, go all the time.

How well do you remember educational children's television shows that you loved? Mr. Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, Howdy Doody, Sesame Street, Ding Dong School, Kookla, Fran and Ollie, plus there were often local ones, too.

I watched Big Bill and Oomagog (a robot), and I was on The Uncle Hiram Show on the Fourth of July. I performed with another eight-year-old. We sang AND danced to I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy and You're a Grand Old Flag. We even had canes. It was way, way back, even before color TV!

Let's play TV for Tots Trivia!
1. What was the name of the postman on Mr. Rogers?
2. Who was the shop keeper who passed away on Sesame Street?
3. What was the name for the seated children on Howdy Doody?
4. Who was the most famous puppet held by Shari Lewis?
5. What was the clown's name on Howdy Doody?
6. Why did Mr. Rogers wear sweaters on his show?
7. Who wore bib overalls on Captain Kangaroo?
8. What was the name of the host on Howdy Doody?
9. What song, sang by Ernie on Sesame Street, became a hit?
10. Who was the ruler in the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood of Make-Believe?
How do you rate?
7-10 right and you love kiddy TV
3-6 right and you are probably under the age of 40
0-2 right and you are so, so much younger than I am!

1. Mr. McFeely
2. Mr. Hooper
3. The Peanut Gallery
4. Lamb Chop
5. Clarabelle
6. His mother knitted every single one.
7. Mr. Greenjeans
8. Buffalo Bob
9. Rubber Ducky
10. King Friday
Stand by and stay tuned!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Do You Mother Goose?

My latest picture book creation imitates a Mother Goose nursery rhyme. It was a challenge to say the least. In fact, I wrote the first half of the book six months ago, and then finished the second half two weeks ago. My brain had to recover from the first half!

When I mentioned the original rhyme to my husband, he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. The conversation when something like this...

Doris: You never heard of that nursery rhyme?
Hubby: No

Doris: Do you know Little Jack Horner?
Hubby: Huh?

Doris: Have you heard of Little Miss Muffet?
Hubby: Who?

Doris: What about Old Mother Hubbard?
Hubby: Are you kidding?

Doris: Did you read nursery rhymes?
Hubby: No

Doris: Did your mother ever read to you?
Hubby: Never

My hubby is Mother Goose illiterate! That pretty well wrapped our conversation.

But my own childhood was full of nursery rhymes and fairy tales. My mother also sang...silly jingles, lullabies, fav songs, Christmas carols and Christmas favorites, and anything else she felt like performing. She even recited The Song of Hiawatha!

By the shore of Gitchee Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.

I even have my own family nursery rhyme! When I got married my name became Doris Lewis Fisher. Oddly, my grandmother had a cousin named Louis Fisher. My mother used to recite this jingle he said. I finally wrote it down and have it memorized.

There once was a fisher named Fisher,
Who fished on the edge of a fissure.
A fish with a grin pulled the gentleman in,
Now they're fishing the fissure for Fisher.

I love saying that nutty rhyme on occasion. Wordplay is just so much doggone fun.

And now it's time for not-so-easy, Mother Goose trivia! Good luck goosies and ganders!

1. Who went to bed with one shoe off and one shoe on?
2. When did the Queen of hearts make tarts?
3. Who sang for his supper?
4. Who found Lucy Locket's pocket?
5. Hark, hark, why do the dogs bark?
6. Who lived in a pumpkin shell?
7. Who came to town in a yellow petticoat and a green gown?
8. How does Mistress Mary's garden grow?
9. Who went to Glouster in a shower of rain?

Mother Goose Rankings!

7-9 correct and you are a Mother Goose gosling!
4-6 correct and you are a birdbrain!
0-3 correct and your goose is cooked!

1. My son John
2. On a summer's day
3. Little Tommy Tucker
4. Kitty Fisher
5. The beggars are coming to town!
6. Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater
7. Daffy-Down-Dilly
8. With silver bells and cockleshells and pretty maids all in a row
9. Dr. Foster

Watch this blog for more Literature Trivia coming soon!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Eleven -- it's one more than Ten

I've fretted over this post now for a few weeks. But the pesky thing keeps insisting I write it.

In no way do I want to discourage anyone who truly loves to write and wants to be published. On the contrary, my hope is that this post encourages those of you who get up every day, drink the requisite amount of caffeine and pound away relentlessly at a keyboard. Some of you have been doing this for years -- and still can't seem to break through.

I know how you feel (I've been there!) -- you're on the edge, feeling sick of it all -- revision, submission and most especially, the wicked "R" word that we all HATE with a passion.

I've seen so many writers, after many fervent attempts to get published, simply QUIT. The message of this blog today is -- DON'T.

WHY? Because sometimes the first story doesn't sell, or the fifth or the tenth.

Just ask Beth Revis.

If you haven't heard of her yet, you will soon. She's on the NY Times best seller list for children's chapter books for her debut novel ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. The book, which was only released on January 11th, is a bona fide triumph for Revis.

Now you really want to hurl your computer across the room. You're so tired of hearing about these overnight successes. A debut author on the best seller list? You've been at this for a long time -- when will it be your turn??

Whoa. Don't do anything drastic yet. Not until you hear Beth's story. In a recent interview over at the Apocalypsies blog, her answer to this question blew me away:

Q: This is your first published novel, but have you written other manuscripts?

A: Have I written other manuscripts? *snerk* A giant wave of laughter ripped across the blogosphere. I wrote for ten years--and I wrote ten novels--before I found a novel that was worth publication.

Whaaat? ACROSS THE UNIVERSE was her ELEVENTH completed manuscript? TEN novels under her belt before this one?

I don't know about you, but I find that utterly inspiring. That is what's called perseverance. That's following your passion, no matter what the odds, no matter how many rejections stack up in front of you. Don't you agree?

So if today was the day you were planning on throwing in the towel on your stalled out writing career, maybe you'll think twice. If you have been submitting a manuscript that isn't getting any bites, maybe Beth's story will inspire you to start something new, something fresh. To go one higher.

Start the next story.

I'm guessing Beth Revis is glad that she did.

So tell us, what's inspiring you to stay in the game, no matter what?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Twitter Tutorial: The Long Version

Monday night I did a Twitter presentation at the Houston SCBWI meeting, as the chapter's official Twitter Goddess. Twitter is easy to use once you get started, but there was a lot of information to try to present to a group in a short time, so I wanted to post a long version of the notes online. I decided to do that in a blog post so anyone who needs help getting started on Twitter or needs a refresher can see the notes. We'll start out with the basic stuff and work our way up to more coolness, so start wherever you need to. At the end of the post are links to a few awesome Twitter articles that others have written.

If you don’t have an account yet, go to and click the yellow “Sign Up” button. Fill out the form on the next page. You can choose whatever user name you want as long as it isn’t too long (over 20 characters) and isn’t taken, but it’s best to choose something close to your real name (or the name you use as a writer), so people will recognize you. Sure, I could use my stripper name @BubblesSunnyleather, but since most people I interact with are book people, I want to use my writer name.

It’s okay to use an underscore mark, like JimBob_Writer, but don’t use any other special characters or spaces. Twitter will walk you through a set up for selecting some followers and writing you bio. Fill in a short bio and upload a small picture. Having a bio and a picture lets people know you’re a real person they might like to follow. To edit your profile later, click your user name at the top of the page, then “Settings,” then “Profile.”

Once you have your account, you can start tweeting by typing something (up to 140 characters) in the box at the top of the page, then click “Tweet” to send it. This will show up on your followers’ pages, and anyone who visits your profile will be able to see your tweets. This is kind of like a status update on Facebook--let your followers know what you’re doing, mention a book you just read, ask a question, etc.

Retweets (RTs)
Retweeting is a way to copy what someone else said while still giving credit for it. If you see a tweet that’s funny or interesting, you may want to retweet it for your followers or for anyone who didn’t see it before. Suppose my imaginary friend @HoustonAuthor tweeted this:

Just got a 6-figure book deal! And Disney bought the movie rights! Yay!

So I want to share the good news with my followers who may not know @HoustonAuthor yet, or with those who missed it when this was tweeted hours ago. I could do this automatically by clicking the “Retweet” button just below the tweet:

That will copy the exact tweet from @HoustonAuthor, but with the RT symbol and my user name:  by LynneKelly to let my followers know this is something I've retweeted.

Or I might want to add something to it. In that case, I'll copy and paste the tweet by hand, then type my own message and an “RT” before @HoustonAuthor’s name. Then my tweet would look like this:

So now I’ve added my congratulations, and my followers know that everything after the RT refers to what @HoustonAuthor said. Also, they’ll be able to click on @HoustonAuthor’s name to see her Twitter feed if they’d like to.

An @reply is a way of saying something to a specific person, although it isn’t private. People who follow both you and the person you’re talking to will see it, as will anyone who visits your page. You can @reply someone by:
- typing @ in front of their user name
- clicking "reply" on one of their tweets
- selecting "Mention" from the tool icon in their profile

Example: @MyPretendDog You’re not sleeping on the bed, are you?

Because @ is the first character there, only people who follow both me and @mypretenddog will see that on their home pages. If I start with any other character, all my followers can see it:

.@MyPretendDog is the best dog ever.

I sure hope @MyPretendDog isn’t chewing on the couch.

Any of my followers can see that, because I didn’t start with the @. And @MyPretendDog will notice it when she checks her replies.

So don't do something like this:

@MyPretendDog is awesome and you should all follow her!

'Cause who's going to see that? People already following you and @MyPretendDog, because I started with the @. Put some other character in front of the @, or put the @username later in the sentence.

I could do this too as a way of passing along @HoustonAuthor’s good news. Instead of RTing her book deal tweet, I could write:

Congratulations to @HoustonAuthor on her awesome new book deal!

Interacting with other people is the best part of Twitter, so you want to know if people are talking to you or about you so you can reply back. You don’t want to ignore people, do you?
 At the top of the page is this bar:

By clicking on the “@Mentions” tab, you’ll see the tweets of people who mentioned you. When @MyPretendDog checks her replies, she’ll see the tweets that include her user name, like this one:

I sure hope @MyPretendDog isn’t chewing on the couch.

Then @MyPretendDog will probably want to answer me back:

Even if I’m not on Twitter at the moment to see it on my main page, I’ll see it whenever I check my replies. But remember, it’s not private--anyone following both of us can see that conversation. Suppose I had a cat who followed @MyPretendDog and me. @ThePretendCat noticed our conversation, and tweeted this:

@LynneKelly Hey, @MyPretendDog is sleeping on your bed. Shall I bite her for you?

Both @MyPretendDog and I will see that on our pages and under our Mentions tab, since both our user names are there.

Check your retweets now and then too--if people RT you automatically by just clicking the “Retweet” button under your tweet, you may not see that in your replies. It’s good to thank people who’ve shared one of your tweets, and checking your RTs will show you who’s done that. Click the “Retweets” tab, then “Your tweets, retweeted.

That will bring up a list of your tweets that someone else RTed. Click on the arrow on the right side of the tweet to see who RTed that. Then you can click on each of their names and send them a message if you want. @HoustonAuthor may write something like:

Thanks for the RTs about the book deal! @LynneKelly @Mydog @OtherHoustonAuthor

But what if you want to say something to a person but don’t want the whole world to see it? That’s when you use the direct message, or DM.
Again, there’s more than one way to do this. You can type by hand:

But it’s easier to click the “Message” tab on a follower’s profile:

Once you're on your Messages page, click “New Message.” Type who you want to send a DM to, then type your message in the window.

On your Twitter page you’ll see the tweets of people you’re following. Now you know how to tweet, RT, and reply, but if you’re not following anyone your page will be blank. So how do you get followers, and who do you follow? 
If you know someone’s user name, you can go to their profile by adding it to the Twitter address in the address bar, like this:

From there you can click the green “Follow” button. Now you’re following SCBWI Houston! [Or if you belong to another SCBWI chapter, you should be able to find them on Twitter also. Type the chapter name in the search window if you don't know their user name, or look at the SCBWIHouston "Following" list-- all the chapters should be there, and you can click "Follow" from there.]

For suggestions, click the “Who to Follow” tab at the top of the page. Twitter will suggest people you might like to follow, based on who you’ve followed so far. There will also be a “Who to Follow” section on the side of your page that Twitter will update with suggestions. You can also search for someone by typing a name in the search box at the top of the page.

Another good way to find people is by checking out others’ “Following” and “Followers” lists. Find out who they like to follow and who’s following them. Once you follow someone, they may decide to follow you back. You'll do the same for your new followers--check your list now and then and see if you'd like to follow back the people who are following you. If you're not interested in following them back, you don't have to do anything, but if they're so creepy you don't even want them following you, hit "Block."

For an easy way to find editors and agents to follow, go to my profile at then click "Lists," and select the Editors-Agents list. You'll see the recent tweets from the people on that list, but on the right side of the page, click "View all following" to see everyone I've added to it. (A lot of other writers or publishing people you will have similar lists.) Then check who those people are following--you'll find more people you want to follow.

It's not okay to pitch your novel or query an agent or editor via Twitter, but following them is a great way to find out what's going on in the publishing industry and with their own work; they might tweet "Finally getting to my January queries" or "I wish someone would send me a good mermaid erotica manuscript," for example. And if an agent tweets, "If I get one more manuscript about woodland creatures or wizards I'm going to throw my computer out the window," then you know to send your novel about a squirrel who goes to wizard school to someone else. Of course they also tweet about things that aren't work-related, like what's going on with their kids or pets or where they like to shop. They start to seem like real people, almost.

Look for businesses you like and follow them, too--they may tweet about specials or coupons, and a lot of companies are using Twitter as one more way to provide customer service. Check out the feeds of or Zappo's, for example. Notice how often they're responding to customers. They're watching for people who mention them, offering help to those who complain and saying thanks to those who compliment them.

You don’t have to use lists, but they’re a good way to organize your followers, especially if you’re following a lot of people. When you’re on someone’s page, click on the little arrow button to add them to a list you’ve made:

That way, you can quickly check the tweets only of the people on a certain list, like "My favorite funny people,” "Authors I like," "Friends from prison," or whatever you want to make a list for. Click on a list to weed out everybody else on the page.

By typing a hashtag (#) in front of a word or phrase, people can click on that word or phrase to follow a conversation about that topic, or see what others are saying about it. Good examples are the Tuesday evening #kidlitchat and Wednesday evening #YAlitchat. People interested in children’s and young adult literature discuss that night’s topic by adding #kidlitchat or #YAlitchat to their tweets. When you click on a hashtag like #kidlitchat, a page comes up showing all the tweets with that hashtag, whether you’re following the participants or not. Even if you can’t participate in real-time, you can bring it up later to read the conversation. Either click on the hashtag in someone’s tweet or type it in the search box at the top of the page.

A popular hashtag on Fridays is #FF, for "Follow Friday," used for suggesting other users to follow. Check out the follow recommendations from people you like following, and you may find some new ones to add to your follow list. (@DiandraMae explained at the meeting that while an @ is kind of like the "To:" in an email, a hashtag is like a subject. You don't have to use a hashtag, but it's a way to follow a subject.)

Under "trending topics" on the right side of your home page, Twitter lists the popular topics people are talking about, and those are often hashtag phrases.

A Bit About Marketing
There were some questions about using Twitter to market yourself, but really, the best way to market yourself is to NOT actively market yourself, if that makes sense. Or at least not to look like you are. It's not interesting to follow people who tweet about their own book (or themselves in general) over and over, but users who have a lot of followers are those who interact with others and are funny, helpful, supportive, entertaining, or otherwise interesting. For users who tweet about all kinds of stuff and interact with their followers, I celebrate with them when they tweet, "Hey, I just got a book deal!" because I feel like I already know them. And I'll probably look for that book when it comes out. I'll give a couple popular authors on Twitter as examples (please share your favorites in the comments--there are so many great authors on Twitter.

Look how many followers Maureen Johnson has. She didn't get many by talking about her books. Notice how many of her tweets show her interacting with those followers. (When she has a phrase in quotes with someone's user name, that's her way of RTing a question or comment to her, then she'll type her answer after that.) Whenever she does mention a new release or other good news about her books, it doesn't bother anyone because that's not what her twitter feed is about. It's about her being herself and having fun talking to people about whatever's going on with her (or her weird neighbors). I'm not saying you have to tweet as much as she does--she's obviously a vampire who needs no sleep, or she has a well-trained army of monkeys to do her work for her. Tweet as little or as much as you're comfortable with, but remember to be yourself and get to know people.

Libba Bray is another great example of a funny/interesting/nice/wacky person to follow. You'll notice she too has a good balance of tweets, retweets, and replies in her feed. (She'd probably say that she's not well-balanced otherwise.)

Follow Cynthia Leitich Smith because she knows everyone and everything. Great links to author/agent/editor interviews and articles about the publishing industry, and she's super-supportive of other authors.

The Writer's Digest article listed below goes more in depth into social networking and book sales.

You can do everything on Twitter straight from the web page, but there are applications you can download to make it easier to organize and follow. Tweetdeck, for example (downloaded from organizes your lists, replies, and hashtags you’re following into columns, automatically shortens web page addresses, and makes it easy to add pictures to your tweets.

See these excellent articles for more information:

Nathan Bransford's post about how to use Twitter
Twitter Tips For Writers
Mom, This Is How Twitter Works (Not Just For Moms!)
Don't Tweet That: How Not To Be A Twitter Dork (includes easy fixes)

Still have questions? Send me an @reply on Twitter. Like this:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Some of My Best Friends Are Fictional Characters

On Wednesday I wrote about how the authors at the Montgomery County Teen Book Festival answered what one book they'd save from their burning house (I still shudder at the thought). Another question was about what person from the past they'd like to be friends with. Here's how they answered:

Lois Lowry thought the writer of the Little Lulu comics would be fun to hang out with because Lulu was was always outsmarting people, especially boys. She's intrigued that the author's name was listed only as "Marge" and would love to know how that happened. (So Marge was doing the one-name thing before Madonna and Beyonce.)  Thomas Sniegoski had a comic book answer too; he's a comic book writer himself, among other things, and wishes he could meet the famous comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby.

Anna Godbersen chose Ernest Hemingway--not a surprise, since we know from the saving a book from your house fire post that she's a big Hemingway fan, but Jeff Stone had the same answer. Despite his love for Herman Melville, he thinks he'd be too hard to talk to, while Hemingway seems like a guy he could drink and fish with.

Justina Chen would like to meet with Amelia Earhart because of her brave pioneer spirit.

Those are all good answers, but when I thought about what historical figures I'd like for a BFF, I kept thinking of fictional characters. Maybe it's just more fun to think about being friends with a character from a book instead of a real person. Here are a few I thought of:

Harriet from Harriet the Spy. I'm sure we'd have fun wandering around the neighborhood looking for adventures and writing in our notebooks. I remember wanting to be Harriet when I read Harriet the Spy and The Long Secret, and I even had a notebook where I wrote down things I observed. I don't remember what I wrote, but it's probably a good thing no one ever found it.

Sophia from The Color Purple. She'd be a blast to hang out with. Plus, she'll tell you exactly how she feels, and anyone who crossed you would get a punch in the face.

So many people from the Harry Potter series, but the Weasley Twins in particular. They'd always keep you laughing, no matter what's going on. And how much fun would it be to go to school at Hogwarts?

Katniss from The Hunger Games series. A loyal friend, and when times are rough she'll hunt down some food for you. Hanging out with Peeta and Gale would be an added bonus.

Jacob Black from the Twilight series. What? He'd make a great space heater. You know how cold it is outside?

I'm not the only one with friends from books, am I? What literary characters would be your ideal BFFs?

Saturday, February 5, 2011


My whole family buzzed with excitement when I opened an envelope recently with this caricature drawing of my sons from Neil Numberman, the talented and funny artist of the JOEY FLY, PRIVATE EYE books:


A prize from
Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo, Neil’s illustration here strangely captures something of the essence of my boys. Being a termite would be pretty cool – what other creature can eat a whole house?

Admit it. It would be fun to be a bug. Once you get past the hairy, skittering legs and compound eyesballs, creepy crawlies have some pretty fantastic abilities. Who wouldn’t want to fly, or shine a taillight without batteries?

My oldest son fantasizes about being a bug that can walk up walls. (I frequently find him hanging from doorframes).

My younger son spent the better part of his first grade year drawing and cutting out scorpions because . . . well, we’re not sure really. (We worry sometimes that expensive therapy may be in his future.)

My personal fav is the caterpillar. What other creature can do nothing but eat for a month, then take a serious two-week nap, only to wake up skinny and beautiful? But alas, I’m not a caterpillar. A month-long binge would only result in a spider spinning a web above my head declaring me “Some Pig.”

Strider bugs walk on water, monarchs can find their way to Mexico without a map, and no one messes with a rhino beetle. What kind of bug would you be?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Books We Grab In The Fire

Last weekend I attended the Montgomery County Teen Book Festival, speed-walking in about ten minutes after the general session started, about as punctual as usual. As I arrived, the young adult authors on the panel were answering a question what one book they'd grab on the way out the door if their house were on fire. (This is assuming family members and pets are safe). Quite a variety of answers:

Lois Lowry talked about her copy of The Shining, a first edition autographed by Stephen King. Um, yes, I'd grab that too. Use it as a downpayment on a new house. 

I think Thomas Sniegoski's answer was most like mine--he's pretty sure he'd burn up with all the books, because they're all over his house and it would be impossible to save just one. Plus, his house is highly flammable. 

Anna Godbersen and Jeff Stone both picked classic novels. Anna's choice was Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, and Jeff would take Moby Dick, which he reads at least once a year. I get that we have our favorite classics, but unless it's signed by Herman Melville (or even Stephen King) or it stopped a bullet for me, I'm not grabbing Moby Dick in a fire. There must be a used bookstore on the corner that has a copy. 

Justina Chen said she'd likely be standing there throwing things into the fire, like all of her journals to make sure no one would get a hold of them if she perished in the flames. I'm sure a lot of us would be doing the same thing, and throwing in a few first drafts of novels too. But assuming she had time then to escape, she'd grab the book her kids made for her. Good choice! Irreplaceable, and something that can make you happy when you're crying about your house burning to the ground.

I started wondering what book I'd snag from the burning bookshelf. I do have a shelf of signed books (not The Shining, but still), so I'd probably scoop them all up as I stop, drop, and roll out the door, although I suppose that's cheating to pick several. But I do have a book of my grandmother's poetry. She was a writer almost all of her life, and at age 99 she could still recite a poem she wrote 50 years ago. My aunt put a lot of Grandma's poetry together in a book (actually it's a two-volume set now), along with pictures of her throughout her life. So that would have to be the book I'd grab--not nearly as replaceable as everything else. If we're talking about a published book on the shelf, I'd have a harder time narrowing it down to one.

So what book would you take with you when escaping a fire? Not photo albums--those are safe in the front yard with the family. This is a different question than those like, "If you could have one book with you on a desert island...," because it's more about sentimental value, or even monetary value, rather than the book you enjoy reading over and over again.

Would yours be one signed by a favorite author, a classic novel you've reread many times, or something of sentimental value? Maybe you've written in the margins of it, or you remember it as the first book you really loved, or it's one that someone you loved gave you. 

I know, we'd all grab tote bags and empty the bookshelves into them, but no cheating--you have to pick just one!