Sunday, December 26, 2010

Santa Brought Me An Amazing Gift. He Calls It "Time." Go Figure.

Holy cow and holy night! It's been much too long since I spewed my thoughts! I could go on for ages about how busy school made me and how much of a lazy bum I am and how stressed I've been, but I've long since decided to focus on the positives. It's just plain healthier.

So I hope the good hearted souls had wonderful whichever holiday makes them smile. I did. I went to my grandmother's new house (farther than her old place so we stayed in hotel suites Christmas Eve and night) and saw some family and talked to some friends. No tree, and that was fine. I'm not out to make life complicated for anyone, and it's true I wouldn't be able to help take it down with the new distance. And I heard the Celtic Women perform on TV. Absolutely stunning. O Holy Night is my new Christmas favorite. :-) It's fun to celebrate a holiday you don't believe in when all it means is more time with good company and good food.

It was simple and perfect. Oh night divine!

I've been getting some writing done too. Since school let out, I rediscovered what time was and used it to edit my novel U:RS in earnest and get that word count down. I'm very happy with the progress. I'm in the home stretch now (again), but the best part of this is that my really great friend read chapter three (after previously reading chapters one and two) and enjoyed it. She had her critiques, which I'm always thankful for, and really seemed to like the characters and where it was heading.

Also, through passing comments on Facebook, I may manage to form a mini critique partner circle with friends at school this semester. Two fellow writers thought the idea sounded good, so I'd really like to make time to make this happen. I love the idea of getting more feedback, and in return, practicing giving feedback. I've also thought about throwing caution to the wind and uploading U:RS on Fictionpress. I'm a little scared about the copyright laxity, but so far I haven't had any problems. I'm still deciding.

There's also the matter of my play for Playwriting class. It's made some great strides as well, and I can't wait to hear it read on January 28th! I'm so excited I can't stand it! I really want to finish writing Act II. Too bad my brain likes to jump all over the place before I get anything truly productive on the screen.

Alright, this is officially writer's babbling. Didn't even catch up on what exactly I did for two months. Work. End of story. No, but seriously. School involved:

1) many makeup  projects:

2) building two in-scale set models for plays:

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
3) writing the first act of a play and having it read by equity actors

4) performing I think two or three more scenes from select periods of history

5) and helping build actual sets for plays that went up on campus. Only one more theatre lab and then I'm DONE!

Oh, and auditioning for my favorite play ever, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and getting cast in it and auditioning for voice lessons and getting chosen! And being as social as my major allows, which was good enough for me considering what I used to be like. There were some downers to the end of the semester too, mostly the stress, the hormonal adolescent issues, and seeing some people's true colors, but like I said, I'm focusing on the positives. I've spent all the stress from the semester in one 16 hour overnight on campus working on my set models, which I'm very proud of. :-)

And that's what I've been inspired to say at about two in the morning. More productive posts to follow. *knocks on wood*

To the MSWord futon! Happy holidays!

*collapses on the way*

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Progress Report a.k.a. The Editing Blues

And so, as of last night at about 11:37, my WIP dropped about 15K words. Only another 13K or so to go before I’m just inside the estimated proper word length for a YA fantasy novel. *fanfare and processions*

I skimmed through the combined draft, and immediately I saw paragraphs that could be cut/revised, so it’s definitely possible. After going through what she’s been through, don’t tell my protagonist that anything is impossible. :P It’s kind of exciting. I had been having such a craving to write this week, despite my homework suffering, so maybe this will be the calm that lets me let my WIP take a backseat again for a little bit so I can not flunk out of college, thanks very much. Haha!

I’m looking forward to some revision, but I understand very well now that revisions are HARD! Some places make the workload a bit lighter; others scream with stubborness. In those places I really like what’s there and somehow it needs to be told. I’m afraid that if I cut it, I won’t find a better place to put it, and I’ll possibly lose the idea if I don’t at least store the entire section in another MSWord document. So it’s hard to make the word count go down. The most I’ll do is edit or cut a sentence or words here and there. It makes me think I’m making progress, but I know it’s a cop out. Although, it did help me drop about 3K words from one chapter. I guess it helps in a “slowly but surely” kind of way until I’m brave enough to let someone see and tell me to nix the whole shebang. *cringes at the thought* ;)

In other parts that were skyrocketing near the 15K zone for chapter length, I entirely rewrote scenes. That was painful! But no pain, no gain, right? It’s a learning process. I mentioned on my Facebook at one point about dropping the 3K words. My dad commented saying it was good that authors not get too attached to first drafts. Oh my was he off. I’m far too attached to the plot and characters as I’m sure many other authors are. The difficulty in the major editing, entirely reworking a scene, is finding something brief enough, but exciting enough. I have to still be happy with it, and it still has to be the story of these same characters. I don’t think  these guys mind quite how they end up locked up in a hostile world, just so long as I don’t actually put them to death…or do I ? o.O Then again, characters can be divas, even the shy ones, so what can ever really satisfy them?

Part of the problem may be that I’m trying to describe in words the images flying through my head. Now if I could just show my readers the images, it would knock off thousands of words. A picture tells a thousand words and all that jazz. Then again, I’d also end up a movie director rather than an author.

And in other writing news: my playwriting class is going really well! We’re reading scenes from our plays this week, and I’m about to flip out hardcore! I’m really happy with what I have so far, but it has its own dangers. A typical hour and a half play will probably have maybe upwards of 70 pages. Mine is in its completed rough draft and at 54 pages, which means to make it a full length play, it needs at least sixteen or so more pages of significant writing. Thing is, we’re at the point of learning to cut things out, so I’m anticipating a lot of red pen…which will only serve to make the play that much shorter! Yikes!

But I’ve got confidence in Charlie and her little world of players. God, I can’t wait for January and the equity readings! I’ve never had anything I’ve written read by many others and received feedback. Very nervous and very excited. Maybe I’ll feel less like puking by the end of the semester when I’ve had practice taking and giving critique. My professor sounds happy enough about where I am in terms of writing. After meeting with him, he mentioned specifically not to think about play length. Now that is out of my head. Back to the core information. Who knows? Maybe it’ll end up as a one act again. Or just a very short two act play. Whatever it is, I’m excited to finish it. My professor gave me a lot to think about for editing.

…Oh God. I’m gonna get torn apart on Friday. If not out loud, I’ll hear their minds churning. :-P

It’s all a matter for the future. Now is a matter for now. :)

To the MSWord futon!! (Schoolwork is for suckers! ;P )

P.S – I was cast in next spring’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Hippolyta, and I’m going to be assistant costume designer! Booyah for my reprieve in an otherwise hellishly fun and informative semester! *pompoms*

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Martian Victory Dance

So while my mind is going ten light years a minute, let's spit out some words.

Despite having a dance class this morning, I stayed up until three in the morning to finish a very important task: I finished reading A Wizard of Mars! Squeeeeeeeeee!! And it was so beautiful!

There was a lot less info dumping than in some earlier novels, and I love the relationship between the characters, and I love the complexity of the situation. Maybe it's just me, and I'm sure my brother and father would laugh their butts off at it since they like adult fiction and I'm prone to YA lit, but I thought the plot had wonderful side arcs to tie around the many layers of the main plot involving the Martian mystery. I didn't find it predictable at all until the point where you need to know what's happening and you can connect the pieces yourself. Yeah, I suspected a "Kit's in over his head" situation, but then again, that's sort of spelled out for you from the start. Any time a character is obsessed with something, it's typically not for the best. Or it is as long as you don't lose control, and the character will probably lose control. That's where the fun comes in (for the reader anyway.)

And thank you for FINALLY making happen what we all knew was coming and not doing it in an annoying fanfiction kind of way like J. K. Rowling. Once again, Diane Duane has proven herself to be my literary hero. I refuse to put such a long break on reading her books ever again, especially none of this starting and stopping for months at a time nonsense. Not cool, Brenna. Not cool.

Good lord, can you imagine the mess of screaming fangirl I would be if I ever met Diane Duane?

So now I'm overwhelmed with ideas and inspiration for my WIP and I want nothing more than to sit at my computer and type the day away. I just want to turn U:RS into a masterpiece, and I know it has a ways to go and I may just be dreaming, but I'm so inspired (and hyped up on endorphins after a great workout) that I want to go one track mind again and just type. Type type type type. Takka takka takka. Thank god for long weekends, huh?

But before I can do that, I just had a super intense and amazingly fun dance class, and now I feel I've earned sushi in the city with my parents so I need to shower, dress and catch a bus.

To the MSWord fu--wait. To the shower! Ho!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Aaaaaand scene!

Alright! Breathing time! Phew!

So The Good Doctor is done. I'm sad to see it go as I am for every production I do, but having time to keep up my reputation as a goody-two-shoes student is relieving. The way I was shirking homework until the last minute was starting to bug me. And there are more production prospects in the not too distant future so hopefully I won't have to wait long to have this fun all over again. I should have better time management skills by then...*giggles* Couldn't say that with a straight face.

I learned some interesting things over the course of this production with much thanks to the network of people I'm creating. Oh my God, networking is truly an awesome thing! Yeah, I'll spend a while looking like a doofus, grinning like an idiot as this realization takes its sweet time to finish dawning on me, but the proof is there.

What Brenna learned the past six weeks:

1) ALWAYS check props.

2) ALWAYS call actors for places even after a 1 minute call for places.

3) Read more plays and books.

4) I met someone who has some great insight into the world of literature and up and coming authors. We were talking one night at Applebees, discussing authors and books and such, and I was utterly inspired to pick up U:RS again as soon as I got home. Unfortunately it was really late when I got home, but still. I have the document up constantly again for those moments I can spare between shows and work and work and work. There is much editing to be done.

I have to get those author names and books titles from her again because I'm always up for trying out some new stuff. She also knew some of these authors before they became extraordinarily famous, which I think is fantastic whether I like the author or not. She has a very successful blog I plan to visit, and I'm so glad I got a chance to meet her and work with her because she's a phenomenal actress as well and a very nice woman.

So in more ways than expected, I had an amazing experience working on this show. I got to network for more than just theatre opportunities, and I met an amazing bunch of people. So Dad, don't tell me to switch majors anymore. :-)

To the MSWord futon. (Homework? What is this homework you speak of?)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Neurotic Genius

It's official. School has swallowed my life whole. I have lost all hope of properly sitting down with MSWord to work until December. I don't think I'll remember the things that come up that I want to share here either. I'm trying though.

There were a number of highlights last week, many of which are escaping me as one day blends into the next, but the biggest one is definitely as of 4:43am on Monday, September 6th, 2010.


*louder drumroll*

I finished the first draft of U:RS!! *queue fireworks, pompoms, and victory dances*

There were tears, there were laughs, and now it's in edits. Those are coming along slowly. It's all very superficial things that are changing: rephrasing to make lines and paragraphs more concise, typos, etc. Like I said, I don't think I'll have time for serious edits until the holidays roll around. Thaaaaanks, school. I can forgive The Good Doctor rehearsals because that's my favorite kind of work. Theatre can have my life...unless a publishing company wants it, and I'm iffy about my abilities to write plays professionally. But I'm excited to delve into playwriting. My mythos may not be deep with psychologically complex and stimulating characters Aristotle and Steven Hawkins would admire, but it's mine, it's cute, and I'll be happy with just that when I see it read in January.

*insert transition line to plotting a story*

In my playwriting class Friday, we were doing a character examining exercise where we took on the personality of our characters, and we had a "speed dating" session. It was interesting, but I don't think I got across what I wanted about my character because I was so nervous to do this in front of the class. I was after more seeking for something bigger, and less neurotic. But the exercise was productive in another way. While talking to some of these "characters" I learned some things about mine that I had to spew out on the spot and they just worked. Next thing I know, I have more plot points that could make it a promising one act.

What I realized later on was that I had just publicly done what I swore I'd never tell anyone I do. The only difference was that this time, someone non fictional (although portraying someone fictional) was actually talking back!

...Are you backing away from the keyboard yet? Give me just a minute.

When I speak the situation out loud and go through the motions in my room (or whatever room I'm in and no one else is), as if I were running lines in a play or spouting off an improv scene, it forces me to answer the situation immediately, to keep the flow going. Quick! The love of your life is walking away! What do you say to bring him back? Quick! The hero is gathering strength from his hero's creed, "I'm the good guy. You're the bad guy. I'm gonna beat you with ultimate bonds of friendship!" How do you throw him off his game? And so I stare down the computer screen, or the wall beyond the imaginary love interest/goody two-shoes hero, and I say what the character in the story/play/whatever would say.

It works for calmer situations too. Just have the conversation, and there it is. Afterwards, I'll think it over and see if it's something the character would really say or if it falls into a plot hole. If it's good, I plop myself down and start recreating the conversation in MSWord, praying I remember the key parts to it. That's a big reason why my first drafts are very wordy. I ramble in my thoughts, so these "conversations" ramble a bit, which makes my scenes ramble. But having that instant answer gets me thinking. Sometimes I come up with stuff that just never occurred to me before I talked/acted it out.

Maybe my play character is too much like me, and I really am neurotic. Or maybe it's just my inner thespian having a fit from performance withdrawal. Well, as the saying goes, if it ain't broke...

I'd say back to the MSWord futon, but I'd be lying. Back to the books!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Plotting from the salon chair.

Looks like another good news - bad news moment. Although last time wasn't really bad news. Some might've called it bad news. My ankle is really feeling much better already.

Well, the good news is that I finally finished rereading Wizards at War by the ever awing Diane Duane! It was even more beautiful than I remembered (but my memory is poor, which works well in this case.) The humor was spot on, the plot was brilliant if complex. The characters, even the ones with royal-pain-in-the-butt attitude, had me falling in love with them. And once again, DD shows her knowledge of astronomy in ways I only wish I could. My series on Fictionpress has my protagonists, who are totally nothing like Nita and Kit, bouncing to every corner of the universe. I now understand the universe is, to say the least, pretty darn big and complicated. Way to go, sixteen year old me!

The bad news is that when I was totally inspired to go back to my WIP as I always am after reading a good book, it felt so very...inadequate. I know I shouldn't compare my amateur writing style to a great like that, but I can't help it. When you aspire to a certain standard of excellence and it's clear you're not there (yet), it gets to be a bit disheartening for us beginners. It makes me wonder, "How much time do published authors spend on their MS before it becomes the gold that agents want to represent?" and "What did the MS look like as a first draft? Am I on the right track or am I doing this all wrong?"

We just need to avoid the dangerous pitfall of, "Why should I bother?" I'll tell you why I bother. Writing is slowly bumping theatre out of the top place in my heart, which is a HUGE deal because I absolutely adore performing, assisting, and watching theatre. It's my major! But writing is fun while keeping me entirely in my comfort zone. As I've said, I'm not a socialite, so having fun writing by myself in my room with a snack sounds like the ideal day for me.

Back to the point, now I just want to plot until I get my confidence back. I hope to bolster myself to the point where I was before when I was flying through the chapters and loving every word of them. The prose felt colorful, but not purple, and the dialogue to narrative ratio was in perfect balance. And I used the word "sequester"! I was really proud of that. Haha!

After reading a few articles thanks to Twitter forcing them into my home page feed, I thought of some great ideas that will liven my characters, and give them a stronger persuasive argument to get you to read about them. Less doomsday plot dominating the story, and more down to earth problems screwed up by the doomsday plot as we slowly sink into the heart of the matter. That sounds more enticing. I read that readers are more interested in a close to home problem than a universe in danger because they can relate more. How often is our universe in danger by the forces of evil that we know of? Now how often do you have a crush on an unavailable someone? Thought so. I really should bookmark these articles and link to them. I won't plagiarize these tips.

Of course, this could all just be a ploy to avoid writing further while I feel like my writing could only ever be read and enjoyed on a poorly maintained fiction site. This blog entry could be one big procrastination device. Hmmm...

But I don't blame DD for her wonderful writing affecting my confidence. I'm a novice writer working to better myself. I'm writing these entries in hopes that other novice writers don't feel alone, and so more accomplished writers can look back and smile that I-was-there-once smile because they have already bettered themselves. Congratulations! I thank DD with all of my heart for giving me something to which I can aspire. Maybe one day my WIP will share a shelf with her I sound obsessed enough? I can do more. ;)

Anyway, that's what was on my mind while I was sitting in the hair salon today getting fabulous. Back to the MSWord futon!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Brenna R. vs. The World

I have good news, great news, and more good news. But first, a quick rant.

To those who say Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a good movie, please let me pick your brain apart because I MUST know what you saw that I didn't. The moment I found out it was a movie based on a comic book, I immediately stole the books from my mom and read them. They were stupidly hilarious. Really short, fun reads. I planned to be in the theatre Friday morning to see the movie. Then I remembered something: Michael Cera was going to play Scott Pilgrim!

First failure. Michael Cera is NOT Scott Pilgrim. Where Scott Pilgrim is a cool loser, Cera is just a plain loser. I give him credit for branching out from the ridiculous films he got caught up in as a type cast actor, but this was just wrong. However, I was very excited to see what these people would make of the comics apart from Cera, so I went anyway. Six bucks is not big deal.

The movie itself was the second failure. It tried to crush all six volumes of the comic books into one two hour movie. It switched up where certain things happened for NO reason whatsoever. Instead of using the scenes properly, they also decided to just add their own scenes instead of going by the comics. The characters didn't look the proper ages. Two years pass in the comic where as like, a week passes in the movie. Ramona was way too emo and not nearly enough cool. Kim Pine didn't look nearly cool enough for her character. Young Neil was rarely called "Young Neil" throughout the movie, which makes a failure of a great moment later on.

Do you see where I'm getting at? Maybe not if you haven't read the comics, which I highly recommend you do. But don't see the movie. It was bad. Plain and simple. I tried to enjoy it for a movie's sake. Could not. Even if I didn't read the novel, where they threw in a certain fight was just so random that my brain flinched. It's like that scene if you've seen The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Jet Li where the epic final battle is about to ensue, and out of nowhere, the Chinese girl springs in for her own strike. Believe me, that isn't a spoiler. It's a heads up so your brain doesn't flinch too. See that movie. It's cute, and you'll understand what I mean by random scenes.

However, I will give the Scott Pilgrim cast and crew one thing. Some of their character portrayals were phenomenal. Julie Powers: Amazing! Wallace Wells: Fantastic! Kim Pine's attitude: Pretty great. The rest was basically crap. Period. The end.

Scott Pilgrim movie, if your life had a face, I would punch it. I would punch your life in the face.


And now for something completely different.

The good news: I was asked to sign on as stage manager after volunteering to just do backstage work for a friend's play. We worked together in a One Act Festival back in June and became friends on Facebook, so I saw his status asking for help. Now I'm very glad I didn't let shyness get the best of me. And the cast is so nice. And I get a little role! I'm expecting a great time.

The great news: Yesterday, I finished writing the next chapter of U:RS. It was so exciting! The chapter is awesome (for a first rough draft, of course), and I think it's well spaced with the action. And I got it under 10K words, which was the goal. Now there are approximately three chapters left. I'm on the final lap! Yes! I'm a little worried about the next chapter because it was probably originally more than one chapter, and I feel like there may be too much action. Crisis points are fine for one chapter. Build up is good. This may have a few too many big rises, steady falls, and then another big rise, you know? I guess we'll see how it goes.

And the last good news: I took a bad step off the stage last night, and I sprained my ankle.

"Did she just say spraining her ankle was...good news?" asked the reader, narrowing his/her eyes at the screen and feeling yet another need to back away and close the browser.

Yes, I did.

Yeah, it hurts, and yeah, it's annoying to limp around and worry that I may not get to keep the mini role I was appointed or if I'll be able to audition in a few weeks, but on the bright side, I now know what it feels like to sprain an ankle. I've never done it before, and I can now say I have. If I ever have to write about a character who has a sprain, I'll know exactly what to write. And wouldn't you know I have a character who just so happens to have sprained his ankle (in a fairly epic way, by the way. Haha!) so this information has come in handy.

Besides, it's better than moping about it, right? For a cynic such as myself, I think that's a pretty darn good outlook. And you know what else it means? It means I'll keep off my leg, trapping myself in my bedroom, and I won't be able to binge eat. Being forced out of the kitchen is NEVER a bad thing for me. ;)

Now that I got all that off my chest, it's back to the MSWord Futon. Thankfully I thought of a rather brilliant way to prop my leg up so I can stay near the desk. Sometimes my brilliance scares me. Haha! As if.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blog Warming - It started with a fangirl

Uh oh. Here she goes again with the blog. But I justify it with, "Three time's the charm." Hah! Look how nicely that fits. What I'd have liked to do would be to transfer the few posts from my Wordpress and Live Journal here so they could all be even.

Unfortunately, I'm despicably lazy. In fact, to reach the mighty paradise of Microsoft Word so I can snuggle into my MSWord futon and get some writing done, I must wage an epic battle against the forces of evil and my long time nemesis, Laziness. Oh yes. It is an epic battle indeed.

So my BlogSpot will start with its own welcoming post and introduction.

The book cover of my life
Hello! I'm Brenna, and most of the bland information can be found in the side bar About Me section. The end. :)

Okay, I can do better than that. Well, I'm a college undergrad in my junior year of a theatre education major. Why do I not do something more theatre related like everyone else in my major? Because I'm an introvert cramming herself in the extroverts' universe. I love performing and watching plays, but I'm no good in the social scene, and GOD do I hate auditioning! I'm not a hermit or anything. Just quiet, which clashes with the theatre world. Still love it, though.

I consciously began writing when I was about thirteen. It all started with a Harry Potter obsession, and my yearning to be part of that world. I wrote a fanfiction with an OC named Amelia Nayclear, a pureblood who hated the blood ties and stiff society and blah blah blah. And she was a cousin of my all time favorite character Sirius Black. Yes, I'm a nerd! I've accepted it. Then I wrote about Amelia's and Harry's daughter Renee and her adventures in Hogwarts. While posting that on, the founder of a Harry Potter RPG noticed and invited me to join her new game. It was so much fun! The world ignored the canon characters and let the players have free reign with their own characters in this American wizardry school. I met some great new people all over the world, and I had a blast!

Summer lovin'!
My original fiction writing began one fateful summer in 2005 I believe, when I picked up a book with a neat cover in the library. One might say the book snagged me. It was called, So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane. I read it, I paused, I screamed, I babbled, I screamed more, I fell in love, and I read the rest of the books available that summer. I think it was up to the seventh, Wizard's Holiday. That was when I knew I just had to write something as mind blowing and spectacular and magical as what Diane Duane created.

The Agents of Alcarion: Academy was born. You'll easily notice the similarities between the novels because I began writing in a copy cat phase. Character names didn't get copied (despite how close Nita and Ita are), it was the magic system that got slight tweaks and the setting that jumped over the Hudson, and the plot that is clearly the one night stand love child of the books I adore. I remember my first draft of Academy. It was BAAAAAD! But you have to start somewhere, right? I began with emulating my literary heroine, and I grew from there with reviews from Fictionpress friends over the course of a year or so when I joined the Review Game.

Sweet, sweet adverbs...too sweet!
In just that short time, I got a hardcore wake up call, and my writing got a serious kick in the pants. I learned about adverb twinkies, showing and not telling, and the dreaded said-bookisms. I learned about passive and active voice. I found my own style of writing that seems to be developing and drastically changing every week! That means a lot of rewrites for my WIP. But it's worth it because I've come such a long way with something I love so much. I feel like I've blossomed from a totally suckish fangirl to a less suckish aspiring writer. And it feels really good.

After my great disappointment with the Harry Potter series, (Please don't beat me up. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, right?) I can't be completely resentful to it or J.K.Rowling. In the end, she kind of got me started. She led me to the diving board, and Diane Duane encouraged me to jump. So thank you to both of them, to all of the people who have read my writing and gave feedback from the origins to my current style, and to anyone and everyone in the future who will help push me to achieve my dreams whether he or she knows it or not--that's you, bloggers of the world who don't know me from the other hundred of followers, and that's you, authors who don't know I exist at all as I stalk your stories both online and on paper.

I break for cake!
Thank you for letting me get to where I am now! Go grab yourselves some cookies and cake!

Brenna in a mutant nutshell, folks. Now it's back to the MSWord futon because I've made a huge breakthrough in my WIP the other day, and I'm still running on the adrenalin. I wrote a huge chunk of this story a while back, and I rewrote what I had gotten to, fixing the writing and incorporating a much better plot. Now I'm past the part where I had the old writing as a crutch, and I'm only facing blank MSWord documents from here on out. It's all brand new! Excitement!