Sep 12

First Draft: Done. First Revision Draft: Done

Posted: under Craft, Editing, Life beyond writing, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , , , ,  September 12th, 2022

NewBook isn’t *finished*, but it is complete in the sense of beginning, end, middle untangled so the segments are in the right order, some major side issues that belong in the long arc but not this volume sequestered for the next (or after that), and sufficient interior notes to do the next stage.

So…what are we looking at?  It starts the day the two major characters look down from adjoining mountains, one facing east, one looking south.   Everyone in it–whom I thought I knew from the previous books–surprised me at least once and sometimes more than once in the course of the book.  They showed up not when I expected them to, but when they just did.,..they were different than when I saw them last in Crown of Renewal.  Stuff has gone on behind my back, so to speak.  Because of characters’ physical separation, while each character’s plot line is briskly going on about its business, there was “braiding” to be done in this first, structural, revision draft.  Some of that may still be revised in the next revision draft.  But most of the characters are people that veterans of Paksworld, especially the Paladin’s Legacy group, will know, will have seen before…just 5-6 years on from where they were in age, experiences, locations in some cases.

From here–as fast as I can make it happen–NewBook will get its second revision draft, which will deal with remaining structural issues (a few gaps, now clearly marked on the first revision draft) , and its first “construction” revision (where something needs to be built better, so to speak…design is fine but that bit right there is crooked or unsound)  and then its third revision draft, which will deal with its more surface issues: the polishing part.  Third draft should be ready to submit, after a final run past some readers.  If the dental stuff hadn’t slowed me down, I’d be sure it would be done by Oct 1, but now I’m not…this dental thing is supposed to take several more days in the chair, I’ve been warned, and if they break the molar it will have to come out.  Last time I had one pulled it cost me 4-5 days of misery & no work on anything.  However, the later drafts usually (used to) go faster than the first revision, the structural one.

Once it’s clean enough to satisfy me, it goes to my agent, and if it passes him it goes out wherever he sends it (to start with, Del Rey, we’ve already decided) and I start the next one.  Then the decisions are up to someone else, and I’ll just work on what’s next and hope for the best.  It WILL come out in some form or other, if not from a trad publisher then Indie.   It’s certainly not perfect at this point, but it’s complete enough that I’m convinced it’s a real, and satisfying, story.    Right now I’m also having problems with my regular email but I can still access Earthlink’s WebMail, though the book is very close to its size limit on attachments, while Thunderbird was gulping it right down.  Another thing to fix when I have time.  No snippets today–apologies–but I have to feed horses, dress, etc. and get to the dentist this morning.

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Aug 24

150,000 And Bouncing

Posted: under Good News, Life beyond writing, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  August 24th, 2022

Yes, this afternoon I reached 150,000 words-and-a-bit, which is the “about right” length for a Paksworld book.   Was so gleeful I made a batch of fudge brownies (forgetting that with a temporary crown on one tooth, fudge is not the best idea…)  Celebration time.  We had fried chicken for supper,  brownie with ice cream to follow.  It’s not all done…one major component needs to be written, and a dull boring blob of a beginning needs to be ripped off and replaced with a crisp, sparkling, start, but…it’ll be a much easier balancing act with 150,000 *mostly* right words keeping it on track and zipping along.

Today’s snippet is also posted in the blog, so you needn’t look there for extras today.


By dark, he had achieved, he thought, the ugliest point ever put on the end of a pole, but it would hurt if it hit you right, and it didn’t fall off or break when he jabbed at a tree section with it.


This is Aris, the not yet qualified blacksmith, king’s friend, duke’s third son, horse trainer, and former squire to Duke Arcolin until a series of unfortunate events sent him….well, you’ll have to find out in the book itself.


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Aug 11

News, Views, and Other Stuff

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags:  August 11th, 2020

Whoa, it’s been WAY too long since I was back here.   There’s both good news and sad news on several fronts, so let me get to it.  Since the last post here was about Tigger, I’ll update horses first.  Tigger was doing better and better until October 11 last year, when something panicked him while I was leading him, saddled, as part of his ground work before trying to ride him again (which was going to have to be bitless, because of the permanent injury to his tongue, found at teh vet visit.)   He broke loose from me, raced around the north lot, either flat out or bucking, alternately, and the tack began to fall off in sections…stirrups, saddle pad 1 and 2.   In a final burst of speed, he headed for the 5 foot plus fence between the two lots and tried to jump it.  He didn’t make it, (broke the top pipe at a weld with his chest) and the impact threw him over backwards.  He was, as you might imagine, badly injured.   He’s alive, but not riding-sound and probably never will be.  I’ll spare you the description of all the injuries, but the one that hasn’t healed up is in his back.   Injuries like these *can* heal in enough years (the spine fuses) but in addition when he fell over, he whacked the back of his head–where head and neck meet, on the ground too.   He lost all the confidence he’d gained in the months here, and the two weeks in the vet hospital being treated for multiple cuts (some very deep), an injured eye, and so on did not help his mental status.  He’s still beautiful, though.

He now has a companion that I *can* ride, a black and white horse of no known parentage, a “steady Eddy” personality, named Ragtime (Rags, in daily use.)   Rags is smaller than Tigger and of a completely different build.  Conformationally, he’s an inferior horse, but in practice he’s a pleasant horse to walk around on, and easy to manage though somewhat pushy.  He’s six this year.

May, 2020,  Tigger and Ragtime when the grass was green

Meanwhile, I had started a new book–not a Paks book, but a book I thought might be easier to write, set in the Vatta universe.  It was intended to be the third book in Vatta’s Peace, but I knew I’d have to let it develop any way it wanted to, and not push for the same speed of writing that I used to have.   It’s still just called NewBook (no title) and it’s now just over 100,000 words.  Slowed down somewhat but not completely by the pandemic and moderate self-quarantine: everyone in our family is at increased risk (R- and I by age, plus pre-existing conditions that *some* politicians think make us unworthy of care) and our son as a disabled person whom some politicians also consider not worth saving.  This is a GOP-dominated state, and some of our state leaders and other political talking heads have been eager to say that this group and that group don’t really matter.    When our governor decided to re-open the state (after a late and incomplete closure and no real “wear a mask” statement) our case numbers were still rising, and Memorial Day was right in front of us.   To say I was angry at this gross disrespect for human life is to put it too mildly.  Our national and state leaders kept making it clear that the rising death toll didn’t bother *them* because they insisted the deaths weren’t that important.   As one right-wing pundit in Texas said about the increasing deaths, “It’s mostly elderly and Hispanics.”  Thank you so much, you smug arrogant scum, I thought.   I was not surprised, but definitely angry, when the recommended emails, letters, and calls to my representatives at both state and federal level has zero effect.  A story began to take shape in my head in  June, but I tried to stick to the book.

Even as a friend in New Zealand was describing the approaching end of their shutdown because of rapidly declining cases (NZ now has had no new cases for over 100 days)  and I was anticipating being an online program participant in their WorldCon, we experienced spike after spike,  including in my hometown and its county and those adjoining, down on the Border.   And then my husband’s younger brother and his wife came down with  COVID-19 in Houston, his wife went into the hospital, was intubated, and died.   We were not close, but that was the week they moved morgue trailers into our state, and shipments of body bags, and of course I was sad (and angry) about their situation even before she died.    I couldn’t write at all at first, or think clearly enough to do the prep work for the panels I was supposed to be on or moderate, so I withdrew from programming, and when my brain started functioning better…the story came out.

That story is now up on my website (link on the front page) at

I expect to get comments on it either on Facebook or on the Universes blog, also housed on the website, but if so moved you can put them here.

Comments (11)

Sep 13

Tigger’s Progress

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags:  September 13th, 2019

Tigger is revealing himself to be smart, alert, interested in communicating and gaining facility in that, and athletic.  We have passed some critical milestones.  About a week after the previous post, my then vet became my former vet, and I went back to some vets I’d had before.  Tigger has now had his first full-on visit to that vet clinic, where everything went very well indeed, and things said by former vet became more obviously false.  Tigger has continued to mellow, but mellow-for-him, not what everyone would call mellow.  The big vet visit turned up the reason for his bitting difficulty…an injury to his tongue that’s left a transverse groove (probably actually a scar) across his tongue.  So for the present, he’ll be retrained to go bitless.   In the meantime, he’s stretched his neck a lot, and is less likely, even when excited, to suck it back and imitate a giraffe with it.  He’s fed at ground level, even though it means wasted hay, is outside grazing a lot, etc.  He is trusting us more, comfortable with the routine, though still not fond of being brushed.  We’re doing some desensitization by a slower process than many trainers, because I have the time…no rush to get him “finished.” If you want to read about the current challenges, they’re detailed on my FaceBook posts.

Pictures follow:

Relaxed and moving forward in a disunited canter…better use of his neck and back

But in the presence of something scary…the head’s higher and the tail stiffly upright, the gallop 4-beat but correct in form

And in the suspension phase those hooves are *really* off the ground

He’s a lot of fun and takes up quite a bit of my time.  It will be well into October before I can expect to get on him.  I’ve ridden completely trained horses in a halter and shank but he’s going to be a challenge.  The Marrakai horses in Paksworld were not modeled after pure Arabians but they were modeled after part-Arabs.  They do look something like this but with a bit more bone.

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Aug 01

Tiptoe to the Barn….

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: ,  August 1st, 2019

Where the new resident now appears to be headed for permanency….a ten year old gelding whose new barn name (didn’t have one before that I know of) is “Tigger.”  Tigger looks somewhat like Kallie, except that he’s shorter in the back with a longer hindquarter…in other words better basic structure.   Here he is at the training facility where I bought him, all spiffied up for his portrait.

And here he is at home, very cautious about those dangerous-looking jump blocks. Who knows what horrors might be in them?

A week plus later, he’s more relaxed, turning to come toward me in the late evening light.  ‘Oh, it’s you…got any of those carrot things?”

Like all horses, he has some dings and some training challenges.  He injured one leg as a young horse and has an impressive scar on his left knee that does not affect his action at all.  He also has a splint bump on the cannon bone of the same leg, also not affecting his movement.  No data on whether these injuries occurred at the same time.  These are blemishes that interfered with his planned halter career, but not a problem for the use he will have here.

More challenging is a clearly very settled habit of balling up his tongue behind the bit.  As this is not good for him, or for me as a rider,  and convincing a horse that automatically balls up his tongue when the bit enters his mouth is known to be a difficult fix, I’ve decided to retrain him for bitless riding.  So far, at the groundwork stage, using his usual flat webbing halter and clip-on reins, it’s going well.  Having his tongue balled up behind the bit would certainly explain his rather, um, strong contact when being ridden (both observed with another rider and while riding him for the test.)   I was told “You have to keep a tight hold on him, and really pull to stop him.”  I love his forward-going nature, and his alertness, but prefer to have a horse light in the bridle.  Without the bit in his mouth, he seems to need only consistent training to be light.

He also needed dental work that will be done this coming week, within his first month here, and the vet may find an explanation for the bitting problem other than someone not doing a good job of introducing him to it.    I know his mouth is small, with a flat palette, so it may be the bits being used with him were simply too big.   If the vet thinks he might ever carry a bit,  I’ll work him bitless for 6 months or so and introduce a different, thinner bit designed for horses with small, sensitive mouths.   In about two-three weeks, if all goes well with the prep work, including at least a week of ground driving with the saddle on, I’ll be on his back using a halter with reins attached (the mildest form of bitless)  and with my trainer’s help we’ll decide which of the several bitless bridles might suit him best…he gets a vote, of course.  Sidepull, rope halter with reins, flat halter with reins, Micklem Multibridle, Dr. Cook’s Bitless Bridle, etc.

In the meantime, ArmadilloCon starts tomorrow and I’ll miss several days work with him.  Love the people at DilloCon but will miss my new horse.  He’s a real character, and I can hardly wait to be riding him when he’s showing off like this, taken at the training facility and shown on his sales page (now removed, alas.)

On the writing side, after he arrived and began settling in…I wrote the first new fiction (very short, very rough draft) that actually finished a story since the concussion.  And I’m starting slowly on the next Vatta book, the third in Vatta’s Peace.  Horses are not a distraction…they’re inspiration.

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Jun 16

New Horse, New Beginning

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags:  June 16th, 2019

I drove up to North Texas yesterday to see a thirteen year old flea-bitten grey Arabian gelding.  This is the picture I had seen before going up to see him:

Vanguard Prestige

He looks darker in this picture because he was wet–sweaty-wet.

Today, after a long trailer ride, he arrived shortly after I got home and looked like this:

For another view of the different in width of forehead and mouth, here’s the equine copycatting a giraffe in eating leaves off a tree.

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May 20

Horses: past and maybe future

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags:  May 20th, 2019

Last year–I think I posted about this–I bought three mares, serially.   Mocha, a very pretty smoky buckskin half-Arab, half Quarter Horse cross…bucked me off hard the first time I swung a leg over her–before I was mounted completely–and gave me a concussion, and kicked my husband in the thigh in the same tantrum.   Not meant to be my horse partner, not at my age.

Molly, a much gentler red dun Quarter Horse, merely refused to walk around with me on her back (the trainer I’d hired to work on Mocha–who was also bucked off after a month of no bucking, had found Molly for me.)   Molly tried to drag my leg along fences, backed up in circles, etc.  Molly turned out to be an excellent kid horse, though, and one of the kids taking lessons on her found that Molly loved running barrels.  Former owner had no idea.  Mocha now lives on a ranch in California, where she’s been perfect for the rancher.  Molly now lives with a family whose daughter wants to do barrel racing.

And then there was Kallie, an Arabian mare I found online, and went to look at with my trainer–trail and endurance horse, supposedly, but when we got there she was lame in three legs, with a mouthful of teeth that hadn’t been cared for along with the feet.  But she gave me the look horses have given me before so I bought her in September.  Of the three lame legs, my trainer and I got two of them disease free…but the third foot finally couldn’t be fixed, and in early May we put her to rest.   I did get to ride her some, and she was a lot of fun.  We got along perfectly–she was a sweet and willing mare who wanted to please.  I knew it was a risk when I bought her and I don’t regret it.

So now I’m horseless again, but taking lessons from my trainer on one of her horses…and I have another horse in my sights.  Another Arabian (l like their personalities and their gaits)  who maybe, I hope, will be the horse I need for the years to come.   Heading off to North Texas again to take a look at him in a few weeks.  Grey, an inch taller than Kallie, and a really lovely horse.


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May 04

Aten’t Dead Yet (in fact, doing OK)

Posted: under Audiobooks, Collections, Deeds of Honor, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , ,  May 4th, 2019

We’ve had fifteen inches of rain in the last 30 days.  More than half an average year’s rainfall.  Five and a half of it in the previous 48 hours, running through the barn aisle into the dirt-floored horse stalls and loafing area.   Extraordinary rain starting last fall with a deluge and flash flood…so we have gorgeous wildflowers  and water running for weeks at a time across the near meadow.   My new horse is great except for the continuing physical problems; she spent a month at the vet’s getting started on fixing one of them, a deep-seated chronic hoof infection causing repeated abscesses.  The vet tells me the X-ray evidence and what he saw cutting on the sole of her hoof is that it’s been going on for years.   We won’t know if she can possibly recover until her hoof grows out completely, which may be in September, but maybe not since she can’t go out to be worked on wet ground–and working a horse is what stimulates hoof growth. However,  her abscess hasn’t recurred since March 25, when she came home from the vet clinic, and it’s been 4 full weeks since she came off the antibiotic.   After she came home, I was told I could ride her–should ride her–every day if possible, but most days it hasn’t been.  So almost every time I get on her is a re-start.  She’s got a great feel, when she calms down from “You’re going to get on me AGAIN?  I thought you gave that up forever!” and jigging a lot.   But we make progress in other ways.   I do what I can in the barn, though today…what a mess.  And it’s cloudy and there’s not a drying wind.   If not for the need to keep her bad hoof dry and clean (it’s always in a medicated wrap, inside a hoof boot, but water and mud can go over the top of the hoof boot if deep enough–hence restrictions)  I could be out shlooping through the mud with her.

And meanwhile, some Paksworld news.  The audio book of DEEDS OF HONOR will be starting production soon; I’m at the stage of communicating with the voice actor about pronunciations and such.    I’ll be working on that today….and  until it’s done.

I went to my first HS reunion ever (56th for those who’ve been going regularly) and that was very interesting.  I’m glad I went, though I was sick (caught a cold probably Easter Sunday, and was still in medias res on the Saturday after) and recognized only two people right off the bat.    Both I’d known in elementary school, and one before that.  It’s unusual for me to recognize people after a break–my lousy face recognition processor–so a relief to instantly know *that* had to be who it was.

It’s become obvious in the last year and almost-three-months since the concussion that it’s going to take a lot longer for some of the symptoms to resolve, if they do.  The remaining difficulties are typical of post-concussion problems–but overlap with typical age-related problems.   All very depressing, if you dwell on them, and I’m trying not to, though a writer having difficulties with language *at all* raises the anxiety level.  When typing, I make mistakes of a type I never used to make, thinking one word and typing another.  Plain typos I’ve always made–reversing letters, leaving one out.  But these are true cognitive (not fingering) mistakes.  Grrr.  I see them when I re-read a Facebook post or a tweet, but it’s annoying and scary both.   Fiction doesn’t hold together yet–the plot-daemon, that faithful assistant, seems to wake up only in spurts, and since I’ve never outlined  (teachers TOLD me I should always outline)  when I lose the scent or the tracks or whatever it is that has always led me onward…I sit there staring at the page with no idea at all what to do.  Yet in reading fiction, I’m back to my old speed and analytical ability (I’m plowing through Cherryh’s Foreigner series again, in which I’d missed a few books over the years, and holding the first sixteen books (so far) in my head and finding the connections, the foreshadowing, the ways she’s held this huge and complex and multi-layered series together.)  But I’m more easily distracted by real-world things, both good and not-so, when I try to forge ahead on either of the two projects begun and not really advancing.

But I intend to keep trying, while also working on general health issues (now better, not done yet, though) and pushing the envelope as much as possible.   The stories are in there somewhere.

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Feb 17

Things to Avoid

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags:  February 17th, 2019

People who have already had three concussions should not get rear-ended at the end of a long day that also included dental excavations.  Not sure the dental stuff actually made the jarring of the rear-ending worse, but it *felt* like I’d not only had my brain shaken but been socked in the right cheekbone as well.  Useless as that is, I’m annoyed that my brain isn’t proof against all such blows and shakings.   I need it; it should just go right on zipping its little chemo-electric signals from neuron to neuron with undiminished speed and strength and accuracy.  And…because it’s not impervious to damage…it doesn’t.

Last Tuesday, I was stopped at an intersection and the car behind me ran into me.   It wasn’t a high-speed rear-ending and the car wasn’t totalled or anything.  I didn’t lose consciousness or break any bones or even get an outward scratch.  But I did get my brain shook, and as is typical with such injuries, when not too severe, I didn’t realize the size of the effect.   I was 27 miles from home, about…a little over a half hour drive, what with traffic lights, much of it in open country, and as once before I wanted badly to get home and in this case could remember the entire route…so I drove it.  Carefully, but (in hindsight) unwisely…by the time I got home, all I could think of was getting inside and flat on a bed.   When you’ve had a brain shake, you don’t (if you have a brain cell still functioning) take any NSAID pain medication for the headache…it risks making a tiny bleed worse, if the tiny bleed is the source of the headache.  Tuesday through Tuesday night was spent lying flat and wishing my head would quit hurting…dozing and waking, over and over.

Wednesday last week was a lost day.   I had intended to drive to the city to choir practice, and work on a Mozart mass with the choir.  Didn’t make it.  Knew I wouldn’t be safe to drive 50 miles in, on the Interstate, navigate rush hour afternoon traffic downtown, and drive back home after 9 pm.   (The restident retired doctor had something to say about that, too.)   I slept off and on most of the day.  Thursday was better, which is good, because I had a boatload of stuff that needed doing.  None of it involved driving, and I could rest between phone calls.  Friday also had an important business appointment I could not miss…but involved driving to the county seat and around town to do other errands than the main one.  That reactivated the headache; I came home and went to bed.  Slept between horse chores.  Saturday was mixed.   Felt pretty good early, but just driving to the local feed store (shavings, one sack of feed)  and the headache was back, though weaker.   I’m not in church singing Mozart, which bites, but I’m still not 100%.   And church is still a 50 mile drive away (and I don’t know the music well enough because I can’t learn the difficult stuff without actual rehearsals with the choir.  You Tube is not enough for me.)   Could be a lot worse.   I’m steady enough on my feet to muck out a horse stall, and hope later to do some ground work with the horse.   No driving today.

I have an online friend who endured two much harder rear-endings in close succession…full on concussion both times, and the two that close together gave her a much worse brain injury that affected her for years.   Mine was not as severe, and I think bothered me this much only because it was less than a year after the bucked-off-whacked-head-on-ground concussion last year.  But a definite reminder that getting your brain shook, with or without a direct blow, is never good for said brain, and you should avoid such things to the extent you can.  Wear the helmet if there’s a chance of it.  Know that the first thing a whack to the brain does is make the brain unable to recognize whether it’s functioning OK or not.  If you are conscious, it will be pushing its RESTART button over and over, and some things WILL work, and it will tell you everything’s fine now.  The brain thinks pushing the RESTART button makes everything perfect…but just as rebooting a computer can, at times, restore only part of its functionality and it needs rebooting again (and again) to bring up *all* the software with the current settings, the brain can reboot in segments, not as a fully functioning whole. (That’s my excuse for any remaining typos I didn’t see in this and correct already.)   I rehearsed the basic LOC protocol (are you oriented to person, place, calendar day, clock time?  Can you remember certain common facts and calculate some simple math?) and considered myself just fine, thanks.  That’s a good start, but it’s not everything.

So: take care of your brain.   You’ll want it, from time to time.  Can’t write without it.

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Jan 01

2019…And A Resolution

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags:  January 1st, 2019

Like many people, I make resolutions with a real-life lifespan of weeks to months, rarely a year.  I’ve made a few that lasted for multiple years, but those things…take time, and none of us have more than 24 hours/day.  However, this past year was particularly rough on resolutions (except to stick with the dental work and the eye surgery and its results) so I’m trying again.   And one of the new list is to be more regular in posting here and on the Universes blog.  How “regular” that will be I don’t yet know.  I now have some hard limitations on computer time, especially keyboarding, so posts are likely to be shorter, replies to comments shorter, as I save “keystrokes” for writing stuff that might end up published if I can finish it.  But I have neglected the blogs and apologize to the regular denizens of Paksworld.

My newest horse, Kallie, is now home, and we’re stymied by weather on the riding side, though I’ve had plenty of refresher work in mucking out, cleaning hooves, moving things around, grooming, and changing horseware from one sheet or blanket to another.  I’d rather be doing that than have to drive 50 miles one way just to see her.  Here’s a picture of my last ride at the trainer’s place, on December 17.

We were just completing a down transition from trot to walk, and in the next step I gave her more rein and she stretched her neck.   She hadn’t wanted to slow.

A few days later, she came here, backed out of the trailer, and immediately put her head down to graze:

She has lost some of the muscle she’d built up from swimming and regular work to stall rest necessitated by back to back hoof abscesses, especially on her hindquarter.  This will come back when we can start riding the gentle rises and falls here.  But right now it’s too wet.

In the barn pen before the past week’s rains started:

It didn’t take long for her to eat all the grass in this 30 x 40 foot pen…and then it rained, and it rained, and it rained, and it rained.  And it’s raining today.  The south side of the barn is open to this pen, so there’s no way to keep her out of the churned mud without locking her in her stall, which she hates.  And stall confinement has its own risks to a horse’s health, esp. a horse like this.  She needs to move around.  Eventually the rain will stop…


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