Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Painting Pictures with Words...and Linda Wells

It is an honor to have Linda Wells as my guest. She has painted some lovely pictures with words and it is amazing.  I like how you drew me in with your words and visuals. Thank you Linda, for such an interesting post. Be sure and check out the giveaway at the end of the post. You will not want to miss this one!

I was recently sitting on a hotel balcony, watching the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean, and the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” came to mind.  That’s true enough, but not the best adage for a writer.  After all, my goal is the opposite, to paint a picture with words.  So, I went about mentally writing the scene playing out before me. 

Gulls cackled and soared in ever-growing circles as the slightest glimmer of light appeared on the horizon.  Still too dark to see clearly, the gentle lapping of waves upon the shore, and the unmistakably heavy scent of salt in the air, confirmed that it was a great body of water stretching out into the distance, and not some open field in an empty park.  Slowly the light took on a pinkish hue, and the silhouettes of two people appeared against the brightening sky.  One, a man standing stiffly with his hands balled into fists, stared out across the water.  The other was a woman, seated on the beach with her arms wrapped around her knees, her long hair blowing unheeded around her drooping head.  They were clearly together, but at the same time, the distance between them seemed as vast as the ocean. 

The hardest thing when starting a new story is writing that first paragraph.  It has to grab your readers’ attention and keep them curious enough to turn the page.  Setting the scene, introducing the mood, the time period, and most importantly, the characters, is challenging.  You want to reveal enough to be intriguing, but you don’t want to say everything right away.  That’s what makes writing variations of Pride and Prejudice interesting.  After all, everybody knows Darcy and Elizabeth.  What new thing can possibly be revealed about two characters who have been dissected by hundreds of writers, on both the scholarly and fan fiction sides of things? 

And that’s where it strikes me.  How many times have artists painted the same scene?  How many students have sat around a studio with the same model before them, and yet every painting produced is unique.  Each student chooses a particular feature to highlight, a preferred style and medium to use, and inevitably, each mixes their individual feelings into the finished piece. 

The same goes for writing Jane Austen variations.  We all start with the same story, the same characters, and then . . . our imaginations are set free to paint that new picture with words.  Where will we put them?  What time period will it be?  What can we change?  What should be left untouched?  And most of all, how can we begin that story so each reader is comfortable with their beloved characters, no matter where they happen to be this time around, and know that in essentials, they are unchanged?

The drone of propellers cutting through the air drew Darcy’s impassive gaze from the field of ripening wheat to the horizon, where three Spitfires flying in close formation sped ever closer.  As a boy he would determinedly spur his pony to chase the shadows of passing aircraft, sometimes waving to the pilots as they swooped down low.  Now a grown man, he sat still and followed the fighters’ progress as they passed over Pemberley, the fading sound of the engines lingering long after the planes were only specks in the cloudless sky.

A different sort of engine sound shifted his attention to the drive and signalled the approach of an open top Cowley and the three people seated inside.  Urging his horse up the ridge, Darcy directed him through the trees and onto the gravelled road.  The motorcar was too far away to see any great detail, but he could tell by the way the people behaved that they were strangers, come to see the estate.

There, a picture painted with words.  Can you see it?  You know that it’s Darcy, you can be pretty sure that the three people in the car are Elizabeth and the Gardiners coming to see Pemberley.  It’s definitely not Regency, but it is familiar.  Your imagination can fill in some of the details even without reading another word.  But that’s the point.  You want to read the words because they take you far beyond that first picture.  The words let you examine and explore, to feel the emotions of the characters and draw out feelings from your own experiences. 

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a thousand words give you so much more than a painting. 

Do you have a favorite opening paragraph or sentence?  And no, you can’t pick the obvious, “It is a truth universally acknowledged . . .”

Your post made me think and feel...very pleasant and inspirational. Thank you again for sharing these thoughts with us, Linda. I think you said it all very well, indeed. 

Now to Ms. Wells' giveaway...winner's choice of ANY of her eBooks. Folks that is a set of three books for Memory or two books for Imperative and so on. You get the idea. It is a very generous offer and we thank you very much Linda Wells. Answer Linda's question above in the comment section to be entered. The giveaway is international. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @.  Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight, September 2. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

And the winner is...

Liz Castillo
who left a comment on August 16.

Liz is the randomly selected winner of Mr. Darcy's Promise
by Jeanna Ellsworth

Congratulations again, Liz!
Contact me via email with your choice!

Thank you for the giveaway, Jeanna Ellsworth!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

And the winner is...


Candy M, you are the winner!

Candy left a comment on August 12
Thanks for commenting and congratulations again!

Thank you P.O. Dixon for having the giveaway!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Share in the Conversation...Mr. Darcy's Promise

Mr. Darcy’s Promise by Jeanna Ellsworth

The novel begins with Georgiana making a surprise visit to Netherfield to see her brother. In one of his letters to her, Darcy mentioned a Miss Elizabeth Bennet and even said that he admired her, a first for him on both accounts. This revelations so intrigued Georgiana that she is a bit deceitful in her efforts to make the trip in the hopes of meeting the lady and seeing for herself if her brother is truly in love. Mr. Darcy is surprised but thrilled to see Georgiana. Seeing the relationship between the siblings and how Mr. Darcy acts toward his sister makes Lizzy start to rethink her opinion of him.

Wickham being in Meryton and showing up at Longbourn bring the trouble that only he can deliver. Georgiana, Lizzy and Darcy are all affected. No one remains untouched by his schemes. I have to admit that I was much pleased by the results of one of his schemes going afoul! Well done, Ms. Ellsworth!

Colonel Fitzwilliam is lovable and even is a jokester. Georgiana is a bit secretive at times, but understandably so. Wickham is bad to the bone as always, but nastier than ever. Lizzy and Darcy are pretty true to character throughout the book. Darcy is honorable and trustworthy, almost to a fault. I have to agree with Lizzy about Mr. Darcy’s promise. It became somewhat vexing to me too! (but in a good way)  Ms. Ellsworth’s Darcy is wonderful and I fell more in love with him than ever.

As Darcy and Lizzy get to know one another there are many wonderful scenes with the two of them. This was one of the many things that I enjoyed about this book – lots of Darcy and Lizzy together. The mud escapade was marvelous and made for amusing and fun reading. I laughed out loud several times. Walking in the stream, tending the hen and her chicks and many more great moments await the reader of this novel.

Some of the lessons learned and the stories told about them are very intuitive. The lovely parallel of the hen and her chicks are just one of them. I was impressed with this aspect of the novel. The author wove them in with ease and they added much to the story. Not only was it lighthearted in places, fun, serious, upsetting and very touching, it told a great story with meaning. It made me think, laugh and cry. I finished the book feeling very satisfied.

Jeanna Ellsworth’s debut novel is well-written, entertaining and hard to put down. I enjoyed it immensely and hope to see more from her soon. If you like Jane Austen and JAFF, you will not want to miss one.

5 out of 5 stars
PG for no explicit sex

This is my 17th novel for the 2013 Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jeanna Ellsworth...some promises are meant to be broken!

Jeanna Ellsworth, debut author of Mr. Darcy's Promise, is my guest this week. Her answers to my interview questions are diverting, entertaining and touching. Her honesty and openness are to be admired. I greatly enjoyed reading your answers and getting to know you better. Thank you for sharing your loves, your thoughts and your innermost feelings. 

There is a giveaway so be sure to read about it at the bottom of the post! Please join me in welcoming Jeanna Ellsworth.

        1.  How and when did you become interested in Jane Austen and Pride    & Prejudice?

I’ve liked Pride and Prejudice for many years but I admit I preferred to watch the movie until my sister, KaraLynne Mackrory (author of Falling for Mr. Darcy and Bluebells in the Mourning), would send me her chapters as she finished them. She was so good at drawing me into the story that I began to be impatient for the next chapter. A writer can only write just so fast and she was not fast enough for my insatiable thirst for a good romance. I had been divorced for almost a year and had even less romance for at least ten years before that. Mr. Collins had more romance in his life with Elizabeth than I did . . . so . . . once I realized how my love life had been on a serious decade long fast, and nearly in dormancy,  and that it suddenly was being fed (one tantalizing but WAY too short chapter at a time), I begged her for more. I remember her saying, “Well if you like my book, why don’t you read this book”, then she suggested “that book”, then she turned me onto entire authors like Kara Louise and Jan Hahn. So I started reading and reading and reading. I read online books, rented every book from the library, and Amazon.com stock went up as I learned that KaraLynne’s addiction for Darcy and Elizabeth was contagious, worldwide, and that an addict found where she could get her blunt!

        2. What drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing  PnP variations?

Do hallucinations count as a driving force? Ha Ha. If so, then I’d have to say I would have conversations with 200 year old fictitious characters and suddenly I would have plots and scenes come to me both awake and when sleeping. Of course this was over 50 JAFF books into my addiction. I was really beginning to be concerned that I was going crazy. I now believe a true Janeite must be a little crazy but I didn’t learn this until recently. The words “indeed” and “shall” and phrases like “are you ill?” began seeping into my vocabulary. So I asked for advice from my one sister who knew what I was feeling. Addicts attract addicts. I asked her what to do. She suggested a plot outline, then encouraged the first chapter to be written “just to see” how I liked writing. Two months later I had finished writing an entire novel. I admit it was never a dream to write. In fact, I am a nurse and we do very little writing in our professions. Certainly not dialogue or romance scenes. I had taken a creative writing class in high school and dabbled in writing short stories that could be counted as blogs. Even started a personal history once. I have loved writing in a journal though. I think if I give any credit to being able to express what I want in writing it would have to be because of my journal writing. 

            3. Do you have a muse that causes your story to lead you at times or do you use an outline and follow it religiously? What is your writing routine?

I love this question. I would say I know basic key plots but mostly it is muse and the energy I feel when I write. I remember in Mr. Darcy’s Promise, writing Darcy teasingly saying “I insist you tell me what you are thinking.” And then Elizabeth says, “Or what, Mr. Darcy?” My fingers paused at the end of that sentence and I thought, “Or what? What will Darcy, a man who is madly in love with Elizabeth, threaten her with?” I was on a TRAX commuting train and paused just contemplating what to do with the scene from there. An idea came to me. Mud. Of course! Why not mud in a Regency romance!?!? Mr. Darcy then threatens to throw her in the mud. It turned out to be one of my favorite scenes even though I never intended it in the book. So I very much let my fingers do the walking as I write. Occasionally I have to remind myself of my goals and refer back to the plot outline but mostly I just write what flows into my fingers.

           4. Is there any setting that inspires you to write?

My girls inspire me. I have two teenage daughters and a 7 year old daughter who laugh and cry and swoon with me on everything. They have been my constant in my life. I dedicate Mr. Darcy’s Promise to them. More often than not, it is them that request a chick flick and rarely is it me who suggests the BBC version (all 6 hours) of Pride and Prejudice (I try to limit myself). But we watch it 4-5 times a year. My 7 year old can nearly quote parts of it. I want so badly to have them find their own Mr. Darcy’s when the time is right.

      5. Why does the Regency era appeal to you?

Besides the breeches and sexy knee high boots? Ha Ha. Back then a lady was really a lady and a man fought to defend his honor as well as hers. The subtlest of looks and the briefest of touches meant so much! I enjoy the idea of a gentleman doing everything in his power to show that a lady’s reputation was more important than his own. I love that a single dance could communicate admiration. I love rules. But what I love the most about Jane Austen’s Regency Era was that rules were sometimes broken, and sometimes that was the best part! Darcy should never have written to Elizabeth after her refusal but he did! She should never have accepted a letter from someone she did not have an understanding with but only because the rule was broken did the relationship change. In Mr. Darcy’s Promise, there comes a time when my Elizabeth gets quite irritated with Darcy’s gentlemanly rules and promises. After all, some promises are meant to be broken.

       6. Tell us something about your book that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away)

I made myself cry in chapter 12 when I wrote it. I seriously did. I knew what was coming. I was prepared to write the scene. It was not a moment I was unprepared for. But when Darcy finally tells her how much he loves her, I bawled. My girls were in the same room as me and they asked me what was wrong. I told them “He loves her! He couldn’t contain it one page longer! He finally expressed his love!” My oldest two understood since they would read each chapter as I wrote them but my tenderhearted youngest just hugged me as if there was something wrong. She was very confused since 20 minutes before I was laughing at my computer screen as I wrote. Laugh. Cry. Swoon? Yup . . . I make myself feel it all! Hopefully you will all feel it too!

      7. Is there anything you learned from writing that has helped you in your life?

No comment. (This is a  game I play when I don’t want to answer a question). No seriously, one thing I am known for is my honesty so I will suck it up and answer this. I learned that not all relationships have to be like the marriage I was in. I learned that a marriage can be based on love, companionship, kindness and generosity. I learned that maybe, just maybe, I might be willing to do a bit of dating and search for my own Mr. Darcy.  All this I learned in a two month period of writing Mr. Darcy’s Promise which is about a forced marriage scenario.

        8.  Is there anything special about yourself or your writing that you would like to share with us?

Everything about me is special! But there were many years I did not believe that. I am healing from years and years of severe depression and have been completely depression free for over 4 years! I celebrate that anniversary day more significantly then my own birthday which is next week!

        9. Tell us about your sister, KaraLynne Mackrory and how her books/writing inspired you.

I am so lucky to have a sister who understands and even feeds my addiction and obsession. She is an inspiration. I have used and abused her opinions, knowledge, experience as a published author, her values etc. as I delved into writing and publishing. She is my Wikipedia with a heart. I still get mad at her that she didn’t put an epilogue at the end of Falling for Mr. Darcy. I seriously hold some animosity. Ha Ha. 

      10. Now for a very important question, why do you love Mr. Darcy?

I love that Mr. Darcy is not perfect. He has such serious faults that he learns about himself and doesn’t just sit back and accept that it is the way he is. He doesn’t offer excuses. He doesn’t dismiss criticism without introspection. Once these faults, his pride and his prejudice, were pointed out to him, he made every effort to fix them. He struggled. It was indeed a heavy load. But at the end of each day, he lives by my motto, “I will be better today than yesterday, and I hope that I can always say that.” 

Thank you for interviewing me! This was great to write! It is so fun to revisit my addiction to a fictitious hero and be able to share it with all of you! I hope this sparked your interest in my book, Mr. Darcy’s Promise, and that I make you laugh, cry, and swoon as much as I hope to! I hope you all follow my blog posts I do to on my website, www.heyladypublications.com. Happy reading!

Jeanna Ellsworth

Jeanna, thank you again for being my guest and for answering my questions. You brightened my day with your energy and spark. I share your addiction with a fictitious hero as do many JAFF fans. I also enjoyed your book and you did make me laugh, cry and swoon! Your Mr. Darcy was most swoon-worthy! I fell in love all over again. Better save the rest of my comments for a review to follow in a few days! 

Ms. Ellworth is giving away one eBook for an eReader or one trade paperback. The giveaway is worldwide and the winner will be selected in a random drawing. Leave a comment below to be entered. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @.  Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight, August 19. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Share in the Conversation...Love Will Grow

Love Will Grow   by P.O. Dixon

While visiting Charlotte Collins at Hunsford Parsonage, Elizabeth Bennet has been invited to tea at Rosings Park with Miss Anne de Bourgh. Not only has the young heiress singled out Elizabeth for friendship, she also desires her assistance in securing a marriage proposal from her cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Anne, aware of Darcy’s ‘infatuation’ with Lizzy, uses that knowledge to her advantage or so she thinks, in attempting to gain Lizzy’s help.  Anne believes that Darcy will never act on his feelings for Elizabeth due to his family obligations. Elizabeth agrees to help Anne since she dislikes the man so much herself.

During the visit with Anne, Lizzy is told in confidence, some unexpected information regarding George Wickham.  She also learns interesting facts about Mr. Darcy, things Anne relayed from letters Georgiana wrote to her. These new morsels of information leave Elizabeth puzzled and questioning. What are these thoughts that keep pushing through her barrier? As she learns more about Mr. Darcy she begins to wonder if maybe, just maybe she was a bit hasty in her judgment. Then comes the disastrous proposal and she is furious again.

As time and circumstances slowly erode Lizzy’s negative feelings for Mr. Darcy, her loyalty to Anne remains steadfast. As Lizzy’s love grows, the path to happiness for the couple is rocky and seems futile to Lizzy. Darcy is relentless in his efforts to change her mind and this makes for many enjoyable scenes in this novel. What will it take for Lizzy to decide to follow her heart or will she give up on love because of a friendship?

This book is a quick read and one you will not want to miss. It is well written and entertaining. P. O. Dixon has done it again. 

4 out of 5 stars
This book contains no explicit sex scenes

This is my 16th novel for the 2013 Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge.

P.O Dixon has kindly agreed to a giveaway with this review of her book. She is offering an eBook for your Kindle to one lucky person. The giveaway is worldwide. Leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @.  Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight, August 18th. Thank you Ms. Dixon for your generosity! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sharon Lathan Writes Mashups!

Did I grab your attention? Are you worried I’ve gone over to the dark side, and will next be tossing in ghosts or elves into my Austenesque novels?

As tempting as that might be (the elves, anyway) y’all can take a deep breath and rest easy. I have no inclination to veer off into the fantasy realm.... although if you ask my husband, logically I should since I’ve been reading fantasy novels as a favorite genre since I was twelve. Of course, what he fails to remember is that while I have read every Tolkien novel a couple dozen times (an underestimate), and do consider Ender’s Game one of the best sci-fi books ever written, I have forever been extremely eclectic in my tastes.

This leads me to why I declared so dramatically that I write mashups.

By definition, a “mashup” is a novel that combines a work of existing literature with elements from a different genre. Obviously those mashups that grab onto a genre wildly opposite the original - such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the first novel labeled a “mashup” - are what one instantly imagines. Nevertheless, if going by the strictest definition, a mashup does not have to include otherworldly creatures or settings more commonly located in the fantasy section of the book store.

I didn’t realize this tendency within my novels until examined in retrospect, but instinctively from page one I was combining a variety of genres within my saga. One is right there in the previous sentence... “my saga”

I wasn’t content to pen a one-book continuation, or leave my focus on Darcy and Elizabeth. My love for multiple-book family, generational sagas meant I couldn’t resist carrying on the Darcy family.... all of them.... even ones I created.... for as long as possible. Eight novels and counting!

Another genre I tossed into the mix was historical fiction.

Remember that Jane Austen was a contemporary writer. Her novels are set in what is a historical period to us, but not so to her. There is a huge difference between writing a contemporary novel and historical fiction! Austen was writing for readers who knew the English landscape, political situation, social mores, day-to-day life, and so on. If she had attempted to set her novels in Medieval times, she would have faced the same challenges historical writers today face:  Telling a comprehensible story with relatable characters, while also accurately capturing and explaining the atmosphere of a past period.

Trust me, this is not easy! Every modern historical novelist struggles with this balance... and we have the internet!
My book shelves attest to my long-held passion for fat historical novels. Thus it was natural for me to delve into the research, but the true joy is sharing my passion for history with readers. Often I must rein myself in, or employ a subjective editing knife, to prevent a narrative from toppling over into non-fiction, lecturing zones!

Even with that awareness, I suspect there have been Darcy Saga readers whose eyes glazed over from time to time! Sorry about that, but now you know its because I am writing a mashup! Usually I cleverly blend my educational bits into interesting dialogue, as seen in the excerpt below from The Trouble With Mr. Darcy.

            “Is the crossing into Italy as formidable as they say?” Georgiana asked. Her voice and expression showed exhilaration at the concept and not a shred of fright, music and Mr. Butler forgotten.
            “Oh, indeed it is,” her cousin answered in an ominous tone, winking sidelong at Darcy, who frowned. “The pass of Saint Bernard through the Valais Alps to Aosta is roughly fifty miles of narrow winding pathways overlooking plunging gorges and rising to elevations over eight-thousand feet. All around you are towering snow-clad mountains touching the heavens. It is breathtaking to behold! God at His greatest display of artistry. One must be hardy to cross and incredibly brave.”
            “You have crossed it yourself, Herr Oeggl?”
            “I have, twice I am proud to say.”
            “An adventurous soul is my son,” Baron Oeggl declared.
            “I am Austrian. And Austrians climb mountains fearlessly, yes, Mutter, sein?”
            “So I am continually informed,” Mary agreed dryly.
            Herr Oeggl grinned. “You shall see, lieblich cousin, that the Great St. Bernard is a marvelous adventure. We shall tread the road bloody Napoleon crossed with his army of 60,000, descending into an unaware Saint-Rhemy with war chariots and gun carriages. He was branded a fool to attempt crossing in May while the heavy snows blocked the pass, but fool or tactical genius his ploy succeeded. History is plentiful along the pass.”
            Lizzy shivered. “One hears such tales of woe related to that pass. Are you sure it is wise to take that way?”
            “It is the closest and well traversed, Cousin. Thousands of people travel that way each year. One must be diligent and prepared, naturally. That is why we will not depart until well into June, for one thing, and we will move slowly with guides.”
            “And you will shelter at the hospice for a day or more of rest,” Darcy stated, it not a question.
            “Goodness knows I will need the hiatus.” Lord Matlock stretched his legs as if already imagining the ache from an arduous ride.
            “The monks who honor Bernard of Menthon by maintaining the hospice will treat you well, my Lord. The food is hot and satisfying, the fires raging, and the travelers constant through the pass. The monks and their dogs also patrol the trails for unsavory folk bent on thievery. That is no longer the concern it once was.”
            “I hear the dogs of St. Bernard are as big as mastiffs. Is this true?”
            “It is, Cousin,” Jurgen, youngest son of Herr Oeggl replied, leaning forward in his chair and holding his hand shoulder level. “Like small horses they are, but gentle. They gaze at you with their enormous brown eyes and compassion touches your heart. You can see why they love rescuing stranded people, risking their own lives selflessly to aid humans. It is beautiful.”
            “My son is a lover of animals.” Herr Oeggl smiled fondly. “He wishes to join the monastery I believe and devote himself to breeding the St. Bernards. Hence his interest in this journey, unlike my lovely nieces who want to shop in Milano.”
            “Milano designers and fabrics are unlike anywhere else, except perhaps Florence.” Romy sniffed. “It is worth any hardship for fashion.”

If you are a fan of typical mashup novels and got excited when you saw the title of this blog post, I do apologize. Nothing fantastical will be entering into my books any time soon. (And for those who believe my interpretation of Mr. Darcy borders on fantasy, or at the least “too good to be true”, my husband proves otherwise!)

However, if you are drawn to my looser definition of a mashup, then perhaps The Darcy Saga novels are right up your alley!

Are you a fan of generational novels and/or in depth historical fiction? Speak up proudly, and share your favorite titles.

Sharon Lathan Bio--
Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga eight-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Sharon began writing in 2005 and her first
novel, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One was published in 2009. Her eighth novel was released in April 2013, The Passions of Dr. Darcy, an epic tale of an English physician in Georgian Era India.

For more information about Sharon, the Regency Era, and her novels, visit her website/blog at: www.sharonlathan.net or search for her on Facebook and Twitter. She also invites you to join her and other Austen novelists at Austen Authors: www.austenauthors.com

Thank you, Sharon Lathan, for being my guest today, and for your entertaining and very interesting post! I decided to put my comments at the end rather than take anything away from your great attention grabbing title!  I enjoyed your excerpt too! Thanks again for sharing with us. 

And the winner is...

A special 'thank you' to Cynthia Ingram Hensley for her lovely post and to Meryton Press for the giveaway! 

Now for the winner...

Congratulations to Kara Louise

who left a comment on August 5.

And the winner is...


Thank you, Sally Smith O'Rourke for your enjoyable post and for suggesting the fantastic
Christmas in July
give away!

Congratulations to:

Eva E who left a comment of July 24.

Thank you again, ladies.