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The latest in Regge's series of Endless Mountains ghost stories is available on Amazon:

The Boy in the Toy Room: An Endless Mountains Ghost Story

Nora is haunted. She's haunted by the past, haunted by the future, and haunted by the boy in the toy room. Wanting desperately to fall back in love with her husband, Nora moves back to the country to work on building their dream home. Building dreams isn't easy, though: she'll have to fend off a drunken ex, contend with an interfering mother-in-law, and try to keep a battered rental house from falling down around her.

Meanwhile, someone has been breaking into the house, and her daughter's imaginary friend, the boy in the toy room, seems to be trying to burn the place down. While the men around her rage and bluster, it's Nora's job to hold things together and keep her daughter safe, whatever the cost. 


And don't forget Waking Up Dead: An Endless Mountains Ghost Story

If Deidra Shay had known she was dead, she might have made other choices -- but she didn't. When her best friend, Jesse, finds her body and is pulled away screaming and crying, Deidra follows her home and all hell breaks loose! Friends and family are pulled into a maze of love and sex, revenge and redemption as Jesse and Deidra struggle to figure out how to go on living after waking up dead. 

This is romance, a testimony to friendship, and one answer to what life might be like beyond the grave for both the person moving on and the people left behind.

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Old And Still Evolving

photo by Angela Episale

Someone once told me that, "To live is to dream; to dream is to live." As I get older people I've been young with and dreamed dreams with are falling, one by one, into a state of perpetual stillness. Dreams are scoffed at and put into "when I was young" and "before I knew better" categories. This is the blog of someone who hopes to never know better. It's the rambling of someone who should know who they are by now, and doesn't -- someone who is still evolving. 



Marketing 101

The challenge for independent publishing is how to manage independent marketing. I find myself so busy trying to get Waking Up Dead: An Endless Mountains Ghost Story into money making mode that writing the next book, the most important action, is left in the dust.

Local marketing isn't the problem although there is always more to be done. I can drive to stores and those within the area are happy to carry a book by a local author. I have posted on FaceBook and sent links to my email contacts, done one on-line interview and will do another as soon as I figure out how to post it (technology has me stumped all too often). The Amazon free-Kindle promo worked in that over 2300 people downloaded my book and are presumably now reading it and talking about it. I have readings scheduled for the VFW, the Summerhouse Grill and the WH Library in Alpha, NJ. My sisters-in-law threw a fabulous book launching in Pompton Plains, NJ. Now it is figuring out how to reach a wider market -- one where no one knows me and I don't know any one.

Things I didn't know: those ads on FaceBook? They are paid by 'clicks' on the link. Although there are over 2 million people who are my demographic, the prospect of paying $0.85 every time someone just clicks up to a budget of $50.00 a day makes my hair and pocketbook stand on end.  That is not an affordable avenue. Let's say out of those 2 million people only 10 percent 'click'.  That would mean that 200,000 people looked at the book. Out of those 56,000 would have to buy it in order for me to just break even! The odds are not very good, do you think?

I can submit it to multiple contests, including Writers Digest for $100.00 or the New York Book Fair for $50.00 in hopes that I'll win or get honorable mention, and those are things that are on the possible list, but serve more to give me credibility than to promote sales.  How many people buy books because they have been mentioned by either of those? Of course those are both avenues to getting film makers to pay attention but how many books get made into films? Not many, although that is the Mecca for writers; movie rights are the pot-of-gold. It's like playing the lottery, though.

I set a goal to do one marketing activity every day and that seems to be effective. My problem is that I am running out of ideas.  Who will buy this book? Mostly women. Where do I connect with those women? Online, yes, but where else? Grocery stores, travel plazas, daytime TV shows -- where else?

I'm not discouraged and I haven't scratched the surface, but it is a lot of effort both physically and mentally. I have a goal and it's not an unreasonable one.  I want to sell 10,000 books this year. Most books only sell about 250 copies, but I'm already close to that (178 to date not counting the 2300+ downloaded for free) and this is 7 weeks into the life of Waking Up Dead.  Of course, I want what I want when I want it so -- what next?

In the long run I plan to sell 1 million books. That's a nice number. It's a huge number according to the statistics but -- aim for the stars, hit the fence; aim for the fence, land on your face -- right?

Okay. There are 43,000 people in Susquehanna County.  51% are women, so about 22,000. If less than 1/2 of the women in Susquehanna County buy Waking Up Dead,that makes my 10,000 goal for the year.  Since it's fairly certain that half of the women won't buy it (but many will!) I need to also tap the tourist trade and summer is coming.  Looks like I need to contact every little shop that caters to the lake crowd, and there are tons of them.  Yeap.  Blueberry Festival, Strawberry Festival, Old Home Days, travel plazas, gift shops -- look out World! Here I come! The nice thing about tourists is that they live somewhere else, so every time someone passing through needs a good read for the hotel or campsite, they take it home with them to almost anywhere and so my question about how to expand my market is answered, isn't it? Yes, indeed, it is!

I need a good personality, but I have a good personality, and years and years and years of selling and providing outstanding customer service.  One shop in Montrose - done. One shop in Great Bend/Hallstead - done. Time for Susquehanna, Thompson, Forest Lake, Elk Lake, Meshoppen, Tunkannock, Gibson, Harford, .... on and on and on.  The possibilities are endless.  Time to get to work.





The Rejection Letter

I should entitle this "No Rejection Letter." Lots of thought went into my decision to write some books specifically aimed at self-publishing.  Mainly, I'm not happy about how publishing houses treat authors.  It's simple, really.  In this day and age, when a rejection letter can be sent with an email address and the push of a button more and more houses are saying, "Due to high volume we no longer send rejection letters.  If we are interested in your work we will contact you.  If you don't hear from us in (3 months, 6 months, a year) please feel free to submit your work elsewhere." They add insult to injury with the statement, "If your work is accepted elsewhere we request the courtesy of letting us know." Courtesy?

First, without writers there are no publishing houses.  Second, I don't have any more time than you do so if you can't give me the courtesy of a rejection I hardly think you need to know if someone else accepts my work for publication.  Third, if you are so outmoded that you don't make use of form letters and email accounts, which cost you absolutely nothing and take only a second to utilize, I'm not sure you are worth dealing with anyway.

Self-publication isn't new.  Writers use to take their stories to the local paper and have them published.  Sometimes they had to pay something to do it.  When people liked what they read they asked for more and the paper would, in turn, offer to pay something to the writer to provide more of their work.  But publishing houses had contacts, had longer reach, eventually had financial resources the writer didn't and so they became a better way for the writer to get their work to the public -- until they started thinking that writers couldn't live without them. 

Welcome to the age of the Internet.  While publishing houses started looking for the sure bet and only accepted agented work; while the entire institution of publishing became more and more conservative; while people like Stephen King and J K Rowling spent time and money being rejected for years, writers gained direct access to the public. 

I don't enjoy reading poorly crafted plot lines and books full of misspellings and incorrect grammar.  I get shocked when Writer's Digest lists their criteria for entering a contest and it includes "no handwritten manuscripts." That being said, I read copiously based on the fact that, as Stephen King says, "Reading is the apprenticeship to writing." And I have to say, there are publishing houses that release books with poorly crafted plot lines, misspellings and incorrect grammar.  I know; I'm reading one right now.  As a matter of fact I'm half way through a book written by a New York Times Best Selling Author and even though I'm half-way through the only thing I've read so far is the back story from the five books previously published.  It's so boring I keep putting it down and coming back to it when my stomach stops churning.  If there is a story in this book I haven't found it yet.  Some agent or publisher should have told the author to get a new story line or just forget it. They didn't, of course.  They figured that they could put "Author of ..............New York Times Bestseller List," and the book would sell itself, garbage or not; that's how they got me to read it.  Meanwhile, there are good stories by good writers being passed over because they aren't a sure thing -- no one knows their name.

I wrote a middle-grade-coming-of-age novel about a boy who is called Chunkie Two Boys by bullies at school.  As it turns out, Charlie (aka Chunkie) has to buddy up with his enemies when they are accused of attacking Mr. Scrod based on the simple fact that they are "city kids." Charlie realizes eventually that "everyone seems to hate someone," and he solves the mystery of exactly who hit Mr. Scrod, which not only clears his name  but also makes him a hero. Two well published authors, one being a field agent for a major publishing house, gave it a thumbs up and had me send it to their personal contacts at specific publishing houses.  The same book was revised multiple times under the tutelage of several professors who are also well published and who all agreed that it's a good book and ready to go.  I have submitted it to ten houses; I have one rejection letter and that is from an agent who asked to see my next book because she "likes the way I write."

Ten places are not that many to reject a manuscript.  I should and will continue to put it out there, read it for things to tweak. revise if I find something that could be bigger, better or stronger, and continue to find it a good home.  But I'm pretty upset about the lack of rejection letters.  I'm insulted and pissed off.  Every time I send out a letter, synopsis, outline and three chapters it costs me a respectable amount of time and money.  I deserve a rejection letter.  I deserve to have an end to the hope that pops up with every unknown phone number on my cell phone and every large envelope that arrives in the mail.  I deserve an email that says, "Thanks but no thanks." My time and effort is worth that much. It's just plain good business.

So, I have done a ton of research, talked to a lot of people, read great and horrible literature and come up with what I think will sell to the thousands of readers who are skimming titles on Amazon and Kindle.  These aren't books thought up with self-publishing in mind; they are books I was going to write anyway but which I know are commercial in a way my non-fiction children works series won't be.  These are books for the person who wants a fun read full of excitement and romance and fresh ideas. They are books people will find when they type in "romance" or "paranormal" or "ghost" or "women."

I've done the same careful research, have a professional editor, a graphic designer, and a well educated, in some cases published, group of readers.  I still draft, revise, edit and revise again and again -- and I'll be thrilled if I can eventually say to an agent or publishing house, "I am the author of these books and here is my readership and here are the reviews; I believe this is the type of book you are looking for and I have proof that people like what I write."

Self-publishing isn't easy.  People scoff and act like every yahoo who imagines they can write is simply throwing a Word manuscript at Kindle and -- voila! -- they dream of sitting back and letting the money roll in.  Maybe that's true of some; I don't know.  I know it took me a week to get my book formatted to look good and meet the requirements.  I know I'll probably borrow the money to have Create Space upload it to Kindle for me.  I know I've given very careful thought to the cover, gotten feed back from trusted colleagues every step of the way and that I have already made marketing plans for getting it out there.  I also know I would love it if someone else did all of that for me.  And I'm not expecting to get rich.  I want a little bit of money to come in which will buy me time to write other books and submit them to agents and publishers, hopefully along with a little bit of success I can wave around as collateral.  You see, I don't have the benefit of another job.  I don't have six months or six years to wait.  But more than that, I believe in myself and my work.  I'm good at this. 

Mainly, I don't like the way publishing houses do business.  I don't like the death of the rejection letter or the months and years it takes just to get something read.  I don't like it at all.  I've led a different kind of life -- taking chances, betting with my heart, following a different path.  This is just more of the same.  By the way, Waking Up Dead  is a good book.  You'll be able to get it from the Kindle free library for 90 days.  Give it a read; you might even be moved to write a review.  If you think it's garbage, say so.  If you like it please say that, too.  I'm always up for constructive criticism. 

One final note: my fellow writers are pretty much disapproving of my decision to self-publish.  I hope they're wrong.  I accept, support and respect the choices they make; hopefully they will do the same for me.


Why I've Decided to Write Ghost Stories

When I was a little girl my sisters and I would tell ghost stories; not just the sit-around-the-campfire stories everyone hears but other stories -- our own.  Maybe that was foreshadowing of sorts.  Strange things can happen in families and they certainly did in mine.

My mother was a seer of sorts.  She never told me about ghosts but she had a freaky way of knowing things before they happened.  The time I remember most vividly was the day my brother had gone deer hunting with one of our neighbors.  My mother was hanging out clothes that afternoon and I was helping.  All of  sudden she became completely still and turned to stare at the mountain behind her.  "Something is wrong," she said. 

We had a 10 party line back then; 10 families shared one phone line.  If you wantd to make a call you picked up the receiver and hung up if someone else was talking on the phone.  That day she picked up the receiver and heard a man saying, "Some kid is in the woods with his leg shot off." 

She didn't even wait to find out what kid or who was talking.  She simply got her coat and boots on and waved down the ambulance as it went by the house. "I'm going with you.  He's my son."

My brother had gone after a large buck with a big rack, tripped over some barbed-wire fence, and discharged his shotgun at close range.  His lower leg was shattered.  At the age of 14 he had the presence of mind to strip off his coat, remove his undershirt and put on his own tourniquet. There he was, alone and wounded, in a forest on the mountain.

The farmer who had taken my brother hunting had left him in the woods and gone home to do chores.  Whether he thought Lewie was going home or continuing to hunt I guess I never knew.  That part doesn't really matter, I suppose.  What does matter is that the farmer came out of the barn and saw what every hunter hopes to see -- a large buck with a huge rack standing at the bottom of the field looking at him.  The deer was just out of range.  The farmer grabbed his rifle and took off after the deer.

Every time the farmer had the deer in range and stopped to take a shot, the deer would move.  As soon as it was out of range it would stop again and watch the farmer approach.  This happened repeatedly, the deer always moving just out of range and then stopping as if waiting for the farmer.  The deer led the farmer to my brother and then disappeared.  The farmer swore, over and over for year to come, that the deer had taken him to Lewie on purpose. Some of us believe it was the buck Lewie had been chasing in the first place who saw the child in need of help and went to get it. Without intervention there is no doubt my brother would have either bled to death or frozen to death.

Between the story of the deer and my mother's uncanny way of knowing when things were wrong I knew at an early age that I believed in things that couldn't be seen.  I was disappointed to realize that I wasn't born with any talent in that direction myself; however, I have a sister who attracts premonitions and spirits to the point that she has to work to block them.  It was through her that I found out my mother could sense more than events.  At some point when my mother realized that Faye had inherited this skill or curse, depending on your point of view, she had reassured Faye that the ghosts were real even if other people couldn't see or hear them. "Places aren't haunted; people are," she told her. 

And that seems to be true. I never had a real encounter with a ghost until recently and that was when I was researching a book I'm writing called The Haunting of Waterford Road.  My sister had told me that a spirit pounds on the cellar door.  I was standing right next to the door one day when it was struck by someone or something hard enough to make me jump.  I'm not talking about a tap or a moment when you think you might have heard something; I'm talking about a good, solid bang like a fist on the door.  As I jumped back, startled, Faye laughed.  "That's my ghost," she said and immediately opened the door to show me that no one and nothing was there.  "I don't think he wants to hurt anyone.  He's just angry." 

I think that writing about ghosts draws them to you.  I heard a CSI investigator who did paranormal research say the same thing in a presentation.  My brother-in-law says it's just a matter of being aware.  More and more I think he's right.  He never gave much thought to ghosts until he waved at his young daughter and her friend who were walking up the road to meet him.  When the little girl go to him she was alone. "Where's your friend?" he asked.  Kassie assured him that no one was nor had been with her.  The ghost child is more easily seen than the angry man in the cellar.  She has been seen not only walking up the road but also crouching under the dining room table and walking up the steps to the bedrooms.  I haven't seen her myself although I would like to but three people have. 

If you announce in a crowded room that you are collecting people's ghost stories you always have a few individuals pull you aside before they leave and say, "I don't know if you're interested, but ...." Some of those stories don't ring true; some are "a feeling" or a story that is a third, fourth or fifth person narrative. You know those stories, the ones Aunt Jane told Mom who told Sister Sally who told me.  But there are other stories that are clear and sure: the deceased mother-in-law who insisted her daughter-in-law look at the family album for no apparent reason until she finally found her deceased father-in-law's military discharge and purple heart citation tucked inside the binding, the elderly gentleman who sits rocking in his favorite chair on the porch visible enough for a boy to ask who he is, the doors that won't open or keep opening, the adult children who each had a visit from their deceased mother the week before their father passed away, and more and more and more.

My goal is to write four books this year.  Waking Up Dead is about a woman who doesn't know she's dead and who, when she finds out why everything is so out of whack, goes about the business of deciding how to live after death.  The second book (hopefully) is about Johnny (non-titled at this time) who died in a house fire he accidentally set with matches.  When other children move into the house he now lives in he doesn't want them to leave him -- it gets so lonely -- and so he works on getting them to start a fire, too.  Third, The Haunting of Waterford Road; the story of a family haunted by and then saved by the ghosts who live in their farm house.  The fourth planned book is a collection of ghost stories which I have been collecting as my research for the first three books.  They are all first hand accounts and based in the Endless Mountains.  Maybe we just have more ghosts than other places?  Who knows. 


New Year 2012

It has been a year since I threw away everything I had and knew and moved back to Montrose.  I came back with a list of what had to be done, what could be done and what should be done.  I don't think I've accomplisehed much of it.  Everything takes longer than anticipated but isn't that always the case when you've set unreasonable expectations to start with?  Maybe.  But I have a habit of requiring more from myself than is reasonable and this year is no different.  To encourage and jump start inspiration, I must acknowledge what has been accomplished:

  • I now have an office where I can close the door and work.
  • I've completed a rough (oh, so disheartingly rough) draft of another book.
  • I have a specific list of the books to be written this year.
  • I've completed a great deal of research.
  • My home is not what it will be but is finally in shape enough to move forward.
  • I've lost and kept off 20 pounds.
  • There is an order to things.
  • I've made friends I can call and invite for a pot of tea or glass of wine and good conversation.
  • I've been reasonably healthy.
  • I exercise fairly regularly.
  • I have found art projects I can enjoy and am fairly good at.
  • I have gotten some experience teaching at the college level.
  • I went camping with Gabe.
To be honest, there are things I haven't done and they are important:
  • I haven't made any money (and that may be the biggest, scariest item on my list).
  • I haven't manged to quit smoking although I did stop for a couple of months.
  • I haven't lost the other 20 pounds and they have to go.
  • I haven't published a book.
  • I haven't found a local college to teach at.
  • I haven't taken off my running shoes.
  • I haven't started painting the rooms in the house or putting up shelves.
  • I haven't gotten back to the piano.
  • I haven't traveled further than NYC, Harrisburg and Rochester.
Okay, so the list of what I did do is longer than the list of what I didn't do but some of the items on the "didn't do" list are critical and so they are being brought into 2012.  I don't think I'm ready to take off my running shoes yet, though, and don't know if that will ever happen.  I'm not sure it ever needs to happen.  I don't think I'll make it one of my new resolutions.  As for the other things, none of them can happen unless and until I do the first one.  I need to earn money and I don't want to do it on anyone else's terms. No running back to the state. No giving someone else the right to say how, where and when I work. No going backwards.  That means I have to move forward.  So -- here is the new impossible list:
  • Daily schedule:
    • Morning chores (chores include exercise).
    • Afternoon writing (write whenever I feel the urge but always must spend afteroons writing).
    • Evening art work.
  • Deidra Shay:
    • Revised by Jan 30 and self-published.
  • Johnny
    • Rough draft by the end of February.
    • Revised by the end of March.
  • Haunting of Waterford Road
    • Rough draft by the end of April.
    • Revised by the end of May.
  • My Ghost Story (non-fiction)
    • Rough draft by the end of June.
    • Revised by the end of July.
  • Compilation of Poetry Chap book by end of Aug using existing poems and new art work.
  • The Dragon Prince
    • Rough draft by the end of September.
    • Revised by the end of October
  • King of the Mountain
    • Rough draft by the end of November.
    • Revised byt he end of Decmeber.
  • 2013
    • Angelo, Man of the House.
    • Children Work (non-fiction).
    • Putting Mother to Bed (Memoir).
    • Greeting card line for Episale Design.
It's impossible but it's very possible.  Meanwhile I exercise, eat fruits and vegetables and limit alcohol to no more than two glasses of wine a day.  If I get half of it done I'm doing well but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I am a writer and artist.  I plan to write and create art.  The rest will follow.  Happy New Year, everyone!



I was driving to the doctor’s office when a plane hit theWorld Trade Center
And I didn’t hear a thing.
I was parking my car when those looking out their windows
At the burning building next door
Were told to go back to their seats; everything was allright.
They were sitting there waiting for the second plane
When it landed on their desks.
I was watching a group of children play with Legos—
Red, blue, yellow.
There are probably new building blocks in the office now—
Red, white and blue.
We were all smiling and watching them when the buildingsfell,
And a collective scream started in New York
And swelled across the entire country
And never stopped.
And we didn’t hear a thing.

A young woman on the 104th floor felt the air inher office pushing her,
And grabbed hold of a door.
She watched as the pressure around the room
Blew her window out, into the sun,
Dropping it who knows where, somewhere out there.
She held on to the door, which held on to its fragile hinges,
And watched her desk slide right out into the sky
And drop.
Her doodles and indecipherable numbers,
Printed in long columns on this mornings’ cash flow report,
May have flown as far as Flatbush in Brooklyn.
Pieces of people and their last thoughts landed there.

A young woman on the sidewalk outside
Talking to her friend on a cell-phone
Was last heard to say,
“A plane just hit the World Trade Center.  I think I’d better hang up.”
A filthy young man wept to the TV cameras,
Trying to explain how very black total darkness is.
“I held my hand in front of my face,
And poked myself in the eye.”

It was 10:30 before I saw my doctor,
A nice American of Arabic descent.
He asked me if I knew anyone in New York.
My son, the actor,
Who worked in the World Trade Centeruntil he changed jobs.
Friends, relatives.
My niece moved this year from New Yorkto Michigan.
My nephew moved from Park Ave to a new firm in Syracuse.
My son was sleeping a few blocks away.
He was too tired to go to the gym, so he didn’t catch the 9:00train.
It took me two hours to find that out.

“Do you know what happened?” my doctor asked.
He was the one to tell me.
I smiled neatly.
My head kept nodding up and down.
I walked out without telling the receptionist I was going.
I drove to work and saw silent people staring at the TV.
I didn’t know I was crying until I was standing in theoffice
And there were tears on my face.
The secretary told me that her son, one block form the site,
Had called to say he was fine.
My son hadn’t called.
That’s when I heard the screams.
They sounded like hollow silence.
“I’m sure he’s all right,” someone else said.
What makes you sure? I wanted to ask.
He didn’t call his mother.

I remember leaving my office because I couldn’t bear to bethere.
I couldn’t bear to be seen in my fear.
I remember saying, “I can’t stay here,” and walking acrossthe floor.
I can’t remember the drive home.
I can’t remember going upstairs to my room.
I only remember dialing his number.
“All circuits are busy.”

Inside the third dimension of our TV screen
Survivors wept through stories:
Of how people walked to the doors and stepped into the darkof the stairwell;
Of self-appointed traffic cops who helped fellow workers tosafety as they stayed behind.
The stairs were dark and crowded.
The water sprinklers didn’t work.
I can’t forget that.
The heat from the towers caused the collapse of thebuilding.
Does that mean the building might have remained standing
If the water sprinklers had worked?

“I can’t forget the people I saw staying behind to helpothers.
I don’t think they made it.”
You couldn’t all stay behind. 
Someone had to be hero enough to lead the way.
A young husband said goodbye to his wife
From a hijacked plane.
The living dead chose to end their journey their own way.
People fell or jumped from the clouds.
The strength to choose—the indomitable spirit.
All of the over simplified sayings take on new meaning.
Out of 50,000 missing people we had only found 6,344.

Dialing his number.
Over and over and over, and
When I tried to think of something more creative, I failed,
So I dialed his number again.
“Is my son there?”
“Yes.  He’ssleeping.  Should I wake him up?”
“No, that’s okay. Tell him his mother loves him.”
I called my daughter to give her the news, but she was onher way to me.
I called the office to give them the news, but they wereclosed.
I stood in the driveway, unassured.

Dial his number, his sister beside me.
Dial his number, “All circuits are busy.”
“How do you know he’s sleeping?  Did you see him?”
“Yes.  Would you likeme to wake him up?”
Wonderful, confused sleepy voice.
Alive and well and sleeping in Brooklyn.
His sister spoke with him for hours.

The first day we watched in horror.
The second day we bathed ourselves in grief.
The third day we looked for explanations.
By the fourth day six people in the office complained loudly
Because they couldn’t listen to their favorite musicstations
Without having to hear news reports.

Other 9/11 Poems:


Unbidden, tears wash my face,
recognized as salt
on my tongue.
Frantic fingers
touch your number
over and over.
Blessed relief --
That beloved voice.
And new tears --
of joyous guilt.

You are safe.
Oh, my God.
Oh, my God.


I know your schedule so well --
The train at nine
     at the World Trade Center.
Home at nine-thirlty,
   where I can reach you.

Fear erased my memory of getting here.
The hour of unbearable
Until I heard your voice.

Now I leave the line open
For other mothers'
     frantic fingers ---