#CoverLove Tag = Awesomeness!

This is a new tag, invented by Anika Walkes and it is AWESOME. Just sayin’. It’s a tag for anybody who loves books. And, um, doesn’t that just about define us all?

There are RULES, people. Rules.

  • Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their blog. (I kinda nominated myself.)
  • Create seven new #CoverLove questions for your nominees (or just copy and paste mine).
  • Answer the seven #CoverLove questions your nominator gave you.
  • Nominate 7+ other bloggers and let them know they’ve been tagged.

 

1 . What are your 3 favorite covers of all time?

book1 Michael Vey – Fall of Hades. Because, can you honestly tell me that cover isn’t epic-ness?

book2 Fawkes because that’s equally epic. And that mask!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00020] This cover is just plain cool. I mean, the scroll, the ink, the pen, it’s just . . . really cool. And it’s an awesome book, so there.

2 . What is one cover that you could squeal over forever?

book2 Why could I squeal over this cover forever? I think the cover answers that question, if I’m not mistaken.

3 . A cover that’s sweet and innocent and cuter than a kitten in a bow?

bookc This was such a fun book, and that cover is terrific.

4 . An absolutely EPIC cover that just screams “I’M AWESOME”.

book1 Um, yeah. Seriously.

5 . A series that has amazing covers for ALL the books (a rare delicacy)?

book3 24466484 700463 Can you honestly disagree with me here?

6 . What’s a cover you loved, but then you ended up hating the book?

23200402 I almost didn’t do this one. It just felt mean. But let me be clear – didn’t like this book, but I also didn’t finish it. My opinion of the story was by far the minority. But anyway, it’s such a lovely cover!

7 . The cover of a book that hasn’t come out yet but you’re screaming about how AWESOME the cover makes the book look?

book2 Yes, I did this one already. So?

 

Now it’s your turn!

  1. Your two favorite book covers EVER.
  2. A book you haven’t read, but can’t live without because of the cover.
  3. A book you loved, but disliked the cover.
  4. A cover you loved, even though you disliked the book.
  5. A series in which every cover was AMAZING.
  6. A cover containing your favorite color(s).
  7. A to-be-published book with an epic cover.

Take these and just have fun with them! I’m supposed to tag seven people, but I don’t really have seven people I could properly tag. So I’m going to tag three, and if you want to do it on your blog, please do! And drop me a link in the comments, because I LOVE BOOK COVERS!

Officially tagged: Kate at the Inky Notebook and Hope Ann at Writing in the Light and Kinsey at Over the Withers. Have fun you guys!

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Highlights and Goals – July, 2018

I haven’t done a Highlights and Goals post in eons (however long that is), and now seemed an appropriate time, since I am WWAAYY behind in blogging and, um, I was running out of ideas. 😉

So, let’s dive right in, folks. June highlights!

The biggest highlight of June was bringing home our little puppy Phoenix. I introduced her in the last post, and she’s pretty much the reason I have been absent from this blog. To give you an idea, I’ve been keeping a pair of shoes on at all times just so I’m ready to fly out the door when she has to go to the bathroom. But then, if you’ve ever had a puppy you’re trying to potty train, you know where I’m coming from.

Otherwise, Phoenix is a remarkably smart little girl. She is already sitting and staying while I prepare her food and waiting for my release command despite being the most food-crazy dog I’ve ever met. 🙂

In other news, in June I also wrapped up a few more things in One Light Shining, which has been saved for editing/proofreading. And we planted our potatoes in the garden. We never plant potatoes now until late June/early July, which allows us to avoid the first onslaught of Colorado Potato Beetles.

So, June was a pretty wild month. Now for July goals!

This is where I have to be a little, shall we say, secretive. Because there might be a super crazy exciting announcement on the bookish front coming up in a few days to a week. So I can’t be too forthcoming right now. But stay tuned. Please. *cue dramatic music*

  • Read Fawkes by Nadine Brandes. This is like, number one, and for a very good reason. I devoured Nadine’s Out of Time Series. And I LOVE the sound of Fawkes. If you haven’t the faintest clue what I’m talking about, go check out the book. Quickly.
  • Train Phoenix. Of course. She’s going to be the best-behaved Goldendoodle in our neighborhood. Actually, I think she’s the only Goldendoodle in our neighborhood, so . . .
  • Read. Because, I must.
  • Pick raspberries. Our bushes in the backyard are FULL of unripe berries. They should be coming in a couple weeks.

I know, I know, boring. But the most potentially exciting thing on this list, well, can’t be on this list. You must watch for new posts, that’s all.

And speaking of new posts . . . you know how I said I was running out of ideas? Well, I need your advice. All of you. Let me know your ideas on upcoming posts I could share. Writing related is good, but I’ll consider anything that would interest my faithful followers! You guys are just the best. So, let me know your thoughts, ’cause I can’t read your minds. Oh, really?

Let’s chat! What are you up to this month? What book are you most looking forward to reading, or are presently reading? How about possible blog posts? I need your opinions! What would you like to see on this blog this month?

Big News – There’s a New Addition to Our Family.

Ookkaayy, so as you might recall from my last post, I hinted that there was going to be a big announcement on Monday. Alas, Monday is here! And just like an evil author, I’m going to make you wait for it. (Even though I did kinda spoil it in the title of this post.)

. . . .

 

Keep going.

 

. . . .

 

Keep going!

 

. . . .

 

. . . .

 

. . . .

 

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Me and Phoenix. This was taken two weeks ago when we first met her. But we didn’t bring her home till this weekend. You can see how much she’s changed in two weeks.

*throws confetti for Monday and puppies*

So, unless there’s something wrong and you weren’t able to see that picture up there, you’ve just been introduced to the newest member of our family – an eight-week-old Goldendoodle puppy named . . . ready? . . . Phoenix.

No, I did not name her after the city of Phoenix, I named her for the ancient myth that says there’s a bird that rises from the ashes of a fire. I thought it fitting, based on the circumstances through which we brought this little girl home.

There have been a lot of changes on the family farm. Actually, we were forced to sell our entire herd of goats because of my allergies to the barn, which have just kept getting worse. So, it’s been a fairly difficult spring for all of us. To my whole family, Phoenix is a little beacon of hope – like a message from God saying, “I’ve got this. Wait on Me. Trust.”

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“Yes, of course, I know I’m beautiful.”
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“Play with me!”

If you were not aware, Goldendoodles are a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle. It is said that they inherit the Golden’s eager-to-please personality and the Poodle’s intelligence. Because they are a gentle, keenly intuitive dog, they also make excellent service animals. We’re hoping to raise these dogs, on a small scale. I’d like to train some as service and therapy dogs.

This is a new direction for us, although we did raise Great Pyrenees puppies for a few years after we first moved to the farm. But all that aside, it starts with one little adorable puppy named Phoenix.

She’s extremely well-adjusted and adaptable. She wants our older dog, Izzy, to play with her, and, well, that’s not going so well. 🙂 The cats are having the most difficult time with it. They had a very secure balance between the three of them and Izzy, who is extremely patient and gentle with the cats – because they leave her alone and she can approach them on her terms.

Because we did raise Great Pyrenees, we had a point of reference to observe Phoenix. Interestingly, she far more dependent than the Pyrenees puppies were, and, frankly, she’s smarter. 🙂

Right now, little Phoenix is sleeping soundly in my room. That’s her spot. Her safe haven. It’s funny to think she’ll have puppies of her own one day. Right now she’s so young, so much a puppy. But thank goodness her potty training is progressing rapidly. 🙂

So, there will be more updates to follow, sprinkled among our regular posts. Anybody want to see more of Phoenix? Check out our farm’s Facebook page. There’s a very popular puppy slideshow on there right now.

Do you have a dog or puppy of your own? Is Phoenix just irresistibly cute? Want to see more of her? (I’m telling you, she was the cutest of the litter.) Let’s chat in the comments!

You Know You’re a Writer When . . .

We’ve all seen those little notes that begin with “You know you’re a writer when . . .” and the blank is filled, usually with something humorous that you can totally relate to. But what if we just simplified it and said,

You know you’re a writer . . . when something inspires you to write.

What inspires you? A sight or a smell? A sound, like laughter? An image or a quote?

The fact is, if you’re a writer, you were probably inspired to write long before you put pen to paper. Writing doesn’t begin with the pen and paper. It begins with a feeling. A sensation you can’t identify that sparks imagination, creativity, excitement. Even ambivalence.

Think about it.

Were you the ten-year-old riding your bike or sitting on the lawn while telling yourself stories? Were you hiding in your room with a good book while your friends were playing? Did you hoard all the notebooks you could find and say that even all those couldn’t fit the stories in your head . . . even if they remained blank? Did you write a story simply because you had to? There was no choice in the matter – there was just this burning imagination that had to be expressed?

That’s where inspiration started for me. An idea – five kids stranded on an island at high tide. An imagination – two siblings transported back through time to help defeat a giant (the humble beginnings of One Light Shining six years ago). Eventually, creativity and originality – the crash of the nation’s power grid drives a family from their home (Ashes Remain, currently a first draft).

You know you’re a writer when there’s a bit of inspiration that must be set loose to conquer that giant, slay that dragon, wield that sword . . . or, simply, tame that imagination, harness its power, until the hunger in you is satisfied.

You know you’re a writer when it’s not about the money, not about the fame, not about the praise – it’s just about feeling alive, and it’s between you and God.

I would ride my bike for hours, rain or shine, greedily whispering stories I would never write, as I peddled faster and faster under the excitement of what was unfolding. One day, even this wasn’t enough. So, I just started . . . writing. Yeah, it was pretty lousy. I would never show my first work to a single soul, and I cringe to think I had my mom and dad read it. 😉  But that’s okay. If I hadn’t started that way, I never would have started at all.

Is writing easy?

No. It’s difficult, often. Torturous, frequently.

Why do we do it?

Because we must. To quit would leave us empty. There’s something in every writer that is only satisfied by the expression of words, a thirst only quenched by the victory that is achieved by the wielding of their power. We can’t substitute it. I’ve tried.

You know you’re a writer when the imagination and inspiration is too strong to ignore.

You know you’re a writer when you can see the story in your head, not the words on the page.

You know you’re a writer . . .

Now, before I forget, let me advise you in advance that on Monday, I have a very exciting, slightly off-subject announcement to bring forward. It’s a post that will be a lot of fun. 🙂 You ready? Monday. Don’t forget.

What do you think? When did you first start crafting stories? How far have you come? And what inspires you? Let’s chat in the comments!

 

An Exciting Writing Update . . . at Last!

So, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’re probably aware that it’s been MONTHS since my last personal writing update. Since November-ish, I think, since NaNoWriMo. And there’s a reason for that. But it’s not a good one.

I haven’t been writing.

*gulp* Yeah, no, I haven’t been. For the past several months, there has been so much going on around the farm, with planning, working the soil, trying to plan, and then there’s been me, trying to plan and trying to figure out life. You know, what we’d all like to figure out. 🙂

But if there’s one thing I haven’t been doing, it’s writing. Or reading. And I’m kind of ashamed, but sometimes it does help to back off and take a good look at what you’re doing. This spring has been so full of thrilling “ups” and discouraging “downs”, it made it too difficult for me to sit down and write. The words were empty.

*sighs*

Alas! Yes, this is a writing update, not a non-writing update, and not an excuse as to why I haven’t been writing.

A few days ago, my mom and I sat down and basically decided that I needed to start writing again. Now.

So, that just left the question of “what”. I had the option of Ashes Remain, the contemporary action novella that I’ve finished the first draft of. Then there was One Light Shining, my never-ending YA portal fantasy. And of course, something new.

As I mulled over that . . . I had a funny dream. I had a dream in which I’d written One Light Shining, published it, and it had been turned into a movie. 🙂  (I know, wouldn’t we all like those dreams, all the time? I NEVER get to dream about my books, ever!)

While thinking about that dream, I was reminded of the intended message of that book. A hard-hitting, powerful message of forgiveness, compassion, and grace. A story that timely encompasses the problems of today and combines them with struggles that have reached across the ages, set in a made-up world. Action, adventure, relationship, redemption . . .

There’s something there. I know there’s something in that.

So . . . yes. I chose One Light Shining.

My mom is going to read through the last draft that I wrote, for NaNo last year, and when she does, I’ll transmit her feedback to my outlining process. Then, write the next draft – what is this, the seventh? – and then find an editor. 🙂 I know, so simple, right?

And that is the sum of this long-belated writing update. But now I’m going to leave you all with one or two snippets from my beloved portal fantasy novel. Ready?

This one is from the new rewrite of the prologue:

He trod lightly upon the stairs, fully aware of which ones moaned when you stepped on them, avoiding those, and avoiding the windows where the moonlight peered in, uninvited. His foreknowledge of this home was critical. Trespassing was a serious business.

Okay, and so is this one:

But this was no time to lose his nerve. It was all he had left. He pushed on. There was a deadly earnestness in his steps, one that frightened him. Part of him still knew how wrong this was. No matter how hard he tried to silence those doubts, they turned his memories on him. Memories he’d spent the last year twisting, burying. They left his breath shallow and faltering.

    The hall turned dark as the windows disappeared behind him. An occasional candle in a wall sconce cast enough light – not that he didn’t know this hall by heart.

    Two doors to go.

 

There you go! A sneak peak into the rewriting process. I’ll have more updates coming later on. Who knows – someday I might even be publishing this book and I’ll be calling all you faithful followers together for a blog tour. 🙂

What are you working on right now? What is your writing-rewriting style? And please let me know if either of those snippets encourage you to read on. Feedback is everything while I’m revising! Let’s chat in the comments!

Immersion

Despite the fact that I am seriously behind in blogging here, today’s post is not going to be one of the usual ones. I tried to come up with another writing post, but the need to share what has been on my heart won out. So if you end up bored, I apologize. 😉

I was wired so that I had to know what course my future is going to take. And there are times that I like that. And there are many times that it just causes problems. Like the past month or so. Whenever I come to a point where I simply don’t know what the immediate future will look like or how to shape it, I end up like a slug moving through sand.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe you’re that way too. But as I tried to work through it this week, I was reminded of a scripture.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

That was such a relief. 🙂 I’d read the verse before, but all of a sudden, it meant the world to me. To know that God has a plan in place for my future, to really know it, has settled my heart enormously.

And then I found myself watching Star Trek: Voyager. *waves to all Star Wars fans who are frowning right now*. If you’re unfamiliar with Star Trek, (highly unlikely) then I’ll just say this – it’s an old-ish science fiction TV series. Star Trek: The Next Generation was probably the most popular, but I’m very fond of Star Trek: Voyager myself. Anyway, I was watching an episode in season seven. And a line in there stood out like an ice cream cone on a summer day (don’t you love these metaphors?).

I’ll try not to misquote. “If you can always see the road ahead of you, it’s not worth the trip.” Spoken by Commander Chakotay.

And that really jumped out at me.

The fact is, for now, I won’t know. Not for sure. My future could take me anywhere. As much as I want to have the whole journey mapped out, what good would trust in God do me then? Meantime, I’ll work to take this to heart every day, and take my mom’s advice: immersion. Immersion in our life here on the farm. Immersion in the direction we’ve felt God has led us in.

God’s plan will unfold itself. I can’t force the issue.

So, I just felt I needed to talk about that today. What about you? What do you need to talk about? I can listen. 🙂

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

Home: Where the Goats Roam – a short story

Hello friends! So, I’m taking a short break from the regular blog posts today so I can bring you a recent short story I wrote for Write the World, an online community of young writers, which I would encourage you to check out.

This was a piece I wrote at random, but I was pleasantly surprised at the feedback it received. It was also shared at Lexigraph Blogs – you can find some good tidbits on writing from them!

But without further chit-chat, here goes:

A jagged hillside juts up from the earth, steep and long and full of thorns – go around, instead, along the path, around our land to the trees.

You approach slowly, quietly, your feet making minimal noise in the soft spring grass. Crows take flight from the field, startled by your approach. Halfway across this field, you stop. You can hear them now – their soft baas from the hillside. They must be hidden down there, where the contours of the land descend out of sight. Their baas range from the high-pitched cry of a young kid who searches for his mother, to the low reply of the doe as she stops grazing to answer him.

You continue on. You reach the zenith of the hill and a gust of wind pulls the scent of the herd and the scent of the grasses they graze upon up to your nose. Keep going. Go to the shade of the locust trees and watch.

Watch the baby goats leap like rabbits, here and there and back again. Watch that red doe – see how deftly she ascends the hill? Turns your head now and see the young white doe – see how she consumes the wild raspberries, thorns and all? Only a goat could accomplish such feats as these. Climb down a little farther now. Look down, past the brambles and thorns. The other red doe is there, with the brown-and-gray kid. Watch them as they eat away at the foliage and branches, whatever they can reach with their long, sleek necks. Small black bugs irritate them on this hill, so they are working their way into the woods for a reprieve.

Sit here now and watch. Watch the goats exist – thrive – here, here in their natural home, this wild hillside and deep and tangled wood. This is their home. This is my home, too.

My home is where the goats roam.

 

What do you think? This is only the third or fourth short story of my own that I’ve shared with all of you on this blog, but there will be more to come!

I Just Got a Chromebook . . . and I LOVE It!

So, some of you may recall a post I did about the different avenues available to us today for writing – computer, word processor, pen and paper, etc. However, I failed to list another option, because it was one I knew nothing about and had never tried. So here it is.

I JUST GOT A CHROMEBOOK. And my opinion on it is: “Where have you been all my life?”

My mom and I decided that the Neo Alphasmart word processors we were using were not going to cut it long term, especially since mine was the only one that actually worked. (She purchased several after I did, and they all malfunctioned.)

Despite the fact that we liked the Neo when it worked, we looked into Chromebooks. And we bought two of them.

Since a Chromebook is not a real computer or laptop in that sense, everything you write on Google Docs is stored in the cloud . . . which is a little weird, but it is handy.

 

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Chromebook vs. Notebook. You tell me. 🙂

 

And get this – I can be on one Chromebook while my mom is writing something on hers, and I can “edit” her work as she is going along, and vice versa. Because you are actually on the internet, and you can invite somebody via email to edit your work.

So that is . . . awesome.

Set-up when we first got the Chromebooks was pretty easy, and there was virtually no learning curve – so far. I still do most of my internet and blog work on our real computer, but the Chromebook is a very likable and efficient tool for writing. And the keyboard! I LOVE the keyboard!

That is my official experience with Chromebooks. My mom loves hers, too. Plus, when you’re just logging on to check email or something like that, it’s much less of a hassle to turn this little thing on than it is to fire up the whole computer.

So, Chromebook is the new Notebook. But don’t misunderstand – there are times when nothing in the world will do but to pick up those beloved blank lined pages, crawl onto the couch, and write the way they did back in simpler times. 🙂

Do you agree?

Tell me your opinion! Have you ever used a Chromebook? Do you like writing in a notebook? Let’s chat in the comments!

The Joyful Tag for Writers!

Okay, so I’m doing something new today, and I am inventing a tag. 🙂 Sounds like fun! I was planning on continuing my post on POVs, but I thought it might be nice to split that up and stick this one in between.

Okay, rule number one: Acknowledge who tagged you for this.

Rule number two: Tag at least two people in return.

Rule number three: Post these three rules when you do the tag. 🙂 Easy, right?

1. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF ANY THREE OF YOUR CHARACTERS WERE PUT IN A ROOM TOGETHER FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME?

(Mine would be looking at each other, trying to figure out why that person is from the twenty-first century and they’re from a fictional medieval universe. That spells trouble for sure.)

2. IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE A THEME SONG TO REPRESENT YOUR CURRENT WIP, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I’m exempt from this question because I am presently in between WIPs. 🙂

3. IF YOU COULD TRAVEL TO ANY FICTIONAL UNIVERSE, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

(I thought I was putting this question in here to be slightly mean – you can only choose one! – but suddenly, I’ve come up blank.) Okay, probably Rivendale in The Lord of the Rings, but ask me again tomorrow.

4. IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON ANOTHER PLANET WITH ONE OF YOUR CHARACTERS, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

I would select my character Elian because he would be good at that kind of thing.

5. IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON ANOTHER PLANET WITH ANOTHER FICTIONAL CHARACTER – NOT ONE OF YOURS – WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

Oh, totally Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. I mean, who else???

6. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE GENRE TO WRITE IN AND WHY?

Least favorite = horror. I. Do. Not. Write. Horror. YYUUCCKK.

7. IF YOU HAD TO LIVE OUT THE ROLE OF A FICTIONAL CHARACTER, WHO WOULD IT BE?

(By the way, this can be your book or someone else’s.) I would have to go with Katrina from my story One Light Shining. She goes through some really, really hard stuff, but the result, as far as this author is concerned, is way worth it. I just haven’t thought to ask her if she agrees. *cue evil author laughter*

8. WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE MUST KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am a cataholic. No, spellcheck, not Catholic, I said CAT-AHOLIC. Definition: Serious addiction to cats. 🙂

 

Now it’s your turn. If you want to do the tag, consider yourself tagged, and send me a link in the comments! Officially, I’m going to tag Kate Flourney, Jane Maree, and Hope Shelton. Have fun, you guys, with the Joyful Tag!

What I’ve Learned From a Year of Blogging

I have been managing this blog for just about a year. Happy birthday! Actually, I have learned a great deal in that time, and there are a few things I would have liked to have known in advance. I’m going to share some of these today.

I LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF KEYWORDS AND TITLES

So, prior to blogging, I was working on our farm website, and I kept hearing about these things called keywords. As time went on and I researched more and more about writing and wrote more and more blog posts, I discovered some keywords of my own. For instance, I have found that some of my most popular blog posts have titles that include words like how-to or include a question mark. I honestly don’t know if these are coincidences or not, they are just observations.

Titles, people. They’re important.

I LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITHFUL BLOGGING

Hey, I don’t care if you have zero followers or one hundred, you have to blog regularly. I’ve heard it from many sources and I’ve experienced the benefit myself. It doesn’t matter if nobody sees that five-hundred-and-fifty-word post you slaved over for a day. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a major lull in blog traffic and nobody puts a like on that post you loved so much. It. Doesn’t. Make. A. Difference in how often you have to blog.

When I started, I was faithfully blogging every three days. That has changed. I don’t have a set schedule, but I try to get one in a couple times a week. It is critically important, my friend, to blog regularly, even if no one sees it, because it is broadening your span of keywords and it is boosting your SEO status.

I LEARNED TO BE AUTHENTIC

It is important to have an open and welcoming atmosphere on your site, and blog posts are a good way to get that message across. Be authentic. Be you. Use your voice. People are going to get that.

LINKS!!!

I love links. Put ’em on Facebook. Put ’em on the other blog and the other blog. Reblog from the new blog. Seriously, do that. I accidentally reblogged a post from our farm blog to this one and because I did, it got attention. Our new blog received traffic. I might just try it again. 🙂

See what I did up there? 😉

Links are excellent ways to improve feedback over time. Use them more than once.

THE CONCLUSION?

I hate blogging.

That’s a joke. I actually love blogging. It gets a little tiresome in those intervals when no one drops by for tea . . . *sad face* Okay, whatever. Those are just the times when you remind yourself you have something to say, and someone will hear it someday. (Please don’t call out that lame rhyme, it was accidental).  🙂  See what I mean? Authentic = randomness. Fun!!

 

Tell me, friends, what are your thoughts on blogging? Has any of this been helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments! We’ll share tea and . . . um, pizza? Or Oreos. Or toast? You fill in the blank.