All of the Counter-Productivity

You know that thing, when you have a bunch of stuff to do but it feels like there’s no way you can get it all done, so you just don’t do any of it? Well, that’s what I’ve been doing. But instead of doing none of it, I’m only doing the fun stuff.

No really, you do.

In January, I made a goal to have my newsletter ready by the end of the month and a blog post once a month for the year. To my credit, I did a post that month, but I didn’t get my newsletter going or a post in February. (If you’re keeping track that’s a 25% success rate.)

I’m getting stories written, so that’s great. My current work-in-progress is closer to a first draft. The short story I’ll submit for the Violet Gaze anthology is with beta readers. I even participated in a Vulgar Valentine’s with friends. (That was a GD blast! We exchanged names, secret Santa style, and wrote a short story for that specific person then read them aloud. My friend Anna wrote one for me and it was brilliant!) But now, sweet Marty, it’s time to get the other stuff done too.

I’m doing an edit on You and Me In Quarantine to giveaway as a thank you for signing up to my newsletter. The first three quarters are edited, just the tail-end to do. If you haven’t read it, I do have it posted here: . But the giveaway is cleaner and will have a bit more steam and it’ll be an easier format.

This is me, telling you, people of the internet, I’m going to have my newsletter ready to go by the end of March. This is me, calling myself right out. I don’t want to have this conversation with me again.

Anyway, that’s it for me this month. Sign up for my newsletter (which will be ready by the end of the month) to hear from me twice a month! Free short stories and anecdotes about my general silliness, will be included regularly. Email me at or signup in the handy little popup.

Ah! Current Projects

I’m an aggressively goal oriented person–I don’t usually make concrete goals or I get a bit obsessive (they become the only thing I think about or talk about. If you were looking for a friend that never shuts up about word count and the struggles in their work-in-progress then, Baby Cakes, I’m the friend for you!) But even with the hell fire that was 2020, I had a couple breakthroughs in my writing: I finished a novella and a manuscript.

I’ve always struggled to complete a first drafts. My computer is full of partial stories. Through a combination of escapism, focus and a beautiful support group I was able to break the cycle.

Now, I have concrete goals written down for 2021–I already need to revisit them because I forgot about an anthology I’m submitting to. It’s a whole thing. But what I really want to talk about are the projects I’m working on now! (See, whether you wanted that friend or not, here I am.)

  1. Friends to Lovers short story for Violet Gaze anthology. They are an inclusive British based small press. This will be their third romance trope themed anthology. Last year they published “Only One Bed” (so good) and on February third they will release “Enemies to Lovers” (yes, please!)
  2. Fake Relationship manuscript. I love my heroine and hero, they’re just the cutest. They have really fun and playful but dry banter and I adore them. (I’ve been writing it in third person and I think I’m going to switch to first person, I feel that my voice fits better there.)
  3. Banded Together edits. This is my full length novel that I finished last year. Like any draft she’s in need of lots of tender love and care but I’m really proud of her. Here’s a link to an excerpt I shared a few months back:

2021 is a year of preparation for me. I’ve got big and exciting plans for 2022 and I won’t be able to do any of it without the foundation I’m building now. (Don’t mind me, I’m just over here feeling the pressure and obsessing like mad.) I’m super pumped.

If you want to know what’s coming next, or hear embarrassing stories about me, sign up for my newsletter! I’m still figuring out how to add a form in the meantime if you email me at I’ll put you on the list.

Thanks for reading my rambles!

Christmas Eve is usually full. We go from one family’s house to another. It’s silly and loud and busy. It’s really lovely and it is nothing like the Christmas Eve we had this year.

Today was quiet. We sang carols at my grandparents and went for a hike. My 18 month old son and I sat at the edge of a quarry listening to our echoes.

Different does not mean bad.

This whole year was an opportunity to reimagine how our days can be spent. Our celebration can be small. We’re still family even if we don’t spend time the way we used to. There’s something beautiful in that.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Starving Fears

Writing has always been something I do. I’ve written so many words, most of which will never see the light of day. I’ve gotten input and read books on story and style. I am passionate and obsessed. But I wonder if I should quit, frequently.

Let me explain my untrustworthy brain.

First: I have an idea, I feel excited about it.

Then: I start writing, I love it.

Then: Things get complicated and I wonder, Is this story even interesting?

Then: I switch projects and I can’t share a half finished mess of a first draft.

But recently it’s gotten worse. I now question my ability to write at all. No matter how many compliments I’ve received, I can’t trust that I can string words together in a way that is appealing.

It’s all very logical, if you’re in a warped state of anxiety. Without having any published work, I can’t quantify if I have talent. But I would never want to see my value in how much money I’ve made and talent is subjective. So, it’s fruitless. But it’s still there.

I’ll never be able to know if I’m good. So the question is which existence do I want? One where I write and struggle with this withering insecurity or one where I don’t write and there’s a valve closed inside of me.

So, I try. I try to trust the encouragement of others. I try to get words down even when they’re hard. I try narrow my focus to just the scene in front of me.

And I try to voice my fears because they’re feasting on my silence.

Tangled Wires Book Review

Can a machine love?

I disappeared two months ago. The business world and newspapers lost their minds. I’m back now and have two goals: staying healthy and fulfilling a deathbed promise. 

The one standing in my way? 

He stepped in to run my father’s company after his death. He knows my secrets and I know his. I’m ready for the war between us but I’m not ready for him to want to be friends… Or something more. 

Can I trust him? Can I trust myself?

He isn’t a logical choice. He isn’t even a person and I’m the only one who knows.

***Tangled Wires is a romance with dark and sci-fi elements. Content warning for mental illness and suicide.***

Tangled Wires releases October 21st. It’s Lillian Lark’s debut novel. It does not disappoint. The plot is exciting and the characters are interesting. They’re chemistry is very hot on the page. A definite recommend!

I was given an ARC of this book for a free and honest book review.

If He Ever Came Out

Sylvie stood at the bottom of the hill, looking up. Under her feet was the crumbled uneven remains of a cement walk; little more than rubble at points. Trees and bushes and weeds grew over it. Their roots dug down beneath. Where sun and wind couldn’t erode the walk from existence, water and vegetation did. The decrepit nature of the path gave the impression that it hadn’t been treaded in decades.

But Sylvie knew better.

She knew the grind of rocks under the soles of tennis shoes had broke the quiet sound of wind in leaves as Byron trudged upward.
But that had been hours ago.

He had climbed to the door dug into the side of the hill. Brick mortared into place on either side, holding the earth back. As if it wanted to devour this breach into it’s belly. Evidence of the bricks shifting under the Earth’s constant pressure was there in large cracks. The soil slowly regurgitating the structure out.

It was a door she had heard of. A place she had been warned never to go. An image from nightmares passed down to her in stories told over coffee. Her grandmother’s weathered hands holding her mug but Sylvie could still see them tremor.

This land. A familial ground. A curse.

She should turn around. Go back up the hill she had traveled to get to the bottom of this one.

Her next step would be atop it. The home her great grandfathered had buried into the ground. It was described as grand. A mansion if it had sat in the day light. A mansion with no windows or natural light. The exterior walls were poured concrete to withstand the never ending pressure of encroaching nature. She wondered if it had faired better than the walk she stood on.

The dome of the hill didn’t have any indentations that she could see. But there was a whole other half that could be caved in—hidden from her view. She’d have to walk all the way around it to know for sure.

Had Byron wandered to the opposite side of the embankment? Sylvie doubted it. She doubted he had second guessed himself at any point.
When she’d told him that on her family’s massive property, there was an abandoned home underground. He had been enchanted. But that was Byron. Ever the romantic. She hadn’t explicitly told him not to come here, she should have but she didn’t want to come off like she believed in her family’s whimsical notions.

But she did. Because standing here at the bottom of this hill closer to the door of her grandma’s childhood home than she had ever been before, Sylvie felt it.

Maybe she could just wait for him here. She’d sit in the tall grass and never get any closer.

He’d come out eventually. Most likely unchanged.

But even as Sylvie had the thought, she knew that wasn’t true.

He’d be changed. If he ever came out.

Excerpt from Banded Together (Working Title)

Here’s an excerpt from my work-in-progress. 

Cecilia has inherited the family business which happens to be a band. They focus on doing events–weddings, parties and such. They also perform weekly at her brother’s bar. 

Miles is their newest member and her brother’s best friend and her long time nemesis. This is Miles’ first performance with the band (an anti-love Valentine event.)

When Miles suggested Brett Young’s “Mercy”, I thought it was an odd genre for him. I’ve known him to listen to Hip-Hop or rap or Post Rock. I don’t usually listen to contemporary country myself but hearing him sing this song now… It’s heartbreaking. Too beautiful to look away from. His voice changes it to an R&B sound but it’s just as mournful as the original.

Every person in the bar is holding their breath.

Only Tori’s piano accompanies our voices. The guitars are on stands at the back of the stage. Spencer and Raul started their break early, we’ll join them when we finish this song. It’s just Miles and me and Tori—who is playing like the notes are being pulled from her. Grief heavy in her gliding fingers.

I can’t take my eyes off of him. Did he listen to this song when Jasmine ended their relationship? Play it on a loop? The way some songs make it hurt worse and feel better at the same time.

He turns sad soulful eyes to me as I join him in the chorus. It shouldn’t take me by surprise after all the eye contact from Tuesday night. The two of us alone pretending to share more than our voices but it does. We have gone so long acting like the other person didn’t exist while in the same room, I’ve become sensitive to the sight of him. His eyes take me back to when I coveted his attention. When I’d take any interaction with him and store it like sustenance until the next chance meeting. The next time he and I would occupy place because Dan or my parents invited Miles. When I daydreamed about his smile lines and thought about him at night, discovering my body—wishing it was his hands and not mine. When my journals were filled with lyrics of longing and lust and hearts opening to love. Before…

I let the pain of that long ago wound to the surface. It’s not used to the light of day. It’s used to the shadows and deep hidden places of my soul. Where I shoved it. Where it fed on me.

I let him see it now.

Can he see it?

I hope he can. It’d be lighter to share the load. A weight I’m so used to carrying, I don’t remember what it’s like without it. And he’s one of the three people who knows. My stomach turns. My mouth starts to water, remembering—though that’s not the right word because I never actually forgot—why he or me… Why everything is sour.
Tears cling to my eyelashes as he sings the last note. At least to the on-lookers it just looks like I’m affected by the song.

Get it together, woman. You’re at work.

Tori plays her last chord.

My smile to the rapt audience is forced, but they’d never know it. I wait for their applause to die down before saying, “Well… we promise to bring you all back up after the break. You’re gonna love the second half! So much dancing!”

You and Me In Quarantine: Epilogue

From Marty Vee:

This is a RomCom novella I’m sharing in segments, about two people who don’t like each other getting quarantined together. I suggest starting at the beginning:

But I’ll recap anyway:

Billie is a junior reporter for a local network and Edgar, her least favorite person, works in the same position at a competing network. They are quarantined together at his house. She recently found out that most of her previously conceived notions about him are based on someone else’s lies. As these things go, feelings got all involved and they did the deed. On Day 10 she asked the National Guard if she could grab provisions from her house and come back to Edgar’s. Then a video was circulated on Day 12 that confirms she is at Edgar’s house and his ex-wife turns the narrative very negatively against them on social-media. On Day 13, Billie asked Edgar to go to her home with her and he decided not to. So sad. But THEN she pulled a brilliant stunt with a new video and had an argument with the ex-wife AND THEN Edgar showed up at her house and they go through the rest of quarantine together. So happy.

I hope you enjoy it!

You and Me In Quarantine


There’s a tear in the vinyl booth Edgar and I are sitting in. We’re holding hands under the table on top of his thigh. I’m having a hard time not digging into my purse for hand sanitizer, but I just put it on after splaying the menu open on the table. It’s our first time eating out of the house since the Quarantine was lifted. The smell of onion and cooking meat wafting from the restaurant kitchen is tantalizing but I might not be able to eat through my anxiety.

The door to the outside opens and I look up to see my mom and dad walking in. She lets out an excited squeal and my dad shakes his head but I can see the humor in his eyes.

“Mom!” I exclaim as I stand to hug her.

Hug her. I get to hug my mom.

Seriously, I regret ever taking any hug from her for granted. I regret every time she hugged me and I only leaned my shoulder into her.

I’m making up for that now. I wrap her in my arms and rest my head on her shoulder. Her hair tickles my skin and I breathe in the smell of her hair spray. I feel her tears dampen the shoulder of my shirt. Her inhales are shaky. Her fingers stroking the hair down my back as she whispers, “My baby girl,” over and over.

I register that Edgar and my dad shook hands and are now standing awkwardly next to us.

I’m the first to pull back. My left-hand grabs Edgar’s arm as I say, “Mom, this is Edgar.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” She gushes and wraps him in her arms. I had warned him it was going to happen but he seems pleased by her friendliness anyway.

My dad takes the opportunity to crush me in his hold, his head resting on mine. “I missed you, Billie Goat.”

“I missed you too, Dad.”

When we sit down, I’m relieved to watch Mom pull hand sanitizer out of her purse. The little bottle gets passed around to all of us. The pungent smell of alcohol lingers for a few seconds.

I wonder if we’ll ever get to a point like before the virus.

Edgar drapes his arm across my shoulder and pulls me into his side. A satisfied hum vibrates in my throat and I watch both of my parents blink in amused surprise. It’ll take time for them to get used to me being unguarded with him. I stay there, my body formed to his side. His lips press against the top of my head.

I entwine our fingers, our palms pressed together and squeeze.

The future is unsure, but it always was. Some truths remain the same.

But sitting in a booth at my favorite cheap Mexican restaurant with my parents and the man I love, I feel different. Somehow, without the constant self-protection, I’m freer. I found someone who I can be free with.

Someone to be brave with, in an uncertain world.


From Marty Vee:

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you reading my little book. I have been so endeared by the positive feedback I’ve received. Such a joy.

When I started writing this, it felt like an escape from a stressful world. I hope that the reading of it has been just as much of an escape for you.

Shamelessly, I’m going to ask that if you have enjoyed You and Me In Quartantine you’ll share it with a friend or on your social media.

I wish you all the best!

With Love,

Marty Vee

You and Me In Quarantine: Day 14

From Marty Vee:

This is a RomCom novella I’m sharing in segments, about two people who don’t like each other getting quarantined together. I suggest starting at the beginning:

But I’ll recap anyway:

Billie is a junior reporter for a local network and Edgar, her least favorite person, works in the same position at a competing network. They are quarantined together at his house. She recently found out that most of her previously conceived notions about him are based on someone else’s lies. As these things go, feelings got all involved and they did the deed. On Day 10 she asked the National Guard if she could grab provisions from her house and come back to Edgar’s. Then a video was circulated on Day 12 that confirms she is at Edgar’s house and his ex-wife turns the narrative very negatively against them on social-media. On Day 13, Billie asked Edgar to go to her home with her and he decided not to. So sad.

I hope you enjoy it!

You and Me In Quarantine

Day 14

It’s been almost twenty-four hours without Edgar. I wonder if you can go through with-drawls for a person. It would explain the physical ache in my chest and the way my skin feels empty. I have Amy Winehouse playing very loudly—I’ve skipped Valerie twice already, it’s too upbeat. The playlist ends and I start it over. There’s something about her heartbreaking self-destruction that appeals to my mood.

I keep catching myself staring into nothing, my brain lingering on moments with Edgar. There’s no way to change the past couple of days, so I wish I would stop looking for the places I went wrong. I need to stop thinking about what would have been correct.
It’s too much to hope that he’s still watching my videos. But I hope he sees the one that posted this morning. I could kiss Val for making that happen so quickly. I wouldn’t because there’s a pandemic and, even though I want to be friendly with her, I don’t want to be that friendly. But I appreciate her.

I was nervous when I sent the file, but her response was positive.

Libby and my mom both texted me to say they were proud. My dad actually called me to tell me that I had giant balls. “I don’t know how you walk with those big ol’ nuts.”

Deadpan, I answered, “Thanks, Dad. That was very weird.”

When Sofia called, I got to put my giant balls to the test. After a fortifying breath, and ensuring the phone call was being recorded, I answered, “Hello.”

Yeah, Hello.” The disdain in her voice matched mine.

“I don’t want to talk to you—”

Should’ve been a slut with someone else’s husband, then.” She interrupted me as I was saying, “and I’m recording this conversation.”

“Ex-husband.” I corrected.

Why would you do this to me? I trusted you!

“I didn’t do anything to you. You told me a lie and I acted out of ignorance.”

You’re little innocent act isn’t going to work. I see who you really are.”

“Who am I?”

An almost animal-like roar came through the line. “You’re a lying bitch! If you get anywhere near Edgar I’ll beat the shit out of you! Your whore mother won’t recognize you.”

It took a few seconds to process that this was a person I once considered a friend. Not a close friend, but a friend. All of her aggression was kept under a carefully orchestrated veil and now that it had been lifted I could look into the pit. It was dark and filled with dangerous creatures. Am I that terrible a judge of character? I hurt for Edgar all over again. How could he trust his own judgment after this woman?

I shook my head, I would not let her provoke me. This wasn’t a conversation, this was an attack. I considered the best way to show my strength. “Okay, do not call me again.”

That’s all you have to say to me?!

“You know what, no. I never want anything to do with you again. But if being with Edgar means never being rid of you, I’ll take him. He’s worth it. I want him more than I never want to see you. I know you won’t listen, but don’t contact me again—”

I don’t know why you think you can take him from me!” Her voice raised in volume and octave. I ripped the phone away from my ear.

“I’m hanging up.” I didn’t wait for her response before ending the phone call. I double-checked that the phone call recorded correctly and saved it to my computer. She continued calling. One missed call after another. Then she filled my voicemail. I saved all of those to my computer too. The text messages came next.

I turned my phone off.

I started researching restraining orders. It obviously hasn’t been perfectly successful for Edgar, but I need to do something.

Sofia is just one of the reasons I’m avoiding social media.

I’m also not ready to see if everyone is still railing against me or has changed perspectives. I don’t blame them. I’ve been just as guilty of flash outrage and believing lies. But I feel betrayed and I can’t forgive yet.

The opening beat of Back to Black begins tapping out of my speakers and the darkness surrounding my heart grows heavier; more oppressive. I hit the space bar on my keyboard to silence the song. But the weight is still there.

I remind myself that I have people who love me and even though I feel alone, I’m not. But good God, I feel alone.

My eyes and nose sting.

I take a deep breath and pull up the video I filmed last night, hoping it’ll redirect my thoughts. It’s a high-risk move, it will either work or send me spiraling. I stare at my makeup-less face on the screen. The redness of my eyes and my swollen skin. It’s not flattering but seeing it makes me feel strong. I look determined. I look like someone who can handle a dangerously volatile ex-wife. I hit the triangle hovering over my face and it begins playing.

“Hello, I’m Billie Sanchez and I have become the subject of vehement dislike on the Internet. Which under normal circumstances would be difficult but as that is the only form of socialization right now… it feels a little worse.

“I’m a local public figure and this is not my first time being blasted publicly. I’ve had my qualifications for my job called under question. I’ve been called terrible names because I don’t smile as much as people want me to. I’ve had my appearance ripped to shreds. But this is the first time that my personal life has taken the spotlight.

“I am not proud of the way I acted. I betrayed trust and let someone I’d like to remain close to down.”

On screen, I swallow and I remember it was because my throat was tightening but there’s no evidence of that on film.

“It’s not enough but to that person I’d like to make a public apology.”

In the recording, I stand straighter and square my shoulders. “Edgar, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I let someone else tell me who you were before I didn’t get to know you for myself. I repeated lies said about you and I’m embarrassed that I let them shape my opinions. I’m sorry I would have given into a bully instead of standing up for myself and you. You deserve to be treated better than that.

“I want to be the kind of person who isn’t afraid of doing the right thing, even if that means admitting when I’m wrong. I hope you can forgive me.”

My expression hardens. “As for the accusations towards me, that I’m duplicitous and fake. I would like to ask everyone making that assumption to take the time to get to know me. Consider, that sometimes information comes from an unreliable source. To the people who do know me, make up your mind for yourself. I can tell you from first-hand experience, making amends after the fact is not a comfortable position to be in.

“Lastly, I would like to address the claims that I broke up a marriage, but that statement is so wildly false I can’t even begin to point out its flaws and I wouldn’t want to air business that isn’t mine. So, unfortunately, I need to accept that I can’t correct this without sharing confidences. You’ll just have to take my word for it or the word of someone else. I’m powerless to your decision.”

“But,” I angled the phone so that it included the screen of my computer which is filled with screen-shots of text messages from Sofia. I had to blackout her name, but most of them are the corresponding texts she had already shared. Only this time without her side of the conversation retracted. On the mild side she says things like, “I can’t believe I married him. Worst. Decision. Ever.” She calls him names and then the texts turn nasty towards me.

I finish the thought I’d started before displaying the conversation, “this is an attack on my character and I won’t take it lying down.”

After a bland sign-off, the video ends.

Watching it, I wish I had put my apology to Edgar at the end. He’s the audience I really want to reach but it’s done now. Once again, I should have thought before I acted.

I’m not sure how long I stare into space, my thoughts untethered balloons floating away from me.

My heart skips a beat or two at the three chimes of my doorbell. My first thought is Sofia. She must have sneaked through the city and is in a deranged fit on my front porch. Then I remember how she enlisted me to pull off her scheme and my imagination conjures up a large angry man.

I’m not answering that door.

But how would Sofia know I’m home? She must think that I’m still at Edgar’s… I never did confirm that.

There are three soft taps on the door and a voice calls through, “Billie, it’s me.”

My jaw is somewhere on the carpeted floor between my feet.

Then he says, “Please open the door.”

My senses have become unreliable sources. “Edgar?”

Billie,” my name is almost a sigh. “Can I come in?”

“Yeah!” I cry. I climb over the back of the sofa instead of walking around it; too eager to see him than be embarrassed. I flip the deadbolt and the lock and swing the door open.
There he is. Right there.

A late Spring sunset casts golden light off of his black hair. He’s wearing jeans and a dark gray jacket unzipped over a white tshirt. His knuckles are white around the handle of a large suitcase. There’s relief in his expression but also uncertainty.

“What are you doing here? How are you here?” My mouth hangs open, loving the sight of him and not believing it.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve left with you yesterday. As soon as you pulled out of the driveway—” he ran his hand through his hair.

I can almost feel it between my fingers.

“I realized I’m an idiot.”

A slow smile grows on my lips and I watch one grow on his as he continues, “I called Sergeant Brown from the number in my phone and left a message with his assistant—is that what you call ‘em? I don’t know the army term for it. And when he called me back I… begged. Just groveled to let me come to you.”

I sigh a breathy laugh, hanging on every single one word. I may still be in shock at the actual sight of him.

“I even convinced him to watch your post from this morning.” He shrugs. “The Sergeant is a self-proclaimed romantic and gave me clearance.”

“I can’t believe this.”

We just stand there staring at each other like giddy fools.

“I can’t go back home, so…” He shrugs one shoulder.

I have a tent you can put up in the backyard.”


“Sure thing.”

We go back to smiling at each other, breathing the same air. Existing in the same spot.
After a couple of breaths he says, “I really want to hold you, but I should wash my hands.”

I giggle, “Yeah.” I step back to let him in. He hefts the large suitcase with him. “So, like, three-quarters of that thing is food, isn’t it?”

“Only half, I used some restraint.”

We both laugh like it’s the funniest thing we’ve ever heard. Our joy making everything brighter.

He turns on the kitchen sink and lathers his hands with soap.

“So, how’d you get my address?” I ask trying to engage my mind in more than watching his skin rubbing against his skin.

The look he gives me through his eyelashes is so adorably bashful, it might actually stop my heart. “I got a pencil and shadowed the next post-it in the pad.”

“Like Nancy Drew?”

“I guess so.” He dries his hands on the towel hanging under the sink.

Turning, he faces me. I’m leaning one hip against the adjacent counter. He looks so good in my kitchen.

My face is lit up to its full wattage. I don’t even try to tone it down.

His fingers trail my jaw and his thumbs trace my lips. I grip his wrists and stare up into his large brown eyes. He presses his forehead to mine. My eyes close, I want to capture time.

I would extend this moment and spend the rest of my life in it.

I’m so busy trying to memorize the feel of him—warm and solid and here—that when he whispers, my eyes startle open.

“You said that if you were going to keep fucking up you wanted it to be because you’re brave.” His chest rises with a breath. “I want to be brave like you.”

Somehow, my smile grows. Any bigger and it won’t fit on my face.

“I love you too.” I watch him speak the words, as well as hear them.

That’s it. The last I can take before wrapping my arms around his neck and pressing my mouth to his.


From Marty Vee:

Thank you for reading! If you’re enjoying the story, please share it on your social media or with a friend. You can finish the story at: