Peter Jones – Author & Public Speaker

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Where do you get your ideas from?

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One of the questions an author is sometimes asked is “where do you get your ideas from?” My answer is usually “anywhere,” which is, I admit, a bit glib. The answer should really be “it depends which book you’re talking about.”

I came up with the idea for The Truth About This Charming Man many years ago when I was part of a small theatre company that ran Murder Mystery events for discerning clients. One evening a fellow actor walked into the dressing room and told us that he was off to Australia for a week. ‘Very nice’ we said, but he didn’t share our enthusiasm. Jeremy was flying half way around the world to claim a body.

It turns out that in Australia, a body can’t be released until it’s claimed by a blood relative. It didn’t seem to matter that Jeremy had never actually met his Great Uncle, the Aussie Authorities just needed him to fly out and place his signature on a piece of paper. A task which was not only costly, but extremely inconvenient for our Jez.

Which was when I had an idea: Did it really need to be Jez that flew out to Aus? Couldn’t one of us take on the role of Jez, and fly out on his behalf? Would anyone notice? Would anyone… care?

More than that, perhaps Jez was the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps there was a whole slew of potential clients in need of the services of professional actors. After all, haven’t you ever needed to be in more than one place at the same time? Haven’t you ever wanted to send someone to a boring social event or meeting in your stead? Haven’t you ever been tempted to hire someone to play your boyfriend for the evening in order to keep your colleagues, family, and everyone else, from asking why you’re always single?

Those are the sort of thoughts that make me want to sit down, and write a novel…

And if you’re a fan of Nick Hornby, or Mike Gayle, Rom Coms or Heist movies, or theatre, or just a bloody good read, then The Truth About This Charming Man could be right up your street.

Read the opening chapter for free…

Still need more convincing (to part with less than a quid)? How about a sneaky look at the first chapter?

Read the rest of the opening chapter, for free, here.

Charming, fabulous, witty and easy to read book,
cannot wait for the sequal!

says amazon reader Lynn Wedge

 

Reading this in an email? If there’s a gap above that’s where a video would normally appear. Jump over to youtube to watch it.

 


TTATCM sidebarHot news! 

The Truth About This Charming Man is 99 pennies for the month of May 2017. Download the book for your smart phone, tablet, or kindle, today.

Visit BUYTHEBOOK.TODAY to buy the book… today!

(The FREE kindle reading app is available for everything. Seriously; EVERYTHING.)

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The Truth About Great Cover Design…

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Book covers.

I hate ’em.

No really, that’s the truth, because that age old piece of advice – never judge a book by its cover – is universally IGNORED!

Everyone judges pretty much everything by its cover, ESPECIALLY books. So it really doesn’t matter how many months I spent slaving over the words on the inside, if the cover isn’t absolutely perfect (or as close as), I’ll have pretty much wasted my time. After all, I went through goodness knows how many covers for my first novel and to this day I’m still not entirely sure we got it absolutely right (read about that here).

So it was with considerable trepidation that I approached the cover design for my latest fiction offering; The Truth About This Charming Man. And just for “fun” (yours, not mine) my agent thought you might enjoy seeing the personal torment we went through to arrive at the FABULOUS jacket above / to the right. That’s nice of her, isn’t it.

Anyway, let’s start with these three doodles…

The Truth - proof4 The Truth - proof The Truth - proof2

If you’re shaking your head in bewilderment I can’t say I blame you. Let me give you some context:

My latest novel was never intended to be a novel at all. Back at the beginning of 2015, in a desperate attempt to plug the hole in my bank account, I’d written a five part story entitled The Truth. The plan was to submit it to a well-known weekly women’s publication in the hopes that they might serialise it. This is a bit like trying to solve a financial crisis by purchasing a single lottery ticket, but still, I was determined.

The basic plot was (and still is… to some degree) about a thirty something actor who, despite never having secured a ‘proper’ role on stage or screen, has, somehow, landed three unusuallet’s call them ‘positions’… pretending to be whoever his clients need him to be. And although it still isn’t proper theatre, by and large, life is pretty good for our hero… until the day he needs to play two of those people. At the same meeting.

It’s an idea that Kate and I originally came up with many years ago – although typically, when I actually came to write it, it morphed into something very different, and in my humble opinion, far better, than what we’d originally envisaged.

In fact, so pleased was I with my second piece of full length fiction that I resolved to self-publish it as a novella should the magazine in question decide not to take the story. Hence the doodles above. These are *some* of my attempts at what I thought might be the cover… and I hated them. I still do. In my head I had this idea about our hero falling between sinister versions of the two famous actor masks. I realised too that the design had to be at least sympathetic to my first novel, but I just couldn’t get it to work; close friends I shared these doodles with said it made the book look like a murder mystery. Arrrgghhh!

FORTUNATELY, around March of last year, destiny stepped in.

I’d just landed myself a new agent, who in turn had secured a publicity deal with amazon, which led to my first novel being re-vamped and re-published. But before I’d even signed my contract, my agent was understandably keen to know what else could be in the pipeline. So I showed her The Truth, and… she loved it.

Though she didn’t love the title.

Or the fact it was a novella.

“Go away,” she said, “and turn this into a proper, full-length novel… with a better title.”

Nine months later and I had finished The Truth About This Charming Man.

Which brings us onto this…

THE TRUTH kindle proof

 

I was still basking in the glory of somehow completing an entire novel in the tenth of the time it had taken me to write the first one, when this cover was designed. Maybe I wasn’t being objective but at the time I loved the masks. I loved the way they’re all angry or sad with the exception of the one he’s wearing. I loved the spot light. I loved everything about it. I was in love!

So pleased was I – and so confident that both amazon and my agent would love it too – I grabbed my wallet and went right ahead and had the finished artwork made up.

Oops.

My agent did like it, sort of, but there were some problems.

Firstly, apparently books that are obviously about actors or acting are unpopular with publishers (as are books to do with writers, or writing). So anything with actor masks on it was a strict no-no.

Secondly, my market, apparently, is women’s contemporary romantic fiction. Regardless of whether my books are heavy on the romance or not 90% of my readers fit that demographic, and therefore it’s those ladies that have to look at the cover and go “Ooooo…”

I was sent back to the drawing board, with strict instructions to come back with ‘at least three’ ideas that we could pick from.

Several days later – with the dread that this entire process might take as long as it did last time hanging over my head – this design popped out:

TTATCM man in heart sketch

I liked it!

I felt we’d finally cracked the font. I liked the colour. The strap-line felt right.

I wasn’t sure whether we’d get away with the mask on the man…  more than that though, I was even more worried it still wouldn’t appeal to the women’s contemporary romantic fiction market.

A fear that was addressed by the following…

TTATCM bench sketch copy

Bear in mind this is a sketch, so it’s a bit rough round the edges. Those lines on the bench wouldn’t be there in a finished version.

I hate it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. It’s more or less a scene from the book, and I like the London skyline, but it’s so… chick-lit. There’s nothing wrong with chick-lit of course, but slap a cover like this on my book and I could envisage two things happening:

  1. I’d lose every single one of my male readers (even though there are probably about 6, and I know them all by name).
  2. There would be more than a few female readers who were hoping for a plot that’s a good deal more romantic than the one I’ve actually come up with.

Put simply, I wasn’t convinced it was a  good fit, even if I knew, in my heart of hearts, that this was probably the cover amazon and my agent would go for.

There hardly seemed any point in having a third idea – so I suggested a simple typographical solution, using the font and background colour from the first idea, maybe the border from the second idea. Just something we could throw into the mix so we could say, hand on heart, that we’d delivered three covers. The book equivalent of a guy in a red jersey beaming down to an unexplored planet with Captain Kirk.

What I got was this…

TTATCM typographical solution sketch

This is another sketch. Those glasses, I was assured, wouldn’t have the words shutterstock across them. But I wasn’t listening. What I was thinking was…

Woah!

I knew pretty much instantly that this was it. There was a kind of stirring. In my loins. Despite the fact that this design was turned out in the time it took me to send an email, go downstairs, make a cup of tea, and come back up again – I just knew.

And I wasn’t alone. I sent all three covers to several friends, and most chose the design above over the other two. Especially those friends who hadn’t seen any other design, or had no idea what the book was about.

My favourite bit of feedback was this:

“I like the glasses. It makes me think of ‘deception’ – but also about those comedy glasses you could buy with a big nose and bushy eyebrows attached.”

Perfect!

Interestingly, those that didn’t choose this design, chose the couple on the bench. But no one liked the guy in the mask.

So, naughty though it may be, I casually forgot about the guy in the mask. I know, I know – I was tasked with submitting three ideas, but I wanted my favourite to have at least a 50/50 chance of winning even though I was 100% certain that the chick-lit cover would beat it to a pulp!

And I’m delighted to say I was wrong.

My agent circulated the two covers (the ones on offer) round her agency and my fave won hands down! The only objection being that it might not be *quite* romantic enough… and was it possible to ‘fix’ that? Which is why we came up with the finished version below by adding a little bit of a glow and a few love hearts (including the dot on the i in the word ‘charming’).

Personally I prefer the un-romanticised version, but hey – it’s not that much of a compromise. I’m still proud to be associated with this design.

TTATCM kindle

But… maybe we’ve got it wrong?

Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below.


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Hot news; my second novel The Truth About This Charming Man is available right now, in paperback and for your phone, tablet, computer or kindle device!

Read the opening chapter, right now, right here.

The film will be along some time in the next decade.

Who could be in a movie of ‘The Truth About This Charming Man’?

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Back in those early heady days of bashing out my first novel, my friend Wendy criticised me for being a little scant on my character description.

“I don’t know what these people look like,” she said.

I mumbled some rubbish about wanting my readers to make up their own mind and she probably gave me one of her looks, because I went straight home and spent the next few hours on google finding images of actors & actresses that reminded me of the characters I’d created, and could make a pretty good job of playing that character should the book ever be made into a movie, or turned into telly. I printed those pictures off, stuck them on a notice board in my office, and glanced at them frequently whenever I was writing.

It’s a trick that I’ve adopted ever since. Right now, hanging just to the right of my computer screen, is a cork board with a picture of Martin Freeman on it. An actor who would be absolutely excellent in the lead role of my third novel.

Yes, third.

My second novelThe Truth About This Charming Man came out mere days ago, and here’s something quite exciting, there’s already been some chat about turning it into a movie! And I’m not referring to  private insane ramblings between me and my cat. I mean proper, serious, genuine ‘chat’ by people whose job it is to rub shoulders with those who are in a position to actually make things happen, and tempt them with the movie / TV rights of their numerous clients.

Now I expect these kind of conversations happen quite frequently, and I expect the vast majority of those conversations never amount to anything – just as (so I’m told), only a very small percentage of books where the movie / TV rights are successfully negotiated actually ever end up being made into anything you’re ever like to see – but it’s all very exciting none the less, and because of my approach to figuring out character description, should anyone ever ask me if I’ve got any ideas who should play which role, I can do something more than mumble “I dunno, that guy from one of the X-men films?”

Here then, are those pictures that until recently were pinned just to the right of my desk. Those talented stars of stage and screen who I would dearly love to breathe life into the lives of people who up until a few days ago only existed in my head.

If you’ve already started reading The Truth About This Charming Man I’d love to know what you think. Post your thoughts, feelings, or alternative casting ideas in the comments at the bottom of this page (or here if you’re reading this in an email).

William Lewis (James MacAvoy)will

“My name is William. Will to my friends. Though it could just as easily be Gary, or Roger, or Stephan – just tell me who you’d like me to be and watch me morph into someone else. It’s not lying. Lying is an untruth. This is acting. It’s telling a story, and stories are a good thing: they teach us. They help us to make sense of the world. They allow us to stay safe – in that way they’re better than the truth.”

James MacAvoy was pretty much my first choice when casting the story’s lead character in my mind. Though I know nothing about the man (other than his numerous screen appearances) I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if he’s as obsessed about his craft in real life, as Will is in the book.

Nathia Brockenhurst (Olivia Williams)
nathia

“Nathia’s smiling when she opens the door. A big, warm, welcoming smile that promises an evening of laughter and cocktails. The smile falters when she sees that it’s me. “You’re late,” she says with enough venom to poison a small army. She turns and stomps back into her apartment, and I notice she’s already in full costume: slim-fit high-waist sleek-black trousers, semi-translucent shirt, killer heels – the usual Nathia attire.”

I’ve always been a big fan of Olivia Williams, and when it comes to playing high-flying brutal-business-woman-with-a-secret Nathia Brockenhurst, I have absolutely no doubt she’d walk the part.

Michael Richmond (Hugh Grant)hugh_grant

“In many ways Michael Richmond is a man out of time. A century or two ago he’d have a bushy moustache, impressive sideburns, and a belly the size of a small country. He’d spend his evenings smoking expensive cigars and talking about his time in Africa. Roll back the centuries still further and I can imagine him dressed in animal furs, sporting a heavy copper helmet, and wielding a blade high above his head before he conquers another village, and takes his pick of the wenches available. But instead Michael goes to the gym. He watches his weight. He pops statins. And on evenings such as this, he shares stories of boring corporate deals negotiated across expensive but dull conference room tables. Is it any wonder that he drinks too much, laughs too loudly, and always looks as if he might explode at any given moment? That granite exterior is holding a lifetime of frustration in place. “

Hugh Grant built almost an entire career playing ‘the toff’, ‘the fop’, and every variation in-between. But allegedly Helen Fielding always had him in mind for the character of Daniel bit-of-a-bastard Cleaver in Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s that charming-but-evil element that I think he could carry off so well in the role of Michael Richmond.

Rachel Richmond (Anne Hathaway)
rachel

“But behind that shy smile, those beautiful soft cappuccino eyes, and her tall, lean, slightly Arabian veneer, is someone else. And sometimes, when she’s asked me an innocent sounding question, she stays quiet after I’ve given my answer, like she’s waiting for me to say more, waiting for me to give myself away. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t give me something of a buzz.”

When it came to casting the love-interest it really didn’t take me long to come up with a suitable candidate. Oh come on. Can you blame me? If I’ve got to write convincing love-scenes then when I glance up at the pin board I need to be looking directly into the face of a woman I could easily find myself falling in love with! That’s my excuse, I’m sticking to it.

Zlata Ruzencova (Vera Farmiga)
Zlata

“One particularly chilly morning in March, an eccentric gum chewing woman of indeterminate years – all wild bleached blonde hair (with dark roots), pristine makeup (and plenty of it) – turned up on my doorstep.
‘Hello,’ she said, as I opened the door. ‘You are Lewis, the actor. Yes?’
‘If you say so,’ I replied. It was very early in the morning. Too early to be standing on my doorstep talking to a tall lady in a fake-fur-coat that just about covered her shoulders, and a snake-skin mini-skirt that was barely long enough to cover, well, anything.”

Of all the characters in the book Zlata is far and away my favourite. Even now, long after I penned her last few lines, she’s still in my head, passing judgement on all that I do, and asking me, sometimes several times a day, where is my plan for cake.

If I were an actress (just go with me on this), then Zlata would be the role I would love to play. Casting her however, was a huge challenge. No one seemed quite right – then a friend suggested Vera Farmiga and after that, well… there was no after that! She’s perfect.

So? What d’you think? Post your thoughts and / or alternative casting suggestions in the comments.


TTATCM sidebar

Hot news; my second novel The Truth About This Charming Man is available right now, in paperback and for your phone, tablet, computer or kindle device!

Read the opening chapter, right now, right here.

The film will be along some time in the next decade.

The Truth – a short message from author Peter Jones.

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This is a transcript of a video that I posted on social media earlier today. If you would prefer to view the video, which is only 4 minutes in length, click here now (or press the play button if you can see an image immediately below).

Hello,

Many of you know me as the self-help author turned novelist Peter Jones.

What most of you don’t know is that over the past year or so I have taken on a number of other – let’s call them positions – in order to support myself. Some of these ‘jobs’ have been somewhat unusual, and most have required me to tight-lipped about what I get up to in my non-writing hours.

But no more.

The time has come for me to tell the truth, to expose those who should know better.

Before I turned writer I was involved with a small theatre company, and during that time I developed quite a talent for characterisation & costume, impersonation and disguise.

It’s these remarkable skills that I’ve been peddling to certain individuals, often the rich and the famous, whenever they were too busy or just too idle to appear in person.

Let me take a moment to show you what i mean…

British actor Hugh Grant poses for pictures on the red carpet as he arrives to attend the European premier of his latest film

Here’s the actor Hugh Grant as he attends yet another film premier. But I think, in light of what i just told you, you can begin to get a sense that something isn’t quite right, that Hugh seems a little different somehow – and that is of course because it’s not Hugh. It’s me. A pair of black rimmed spectacles completing the costume.

james-mcavoy-filth-scotland-premiere-02

Now different day, different role, but again, I think you can probably tell, when you look closely, that it isn’t the actor James Macavoy… but yours truly.

Keira+Knightley+James+McAvoy+Atonement+TIFF+x7z_okk-R2el

Playing James again, this time trying not to be distracted by Keira Knightly’s erm… By Keira Knightly.

'X-Men: Days of Future Past' U.K. Premiere - Arrivals Featuring: James McAvoy,Michael Fassbender Where: London, United Kingdom When: 12 May 2014 Credit: Joe/WENN.com

And again, this time with a life sized hand puppet of the actor Michael Fassbender.

Rita-Ora

Me again. This time standing in for the actress and singer Rita Ora. Probably one of my most demanding roles to date. Particularly as it was such a cold day.

344545-cute-guinea-pigs-hd-wallpaper

Another role… that costume was particularly ticklish…

kylie-minogue-knickst-vor-queen-elizabeth-ii

Oh and er, yes, not quite sure how this once slipped in, but here I am again. Possibly not so clear which of these two famous people i’m standing in for but if we pan back slightly…

Queen-Elizabeth-II-greeted-Kylie-Minogue-Royal-Variety

Yes, there i am. Still trying to pass Kylie Minogue a copy of my last novel.

Needless to say, I’m not proud myself, and I hope you can forgive me for helping facilitate this deceit and for plunging to such depths. It’s a tough life being an author, but really, that’s no excuse for my behaviour.

You can help of course.

It just so happens that this week I have a new novel out!

TTATCM sidebarTHE TRUTH ABOUT THIS CHARMING MAN Is the witty tale of a struggling actor and the extraordinary lengths he goes to… for the woman he loves.

It’s out now in paperback, and for whatever device your currently using to view this blog – and it’s only a couple of quid. Just click here. Go on. Help out a struggling author.

In the meantime, please help me apologise to your friends by SHARING the video at the top of this blog post on facebook, twitter, or your social media outlet of choice. Though now that you know what I’ve been up to, you might start to see some of them in a new light.

How to talk to Michelle Ward about Boxing Day and Everything

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keep-calm-today-is-boxing-day
Almost exactly a year ago I popped into Phoenix 98 FM, to chat to the lovely Michelle Ward.

If you’re a regular visitor to my other blog – HowToDoEverythingAndBeHappy.com – you’ll already know that I’m a regular guest on the show, and together we present a slot called ‘Happy Club‘, whereby I dispense some tips and hints on happiness, and related subjects (for instance; here’s a show that we did on how to survive Christmas).

This particular time we were supposed to be talking about Boxing Day, but instead we ended up talking about, well, me – specifically, how I became an author and my tendency to get totally wrapped up in building a career, unfortunately at the expense on my own happiness.

We do eventually get around to discussing Boxing Day.

Eventually.

Anyway, if you’ve got a few moments, have a listen. Click the PLAY button in the image below, or click here to open YouTube. The last couple of minutes of the interview went a bit screwy, so I’ve just faded it out on this version – you haven’t missed much, honest.

If you’re not able to listen to audio at the moment, you can read a blog post about Boxing Day here.

Do you already have Boxing Days? Why not tell me (and other visitors to this blog) about them in the comments below, or over on facebook.


The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl (mentioned in the show) has been out a year now – get your copy for mere pennies from your local amazon store.

For other happiness tips, like Boxing Day, check out How To Do Everything And Be Happy, available everywhere in all formats… but also on amazon (.co.uk | .com)

And remember, Christmas is just around the corner and books do make incredibly good gifts!

‘Kylie’ Blooper reel

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You will probably remember that last week I sent a copy of The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl to pop-star Kylie Minogue, as a thank you for being the original inspiration for the novel.

Well a week later and oddly Kylie hasn’t been in touch. Yet. But then she’s probably still reading the book, isn’t she? Yes, yes – of course she is. That’ll be the reason.

In the meantime however, the video I recorded explaining what I was up to, seemed to go down REALLY well.

So as a sort of thank you to everyone who shared it, and to brighten up your day if it isn’t sparkly enough, I thought you might like to see the blooper reel; “Peter Jones – he has this thing…”

Click here if you can’t see the video above or you’re reading this in an email


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Hot news; my debut novel The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl is part of Amazon’s 99p Summer Book Promotion. Get my quirky, lad-lit, rom-com for less than a quid! But hurry – the promo is for July only!

The film will be along some time in the next decade.

What I thought of….. Single Woman Seeks Revenge #book #review

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“She was a Jenga stack on the brink of collapse, just waiting for someone to take out the wrong block.”

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you might have wondered why I post fairly regular reviews about films I’ve seen, but not much about books that I’ve read. Why is that? Do I not read books?

Well of course I read books! But – well – I’m quite a critical person when it comes to literature (and movies, and food, and well, ok, everything), and I find it hard to reign in my thoughts if something is, in my less-than-humble opinion, slightly less than perfect.

This isn’t a problem when it comes to films. I’m unlikely to bump into Tom Cruise any time soon, or anyone else in the movie biz – but when it comes to books… well these are my peers. And us writerly types are a sensitive bunch. And it’s hard enough to make money at this game without me throwing my ten penneth into the mix and potentially messing it all up for someone who’s worked really hard to get this far.

So it’s with some trepidation that I’m going to review Single Woman Seeks Revenge by Tracy Bloom.

Here’s the gist: Local newspaper columnist & agony aunt Suzie has just been ditched by Alex – the smooth talking, devilishly handsome, sales executive who works for the same paper. Suzie, it seems, has a somewhat disastrous track record when it comes to romance, and her work desk has become a shrine to various multi-coloured ‘Troll’ dolls, each of which represents a failed relationship. Come on! Don’t tell me you don’t have a troll collection of your own – real or imaginary. We’ve all been there.

Actually, someone who doesn’t appear to have been ‘there’ is friend and long-suffering, sensible work colleague Drew. And whilst he clearly likes Suzie (but how much, we’re forced to ask ourselves) he’s ‘happily’ engaged to the lovely Emily. Well, I say lovely, she’s more ruthless than lovely. But ruthless in a cuddly divorce-lawyer kind of a way. ie. Not cuddly. You can see where this is going can’t you.

Meanwhile, our Suz has decided to take revenge on every man who’s ever broken her heart, ever – and pretty soon she’s dishing out advice to her love lorn readers about how they can do the same. Until… well, I’ll just leave it there for you to find out for yourself.

Did I enjoy it?

Of course I bloomin’ did. It’s quirky, comical, and pacy. What’s not to like? And if you’re looking for light hearted read this summer, and you’re a fan of rom-coms, well this might be right up your street. Find it on amazon here.

Phew! That wasn’t too difficult was it. Nobody died, nobody got offended. But maybe I’ll take a lie down in a darkened room for a while…

 


TGGGTGTG sidebar

Hot news; my debut novel The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl is part of Amazon’s 99p Summer Book Promotion. Get my quirky, lad-lit, rom-com for less than a quid! But hurry – the promo is for July only!

The film will be along some time in the next decade.