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Five Year Anniversary (The Secret Life of the American Writer)

I was at the end of the road. Summer had just begun and I knew that my dreams of being a musician were over.

Not that anyone forced the end of my dreams. It’s just that I knew it wasn’t in my cards.

For one thing, I just couldn’t fathom touring. Don’t get me wrong, touring sporadically sounds like fun. Small doses being the key word.  Most people fantasize band tours being these crazy five month adventures where you get to rock and roll all night, party everyday, and see some fantastic sights. It’s true that you get to play to crowds and travel around. But you’ll be practically playing the same sets for eight months to two years (that’s right, two year tours. Not that uncommon). And when you’re not traveling from place to place, you’ll be doing a lot of PR and whatnot. Basically, it has a lot of perks but it has a lot of tough work and definitely isn’t for those wanting a “normal” life.

But it wasn’t just the touring. I can handle that price. But it was also the fact that I could never find the right band members to play with. Either they’d be too far to play with or they’d have polar opposite tastes than myself. And I needed people if I was going to make it as a musician.

At the end of the day though, touring and band members would be an obstacle I could find the will to overcome. The main reason why I didn’t delve further into music, was that I couldn’t write it. I could play Paradise City and Eruption on the guitar and played electric keyboard in the jazz band, but I couldn’t write a song for the life of me. It was like trying to write Homer’s The Odyssey in hieroglyphs. I wasn’t amazing at guitar or piano, certainly nowhere close enough to having the potential to become a studio musician or desired band member. I was simply decent at playing during that time, meaning that I had to know how to write songs if I wanted to really start a career. So, that was that (the irony is that I now know how to write songs).

So here I was in my twentieth year with my teen era officially dead for good. I had to do something to move forward. And more importantly, I had to get a summer job. Which was when an opportunity of a lifetime happened. An opportunity I wish would come by more often these days.

 the-secret-life-of-the-american-teenager1

I got the opportunity to be a PA (production assistant) for The Secret Life of the American Teenager. To be fair, it wasn’t a hard job search or a random occurrence  by any means. It was through my family that I got to work on the show, back when they were shooting their first season. It might’ve not been luck, but I felt lucky to have the job.

There were a lot of memories working as a PA for the show but for the most part, they were pretty good memories. The hours were great, averaging around seven to eleven hours. That might sound like a lot but you have to understand something about working on television. They require a lot of hours. Secret Life of the American Teenager is nothing compared to most shows. Most shows can average around ten hours if you’re lucky and can stretch on for sixteen hours (and even longer than that) for a single day. The main reason for the easy hours was due to a fantastic crew who were able to set everything up quickly and professionally, as well as the fact that it’s a dramady and not some action packed show (a.k.a only a few sets and no elaborate sequences that require a good deal of preparation).

And that wasn’t the only perk of working on it. I got free breakfast and lunch served by a professional chef. More important than that though, was the fact that the atmosphere was friendly (another sometimes rare thing for a show) and the gofering and other tasks at hand weren’t difficult or time consuming. Which gave me some downtime.

Since a lot of my work was simply waiting around for things to get set up, I’d sometimes bring a paperback novel to read. And while I didn’t read a lot of novels during those dog days of summer back in 2008, I did remember being introduced (metaphorically) to a few authors. Stephen King for one, who’d have a major influence on my writing years later. I’m not sure which book I first read of his, although I’m pretty damn sure it was Night Shift during my time on the show.

But what I do remember reading that year, was William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

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Gibson’s novel what I call a permainfluence. A work that has an everlasting impact on whatever I write. I was a somewhat jaded, burned out kid who felt down on his luck and given a second chance, reading about a has-been hacker who was down on his luck, washed out, betrayed, and given an opportunity of a lifetime. But it wasn’t just the fact that I could relate to Henry Dorsett Case. Despite being written in 1984 (making it over two decades old at the time), it still felt completely ground breaking. The abstract and often poetic style of prose dragged me into the grey, bleak megacity known as “The Sprawl”. As well as the cyber world known as the matrix. I admit, half the time I didn’t know what the hell was going on due to the terminology and the seamless blend between the real world and virtual world. But I got it. William Gibson taught me that a novel can be so much more than just a story written in words. And more importantly, he taught me that a novel can be pretty damn cool.

I think the final nail in the coffin, the moment I realized that writing might be a path worth taking, was when I got to get a taste of what it would be like as a writer’s assistant and took notes during one of the writers’ meeting. I thought to myself It’s creative, I’ve always enjoyed daydreaming stories, the pay isn’t too shabby if you’re successful, and I don’t have to tour around for over a year. This might be one hell of an interesting gig to take.

Near the end of that summer job, there was one last piece of the puzzle. I asked the writers what writing software they used. Unlike a good deal of the industry that uses Final Draft, they used Movie Magic Screenwriter. So I ponied up some $120+ bucks, bought it, and haven’t regretted the purchase ever since. It’s served me well all these years. Especially when I first got it and was doing a good deal of writing during the latter part of that summer.

But I wasn’t writing screenplays. Or prose for that matter. Instead, I was writing something entirely different.

To be continued…

 

Five Year Anniversary (Sophomore Beginnings)

I can’t tell you the exact date, other than it must have been the month of May, when I was finishing up my sophomore year of college.

It was an interesting year, in what seemed like a lifetime ago. 2008 was a year for hopes in dreams, back when I wanted to be a musician. I guess I’ve always been a dreamer and an ambitious one at that. But my dreams became bigger. I not only wanted to make a huge album, I also wanted to write something.

Not that I aspired to be a writer. But I thought of dabbling in screenwriting.

Movies was always a favorite past time of mine. When I was five, I wanted to be a director. And although I never went towards that direction, I day dreamed throughout elementary school through high school about writing and directing a film (as well as making video games…before video games became a popular industry).

Well, I suppose when an idea persists long enough, you either have to pursue it and see where it goes, or try to ignore the thought and let it haunt you for an eternity. So I tried screenplay writing. Try being the key word.

There were two ideas I had for films. One was inspired by one of my favorite writers of all time, John Hughes (The Breakfast ClubHome Alone, etc.). It was about a bunch of nerds in their senior year of high school. I guess you could call them Hollywood nerds. Guys who you believe could be socially awkward but decent enough looking and charming enough that you can believe that they could get the girl in the end. Only this time, one of them doesn’t just get the girl, he  marries her. A mail-order bride from Sweden to be exact. Clever nerds as they are, they figure a way to make it legally work without any of their parents knowing, from figuring a way to get married in Vegas, to pretending like she’s a foreign exchange student. And as in any classic 80′s/90′s comedy fashion, eventually the cover up gets revealed, they learn some life lessons, and they go from being nerds to more mature men. Which I suppose kind of makes it like a lesser version of Weird Science.

WSP

The other one was Alien V. Not that I thought I would get it made into a film. I might’ve been naive at the time but I also grew up in the movie industry. Even then I wasn’t stupid enough to think that a studio would accept my idea and let me take the piece of a major franchise. No, this was more of  a fan’s daydream of a fifth and ultimate conclusion to the franchise. One that takes about a decade after the events of Alien: Resurrection.  It would take place on Earth, much more ravaged and almost unrecognizable from present day. It would’ve finally revealed the mystery of the space jockey (remember, this was way before  Prometheus), as the race declares war on Earth and sends alien eggs everywhere, turning Earth into an H.R Giger apocalyptic landscape. And of course, it’s up to Ripley #8 (and Winona Ryder’s Annalee Call) to put a final end to it all.

At the time I wouldn’t know what a theme really meant if someone hit me on the head with it. But Alien V was really the first story idea that I can remember which had strong themes to it. Particularly, what it means to be human. Although Ripley #8 and Call have blended in with the rest of the human population, it doesn’t mean they feel any less ostracized. Call is an android and Ripley #8 is a clone, particularly one with some Xenomorph DNA. So a lot of Ripley’s #8 identity would be focused on being the shadow of a former legend, as well as not being quite human. And as the Earth becomes ravaged, humanity has to redefine itself and the circumstances reshape Ripley #8 and Call’s identities.

R&C

But that didn’t come into even a page of fruition. [Interesting side note: Fox Studios had Whedon pen an Earth based Alien V before and later tried to green light the film but it ultimately fell through. Proof here ] And although I might have written a few paragraphs, that’s about as far as I got with most of my ideas. I was like anybody else, a person who’d like to write one day and had a lot of ideas, but doesn’t have anywhere near the discipline nor skills to pull it off.

And it seemed that way until my summer vacation kicked in. When an opportunity of a lifetime would forever change my path.

To be continued…

Novels, Novellas, Anthologies, and Big Plans

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here. And although I don’t have grand tributes or promotion posts, I do have three interesting announcements to make.

First of all, I’ve completed the first draft of Millennial City (formerly called Night City) about two weeks ago. I don’t like to talk about my stories until they’ve at least made it past the second draft. However, I will tell you that it’s a neon-noir (Batman 89Dick TracyThe Mask, etc.). heroic bloodshed (A Better TomorrowHard BoiledFull Contact, etc.) mystery. If you want a better idea, think this (minus any kind of superhero)…

And this…

Of course, it’s not as simple as X meets Y. But maybe that will give you a better idea of what Millennial City has to offer. Basically, expect lots of action, mystery, and style (and great story if I do my job right).

Still, Millennial City will have to wait a while (even though it will definitely be out by spring of 2014). The reason for the hold up, is that there’s two projects that have been on the back burner for quite some time and will probably go up in smoke if I don’t finish them once and for all.

The first project that I’m currently working on, is Off the Record. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but it’s the official sequel to Drift. However, it’s not a sequel in the sense that it uses the same plot and/or style. Quite the opposite. Drift was a psychological thriller novel written in third person, but with an emphasis on internal conflict (specifically, the optimistic conscious vs. the pessimistic conscious). Off the Record is a dramady novella written in first person perspective (almost like a rock and roll biography). Different style, different themes, and a very different plot (episodic almost). But  if you liked Drift, you’ll probably also like Off the Record. Plus, although there’s plenty of references to the first novel and starts only a few days after the events of Drift, you don’t need to read Drift in order to understand Off the Record. If all goes right, it should be out this summer.

Book #3 for this year will be Strange Happenings. Now that I think of it, I’ll have three types of books out this yearNovel (Poem for the Wolves), novella (Off the Record), and a short story anthology (Strange Happenings). It’s a science-fiction anthology, but not the kind you’re thinking. There’s no space ships or wacky pseudo-science. Rather, most of it takes place in the present/near-future (and past), and most of the stories are about fairly ordinary technology affecting people. Which I suppose puts it in the philosophical circle of J.G Ballard, Don DeLillo, and even William Gibson. Except that even though it’s low key, it’s eclectic in styles, with the anthology covering the genres of mystery, thriller, and even romance.

There really shouldn’t be an excuse not to complete Somewhere in the Shadows. It’s been in the making right after publishing Drift. Although to be fair, it was intended to be an appetizer for the year long wait between Drift and Poem for the Wolves and like most side projects, got pushed to the side indefinitely. Well, I intend to focus on it soon and hopefully will have it out before the end of 2013. Which would be perfect timing, because with some of the short stories going back even before Drift, I think it would be a nice conclusion for the first phase of my writing career.

So I guess that’s the plan for 2013. Maybe the reason why I’m looking ahead, is because it’s getting close to around the time when I first began to take writing seriously. And looking back at where I was, knowing where I am, and seeing where I’m going, the rest of 2013 is going to be an interesting time to say the least.

Until then,

Andrew C. Hudson

Roger Ebert

Thursday, April 5th, 2013 has been a shock for me. Film critic Roger Ebert has passed away.

Did I know him? No. But I did know his work. And that, in and of itself, was enough to impact me.

If you’re my age or older (mid-twenties and up), then you probably remember watching At the Movies Sunday nights (or recording it onto your VCR…or Betamax if you watched them since the beginning). It was my first exposure as a child to the art of critiquing. At the time the show consisted of the taller, skinnier, more caviar critic Gene Siskel and the shorter, stouter, and more entertainment loving Roger Ebert. Regardless of whether they gave a film a thumbs up or down, it was always enjoyable watching them talk about it. And even more entertaining when they passionately got into a shouting match over thumbs pointing different directions.

But Ebert’s reviewers weren’t just a part of my childhood. Even after Siskel’s passing, Ebert’s critical reviews still carried on in my family’s family room in my preteen and teenage years. This time it was Ebert and Roeper. While it wasn’t as iconic as Siskel and Ebert, Richard Roeper’s fast talking wit made the banter and reviews still entertaining as ever.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Roger Ebert got cancer and left the show. While Roeper was still worth watching and occasionally guests would bring back the magic (in particular, Kevin Smith and his jabbing at Roeper’s past review of Jersey Girl), At the Movies lost the touch that Roger Ebert gave it.

Still, Ebert soldiered on and continued writing reviews at RogerEbert.com until his passing. And while his voice may have been gone, the reviews were as thorough, witty, and occasionally biting as always.

Did I agree with all of his reviews? No way! Although I agreed with a good deal of his reviews, I also disagreed with a lot of other reviews, sometimes almost vehemently. And that includes some of his opinions, such as that video games can’t and never will be art.

That didn’t mean I thought less of him. A reviewer’s job is not to make you agree or disagree with them, nor is it for them to like or dislike a particular work. The true job of the reviewer is to inform, entertain, and make you think. And Ebert certainly knew how to do all three with sheer brilliance. Even when I completely disagreed with him, I could never disregard his opinions because they were that poignant and well thought out.

But more than the reviews, was the man himself. I’ve hovered around the review universe long enough to appreciate the man Roger Ebert was. I’ve seen so many reviewers who suddenly turned into county club pricks after a few hundred views on their sites inflated their egos, or journalists who held their noses in the air because they’re now part of some Murdock owned pop culture website. But not Ebert. He was never above loving a trashy popcorn flick, nor did he distance himself away from his fans like some duke looking over his lowly peasants, treating everyone’s opinion with some thought and attention. Plus, he praised some of my dad’s performances. And that always gets respect in the Hudson clan.

After being in both sides of the seat, the reviewer and the creator, I wish I could thank Roger Ebert. I wish I could tell him how much he influenced me as a reviewer and even as a writer. But I’ll regrettably never have the chance to say those words to him.

Instead of looking back on that regret, I think I’ll instead remember his delightful reviews. I’ll remember his example of how to be a reviewer of wit, intellect, and integrity. And most importantly, I’ll try to remember that he showed that no matter what life might throw at you, it’s always worth living.

roger_ebert

Until then,

Andrew C. Hudson

Poem for the Wolves Free Run: Retrospect

Well, the free promotion run for Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey is finally over (if you missed it, PftW:VI-J is still available for 99 cents here). There were a lot of books given away, 220 to be exact. Just five short of my goal for Friday but that’s alright.

Even more important than the fact that I got the first part of Poem for the Wolves into the hands of many readers, is all of the lessons I’ve learned.

Of course, there’s the obvious lessons that got reinforced such as…

  • Diversify your advertisements
  • Fire every cannon you have
  • Go the full five days
  • Make sure you have more than one book available so that readers who loved it have something else to buy

But I learned some other free promotion lessons, including…

  •  Plan your free promotion months in advance: I wish I had planned this at least three months beforehand instead of getting too excited for the free promotion and jumping right in after two weeks. The three months would’ve bought me some time to get extra advertisers, start a small blog tour, ask author buddies to give it a shout out, etc.
  • Go beyond Twitter: Twitter is a great tool and the free promotion run would’ve been nowhere as successful without the blue bird. But I also realized that I have to diversify my tactics. The free run peaked when it was showcased on bargainebookhunter.com. Which taught me that not everyone uses Twitter and while Twitter has a wide reach, websites have a deeper reach.

However, learning how to giveaway more copies wasn’t the most important thing I got out of the free promotion run. It allowed me to change my perspective on my writing career.

For starters, I can’t simply rely on Twitter to sell my books and make connections. I’ve got to diversify my marketing/promotion and reach out to a lot more people. Rather than this being bothersome, I actually find the prospects of doing interviews and blog spots exciting, especially with the idea of connecting and chatting with readers.

Speaking of diversification, this free run has taught me that if I want to ever have a writing career, I can’t just rely on Amazon. I need to finally sell the books on other channels, including outside of the internet some day.

Finally, this has also changed the way I view my website. For the first time, I actually had fun writing posts. This isn’t to say that my posts will be about how many copies Ive  sold. No way whatsoever. But I realized that instead of writing these Homer length posts, writing easy, breezy posts is the way to go. It allows me to make more frequent posts, gives a more casual and friendly tone, and takes the pressure off of trying to write some essay meant for Harvard. So expect friendly, fast, frequent, and formative posts in the future.

Once again, thank you to all who’ve supported me during this free promotion run. And if you missed out on it, don’t worry. Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey is available for only 99 cents. Oh and before I forget…

Poem for the Wolves Beat HG WellsYes, I know, I’m childish.

Until then,

Andrew C. Hudson

 

Poem for the Wolves Free Run: Day Five

Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey is still hanging in there.

As expected, it dropped in rank. Probably because most of the contracts with my advertisers ended after Thursday. That being said, it’s still hanging on for now.

Poem for the Wolves Free Rank March 15 12 pmIt past the 200 download mark. That means I’ve beaten my abysmal expectation by 300%. And using the 10-80-10 rule, that means that there will be at least ten to twenty true fans (or at least people ready to read the other verses without any hesitations).

Hopefully by the end of tonight, I’ll have a final sale of 225. Which should be very feasible if the sales keep slow and steady.

On another interesting note, the also viewed page has become more diversified, from action, to mystery, and even romance.

Friday Also Viewed

Which makes me oh so excited because that means there’s all sorts of readers willing to join HC Diego and Aimée Dumont’s journey.

And that’s what it all comes down to, right? Keeping your story alive in the hearts of different readers. If that what it’s all about then I consider my mission a success, regardless of the final outcome this midnight. And I can’t wait for those who downloaded Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey to take a look at it.

Also, if you’re reading this today (March 15th) and haven’t downloaded it yet, what are you waiting for? Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey is still free for a few hours, so you have absolutely nothing to lose ;D

Until then,

Andrew C. Hudson

Poem for the Wolves Free Run: Day Four

Somebody pinch me and tell me I’m not still dreaming.

I woke up today and saw this…

Poem for the Wolves Free Rank March 14 8 amWhich means that I’m now in the first page for free science-fiction/adventure. Hopefully that means that the ranking system will generate more downloads for me. And check out who my new neighbor is :D

Poem for the Wolves Beat HG Wells

 

Not only that, but I also got an also viewed page (about damn time).

Poem for the Wolves Also Viewed

None of the books have my book in their also viewed page but it’s nice to see that there’s an eclectic mix of science-fiction, action, fantasy, war, literary, and even poetry fans have downloaded my book. It will be interesting (if half-nervous/half-excited) to see everyone’s reactions to Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey. Most importantly, is the fact that Verse II and III are on the first results of that page. Hopefully that means that those who love the first verse will be willing to give the other two verses a chance. Plus, the also viewed page gave me the chance to pick up a few other free ebooks.

All of this is to once again reinforce what I knew since day one about the free run. Go for the full five days! Anything less will be selling yourself short. It takes time to build momentum and you need all the time you can get to find your plateau.

Being the cautious person that I am, I’m not sure where the book will go to next during it’s free run. But even if Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey plummets back down in the free ranks, I’m still more than happy. I got to be in the top 20 free science-fiction/action, snugged my way to the fifties for action & adventure, and got to be neighbors with H.G Wells.

Until then,

Andrew C. Hudson

 

Poem for the Wolves Free Run: Day Three

Slow and steady wins the race. It might sound like a loser’s mantra to some but for me, there’s no greater satisfaction than a easy and steady victory.

Remember how yesterday I said that I’d like to at least get 100 downloads by the end of the week? Well, as of 5 p.m, I’m at 120 downloads. And I’ve still got Thursday and Friday left :D

Which has taught me that Amazon’s ranking system might not seem as simple as I once thought it was. I’m going up and down and up again through 50-70 in the science-fiction/action category, technically a stale rank since it hasn’t improved since Monday. And yet, in half a day HOLY F&^#^%$ S&$&!!!! I’ve just checked it again and I’m at #28 for science-fiction/action and #82 for action & adventure!

Poem for the Wolves Free Rank March 13 5 pm

Now instead of selling a book or two ever twenty minutes or so, I seem to be selling a book every five minutes or so. Hopefully I can jump up to the top ten in science-fiction/adventure. If that happens, people who are carousing the top 100 science-fiction/adventure will spot it immediately and hopefully that will translate to many more downloads.

With that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the rank plummeted back down. I’m not being a Debbie Downer, I’ve simply seen the roller coaster before with Drift and other people’s novels.  That strange point when you hit a beautiful peak you’ve never seen before, only to free fall all the way back down to where you were before. Not that I mind that, I won’t shed a tear or rip my hair out. Because the way on down is still one helluva ride.

Until then,

Andrew C. Hudson

Poem for the Wolves Free Run: Day Two

Second day into the free promotion run for Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey (check it out here. Every download helps tremendously). And believe me when I say that I’ve learned quite a bit so far.

One thing that I knew already but got reinforced, is that you really do need to do the five day promotion run, rather than just one or two days. It takes time to build up a momentum and if you only do a day or two, you’re selling yourself short.

Also, the ranking system can be pretty damn stubborn. I hit the fifties in the morning, stood there a little while, dropped back down to the eighties, and then jumped back up to the sixties by the end of tonight. Which taught me that being in the top 100 doesn’t really do much. It’s only when you’re in the top twenty of a category that the ranking system starts to help you.

Still, despite the ebb and flow of this game, there’s some positive notes. I beat my abysmal five-day lowest expectation of fifty downloads (fifty-seven downloads so far). And considering I have three days left, I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have at least one hundred sales. Hey, that’s no Amanda Hocking sales but considering the 10-80-10 rule (10% love your book, 80% think it’s good to bad, and 10% hate your book), I will have stumbled upon six-to-eleven true fans by the end of the run. And that’s something worth cheering for.

Until then,

Andrew C. Hudson

Poem for the Wolves Free Run: Day One

Today is the first day that Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey is available for free. If you want to go grab it, just click here.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done a free promotion run. I did a five-day promotion run almost a year ago with Drift. With around 750 downloads, I considered it a mega success, especially seeing that I was a first time writer with no major social media influence. Unfortunately, I was a first time writer, meaning that I had no other books for people who liked Drift to buy. Thus, once the free promotion run was over, extra sales only lasted for a few months.

Which begged the question. How would a free promotion run affect sales if I had another book or two out? And how successful would it be if I applied everything I’ve learned since then?

Truth is, I’m not sure. But at the end of this week, I’ll have some kind of answer.

On one hand, I’m adding a few more affordable advertisers to the mix to hopefully boost up the downloads (not to mention I have more Twitter followers than before). Plus, Poem for the Wolves is broken up into three parts, and there’s Drift and Somewhere in the Shadows, so the free run might encourage people to check out my other works.

On the other hand, it’s been almost a year since the last free promotion run. The writing business is a game that constantly changes, especially for independents in the e-book world. Perhaps there’s much more competition to holding back the ranks of the Kindle free books and readers might have gotten more cynical towards free books.

Regardless, I’m keeping my head up high and my expectations low. If it becomes super successful and hits the #1 for science-fiction (or maybe even fiction in general), beyond fantastic. If it only ends up with fifty digital downloads, then it’s just a sign that the game has been changed and I should explore avenues outside of Amazon.com.

I’ll keep you guys posted on how the free promotion goes, including all the insights and lessons learned. And if this was a race horse, I’d place my money down on Wednesday for being the best day. Also, as far as the success so far (as of 5 p.m PST)…

Poem for the Wolves Free Rank March 11 5 pmNowhere near the top for now. Remember, this is under science-fiction/adventure ranks, not science-fiction. Still, it’s nice to say that Poem for the Wolves: Verse I – Journey cracked the top 75 free science-fiction/adventure on Amazon.com, regardless of where it winds up next.

Until then,

Andrew C. Hudson

P.S For anyone who downloaded Poem for the Wolves: Verse  I – Journey and is checking out this site for the first time, thank you for your purchase and for taking the time to visit the site. Come back again for more adventures into my free promotion run, as well as upcoming posts outside of my writing career.