Update (Probably Not-for-the-Squeamish)

So, sadly, no writing news to update, but I haven’t posted in a while, and I haven’t written in a while, and I think it’s time to update.

So last Sunday I was all set up for a massage day.  I was stressed from querying and my work, which involves hunching over a microscope while I mount bugs on slides these days, had my shoulders all in knots.  Now, when I get a massage, I make a full day out of it.  I always get an ice cream from Cold Stone (mm, oatmeal cookie batter this time–I was looking forward to it), and I always hit Panera to write or do some other writerly thing like query or edit.  This time I was planning on rereading the 18K of Boy/Girl I had already written.  These days are supposed to be relaxing.  I play either my Happy 2 playlist or my Cool and Easy playlist while driving, I take it easy.  If possible I sleep in.

Apparently nobody gave the cats the memo that I needed to take it easy.  They wake me up to feed them, and so I’m stumbling around into the kitchen to get two of the cats fed (of our 4 cats, one’s on a special diet, one will eat everyone’s food if she’s left alone with it, one needs to be alone or she won’t eat it, and the fourth has just decided he won’t eat in my room anymore so I was planning on putting his bowl in Roomie’s room since she was at work).

As I reach the corner of the kitchen door, two cats yelling at me to hurry up, I slam my pinkie toe into the corner of the baseboard.  And I do my usual hold-in-a-scream-I-just-stubbed-my-toe-and-it-hurts biting of my tongue.   I looked down and see that I have also skinned my toe.  Awesome.

I hobble, quickly, to feed those last two kitties, and then when I return to my room, I realize that I am bleeding all over the carpet.  I run to the shower and stick my foot under.  I didn’t just skin this toe.  I took off a good fifth of it, but it’s still connected at the bottom.

I’m still comparing it to when I used the cheese slicer and got the very tips of my index and middle fingers when I was younger.  All I did then was  stick on a band-aid.  I want the bleeding to stop too, so I dry off the foot and stick on an antibiotic band-aid and start doing other things like brush my teeth while I decide whether I’m going to do a shower with this thing.  I end up realizing that if I was a masseuse, I would want me to have taken a shower, so I go to take off the band-aid so I can clean it again and not have a wet band-aid over it the rest of the day.  

In trying to take off the band-aid, this is where I figure out that I maybe broke my toe because it just hurts so much trying to manuever the band-aid off.  But I know doctors can’t do anything for a broken toe.  I take the shower and re-band-aid it, and head out the door in sandals (in winter) to my massage.

So, several torturous hours of walking (and one nice hour of massage) later, I return home and tell Roomie.  I wash off my toe again, and as I’m looking at it, I’m like, “Weird.  It’s swelling so much, the toenail looks like it got pushed aside or half fell off.”  And I examine it some more (even though I was kinda squeamish about looking at it) and realize I’ve lost half my toenail. Ew.

I tell Roomie, and she’s like, “We should go to urgent care, but they’re probably closed.  Because it’s only urgent when it’s convenient for them.”  So I elevate and ice it all night, with a band-aid still holding the cut closed.

In the morning before I shower I do the contortionist thing to look at the bottom of my toe.  And I realize just how deep the cut goes by looking at the other side of it.  See, on the top, it basically goes along the toenail bed and then past it.  On the bottom, it makes a nice little curve that hits the middle of my toe.  No wonder it hurts so much.

As I shower, I’m thinking about how long something can be cut off from the skin and still be saved.  I’m getting kind of scared about whether I’ve totally screwed up my toe by not going to urgent care the previous morning.  I end up asking Roomie to drive me to urgent care (which wasn’t open until 10 a.m., btw).

I get there and wait an hour in the waiting room, and a nurse takes my blood pressure and x-rays, and he’s very reassuring.  He says that after 8 hours, they can’t do stitches, but they can use a sort of glue that basically does the same thing without as much risk of infection.  He tells me stories of when he broke his toe.  He’s very understanding about me not coming in until the next day and tells  me that it was good I cleaned it right away and that I used an antibiotic band-aid

But the doctor’s not there yet, so I end up waiting on a bed forever for her to come and look at the x-rays. When she does, she’s very brisk and says it’s an open fracture and they can’t do anything for toe fractures and they can’t do stitches on open fractures, so just buddy tape it to the next toe, take antibiotics, and wear a special shoe.  Then she leaves.  Forturnately, my nice nurse comes back and I get to ask him questions like how long until I can go to the gym and how often should I clean it and can I get the most hypoallergenic tape they have because I’ve been known to get hives from it, etc.   He puts some tape on my toe to hold down the cut (this is all that’s holding my toe together, lol), then shows me how to buddy tape the toes, although I didn’t perfect this skill until yesterday.  I get a tetanus shot, antibiotics, and a special sandal that I think was worth the whole trip because it is easily the best shoe (and better than barefoot too) for this injury.  It’s shaped to keep me off my toes when I walk, there’s no top or side rubbing against the cut, and there’s enough sole extending past my pinkie toe that I can’t possibly kick the wall or a chair or my bedframe or anything with my injured toe while wearing them.  Now, if only it would stop snowing so I could wear it outside.

No pain meds, but Vicodin makes me sick, so that’s fine.

And really it only hurts when something is rubbing against it right now.  For the first day after going to urgent care, it only hurt when it was touched at all.  I had a little bit of a problem getting my toes comfortable with the buddy taping because even though I put gauze between them, my pinky was irritating my fourth toe by being so close to it, and I think it might not have been healing straight either because of this.  So now I put more gauze between them and it’s straight and comfortable, yay.

So, yeah, obviously my toe isn’t to blame for me slacking all week, but it is a contributing factor.  One good thing about it?  It’s given me something else to think about other than writing and querying and agents all the time.

Hope I didn’t squick you out too much with this post. 

Lots of love,

Sage

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Writer Survey

I got this survey from http://addktd2books.blogspot.com/2010/02/writers-survey.html.  I’m not sure where it originated, but I loved the questions.  Yay.

 1. What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote was my literary MG, Fireflies, which is about a girl who searches for a ghost in an inn so that she can avoid dealing with her brother’s TBI.   I absolutely adore it.

The first thing I wrote that I still have is a fanfiction based off a role-playing game my friends and I played in college.  The summer in between the two years we played, my friend and I e-mailed back and forth about what should happen in the next year, and while bored at work in a retail job, I made up an entire story based around our ideas.  When I got back to school, I wrote it in two weeks (it was novella length) and shared it with my friends, who loved it.

2. Write poetry? I wrote a poem in high school that ended up in the high-school newspaper thanks to my freshman English teacher.  Also a poem in first grade that ended up in a big booklet of children’s poems.  But no.

3. Angsty poetry? No.

4. Favorite genre of writing? YA, especially contemporary fantasy.  Though I really like my MG, I’ve only written one.

5. Most annoying character you’ve ever created? Depends on who you ask.  If you’re asking the characters, Trouble.  He is the spirit of trouble, after all.

6. Best plot you’ve ever created? It’s so hard to choose.  Haven’t you heard?  I’m the “great concept” girl.  Concept-wise, I think I have to go with Love Sucks.  It’s about a girl who drains love with her touch, and then falls in love.

7. Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created? That would be telling 😉  But it’s in AFTRLYF.  It’s not whodunit, it’s why he did it.

8. How often do you get writer’s block? All the time.  Sometimes I just overload on writing (like going from one project to NaNoWriMo and instantly into a new project that I finished in 19 days) and need a break.  Sometimes nothing flows.  Sometimes I just personally think I suck.  Sometimes I don’t know how to proceed

9. Write fan fiction? Not anymore

10. Do you type or write by hand? I mostly type, but I write by hand when it’s more convenient to do so.

11. Do you save everything you write? Sort of.  Small or necessary revisions don’t always get their own version, but big revisions do, especially if I’m iffy on them (for example, changing the ages in DownLoad, cutting a crush in Love Sucks)

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you abandon it? All the time.  AFTRLYF, HEVN SNT, and DownLoad were all abandoned ideas.  Just this week, I was thinking about taking up a project I abandoned last year.  For AFTRLYF, I wrote about 2000 words and decided I couldn’t write.  I abandoned it until NaNo when I was telling a friend about the possible novels I could write, and as I was telling her, I started thinking, “You know what?  This sounds kinda cool.”  And when I finished, she said, “Do that one.  It’s awesome.”  For DownLoad, I felt it wasn’t something I could do, so when NaNo rolled around again, I took it up as a challenge (worst case scenario, I waste a month trying).  HEVN SNT was just writerly doubts that I got over after a song inspired me.

13. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written? HEVN SNT, which is the sequel to AFTRLYF.

14. What’s everyone else’s favorite story you’ve ever written? Depends on what group of people you ask.  My family = AFTRLYF.  One group of writer friends = Love Sucks.  Another group of writers = Trouble is a Friend of Mine.  Probably LS, since so many people have read it.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama? I write romantic situations in teen novels that occasionally contain angst.

16. What’s your favorite setting for your characters? Hmm, I don’t know.   Probably the San Diego bed and breakfast for Fireflies

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now? I’m probably going to revise Fireflies for some agents.  I have several things I’ve been thinking of doing, including starting back on Boy/Girl, rebooting Echoes of Silence, writing an MG about my cat, and finally tackling Hero/Villain.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing? I got second place in two AW contests.  Do they count?

19. What are your five favorite words? “Chica/chico” is definitely one. “Firefly” is one.  This might sound stuck up, but “Sage” is one.  For all its meanings.  That’s only three, but whatever.  I’m sure I’ll think of some more later

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself? This is so hard because most have some elements of me.  Tia has my stubbornness.  Bex has my propensity to get in trouble even when I’m trying to be good, and also the imaginary friend thing ;).  Mailee is probably most like me.  Socially, she’s a lot like me in high school.  Beyond her immediate group of friends, she doesn’t really feel like anyone likes her, and even for them, she’s always wondering if they’re really her friends.  She stutters and is shy vocally most of the time, but her mental voice is full of attitude and more expressive.

21. Where do you get your ideas for your characters? All over the place.  Songs, dreams, talking to other authors.  Once I made up one based off a license plate (I misread it too)

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams? Once.  DownLoad was based off a dream.  By the time I wrote it, only one scene was sort of similar to the dream, but the general idea was there.

23. Do you favor happy endings? Not really.  I love an ending that fits the novel.  Sometimes a heartbreaking ending can stay with me forever.  Sometimes I need a happy ending.  I love bittersweet endings, where something is lost and something is achieved.
24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write? Yes.  I can’t help it.  By the time I think, “I shouldn’t go back and fix that now,” my fingers have already hit the backspace.

25. Does music help you write? Yes.  Sometimes music helps me create the scene or even the novel.  If I don’t have music on, my mind’s more likely to wander to other things, but if it wanders to music, I’ll be back soon.  One time, I was listening to an instrumental song while I was writing, and it was perfect for the scene.  I was in tears by the end.

26. Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops in your head.  It was something Justin, of all people, had once said to me.  “How much love would a love sucker suck if a love sucker fell in love?” 

Lots of love,
Sage

Teaser Friday – Boy/Girl, take 2

Deep in depression, I didn’t post a teaser on Tuesday, but seeing as I’m feeling better now, I will post today.  I’ve decided to pick up on Boy/Girl, a project I was working on last March during my writing vacation.  An agent discouraged me from the project because he had had a problem selling a book with an MC who could create fire in her hands to a particular publisher that he thought was perfect for the book. A bit of magic that Cam can also do.  But after a year of reflection, I don’t think it’s a lost cause.  So here’s an excerpt from the beginning.  Conveniently, it explains the fantasy elements right there.

“How the Hell do you burn down a school theater?”

Cameron cringed as Uncle Charlie screamed and paced.

“This is your damn father’s fault.  Him and his damn bloodline–”

“Leave Dad alone.”  It was barely more than a whisper.

“And what are we supposed to do with you now, huh?”

“Charlie,” Cameron’s mom said, her voice calm amidst his screaming.  “We’ll find another school for Cam.”  She was always ready to get Cameron out of her hair.  The world would probably implode if they spent some time together.  “Why don’t you use your friend at Creston Academy and get Cam in?”

Cameron gawked at her.  “That’s an all-boys school.”

“So?” Uncle Charlie asked.

“I’ve been going to school as a girl since seventh grade.  You can’t just switch me like that?  All my records say ‘girl.’  I’m taking girl’s gym.”

Uncle Charlie grabbed Cameron by the hair and pulled him up close to his red face.  “You’re a boy when you’re in this house, and you’ll be a boy in that school.  You can’t go anywhere in the school district with the expulsion on your record.  Ted will let you in to Creston, no questions asked, and at only a fraction of the cost.  And you will not fuss, you hear me?”

Cameron nodded.

“This is a curse your father gave you, but as long as you can be either, be the one that is most convenient.”

He nodded again and hugged himself as soon as Uncle Charlie let go.  He never hated the magic that had him change sex based on who he interacted with as much as he did this minute.

“How far away is Creston?” he asked.

“Thirty miles.”

“I’ll live there?”

“It is a boarding school.”

“What about my friends?”

Uncle Charlie did not look sympathetic at all.  But then again, Cameron had never known him to be.  He didn’t like most of Cameron’s friends anyway.  Probably because they saw Cameron as a girl.  “You can come home on weekends and visit.”

Great, just what Cameron needed.  He hunched his shoulders up.  “All right.  I’ll go pack.”

Just another excuse to get rid of him really.  Get him out of their hair.  This here was probably the most time he had spent with his mom since he left the womb, and neither he nor his uncle wanted anything to do with each other.

So boarding school.  Cameron sighed.  But a second later he smiled, refusing to let it get his spirits down.  After all, all-boys school meant that everyone there would know he was a boy.  All the time.  No awkward sex changes in the middle of school when he–well, she, as the case generally was in school the last few years–happened to interact with someone who didn’t know her.  Nope, this was going to be all-male Cameron all the time.  Cameron could handle that.

I’m enjoying rereading the 18K I wrote last year, and I hope you enjoy this excerpt, late though it may be.

Lots of love,

Sage

The Early Bird

Wow, 2010’s been pretty exciting for my group of friends.  One after another they’ve gotten offers of representation or book deals, and I’m hoping my offer is just around the corner (with so many requests, it just might be).  Because I’ve gotten to see all these offers in rapid succession, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. 

I know agents have lots of queries and lots of fulls and partials to read, and that’s not even their first priority.  Their current clients are their priority, and they should be.  Obviously, they can’t put aside their responsibilities to their current clients so they can read potential client’s mss.  And they can’t say which will be the one that grabs them and won’t let go, so there’s no knowing which they need to read right now.

But, agents, this is what I see, over and over and over again.

The first agent to offer gets the most enthusiasm.  When more than one agent offers, every single one of my friends has been inundated with cries of “Team [Agent 1].”  The argument always comes up that that first agent was the one who was enthusiastic enough to read the novel quickly (usually) while another might have had you waiting endlessly.  She was the one chasing you, not the one you had to chase.  Instantly, she becomes the number one choice, and the others have to try harder to prove that they’re right for the author.

Now, as others make offers and the author and their friends do more research into them, that opinion can change.  The teams might switch. (Don’t lose hope if you didn’t offer first.)  For example, one agent might have more experience in the author’s genre, or some current clients might share an experience with the first agent that doesn’t sit well with the author.  But that first agent?  She has the momentum.  And all other things being more or less equal, she will win the author over.

Be the offering agent.  It pays if you really want that author.

I know, I know.  Easier said than done.

Lots of love,
Sage

Valentine’s Day 2010

I love Valentine’s Day.  Usually.

This year it sucked (love sucks?).  Even the Olympics were boring.  Even chocolate tasted bad (and I’m not supposed to have it, and yet I did anyway).  I had made a deal with the Universe that I would get an agent on Valentine’s Day (what better day to get some agent love), and instead got rejected all over.  My dinner made me sick.  (Though not as sick as my cat was this morning… <sighs> Today’s not looking much better.)

Seriously, I’m not looking for romance and flowers for Valentine’s Day.  But could I be shown a little love next year?

Lots of love,

Sage

Love is the Higher Law

Hey, guys, I actually wrote this back on Sunday, when I finished the book, but I was in the middle of the DMaM series, so I didn’t post it until now.  Unfortunately, everyone was busy with the Superbowl that day, and that part of my DMaM had no comments.  Sad because it was my favorite part 😦  Anyway, here’s what I thought about Love is the Higher Law:

I just finished Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan, but this post is sort of a review of it and of myself.  I must say, it’s a beautiful book.  I just got a Kindle to read more easily at the gym when I go during lunch, and this was the first book I bought for it.  But I found I couldn’t read it at the gym.  The reason?  I kept almost crying, and that’s not really the best condition to be in when you’re exercising.  Then to make things worse, I’d be at work after lunch thinking about the book and get all teary again.  Even though I had only planned to use the Kindle at the gym, I ended up reading LitHL at home before bed, which seemed to be the best time.

The book is about three people dealing with the events of September 11th.  I’ve never read a novel dealing with the event, except for one I beta read that dealt with it indirectly while setting it at another citywide crisis.  The three main characters are Jasper, who deals with 9/11 by retreating from people, Peter, who relates to it and other people through music, and Claire, who deals with it by trying to make it about people coming together and being better.  Peter and Jasper had planned a date for 9/11, which obviously was postponed.  The story follows the arc of their relationship, or lack thereof, and how knowing Claire ends up connecting them.

Part of the reason I think the book was so emotional for me wasn’t so much 9/11–I don’t live in NYC, and I don’t think many of us can understand what it would be like to be there like someone who lived there could (reading this book is the closest I could probably get to feeling what they felt)–it was that the characters felt like they were three parts of me.  I can totally see me trying to avoid everyone and stay at home after the event like Jasper did.  I sometimes do that when I get depressed or overwhelmed by the real world.  I know I’d have the same reaction to music that Peter did.  First I’d have to avoid certain songs because they could be associated with the tragedy, and then I would use the music for just that purpose, connecting to the lyrics in a new way because I understand them differently.  I do this all the time for novels and real life situations.  Thanks to this book, I probably can’t listen to U2’s “One” the same way.  The one character who was probably the least like me was Claire, even though I have kind of a dreamy optimism at times.  But it was Claire who really made me cry (though, I’m not going to lie, Jasper and Peter’s awkward date broke my heart quite a lot).

There’s a scene in the book where Claire comes across a woman who is trying to relight memorial candles in the rain.  Claire takes one of the candles and starts relighting other candles with it.  It’s a futile exercise because the rain puts them out pretty quickly, but she and this woman, plus others who join them, are doing something.  They’re connecting to the moment, they’ve found a small purpose in the emptiness, they’re relating to each other and the people who have died.  It’s beautiful imagery in a beautiful scene.  It breaks my heart just to think of it.

And I think about wanting to do something.  Wanting to make a difference.  Wanting to contribute when there’s no other way to do so.

That part I can understand.  My own attempts to do something, make a difference, and contribute aren’t as heartbreaking as Claire’s.  But isn’t this a part of why we write?  So we can have something lasting that we contribute to the world?  It doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking novel.  Lighting a candle isn’t groundbreaking either.  And every step towards getting there–every query sent, full request, offer, or (I imagine) submission to publisher and book deal–every step is a new candle lit.  Every rejection, another candle going out.

That said, maybe it’s not fair to compare the road to publishing to lighting 9/11 memorial candles in the rain.  But as I thought about that scene today, for about the hundredth time since reading it last Wednesday, I had this overwhelming sense of what Claire wanted there.  And it’s backed up by the rest of the book, as she tries to connect to the whole world over this one event.  She wants it to mean something.

So even though, of the three characters, I’m least likely to react to something like 9/11 like Claire, I still understand her.  And she is the one who left the greatest impression on me in this book.

But I don’t see me forgetting Jasper and Peter any time soon either. 

Lots of love,

Sage

Teaser Tuesday – Not Quite Fireflies, part 3

Here it is, the last installment of the Fiona part of Dance Me a Match.  As planned it falls on Teaser Tuesday.  It really is best to read the whole thing, but I didn’t want an uber-long post, so I split it into three parts.

Things of note from DMaM:

– Fiona is on a show called Dance Me a Match, which is a cross between So You Think You Can Dance and a matchmaking game.
– The host, Bryan, made up a ghost story about a famous dancer whose house the contestants are staying in.
– Fiona is older in this book than in Fireflies

Here it is:

I start upstairs and meet Mark coming down.

“Oh, Fiona, what are you doing up?”

“Ghost hunting,” I say seriously.  “Did you see her?”

“I… did not.  Fiona, there’s no ghost.  I was just looking for how Bryan managed to trick you girls into thinking there was.  Here, come with me.”

I follow him upstairs.  Bryan caused the ghost?  Why would he do that?

He leads me to the chest where he takes out the fuzzy blue blanket that was sticking out of the corner of the chest in the video.  “This is all that was holding up the lid, and see?”  He shows me a corner with what looks like a refrigerator magnet.  ”  There must be a magnet under the bottom of the chest.  He waits for people to come in and uses a remote control or something to move the other magnet, then the lid slams shut, and he’s nowhere nearby.”

“But she walks the walls, Mark.  I can hear her.”

“There has to be some way to get in between the walls.  Or he used the same sort of trick.  Some device that sounds like it’s in the wall or on the ceiling.”

“That’s pretty far-fetched, Mark.”  I wander over to the library.

Grace is with me.  I can feel her.

She leads me to the piano, and I softly play scales, hoping not to wake up the room right below me… before I remember it’s mine.  I play “Heart and Soul,” but stop when one of the notes goes flat.

“Piano needs tuning,” Mark says.

“She wants me to play.”  I begin playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” but again, that one note plays wrong.

Mark puts his hands on mine.  “I’m sorry.  We shouldn’t have pretended there was a ghost.  There’s not.”

I stare inside the open lid in the piano.  “Do you think it’s odd that there’s one note that’s wrong and the rest are fine?”

I take my hands away and stand up to look inside the piano.  “Look, Mark. There’s something in there.”

Folded up underneath one of the strings was a yellowing envelope, sticking up out of a seam in the wood.  I stick my skinny fingers in there, careful not to touch the strings–it’s like playing Operation!–and pull out the envelope.  It’s stuck in there good, but I get it out.  “It’s addressed to Richard.  Is that her lover?”

Mark takes the envelope from me.  “Bryan must have put it in there.”

“No…  I think his hands are too big to get it in without messing up the strings.”

He opens the envelope and pulls out a piece of pink stationary.  I examine the bug on the design at the top, flying from flower to flower.  I pretend it’s a firefly, even though it’s surely meant to be a bumble bee.

“She was leaving him.”  Mark’s voice is shaking.  “She was saying she couldn’t accept the piano as a gift because she was going to break it off.”

“What’s wrong?” I ask him.

“It could have been foul play.  She was found here by him.  The piano was here.  I’ve seen pictures of the house from that day.  If she sent the piano back to him, he brought it back.  If she didn’t get a chance…, maybe she told him in person.”

“It’s all a mystery.”  I wander across the room to the bookcase, where there’s a photo of Grace.  She looks so happy in it, at the beach, running and holding a big straw hat on top of her head and smiling at the camera.  “Maybe she’s looking for the truth to come out.  Or just for someone to know that she didn’t want to be tied to him forever.”

I close my eyes and feel around for her to see if she’ll tell me the right answer, but she’s gone.  “I think the latter, Mark.  She’s gone.”

He looks at me.

“Can I have this picture, you think?”  I show it to him.

“It, uh, belongs to the house.”

“Okay.  I’m gonna put it in my room, though.  I’ll return it.”  I take it and head out the door.

“Wait, Fiona!”  He runs after me.  “My camera’s downstairs, but let me interview you about finding the letter.  Since I couldn’t film you finding it.”

I keep walking, trying to see if I can find Grace again.  It seems lonelier if I know she’s gone.  “Can I do it tomorrow, Mark?  Think I’m getting tired.”  He doesn’t answer me before I wander into my room.  I put the picture of Grace down next to my candle.

How odd that we are in a competition to find the perfect match when Grace’s perfect match wasn’t so perfect for her after all.

I wonder whether there is a guy remaining in this competition who is actually a good match for me.

I strike a match, relight the candle, and watch the light flicker across Grace’s face from my bead.  Maybe she can be free now.

I fall asleep.

And there it was.  The end of the only chapter in DMaM I really connected to, and the basis for Fireflies.

Lots of love,

Sage