101: Writing Realistic Romance, Seven Tips #amwriting

writing Everyone has their own style of storytelling, believe me I know! I’m a big rebel when it comes to writing in this genre!  I don’t believe in following the crowd, I hate it. I use the present tense and first person often. While a majority of this genre is third person and past tense. That said, I have been pulled to write this short 101 to helpfully help other aspiring romance writers, and anyone for that matter, as this simple advice can be applied across the board in all genres really. Also, I’ve not written a writing 101 for ages!!

I’ve been compelled to write this as, one I read a hella-lot of romance, two I’ve read a hella-lot of romance that’s sadly unrealistic in some ways. This genre has this ‘reputation’ and I feel us romance writers should do what we can, to fight that battle. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert. But I do claim to be a kick-ass romance author that I will blow my own trumpet! And I will admit, that I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea you either feel me, or you don’t as a reader. But I’ll always be feelin’ myself LOLZ.  That’s because I have mastered ‘Kim’s style’ like all writers, I’ve got to a place where I feel happy with what my pen does, and at ease if others don’t like it.  Not everyone will like what you write, but if you write for yourself first, and use your own style whatever comes after is just a bonus, praise of critique. Because, you write for you first.

I’m now on novel number eleven, so from this experience here’s my simple advice and take from a humble POV, that I’d give to craft engaging and believable romance. So we can fight the whining  readers who find it ‘unrealistic’.

Characters

As a big reader I love it when characters are so believable, realistic and engaging to read. When they’re not, it can be a turn off. Not everyone is going to like your characters, and so what if they don’t they’re may be the wrong reader. The point is, when it comes to characters who are they? This is my starting point before I think about my plot. This is because, if you’re  going to write a realistic romance ( or any genre story), the characters will be what drives the plot. Not and never the other way around.  Remember this, think of your characters like this as the plot drivers.

Many may start with the plot and fill out characters, cool okay if that’s what’s best for you. But you may find that you”re  so busy spinning your plot, your characters do unrealistic things, and fall flat. I recently read two books one romance and one other, and this was my experience as a reader. If you know your characters well,  you can portray them better. They will react, think, move, talk, walk more vividly in your plot if you can focus on them first. This helps massively with character development also.

Ever read a book and the characters are boring, or they are from a certain part  of the world yet they speak perfect English in their conversations? Hmmm, chances are the  writer has skipped this part. Hence they speak perfect English, or just flat and not real. For example, when they are from the depths of south London for example and may have a different accent.

When I wrote a particular story for The Suspenseful Collection #2- Blurred Lines, I placed myself and Didi in the story lol. So when I portrayed myself in speech, I did not say, ‘oh I’m so sorry about that, here let me help you.’ I said, ‘oh no, I’m sorry, ‘er lemmie help ya’. That’s because I’m from London, and a certain part and I would not in casual speaking speak like the Queen herself!   Didi and I also had a Russian female in The Suspenseful Collection Volume #1 and of course  she said, ‘ello, yass ‘ow can help you.’ rather than ‘Hello, yes how I can I help you.’ The point is, little things like this matter, as well as who they are as people.  You may think, yeah Kim this is basic stuff. Trust, you’d be surprised  how many can easily forget, during character development.

This brings me to character development and thinking about it a  little deeper, if you start by really thinking about who your characters are, outside of things like age, race etc. But who they are as people, where they have been, how they react to things and most importantly their flaws as people. You will have more rounded, believable and developed characters that drive your plot. Rather than a plot with flat characters, doing very unrealistic things.

Flaws and Growth…

Okay so we all love a romance ( or any genre book really) where the characters are not only real, but we as readers experience and see their growth. Don’t forget this, once you know who your characters are as people, what flaws do they have? And these flaws should help drive the plot and show how they grow from it…. why? As it shows growth of each character, develops story and adds to reality! People have life experiences and we all grow from them, love and romance are no exception to the rule. If anything love and romance really do allow us all to grow in some shape or form. So, give your characters a flaw or two, then make sure in the plot you show somehow that they have overcome it, or made steps to over come it, changed or grown from it.  This could be so subtle in your writing, it does not have to be over the top, but if you can show it well it should make good believable reading. It makes the characters real, the situations real, and the best bit allows readers to experience the plot better.

Plot, Story-line and Storytelling…

Okay y’all like I said, I’ve read a hella-lot of books, especially romance and I feel a plot needs to be very realistic in as many books, if not all as possible. End of story, period and full fucking stop!! This genre has such a reputation for delivering ‘unrealistic stories’ and I hate it, and I will defend my genre I love to read and write until the cows come home! But, as a reader, I gotta say… yeah there’s some truth. Don’t get caught up in trying to spin the perfect ‘fairy tale’ that things seem unreal.  Ask yourself…

1.Would this really happen?

2.Could this even be possible?

3. And would my CHARACTER react like this, or how would they react and why?? What would my characters do in the situations I have placed them?

Where’s the challenges?…

Now if you, one know your characters, two they have realistic flaws, they should not be doing unrealistic stuff…right? Good glad we agree.

But, how do we keep it realistic, in my personal and humble opinion as a romance author, it’s down to the challenges we give them. By this I mean, if there’s no challenge and everything just fits into place we all know love and life does not roll like that! So it can come across as unrealistic, there needs to be some kind of ‘challenge’ and I use the word loosely to mean some kinda ‘debate’, ‘back and forth’ ‘questions’ or even just a good ‘ol dose of drama to keep the plot realistic. Don’t go too mad ( unless it’s like romantic suspense), but for good, clean, sweet romance a little challenge or dilemma where a decision or choices need to be made are key. And for romantic suspense, ha! Well, bring the heat with challenges!! 🙂 But keep them realistic to the characters, their environment and where they are at in life no matter what kind of romance you’re writing.

My best advice is, place your plot outline in the real world, in the time frame your story is set. So if it’s the present day would what you’ve outlined…

1. Have a chance of happening? Is this a realistic challenge to the character, time-frame and who they are?

3. Could it be believable? What is a realistic challenge for this couple to either be together, come together, or hold them back for some reason. Where is the push and pull before they can be happy?

4. Does it go inline with the challenges, flaws, and issues you’ve given the characters and the overall plot? Does it work?

5. Is there an actual challenge here worth telling? Is there more than sex in your plot? Does it develop into an actual story involving the characters? 

Pace…

All right y’all now, I believe when or if there’s  an issue with pace, it might be because of one of two things.

  1. There’s no fucking story at all to tell or is being told! And really pages are just being filled with words- the story does not move!
  2. The story does not have ‘peaks’ to keep the reader engaged. So, the pace seems like this ———————————————- all on one level and not really moving.

If you’ve really looked at your story line,  plot  or the outline whatever you call it, you should be able to see if there is a story really, and eliminate point one. If so, now where are the areas of ‘peak’ ‘heat’ tension’ whatever you want to call it. Make them clear, for you and the reader. Then decide how you will build up to these peaks. By this I mean what’s your approach to bringing the readers to these peaks, is it a sub-plot, surprise, mystery, a twist, or are you just ensuring that the story is told at a good pace and not dragged out.

You don’t have to spin mystery, surprise, or suspense into a romance, it could just be a nice sweet story ( something I’m not great at writing lol), or a contemporary romance. The point is, as you write your actual story keep up that damn pace! End as many chapters as you can with something interesting for the reader, and for the love of God keep moving! Without skimming or rushing, just make sure your pace is even.

  1. Start
  2. Middle/climax etc.
  3. level off/ OMG what will they do??/tension.
  4.  Bang…ending!

This is the most simple way I can  put it with pace. I would avoid leaving all the juicy stuff until the later part of your story, readers may fall off, lose interest or just feel that ‘the pace is slow’. Keep them interested. As a side note, I mentioned reality as a big thing. So if you leave all the juicy stuff to the end, is this realistic to how life would go, in the situations you’ve placed your characters?

Think about it. Do life and love just fit into place? Nope, think not. Especially if you have a plot with some drama, if your characters just roll with it is that really believable??? Adjust reaction if you can to fit the pace.

Insta- Love?

Ya know lots of readers may dislike this, I kinda do  as a reader as long as it’s believable. That’s the deal breaker. If you like to write insta-romance- do your thang! I like to read it and  have written it where characters connect fast. Remember what I said about pace…. That said, if you serve up some insta-love have you shown a reason ‘why they can’t get enough of each other?’  Give them some kind of connection. There is no use allowing your characters to say, ‘I love you’  ( a lot), when you can’t even see why they would love each other. It sucks, it’s unrealistic and well, where’s the connection more to the point? How or why have they fallen for each other, even if it was pretty soon.

Now connection could be simple things, common interests, both want the same things in life, at the same point in life, etc. People connect when there is a connection no matter how small, we all know and have experienced this. Establish the connection….and keep it real! Show the reader why there is a believable chance these people would fall in love, even if it’s soon.

I read a book recently and I could not see why the author’s characters had a connection, and that placed doubt in my mind about the story, reality, and why these two people were in love. But they said ‘ I love you’ a hella-lot though *rolls eyes*.

In my humble view again, if they fall fast or not, show them falling, show the change of heart! Don’t forget this, don’t write a car crash of love and  not show the change of heart, or the development of feelings in your story. Even in a very subtle way as word count can be limited at times. If you do show this, It will…help it to seem realistic! That’s the name of the game.

How Much Sex, is Too Much Sex?…

Well, this is a hard balance to strike, but in my honest view as a reader yes, there is such thing as too much sex WHEN and only WHEN the rest of the plot is not developed enough. Simple.

You decide on how much or little sex you want,  it’s not for anyone to say…but just remember this can not be the be all, and end all of how you bring your story alive. Consider carefully where you place it, why and what it adds to your overall development of the actual story. Don’t just scatter it around to fill pages, and hope that a steamy story will hold your reader, it won’t and probably can’t when there is nothing else going on. *Shrugs shoulders* I’m just being honest as a reader, and that’s my view as a writer too.

So off the top of my head these are a few tips! I will come back and keep adding to this post, if and when I feel the need. I wish every romance writer the best of luck! Let’s fight that damn reputation we have for the genre, and pen some page-turning and realistic stories! *High five*

 

 

 

 

 

Here Come The ‘Naughty’ Bunch!- 6 Erotic/steamy Authors! Try a New Author on Kindle Unlimited or .99p #amreading #erotica #kindleunlimited

erotica authors.jpgHe he.. I’m saving my guilty pleasure genre until last. Here are six different steamy and erotic authors, waiting to pleasure you… on Kindle Unlimited of course. If you’re not a member some might be just .99p. Please be over eighteen years old, I don’t want no one’s mama coming after me for being a bad influence. Grab your naughty reads, try something new.

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35+ Female Romance Authors Of Colour-FREE ROMANCE BOOKS #freebooks #romance #blackgirlmagic #amreading

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I am so proud to join forces with more than thirty five female  romance authors of colour around the world, between November 2019 and January 2020 to show case our work to bring some #blackgirlmagic and #browngirlmagic to the world of fiction. Women in general have had it hard historically, and sometimes we still do have to fight hard for our voice to be heard.

In  the literary world the female voice of colour is underrepresented in books, as characters, and also as published authors by the big publishing houses. No one can dispute that. It’s a fact when it comes to finding agents and approaching publishers ninety percent of the time women of colour are pitching characters that reflect what we would would like to read more about, for example crafting leads with darker skin, and females reflecting what we see in the mirror, or  just our experience as people of colour to people who  many find it hard to  really understand or even try to understand a different point of view, as they are from a different background and it’s not ‘normal’ to have a lead hero or heroine with skin darker than their own.  So therefore the agent and publisher loves to feedback that they ‘can’t connect’ with the characters or stories. There is also a serious case of  a lack of  agents of colour to open the doors to diversity for us. Therefore what chance do women of colour stand when our work is rejected left, right and centre because  1. the ‘gatekeepers’ don’t reflect us 2. or wish to try and take a ‘risk’ by understanding something different 3. we are seen as just ‘urban/street lit writers’ like we can’t write different mainstream genres with no drug dealers, gangsters and baby momma drama. 

Many talented and bestselling female authors of colour have spoken out about the unfairness  with getting our voices heard by the bigger publishers. Such as New York Times Bestselling Author Ms. Alyssa Cole.  A  woman of colour herself who has managed to kick down the door to the big five publishers, as a romance and Sci-Fi author and make a real name for herself as a successful author with characters outside of the norm, and has vocalised her experiences loudly. 

Let’s not forget women of colour who are writers don’t just write about characters that reflect us, we can and do  include characters from ALL backgrounds if we want. We can  cross over. So in order to spread the word, love, diversity, and #blackgirlmagic and #browngirlmagic between November 2019 and January 2020  I am heavily  invested in supporting my fellow  female romance authors of colour around the world in this group. I urge you  to test drive a new author, a female author of colour she could be Black, Hispanic,  Latino, of mixed heritage, Indian,  Asian Chinese  or something else magical with free books up for grabs on the below link. You’ll be transported to StoryOrigin and see a wonderful array of books to grab. What are you waiting for? Take a peek…

Authors of Colour

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Prologues: Love Or Hate?…It’s A Game Changer! #MFRW

2019 badge blog challenge 640x640 Amerigo BT

Interesting writing prompt for this week’s blog challenge, a really relevant one for me. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly become a better writer than I already am,  (just kiddin’ 🙂 ),  I discovered the beauty of a prologue (not kiddin’ about that), and highly recommend using them to writers who have not tried it. (Not kiddin’ about that either).

Seriously, though… prologues?… no. Up until recently, I never used one in any of  my works, not in the true sense of one. Then I did in my last novel I finished this month, from the experience I realised  it’s a game changer for the story, reader and me as a writer…. yes, it improved all three elements of the latter.

When I  published the first book I ever completed, the  publisher at the time really encouraged prologues in books, but what I have learned since then is that how they encouraged their use, was not really a prologue in its true form. It was more like a copy and paste of an existing part of the book, to ‘grab the reader’ , I was told at the time. So I went with it, it really made no difference to me,  the story I don’t think or even the reader. As they re-read the same thing  later in the book. From research, from what I understand and correct me if I’m wrong, a prologue is an introduction or scene setting and not something that appears again later down the line.

In my most recent works Sacrifices a romantic suspense, with a hint of history to it, once it went through a round of editing, my editor pointed out ‘Kim, this really needs something here.’ I walked away like ‘hmm, okay so I need to add a new scene to ‘introduce’ the story.’ This is largely as, if you have seen the film Pulp Fiction, I have ‘stolen’   ‘been inspired’ the talented movie director Quentin Tarantino’s, excellent story telling technique. I  start my story twenty-five years ago, but not twenty-five years ago from the present day…from the 1960s! Which makes the opening scene the mid- late 1980s…then tell the story ‘back to front’ if you like, to end up in the present day, while moving through different points and key events from 1960s- 1980s in different countries,  and then the present day!

 

women writer funny

I know I’m nuts, right!? Imagine how much fact checking and challenge it was, to give birth to a story like that. Thankfully, and very proudly it works, it came together finally. So anyway, once I got that feedback I reflected, then decided  I do need a prologue in the present day, before we head back and move forward. I really researched into what the general feel is on prologues, and the use of them as I never worked with one, or used one before properly. I’ve simply never needed to.  A lot of what I read, stated that ‘you should be able to tell the story without a prologue or a epilogue.’ I reflected, I saw this point of view and understood it, as that’s how felt before, I wrote Sacrifices.  

I also read a lot of articles that advised romance writers to ‘stay away from them’! One very popular romance author wrote a very interesting article advocating using one, also stating that in her experience ‘readers loved them’, especially epilogues. Yes…I used an epilogue also, but this was already there due to the nature of the story, and ending.

So in all honesty, I believe that as a writer, experimenting with a prologue has actually made me a bit of a stronger writer. It feel it has also added an extra layer of ‘wow, that’s a cool story, and not a rehash of current romance themes’ to my current work. I also feel that readers will be able to keep up with the pace, and connect with the story, due to the technique I used to write it with the addition of the prologue.

Now, I’m a strong supporter from this experience, and I’ve learned what a true prologue is, not a copy and past to ‘grab someone’. It’s a whole new scene, setting, part of the story or peel of the onion to unwrap, to draw a reader in. It’s also very very helpful when writing from a historical perspective, where you are not always in the present day.

Yeah…I think I’ve convinced myself that I am a prologue lover, as well as a epilogue lover and I would do it all over again, if the story called for it with no hesitation. I’m always one to happily break rules to…so as a romance writer, I won’t ‘stay away’ from them as generally in the genre it’s not something that is used often or supported, so they say. I’ll do what the story is calling me to, and allow myself to become better and write stronger stories by not being bound to rules! So in response to this week’s writing prompt for romance writers ‘ prologues helpful, or hurtful?‘…. Helpful 100%.  I recommend you all do too, look at your last or current works, regardless of what you write or your genre. Do you need a prologue, what about an epilogue? It might just help, and change the game.

Now It Feels Real!! The Postman Just Arrived Arrrgh!! @Didi_Oviatt #newrelease #kdsuspense #amreading

wp_20170730_002.jpgNow it all feels even more real, to see my latest works in paperback, not just on Amazon in e-book. To feel it physically in my hand makes my heart race! Didi Oviatt and I done it!! Our debut work together  in one anthology all 50,000 odd words of it. So proud to have this author’s name on a cover with mine, she’s extremely talented and  a friendship has grown.  The covers look fantastic, even if I say so myself. Really chuffed with both books.  Didi and I will be back at the end of July… which is like next week! With Kim and Didi’s Suspenseful Collection spinning tales for you. I look forward to it.

National Novel Writing Month: My Progress Update & Sneek Peek at Romance Set in Paradise Book # 3 #nanowrimo #amwriting #romance

mums

 

Yes, thank you Lord family quality time, dinner, bath and bed time are complete. Late evening here in London and now and it’s time to get serious. We’ve just passed the mid-way point of National Novel Writing Month. I’m joining in for the second time. With all that’s happened so far this July, two books released in the space of one week of each other, it’s not surprising that I’ve had little time to work on my third addition to the Romance Set in Paradise series. I’m only 5,000 words into my target of now 20,000. This one’s a super short heartwarming yet steamy story set in Europe this time – Greece. With a more mature female lead.

I’ve been feeling writing stories set in a era that I love the 1950s- 1960s, especially since we used this era a bit over the last few months for The Suspenseful Collection Volume One, I’ve had my head stuck in this time frame. I particularly love the jazz scene I always have. Ya know when all those cool smoke filled jazz bars popped up. This style of music was just starting to kick in in the UK, from research we had our own take on the bebop style of music. I imagine women on stage with elegant dresses singing the blues, with piano and saxophone players in the background. I really like this era.

I’m writing this love story for my characters  using flashback, something I have done before in stories to tell a tale, but not to this area.

Anyways, here’s an unedited little snippet of what I’ve got so far. All writers taking part this July, I hope your word count is doing better than mine! We’ve got two weeks to get stuck in… here goes tonight I am working on it as I plan to have a weekend free of writing and have some much needed fun and celebration two books released in one month? I deserve a drink!

Excerpt: Book #3 Romance Set in Paradise – I’m not tellin’ you the title yet! 🙂

 

1960 Maurice’s Place, Oxford Street Central London

Jane slightly lifts the hem of her elegant black dress as she steps down from the stage. The crowd cheer and clap, begging her for more. She just gave them all she had, while singing a very heartfelt version of Smokey Robinson’s Who is Loving You? As much as she wants to be up there on the stage again, with all eyes on her she must take a breather. Her voice would not last the full week if she keeps singing with such heart, without a rest. Heads turn and smiles come her way as she walks confidently through the crowds. Through the smoke-filled room she heads over to the bar and takes a seat.

“You did great up there, Jane you sounded amazing.”

“Why thanks Jenelle, that means so much coming from you.”

“I mean it, don’t sell yourself short. You should seriously think about coming back with us to New Orleans when we return. We could do with a blue eyed soulful sista.”

Jenelle playfully laughs and places an arm around Jane’s shoulders. A dry martin slides up between them. Jane is still not quite used to the star treatment she receives every time she sings over at Maurice’s Place. She ponders Jenelle’s proposal as she places a thin smoke in its holder. Jenelle fires a match for her to light her smoke. After the first satisfying drag, she leans back in the high backed bar stool and looks around.

Maurice’s place has felt like home to her for almost a year now. At just sixteen years old she left school with decent qualifications, then bummed around for two years deciding what to do with her life. At seventeen years old she scored her first stage role at Maurice’s Place. She works behind the bar three nights a week and spends the other two on stage.

New Orleans would be like a dream come true, she has always loved to sing, but only started to take it seriously over the last year. Maybe New Orleans could give her the big break she wants. The Jazz scene in London is starting to pick up, just a year earlier Ronnie Scott opened up a new Jazz room in Soho, but thoughts of being on stage in the USA leave Jane with a twinkle in her eye.

The lights in the room dip, hushing the crowds relaxing in the comfy sofas and high back chairs, sitting around small round tables. All eyes move to the centre of the room. A group of three men set themselves up on the stage. One lead singer, one saxophone player and one piano player. The smooth vocals of the male lead singer float through the air, Jane is mesmerised by his showmanship and voice. But it’s the saxophone player who piques her interest. She studies him as his skillful fingers move over the his instrument. He’s lost in the music, he pulls Jane in.

“So what do ya say Jane?”

The corner of Jenelle’s lips turn up slowly as she watches her friend under the spell of the musicians on stage. Jane’s eyes are fixed on the saxophone player, her smoke has long reached the end and burnt out. Yet she holds it posed between her fingers as if it’s still smouldering. Jenelle laughs to herself and moves her hand over Jane’s vision, to snap her out of her daze.

“Earth to Jane, earth to Jane anyone home?”

“Gosh, I’m sorry Jenelle, did you say something?”

“Look at you! All caught up in the music… or is it Mr. Sax player?”

Jane moves her eyes away from the stage, and joins in the girly laughing with her girlfriend. Tipping her burnt out smoke in the ashtray, she reaches for another one. Before she answers Jenelle’s question she studies Mr. Sax on stage playing his tune some more, and sips her martini.

“My, he’s handsome don’t ya think Jenelle?”

“More than handsome, he sure can play too.”

“Hmm, I’ve never seen this band before have you?”

“Not here no, they have played over at Ronnie Scott’s a few times. I was over there just last week. They brought the house down at Ronnie’s!”

Jane meets Jenelle’s eyes.

“ Really, they were over at Ronnie’s place. Gosh, I can imagine, they sound great.”

“You never answered my question, what about New Orleans? I’m serious.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, of course?”

“You think I could make it over there? Would I be welcome in your community Jenelle?”

“Jane, don’t worry about skin colour, it’s not about that it’s about the music, the voice, the stage presence. All of which you have honey, don’t let that racial segregation shit get to you.”

“Hmm I guess so, you’re right.”

“Plus, that Martin Luther King, he’s doing all he can to help everyone in the USA move forward.”

“You’re right, let me give it some thought.”

“You do that, I’d love you to come over.”

Both ladies smile at each other and toast their martini glasses.

TO BE CONTINUED! 🙂

Out Now On Pre-Sale: Just .99p /.99$ On Amazon For A Limited Time.#amreading #romance #newrelease

Blurb:

Lover’s Retreat is book #2 of the Romance Set in Paradise Series of stand alone modern, steamy, suspenseful and romantic stories. All set in exotic locations around the world.

For thirty seven year old recluse Yasmin O’Neil, life feels like one crisis after another. Her husband left her five years ago, she starts to suspect she’s losing her hearing, and then her mother is diagnosed with cancer. When her mother passes away her fortune changes. Yasmin is fifty thousand pounds richer from her mother’s estate. Yasmin takes her fate into her own hands after years of being a recluse, she rediscovers herself at a spiritual retreat in Sri Lanka south Asia, before she plans to spend the next six months travelling around the world. In Sri Lanka, Yasmin’s path crosses with Michael Thomas, an army soldier on his own path of self discovery. With their luke warm initial encounter the pair don’t hit it off straight away. After some push and pull the two are finally on the same page. Their encounter turns from luke warm to a steamy sizzling hot.

In Lover’s Retreat two very different characters originally on different paths, embrace the need for change and companionship. Set in the back drop of paradise, palm trees and untouched nature of Sri Lanka, these two lonely souls gain more than just self discovery they gain a soul mate.

Release Date: 20th July 2017

On Pre-sale now just .99p / .99$ until the flash sale ends  on the 31st July. Click Links Below.

Amazon.com

Amazon.uk

 

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Released July 20th 2017