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Twenty things about me

I thought I’d play a game I’ve seen floating around, and tell you twenty random things about me. This is totally off the top of my head…

1–I’d love to be a cake decorator/pastry chef.

2–I can’t sleep unless my room is super cold, much to the irritation of everyone else in my family when I keep turning down the thermostat.

3–I’m a Ravenclaw. (I’m wearing a Ravenclaw tank top right now, actually.)

4–I love two truly terrible movies–Deep Blue Sea and A-Team.

5–My house is fully of my photography. I have two walls of family photos and two of travel photography (soon to be more).

6–Taking cannabis has altered my quality of life dramatically. I have fibromyalgia and without it, walking is painful. Most things are painful. Taking cannabis pills alleviates a lot of the pain that my medication doesn’t.

7–I can’t draw for shit. Stick figures are about the most I can handle.

8–I used to be a teacher. I loved teaching the kids–I hate the politics, which is why I probably won’t go back.

9–I was a huge Baby-Sitters Club fan as a kid. I identify as a Kristy.

10–Even though I’ve lived outside the US, I never flew on an airplane until I was 20.

11–Next month will mark my twelfth wedding anniversary.

12–If I could have picked my own name, I’d pick Katherine.

13–My favorite candy is Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.

14–I’ve reread the Jewels series by Anne Bishop a ton of times. I’m so upset by everything going on in the US right now that I’m rereading them for comfort.

15–I hate coffee.

16–I love Disney–the movies, the animated movies, the music, the parks, all of it.

17–I keep meaning to write some Star Trek Voyager fanfic because the series finale has some serious issues. Janeway and Chakotay forever.

18–I almost moved to New Orleans, but I’d just met my husband and wanted to see where things would go.

19–After leaving a small town as soon as I could, and living in cities for the past twenty years, I’m shocked by the fact that I like living in a suburb.

20–I play violin. I started taking lessons in Singapore, but had to stop because I hurt my shoulder. I’ve just recently started playing again, and now both my girls are starting to learn, too.

Meeting a childhood idol

I’ve always been a reader. It’s been part of my identity for so long I don’t even remember learning how to read, apart from knowing I was precocious in that area. I was lucky that the adults in my life–my family and my teachers–never tried to clip my wings when it came to books.

Want to read The Secret Garden and A Little Princess at six but don’t know the vocabulary? Here’s a dictionary.

Want to read trashy teen horror books like The Prom Dress? I’ll buy it for you/allow you to spend your money on it even though it’s meant for much older children. (Read my super snarky review “The best ‘bad’ book I’ve ever read.”)

Oh, you want to read books from the adult section of the bookstore/library? That’s ok with me. Cue my mom signing the slip allowing me to take out adult books–although I wonder in retrospect if she’d have let me if she knew I was going to become a huge V.C. Andrews fan. Flowers in the Attic is about a mom who locks her four children in an attic, tries to kill them with arsenic, and features a scene in which a brother rapes his sister. And that’s just the first book in that series.

My point is that books have always been a huge part of my identity.

I’ve always been drawn to fantasy, as was my fourth grade teacher in retrospect. She read us the first three books in the Narnia series (aka the only good books in the series–everyone dying in the rapture except Susan because she wears lipstick is a bullshit ending). Then she read us The Hobbit. Fellow fantasy readers naturally picked up The Lord of the Rings next. I thought The Hobbit was a sausage fest and I wanted a fantasy book with a female heroine (yeah yeah Eowyn’s “I am no man” is badass, but she’s only there because she’s following a dude and then hangs up her sword–this is not the female heroine I was/am looking for).

I don’t remember if I stumbled across Tamora Pierce or if someone recommended it to me. But I do remember reading Alanna: The First Adventure, and feeling so happy to see a strong feminist main character. Alanna is supposed to go to the convent to learn to be a lady and her brother Thom is supposed to go to the capital and learn to be a knight. This isn’t what either of them want, so Thom forges their letters of introduction and he goes to the convent, where sorcerers receive their initial training and Alanna poses as “Alan” and goes to learn to be a knight.  Over the four books she does just that and becomes a hero of the realm.

Tamora Pierce consistently writes strong female protagonists, and I fell in love. She was also my introduction (along with 80’s Madonna) to the idea that women like sex and can be sexually active on their own terms. Alanna has three relationships over the books, and calls her lovers out on their bullshit. Her other female leads also don’t hesitate to call out sexism. They are tough and they take on a man’s world in their own terms. This was revolutionary to me.

I’ve read pretty much everything she’s ever written, and even as an adult if she puts out a new book, the likelihood is that I’ll read it. Recently I even introduces Athena (age 9) to Alanna.

All of this is a lead in to say that she did a reading at Borderlands Books in San Francisco a week ago. They are an indie bookstore specializing in Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror. Readers of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series will recognize it as she wrote it into a book. They ship nationwide, so I encourage you to patronize them if you like those genres.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this photo, but

I took Athena to the talk, and she was even brave enough to ask a question. Afterward, we got our books signed (Tamora wrote “girls rule” in Athena’s book and “women rule” in mine). I babbled something about how much Alanna had meant to me and how meaningful it has been to share her books with Athena (Arcadia is only 6–we’re reading Junie B Jones right now, but Alanna and Harry Potter will come eventually). She was just so gracious in the face of my babbling.

For me, my childhood–and even adulthood, to an extent–heroes are authors. I am in awe of people who can create these worlds I live in vicariously, whether it was The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin in elementary school (I’m a Kristy) or Anne Bishop’s Jewel series today (I have a serious literary crush on Karla). It’s a huge reason I am a writer–I want to create my own worlds and my own characters.

Authors like Tamora Pierce inspire me, and make me even more excited to get back to my own work.

The Tattoo Thief

While it’s not a romance, I have to take the time to recommend my friend Alison’s book The Tattoo Thief.

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

I read an early draft of the first few chapters and I was hooked–and it’s not even a genre I read all that often! (Well I do read JD Robb’s In Death series, but not much outside that.) Alison is going to be a top writer in the genre, and I’m not just saying that because she’s a friend–she understands pacing, characterizations, you name it. If you like thrillers and murder mysteries, you must buy her book.

Get The Tattoo Thief on Amazon today!

Be my friend on Goodreads

I used to have two Goodreads accounts. One was under my IRL name, where I reviewed most of what I read (when I remembered). The other was under Delilah Night, where I only reviewed erotica, because I thought my readers wouldn’t want to know what I thought of this urban fantasy or that YA book.

However, that got to be a giant hassle and I stopped reviewing on Goodreads completely.

This year, however, I have gotten back in the saddle and decided to only use the Delilah Night account for all my books. Further, I set myself a goal of reading 100 books this year, and have been faithfully documenting everything I’ve read, and I am on my fortieth book this year.

I’d like to invite you to be my friend on Goodreads. I do read and review erotic romance and erotica, but I’m also a fantasy, YA, memoir, and romance fan.

Top Books I’ve read (so far) this year are

  • A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole, which is about a grad student named Naledi, who keeps getting bizarre emails telling her she’s the betrothed to a prince of an African country. Certain this is a scam, she emails them back to Fuck Off. Prince Thabiso is in search of the girl he was betrothed to as a child. When he goes to confront her, and she thinks he’s a waiter she was supposed to train, he doesn’t correct her. Great story, good pacing, hot sex scenes.
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which is the story of Zacharias, a freed slave who has risen to the position of Sorcerer Royal in an alternate version of London. He’s trying to solve the question of where all the magic in England is going. Prunella is a woman with immense magical powers in a world where women aren’t supposed to have such powers. She is looking for a husband, and convinces Zacharias to help her. The first section of the book is slow, but once Prunella is introduced, it really takes off. The book doesn’t gloss over the racial prejudices both Zacharias and Prunella face, and that makes it a richer novel. I’m looking forward to the second book.
  • Hamilton’s Battalion by Alyssa Cole, Courtney Milan, and Rose Lerner. As a total Hamilfan, I had to read this anthology of three novellas. The framing device for the anthology is that soldiers are coming to Eliza Hamilton’s house to share the story of serving with her husband (something the real Eliza Hamilton actually did). The first story, my favorite, is called Promised Land–the story of Rachel who has disguised herself as “Ezra” to fight for the country she believes in. She thinks Jews will be more welcomed in a free/fair America, and her Judaism is a big part of the story. The second is The Pursuit of, which tells the story of a Black soldier and the white British deserter and how they fall in love—and lots of cheese. So much cheese. I mean literal cheese, not that it’s cheesy. The final story is That Could Be Enough, which is the story of Eliza’s secretary, and the dressmaker who worms her way into her heart.
  • A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena, which is a realistic fiction YA novel set in Saudi Arabia. The story is told from multiple viewpoints to create a complex portrayal of a girl who died in a car with a man she was unrelated to.
  • Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. Noah’s memoir about being half white/half black in South Africa during and after Apartheid is incredibly eye opening. Seeing him on The Daily Show, you’d never imagine half of what he has done and experienced.

I’m currently reading the eleventh book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, which is great urban fantasy set in and around San Francisco (which, coincidentally is where I moved a year ago). I am a huge fan of McGuire (who also writes as Mira Grant). If you jump into the series, read it in order as McGuire is constantly world building, and things that happen in one book often have consequences in another book. Stay with the series until book three/book four. The first two are the weakest (but are still good), but for me the series really began to take off with book three. I’m a bit bereft as when I finish this I’ll have to wait until September for book twelve.

Upcoming books include

  • We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
  • Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card
  • Touched by an Alien
  • Beneath the Sugar Sky

What are you reading? What do you think I should add to my to-read shelf? Add me as a friend on Goodreads if you use it.

Guest Post: Malin James on Stereotypes, Identity and Roadhouse Blues

Today I get to host the lovely Malin James. Malin’s writing style has always made me a bit weak in the knees. She can convey more power and sex in 5 words in a minimalist, gorgeous voice. Her story The Green Lady was one of my favorites in Under the Mistletoe. Today she’s here to talk about her new book Roadhouse Blues.

First of all, thank you for having me, Delilah. It’s wonderful to be here.

One of the most unexpected things about promoting Roadhouse Blues is keeping track of what I talk about, when and with whom. Between interviews, conversations, emails, social media and posts, I have the constant, nagging worry that I’ve already said whatever it is that I’m going to say. One thing does seem to keep coming up though, so I figured it was worth going into in a little more depth.

One of the best pieces of feedback Roadhouse Blues has gotten so far is that it subverts certain stereotypes. My writing process is pretty organic, so I rarely go into a project with a specific mission in mind. That said, there was something that I knew I wanted to do very early on—I wanted the stories to be about characters whose inner lives don’t necessarily match their outward appearances.

I’ve already talked a bit about the fact that Styx, the town the collection is set in, creates an external pressure that binds the stories together. It’s a socially conservative place in the middle of nowhere—the kind of place where it’s often easier to just do what’s expected of you. It’s the kind of community that is so small that the consequences of challenging the status quo can be huge. So, with a few major exceptions, most of the characters don’t openly challenge it…but that doesn’t mean that they privately conform.

That’s where I go Joe, the good ol’ boy mechanic whose marriage is quietly and lovingly non-monogamous; and Liz, his boss and long term lover; and Luke, the high school football star turned diner owner who plays his private life extremely close to the vest; and Maybelline, the stripper whose relationship to sex is complicated and deeply internalized, despite the fact that it’s her job to perform an exaggerated portrait of female sexuality. In fact, that notion of performance is at the center of it all—how do we identify, and do we choose to perform that identity or keep it hidden?

That’s where stereotypes get interesting. For some characters, like Liz in “Down & Dirty”, stereotypes are a burden—something she actively chooses to defy. She owns a garage at a time when women don’t even pump gas, and she takes a deep, carnal pleasure in her body’s raw strength. She takes the stereotypical idea of what it is to be feminine, balls it up and eats it for lunch without ever compromising the complexity of her identity and sexual needs.

Other characters, like Luke in “Truck Stop”, use stereotypes like a mask. Of all the characters in the book, Luke is the one who is most conscious of the bifurcation between his public image and his private life. Because of that, he deliberately plays up the stereotype of the ex-athlete, business owning, pillar-of-the-community to shield aspects of himself, specifically that he is a gay black man in a “shit-kicking Christian town”.

Unfortunately, choosing to remain closeted is nothing new, especially since the reality is that being openly gay is still dangerous in parts of this (and other) countries. Given where he lives, Luke is instinctively aware of the danger that his sexuality could put him in, so he chooses to remain closeted…but not so deeply closeted that he doesn’t know himself.

There’s nothing delusional or stereotypically tortured about Luke’s relationship to his own sexuality. He owns his attraction to men. He’s at ease with the fact that he’s had gay sex, and that he misses it. He misses that part of himself. And yet, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what acting on it could cost him, so, unlike Liz, he uses a stereotype to protect himself. But that doesn’t mean that he owns his identity any less than Liz. He just owns it privately, which is why, every now and then, he allows himself to indulge. That’s what “Truck Stop” is about—Luke setting aside the safety of the stereotype to engage in truly hot, authentic sex with another man.

I’m not trying to imply that stereotypes can’t be dangerous, because they can, especially when we don’t question them. Stereotypes are why we have hate crimes, misogyny, profiling and pretty much every cultural phobia you can think of. Stereotypes are the illusion that we have even the first clue about a person based on how they look, and they are very often wrong.

And yet, stereotypes persist, and because they persist, they pose an even more insidious threat, because if a person buys into the stereotype that describes them, it can flatten the glorious individuality that is every person’s right, and twist them away from their far more complicated, authentic self. Self-awareness is the answer to that—self-awareness and autonomous self-ownership, regardless of how a person defies, or uses, any given stereotype.

That’s why I wanted my characters to move seamlessly through the world they live in, while remaining aware of, and faithful to, their private realities. Sometimes, that reality manifests internally, as it does for Maybelline in “Marlboro Man”. Sometimes it’s flagrantly displayed, like it is for Liz. And sometimes it lands on a halfway point between the two, and that’s where Luke sits.

Stereotypes, identity, performance, authenticity. These are some of the basic human factors we all confront as we find our way in the world. If there’s one thing I’m proud of in this collection, it’s letting my characters navigate what the people around them think and expect, and then decide for themselves how they want to respond.

And now, here’s a snippet from Luke’s story, “Truck Stop”.

Excerpt:

Luke didn’t really think he’d see Jim again. Between the fluster and the blushing and the chemistry, it was pretty damn clear that trucker Jim was into guys. It was also pretty damn clear that he didn’t know what to do about it. Once upon a time, Luke had been the same. All red-faced awkwardness and bright, shiny eyes. He knew how rough it could be. Sometimes moving on was easier. At least, that’s what he’d told himself.

Luke spent the rest of the afternoon taking orders and fixing food. Jack was off his game, over-salting chili and under-cooking fries. Too many doubles, Luke figured. He’d have to make him cut back, but, in the meantime, it kept Luke busy, which helped him forget about sexy, bright-eyed truckers. He did a fine job too…until Jim came back a few minutes before close.

“Hey,” Jim said, shoving his hands in his pockets. He looked like a sheepish kid. “Ran out pretty fast this afternoon. Sorry about that.”

“No worries,” Luke said, ignoring everything south of his hips. “Here. I owe you some change.”

Luke opened the register, but Jim shook his head. “No, keep it. Call it a tip.”

“Okay….” Luke slipped the money back and quietly shut the till. “So, what brings you back?” His voice felt strong and deep in his chest, like all of him was there. That should’ve worried him, but the worry didn’t make it through the good.

Jim took a deep breath, like people do when they’re going to be brave or very stupid. “I came back to see you.”

He took off his hat, a gentleman come a-courtin’ with rumpled hair, like he’d just rolled out of bed. Luke’s pulse jumped. He was standing in a room with a fine-looking man, and the room was full of windows. Anyone could see.

Luke cleared his throat. “How about some pie?”

Their eyes met. Thick, caramel silence.

“Yeah,” Jim said. “I’d like some pie.”

Luke flipped the closed sign and locked the door. It was pretty goddamn clear they weren’t talking about pie. His hands shook as he lowered the blinds. He never lowered the blinds. He was too wary of being set up. Trucker comes in, makes sexy eyes…next thing you know, you’re getting punched in the head. Jim could be fucking with him, or trying to steal his till, or just looking to bash gay guys in the act of being gay, but Luke didn’t think so—not with the way he ran out and came back. Luke didn’t think so, and he was willing to take the risk.

By the time he got back to the counter, Jim had taken off his jacket and was sitting at the counter, tight and sharp as a wire. Luke got the coffee pot and brought over a mug. Jim touched his hand.

“Better not,” he said and smiled. “Haven’t been lucky with coffee.” His hand stayed on Luke’s, pale and rough, clean beneath the nails, as his eyes filled with a soft, silent pleading. Luke thought about all the good, wholesome, down-home sex he never got to have, and the last of his caution slip away. He leaned in, drawn by those pretty, pleading eyes, but Jim got there first.

Jim kissed him, hard on the mouth, like he making an important point. Luke stiffened—not turned off, just surprised—but Jim hesitated and started to pull away. Luke put his hands on the other man’s back and pulled him back in. They didn’t talk. They barely breathed. They mauled each other right out of words and the mind to speak.

Jim dropped to his knees. Luke tried to pull him up, but the younger man stopped him with those big, bright eyes full of let me and please. Luke let him go and leaned back against the counter. Jim unbuckled his belt like a kid on Christmas day. He had no idea if the guy had even seen another man’s dick, but there was something sweet about finding out.

 

Author Bio:

Malin James is an essayist, blogger, and short story writer. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Bust, MUTHA, Queen Mob’s Tea House and Medium, as well as in podcasts and anthologies for Cleis Press, Sweetmeats Press and Stupid Fish Productions. Her first collection, Roadhouse Blues, is now out with Go Deeper Press. Find out more at malinjames.com.

Buy Links:

 

Guest Blog: Horatio Slice by Oleander Plume

I’m so happy to welcome one of my favorite author people to Delilah Night—Oleander Plume!  Oleander edited on my all-time favorite anthologies, Chemical [Se]X, also known as the book that almost me orgasm on an escalator. TLDR– I thought I was too cool and jaded by my own genre that I could read it without consequence in public. I was wrong. She has a new book out–Horatio Slice–which I can’t wait to read (in private).

 

A big thank you to Delilah Night for letting me pay a visit to her blog today! I’m here today to celebrate the release of my first full-length novel, Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe.

Someone asked me the other day “How did you come up with this book?”

That’s not an easy question to answer. I think we writers are influenced by an infinite number of things. Sometimes, an idea will fall right into our lap. At other times, story fodder is an elusive beast, a shy creature we must coax into our proximity with gentle words or perhaps a snack.

Horatio actually did fall right into my lap. What inspired it? An imaginative submission call I found on the Erotic Readers and Writers Association website.

Besides that siren song of a prompt, this book was inspired by the British comedy I watched as a teen. By every concert I’ve ever attended. By books, and movies, and even the Sunday comics. Inspiration, it seems, is everywhere, but even the most inspired erotic writer sometimes hits a brick wall.

How then, do we find inspiration again? My favorite way is with a word association game.

Using a pen and paper, jot down anything that pops into your head. Does it have to be sexy? No. The sexy comes later. For now, let’s find a starting point. I will now type the first words that pop into my head:

Classic cars, celery, elephants, new shoes, hunger, wine, tasting … wine tasting.

Wine tasting stands out for me. Let’s use a wine tasting as the backdrop for our story. Now, we need to add the players. Of the remaining words, “new shoes” sounds fun.

Let’s say our first character is wearing new shoes. How do they make the character feel?

Flirty, uncomfortable, wobbly, taller … do you see how this opens up the imagination? My first inclination was a female character wearing new high heels that hurt her feet, so she is keeping herself planted firmly in a chair. While planted, she spots a handsome character across the room.

Considering she can’t move, how will she attract this person’s attention? I’ll bet you’ve already come up with at least three interesting ideas!

Feeling creative? Would you like to win an e-book? Using the comments below, tell me how you would bring these two characters together. Feel free to keep it as brief or verbose as you would like. The one Delilah and I like best will win a digital copy of Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe.

Winner will be chosen on August 14, 2017. Good luck, and happy writing!

 

Horatio Slice is NOT dead.

Gunner Wilkes knows a secret. Heartthrob rock star Horatio Slice is not dead. Sure, Gunner may turn heads with his big brain, good looks, and gym-built body, but his mind is on one thing only: returning his all-time favorite rocker and secret fanboy crush to Earth.

Yes, there are VAMPIRE PIRATES

Fame and stardom were starting to wear thin for Horatio Slice, but when he was sucked through a magical portal while on stage at Madison Square Garden into a jail cell in a strange dimension called Merona, his confusion quickly cleared upon meeting his sexy, dark-haired cellmate, a vampire pirate named Snake Vinter, who filled Horatio in about life in the universe, jumping from dimension to dimension, and craftily avoiding the wrath of gnarly-mask-wearing leather queen King Meridian—a guy nobody wants to cross.

The metal ship is named Frances.

And on Snake’s metal ship live eight identical blond Humerians, who proudly display their cocks and assholes in carefully crafted trousers, as well as a wild assortment of untamable, cock-hungry travelers and stowaways. But someone has hacked into Frances’ mainframe, demanding that Snake and crew deliver Horatio Slice to King Meridian, or feel his wrath.

All the zany magical comedy of Mel Brooks, an adventure not dissimilar to Indiana Jones meets Barbarella, and men, men, horny men, of all shapes and sizes, Horatio Slice, Guitar Slayer of the Universe is wild, fun, pornographic fiction for anyone who loves the masculine, the feminine, and all identities in between. Even more so, it’s for cravers—for aficionados—of big, hard, pounding cock, and anyone who can handle laughs that won’t stop coming.

 

Oleander Plume lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, two daughters and a pair of obnoxious cats. While she writes in many genres, her favorite is m/m. Or m/m/m. Or m/m/m/m, or … who’s counting, anyway?

Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe (published by Go Deeper Press) is Oleander’s first, full-length novel, but her short stories have appeared in anthologies by Violet Blue, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Shane Allison, Alison Tyler, Neil Plakcy, and F. Leonora Solomon.

Oleander also edited a self-published erotic anthology, titled Chemical [se]X, featuring stories centered around the theme of aphrodisiac chocolates.

For more information, please visit her at poisonpendirtymind.com.

Blog: http://poisonpendirtymind.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Oleander-Plume/e/B00OALVFGS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1500393524&sr=8-2

Go Deeper Press media page: http://godeeperpress.com/media-page-horatio-slice/

Go Deeper Press shopify: https://go-deeper-press.myshopify.com/products/horatio-slice-guitar-slayer-of-the-universe

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OleanderPlume

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OleanderPlumeAuthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/OleanderPlume/boards/

Horatio on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35558974-horatio-slice

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-56xGmu27g

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If Mom’s Happy

In the midst of my unpacking/end of school year haze, I forgot to announce a book. So, embarrassingly late, I want to share that my story Renewal has been reprinted in If Mom’s Happy.

If Mom’s Happy: Stories of Erotic Mothers

This anthology shows that mothers love hot sex, too.

What happens when the mom in the mirror is a stranger to the woman inside?  How do you reconnect with the man behind the dad?

Read an excerpt from an updated reprint of Renewal here