Love is Um… Flying on an Airplane to Chicago for Rotary International?

Today, I’m in an airplane heading to a regional leader training for Rotary International, which is this global group of 1.2 million professionals who take action to make change int the world.

They have weekly meetings usually.

They make friends. Here are pictures of me with friends at Rotary.

They do good things with each other and for others. Sometimes we look like dorks doing it, but that’s okay.

I’m the public image coordinator for Zone 24 East, which is the eastern half of Canada and parts of the northern United Staes.

So, because I’m in a plane and don’t have a ton of time, here’s your do good Wednesday post:

Check out this video from Rotary. Check out its links. Thank a Rotarian for committing time to make a positive difference in the world. Even if you can’t join Rotary, your thanks will mean a lot to that Rotarian. I promise. And thank YOU for reading this blog.

 

PERSONAL APPEARANCES

I’ll be hanging out at the launch of THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID on March 15th and having  a panel discussion with editor Erin Moulton, Aaluk Edwardson and Ella Andrews at Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, NH. 7pm!

“How to describe the feeling of not being believed? It is the feeling of disappearing.” -Stephanie Oakes

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PODCAST AND BOOK NEWS!

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

In my big writing news, the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is live!

My Post

LIVE!

Please go leave a comment, or a review, and pretend to listen, because I’ve been freaking out about this so hard. It’s on iTunes and Stitcher and Castos at the moment and the RSS feed is also here. The feed has bonus material and free things. It’ll be on GooglePlay if I can ever get the screen to validate to not be just a big webpage of blankness.

 

Writing With Dogs Who Slobber: The Three Secrets to Awesome Characters

So, you’re probably looking at the blog post title up there and thinking, “What?”

Stay with me a second; I’ll explain, I swear. I’m going to boil down the basic elements of crafting a good story by using my rescue dog, Gabby.

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Gabby is the sort of dog who people love or hate.

Gabby is the sort of dog that lets children climb all over her and hug her and kiss her nose.

Gabby is also the sort of dog who judges people by smell.  If you have alcohol on your breath, she will sneeze and then bark at you. If you are male and have ever had a serious time taking cocaine and you are in my house? She’ll bark incessantly at you and never stop even if your cocaine use was over a decade ago.

So, why am I mentioning this? Gabby is a conflicted character. You want a character like Gabby in your story.

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A conflicted character is a dog or person with a goal. There is a motivation for that goal and a conflict.

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Gabby’s goal is to keep me safe. She is super focused on making sure nothing happens to me or her dog brother Sparty or her cat sister Marsie. Her motivation? Probably because I feed her or because she’s a Great Pyrenees, and that breed’s instinct and training is to keep her charges happy and safe. We are basically her sheep.

IMG_9899Marsie insists she is nobody’s sheep, but I have seen Gabby carry her around the house. She is totally a sheep. 

And it might be because Gabby was abused as a puppy and spent her first year chained to a tree, always chained to a tree, never off a tree. She came to us small, terrified, malformed and malnourished. This is her backstory. All characters have backstories, the what happened before we meet them, the what happened that made them who they are when the story begins.

When Em and I picked up Gabby in Cambridge, she was terrified. Every car was about to run her down. Every person was about to hit her. I sunk to her level and she pushed herself against me. Her ears were infected and full of pain. Everything about her was pain. But there was something else there. It was fear and want and need. She wanted to be loved so badly. She wanted to love back.1930658_10154095751489073_788625899982421964_n

The entire time we were in Cambridge she didn’t bark once.

The entire car ride back and the whole first week? She never barked.

“I have a miracle dog. It is a silent Great Pyrenees,” I told everyone.

The vet laughed.

The rescue organization people laughed.

I was so wrong.

Gabby started being able to sleep with both eyes closed. Gabby’s ears got better. We got her surgery on her hip. She took walks without being afraid that trees were going to fall on her, without thinking that every car held a monster inside of it that would hurt her.

She ate, but she would never fill out.

And she barked.

She barked at everyone who reminded her of where she used to be. She barked at dogs she didn’t know. She barked and jumped and tried to be as threatening looking as possible when she is easily the dog least likely to ever bite a human and most likely to snuggle. You know when experts say dogs hate hugs? Gabby would let you hug her all day.

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So, she’s got a lot of back story there?

What’s the conflict for Gabby or for your characters?

The conflict is the struggle. The conflict is how the reader engages with the character. It’s why the reader keeps reading. It’s how empathy is built. It’s how story is built.

So every character has this trifecta of things: 

Goal

Motivation

Conflict

As a writer, if you muck this up? You’re story will be flat.

As a dog friend/owner, if you don’t realize that your dog’s goal might conflict with a happy silence that comes with a life without barking? You’re going to have an unhappy dog.

So, Gabby’s trifecta of character is: Wants to stop threats by barking (goal) because she wants to keep her happy home and the creatures within it safe (motivation we all understand), but everyone gets a headache when she thinks squirrels are threats and barks too much at them (conflict).

Meg in Wrinkle in Time is: Wants to get her dad back (goal) because who doesn’t want to get someone awesome back (motivation that is pretty understandable if your dad rocks), but dude, she has to travel through time and deal with this great darkness, basically like all the evil in the universe because why not (conflict).

But what makes a character conflicted? Basically anything that stands in the way of her goal.

This can be herself (Gabby wonders if barking is her true calling and doubts herself – an internal conflict).

This can be others (The neighbors call the police because of Gabby’s barking – an external conflict).

This can be the environment (Gabby is in space and cannot bark because there is no sound. Horror! – a conflict caused by setting).

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Writing Tip – Make sure your  main character has that trifecta of conflict, motivation, goal.

Writing Prompts- 

Write about wanting to sing when you have to be quiet.

Write about wanting to tell a secret.

Write about being a zombie who is allergic to meat.

Do Good Wednesday – 

So, I wrote a lot about Gabby being a rescue dog. All my dogs have been. If you have the money, consider donating to a dog rescue. If you have the time and space and need and love, consider adopting. If you have the time, find a rescue near you and be a volunteer. I’ve done home visits and photos for rescues. If you don’t have any of these things, but have social media, share a rescue’s site or a post about a dog (or cat or gecko). You could be the step that helps bring a dog like Gabby to her forever home. Even the smallest things help.

Here are the rescues where I got Sparty the Dog and Gabby the Dog.

New England Lab Rescue

National Great Pyrenees Rescue

And this rescue is possibly my favorite one.

Big Fluffy Dog

 

Random Marketing Things – My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is getting closer and closer to real. I’m terrified. Here is a video about it. Sort of.

CARRIE JONES DECIDES TO FINALLY ACT LIKE AN AUTHOR AND GIVE UP

31 January, Issue 1, Vol 1.

ELLSWORTH, MAINE –– Sitting at her Powerbook with the missing “Y” key and staring at the blank Word document on the screen, a young adult novelist gave it all up today and decided to act like a real novelist.  Surrounded by her agent, her editors and her dogs, she admitted that she might as well become one with the Hemingway.

“I always knew I was failing at being a writer,” she said while gulping down some boxed wine (red variety), “but I never understood what it was that I was missing. Now I know: it was misery. I was missing the whole misery element. But lately, I’ve been feeling really depressed and consequentially I feel like more of a writer. That rocks!”

“You are a rock star baby,” her agent agreed. “But you’ve got a little of that wine on your chin. Ew. So gross.”

img_1604 Right here? On my chin?

Her agent then whisked out her ancient Blackberry and texted the international rights agent about the philosophy of the Britney Spears and remembered fondly when this book sold to so many countries.

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After apologizing for using adverbs in her above quote, Jones explained that she’d always been a happy and productive writer and she used to shake her head at other writers who would moan a lot about missing muses and being blocked.

“I thought they were just being pretentious,” she admitted. “I mean… seriously… muses? Like in that old movie Xanadu or something? It seemed so hoity-toity.”

Now she understands.

Devastated by the thing people call winter, (“All those cold dark days,” she murmured), plus a cold that would not quit (“A woman can sniff in only so much before the snot affects the brain,” she added, sniffing in), Jones has decided that despite the fact that she writes children’s books she is no longer going to skip and happy dance in her kitchen, she is instead — going to embrace the misery.

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“I will wrap my arms around it and pull it to my heaving bosom,” she said and then added, “Oh. Was that too melodramatic? It was… It was… wasn’t it? Damn, can I do nothing right?”

Her editors pet her on the shoulder and offered more box wine (it’s cheaper) or at least green tea admonishing her to buck up and hit her deadline for the third book in the TIME STOPPERS series.

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“Her friends have already noticed a change. They have kindly inundated her with well meaning emails asking what is wrong,” said one editor who frantically pointed at the keyboard. “But that’s just making her procrastinate more.”

“But they’re writers,” Jones said sniffing some ModPodge because it usually makes her happy. “How do I know they aren’t just trying to get some sort of material for their own novels?”

Nobody responded to this question.

“Plus, the blogging. Why are all our YA and middle grade authors all about the blogging?” Jones wailed. “And the tweets. And they all seem to be friends with each other and promote each other’s books will living terribly exciting lives in coffee shops and Scotland. Everyone is always in Scotland!”

Jones added that her agent has called her multiple times for no reason in the last week.

“It’s my job to check in,” her agent said. “The well-being of my writers is very important to me.”

Her agent then started texting again. This time it was an appeal to add a certain someone’s name to the list of HOTTEST AGENTS IN CHILDREN”S LITERATURE.

“That John Green is always winning,” her agent mumbled. Then she turned her attention back to her client. “You know I love you, baby.”

“She’s just worried I won’t finish the third book,” Jones sighed. “Although… it is nice hearing a human voice occasionally. You know she is human. And when she calls I remember how dialogue is supposed to go. Plus,  I’m tired of talking to my computer.”

Jones then ate an entire carton of Edy’s Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough while the editors looked on and added, “Did I ever tell you that Steve Wedel said I was like a puppy? Or that Cynthia Leitich Smith said I was like a kitten? Yeah? Well, whatever, I’m telling you again. People used to pet my head and tell me what a good writer I was… Now… Now…”

She then started sobbing. “None of this would have happened if I had a writing group.”

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Writing Tip – Write a fake news story about yourself or your character. Look up there! It’s super easy. If you can’t think of a subject, write about Sparty the Dog wearing a tinfoil hat.

Do Good Wednesday – 

I’ve been talking a lot about big volunteer organizations and apps on Wednesdays, but you can also intentionally do good in smaller ways and that’s powerful.

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Small can be powerful!

So here are a couple ideas, but I bet you can make some of your own! 

  1. Write a thank you on paper and give it to somebody.
  2. Encourage someone that you don’t always remember to encourage.
  3. Thank three people for things in one day.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Think about the person you don’t like, that really super annoying horrible person of evil? Think of one good thing about them.
  6. Say ‘hi’ to someone.
  7. Give someone who never treats his/herself a treat. 

Random Marketing Thing – My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is getting closer and closer to real. I’m terrified.

Imposter Syndrome – You Kick Butt. Believe It.

My imposter syndrome is about a society where truth is never good enough because truth is not pretty enough. My imposter syndrome is about a society where people ridicule your heart, your kindness, your vulnerability and other people applaud that.

So, for my Wednesday Writing Wisdom post, I’m going to partially reblog something from 2016 with some new content because I still deal with this monster all the time.

What is this monster?

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Not Marsie the Cat.

 

It’s Imposter Syndrome

 

How I Battle Imposter Syndrome

 

So, recently I was having a big period called, “I Suck At Everything.” It’s pretty much a variant of the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.

 

What is imposter syndrome? It’s when you feel like everyone is suddenly going to realize that you are:

 

  1. A big fraud.
  2. You suck
  3. Basically a big, sucky fraud that’s about to get called out by the YOU TRULY SUCK YOU LYING FRAUD PATROL WHO HAVE EXPRESSIONS LIKE THIS

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And lots of amazing people have Imposter Syndrome. What kind of amazing people? People like Maya Angelo who has said,

 

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”

 

So, yeah, Maya Angelou, THE Maya Angelou has it, which kind of only makes mine worse because I think, “Um… I’m not that cool. I’m not even worthy of having imposter syndrome.”

 

This is even though I logically know that I’ve been on the NYT bestseller list, some of my books were bestselling books in other languages and I’ve even received awards for writing and I get happy reader email. And even though I just looked up “Carrie Jones Quotes” and found all these things I said that someone put to pictures/photos.

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(Yes, I did just google myself). My mom always used to google me, but she’s dead so I can’t rely on her to tell me things about myself – or all the other Carrie Joneses in the world – any more.

 

Anyways, here is the thing:

 

Logic does not matter when you have imposter syndrome.

 

Some people think imposter syndrome comes from feeling like you’re more important than you actually are. This might be true for others, but – ohmyfreakingword – seriously? I barely think I am doing anything halfway good enough to make this world a tiny bit better. This is so not my problem. It’s totally okay if it’s part of yours though.

 

My personal imposter syndrome is linked to my I DO NOT DO ENOUGH syndrome. For instance if I don’t make a TO DO LIST and strike things off each day, I will feel like I accomplished nothing all day. If I accomplish nothing all day, I hate myself, feel guilty, and go to bed depressed. So, I always try to make to do lists like this:

 

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This visual representation, PLUS the advice of a friend on Facebook (Yes, they do exist), made me realize that I had to do the same thing with my imposter syndrome. I had to start collecting visual evidence to convince myself that I don’t completely suck.

 

I remind myself that I have been called out before and I have survived. As someone connected to our local, mostly volunteer fire department, I witness our community come together a lot. It is a beautiful and glorious thing to see firefighters leave their families, dinners, jobs and go out and help other people. I blogged about this. A large, pedantic man caught me off guard less than a week later and berated me for writing schmaltz. That schmaltz was my heart.

 

I was devastated. I was irate. I survived.

 

I try to remind myself of all the things I have survived, sleeping in a car, witnessing a terror attack, sleeping with the enemy, massive amounts of seizures, assault, in order to realize that people thinking I’m a fraud? Calling me out for sucking? It will hurt. It does hurt. But it can be overcome. Other people have overcome so much more.

 

Reminding myself of the bad things that I’ve survived isn’t something I like to do, because I don’t want those things to define me. I don’t let them define me. But sometimes, it’s good to realize that being a survivor is something I can be proud of.

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Some people have imposter syndrome that comes from comparisons. They see someone else doing awesomely (In the book world, a prize, a list, an invitation to a conference) and think, “I suck because that is not me.”

 

Mine doesn’t work that way.

 

Mine is about fear not about envy. Mine is about the fear that I will be ridiculed for who I am and how I think. Mine is about the fear that my abilities are not enough. (Honestly, I can barely tie my shoes because my mechanical skills are so awful.) Mine is about being so poor that you don’t know how you’ll survive, about pain from being betrayed, about being hurt physically,  about public ridicule because of your political views or decisions, about cognitive degeneration, about not fitting in because you grew up outside of what society’s norms are. My fear is about things that have already happened to me and I don’t want to happen again.

 

My imposter syndrome is about exposure even when I have already been exposed, which is why I am doing a podcast, “Dogs are Smarter Than People.” I am facing that fear.

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My imposter syndrome is about a society where truth is never good enough because truth is not pretty enough. My imposter syndrome is about a society where people ridicule your heart, your kindness, your vulnerability and other people applaud that.

 

My imposter syndrome is about fear.

 

That’s all it is.

 

Fear.

 

So I remind myself with my notebook that I have had  joys, that I have had tiny, kind interactions, where I have touched other people’s stories and gotten to glimpse at their truths and their lives and how amazing is that? It is amazing.

 

My notebook is to remind me that no matter what happens in the future, I have had those moments, been blessed by them, and lucky. It’s to remind me that you can’t be an imposter when all you are doing is being yourself. Your self.

Go be yourself, people.

Go write your stories! The world needs to hear them.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

Do Good Wednesday – 

My Rotary Club and the Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival are co-sponsoring this Story Trail in Bar Harbor that we hope to get up and running this year. It’s a lot of building and planning. I’m a little freaked out about it, honestly, because I think I’m in charge.

It’s 16 story stations spread out around our town. Each station has a two-page picture book spread. You follow a map and read a book, which promotes literacy, being outside, and getting some exercise. Plus, it’s for kids, which is super cool. It requires a lot of planning, building, and consensus-building, but it’ll be worth it, right?

Tell this introvert that it’ll be worth it.

You should check out Rotary though.

We’re doing this project thanks to our club’s money from fundraising and a district grant, but what Rotary does is get community leaders from all around the world (1.2 million) together to take action and make positive change in the world and their local communities. This can be in big ways or small ways. All ways matter. This Wednesday maybe we can all think of tiny things we can do to help someone else or promote something awesome.

Weird Men in the Library – Wednesday Writing Wisdom?

I went to a library in another town so that I could write without being interrupted by the dog, cat or phone.

IMG-2278Marsie, if you don’t know, insists on me petting her whenever she eats. She eats a lot. It isn’t productive for the novels.

Anyway, it was really fun being in a different library, sort of like this spiritual experience, so I wandered around looking at people taking out books, which was awesome.

I meandered through the children’s section, which was much bigger than ours. Then I sat down in the room with all the magazines and the comfy chairs. There were way more comfortable chair there than in my library, too, no offense to my library.

I tried to make myself as unfriendly as possible because the goal here was to work.

I moved a big chair away from where it faced four other chairs, turned it around so that it was one foot away from a big window. I sat with my legs crossed, turned on my notebook, plugged in my headphones and started writing.

One hour later he came… a little, old man brandishing a newspaper.

He motioned to me. “Miss?”

I took out my headphones and smiled.

He showed me the paper, stabbed his finger at a headline.

“I think a young person like you should hear this,” he started and then went into a BIG BIG speech about how bad this person is. How he (the old man) is a former military person. He then listed crimes and talked for about eight million hours about how bad the person he was pointing at is.

I nodded.

I am not a fan of the person he was pointing at. So, I got it.

BUT THEN… the nice, angry, little old man, hiked up his khaki pants so that I could also get a good glimpse of his white socks and he announced in the loudest voice possible, “I don’t know why the Hell someone hasn’t assassinated him already.”

Someone across the refrence room snarfed. I looked for help. Everyone looked away, everyone, that is, except the little old man.

He then went on about it’s so darn hard to assassinate someone.

I was about to tell the angry, little, old man that calling for assassination and murders for hire wasn’t really the best idea in a library, but he decided his monologue was over and stomped off.

First though he yelled back, “I just thought a young person like yourself should think about these things.”

I smiled then, because, hey, he may be a ninety-year-old assassin wanna-be, but he thinks I’m young person who doesn’t think about anything! Me! If only. . . I don’t know how NOT to think about things.

I enjoy it when people size me up and fail. But then it makes me wonder about how many times I think I ‘get’ people and I don’t, about how we’re all the heroes in our own story, but in other people’s stories? We’re the bad guy. We’re the sidekick. We’re Person #3 in the coffee shop.

The thing is that this wild man gave me a gift. Now I can use him for a story. I can think about how he smelled and talked and gesticulated. I can think about those white socks and make them mine.

So, my Wednesday Writing Wisdom is use everything you can for story. File it away. Remember the details, the emotion, everything you can and make the rest up.

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Now for… DO GOOD WEDNESDAY! 

Do Good Wednesday isn’t about advocating for people’s death or staring at their socks. It’s about finding ways to help others.

There are a couple of apps that can help you locate a cool place to volunteer in your community.

One way is GOLDEN, which is meant to help people find ways to volunteer and have those “golden moments” in their lives.  You can find places to volunteer and help the world, but you can also search for volunteers to help your nonprofit with its projects.

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And you can also list your volunteer needs for your nonprofit on Eventbrite, which has a Charities and Causes section. Click on the Search icon (bottom of screen or in the search bar near the top of the screen). Charities and Causes will be a category. That’s pretty cool. You can find awesome ways to support awesome things. This is what I saw when I searched for my town:

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So, go out there. Do good in big and little ways. Write your heart out. Turn uncomfortable people into characters. You’ve got this.

Wednesday Writing Wisdom – Sometimes Revision is Hell.

A question

Before I get to the blog post, I have a question. Should my Wednesday theme be Wednesday Writing Wisdom or Do Good Wednesday? Can it be both? Are there rules about this sort of thing in the blogging world? Please help.

Actually, that was more than one question. Sorry!

We now return to our regularly scheduled blog post.

 

Hello, this is Grover, Carrie’s adorable, furry blue monster of a cheerleader and I have an important message today:

CARRIE IS IN REVISION HELL!

Yes, it is true, and I, the adorable furry blue muppet monster have given up trying to tell her that she can make this manuscript anything good at all. In fact, I, Grover, think I may have to terminate my existence as Cawwie’s cheerleader.

Things got a little rough yesterday. I went from happy, cuddly Grover

to CAN I GO HIDE? Grover.

Unfortunately, I am not the sort of monster who gives up easily when I have a mission.

Still, I was miserable! I was desolate! 74,815 words of exposition, of bad dialog of shaky plots, of Cawwie spending hours wondering why there is the word dialog is not spelled dialogUE.

“I want it to have a ue,” Cawwie kept muttering. “Why is there no ue? ARGHHHHHHH…..”
It got a bit too much for me, Grover. I, Grover, gave up and went into the liquor cabinet.

“C’mon, Cawwie, do a Hemingway. It’ll make you revise better.”
Cawwie did not sway.

So, I tried to tempt her with a tea pot hot tub action.

“C’mon, Cawwie, a little hot water will get you all mellow and floppy like me.”

It did not work.

Finally, horrified by the glazed look in Cawwie’s eyes, her constant mumbling about vowel sounds and character arcs and plot points, I got serious.

“PUT THE REVISION DOWN, CAWWIE,” I said in a nice, but demanding Muppet way (I was channeling Oscar). “Just step away from the revision and put it down.”

And do you know what she did? She did NOT put the revision down. No! She put me, cuddly, lovable Grover, back in the tea pot! Bad Cawwie! Bad. Luckily, the big, white furry monster that woofs and eats bacon saved me.

So, all you writers out there reading this, let me tell you something: It is good to revise but it is berry, berry bad to torment your inner cheerleader and it is okay to take a break sometimes.

Really. I, Grover, your furry, lovable adorable blue monster am begging you:


TAKE A BREAK! You’ll revise better later, I, Grover, promise you. And monsters keep their promises.

Do Good Wednesday!

I’m pretty heavily involved in Rotary International right now. I mostly go around training club presidents and district leaders and club members about public image and Rotary International, which is basically just about telling Rotary’s story. Yesterday, I got to visit a ridiculously awesome club in Camden, Maine. They fed me. They listened to me babble and they gave me a pen!

They also said I was charismatic about four times. So, obviously doing good is good for the ego. 🙂 Full disclosure: People usually just say that I’m exuberant or quirky. Charismatic was a big step up.

However, even though I do this for Rotary all the time and think that the good that Rotarians do in the world and their local community is amazing, I also want to highlight (occasionally) other ways to do good.

So, here’s another way. If you are a kid, parent or teacher, KIDS THAT DO GOOD, is a great resource that will connect you with ways that you can volunteer and make this world better.

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Writing News

There is one space left in my Write! Submit! Support! for Novelists online class at the Writing Barn. It starts Sunday. It’s a six-month class and the other students are so amazing. The Writing Barn is amazing. You’re amazing too, so come join us if you can!  Here’s the link. 

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