Apr 16, 2014 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Words are fun!

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I had an epiphany this morning. Words are meant to be fun!

When I was little, I loved playing with words – writing was fun. Somewhere along the line, as I’ve learnt there are rules for words, and rules for stories, I’ve lost that fun. I’m a perfectionist, and a rule-follower and thus I enjoy editing. Polishing! Making things glow! Making words follow the rules!

But I haven’t been able to let go of that thinking while I’m writing my first drafts – and let me tell you, lately I’ve been majorly constipated in a creative way! As my dose of laxative, I’m working my way through The Artist’s Way book (only on Week 1) and I also downloaded a book last night that led to my epiphany (Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day).

I’ve been thinking of words as tools, not toys. I need to get back to the fun of playing with words like a little kid with Lego. Not following the rules, following the creative joy. (Speaking of Lego – The Lego Movie is great fun and all about that very theme of embracing creativity!)

You only need to look at how much fun Roald Dahl has with words – or even Shakespeare for that matter. I need to get that back. Make up words, make up phrases, let the words sparkle.

So help me out. Tell me – what are you favourite ways of playing with words?

Apr 11, 2014 - Uncategorized    4 Comments

Around the web – Birthdays, Bad movies and British accents

Around the web

 

I hope you’ve had a great week. To ease you into the weekend, here are some interesting and bizarre websites I’ve picked out for you this week.

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Yesterday was April 10th – the 100th day of the year (on non-leap year days). Have you seen this cool site that shows you what happened in history on an particular day? (It looks great for research as well as a potentialtime-waster!)

Famous April 10th birthdays include William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army), Lewis Wallace (author of Ben-Hur) and Omar Sharif (Doctor Zhivago / Lawrence of Arabia actor – turned 82 – no way!). In 1925 The Great Gatsby was published and in 1998, negotiators in Northern Ireland reached a landmark settlement that called for Protestants and Catholics to share power.

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/on-this-day/April-10/

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Bad movies – Buzzfeed have a list of 170 movies they classify as “bad”. How many have you seen? I hadn’t even heard of a lot of them, have seen a couple and have to strongly protest the inclusion of The Pirate Movie – that was one of my favourite movies :)

http://www.buzzfeed.com/louispeitzman/how-many-bad-movies-have-you-seen

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And finally, this tour of the British Isles in accents is fantastic – I’ve watched it a dozen times already.

Apr 8, 2014 - Uncategorized    11 Comments

What’s EE Carter’s passion? Guest post

Today I’m delighted to welcome author, EE Carter, to my blog with a fascinating passion.

Moonstone-Obsession400w-199x300Romance writer Elizabeth Ellen Carter was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth – but it may have been a pen.

Ever since then she has been writing… and writing… and writing.

Welcome to my blog, EE (or may I call you Elizabeth?). Thank you for being here today.

Do you have a passion other than writing? Please tell us about it.

I have hobby which is a little unusual. I collect vintage souvenirs of the Gold Coast – the collection consists of post cards and transfer print chinaware like plates, cups and saucers as well as in dishes. The earliest item in my collection is a postcard from 1914, but most of the souvenirs are from the 1950s through to the 1970s.

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This postcard is dated 14/10/1914 so it is 100 years old this year. The view is looking south towards where Surfers Paradise is now.

That’s really cool!

Another passion of mine is supporting 100% Hope a charity run by a teacher friend. Trishelle is an amazing lady who has built an orphanage, school and trade training college in Uganda. She does such an amazing job. A team of young people I know are going to go over there in July to help continue building. They’re having a fund raiser soon. Here’s the web site -http://www.100-hope.org/

What a great charity. 

How long have you been involved in your passion?

My souvenir collecting actually started as a joke about 15 years ago. My husband and I were on holidays and walked into an antique store and found a nut dish with an early view of Narrow Neck (just north of Surfers Paradise) dating from the 1940s. We thought it would be a lark to buy a tourist piece from the city that we already live in and it stated from there! I would say that I have more than 100 pieces in the collection.

What is it about it that brings a sparkle to your eye / motivates you?

Several reasons I think. The first is my grandfather was a steelfixer on some of the early high rise buildings in Surfers Paradise that were built in the mid to late 1960s. Another reason is that the Gold Coast streetscape changes so quickly that many of the views contained in the post card and dishes no longer exist. Lastly, souvenirs are largely ephemeral – post cards were eventually thrown out, souvenir plates thrown out because they had lost relevance to the owner or their family. It’s a form of archiving social history that I love.

I’ve never thought of it like that – it really is, isn’t it?

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The image on this candy dish is Cavill Avenue in Surfers Paradise with the beach behind the viewer, the Surfers Paradise Hotel is now long gone. The Hard Rock Cafe sits there now.

Do you have a funny story about something that’s happened to you while involved in your passion?

I found a little pin dish at a garage sale. It didn’t have a price but I knew I wanted it any way. So here I was chatting away with the owner telling her that the dish had to be before the mid 1930s because of the view of the original Kirra Beach Life Saving Club pavilion. And I was wondering why my husband was pulling funny faces at me. In the end he gave up and wandered off. I caught up with him and asked why he had been acting odd. He said that by telling her all about the dish would have increased the price.

He needn’t have worried. I got it for $2 any way… (I know how to bargain ;-) )

Hehe, you sure do! Well done!

Can you tell us a little more about yourself, EE?

My first book – a Regency historical romance called Moonstone Obsession was published by Etopia Press in October.

You can buy it at the following places:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

All Romance Ebooks

Kobo

I have just submitted a medieval romantic epic called Warrior’s Surrender and I’m keeping fingers and toes crossed that the publisher will like it. I’m currently writing a sequel to Moonstone Obsession called Moonstone Conspiracy, the first draft of which I hope to have complete by the end of June and I hope to have finished the first draft of a fourth book by the end of the year.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog Kerrie!

You’re welcome – thanks for being on my blog – and good luck with Warrior’s Surrender and Moonstone Conspiracy.

You can find EE at her website or on Facebook.

Apr 1, 2014 - General    2 Comments

Refilling my well – back to nature

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I love getting out into nature, but it’s something I don’t do enough. I’m pretty sure that will change now – at the start of the year I began training as an Assistant Scout Leader with my son’s Scout Troop. Last weekend we had a 2 day hike through the gorgeous Brisbane Water National Park on the NSW Central Coast.

The hike was supposedly rated easy to medium but given it’s been about three decades since I’d been on an overnight hike, it was challenging at times. There were lots and lots of steep gullies that we had to walk down into (on trails) and then, worse, walk back up from! Carrying all our gear (food for 2 days, water, tent etc) – I think my pack weighed about 12kg.

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And while at times I was too exhausted to really appreciate the surroundings, being away for 2 days without distractions like phones and internet was blissful. The satisfying exhaustion of having physically exerted myself in a way I don’t normally, the bad jokes around the campfire, lying in a tent listening to light rain on the roof, pretty sunrises… It was all magic.

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Not to mention the fabulous views. (If only they’d put those views at the bottom of the gullies!)

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So while I’m sore and bruised, my creative well is also topped up. And I’m pretty sure some of my experiences will find their way into my story at some point in time. :) (I have to admit that toileting in the bush comes with it’s own set of challenges!)

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Mar 28, 2014 - Around the web    2 Comments

Around the web – Stretching, strategic renewal, reading and rejection

Around the web

 

Another week, another lot of hand-picked websites that have caught my interest this week.

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As writers we sit too much – or at least I know I do. Here are some great yoga exercises to help prevent the body seizing up before its time. http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/yoga-for-desk-bound-writers.html

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I’ve saved this post to re-read and try implementing the strategies. Do Less = Do More – the Art of being Creative + Productive.

I’m a huge fan of the concept of “strategic renewal.” Chasing shiny opportunities, working in a reactive state and dealing with each new email that pops up on your phone is not only exhausting – it’s a way to ensure you get nothing done – and it’s simply not sustainable. “Busy” isn’t success. It’s a lack of priority. 

 http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2013/03/do-less-do-more-the-art-of-being-creative-productive/

 

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Chuck Wendig is asking “Tell me of a book you read and loved in 2014″. I read so many great books that it’s hard to pick one (both an advantage and disadvantage of having so many great friends writing so many great books!) For something different than my usual romance & women’s fiction, I’m pretty much always reading Jackie French YA books with my son. We’re currently reading Refuge which is great, but absolutely loved the twists and turns in the previous one we read, The Road to Gundagai.

I’d love to know if you had a stand-out read.
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And lastly, a very inspirational short video of famous people who overcame rejection. Have a great weekend, and remember, never give up!

 

Mar 25, 2014 - Guest post    2 Comments

What’s Demelza Carlton’s passion? Guest post

Today I’m delighted to welcome new-to-me author, Demelza Carlton, to my blog with a fascinating passion.

 


dc-welcometohellDemelza Carlton
has always loved the ocean, but on her first snorkelling trip she found she was afraid of fish.

She has since swum with sea lions, sharks and sea cucumbers and stood on spray-drenched cliffs over a seething sea as a seven-metre cyclonic swell surged in, shattering a shipwreck below.

Sensationalist spin? Hardly. She tends to carry a camera with her to capture the moment to share later.

Demelza now lives in Perth, Western Australia, the shark attack capital of the world.

The Ocean’s Gift series is her first foray into fiction, followed by her suspense thriller Nightmares trilogy. She swears the Mel Goes to Hell series ambushed her on a crowded train and wouldn’t leave her alone.

Welcome to my blog, Demelza. Thank you for being here today.

Do you have a passion other than writing? Please tell us about it.

Wildlife and landscape photography – particularly underwater photography. There’s just something about venturing under water with a camera and taking pictures of things that people on the surface rarely see. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from photographing things on top of the water, either – I will take every opportunity I can to go whale watching.

That sounds fascinating. How long have you been involved in your passion?

Since I was a kid in primary school, with a Hanimex film camera on Rottnest Island during the school holidays. I’d hope I’ve improved since then, as has my equipment – I use an Olympus PEN Mini, one of the smallest and lightest DSLRs on the market, for surface photography, and a GoPRO Black for under the water. There’s something about the fisheye view lens of an underwater camera like the GoPRO or even my old Olympus Tough.

I bought my first waterproof camera for a ski trip in 2010 and discovered that the hardest thing in the world to photograph is in fact a three-year-old learning to ski. I managed, though, and there started my love affair with photographing fast-moving creatures that I couldn’t control, much less predict. I even slogged down an entire ski trail on foot in Japan in 2012, following my daughter and her ski instructor. By comparison, sharks and sea lions are far easier to photograph. As are humpback whales breaching.

I took the Tough on research trips up to Christmas Island, the Houtman Abrolhos Islands and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, all in the Indian Ocean. While I didn’t manage to get into the water at Christmas Island because of Cyclone Iggy and the Tycoon shipwreck, both Cocos and the Abrolhos was another story – two, in fact, given they were separate trips. This natural aquarium was taken at The Gap off Direction Island, in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, with just my Tough.

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Wow, you’ve certainly had some adventures – especially photographing 3 year olds. They’re slippery beasts :)

What is it about it that brings a sparkle to your eye / motivates you?

Most of the time it’s a case of, “No one will believe this unless I take a picture,” or, more frequently for my work and research trips, “My daughter wants a present from this trip and she’s asked for a cool photograph.” How can you turn that down? Every evening I worked away from home, I’d sit down, download the day’s shots, and compose an email story for my daughter about my day. One was about the cheeky crabs of Christmas Island – I swear I must have photographed around a hundred of the things over the course of my hiking around the island that day, from tiny little nippers through to coconut crabs that were bigger than the tyres on my four-wheel-drive. I was terrified of those.

Seriously, have you seen a coconut crab? I had one play chicken with my four-wheel-drive. It was pouring with rain at Christmas Island. The muddy tracks were full of fallen trees and huge puddles because of the cyclone. I rounded a corner and found a huge coconut crab in the middle of the road – which was a single-lane, four-wheel-drive track with dense jungle on either side. It just sat there and kind of reared up, those big claws out, ready to take the front grille off my car. The car hire staff had warned me that it could do just that, too – or puncture my tyres. The ink on my research permit was barely dry and here I was, considering running over one of the protected animals in the Christmas Island National Park. If I killed the crab, I’d lose my research permit and if I didn’t, it was going to take my car apart and probably leave me stranded on the far side of the island, 50 km from the Settlement.

I beeped, I shouted, I flashed my lights and that crab just wouldn’t back down. So, I gave in.

As I stepped out of the car and into the downpour, I shouted one last, ill-conceived threat, “If you don’t move out of the way, I’m going to take your picture and post it on Facebook so all your mates can laugh at you!”

Would you believe it worked? I advanced on the crab, waterproof camera in hand, and it backed down. Seriously, backed down, away and off the road entirely. Yep, there he goes…

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Ha, who would believe a coconut crab was scared of being named and shamed on Facebook :)

Do you have a funny story about something that’s happened to you while involved in your passion?

No, probably not. Only frightening ones about giant crabs and amorous sea lions. (The crab story sounded funny to me – but I guess it wasn’t if you were there :) )

At the Abrolhos, we decided to take the dinghy over to Little Sandy Island, to take photos of the resident sea lion population. By my estimate, it was breeding season and I hoped to see some more babies, like I had my first trip out there. Well, we pulled the boat up on shore and I pulled out my camera, but it looked like there were only adults. That was still cool – I figured there were about a dozen of them and Australian sea lions make for cool photos. Now, you’re not meant to venture within ten metres of them and I knew never to get between them and the water, but this island was about ten metres in diameter and one big bull was smack in the middle of the island. There was no way you could NOT get within ten metres of him and you were always between him and the water. He was absolutely huge and I had to get a photo of him, especially as he rose up and tried to look superior.

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I snapped a few shots of him and then took photos of the other animals. They all seemed to be camped out in pairs…

I dropped to my knees on the sand to get a better angle. Somehow, that’s when King Sea Lion decided I was in his way, so he came lumbering down, right for me. And he was fast. When a hundred and fifty kilos of sea lion is bearing down on you, suddenly running is a really good idea.

I made it almost to the dinghy until I realised that there were sea lions in the water, too – right by the boat. So it was His Majesty or two of his subjects. I hesitated, as the watery sea lions decided they were done swimming and emerged from the water. A male…and a female.

Oh, my – I was right about it being breeding season – but it was much earlier in the season than I’d realised. They weren’t done making the babies yet. Lucky for me, King Sea Lion suddenly decided I wasn’t suitable Queen Sea Lion material, or perhaps he was just too engrossed in watching the couple on the beach.

I must admit we didn’t linger long on the island after that – and now I have a healthy wariness for the huge creatures. I mean, how do you politely tell King Sea Lion that not only are you not interested, but you’re married?

Ha! I’ll bet that made you run fast! Can you share a photo of you indulging in your passion?

Indulging? Passion? How about the two romantically inclined sea lions that saved my hide (and possibly my virtue!) on Little Sandy Island?

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And people wonder why I write books about mermaids…

 

Thank you so much for that fascinating look into your world, Demelza! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your entertaining interview.

Demelza can be contacted via:

Website: http://www.demelzacarlton.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DemelzaCarltonAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DemelzaCarlton

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/DemelzaCarlton

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/DemelzaCarlton?feature=watch

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/demelzacarlton/

Google +: http://plus.google.com/+DemelzaCarlton/posts

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Mar 21, 2014 - Around the web    2 Comments

Around the Web – Driving traffic to your site, Distractions vs Discipline and Disney’s Frozen

Around the web

This week some links discussing ways to drive traffic to your site, Distractions vs Discipline and Frozen sung by Disney / Pixar characters.

 

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Donna Moritz talks about 5 Ways to Make Shareable Images That Drive Traffic

Are you sharing compelling images across social networks?

Do you want more engagement and traffic from your efforts?

If you’re not regularly sharing images that resonate with your audience, you’re missing out on a ton of engagement.

In this article you’ll discover the essential elements of shareable images that increase engagement and drive traffic to your website.

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/shareable-images/

 

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Polly Iyer talks about Discipline vs Distractions – something I seriously struggle with.

One of the most important elements for a writer to learn is discipline or structure or whatever else you want to call it. Discipline is different from perseverance. A writer has a story. The story isn’t working out; she perseveres until she finishes it. But what happens when she gets up in the morning to work.

http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/distractions-vs-discipline.html

 

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And this cover of Disney’s Frozen, Sung by Brian Hull in the voices of Disney & Pixar characters, will put a smile on your dial :)

 

Mar 18, 2014 - General    6 Comments

Food, family and memories

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Are you known for a particular recipe? Do you remember a loved one by a recipe they make or used to make? Does tasting a particular dish take you straight back in time?

My mother-in-law was famous for her slices. Every family gathering, from funeral to christening, birthday party to Christmas gathering, she would make a huge batch of slices. Various ones – each of her children and their families had their own favourite. My husband and son love her Jelly Slice. Unfortunately she passed away a few years ago, and while we have the recipe, we just can’t duplicate the slice the way she made it. Every now and then, we try again – my son made it yesterday in honour of St Patrick’s Day (because it uses green jelly). And each time we make it, we think of and talk about Ma.

Rock cakes and jam drops always remind me of Nan, my father’s mum. Every time she came to visit, she would bring a batch of one of those types of biscuits for my dad – I think because in her opinion, my mum didn’t feed him right :) I have her exercise books full of hand-written recipes (usually consisting of no more than a list of ingredients – because obviously everyone would know how to cook it!) and recipes clipped from magazines.

My aunt is known for her Christmas pudding – with more than generous lashings of brandy or whatever alcohol she uses in the recipe. You don’t want to be breathalyzed after eating her puddings! It always takes me straight back to big family Christmas lunches, with the grandparents, aunts & uncles & cousins. There were always threepences in the pudding – and whoever scored the most coins in their slice would win the prize. I was the youngest grandchild for quite a while, so I would get slipped everyone’s coins. It was quite a rude shock when my youngest cousin came on the scene :)

Toast cooked with a toasting fork over an open fire reminds me of my other grandparents – the bread was probably home made and there would undoubtedly have been lashings of butter.

I think my food memory of my mum, who fortunately is still alive and well, is sweet rice – rice cooked in milk slowly on a low heat for hours on the top of the combustion stove in winter, with sugar and sultanas. I’ve never been able to duplicate it.

I wonder what my son and future grandchildren (getting rather ahead of myself here!) will remember me for. Possibly my baked dinners or homemade pizzas. Maybe I need to develop a signature dish?

Food can have such an amazing place in our memories, instantly transporting you back to another place, another time.

What’s your favourite food memory? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.

Mar 11, 2014 - Guest post    5 Comments

What’s Ann B. Harrison’s passion? Guest post

Today I’m delighted to have Ann B. Harrison kick off my new series of guest posts for this year, where I talk to fellow authors and discover their hidden passions – other than writing!

Two for One-highresWelcome Ann, and thank you for being here today. And congratulations on your latest new release, Two for One.

Ann swears she was born with a book in her hand and after years of reading she achieved her dream of writing…and publication.

Her debut novel – Taming the Outback was released in 2012 and since then she has published another five raunchy rural romances and two steamier reads. She’s currently working on a series The Club – destined to blow your mind.

Strong sexy heroines with a good dash of sass thrown in feature in all her stories, and of course a strong, passionate hero or two complete the mix.

With more than a little help from her own handsome hero Ann is living her dream in the beautiful Hunter Valley busy making sexy Australian heroes available to everyone.

 

Do you have a passion other than writing? Tell us about it.

I love to garden. When we lived in the middle of the desert in Queensland I could only grow bananas and paw paw. Better than nothing but I missed the green more than anything else. Now I’m living in the Hunter Valley on acreage, I’m in garden heaven.

 

I wish I could garden – every year I have great ambitions but they don’t get far!  How long have you been involved in your passion?

Ever since I was a little kid. I blame my father. He started the family vegetable garden and my brothers and I all got to choose a type of vegetable we wanted to be in charge of. I picked peas and when I grow them even now, they never  make it to the kitchen.

 

Yum, Fresh peas! What is it about it that brings a sparkle to your eye / motivates you?

The joy of watching something grow. You can’t beat it!

 

Can you share a photo of you indulging in your passion?

I don’t really have any pics of me gardening but I’ll attach some of my garden.

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Looks very lush! Finally, please tell us a little about yourself.

I write contemporary romance, some quite steamy. My latest release, Two For One, came out on March 10th and I’m very excited because it’s the first in a series called The Club.

You can contact Ann via her website, facebook, twitter or pinterest.

Two for One, her latest release, can be purchased at Amazon.

 

Thanks for sharing your passion with us, Ann.

Mar 7, 2014 - Around the web    No Comments

Around the Web

Around the web

 

More links that have caught my eye around the web this last week or two..

 

“Constant Task Switching By Leo Babauta

I know I’m losing focus when I’m constantly jumping around from task to task.

This is a “red flag” for me — a sign that I’m doing something wrong. You’ve done it too: switching from one browser tab to another, opening various emails and other messages, checking on this and that. No focus, lots of stress, lots of mental exhaustion without really getting anything done.”

Read the rest at http://zenhabits.net/switching/

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I’m fascinated by the routines of other writers. Judging by the numbers of posts I find on the subject, it looks like other people are as well. Here are snippets of writing routines of authors such as William Gibson, Ernest Hemingway, E.B. White and Sonia Sontag: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/11/20/daily-routines-writers/

 

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Do you have a problem with procrastination? An interesting article on the ‘Few Minutes’ principle.

“We all know there’s really only one way to beat procrastination, and that’s to suck it up and to get the hell on with it. But, like most of life’s challenges, being told just ‘what’ to do, is often as unhelpful as it is obvious.”

http://comfortpit.com/how-to-stop-procrastinating-and-turn-pro/

 

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And finally a puppet’s explanation of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. (And the most succinct version I’ve ever seen!)

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