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Now, the summer vacation for kids around my home is over, it is back to the evening shift at my job. That’s a good thing! I will now have time to travel to schools!! Here we go and I love it!

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I am now 75% through writing my presentation for the SCBWI of Chicago, I am looking into what I need to do to make a photo slide show to play during my speech. Once I have it written, I am going all in on the slideshow!

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I am excited to have my bookmarks and postcards in for Barney & Lexi and they look spot on with my hopes. I am excited to get them out to schools in the U.S. and help give Barney & Lexi more push!

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I woke up to a busy morning, having three orders for Barney & Lexi to go out. Florida, Georgia and Kentucky readers will be receiving their copies this week. Just swung by the post office and got my daily mail sent out.

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Also got an email from Two Tomatoes Records, in appreciation of my gifting copies of Barney & Lexi to them during the trip to Moline with my kids. I was grateful to read the email and thank them for their kindness.

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Welp, off to work. My goal, this being the last year that I work for anyone but myself. Let’s go get it!! Have a great day guys!!!

Just got home from TEDx Hilliard, where Lynden and I had the most amazing time of 2017!

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We made it to Indiana and picked up our rental car, (I love my Jimmy but, at 260,000 miles, wasn’t chancing a breakdown). We packed up and set out across the Midwest for our five hour drive to Columbus, Ohio.

0807171524_HDRThe five hours flew by and before we knew it we had reached our hotel. With the exception of an accident on the bypass in Indy, (which I hope the drive is alright), we were not slowed by construction or weather.

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We arrived at the Marriott and I have to say, that of all of the hotels, this one was splendid! Clean, friendly and accommodating, My trip last month with Ethan and Rylen to Moine, the hotel left me with a checklist for my next trip and this hotel in Hilliard passed with high marks.

Lynden and I took in the spa and got in an hour workout before bed. We both got some of the best sleep that night. Waking refreshed, we took up an invite from friend, Coyte Cooper for lunch before the seminar.

Coyte was one of the speakers for TEDx Hilliard and impactful. One thing I get excited about making friends in a positive circle is that I see bars that must be set to reach my own desires and goals. You get outside of your own element when around others and that is a perfect opportunity to learn from others!

One thing about Columbus, Ohio, the city does not simply fade into the countryside, it is one intersection busy and chaotic and then half a mile down the road is cornfield and patched blacktop road. The ted talk was being held in Bradley Hilliard High School and lived up to the expectations of being a part of the TED seminars family!

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What followed was three hours of being reminded just how powerful the human mind is and what is truly possible! Every speaker brought their best, amazed the audience and made every person think about their true potential! One young lady, Miss Frankie Soleil, used music to battle here enemies and while, not in entirety, the clip below show just how amazing she was!

In all, 13 amazing people made their mark and I am so excited to see Lynden pumped about the experience. We met Coyte backstage and I got both of my books of his that I have read, signed and we wished one another a safe trip back home, ours to Illinois and his to Washington.

0809171015_HDRWe returned to the hotel, got in a 30 minute workout and turned in. Before leaving that morning, I left my mark, hoping that one child will be given a copy of Barney & Lexi: Lost In Lawrenceville that I left behind. I think reading is so important at any age but especially to young children!

On our way home, Lynden found Badda Bing Pizzeria on Google in the town of Springfield, Ohio. Talk about having flare and an uptown feeling, the calzones we ordered were great and the service and atmosphere were wonderful. We highly recommend Badda Bing Pizzeria to everyone!

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Returning home, I feel my own growth and know that I made moments with my wonderful son that neither of us will forget! Make memories with the ones you love and grow yourself, every chance you get!

 

With the new week on the horizon, my things are packed as my son, Lynden, and I prepare to head out for Columbus, Ohio tomorrow. He and I will be attending TEDx Hillard, a motivational seminar where my good friend, Dr. Coyte Cooper will be speaking. I am super pumped to help support a friend, get my son in a circle of positive experiences and continue my own growth towards success!

I have also placed the order with the printers, regarding my postcards and bookmarks for Barney & Lexi. It is my hope that I will get word before heading out tomorrow, that they are done. I had the opportunity to see what they will look like in person, and they sure do look amazing!

I have also been contacted by the Chicago SCBWI, and it looks like they are being so gracious and picking up my tab for my room while there for my presentation in Septemeber. I’m close to the halfway point with my speech and soon will work on putting the slideshow together. All-in-all, this is going to be an awesome event!

Now, its time to set my things by the door, get a shower and hit the sack for a long drive tomorrow. More post to come through this week!

Back in April, I submitted Barney & Lexi to Kirkus Review for a book review. Kirkus Review is a longstanding organization that gives unbiased reviews on books, looking for a boost from having a favorable review from them. Some books gain positive reviews, while some gain not-so-positive ones. Kirkus Review has earned a reputation over many, many years of being a pulse on books ability to sell in the literary marketplace.

Today, (Monday) my review came back. When I first read the notification, I cleared my mind and told myself, “Regardless of the outcome, I did it and didn’t let doubt hold me back.” Knowing that Kirkus Reviews are straight up and favor no genre, author or any other mean in the literary world, I knew that what they saw in my story could be different from what I saw in it. However, forward progress only moves in one direction, and that next step was to open that review and be proud, regardless.

I read through the review, and when finished, closed my eyes and thank my God above for His favor. Kirkus Review of Barney & Lexi: Lost In Lawrenceville was positive and while being unbiased, the end result was that Barney & Lexi walked away being considered, good characters.

*Following is two excerpts from the Kirkus Review and for professional purposes, I need to let it be known that in no way, have the excerpts been altered from their original review. *

“Fox (The Adventures of Marky, Slash & Levy, 2014) brings out the personalities of his animal characters well.” – Kirkus Review

“A mild story with good characterization.” – Kirkus Review

Positive reviews from Kirkus Review can often be a boost for any author and is one reason I paid for my review. That’s right, I paid for this review. Kirkus Reveiw builds its reputation as being unbiased but only reviews works done by authors who pay for their services. While it cost me a bit of money for my review, to have a favorable review of Barney & Lexi made the cost irrelevant compared to the benefit of having a review with Kirkus Review after it.

This review is great and I am honored to be given my review for Barney & Lexi, but this review didn’t happen because I paid a service fee and out popped a review. This review came because I spend many, many nights up after everyone else was sound asleep, writing, editing and working hard to bring Barney & Lexi to life. The result of hard work was a great review. The result of believing in my work and not allowing anything stop me from succeeding or, at the very least, learn from the steps I have taken.

I am not sure what it is that you may be thinking of doing in your life, but I want you to know that it is 100% possible. The only thing stopping anyone on this Earth is not their parents, their friends, their boss or the system. Its the person in the mirror…YOU! You are the result of the hard work or lack of work you put in. If I had sat around at home an thought, “Oh man, $450.00 is too much for a simple review,” then I would have never done it. What I did believe is that, “This 450.00 review could lead into a career, earning $850,000 a year.”

The truth is, most times, the people closest to you will not always see your dream the way you see it. You may start out and feel your all alone. I can’t begin to tell you what 12 years out of 14 was like when no one knew my name or could even guess close to it. If your willing to put in the late nights, the early mornings, if your willing to go all in, despite the naysayers, it will happen. It may not happen in six months, it may not happen in a year, (in fact, mine beginning to see the light has taken almost 14 years,) but if you put in the hard work, the result will be ultimately your dream come true!

In one week, Lynden and I will be on our way to Columbus to sit in on TEDx hillard. My good friend, Coyte G. Cooper PhD. will be speaking at TEDx for the first time. In a seminar of positive mindsets and elevated focus for achieving success. I am proud to support Coyte in what will be the first of many presentations given at these events. I’m proud to have spent the last year and a half learning from Coyte and taking my own success to an entirely new level!

Part of that level has been seeing signs everywhere as I work hard to succeed. Today, one sign revealed itself! As you know, I will be presenting to the SCBWI in Chicago September 14th. This is the largest organization for children’s book writers in the country and hand down, so very generous. I was informed that as part of my presentation, the SCBWI will be renewing my membership for next year! That’s $100.00, just for showing up and doing what I love doing! Success is not always a dollar in the hand but reward of value given at the climax of hard work paying off.

What ever you are wanting in your life, chase it and make it your reality. You really can have what you want!

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So, my Jimmy broke down the day before leaving for Moline, Illinois with Ethan and Rylen. I didn’t let that get in the way of traveling to Moline and watching Laurie Berkner perform an intimate solo event. I had rented a car prior to the breakdown and the only things keeping us from going was, well, nothing!

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When we arrived at the car rental, our car was not finished in the wash area. This was not a bad thing, because we were given an upgrade to a small SUV for the same price. The vehicle was wonderful and gave us the room we needed to make out trip comfortable.

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Five hours later, we arrived in Moline and after checking in, hit the pool for two hours. Then it was time to simmer down from our day and it was not long before Ethan and Rylen were out like lights. It was then time for me to get some work done. Being Tuesday, my weekly column was due and that meant it was time to get it done. With Ethan and Rylen asleep behind me, I sat at the table with a small lamp and wrote my column and got it sent off before turning in myself.

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We woke to the sound of rain hitting our windows. With our venue being outside, I got on the email with Laurie’s assistant and COO of Two Tomatoes Records, Katie, and was told that the show would be moved inside. With that reassurance, we made our way across the street and had breakfast at the local Denny’s before filling up and heading into Bettendorf, Iowa for an afternoon at The Family Museum.

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I must highly recommend this museum for children! Colorful, entertaining, educational and hands on, The Family Museum, at a cost of only $8.00 per person, is worth its weight in gold for the value it gives and the memories you will make!

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It was then time to return to Moline and its amazing historic district. The Laurie Berkner show was being held at the historic, Deere-Winman House and the intimate performance was being held on the side lawn. The beautiful grounds led up to the breath-taking home, built in the 1872 and looking just as great as it likely did then.

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As we approached the side lawn, we heard Laurie’s music, we all assumed it was being played over the speakers for visitors as they awaited the show. However, Ethan and Rylen froze in their tracks as they came around the corner of the house to find Laurie standing on the stage in the middle of sound check.

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The time at Deere-Winman was for Ethan and Rylen, but I was humbled to be invited to bring copies of Barney & Lexi to the show and leave with Katie. I left copies with her and picked up copies of Laurie’s children’s book: We Are The Dinosaurs for Ethan and Rylen. They began reading their books as Laurie appeared and the show went underway for an amazing hour and half.

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With pigs on heads, beach balls bouncing around and children dancing and laughing, Laurie put on an impressionable show and left no one feeling left out. The weather held off and made for an amazing evening!

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As Thursday can, Ethan, Rylen and I climbed back into our rental and made the five hour journey back home to southern Illinois. Singing songs and talking about how much fun we had along the way.

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Friday would come and I would find out that my Jimmy issue was nothing more than a bad distributor cap and with a $50.00 replacement, she is now up and going great.

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As the weekend would come and go, I would send Lynden off to band camp at EIU for the week as he earned a scholarship to the collage camp and is having an amazing time.

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So, in the end, everything is just as it should be, great and plugging away. Remember, no matter what comes along, if you stay the coarse, you can make anything happen!

Monday and I could not be happier!

I only have to work Monday and Friday of this week because I am taking Ethan and Rylen to a Laurie Berkner concert in northern Illinois on Wednesday. All of my kids have loved listening to the Queen of Children’s Music since they were born and I am surprising my two younger boys with and amazing, live performance in a historic setting!

Monday and Friday, that’s all. Today was half over, I was on my lunch hour and my Jimmy quits on me and won’t start, halfway home on my lunch. I am blessed to get a ride home and able to call for a tow. I couldn’t call because my phone was out of minutes and I actually forgot it at home.

I had two choices sitting there, I could get upset, which would solve nothing, make nothing better and only hurt my mindset. My second choice was to be grateful that my event was already paid, the hotel was already paid and my rental car was already taken care of and take my boys on an amazing week adventure we would never forget!

What did I choose???

#2 All The Way!!!

It made for a crazy day because I hitched a ride back to the town where my work is and when my mother came to pick my up afterward, she locked her keys in her car and spent the next two hours, walking a lot, finding out how to get into my mothers home without a key and hoping that a neighbor downstairs from my mother was not dead. Don’t worry, she was just in a medicated sleep and could not hear us for some time.

Anyway, tomorrow Ethan, Rylen and I will begin our journey in our rental car and with us will be ten copies of Barney & Lexi! I will be swapping books at the show and taking two of Laurie’s book home with Ethan and Rylen!

Time to gather things up before bed, just remember, you always have two choices, get upset or get determined! One will take you nowhere and one will take you everywhere! I will post pictures by Thursday!! Have a great Tuesday!!

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