The Plight Of The Twitter Bot

bot

The Plight Of The Twitter Bot

Writing has taken me on a fantastic journey and one of those places it Twitter. There I can choose a group of like-minded writerly people to talk with and share ideas. The #writingcommunity is full of wonderful people to hang out with online.

But there are always the negatives, and while I don’t dwell on negative, this is a subject worth discussing. They are the fake twitter accounts of scammers, usually initiated by bot programs. So I’m going to touch on some of what a Twitter Bot is and what to do about them.

What is a twitter bot?

People will use fake twitter accounts and programs to ‘follow’ unsuspecting people on twitter. Once they are followed back they will either initiate a conversation by DM (Direct Message) or by tweets.

What do they do?

They will tweet asking you to contact them or send them a DM or even send other information like emails. They may even tweet you a link to follow.

If they DM they might do the above or try to use conversation to lure you into a sense of ‘friendship’ or ‘romance’ or ‘pity.’

DM conversations might be with a human or with a very convincing AI program that will continuously leed you until you give them the information they want.

What do they want?

Money and information. They will offer prizes, rewards, reimbursements, winnings or shared winnings, and even inheritance.

Simply put, nobody gives money away for nothing. Usually, it’s… send me $$ so I can send you more $$$$ back. They will never send you money.

If they’re after information it is possible it is for identity theft or to hack your computer or bank accounts.

Bots are not harmless. They use tactics to prey on people who are unable by mental or emotional strength, awareness, or health to turn away.

What can I do about them?

Block. Or, block and report as a fake account, spammer or someone sending harmful links. Just blocking doesn’t stop that account. Some would argue that reporting them doesn’t do any good, they have hundreds of accounts and can just create more. That is true, however, I personally feel that if I spot a bot/spammer account and I’m able to report that account then perhaps it saves someone who isn’t able to see the trap from becoming a victim. I’ll never know, but that’s fine.

What does a bot account look like? How do I know it’s a bot or scammer?

There are a few things to look for. First, are insane typo’s in the user profile.

For example, today’s lovely bot had a funny one that inspired today’s word prompt and this post. “Because I’m handsome kind ..gentle… and plight.” I know the user meant polite, but… since I mostly follow writers, readers, and artists, they’d know the difference. Second, is the lock symbol beside the name. That could mean they are a bot/scammer or someone who is careful about who they follow. So I’ll look at their profile.

Image

The next thing I look at is the Following Vs. Followers numbers. If there is a larger following by a significant amount respectively, it’s likely a bot. (The opposite is usually someone famous or an account that doesn’t follow but has followers)

Now, a lot of people sign up for twitter not knowing a thing about bots and scammers. Twitter automatically generates a twitter handle with a string of numbers. Bot/scammers rarely change this info. Humans do. Now some people do keep the numbers, which is why checking their profile and tweet activity is a good idea before following back.

The photos used are often a dead give away. They are usually stolen from other accounts, people or stock photos. Sometimes they match sometimes they don’t. After a while, you get used to seeing the same stolen images for different accounts and don’t need to even check a profile to know it’s a bot.

The name can often be the top clue. Keanu Reeves or any prince of any country are not likely following you. Sorry. If they are famous or in a corporate position of power, ie Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, they’re not real either.

111keanu

The Sheryl Sandberg account is a classic, money scam. Note the lock symbol, ZERO Tweets, the long string of numbers after the name and the much higher following number vs. followers.

1111sherylsandberg

Checking their tweets and tweets&replies is a good way to see if they are real or not. Often with a scammer or bot, they will have the same message. “Thank you @name for following me” Or something like that. Or “Hello dear,” “Please DM me” or “How are you?” It will be very obvious because it will be repeated in their tweets or replies.

Sometimes they have no tweets or replies but have been up for months… Very likely a bot.

Still not sure a bot has asked to be followed?

There are some things to do to clarify.

  1. Google their twitter handle.
  2. Reverse search their profile picture (It will often be listed as used by scammers)
  3. Follow back and see if they INSTANT tweet or DM you. At this point, they make it clear by the ‘probing’ questions or the message is slightly-to-extraordinarily creepy.

What to do if a scammer or bot sends you a DM or Tweet?

You have options.

  1. Don’t respond and instant report then block.
  2. Respond but don’t give them any information.
  3. Fish for clues that pin them as a bot and report it. (In a DM you can report the message.) I have done this and even given them my “Contact” information. By that I gave them the contact email and name of the police internet fraud department. (Funny story because they contacted the police several times asking for my bank information.)
  4. Ignore them. (I tend to do this)

Once you know it’s a bot or you are sure, report to twitter then block them.

So how do bots/scammers have so many followers?

A lot of people (including myself) have or will follow a bot. Sometimes their profiles are convincing, sometimes I click, follow by mistake. Some people will follow any and every person that follows them for numbers.

I do have a number of bots following me(Because twitter needs a better way for us to make them not follow.) I do my best not to follow them back and I report the ones I notice and have time to look into. Usually, I’ll report and block the more tricky scammers, the ones that aren’t obvious bots.

These are just some ways to identify a fake, bot, scammer or spam account. There are other tell-tale signs. If you see one and have the time, report them then block.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

Happy writing and twittering.
-Sheryl

Today’s daily prompt is Plight
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Reference

Reference

Reference

(PLEASE NOTE ALL IMAGES CLICKED WILL TAKE YOU TO THE WEBSITE LINK FOR THE RESOURCE)

When it comes to writing, there is something fundamental that all writers need. Good reference materials. Whether it’s books, blogs, google(Reliable websites), or people, it’s necessary to have something to refer to when you come up short on a topic or subject.

My most favorite reference book is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression (Second Edition) by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression (Second Edition)

I’m not plugging this, or any other resource here, for compensation. I don’t get anything for sharing this information with you. In fact, I’ve bought the TET twice now. That’s how important it is to me. The other Thesaurus books Angela and Becca have written are also fantastic, and I highly recommend you read them whether it’s from the library or purchase. Trust me, there is only so much smiling, frowning, sighing, and nodding a person can do, and there are so many more ways to show emotions than the typical expressions that are easily overused.

I won’t give any examples since I don’t have permission, but I will say that when I write or revise, I have this resource open and ready to go.

Other writing resources get high praise or significant recommendations so I’ll share a few of them here. Whether you need help with setting, editing, revising, plotting, crafting characters, drafting query letters, writing a synopsis, logline or pitch, setting a scene, or even writing a blog or twitter post, there are resources out there in print and digital. For print or e-books, you can buy new or used and even borrow from your local library or friend. Blogs and websites are virtually free to access.

Not all reference sites or materials are the same quality. Never stop at one, look at several until you find ones that suit you and your style. Just because one person swears by a resource, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Though, if it irks you, stop and ponder why… even that can be a help when it comes to writing.

Here are some links to resources I personally adore or ones that have been recommended to me regularly or even recently.  (ALL IMAGES CAN BE CLICKED AND WILL TAKE YOU TO THEIR WEBSITE OR LINK)

I also love the Master Lists for Writers, and there are no less than forty labeled tabs for quick reference sticking out of this one. I’ve also included one about Tropes. Some people feel strongly one way or another about tropes in writing, they work for a reason, and they don’t work when written poorly. It’s not necessarily the trope that’s the problem, it’s how it’s used… (not shown in any particular order)

Master Lists for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Character Traits, Names, and More  Writing the Breakout Novel  The First Five Pages  On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft    Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

   

Recommended by Twitter friends:

   

Here are some online resources for fantastic writing information and advice(aside from my own of course)

For excellent tips on how to things like building an author platform and how to write critiques visit Jennifer

J. L. Burrows

https://www.jlburrows.com/2019/11/11/5-ways-to-give-a-positive-critique/

The Writing Lodge, hosted by Gregory is a collaborative hot-spot for tips on writing, editing, and other fun things written by writers. writinglodge.com
Writing Courses, Editing, & Specialty Services

If you’re writing a query letter, have written or are querying with no results, you MUST check out the Query Shark.

SavvyAuthors is a great place to go if you’re looking to showcase your work or find agents or even find some helpful information from other Savvy Authors.SavvyAuthors

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Jane Friedman Logo

Image result for writersdigest.com

If you got this far, thanks for reading this post. I hope some of the information here was helpful directly or indirectly.
-Sheryl

Today’s daily word prompt is Reference: 
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Conviction

The definition of conviction from dictionary.com is

Conviction – A noun

• A fixed or firm belief: No clever argument, no persuasive fact or theory could make a dent in his conviction in the rightness of his position.
• The act of convicting someone, as in a court of law; a declaration that a person is guilty of an offense.
• The state of being convicted.
• The act of convincing a person by argument or evidence.
• The state of being convinced.
Conviction
When I write, I write with a certain level of conviction. Every writer does. I believe what I have to say is unique and a story others want to read. I know what I write isn’t for everyone, just as there are subjects out there that aren’t for me. I firmly believe that if I love what I write at least one other human out there in the world, I, will too.
Of course, doubt will play a part once I’m done. It charges in to knock down my confidence and make me worry that what I wrote is crap. So, I reread my work, and I know it’s not, and I can say that beyond any doubt that I love what I write. I love writing. I even love revising and editing my work. If I didn’t, then I wouldn’t be bothered.
With several finished novels waiting for their turn at revisions and edits, I am currently querying Prophecy Ink out to agents. I have a lot of projects to keep me busy over the winter. Now to get back to revisions…

 

 

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Get Uncomfortable To Write

Get Uncomfortable To WriteGet Uncomfortable To Write

When I talk about being uncomfortable to write, I’m not talking about my normal writing situation. When I’m writing my novels, I like to be at home in comfy clothes with a hot cup of tea while listening to inspirational music.

However, to get to the place where I can write comfortably, I need to get uncomfortable first. I’m talking about putting myself in extremely awkward learning experiences that help me learn and grow as a writer. Get out of my comfy-zone and try something I know I struggle with.

I have recently taken some writing workshops. I had mixed feelings about this activity because I suck at writing on the spot and then sharing that writing. I was excited to go an learn and YES, man, oh man, I learned a lot.

The main thing I discovered is that I have a weakness in my writing. Short stories. Now, add the pressure of writing one on the spot, in front of other writers… it’s a lot of stress. Anxiety kicks in, doubt has its way with me, and I struggle.

The power of thought can alter perception. A million questions pop in my head like, what if they laugh? What if it’s horrible? Stupid? Grammatically incorrect? Or Utter nonsense? After all, I will share (in a small group or one on one) my first draft.

I usually don’t let anyone read the first draft of anything — ever.

Once I got out of my head and understood that I was in a room with writers, people who have the same struggles, goals, and desires, it was fine. I was fine. The story was okay… for the first draft of a short story(totally not my wheelhouse.)

But that’s the point of pushing beyond my limits. When I felt panic grip me, I knew I had to do it again, and again and I will go to another workshop. I will face those fears, and I will learn to write short stories on the spot with a prompt. Because I learned and the story wasn’t bad, just unpolished—Just like everyone else’s.

This is just one aspect of writing workshops. So much more happens at them than just uncomfortable moments of writing under pressure. I can’t recommend them enough because learning and improving writing skills is most important. For me to become a more confident short story writer, I need to get uncomfortable to learn to write them.

 

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Your Daily Word Prompt – Legitimate – October 3, 2019

Your Daily Word Prompt

Banner October 2019
⇑Click the banner to visit October’s prompt Page ⇑

Daily Prompts – Words and Images

To participate in This Daily Prompt, all you have to do is publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be words, images anything that you like. Put the link (listed below) in your post to create the automatic pingback. You can leave a link to your post in the comments if you wish.

Today’s Word:          Legitimate   

Please link to this prompt in your post by using this URL link in the text of your post or at the end of your post:

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/10/03/your-daily-word-prompt-legitimate-october-3-2019/

Make sure to check out the comment links and pingbacks to view other posts inspired by today’s prompt.

Thank you and happy blogging. 

-Sheryl

End blurb

To report issues with the daily post please contact me directly.
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More Time Please

More timeSummer is coming to an end. Summer is a time when I am too busy with activities, vacation, writing, and work. I often find my attention sundered and stretched to its limit. What I wouldn’t give to have more time in the day, I’m sure everyone says or feels that at some point.

During my busiest time of year, I ended up writing another story, a sequel to Prophecy Ink. When a story must be written, for me, all other writing, reading, crafts, etc. take a backseat.  I’ve also been querying Prophecy Ink to agents and pitching in online contests like PitMad and SFFPit. I’m still undecided about entering PitchWars this year, I haven’t had time to participate in the online stuff or read all the mentor Bios. I’ll have to decide soon since the submission starts in six days.

As if I wasn’t busy enough through the summer, I also picked BiaAtlas back up and I’m working on fixing the start of the book and another round of editing and revisions. Once done that I hope to find new beta readers and a critique partner or two to go through it.

Re-visiting BiaAtlas is bittersweet, while I know what needs to be changed and fixed, I also know to requery I’ll likely have to change the title to query it again. That’s a maybe, I could perhaps keep BiaAtlas and add something to it or give it a subtitle, either way, to drop it into agent’s inboxes, I probably have to call it something else. You see, I queried it before it was ready, before I understood that finding quality beta readers and Critique partners were essential to polishing a story.

So in between Critiquing other author’s work, writing, reading and life, I’ll be reworking my baby—BiaAtlas-the first book I ever wrote. I am hoping to squeeze some time in for some blogging as well.

My advice: No matter how busy life is, take time out for yourself and for family—That time is most precious.

 

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/your-daily-word-prompt-sunder-september-19-2019/

Been-sprouts

Been-sprouts

I’ve recently read a story that was littered with the word been.

While it is a useful verb, it can be tiresome to read it over and over to the point, it becomes aggravating.

The word, been, sprouts up in my past-tense writing a lot. After it annoyed me in someone else’s writing, I went to look again. I had 106 incidences of it in a 110k manuscript. Not bad, but not good. I looked back to see what it was from my first draft, and I had 214 incidences of BEEN.

That means it’s an overused word or crutch-word. Something I lean on too much, and I consider that to be lazy writing. I can do better.

Here are some examples from my writing of where I plunked the word been in and how I removed it. The final sentence used is shown in blue.

I’ve never been on a dock in my life.
I’ve never stepped foot on a dock in my life.

You’ve been betrayed.
You were betrayed.
They betrayed you.

It had been the first time I was allowed out past dark.
It was the first time I was allowed out past dark.
(Now I have two ‘was’ in the sentence.)
I was allowed out past dark for the first time.
(Sometimes a complete rewrite of the sentence is the solution.)

He had been his own lawyer.
He was his own lawyer.
He’d acted as his own lawyer. 

I’d been so upset. I sputtered my answer like an idiot.
I was so upset. I sputtered my answer like an idiot.
Upset, I sputtered my answer like an idiot.

“You could have been smarter about that.”
(Sometimes I’ll leave it in dialogue if it works for the character.)
“I’ve been driving for hours!”

While I do my best not to overuse BEEN, I don’t eliminate it completely. I’m happy with less than 50 incidences of the word in a 110k word document. Most had sprouted up in dialogue, the others felt necessary—to keep the tone of the situation/sentence intact.

 

 

 

Your Daily Word Prompt
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DARK

 

Other fun Prompts to check out:

Word of the day Challenge- DRIVE

Ragtag Daily Prompt- SPUTTER

Query Quandary

Query Quandary.png

Query Quandary

I think I’m ready to query. Now what?

Okay here is the checklist I use of what needs to be done before a query is attempted. (This list is a suggestion not a hard list of rules to follow.)

  1. Write a book within proper word range for genre and industry standard formatting
  2. Rest said book for minimum 3 weeks to freshen up your brain
  3. Edit, revise, rewrite and repeat with rests between
  4. Revise again
  5. Find reliable and interested beta readers (readers not critique partners)
  6. Revise with notes from beta readers
  7. Find one or two critique partners to go through with a critical eye.
    1. Make sure you make clear what you want them to look for
  8. Revise again with notes from critique partner/s
  9. Final grammar and format check
  10. Write a kick-ass query letter using industry standard formats.
  11. Write a boring, but perfect synopsis(yes this is the entire plot as it happens)
  12. Have your query letter and synopsis critiqued (You can get a professional editor for a query package critique as well. I did and it was worth every dollar)
  13. Research agents who represent your genre. Do not query agents who do not. It is a waste of time and often a no from one agent is a no from all within that agency.
  14. Follow all and EVERY rule by the agency and or agent you are querying. They are all different.
  15. Research the agent to personalize the query letter. Never send a query letter without at least addressing the agent you are querying.

Whew. Now once all that is done, it’s time to send out a query.

This is one of the hardest things to do. Sending a query to an agent is nervewracking. Will they request pages? Will they send a rejection? Or nothing at all?

Waiting for a response is hard. Rejections are harder. However, a rejection doesn’t mean you should give up. keep going and keep querying.

I did have a string of form rejections—a standardized generic email saying no thank you. As mentioned in my previous post, I pulled the manuscript and reevaluated.

Getting a block of rejections might be a sign that something is wrong with the manuscript. It could also be the query letter. Or it might just be that the agents are not interested. Don’t despair, seek alternate opinions or have a query package critique done by someone in the business. It is rare to get query feedback from agents. if you get some, it’s golden and don’t ignore it. If you don’t that’s okay too. Move on.

  • Never reply rudely to agents who send you a rejection(yes, people do this)
  • Always keep track of who you’ve queried either by spreadsheet or Query Tracker
  • Only send a nudge or reminder to the agent if their response time has passed and they don’t have a disclaimer stating “No response is a no.”

Agents are busy people and get hundreds and thousands of queries. I try to keep in mind they are probably reading your query on their phone while in line for coffee or at lunch.

Advice: The query process can be stressful, seek out friends and fellow authors in the query trenches for support and encouragement. Block. mute and ignore anyone who is negative, tells you to give up and go a different route or tell you that you’re never going to get there. The people trying to bring you down are only right if you let them be right.

 

“Write what you love, and others will love what you write.”
-SL.Mumby

What’s The Query Hurry?
What's The Query Hurry_

What’s The Query Hurry?

What's The Query Hurry_.pngWhat’s The Query Hurry?

I’m getting close to jumping head first into the query trenches again. I had pulled Prophecy Ink when I got a bunch of form rejections. That was a sign that something wasn’t right.

But what? Was it the query letter? The Synopsis? Or the sample pages? Yes. Yes to all three.

I was in a hurry to query. Excited to get my baby out there. I had done everything I could think of to get it ready.

Except that I hadn’t.

I did revise, rewrite, and edit the heck out of it. I ran it through grammar programs and editing programs, and it was as polished as I could get it.

I had to swallow my excitement, disappointment, and pride and seek out honest opinions. I paid for a professional query package critique.

IT WAS AWESOME! I asked for brute honesty, not to hold back and it came back with (and I’m paraphrasing) “Nothing happens in the first chapter, the MC (the main character) does nothing and wanders about aimlessly. Make her have a purpose.” That comment and a whole lot of editing notes and I was floored. The query letter needed some adjustments and the synopsis some alterations, but they were in decent shape.

I had merged chapter one and two(after some feedback), and she was right. The merger caused the MC to lose purpose, and she wandered about for no reason. Damn.

Okay. Here’s the thing. I was ready for a hard truth. I got it, and I was thrilled! Now I know what’s wrong. I research how to fix what’s wrong, and I rewrite again. Tossing the chapter out and trying four different approaches until one screamed: “I’m perfect!”

So. I did some more research and decided I needed some random opinions. I reached out to my twitter tribe (people who I know are bound to be brutally honest and helpful), and I asked for help critiquing or beta reading my new chapter. Boom! So many wonderful Tweeps offered help. I didn’t agree to just anyone if I’d never interacted before, I said no thanks. It’s okay to do that, BTW. I got the feedback from them, and there was a unanimous response of positivity. Small issues easily addressed.

So now what?

I took my query letter to a workshop for querying, and I paid again to have my new chapter(10 pages) my revised query letter and synopsis re-critiqued. And the response was favorable. “Much better.”

Yes!

But I didn’t jump back in. I had a few lovely people offer to critique the entire book. I was getting feedback on every chapter. Now some critique partners petered out and stopped sending feedback, this happens for various reasons. Busy schedules, lack of interest in the story, too much obligation, forgot, or even jealousy. Whatever the case, I didn’t sweat it, and I never harassed for feedback. It was kind of them to offer any at all, so I gladly took what I could get.

With the new feedback, I toned up my book and ironed out the wrinkles.

I’m on the last final revision, and then I’ll query again.

It’s taken months to get it back into shape. There is no hurry to query. I learned that rushing only gets rejections and I wouldn’t have learned how to not only recognize a problem, but I’d have missed how to fix it.

I’ll talk about what I’m doing to prepare for the actual queries next time.

My advice about hurrying to query: Don’t. Slow down, take your time. It’s a lengthy, extraneous process, and rushing will only end in disappointment and regret.

 

“Write what you love, and others will love what you write.”
-SL.Mumby

June Daily 2019https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/06/26/your-daily-word-prompt-extraneous-june-26-2019/

Giving And Taking Trust

trust.pngGiving And Taking Trust

Trust can be tricky, and as a writer, I find my self relying on my instinct more and more. Instinct and advice. I’ve had some advice given to me lately and some that I’ve learned on my own regarding trust.

It can be a challenge knowing who to trust, whose advice to trust and when to trust others with your writing. Because sadly, there are people out there that will steal and or destroy confidences.

Always trust your gut and test the waters.

When it comes to finding a Critique Partner or finding a Beta Reader, you need to trust the person you hand your story over to. That said, don’t just hand it over to just anyone. Talk with them a bit first, start off with a short story, poem, query letter or something simple. I never hand my story or synopsis over to anyone I don’t trust. It’s not perfect but knowing will reduce the chance of someone posting your work online without permission.

The same thing goes for services like editing and paid critiques. If the person doesn’t have samples(and even if they do), you can ask for a sample of how they would edit your work by having the first page or two done before agreeing to work with them. This is key, there is nothing worse than paying for a service, technically getting what you paid for only to find out it’s not how you wanted the editing done.

What about advice? I dole out advice and my opinion all the time, I even get paid to do it. Does that make me a professional? Not really. Does it make me right all the time? Ha, no of course not. Nobody can be right all the time. All my advice and information I share is what I’ve learned along the way. Sure it changes and shifts, and I even find better advice, but I never claim to be the be-all-and-end-all of writing wisdom.

Writing advice, (Including publishing, editing, and revising) is all subjective. What works for some may not work for others. That said, never ignore advice, rules, tips, tricks, hints, or anything that others offer. Listen to it and use your instinct to determine if it works for you or not. Taking a poll online to credit or discredit advice given may help, but I see more often than not, it will bring out three types of people/answers.

• Yes! Brilliant advice. Do this, you’re a fool to do otherwise.

• No way! Do the exact opposite, you’re a fool to do otherwise.

• Do what works best for you. (probably suggest to research or read articles)

People are strongly opinionated(No matter the facts) and the majority vote might not even be right. Know your audience, who is giving the advice, find a source from reputable websites to find more information and most of all, trust your instinct.

When in doubt, seek the advice of an industry-specific individual. Peruse blogs of people with credentials and experience. I spend a lot of time researching topics and information for my story, and I wouldn’t cheat myself by taking fly-by-night advice without further researching on my own before(if ever) asking strangers on Facebook or Twitter.

I always do my best to present information with an unbiased approach, after researching and often after finding out the hard way. I’ll never lead anyone astray on purpose for some hidden jealousy-based agenda. Ask me a question, and I’ll answer to the best of my abilities, if I don’t know, I’ll probably research and offer up some articles. Why? Because that’s what I’d want. I want people who ask me questions to feel they can trust me to be as honest as I can.

 

“Write what you love, and others will love what you write.”
-SL.Mumby

June Daily 2019https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/your-daily-word-prompt-trust-june-11-2019/