Season’s Greetings

Season’s greetings and happy holidays!
Wishing you peace, joy, and wonderful manifestation in 2018
(including the Dare to be Fabulous book* !)

“Smile” from Annemade Cards

*New DTBF story submissions are always welcomed . . . and there’s a small window of time left before the book selections are final.  🙂
More updates to  come.


A Summer Book Sale

Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant is a wonderful book selection for your summer reading. An excerpted story from this memoir will be featured in the Dare to be Fabulous book.

Readers are describing this memoir as “compelling,” “fascinating,” “funny,” “a can’t put down book,” and a “must read.”
During the month of July, you can get 50% off the regular ebook price exclusively on Smashwords.

  • Smashwords offers the ebook for iBooks (epub), Kindle (mobi), and other platforms. Choose the format you want.
  • Select “Give as a Gift” and give it to friends and family members.Use the coupon code provided on Smashwords’ book page.

The paperback is also available on Amazon (or through your local bookstore). If you’ve read the book, please consider posting your reader reviews and comments to the book page on Amazon and Goodreads.

Raising brave girls TED talk by DTBF contributor Caroline Paul

Have you read Caroline Paul’s DTBF story, “Where there’s Smoke, there’s Fire”? If not, check it out. She shares what it was like to be one of the first female firefighters in the San Francisco Fire Department. (She was the 15th woman in a department of 1,500 men.) The story is an excerpt from her book Gutsy Girls, which was a New York Times best-seller. It is written for pre-teens, but her message resounds for men and women of all ages.

Caroline’s associated TED Talk is titled, “To raise brave girls, encourage adventure.”  To which we reply, YES! (Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!)

Here is the video of her talk:


Book to be published! Submissions welcomed

A book of Dare to be Fabulous stories is going to be published in both print and e-book formats

Some of the stories will be adapted from previous features on the website. Additional stories are also welcomed for consideration. Please read the submission guidelines for more information.

I look forward to reading your submissions!

Johanna McCloy

Join me for book reading Saturday in Alameda

As many of you know, in addition to being the editor of Dare to be Fabulous, I am also the editor of my mother’s newly published memoir, Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant: Undercover & Overwhelmed as a CIA Wife and Mother by Lillian McCloy. My mother wrote the manuscript over 20 years ago. She is now 91-years-old, proving that it’s never too late to become a published author or to see your dreams come true! The book is available from Amazon, as well as book stores and ebook retailers.

This Saturday, January 21, from 2:00 – 3:00pm, there will be a book event and reading for Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant in Alameda, CA. The event will be hosted by Ben Hess of the podcast Story Geometry. My mother Lillian will be in attendance and I will read from the book, along with my sister Kristin, who is an acclaimed novelist. Books Inc Alameda will have the book available for purchase at the event.

If you’d like to attend this event, please link to the event page for more information and to RSVP Click “REGISTER” and submit your # of attendees. The organizer will need RSVPs to estimate attendance.



Catching courage (it’s contagious)

Dare to be Fabulous stories are about the kind of courage that renown researcher and storyteller Brené Brown describes in her inspiring books and talks.

Here’s a brief description of that courage, excerpted from one of her blog posts:

The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic.

We certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage.

Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary.

As Brown so adeptly points out, we tend to champion other people when they reveal vulnerability and courage, but we usually don’t dare to do the same. Here’s an excerpt from her book, Daring Greatly :

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing…Here’s the crux of the struggle: I want to experience your vulnerability but I don’t want to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me. I’m drawn to your vulnerability but repelled by mine.”

Brown asserts that courage is contagious. Indeed, it is.

Vulnerability is part of the human condition. When you dare to reveal your own vulnerability, with humor, with heart, with honesty . . . it provokes empathy from the people around you, because it validates that part in themselves. And that connection is the key. We connect by being honest and having an open heart; not by armoring up. And when we do this, it can prompt the courage in others to do the same, because they realize how more than okay it is to do so, how empowering, in fact, it can be . . .

In the midst of so much change in the world, as we enter winter and approach 2017, it seems to be a particularly ripe time to remind ourselves of the importance of personal courage. Let’s strive to dig deep into ourselves, to allow our vulnerabilities to show, to connect with each other authentically and to keep an open heart.

* Click to peruse DTBF stories

DTBF in a TV comedy writers’ room

Dare to be Fabulous has posted a new story for your reading enjoyment! This one comes from Ali Rushfield, who shares her personal experience of working in the writers’ rooms of several top-rated TV comedy series.  An excerpt:

Have you ever sat with eight to ten of the funniest people you’ve ever met, said something you thought was one of the most hilarious things your brain has ever managed to conjure up, and suddenly felt invisible?

Before I link to her story, I’ll indulge in a little personal background. I met Ali Rushfield when she was around five years old and I was 12. Our families were neighbors in Tokyo for a couple of years and our mothers became fast friends. Even at such a young age, my family considered Ali to be a sharp, sarcastic and hilarious person.

Ali, me, her father Len and her brother Richard

Ali, me, her father Len and her brother Richard , in our Tokyo neighborhood

Fast forward to 2016, when Ali found out about my mother’s newly published memoir, read it, and immediately contacted me, sharing her amusement at being referenced as our neighbor’s “small child” in one of my mother’s stories. I was not surprised to find out that Ali is a TV comedy writer, and a great one at that. She’s been a writer on two TV series created by Judd Apatow and other notable shows, but I’ll defer to her DTBF story for more about that.


Ali, all grown up

Daring to be Fabulous can happen in all kinds of environments and circumstances. No one is immune to the experience of feeling uncertain or insecure or sincerely humbled. Success, and that includes personal triumphs as well as professional ones, includes a lot of facing up to one’s own fears, and an awful lot of daring. Ali’s story is no exception.

Read A COMEDY WRITER’S STORY by Ali Rushfield




Lillian McCloy’s CIA memoir coming soon!

Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant

Announcing the soon-to-be-published memoir: Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant: Undercover & Overwhelmed as a CIA Wife and Mother by Lillian McCloy

July, 2016 update: now available in bookstores or on Amazon.

Pico Iyer, author of The Art of Stillness and Video Night in Kathmandu writes this about the book:

“If you’re married to a spy, the always fraught arena of a relationship turns into a positive minefield. What does that all-night absence mean? What can you begin to say to the kids? In Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant, Lillian McCloy gives us the story of a life spent around secret intelligence that is funny and charming and in every wonderful sense, deeply spooky. This is the story John le Carré keeps out of his gripping bestsellers.”

Read more about the book on the Bordertown Publishing website. Johanna McCloy is the editor and publisher of the book. She is also the editor of Dare to be Fabulous, which features an excerpted story: “Mrs. Spook, Spain, 1965”.

Sign up for the publisher’s mailing list to receive more news and updates



Gutsy Girls

Caroline Paul FirefighterOur new featured story comes from author and adventurer Caroline Paul. It’s her story about what it was like to be one of the first female firefighters in the San Francisco Fire Department.

Read DTBF’s newly featured story: “WHERE THERE’S SMOKE, THERE’S FIRE” by Caroline Paul

This story was adapted from The Gutsy Girl, a book she wrote for girls between the ages of seven and eleven. In a recent PBS interview, Paul talked about why she specifically targeted that age group.”They’re at a perfect age now,” she said, “before they hit the pressures of looking really pretty and having to be very nice and having to be perfect. They still want to do the rough-and-tumble things.”

Gutsy Girl, The jacket artPaul’s book is is filled with suggested activities, fun illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton (her “Gutsy-o-meter”  is currently our Facebook page header), and stories from Paul about some of her own adventurous escapades, starting when she was a kid. The book hit #5 on The New York Times Bestseller list shortly after publication.

Just prior to the book’s publication, Paul wrote a New York Times op-ed that garnered a lot of attention: “Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared?”  Here’s an excerpt from that op-ed:

This fear conditioning begins early. Many studies have shown that physical activity — sports, hiking, playing outdoors — is tied to girls’ self-esteem. And yet girls are often warned away from doing anything that involves a hint of risk.

It’s been said that courage is not the absence of fear, it’s acting in spite of it. So here’s to gutsiness. Whatever your gender or your age, don’t let fear hold you back. Go outside and have yourself an adventure!

Meanwhile, enjoy reading DTBF’s newly featured story:  “WHERE THERE’S SMOKE, THERE’S FIRE” by Caroline Paul



Meeting Moina, meeting a Muslim

“Ignorance is the parent of fear.” – Herman Melville

When you hear the words Islam or Muslim, what comes to mind?

“More than half of Americans say they have unfavorable views of Islam, and six in 10 either aren’t interested or don’t know whether they want to learn more about the faith. While a majority had negative views, few seemed to base those judgements on knowledge or on relationships with Muslims. Just 13 percent said that they ‘understand the Islamic religion’ very well.” Huffpost/YouGov poll from March, 2015

U.S. Republican presidential candidates have only been fanning those flames of judgement by condemning all Muslims to a wide swath of suspicion. Donald Trump is “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” and Ted Cruz recently announced a proposal to enact government surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods in the U.S.

Moina ShaiqOne Muslim woman living in Fremont, California decided that she had to do something about the judgement and fear. Personal interaction and open conversation with a Muslim neighbor, she hoped, would help to make a difference in altering those negative opinions. She placed an ad in the local paper titled, “Meet a Muslim.”  Then, she went to a local coffeeshop, sat down, and waited.

Would people come? Would people join her in conversation?

Read DTBF’s newly featured story, “Meet a Muslim” by Moina Shaiq