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 25% off the regular ebook price exclusively on Smashwords.

  • Smashwords offers the ebook for an assortment of platforms including iBooks (epub), Kindle (mobi), and others. 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 ratings on the book page on Amazon and other book retailer websites, and on 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:


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.



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




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



What’s in a name? For Miho, a lot

Miho Aida is an environmental educator and filmmaker and the force behind a media project titled “If She Can Do It, You Can Too: Empowering Women through Outdoor Role Models.”  On the website, she writes, “Being a woman of color in the outdoor industry makes me stand out; everyone notices my presence immediately. At the same time, I often feel invisible. . . ”  Miho wants all girls to have environmental and outdoor role models who look and sound like they do.


Miho is also the producer and director of a documentary film titled The Sacred Place Where Life Begins: Gwich’in Women Speak. In our newly featured DTBF story, Miho tells us about the film and going on a summer film tour, riding her bicycle to every venue.

 Click to read our new DTBF story:  “THE WISH BEHIND MY NAME” by Miho Aida.

Watch the trailer for her documentary film:



P.S. A special shout-out to Ellen Fagan for her insight and feedback during the editing of this story. Thank you El. You’re the best.


Accidentally catapulting into a dream

It’s easy to become complacent in life. The mind has a way of settling into a groove of self-talk. It can rationalize a life that is routine and predictable while keeping a sense of risk at bay. It takes mindful discipline to continually engage with the present and to ensure that complacency isn’t squashing that feisty spirit of derring-do.

Sometimes, it takes a dramatic personal experience to shake us out of our constrained selves, to help us recognize the preciousness of life, to revisit our dreams, and to take new actions.

Journalist Aurelia d’Andrea shares a DTBF story about exactly such an experience in her own life. Since she was a kid, Aurelia had always dreamt of living in Paris.

I didn’t have the answers, yet never believed that moving to another country was outside the realm of possibility. But life–and a risk-averse husband–kept getting in the way of the dream.

Then, “Thwoosh!” A car accident almost literally catapulted her there.

Read Aurelia d’Andrea’s DTBF story, “Daring to Follow a Dream.”

Here’s to 2016. Wishing happy new beginnings to all!


Love Made Visible

Last weekend, the Japanese Fisheries Agency officially notified the International Whaling Commission that its whaling fleet plans to return to the waters of Antarctica to hunt 333 Antarctic minke whales over the next four months.  This despite the fact that on March 31 2014, the International Court of Justice declared Japan’s whaling program to be illegal, and ordered that it immediately cease.

Much of the difficult and dangerous task of battling such illegal activity has been helmed by Sea Shepherd, an anti-poaching organization that has been shepherding international waters for years. Its activities have also been highlighted in Animal Planet’s Emmy-nominated reality program, Whale Wars.

“The pristine waters of the Southern Ocean are once again under threat from poachers,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global. “We would like to remind the Japanese government that the whales of the Southern Ocean are protected by international law, by Australian law and by Sea Shepherd. As such, any violation of the sanctity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary or the Australian Whale Sanctuary will be regarded as a criminal act.”

This news prompts us to highlight a related DTBF story, “Love Made Visible: My Adventurous Year” by Jo-Anne McArthur. McArthur is an international photojournalist and animal rights activist and this story is about one year in her life when, amongst other things, she volunteered as a staff photographer aboard a Sea Shepherd vessel called the Bob Barker, witnessing and photographing direct encounters with Japanese whaling ships that were poaching illegally in international waters.

Jo-Anne McArthurLife won’t always be this idyllic aboard our boat, which the crew affectionately refers to as “The Bob.” We will have intensely dangerous confrontations with our rivals, the Japanese whaling fleet. Our boat is one of three on this 2009-2010 Antarctic Mission to stop the poaching of up to 935 Minke whales, which are hunted by the fleet and sold for meat in Japan.

Her DTBF story was first featured in 2010. Read “Love Made Visible: My Adventurous Year” by Jo-Anne McArthur

Dare to be Fabulous will be featuring more new stories in the coming months. Consider sharing a DTBF story of your own! Submissions are open and stories are also welcomed in audio or video formats. Please check the submission guidelines for more information.


From corporate executive to elephant dung scooper, and loving it

You’re on a successful career path. You’re making good money. You’re respected. You’re being sought to fill positions with more power and higher income. And yet, you’re not happy. You’re not fulfilled. And you find yourself aching for the dream you’ve had since you were a child. Do you do something about it?

Melissa Haynes was in that very situation when she dared to take action, defying conventional expectations. Her DTBF story begins this way:

Dreamers spend their lives asleep. The early bird gets the worm. Keep your head down and work hard. Your job is your worth. If you don’t have a good job, you don’t have anything. Money makes the world go round. You are your bank balance. Your title defines you. No one will like you if you aren’t successful in business. Things matter. Appearance is everything. Grow up. Get real.

Melissa got real by being true to herself and doing what she’d dreamed of doing since kindergarten: going to Africa and helping the animals.

Have you ever lifted elephant dung? It’s as heavy as a bowling ball. Mucking out ellie stalls took hours of backbreaking, stinky work. But you know what? It was great. I loved every grueling second of it.

Read her DTBF story: “A Life-long Dream Realized: Volunteering with the Big Five in Africa.”

Haynes also wrote a book about her experience in Africa. It has the provocative title, Learning to Play with a Lion’s Testicles. Look who noticed:

Jimmy Fallon features book by Melissa HaynesMelissa Haynes book on "Ellen"

Ricky Gervais reading Melissa Haynes' book

Here’s to fulfilling your dreams. To heeding a personal call to make a difference. To facing your fears. And to creating a new path all your own. Hey, you never know just what might happen!


  • Why should we all dress after the same fashion? The frost never paints my windows twice alike.~ Lydia Maria Child