Wednesday, April 16, 2014

***REVIEW*** Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant Toothpaste

My Smiley 360* kit for Arm & Hammer's Truly Radiant arrived yesterday.




Since I got home late (and had already brushed my teeth), I started using the Arm & Hammer this morning. Of course, I will have to come back and update this review when I have used the toothpaste for at least a week. (Did I mention that my Smiley360 kit included a very nice Spinbrush from Arm & Hammer - batteries included? It did and I am loving it.)

In the mornings, I brush my teeth always for at least three or four minutes. This is because I am nervous about damage from the methotrexate and other meds I take for my sarcoidosis. Usually, I end up with lots and lots of foaming from the pastes I have used. It's a little bit messy. The first thing I noticed with the Truly Radiant is that the paste did not foam and run like others do. Because of the lack of foam, I was actually wondering just how clean my teeth were getting! The instructions on the Spinbrush were to use it for at least 2 minutes. Running short on time, I kept to the 2 minutes instead of my usualy three or four.

Results?



Wow.

Not only did my teeth feel really clean, I found it easy to rinse my mouth with just a swish of water. As for the whitening effects: yes, I could already (after the one brushing) tell that my morning coffee stains were gone. My breath felt clean - no overpowering lingering of the mint-flavor from the paste - which I really like. (I hate any kind of lingering flavors in toothpastes!)

I can't wait to check back later this weekend with an update on this product.

Visit the Truly Radiant site here for more information and a coupon.

Peace
--Free

*DISCLOSURE: I received free a 4.3oz tube of Arm & Hammer's Truly Radiant Whitening & Enamel Strengthening toothpaste and Spinbrush as part of my Smiley360 membership. (If you join Smiley360 and use me as your referral, I will earn some smiles!)

Open Letter to Online Retailers

To whomever it does concern:

I think I am speaking on behalf of the many (potential) customers who live in the United States. We don't live in some place accessible only by dogsled or courier dolphins. We live in areas that receive mail via the U.S. Postal service on each and every delivery day. I'm talking about residents of Alaska and Hawaii.

I question why I (and others) must pay the most outrageous shipping and handling costs whenever we order things from your sites. What's your reason for this? Does it cost more for packaging that must endure the alien airspace over Alaska and Hawaii? Do the folks "handling" those products bound for our areas have to wear special clothes during the shipping and handling process?

If you think I am just complaining to complain, I promise you that I am not. For examples of what I face in shipping costs when ordering from your site (and others), I have examples.

Amazon's Standard shipping to L48 compared to same for Alaska & Hawaii:



Ex: $3.99 for L48
and $7.99 for U2









And good old Overstock.com just blows their whole "free shipping" lure when it comes to Alaska & Hawaii... (That may be a good thing, because, otherwise, I'd shop them out of business!)

SMH

Is it just me, or do they seem almost gleeful about it?


I've already had my rant about Miss Jessie's shipping charges. Miss Trudy is like Amy Winehouse on this: "I say no, no, no..."

~sigh~

I understand that we are not "connected" to the Lower 48 states. What I don't understand is why when I mail a letter to someone in those lower states, who are not connected to us, I pay the same amount of postage in the form of a stamp. Wonder why the Postal Service doesn't add another dollar or two to stamps sold to us?

Maybe I am being unfair. Perhaps it is more expensive for you guys to ship things to those of us living in the Upper 2. Perhaps, but I doubt that it's as expensive as what we must assume from your shipping charges.

I was taught by my parents not to complain about something unless I had at least an idea for a possible solution. Here is my proposal to you guys:

When shipping to Alaska - and let's use the bottle of face cream I once ordered from you - how about you calculate what the cheap little bubble-wrap mailer cost you. (I'm pretty sure you get a discount on those since you must order them in bulk. I can get about 25 of them at Costco - way up here in Alaska-land - for around  $28 - and that's without a business account.) After you figure in the cost of the mailer, maybe you could use a postage-meter to weight the package to come up with a price for postage. Go ahead an tack on a your 'handling' charge (the same as you charge for 'handling' mail to the Lower 48 folk), then mail the dang thing to me. I don't think that would come to the prices I have been expected to pay in this instance, or another. What rule says that you guys just have to use the most expensive shipping service? You can't find ways to be more accommodating to the people who really do want to buy your products?

I bet if I get my hands on your product without having to take out a small loan, my satisfaction (or lack of) will be based solely on that product. Who knows, I might even try out your other products. I might even tell my friends why they should try them out. Just imagine.

What if you don't want to alter your shipping methods to accomodate your potential customers in the other 2 states (722,718 in Alaska; 1.4 million in Hawaii), which I will call the "Upper 2"!

Hmm... I have another idea:

I don't know if you realize it or not, but we actually have stores here - Target and Walmart and Walgreen - just like in the L-48. We even have roads and houses with actual doors and windows. (I know, it's hard to take it all in, huh?)

I've seen (some of ) your products in these stores (I'm really talking to you, Miss Jessie's), so I think you have a relationship with them already. If you don't want to ship to individuals like me (who could generate a lot of word-of-mouth business for you), you might consider supplying your retail connections with samples and trial sizes.

Think of the possibilities. You could reach a whole other market of people by extending just a little bit of consideration to the 700,00 + people living in Alaska. Most of us have the same needs and shopping impulses of humans from 'round where you might live. We like eating and bathing and doing cool things to our hair - like putting puddings and creams in it. We love to eat, drink and be merry. I bet you we can out-merry the rest of the nation when we start celebrating the end of winter when we come out of hibernation.

I'm not the only person who wonders about the seeming unfairness of shipping and handling charges when it comes to customers with Alaskan address. There was talk a long while back on ebay here. Like those in that discussion and ones on (ugh!) Facebook, I just don't get why you guys don't use USPS over the other (higher-priced) shipping services.

These are just some of my thoughts. I know you don't care about me as a person, but I bet you a Sea Galley's certificate that you care about the money you could make off my fellow residents. I can almost hear the calculators working as I finish typing this.

Sincerely,
#theupper2 of the U.S.

P.S.: While chatting today with another Alaskan, she informed me of what she was told regarding Walmart's not doing a ship-to-store service here: apparently the reason is that the store doesn't have a warehouse here. She was told by someone that one is being built and that it will service the entire region of Alaska. Hopefully, then we will be able to use Walmart online and request items there for store pick-up.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

**About Makeup** Another Cream B.B.(bites) the Dust

I was completely on board with the lady who wrote this article a couple years back about B.B. creams. Not too much has changed since she voiced her thoughts.

With all the progress (maybe) in cosmetic offerings, you'd think there'd be more diversity in there somewhere. For some reason, most major cosmetic manufacturers think that all women come in shades of Gwenyth Paltrow to Sandra Bullock and Queen Latifah to Beyonce. I'm so excited about Lupita Nyong'o coming up in the entertainment world, I could just pee myself. She's so much closer to my shade of "brown" than the other women I see in the makeup adverts. Because I am deeply brown - not 'beige', 'light' or even 'medium'. If I were a cup of java, there'd be a lot of sugar but very little cream.

Today, in between some badly arranged appointments, I had a couple hours to kill so I hit Walmart and Walgreens in search of some makeup. (My current makeup hasn't really been 'current' since Bush was president. I know, right?)

This is what I saw at Walmart:

nice range, not dark enough

(not a BB cream, but) foundations are getting better...

but... nope, still no match
I found L'oreal's BB cream in 'medium' and 'deep' but I didn't like the grainy texture while applying. And it still was not-deep enough. I ended up with an ashy, un-natural look. My sister did well with the 'deep' shade, even though she is several shades lighter than I am. Cool.


Big sis likes this, but in the "Deep"er tone
I gave up on finding a BB cream (or a CC), and I didn't think to look at the DD creams. Why bother, right? None of the creams by Olay, Neutrogena or Aveeno came even slightly close to a shade suitable for my skin. (By the way, I think my problem is that I don't need a BB (balm) so much as I need a really good, lightweight foundation.

What I ended up with is this:

LOVE it! 
And I have a winna! Maybelline Dream Nude Airfoam Foundation lives up to the "nude" and "air" in its name. (I was totally surprised at the poor reviews here, which is why I think you have to try things for yourself.)

I usually can't wear "Cocoa" shades, and that is not a consistent shade across the different cosmetic brands, but I like this foam. It goes on very, very light and smoothly. There aren't the streaks that I get with some liquid foundations. While, by itself, it leaves a little bit of a shine, I find that it pairs up just perfectly with this powder:

Maybelline, I might be in love with you!
That's the Maybelline The photo is not a good representation of the actual color, which is very deep and rich, with my reddish-brown (ocher) undertones. (Here is a better photo of the "Mocha" shade I got.) I haven't liked a makeup this much since I used to (occasionally) wear Flori Roberts foundation.

this is what the foam looks like**

seems like the color might be off a bit, but...

... blends in really well.
What I like most is that the makeup is not obvious and it doesn't make my skin feel coated.  I don't look like I have on foundation and powder. My sister said that my skin looked really natural and toned.

What I love about the powder is that I can, if I want, wear it alone. I don't really need the foundation, but it will help when I haven't had quite enough sleep. Even better, neither of the products is messy. Once applied, I didn't have to worry about transferring streaks of color from face to paperwork.

A funny thing about the foam: the first time you dispense from a new jar, the foam is going to be white. I didn't know this. I rubbed on white foam, expecting to see results, but all I got was a shiny look. I guess that initial foam is for the "practice" pumps the instructions talk about! (Yeah, I can be so silly.)

A bonus find (while cruising Walgreen), was this beautiful lipstick by Wet 'n Wild (for just under 3 bucks!):

Shade: "Cherry Bomb" (#918D)
It's such a gorgeous shade of brick red - which is so hard to find. I am returning the L'Oreal BB cream and getting another couple tubes of Cherry Bomb. You know how it is when you find that shade of lipstick you just love and all of a sudden you can never get it again. (I think that women of all skin tones can wear this. It may be a bit more dramatic looking against lighter complexions, but it's a nice day look with my dark skin.)

Anyway, I'm happy that I didn't have to spend more than $20 to get a foundation, powder and lipstick.

Peace
--Free

***UPDATE*** Miss Jessie's Products & Shipping

When I posted recently about wanting to order samples of Miss Jessie's products the other day, I mentioned the outrageous shipping costs of items to Alaska.

I contacted the company with the following email (sorry, but I can't enlarge it more):

Asking for alternative (reasonable) shipping methods...


Maybe I was asking too much. This is the response I received from the company:

Yep. If I'm asking for them to read the email.
They thought I was mooching for free stuff... smh


I guess customer emails are just scanned for key words before a response is sent out.

I did reply, but I don't expect a response, and I don't really care anymore. I'm not going to bother calling the number they provided. Why should I? They provided the email contact form and look what happened. I'm not going to work this hard to spend money.

This all lets me know that I don't want to buy products from a company with such impersonal responses to inquiries. Businesses have improved ways to market and make money, but they don't seem to put as much effort into customer service. I can recall when, (about 15 years ago) I contacted Dell Computers about concerns with a PC I'd ordered. I received a phone call from one of Michael Dell's personal assistants. In this case, I didn't expect anything but a response that indicates someone in customer service actually read my email. Why do they even bother to have a "Contact Us" button on their website?

So...

Unless I find a way to get hold of Miss Jessie's without going broke, you won't be reading here about how "darned good" the products are!

Peace
--Free


Monday, April 14, 2014

"Bad" Looks Better on Some People

There are always so many negative images portrayed of certain classes of people. People don't hear as many tsk-tsk stories about people with made-for-media images - unless those images are made-for-sterotyping. This is why we, as a society, tend to trust the person wearing a suit or climbing out of a luxurious car while we will clutch our handbags or cross the street to avoid a raggedy-dressed person. It's why we trust and envy almost anyone with letters behind their name (or with the letters of their name on a building), while we try hard not to notice the parent paying for groceries with food stamps.

We are so conditioned by mainstream media that we no longer trust our own judgement about people we don't personally know.

If we learned to see and interpret impressions for ourselves, we might see reality about people and situations clearer than we do. There are good, bad and ugly characters in every economic, racial and social strata of our society, but we snap-judge almost everything. Don't believe me? Think about the following examples of unbalanced treatment of people in various situations.
  • Young man grows up in a stable home and goes on to graduate - loan-free - from two ivy league higher education institutes. After establishing a successful career in New York, he steals millions of dollars from people to fund his ego and his enviable lifestyle. (Marc Dreier.)** 
  • A single mother left her two very young kids in a car alone so that she could complete a job interview. I probably don't have to tell you the details because her story was splashed all over the news. (At least in this case, the media attention backfired - in the woman's favor. People have donated thousands of dollars to help her situation. You know that if she ever does another wrong thing in her life, we'll hear about it as soon as the media finds out.)
  • Person grows rich from a great idea that was cleverly marketed. After becoming wealthy, this person decides to hide more than $100 million to keep from paying taxes on the money. They get probation and community service. Why? Because, other than being a tax cheat, this person is basically a good person who can do more good out of jail than in. 
  • There are plenty of stories of people serving severely harsh prison time for other things. Probably because they just look like they ought to be in jail...
By the way, when it comes to crimes involving money, if you think that people "like us" won't ever have to worry about debts putting us in jail, you might want to think one more time. Some crimes are worse than other but, apparently, sentencing is often more about who is committing a crime. I guess it depends on how the courts see the people coming in for sentencing.

Understand that I'm not saying that all poor people get more harshly treated for crime than all rich people do. I'm talking here about how differently the rich and poor are treated in the media. If you think I'm wrong, ask yourselves what your own ideas are about people of different economic classes.

Think of how dangerous some of our prejudices are. 
  • Ted Bundy was able to get so close to his victims simply because he "looked" safe. 
  • Wealthy socialites are "heroin" chic, but poor junkies are "crack hoes" and "skanks".
  • Why does "corporate welfare" not sound as nasty as "welfare queen"?
  • Politicians getting freebies and perks are not "welfare queens", are they? I don't know, no one every talks enough about it to make a difference.
  • The same politicians who bitch about sick people wanting healthcare seemed to like their benefits just fine - before Obamacare. 
  • Some people seem to think that politicians get too many benefits for not enough service. Other people think the 'ticians only have it slightly better than "not bad".
  • When corporations avoid taxes, that's "smart". Right?
  • Banks get into trouble all the time. If Bank of America was a person, little old ladies would cross the street to avoid them at night. As consumers, we won't (most of us) eat at a diner with dirty silverware, but we'd deposit our money in a bank just because of they're great advertising campaigns.
Last of all, I can give you two examples when on the receiving end of media bias (or maybe it was just individual ignorance). In the first case, I called over the telephone about a job. After a great conversation, the employer told me to come in as soon as possible for a meeting. I just knew I had that job. When I showed up, the woman was shocked to find that I was black. (Didn't get the job, by the way.) In the second case happened when I was in my twenties. I was happily chatted with some random forty-ish lady somewhere (store or office, I can't remember where) until she made the comment that I was so "articulate for a young black woman". Not only am I articulate, but I also remembered my home-training about being respectful to older people, no matter how harmlessly ignorant they might be.

I'm not ranting here because I think I am any less biased than you against certain people. Trust me when I say that I will hold my purse a little tighter when I see some dangerous-looking person lurking in the vicinity. My problem is that we don't always identify all  the dangerous people.

Peace
--Free

** About Dweier: While awaiting sentencing for his crimes, he lived in his $10 apartment, eating to deal with his stress. His complaints about his living situation included the boredom and how irrelevant the news seemed to him now. Poor thing. Sitting around in his beautiful apartment, he seemed a little bummed that he (or his family) had to pay for the required armed guards and the he was not allowed access to a cell phone or computer. Some of the things he worried about prior to receiving a 20-year sentence: whether he would be able to view Mets games (vs Philly games); what type of work he would be expected to do in prison (because he doesn't want to be on his knees cleaning or working for eight hours in a kitchen); that he be sent to a low-security prison to do his time, preferably in a place convenient for family visits; that he would never see his dog again... Oh! I just felt my whole heart breaking for the poor guy. Not. (At least Madoff got serious time.)

Growing Up vs Growing Old

With another birthday coming up on me, it's time to take inventory. I have to clean out some old habits and actions to make room for the new and improved ones; I have relationships and friendships I need to check on - and some I need to "check off"; and, of course, I need to consider whether I am fully appreciating and using this life and the abilities God has given me.

Each year, I like to remind myself that I am growing up and not just growing old.

Growing up means maturing - in spirit, wisdom, thought, and actions.  Growing up takes a willingness to learn from mistakes and make appropriate changes. Lots of people live long enough to grow old.

As I get ready to take this "inventory" of my life, I'm looking at some of my habits and pleasures. I need to figure out which things are still a source of happiness for me and which one I keep only to "maintain." Let me explain what I mean by that:

While watching the documentary ("Unguarded") about Chris Herren, the former basketball player, I noticed something he said about his drug use. He'd once enjoyed using drugs and alcohol but, when the addiction took hold of his life, he only used to keep from being "dope sick."

"Dope sick." Wow.

How many of us are using things other than drugs to find our escape and pleasure? How much of those things are we letting take hold of us to the point where we keep up with them to fight off dope sickness?

Part of my self inventory is to figure out which pleasures in my life that I need to put the brakes on before I lose control.

A few years ago, I wasn't as mature as I am now. I had grown older, of course, but I wasn't maturing as much as I needed to be. When I went through my previous abusive relationship, then got sick, I was forced to grow up in a lot of ways. That's when I realized that some struggles are really warnings. God's blessings didn't get my attention as much as those struggles.

This year, I hope to look back on the past with more clarity. I'm praying for God to cleanse my heart of all the nonsense I have let in.

Peace
--Free

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Miss Jessie's and the Cost of Being Ethnic

(*Make sure to read the bottom of this post before you leave)

On a quick run to Target's yesterday, I noticed that they carry a better variety of "ethnic" hair products than the Anchorage Walmart and Walgreens. At first, I was all "Oh, nice!" I haven't even seen most of these products at the local Sally's Beauty Supply store.

Walmart & Sally's also carries these
  
(check that per pint price)

I've tried Carol's Daughter hair balm before. It was okay, but had a strong smell. I'm sort of impressed by the reasonable-for-Alaska prices here:

I envy Carol's Daughter. Yes, I do.

Anchorage is finally catching up with the rest of the States in decent hair products for us nappy gals. I'm always amused to see how stuff is marketed. Mixed Chicks stuff is not only for "mixed" chicks. Anybody with a lot certain hair texture would like it, but my "mixed chick" niece finds it's too heavy for her hair. I'd love to see something marketed for "rowdy" hair, but that's just me.

What's with the gold level prices on this stuff???
And when I saw this,
I'd love to have both of these products























I broke into a big smile. Hah! I can buy Miss Jessie's hair products? In Anchorage???

I tot I taw a pwetty tag!
And what  is that little silver marking on the tube? I was thinking it was a type or rating or designation for a great product, but...  Wrong! It's a store security tag to prevent theft. I put on my glasses and realized why the product needs that tag...

$41 & $67 by the pint! Highest darned price, for real!
Is it just me, or does that  price seem a little bit high? The Canon printer I was complaining about in this post only cost 10 bucks more than this hair product. I have a very nice blender that I will be using for years that cost about 10 bucks more. With a warranty.

I almost threw that tube of Miss Jessie's back onto the shelf! I was afraid I'd be charged just for reading the label.

My hair was suddenly talking to me, like a devil on my shoulder  head, trying to get me to buy the Pillow Soft. Thing  is, I have read mostly (but not allgreat reviews about Miss Jessie's. Didn't hear about her finances, but I'm sure her family's now rich.* She wouldn't have to sell many of her products to make it onto a Forbes list, that's for sure. (Notice the price Amazon has for the Pillow Soft.)

I looked, but did not buy. The only way I could afford  some Miss Jessie's is if I want to suffer miss-meal cramps for the next several weeks. Guess what? I miss enough meals just trying to pay my bills. Plus, I noticed on the product description (and in the reviews) that the Pillow Soft "marries" fabric care technology into the hair care. That concerned me so I looked up a list of the ingredients. Maybe I will  just try out some trial sizes to be safe.

Or... Maybe not.

Again with the to-Alaska shipping costs!

That right there is not the fault of Miss Jessie's. That is just the way things usually are when trying to have anything shipped to Alaska. I'm going to contact Miss Jessie's to see if there is an alternate way to get my trial sizes. Maybe they can just stick the stuff in a regular mailer and calculate postage. Or - and this just occured to me - maybe they can supply Target and Sally's with samples for the Alaska customers? It's worth writing an email and making the request. I will get back to you folks with the outcome.

Peace
--Free

* I have to add here that I am not down on the folks behind Miss Jessie's. Some of my post is done out of silliness and humor. While the prices for Miss Jessies products are higher than I can afford, so are the prices on a lot of long-time corporate brands that never catered to minorities until recently. Revlon, L'Oreal (and a bunch of other companies) are suddenly on the "natural hair" ride, but I still can't find a decent shade of foundation to use on my "ethnic" skintone. I wish I could buy more  products marketed by the people behind the need, and I recognize the folks behind Miss Jessie's probably have to charge higher prices to see a profit. If I ever can, I will buy all my products from mom-and-pop ops. I applaud them for their courage in entering the game.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Signs of (an Alaska) Summer

There are about 10 ways we Alaskans can tell that summer is finally about to be here:

I can almost smell summer coming. (Hamburgers. Summer smells like hamburgers.)


  1. The fam uncovers the grill and hoses out the coolers.
  2. The 13 coats of dirt on your car start to bother you.
  3. Ladies start putting on their morning makeup in direct sunlight so they don't scare small babies later in the day.
  4. The "break-up" weather has created ponds of water so deep along the sidewalks that I start wishing I knew how to swim. Just in case.
  5. If the break-up "ponds" don't get you, the potholes hidden underneath will.
  6. If the potholes don't get you, the maniac drivers happy to see asphalt will.
  7. People rush the weather by coming outside too soon in shorts and flip-flops.
  8. It's fun to watch someone in flip-flops trying to step over the patches of un-melted snow.
  9. After having complained all winter about the darkness, you now grumble because the sun is up way before you have to be.
  10. You finally start working on losing those pounds you won't be able to continue hiding under your winter clothes.
Peace
--Free

Dark Things & Blind Hearts

I think I posted something about the Illuminati once in recent memory. It's not something I run around talking about a whole lot. When I saw this video the other day, though, I had to come and post it here.



Now, a lot of what you hear online is overblown conjecture. A lot of what you can hear and read online isn't usually backed up with anything other than someone's theories. This video caught my interest because, even though I obviously have some different religious belief's than the producers, I couldn't really dispute anything they were saying. That's all because they were careful to back up what they had to say. Often when they pointed out someone as being involved in this mess, they let that person show that - either through some interview, their lyrics, or photos and videos. (I thought of some people that they didn't even mention because I thought back to things I had noticed without knowing what I was looking at.)

Here's the thing: everyone can have one of two opinions about this. Some people will believe this happens and some people will write it off as nonsense. Because I believe in God and the Bible, I believe that there are people and forces at work in opposition to God and the Bible. So there.

None of this matters to anyone who has made up their minds in whichever direction they choose. It matters to people who haven't made a choice - or didn't even realize there was a choice to be made. Ignorance is not really bliss when it can hurt you.

Finally, I know that a lot of people who do believe that such dark things exist often want to hate those caught up in the darkness. I think that those people need our prayers. I think that one who is living with hope of an eternal existence in the light should not wish for anyone to be left out.

Today, we all get so distracted by our earthly problems that we forget to worry about our eternal souls. That's such a human mistake to make, and we all need to pray for each other to avoid it.

That's all I'm going to say on the subject for now.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Plot is the Thing

The hardest thing about writing (I think) is plotting the story. Ideas come so fast and easy, most writers have trouble keeping track of them. Characters create themselves in our minds all the time. It's the whole pulling a story together - beginning, middle, and end - that creates most writers' problems. Or maybe it's just me...

When writing a story, I find the best way to keep from going crazy is to plot the whole thing out. Of course, I have a hard time doing that. My mind wants to just start telling this wonderful story without taking the time to give it some sort of structure. I'm trying to get better about doing outlines.

Here is a nice list of ways to "plot, plan and prep" a story. I like the "Reverse Outline" plan best because if I am forced to write the end of my story, I'm forced to take my eyes away from the beginning - which is what usually comes into my head first. Also, I've found that it's easier to not only start with the ending, but to then just work my way backward through to the start.  (I am thinking of trying the "Dialogue Only" method for another story.)

It helps to understand the different plot types. I never thought about this before, but it does help to know the difference between plot and structure.

If you like using software to plot your story, there's this one with a free trial. This blog lists some suggestions for other software.

Some writers like using worksheets. I like some types of worksheets, while others are not helpful to me personally. I do (sort of) like story-mapping, and some folks prefer mind-mapping. (Maybe I'm just biased to the other helpful stuff this blog lists.) There are more charts and guides throughout this page.

Another resource for helps in plotting is Tumblr. If you go in and do a search on #plot, #plots, and #plotting, you'll get more than you could wish for.

Of course, writing is the key. You have to eventually get away from the plotting, mapping and charting in order to just write. Right? Right.

If anyone has more suggestions for plotting helps (or software), share the info.

Peace
--Free

P.S.: Big thanks to all the bloggers and other folks who support writers by supplying these charts and links to software. 

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