Week in Review: July 9th-15th

For years, I thought I was a solid introvert. I like reading, writing, and other solitary pursuits. As an only child, I was good at spending time alone and entertaining myself. And I actually liked it, too.

It was years before I realized what I actually was: an extroverted introvert. And while that tag of extroversion may on the surface seem like it makes things easier, I can assure you it doesn’t. Because what it really does is convince people you’re a full-blooded extrovert. And they miss seeing the introvert lurking underneath. So when you have an introverted day, people don’t understand because it seems like you’ve suddenly become withdrawn for no reason. When really, those tendencies were there all along. You’ve just been an introvert hiding in plain sight.

Being an extroverted introvert has been its own challenge on this journey of entrepreneurship. On the one hand, it allows me to put myself out there with little anxiety. Writing blogs like this, shooting videos, and meeting strangers are all in a day’s work. The extroverted side of myself can be depended upon to rise to challenges and meet them where they lie. But it’s the introverted side of myself that is a loose cannon. It always comes as a surprise when I wake up and suddenly my mind has declared that we are too over stimulated, we have been way too social lately, we need to pull back NOW and circle the wagons.

Working a normal job, you get a certain allowance for bad days I think. For days when you’re not “yourself”. Or not the self that other people see most often. But working for yourself is a new kind of challenge. There is an expectation that you are always “on”, always friendly, eager, and enthusiastic. Even on the days when you wish you could disappear to a cabin in the woods and chuck your phone into a lake.

I’m much too new at this to offer much helpful advice on being an extroverted introvert entrepreneur. But I am interested to know how you label yourself and what challenges and advantages you find this give you in your work, self-employed or not!

July 9th – 15th Week in Review:

I didn’t go ride on Monday the 9th because I had to go to a meeting in the morning in North Park. I like going to North Park so much better during the week. You get to enjoy all the same stuff, but it’s so much quieter and easier to park. 10/10 would recommend. If you work an abnormal schedule, I would definitely advise you to take advantage of most people being in the office and visit those areas like North Park, Hillcrest, and Normal Heights where parking is pretty impacted most of the time.

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Cute House in North Park

After my meeting I came home and did some work before I went to Del Mar in the afternoon to meet my new client. I’m very excited about this new project and looking forward to what we’re going to accomplish together.

Monday night, I had writer’s group again with more chapters of Shadow of the Magician up for review. There are two particularly thorny spots I had trouble writing in the book and tonight we discussed the first of them which, surprisingly to me, read much better than I had expected. I had expected comments like, “This is terrible. Just scrap this and start over.” So it was a relief that I did not get that. Still needs work, but it’s not beyond saving.

I switched my Monday riding day for Tuesday so Tuesday morning I went down and rode Pia first thing. After I was done at the barn, I had a little bit of time before I had to be at the dentist so I went to Mary’s Tack and Feed. If you’re a horse person, let me just explain that Mary’s is like Target. It’s utterly impossible to leave without spending at least $100 and buying at least one thing you don’t truly need. As such, I try to only go to Mary’s when I know I absolutely do need to get something. Those of you that saw my Instagram stories, thanks for playing along and indulging me! I had to go to Mary’s to pick up the metal nameplate I ordered for Pia’s new halter, buy a new pair of bell boots for Pia, and I needed to grab some more saddle pads because little girl is sweating through her pads on the regular. If you voted in my polls, I ended up getting the green AND the purple saddle pads. I tricked you. Bet you thought I was buying just one!

If you’re wondering why Escobar didn’t get any new gear it’s because they share a lot of things and in the case of something that they both need that needs replacing, Escobar gets to use it and I get a new one for Pia. Escobar is my delicate flower and I like to make sure he’s not going without. For example, I had two pairs of bell boots, but can only find one after the last show. So Escobar got to wear the remaining pair of bell boots because I am determined to prevent him from tearing his shoes off and hurting his feet. For you non-horse people, horses can accidentally step on the edge of their metal horseshoes and rip them off, which sometimes damages the hoof underneath and definitely leaves them vulnerable to other injuries. It’s like walking barefoot on rocks. Horses obviously can go barefoot and many do, but if they’re not used to it, it can be trouble.

Also for whatever reason, my old saddle pads don’t fit Pia. Same saddle, same pads, new horse, pads don’t fit. I dunno. And they didn’t shrink in the wash because this combination still fits Escobar (I checked). She’s narrower than Escobar so it really makes no sense to me. Anyway, despite me being a saddle pad hoarder, Pia has her own special pads.

After Mary’s I went to the dentist (good times). Took forever, but I got my filling and started the process to get a new mouthguard made.

By the time I was done at the dentist, it was already time for lunch. I went to Wich Which and then to the library because I needed to stay around UTC. Later that evening I went to Polite Provisions with my friend L. We got food at Soda & Swine and I met her new man so that was fun.

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Purple Haze at Polite Provisions

Wednesday morning I went out to the barn again and then home to work. At the beginning of the week I had decided this was going to be a major work day so I worked hard to make a dent in my to-do list. I was tired by day’s end, but I had made good progress in turning the tide.

Thursday was another big work day and I worked pretty much from the time I got up until late afternoon when I had to go meet a client in Carmel Valley. It was an evening appointment so I didn’t actually get home for dinner until pretty late.

Friday morning I went to the barn and then hurried to shower so I could go to Peet’s Coffee with my neighbor. Friday was kind of a scramble as I woke up and realized I instantly had issues with Instagram and it affected all of my clients. I skipped doing the Miracle Morning when I got up and instead did it when we got to Peet’s. 10/10 would recommend. I immediately felt more settled after taking time to do the ritual. So if you do the Miracle Morning, don’t skip it if you can’t do it when you wake up. Just do it later.

We got lunch at Chipotle on the way back from Peet’s and I did some work at home before I went to meet with a prospective client in Del Mar. Then back home to keep working.

Saturday morning I had planned to do some work on Shadow of the Magician. I did do that, but it was slow going. My brain felt kind of foggy. And when I switched over to client work, the feeling persisted. I was honestly so disappointed in how unproductive the day was. I was grateful when the boyfriend called me around 4:30 pm and asked me to meet him and some friends at Intergalactic. I was ready to be done with my crap work day.

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Ham Keeping Me Company

We then went to dinner at Ruth’s Chris. Now I know what you’re thinking, but the boyfriend and I have collected lots of restaurant gift cards over the years. Lots of gift cards. Case in point: we had $75 to Ruth’s Chris that we finally decided to cash in. I felt bad for the girl who waited on us though even though I felt some silent judging on her end. When we only ordered entrees, I’m sure her thoughts went something like, Man I am not getting a nice tip off this table. I couldn’t even interest them in a drink. LOL. We did tip though, even though she barely paid attention to us. And it was fun to go somewhere fancy that we ordinarily couldn’t afford!

Sunday I woke up, hoping it would be a better, more productive day than Saturday. But it wasn’t and my introverted feelings deepened. Nevertheless, I did go to work. Worked on Shadow of the Magician again in the morning and again had a difficult writing session. But I realized that, chapter-wise, I’m officially halfway through the revision. Wordcount-wise, I’m more than halfway. So yay for that!

Elliot got groomed Sunday morning too and then after lunch I went to Panera, hoping that the air conditioning would help me focus. It helped a little and I got some things done, though again, it was kind of a dismal work day. When the boyfriend got home from work, I got him to watch an episode of Black Mirror with me. Of course, I chose a scary one. Of course.

What I’m Reading:

DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson (Finished!)

One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology edited by Lisa Mangum

Warstorm by Victoria Aveyard

Deep Work by Cal Newport

S.H.E. by Shannon Hogan Cohen

What I’m Listening To:

It felt like I listened to a little bit of everything this week.

What I’m Watching:

Black Mirror

What I’m Loving:

Instagram Polls

 

Undercurrents

Undercurrents: An Anthology of What Lies Beneath

Fear is primal. Instinctive. Unavoidable. And right now, there is something you fear—and you can feel it. Creeping up behind you. Lurking in the darkness that lives under your bed, or in your closet. A nameless dread. 

In Undercurrents: An Anthology of What Lies Beneath, twenty-three talented authors, including New York Times bestsellers Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, and Jody Lynn Nye, have stood on the shores of their psyches and looked out over the ocean of possibility and wondered “What lies beneath?” 

The sea creatures and sea monsters that answered their calls range from a giant kraken that rules the deepest ocean to the smallest puffer fish that creates intricate works of underwater art. Creatures of classic mythology—mermaids, sirens, and sea serpents—swim alongside more unusual beasts—underwater cats and singing whirlpools. These stories dive deep into the fears many of us face, including loss, abandonment, death, and physical, mental, or emotional danger. When the fears we keep buried beneath the surface rise up and threaten to consume, we must make a choice: conquer or be conquered. 

This anthology is the fourth volume produced by the alumni of the Superstars Writing Seminar, and all royalties benefit the Don Hodge Memorial Scholarship Fund. 

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After attending the Superstars conference this year, I picked up the newest anthology, Undercurrents. I’ve never been a big anthology reader though I own several (including all the rest of the Superstars anthologies).

But since I’ve been so busy lately and not had much time for reading, I found reading an anthology to be the perfect antidote to never feeling like I’m finishing anything. Instead of reading a chapter before bed, I get to read a whole story!

And, I really liked this anthology. I think every story in it was well-written, unique, and fresh. It was interesting to see how people interpreted the theme of “what lies beneath” and what they did with it. Many of the stories were more “classic” and involved krakens and sea monsters and sirens. But none of them were exactly conventional. Other stories took the theme of “what lies beneath” to thoroughly unexpected locales like Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. The stories also covered a range of genres from horror to sci-fi to fantasy and even contemporary fiction. There was only one story in this anthology I couldn’t really get into, but I think its style just didn’t appeal to me.

This anthology is a great one to have on your shelf and if you’re a person who is obsessed with the sea or sea monsters, you will definitely want to add this one to your collection!

 

Week in Review: June 30th – July 8th

Ok it was just too hot this weekend.

Too hot to write blogs.

Too hot to exist.

Just, too hot.

So, that’s why the week in review post is longer than a week and it also is being published on a different day!

I’ll try to keep this pretty short as I think I’m starting to get repetitive sometimes. We’ll see how that goes though…

On Saturday the 30th I got up, did some work, and then went to a meeting at Holsem Coffee. Got my delicious chai again. 10/10 would still recommend. When I got home, I ran into my neighbor and talked to him for awhile. I talked to him for so long that the Realtor showing the house that’s for sale on our street came out with the clients. Turned out it was my old friend and coworker! That was a fun surprise!

After that excitement, I went inside and worked until the boyfriend got home. We then went to UTC and got dinner at Chicago Fire Grill with one of our friends and my old assistant! The food was good and we had a great time. Lots and lots of laughs. I think laughter is the cure for many ills. Laughter is just good for the soul.

I don’t really remember what I did the next day, probably just worked. I’ve been very busy lately (not complaining, staying grateful) so I’m 98% sure I just worked through the entire day. Sunday night we went to a wedding on Mission Bay that was pretty casual and the view was fantastic!

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Monday I got up and rode Pia. It was good to go to the barn since I didn’t go on Friday, though Pia was not that good. That’s the thing about horses though, even when they’re not so good, can you even be upset? Horses are the best.

I didn’t get to hang around the barn as I had to run home and hop on a couple calls. Then the rest of the day was filled with work until it was time for writer’s group. I had more chapters in the hopper again and it was another good session. I’m really happy with how Shadow of the Magician is coming together and how much my group is helping support me through the process. You guys are the best!

After writer’s group was over, I stayed up late working on some edits and making notes for what else I needed to fix.

Tuesday I set up to be a monster work day as I knew I wanted to take part of the 4th of July off. So I tried to fit as much as I could into one day. This was also one of the few days where I woke up, did the Miracle Morning, and actually took Elliot for a walk. Elliot usually gets random walks when I need a break or some fresh air. I think he liked being out early and I did, too.

Wednesday was the 4th of July and I had scheduled myself just to work in the morning and then to take the rest of the day off. Work was pretty easy and relaxed as all of my clients were busy taking the day off themselves. I quit working at 12pm and the boyfriend and I took Elliot to the dog park. There weren’t many dogs there when we got there and then they all left (not Elliot’s fault though!) so we didn’t stay too long.

We had planned to go to the movies and decided to watched Deadpool 2 which wasn’t until later in the afternoon in La Jolla. We ended up going to Chicago Fire Grill again before going to the movie and ran into one of our friends from Saturday who was also there. The food was still good, but not as good. So the quality is maybe a little inconsistent.

I liked Deadpool, not as much as the first one, but it was still an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. It was late when we got home so I worked on my book for a little while and read until it was time for the fireworks. We can see the fireworks at Mira Mesa High School from our house so that is nice. We never go anywhere on the 4th of July anymore!

Thursday I went to the barn to ride Pia and discovered she had hit her head during the night, probably during the fireworks. One of her eyelids was a little swollen and then she got bit by some mosquitos or something and had been scratching at her welts. She was kind of a hot mess, poor girl. We decided to try riding her though and she was actually really good despite everything that was going on with her. It was starting to heat up already on Thursday and there were tons of flies at the barn. Pia got a nice cold shower after her turnout.

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After the barn, I went to Starbucks to do some work in the air conditioning until it was time to meet one of my clients at Forum Coffeehouse. That blue chat is deliciously consistent and it looks so darn cool in the cup. After I was done with that meeting, I went to the library in Mira Mesa to work and enjoy their A/C until they closed at 6pm.

Friday, I rode Pia again and she was also really good. Her various injuries looked better, too. But dang it was hot out there. We were both soaked with sweat when we were done. After my shower, I went straight to the library to work until lunch. Found out you can’t eat in the library. The guard was super nice about it though. Basically told me to just hide the snacks!

After lunch, I went to meet my friend, K, at King’s Craft Coffee in Poway. I know what you’re thinking, this girl consumes a lot of tea and chai lattes. And you’d be right about that. Someday maybe I’ll have my own office space, but until then, I’m trading my dollars for internet access and air conditioning. It was 109 on the way to Poway. 109. Holy hell.

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Sadly, it wasn’t that cool inside the King’s Craft. They are still my favorite coffee shop in San Diego though so I’m giving them a pass. I had one of their summer creations, I think this was hibiscus tea, orange juice, and vanilla. It was delicious. And of course it looked beautiful. Definitely Instagram-worthy. I worked until they closed and when I got back to my car, the thermostat was reading 118.

Just no. Do not like.

The boyfriend and I went and got dinner and when we came back, we dragged the air conditioning unit into his office and played video games together. Well, it ended up being that I played a video game, he bailed me out when I couldn’t figure out, and he watched Thor: Ragnarok on the other screen. Whatever. It was too hot to think of better activities we could do together.

Saturday, I just woke up pissed off. Mad at the world. Angry. Also it was already too damn hot. I escaped to the library as soon as I could to power through my Saturday work. The boyfriend skipped paintball because of the heat so I had planned to spend some time with him in the afternoon. We went over to our neighbor’s house and hung out in their air conditioning (N and K, you guys are the best!) We brought Elliot over because he looked really unhappy in our house. The cats were fine though. Freakin’ Ham kept going in our garage to hang out. But it had to be well over a hundred degrees in there. Cats, man.

On Saturday night, we went to Kura Revolving Sushi with friends. It was my first time there and it was great. Loved the concept and I thought the food was good. We got ice cream at Cafe Hue. Then the boyfriend and I went grocery shopping at Sprouts. The novelty has still not worn off. I love Sprouts! When we got home, I took a cold shower and laid in front of the air conditioner. Bliss.

Sunday morning, I went to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Poway with my neighbor so we could work on our respective books. This is a practice I highly recommend to writers…find an accountability buddy that lives near you and will go sit with you as you block out time to write and be creative. It really makes a huge difference in what is a very solitary pursuit. We both got some great work done, good progress on both of our books, and I really liked that location so I will be back. Despite the heat, it was not really that busy though I had to laugh as I looked around at the other people and they all had suitcases, duffle bags, and bags of stuff they needed to camp out and wait for the sun to go down. I definitely looked like that myself this weekend –  a refugee from the heat wave.

After lunch, I went to the Starbucks at Target by my house to work on client work and repeat the process of waiting around for the sun to go down and the temperature to drop.

This was a long, freakin’ hot weekend. I was not a fan. And I don’t even want to think about what our electric bill will be this month. Something horrendous I’m sure.

What I’m Reading:

Undercurrents: An Anthology of What Lies Beneath edited by Lisa Mangum (Finished!)

DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson

One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology edited by Lisa Mangum

Warstorm by Victoria Aveyard

What I’m Listening To:

There was a great episode of The Sunny Show this week. You can check it out here.

Also, if you like books, authors, and writing, I started listening to First Draft Pod. I’ve only listened to one episode, the one with Ransom Riggs, but I liked the format and plan to listen to more.

What I’m Watching:

Saw Deadpool 2 this week in theaters.

What I’m Loving:

Air conditioning. Hands down.

Recap: Superstars Writing Seminars 2018

Okay, so this conference happened at the end of January…yes, JANUARY! Better late than never on this review, right?

One of the reasons I did still want to do this review though is because this is the best writing conference I’ve ever been to. Seriously.

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Jonathan Maberry During a Breakout Panel

My neighbor has gone many times before and she was always telling me how would I like it and I should really come. I was resistant mostly because it’s an investment to travel to Colorado Springs where it’s held every year. What if I didn’t like it? What if I didn’t get anything out of it? It’s a long conference – it would be a lot of time off from my job and there was hotel, airfare, and meals.

But after the SDSU conference went on hiatus for 2018, I decided I would apply for the scholarship open to first year attendees. And after the application process, I was now so invested I had basically decided I was going to go even if I didn’t get the scholarship. I didn’t so I registered for everything in November.

I was excited about our hotel because the conference takes place at the Antlers. The Antlers is a historic hotel and while the hotel as it stands is not the original (it’s the third hotel of the same name on the same site), what’s notable about The Antlers is that Nikola Tesla might have stayed there instead of at the Alta Vista in 1899 if The Antlers hadn’t burnt to the ground the year before. You can read more about my Colorado Springs historic hotel research here. And while the Alta Vista has been gone for more than fifty years, I figured The Antlers would have some info about its history somewhere in the hotel. And I was right! They had pictures! I actually spent an hour one day walking around the hotel and photographing all of their pictures to file with my research. I didn’t expect to have much time to explore Colorado Springs  (and I didn’t) so it was nice to be able to get those photos.  I actually went to Colorado Springs a few years ago and took myself on a photographic research tour. You can see that story and photos here.

By the time January rolled around, I was pretty stressed. Superstars ended up being sandwiched between two horse shows and my birthday. I’d also picked up a couple clients and was trying to do that and my regular job beside it. I considered not going to the conference even though everything was pretty much already paid for because life felt very overwhelming. But I took a deep breath, told myself I would figure it out, and packed my bags for Colorado.

We flew into Colorado Springs which I have never done before. It was weird to be in my home state, but not seeing my family or any of my friends. I did have one friend I planned to go see in Colorado Springs, but as luck would have it, that didn’t end up working out so it really was a trip home without seeing any of the people who make it home.

One of the things that makes Superstars different is that there’s an emphasis on tribe and community. And that starts from the moment you show up because other members of the tribe that live local or are already in town volunteer to pick people up from the two airports. My neighbor and I ended up getting picked up with a guy from Texas who had also never been to Superstars before. We’re now all in a writing group together so if you needed a reference point for how well the tribe thing works, that pretty much tells you all you need to know!

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Branden Sanderson

My neighbor has been coming to Superstars for years so she knew tons of people which meant I immediately got introduced to tons of people. Everyone was very nice and welcoming even if I was a little overwhelmed. But after a few days, I started to remember people and made a few friends of my own.

Overall, what set this conference apart for me beyond the instruction was the people. So many friendly people. And so many people invested in making relationships, not acquaintances. I still talk to and interact with people I met at the conference beyond the ones that are now part of my writer’s group. And that is pretty darn cool.

Okay, so on to the instruction! I can honestly say I learned so much at the conference. It’s really a conference about the business of writing, how to make it a business, how to build a brand, and how to build a career for a lifetime. The first day is optional and it’s a “craft day” which is your traditional writing conference fare of topics related to the actual writing of stories. It was definitely good, don’t get me wrong, but the business of writing sessions were really life-changing for my process and my work.

I’ve always been very serious about wanting to write books. I’m also just pretty practical (at least in this sense, the rest of my life is debatable) and I’ve worked hard to find and create a career outside of writing. Because I love writing, books, and everything associated with being a writer, but I have no interest in starving for my art. That’s my personal line in the sand and you can say what you want about that, call me not a “real writer” or not dedicated enough because I don’t write everyday or because I’m not willing to be a starving artist, but I don’t care. I know who I am, what I was put on this Earth to do, and I also know how deep my dedication runs.

Anyway. Mini rant over. So, what was really life-changing for me was I really came around to the idea of thinking of each of my books as a product. It’s not a book, it’s a product for sale, and if the market does not want it, there’s not much you can do about that. You can attempt to fix it, but at some point you might need to concede defeat and try something else. That has been really life-changing in my approach to my process and goals. I’ve been working on Shadow of the Magician off and on since the spring of 2012. I wrote a couple drafts of another book called Haven’s Gate in the meantime that I never was able to get representation for. And I wrote an untitled draft of the first book in a sci-fi trilogy. But I have largely been consumed by this project at different points over the last six years and I’ve lost track of what number draft I’m on. I think six or seven because the story has had three huge development shifts that prompted complete rewrites. But my point now is that this is the last time around. If this doesn’t do it, I’m moving on to something else because life is short and I have more stories I want to write.

I took tons of notes during the lectures and really learned so much that I didn’t know about the way publishing works, whether it’s traditional or self-publishing. I met writers at all different stages in their careers, published and not. I got to hear from Branden Sanderson, Jonathan Maberry, James Owen, Dave Farland, and Kevin J. Anderson which was all really fantastic. I also had lunch with Jonathan and dinner with James a few times. Those are the kinds of experiences that Superstars gives you!

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Dinner With James Owen and New Friends

I also got to practice pitching my book and finally felt like I truly get the difference between the hook, the pitch, and the synopsis and how to create them. This is essential information for any aspiring authors and it’s an art all in itself. If you’ve ever asked me or someone else whose writing a book what the book is about and you got back a rambling, disjointed answer, it’s because writing the book is one thing. Being able to distill the 85,000 words that are in the book and the 40,000 that are on the cutting room floor and the 30,000 that make up your notes and the countless books you read while doing research and all the internet rabbit holes you went down into just a paragraph or a pithy sentence is a mighty tall order.

I am looking forward to heading back to Superstars next winter for the 10th anniversary conference! You can find out more about the 2019 Superstars Writing Seminars conference here and if you have more questions about my experience, just let me know! Also if you are thinking about going, I can get you a discount code for $100 off your registration! This discount is good until November 1, 2018.

 

Featured Poem: The New Colossus

In celebration of the 4th of July, a poem about America:

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By Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

via Poets.org