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Friday, November 28, 2014

Thankful Today

Black Friday is finding me at home just as it has for the past decade. No crowd fighting, traffic jams or parking lot cursing for me. This day is more restful for me than the actual day of Thanksgiving. With six children in our family, we have a good-sized gathering at our house. I make everything. I get help with cleanup  but mostly the day is massive work for me. But today, I'm not fixing any meals. Good turkey sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner while mom rests.

I'm sure I'll be working on some writing projects but I wanted to take a moment to share what I'm thankful beyond just my wonderful family and comfortable home.

*I'm part of wonderful writing groups both online and local. I can find the answer to almost any question I have about this business and I learn from them.

*Beyond questions, these groups offer endless moral support.

*With the world in shambles in many ways, I'm glad I can search out facts from a variety of sources online and form my won opinions. I always suspect bias when I read or watch traditional media like newspapers and TV.

*Along the same lines, I'm thankful that where I live the government never tries to shut down or block twitter or other social media expressions.

*And I'm thrilled with the invention of online shopping. I'll probably get more Christmas shopping down from my office than most of those people standing in long lines at stores. And now that my children are grown, I don't have to search out any 'toy of the season' like I did when my boys were into The Power Rangers all those years ago.

*I'm absurdly grateful when readers take the time to review my books.

Hopefully, you have today as a holiday after yesterday's indulgence. Or if you're not from the USA, I hope you know that we're thankful to have friends across the globe.

Anything besides family, home and hearth, you're thankful for today? Do any digital shopping today or did you venture out into the malls of bedlam? Any special online support you're grateful to have?

Susan Gourley writes epic fantasy and also romance as Susan Kelley. She's the author of the bestselling Recon Marines Series and The Warriors of Gaviron Series. Her blog is Susan Says.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

When You Don’t Know What to Blog About…

The internet can seem like a scary place for bloggers who are experiencing a bit of writer’s block. After all, you have followers who visit regularly to read the latest pondering on your topic of choice. Who knows what’s going to happen if they arrive and there’s nothing new on the horizon? Do you even really want to find that out? Here are a few ways to get through those periods when your creativity engine has halted and you don’t know what to blog about.

Post a picture because images are nice to look at. It’s an easy way to deliver one thousand words to your blog readers without having to write a single sentence.

Tell a story because people relate to each other through shared experiences and intrigue. You’ll probably get return visitors if it’s funny, empathy from readers if it’s sad or hate mail if it’s controversial enough to make someone uncomfortable.

Ask a question because you’ve been dying to know something. Maybe you want to know if it’s just you who does that unspeakable thing sometimes in the middle of the night. Maybe you’re curious to find out where other people stand on a particular subject. Maybe you want options to troubleshoot a problem you’re having. Or maybe…just maybe…you want to outsource the need for having to come up with blogging ideas on your own. Whatever the reason for asking is…just ask.

Link to someone else’s blog because he or she has already done the work and beat you to it. Ugh. Don’t those prolific bastards just make you sick?! Yeah. They’re blogging it up while you’re staring at the keyboard and a blank page on the computer screen. Don’t hate them. Congratulate these bloggers instead by telling your readers to go check out the good blog post they recently put up. It will make you look good to your blog visitors because you’re helping them find other cool blogs to read and it will also save you from having to put up your own post…at least for now.

Respond to a current event because everybody has an opinion about the latest stories being reported on by the media. Whether it’s Dunkin Donuts’ new Cronut, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay,” Ebola, Immigration, Olivia Pope’s outfits on the last episode of ABC’s “Scandal,” Martha Stewart’s recipe for pumpkin soup, there’s something in the news that you surely can comment on in 400-500 words or more. Do that.

Review a product, service or event because that new thingamajig you recently bought or ate or participated in has exceeded your expectations. That is, unless it fell short of what you thought you were getting into, for one reason or another. Either way, blog about whether you are happy with your purchase or experience. The information could possibly be very helpful to another person who is considering buying/reading/eating/using/doing the very thing you already bought/read/ate/used/did.

What do YOU do when you don’t know what to blog about?

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers blogs at The Madlab Post and she is an official ambassador of the 2014 Couch Fest Films Festival. Connect with her @MadlabPost on Twitter.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Themes That Rocked the Challenge - Joss and Dogs All Day!

Today we welcome Joss from Dreaming of Publication and her theme of dogs all day long!

What made you choose dogs as your Challenge theme?

Dogs have brought so much joy to me, throughout my life that I wanted to do something that celebrated them. The A to Z challenge provided the perfect opportunity to do just that and so I figured, why not.

Which dog or letter is your favorite?

I had so many wonderful dogs, owners and charities get involved that it would be impossible for me to choose just one. They were all amazing and absolutely adorable.

Which letter was the most challenging?

Definitely X. I just had no idea how I was ever going to find either a dog whose name began with X or a breed. To my amazement I found the Xoloitzcuintle or Xolo for short and an amazing doggie rescue along with them, called The Naked K9 Rescue. Xolos are adorable, by the way, you should definitely check out the rescue if you are looking to add an lovely new, furry, or not so furry friend to your life.

How many of the dogs featured were your own?

Well, I only have the two dogs now Harley De and Ludo, both of whom played a part, but there was also a couple of my past pups in there too. Indie who was a lively little Westie and Hooch, our Rottweiler, who sadly passed away a few months before A to Z began.

Which breed makes the best family pet?

That depends on the family. There is such a diverse range of breeds out there, all with a very different set of needs. The more active family might enjoy a working breed such as a Border collie or Springer spaniel while the more relaxed family might favor something a little less energetic like a Chihuahua or a Bulldog.

When it comes to finding the perfect dog for your family, you really have to do your research. There are so many aspects to consider beyond is the dog cute.

A good rescue centre is a great place to start, because they know the dogs in their care and will take the time to help pair you and your family with just the right pet.

One thing that people really do need to remember; however, is that it doesn’t have to be pedigree to be great, there are a lot of wonderful mixed breeds out there. My Harley de included.

What is the most misunderstood breed?

Right now I think it is probably Pit bull terriers, they have a terrible reputation which is entirely unfounded. It’s important for people to remember that any dog can be dangerous. Dogs are what we make them. If you raise them right, any breed can be fantastic. It’s the irresponsible owners not the dogs that cause the problems.

What’s the funniest dog story you can tell us?

That has to be a story about my beautiful Rottie Hooch. Hooch was very much a lover of food and in his later years his waistline really suffered because of this. Like most dogs who are a little too fond of their food, hooch was not adverse to stealing it.

One afternoon, while my husband was working in the loft and I was in the living room playing a game with my son, hooch decided to do some thievery of his own and headed for the kitchen.

Shortly after, there was a loud crash, followed by a fair amount of rustling that brought me quickly to my feet and had the hubby yelling “Hooch!!!”

As I opened the living room door and headed out into the hall the hubby’s anger turned to laughter. Somewhat perplexed I rounded the corner and smiled. Dan was gazing down from the attic, at our big dumb rottie who stood below wagging his stump and giving his best “What I didn’t do anything face.” A face that might have had us fooled if it wasn’t for the bin lid stuck around his neck.

What theme are you considering for the Challenge next year?

I’m really not sure yet. I was thinking I might go for easy and just do a random things theme, but knowing me I’ll probably change my mind last minute. Nothing like giving yourself a stress boost, right?

Nothing like those last minute posts for stress. Thanks Joss!

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon Best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, and his blog can be found HERE

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Effectively Human: 2nd Annual Holiday Food Drive #feedthehungryeh

Effectively Human:
2nd Annual Holiday Food Drive

I can say I was honored to be asked to help out with this, it brings to light a need for all of us to do something to help others. Also a great person we had lost this year, Tina Downey... who had helped in the first year of this drive... so I was thrilled to be asked by "M. J. Joachim" that she was going to keep this going...

A bright spirit shines down on us, smiling that our efforts don't go unnoticed.. remember we can do something and we should do something... so please COMMENT/SHARE/HELP!

Be Safe, Be Well... Hug Someone you think might need it and please, GIVE... thank you!


So here is the information:

2nd Annual Holiday Food Drive
December 4 - 6, 2014
Everywhere on the World Wide Web
Hosted by Effectively Human

Goal: To help fill our local food bank shelves, so as many people as possible can get the food they need.

How? Promote local food banks via sharing their websites on our social network sites, profiling them in our writing, sponsoring activities for them and volunteering to help them in any way we can.

For 3 days we want to saturate the web with anything food bank and hunger related to raise awareness about hunger and help feed those in need.

Why? Because people are hungry, food banks need our support and we want to help.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Characters Who Blog

The other day I caught the end of the Lord of the Rings: Two Towers film on TV. It's my favorite of Peter Jackson's adaptations, in no small part because of his depiction of Gollum. A tragic character, I always find myself drawn in by his multiple personality disorder and obsessive love for the object of his (both literal and figurative) demise. 

As such a fascinating creature, I couldn't help but wonder what he might write about if he participated in the A to Z Challenge. Let's take a look: 

I have such a soft spot for tortured characters, especially ones who are at odds with themselves. Gollum was definitely some of Tolkien's best work. I hope his blog inspires you in your upcoming A to Z Challenge foray! 

Have a great weekend everyone and as always, happy blogging!

S. L. Hennessy can be found blogging over at Pensuasion