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Monday, September 22, 2014

Themes that Rocked the Challenge - Classic Monsters with Mina Burrows!

Today’s featured Challenge participant, author Mina Burrows, rocked with a theme of classic monsters!

What made you choose classic monsters as your theme for the Challenge?

I had a few themes in mind this year, but ended up asking my blogger friends for their opinions. They helped me pick the monster theme. I’m a huge fan of classic literature and am fascinated with classic authors and the original monsters they created. Monsters like Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. These beasts and their stories have mystified fans for years, and I thought it would be cool to highlight them.

Which monster was your favorite?

This is a tough one to answer. Out of this year’s A-Z posts, I think the Orc was one of my favorite monsters. These creatures, or a version of them, have been referenced in classic literature like Beowulf and then of course reinvented thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien. Orcs are menacing, man-eating, elf-like beasts and I just love them!

Many came from movies – care to guess how many monster movies you’ve seen over the years? How many of the films you featured have you seen?

I can’t even begin to guess how many monster flicks I’ve seen. I know I saw a ton when I was a kid, but I’m not sure if those count when I can’t remember much of the movie anyway. I believe I saw most of the monster movies from my A-Z posts, including almost all of Universal’s mash of monsters. Off the top of my head, I haven’t seen the latest Godzilla film (*smacks forehead*) and The Creature of the Black Lagoon.

Which letter was the most difficult?

Y. I wanted to choose Yeti, but that was another way to say Abominable Snowman so I couldn't do that one again since I used it for my A post. I ended up choosing Yule Cat, which I thought was so cool when I discovered it. Come to think of it, Yule Cat would be a great story to retell or write a spin-off in some cool way.

Are you a gamer? Did any of your monsters come from RPG’s like Dungeons and Dragons?

I used to play a ton of video games. Now I play stuff with my kids like Lego Star Wars and Harry Potter. Zombies are probably my favorite with respect to gaming. I’m a huge Resident Evil fan. When I decided to post on Dragons for the letter D, I knew instantly I would discuss Dungeons and Dragons. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about that game realm, but I had a wonderful time learning about it from Timothy Brannan’s blog, The Other Side. He has an amazing depth of knowledge about monsters, witches and the D&G realm. He's incredibly talented.

Do you think the Loch Ness Monster is real?

Yes I do! There is too much unknown lurking in bodies of water like the Loch Ness that I think it's completely plausible. That and there have been many sightings. In general, the Scottish Highlands is known for its legendary tales of magic and mystical forces like fairies, druids, witches, stone circles, gods and Nessie too. I think there may be some truths to the legends.

How many Godzilla films have you seen?

Gosh, I've forgotten how many. Several, when I was younger because I had two older brothers who made me watch stuff like that all the time. I was the youngest, so I didn't have much choice it what we watched so I’m glad I liked it.

Do you have a theme in mind for next year’s Challenge?

Not yet. I've been thinking about it too. I’ll probably do what I did this year and come up with a few ideas and let the readers pick. When you get audience or reader participation, you get people involved in the process and somewhat expectant or excited about what's to come.

That’s a good idea. Although I’d be worried what they might choose for me… Thanks, Mina!

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Letter Play - A Mixed Bag O' Fun!

After going on hiatus following a 2012 run, my Friday Fun Time series resurfaces today! Those of you who are new to the game, fear not...the instructions are simple: Guess the grocery store products that each letter represents in the following photos. I will announce the winner who has the most correct answers, in a future blog post. 






Can YOU identify and name the items/products that these letters represent?

Thank goodness it's Friday! Have a super duper one, everybody!

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers discusses movies at The Madlab Post. She continues to support the American Red Cross and discuss various topics on Twitter.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Storyteller's Perspective: 5 Things You Can Ask a Storyteller, and 5 Things You Shouldn't

When people ask me "So, what do you do for a living?" and I answer "I'm a storyteller," there is a whole scale of reactions that can be expected from any given conversation partner, ranging from awkward confused silence all the way to "That is SO COOL!" Like many other people with unusual jobs, us storytellers also hear many comments and questions repeated over and over again, and while some of them are endearing and intelligent, others kind of grate on our nerves. In order to make everyone feel better, here are some things you should and should not say next time you meet someone who identifies as a storyteller:

Negative Top 5: Na-ah you did NOT!

1. Can you actually make money with that?
Apart from being a rude question to ask anyone in any field, it is also kind of ignorant. If I'm a professional storyteller, I am obviously making money from it. How much is none of your business.

2. So you are a politician? Ha-ha-ha!
Ha. Ha. Ha.
No, my stories are good.

3. Wow, you must be a very good liar.
Again, rude! Calling anyone a liar is not a good start for a conversation. Also, stories are by far not the same as lies. I believe in every story I choose to tell.
(And, for the record, I am a terrible, terrible liar)

4. So, what books do you read from?
Wanna see a storyteller fume? This is the question that'll do it. Even some people who have seen me tell on stage, and without a book in sight, congratulated me after for "reading" great stories. No, we don't read. We tell. By heart.

5. Can you do some stories for us for free?
Sure, can you clean my house for free? How about doing my taxes for free? Storytelling is a profession and a performing art form. If you wouldn't ask a musician or a stand-up comedian to perform for free, don't ask a storyteller either. And if you would, shame on you.

Positive Top 5: That's a great question!

1. What kinds of stories do you tell?
We love stories and we love talking about them! Also, by asking you avoid making assumptions about what we do as a storyteller. Also, note that "tell" is better than "read."

2. Are you performing in the area?
As performers, we are likely to travel a lot for gigs. If you are really interested, feel free to ask where our next show will be, and maybe you'll hear something cool!

3. Do you know any good stories about...?
Yes. Yes we do. And if not, we love to look for them. Ask about something you are interested in, and let us help you track down the tales you need!

4. What kinds of audiences do you work with?
Instead of asking flat-out if we would do your daughter's birthday party for free, find out what we like to work with. Some storytellers happily tell to anyone between the ages of 0 and 100, while others prefer a specific group such as elementary schools, teenagers (my personal favorite), or museum visitors.

5. That sound cool! Where can I find out more about it?
Storytelling events and organizations are all over the place. It is likely that there is one in your neighborhood too! And if not, there are multiple online communities. If you really want to find out more about what storytellers do, don't be shy to ask!

Generally, storytellers love talking about stories, and love talking about what we do. No one goes into storytelling for riches and fame - we do it as a passion. If you know the right questions to ask, you will learn about great things!

You can find Csenge (@TarkabarkaHolgy) at
The Multicolored Diary - Adventures in Storytelling
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

Monday, September 15, 2014


No. This not a blog block: 
This is a building block. 
But if the above chunk of rock fell on your toe, you would probably yell, “Oh, damn!”

Not this kind of dam. Do not be confused. 

Blog block is a painful malady. Fingers are raised to the keyboard…the pressure is on to produce funny repartee and… YA GOT NUTHIN'! It’s a horrible feeling.
What’s a blocked blogger to do? There are several options.



It’s simple. Turn off your inner editor and procrastinate productively (Whaa?). Scour the net for unique images that speak to you. Pinterest is a great place to start. Photographer websites are good, too. Check out    (Remember to not nab the photos. Need I say more?)
Need a quote to get ya going?  Try Brainy Quote or GoodReads’ popular quotes.

There is so much out THERE…in that unseen, untouchable ether which we lovingly call the ‘net’.
What? How do I know so much about blog block? Uh…well…you see…OMG! Where are my wrist braces? I think I left them outside at the last blood moon. Oh, I’m not scared. My muse will find them!

 Today's colorful post was brought to you by the inimitable Helen Jameson!

**all images borrowed from free image sharing sites - thanks!**

Friday, September 12, 2014

Step on the Gas! A September Check-In #atozchallenge #roadtrip #LifeisGood

The Summer is winding down but if the activity in the blogosphere these last few days are any indication, our sun shiny days are to be continued. Having this in mind, I noticed a quick and much needed tune-up to my blog-visiting engine while participating in the Sunflowers for Tina blog hop that took place earlier this week. It was easy to take on the task of visiting 100+ bloggers since Monday September 8th mostly due to determination and willingness to see how other people joined us in paying tribute to our late Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host, and Co-Founder of the A-to-Z Challenge Road Trip – Tina Downey of Life is Good.

Although the task has yet to be completed, I stumbled upon a Robyn Alana Engel's Life By Chocolate blog, which reminded me of our previous detour seeking out blogs named after food. Since I started visiting blogs randomly based on my familiarity with them, it led me to many places that I haven’t visited in a long time such as Elizabeth Mueller’s blog. This experience has given me the idea that getting through mini blog hops within the A-to-Z Community has multiple benefits for the Road Tripper:

  • It helps you get back into the habit of visiting blogs on a regular basis. So in other words, it’s a huge plus for those of us who pulled over on the side of the road numerous times. What a great way to play catch-up.
  • It gives you the chance to measure how long – in hours or days -- it would take for you to visit a certain number of blogs. Having this knowledge can make things a little easier as you break your visiting down into small, manageable chunks.
  • There are sunflowers on every blog on the list. Now I don’t know about you, but, being presented with a bright outlook for the day is enough for me to want to visit someone’s blog.

Most (if not all) blogs on the Sunflowers for Tina list have participated in the A-to-Z Challenge during one year or another. Since this means that many of these blogs did the 2014 challenge and survived to tell all about it, driving through this little memorial highway would count toward your road trip visits and also give you the chance to make some new blogging buddies. So, I’m calling out all bloggers who are on this A-to-Z Challenge Road Trip with Heather and I to step on the gas!

It is a great feeling to achieve the intimidating feat of visiting over 100 blogs in just a few days. Doing so means there is a chance that we can visit everyone by next Spring if we apply even a little bit of this diligence to the remaining portion of blogs from April’s alphabet party. It’s just a hopeful thought.

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers takes readers behind the movie scenes at The Madlab Post. She is currently being influenced by top-notch magicians while continuing her campaign to benefit the American Red Cross.