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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Call for More Guest Posters!


Greetings fellow A-Zers! I'm just dropping in to remind you that you are welcome to guest post here at the A-Z blog! It can be a post about any topic that would be of interest to your fellow alphabet friends, or if you're feeling shy, I've written a questionnaire that you could answer as your post.

Last year, as we were gearing up for the challenge, each of the co-hosts answered a set of questions so that all of you could get to know us better. This idea is similar, but the questions are a bit different. It's in the vein of Alex's every other Wednesday featuring a participant. However, he interviews them each personally, and this would be something you do on your own.

Guest post go up on Mondays and Tuesdays since we have regular features the other days of the week. If you're interested, please email me (Tina) at tndowney (at) gmail (dot) com. The info@ email address is about to just bounce everything directly to me anyway as we make the transition to the 2013 info@ address.

Here are the questions you can use to base your post on, if you'd like some guidance:

  1. When did you start blogging and why? Tell us a bit about the kind of blog you have.  Be sure to include the name of your blog and the link.

  2. How did you find out about the challenges, and how many have you done? What was your favorite part of participating?

  3. What suggestions would you have for visiting new blogs during the A to Z challenge?  What blog visiting strategy has worked for you during the challenge?

  4. What topics or themes would you like to see other bloggers cover during the challenge? What types of content (poetry, short stories, writing tips, photos, reviews, etc.) would you enjoy reading during the A to Z Challenge?

  5. Please tell us something unusual about yourself – don't be shy. Check out my revelation from last year here.


  6. Are you joining the challenge in 2013? Are you doing a theme? Please share any plans you have. We promise not to steal your ideas.

    If you'd like to guest, leave a note in the comments AND email me. I'm hoping for a bunch of brave participants so that we can have all our Mondays and Tuesdays filled until 2013. It's always good to have goals...

    Tina

Friday, September 28, 2012

Alphabet Soup - Cinematic C's


This word puzzle is brought to you by Nicole at The Madlab Post...


As the current Alphabet Wizard, Caitlin at Happy Hootenany won the choice of the letter for Today's Alphabet Soup game. Since there hasn't been a selection at the time of this writing, however, I'm just going to work with the Letter C, as that is the initial of her name. C is for Cinema - Unscramble the following Cinematic terms that start with Letter C. The first commenter who correctly unscrambles all or most of these cinematic terms, at best, wins this week's Alphabet Soup game. Answers and the name of the winner will be posted here at the A to Z blog during next week's "Friday Fun Time - Alphabet Remix."

1. iterapngmhyCoa ________________

2. ctsuCgnhoiCa ________________

3. esdnigirlCsotC ________________

4. Cyitnotuin ________________

5. oiroCtl s________________

Have a Fantastically Fun Friday Everyone!

Nicole

Also @MadlabPost on Twitter

Sign up for the Monday Movie Meme, a weekly group blogging series that inspires discussion about entertainment in a whole new light and provides recommendations for your DVD, on-demand or theater fix. New topics are posted every Monday at The Madlab Post!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do you Hate Google Word Verification as much as I do?

January next year, I would have blogged for 5 years at Amlokiblogs.

I'm not the most disciplined of bloggers, I post when the mood takes me, I return comments as much as I can, I browse through blogs I follow. I'm mostly content.

But recently, one thing has begun to get my goat: Google Word Verification.

I read a post that is intriguing, and I have something to say. It takes me a minute to type my comment, look at it again to ensure I haven't made any gaffes, and then I hit publish.

Which is when I see the blurry dancing letters of google verification, jostling each other as if in a mad rush to get on that last airship leaving the planet. Approaching middle age, my vision is trying to decide which way to go downhill. So I pore and squint, dance my head about for better perspective, and finally I think I've got it: the magic code, the mantra of numbers and words.

I type it in. No joy.
The word you typed in does not match..blah blah. 
Refresh, repeat, curse colorfully in all the languages I speak, tell myself to keep calm, persist.

By the time I leave the blog I want to curse Blogger, Word Verification, the poor blogger.

Why the hell can Google not make it a little easier on my poor eyes?
Why can the blogger not have Comment Moderation enabled instead of Word Verification?
Why should I be required to jump through hoops to post a measly comment?

When I hosted the A to Z Challenge last year, I posted a message the first time requesting the participant to remove WV. The next time, if they still had it on, I skipped the blog.

But as a visitor, I think it would be rude of me to do the 'pointing out' to a blogger I'm possibly visiting for the first time.

So. Deep Breath. Onward and forward I go, trying to prove I'm not a robot, making my eyes go blind that much faster.

Do any of you feel this way? Any words of advice?








Saturday, September 22, 2012

Letter Play - N is for News

The following blog photo (alphabet letter only) is brought to you by Nicole Ayers at The Madlab Post....

First, I apologize for dropping the ball on our regularly scheduled Friday Fun Time program. This post comes a day late because I forgot to write one this week and didn't realize it until last night, as I was at an AMC movie theater in New York, watching "The Girl is In Trouble," starring actor Columbus Short and produced by independent film director, Spike Lee. You see, that's just it -- Letter N is for News today and I'm showing you guys one photo featuring a letter that describes one of the characteristics of news, whether it be on TV, radio or in print. That thing is: URGENCY!

Me with Short Film "Barbasol" Writer & Producer Kiara C. Jones 

More importantly, the urgency of me getting "Letter Play" up to date coincides with other writing duties -- duties related to my field of interest. Right now (read: this weekend), nothing is more Urgent than the 2012 Urbanworld Film Festival. Well, that AND me moving forward with the production of my short film due out later this Fall. So, I welcome you all to bear with me for the next week or so because things will be hectic but that still doesn't meant that I have forgotten about my A to Z Challenge peeps!





Here is a photo that you can use on your blog, if needed, for the Letter U during the A to Z Challenge in April:



Have A Great Weekend, Everybody!

Sign up for the Monday Movie Meme, a weekly group blogging series that inspires discussion about entertainment in a whole new light and provides recommendations for your DVD, on-demand or theater fix. New topics are posted every Monday at The Madlab Post!

NICOLE
Also @MadlabPost on Twitter


Thursday, September 20, 2012

NASA: The Latest and Greatest


So what’s the latest and greatest regarding NASA? And why should I care, you ask? Hasn't the shuttling of the Space Shuttle Program and cutbacks in funding and lack of vision from our political leaders made this once awesome organization boring and irrelevant? Well, please allow me dispel these thoughts and take you on a tour of the NASA Web site. 

NASA: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. Since February 2006, NASA's mission statement has been to "pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research.” 

You can check out the latest and greatest in news, missions, multimedia, apps, and other ways to connect with NASA. You can even plan a visit to some of their eighteen facilities across the United States. 

NASA For Students: Have kids? Are you a school teacher, home schooler, or know someone who is? Then the NASA for Educators, the NASA for Students, and the NASA Kids Club and are worth a navigating and Bookmark or save in your Favorites. 

NASA for Students is broken up into grade groups of: 
K-4 
5-8 
9-12 
Higher Education 

Each group has age appropriate links. Example, NASA is sponsoring the 2012 NASA Space Settlement Design Program for 6th through 12 graders and can join as individuals, groups, or entire classrooms. 

Design a space settlement! Space settlements are permanent communities in orbit, as opposed to being on the moon or other planets. Designing a space settlement involves physics, mathematics, space science, environmental science and many other disciplines. This contest is for 11-18-year-old students from anywhere in the world. Individuals or teams may enter. Grades 6-8, 9-10 and 11-12 are judged separately, except for the grand prize. Submissions must be received by March 15, 2012. Click the link for more details, contest prizes, and certificates. 

And check out the Current Opportunities for Kids link. NASA  also hosts youth ambassadors from around the globe for successful outreach programs. NASA’s Web site is a great site for kids to research homework and for author to research their novels. 

What about classrooms and partnering with other classrooms around the globe? 

Virtual Tours: Can't work out a visit to a NASA facility? Check out their interactive features such as their Interactive Features and Virtual Tours.

Connect with NASA: Yep. There's an app for that. Check out the various apps and social networks NASA has such as Facebook and Twitter. 

What's Next For NASA? NASA is conducting an unprecedented array of missions that will seek new knowledge and understanding of Earth, the solar system and the universe. NASA has observatories in Earth orbit and deep space, spacecraft visiting the moon and other planetary bodies, and robotic landers, rovers, and sample return missions. One example is designing and building the capabilities to send humans to explore the solar system and working toward a goal of landing humans on Mars. 

NASA has a payback on our hard-earned tax dollars, providing great paying jobs, supporting entire communities, and opening doors for incredible future opportunities such as planet colonization and mining asteroids (more on this in a future post).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Special Challenge Participant Feature - Rick Daley and Movies!

Today we welcome Rick Daley from My Daley Rant! His theme for the A to Z Challenge was movies, something we can all enjoy. He was willing to answer a few questions about films, remakes, and bad adaptations.

Your theme was movies – which I thought rocked – what made you decide to post about films?

Short answer: I thought it would be easy.

Long answer: I wanted to participate in the A-Z challenge because my blog is more neglected than a fact at a political rally. Posting every day for a month seemed like a great way to force myself into action…I am a world-class procrastinator (MOTTO: Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow).

Before I pulled the trigger and signed up, I wanted to make sure I could finish the task. I needed a topic I could dive into, deep. I’m the kind of guy who knows a little bit about a lot of things—my wife calls me a “vessel of useless knowledge”—but one area in which my inventory of arcane knowledge runs deep is film. I made a list, A-Z, and quickly came up with at least one movie title per letter. It was time to email Alex…

It was an eclectic mix, so I have to ask – what’s your favorite genre?

That’s tough. I think I’ll have to go with Comedy. My favorite movie is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so if that’s my favorite movie, it must be in my favorite genre, right? Besides, laughter is always good. Except maybe at a funeral. But then again, *Death at a Funeral is a damn funny movie.

I don’t know if there is a genre I don’t like. I love horror movies, too. And superhero movies, martial arts movies, action / suspense / thrillers, some dramas, even some RomComs have merit.

*Even though I have some choice words about remakes in general in response to the next question, the re-make of Death at a Funeral with Chris Rock is 100% hilarious.

Talk to us about your R post, Robocop and Ridiculous Remakes.

I went back and re-read that post… Now I have to rant for a minute. Studios are churning out remakes because they think it will net them a quick buck. Marketing can be cheaper when your name is already known. Properties ranging from 70s TV shows to board games have made it to the silver screen without any regard for quality. Many have sucked, while good, original stories deserving of the limelight go unnoticed. Not that I am bitter. It’s just that Remakes are the new Prequel. (Remember ten years ago, when Prequels were the new Sequel?)

Then you have movies like Prometheus, which was tied to Alien, one of the best horror / sci-fi / thrillers of all time, but tied to it in a new way, that supposedly stood on its own.

I was really excited to see Prometheus, and it ended up as the biggest letdown of my film-watching life. Here we have a fantastic tale of wasted potential: a movie with an excellent premise but stocked with characters so dumb you could create a satire like Airplane! without changing a single line in the script. It was lazy writing. The characters had no purpose being together in that story. Formulae was pinched from other properties, but the recycling didn’t work in Prometheus…In LOST, a group of disparate characters waking up and meeting each other for the first time worked because they were on a crashed commercial flight, but that made no sense on a trillion-dollar corporate investment to meet God. In Alien, a roughneck captain leading a crew in deep space worked because the ship was essentially a tractor-trailer; but that made no sense on a trillion-dollar corporate investment to meet God.

Some people argue about the film’s thematic implications of the origins of life, claiming the movie is interesting because of what it leaves unresolved. For me, the problem is not what the movie didn’t tell us; its flaw is what was actually on the screen. I could go on and on (and on), but there are other questions I need to address…

You talked about Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein and Quentin Tarantino. Any other favorite directors?

The Warchowskis did a fantastic job with The Matrix (I’m not a big fan of the 2nd and 3rd in the trilogy, but the original is a modern classic, truly groundbreaking).

Peter Jackson nailed it with LOTR, but I am very disappointed to hear he is breaking The Hobbit into three movies. I think he is giving himself too much license and I worry he will stray too far from the primary story. LOTR succeeded as three movies, but it was also three books.

Steven Spielberg is a director who has made countless exceptional films over the years, demonstrating success in multiple genres. Scorsese has, too.

And speaking as a kid who saw Star Wars at a drive-in when I was six, George Lucas played a large role in my childhood.

Finally, while we’re talking about directors, I must lament the passing of Tony Scott, who directed my T-movie and one of my all-time favorite films, True Romance.


You also mentioned books to movies. What are some of the worst adaptations?

The Sum of All Fears tops my list of bad adaptations…Harrison Ford declined the role of Jack Ryan in this film, and the studio fixed that problem by making the character of Jack Ryan a junior analyst instead of the senior agent who had Hunted for Red October, played the Patriot Games, survived the Clear and Present Danger, and rescued the Cardinal from the Kremlin. (NOTE: The lattermost title never made it to film, but the story has a huge role in the plausibility of Ryan’s actions in The Sum of All Fears).

By casting a young actor (Ben Afflek), the writers removed Ryan’s experience and zapped the film of the realism that makes Clancy’s books so damn good. The result is a brainless romp with a cheesy ending.

Do you consider yourself a real movie geek?

No, I only geek out about fake movies ;-)

Have you ever done an all-day, extended-version marathon of Lord of the Rings?

Not yet. I don’t have the extended editions of The Two Towers or Return of the King, so an extended-edition marathon is out of the picture (yeah, there’s a pun, take it or leave it). The real challenge is getting permission from my family to let me just sit on the couch for ten hours watching LOTR at volumes that shake the very foundation of my home, which I would gladly do if only they would let me.


If you do the Challenge again next year, what theme would you consider?

I’m also a musician, so next year I may go after bands and songs, another area where I have very eclectic taste.

Thanks, Rick! Music would be an awesome theme for next year.


Co-host Ninja Captain Alex is the author of CassaStar and CassaFire and his blog can be found HERE

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monstrous Monday Brought to You by Tim Brannan

            Today's guest is two time A to Z veteran Tim Brannan.  The podium is yours Tim.

My name is Tim Brannan and I blog over at The Other Side.  My blog is primarily a gaming blog; I write about Role-Playing Games, the original kind, with paper, pencils and dice.  I tend to focus primarily on games I have been involved with over the last 30+ years of playing, running and eventually, writing them.   So my blog, originally, began as a means of me improving on and showing off my game writing.   My particular interests though lie in horror games.  I worked on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG and I wrote Ghosts of Albion.  So I wanted to expand out in to horror as well.


I came to the A to Z blogging challenge back in 2011.  I figure I was blogging everyday anyway, so the challenge for me was finding something to say that began with that day’s letter.  I checked over my regular schedule and I noticed that the letters corresponded well with my regular posts. I remember that Z fell on a Saturday that year and I post about the comic character Zatanna on Saturdays.  That clinched it for me! Last year I went REALLY overboard and all my posts on the Other Side had to fit my theme of reviewing a new RPG.  So I reviewed 26 games, in alphabetical order.  Because I am also a glutton for punishment, I participated over at my Atheism blog, The Freedom of Nonbelief, about the A to Z of Atheism.  

For 2013, I am thinking of adding a couple of blogs to the challenge, these are ones I co-author with others.


The A to Z Challenge was so much fun that I have been itching to do something like that on my own.  Some sort of blogging challenge that would play to my interests and maybe even give my little blog some attention.  We I finally came up with something in the form of MONSTROUS MONDAY.  There are five Mondays in October this year and I thought it would be great if I posted a monster every Monday.  These would be game stats, something you could use in a game.  But then I got to thinking, my audience is more than just gamers.  I decided to expand it to include any type of monster discussion.  I know a lot of authors too, so they can talk about the monster from their new book. Movie bloggers can join and talk about their favorite movie monster; I could go on for pages (and have) about Dracula for example.





So allow me to present the MONSTROUS MONDAY bloghop/blogfest (not sure what the difference is).  Just go to my blog, grab the code, sign up and Monday, October 29th post your monster.  I have information, banners/buttons and signup here: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/p/bloghop.html


What I would love is to get a variety of blogs to participate.  Blogging is great, but we all tend to stay in our own circles.  Not that we all necessarily all agree with each other all the time, but there is a tendency for us all to talk about the same things.  A bloghop or a blogfest is a great way to expand your circles a bit, to see what other bloggers are doing, what sort of things excite them and so on.  I enjoy stepping outside the gaming circles because I get different perspectives.  I can talk about something like vampires or witches and get totally different responses from gamers, horror authors and horror movie fans.  I find that feedback essential to my growth as a blogger and as a game writer.   And if I can also get some people interested in this hobby of mine, then all the better!


So let’s see your monsters! The ones you love, the ones you hate and the ones that still send you hiding under the covers or behind the sofa!

          Thanks Tim!   I've signed up on Tossing It Out.  This is a great way to celebrate Halloween and I've always had a soft spot in my heart for monsters. How about you?  Do you like monsters?  Would you like to join us on Monday October 29th for this blog event?


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Friday, September 14, 2012

Alphabet Remix - Naturally Normal Nintendo

These blogging prompts are brought to you by Nicole at The Madlab Post


It’s time for The Alphabet Remix - A Writing Prompt Idea Engine Treating A to Z Blogging Avoidance Disorders

Today's A to Z Challenge blogging prompts are all about gaming. N is for Nintendo and I picked this particular gaming console because it was the first (...I think) video game system that I played during my childhood years. I also selected it as today's topic because video games deserve some A to Z attention -- they are just as enjoyable as books, music, movies or any other activity that we use to pass the time. So, here are some ways to incorporate Nintendo into your blog posts for Letter N during the A to Z Challenge in April.

Nintendo Ninja Nation
Build your own nation of Nintendo Ninjas by blogging about tips and tricks on how to beat the levels on a particular Nintendo game that you are good at. You could also teach people shortcuts for certain actions or even show them repair tips on how to keep an old or sorta broken Nintendo game in working condition for as long as they can before having to buy a new console. These blogging options can be used for just about any device in the Nintendo family, including Nintendo DS and the Wii.

Noteworthy Nintendo News
List some little known, funny or outrageous facts about the history of Nintendo and/or its fans and their behavior over the years.

Nintendo Novelette
Make the gaming console a theme for your entire string of 26 posts and write a novelette, making each letter in the alphabet a different chapter of a story -- a heroic story about a suicidal Nintendo fanatic or a fantasy young adult fare about two teenage co-workers at a Nintendo store or a mysterious story that takes place at a Nintendo convention...there are numerous possibilities for a story surrounding Nintendo gaming.

So there you have it! -- Nintendo remixed for your Blogging from A to Z Challenging pleasure!

Now, the WINNER of the "Naming Names" Alphabet Soup game is...

Caitlin at Happy Hootenanny

Caitlin correctly unscrambled all five movie character names that start with Letter N, so she now succeeds Marta Szemik for the title of ALPHABET WIZARD. Caitlin's prize package also includes the choice of the letter for the next Alphabet Soup game and the option to select a topic for a future Monday Movie Meme on my blog. Congratulations to Caitlin!

Here are the answers to the Naming Names themed Alphabet Soup game.
1. iobrNt is Norbit. (from the comedy movie titled "Norbit" starring Eddie Murphy)
2. iNkyc is Nicky. (from the comedy titled "Little Nicky" starring Adam Sandler)
3. aoNl is Nola. (from the drama titled "She's Gotta Have It" starring Tracy Camilla Johns)
4. Nnia is Nina. (from the drama titled "Love Jones" starring Nia Long)
5. eoNm is Nemo. (from the animated film titled "Finding Nemo" starring Alexander Gould)

Happy Friday Everybody!

Sign up for the Monday Movie Meme, a weekly group blogging series that inspires discussion about entertainment in a whole new light and provides recommendations for your DVD, on-demand or theater fix. New topics are posted every Monday at The Madlab Post!
.
NICOLE 
@MadlabPost on Twitter

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Books by Some of Our Author-friends #goodreads

 Authors help authors-- that's the way it works amongst writers and bloggers. In that spirit, here's my second post in the series of books by indie-author friends (first post here): some are books I came across, others have been recommended for mention.

 I'm adding only one link, but you can click through to the author sites for more options and also more books they've written. I've added a bit about each book, so if you see what you like, go buy it!

If you're an author-friend, or a reader who loved a recent download, leave a comment with the link to the book.


So here it goes, in no particular order: 


Shannon GrissomMonkey Made of Sockies


Want to smile? Want to giggle? Are you ready to return to your childhood? All you have to do is pick up a copy of Monkey Made of Sockies.  As soon as you see the smile on the monkey’s face, you’ll gain a smile of your own.  Each turn of the page describes why Monkey Made of Sockies is the favored toy at Grammy’s house.  The vibrant illustrations and lyrical text make reading his book a truly enjoyable experience.





                                                          Jacqueline Stone: Rising from Ashes

Living in the shadow of abuse is a dark and frightening experience that limits every area of life. This book is an invitation to come out of the shadows and into the light of Love, to heal your heart and learn to love yourself. It empowers the reader with tools for self-awareness and healing processes to become a joyful co-creator. If you're ready to heal your heart and finally know what it is to be happy, get this book.





Allan Douglas: Writing for Profit or Pleasure

Writing for Profit or Pleasure; Where to Publish Your Work, is 146 pages (paperback version), 30,000 words of concise, insightful information about where and how a writer can achieve publication of their writings. Whether you write for income or for the joy of it, whether you aspire to write on-line or for print, this book has a wealth of information to help you find and secure publication.




Joe Bunting: Let's Write a Short Story!

An eBook about the process of writing and publishing short stories. The book will guide you through the process of researching publications, writing your story, editing, and submitting your work to literary magazines. It's also a primer in how to make a career in fiction writing. If you've ever wanted to be a writer, this book will help get you started.
  • Why all the great writers started with short stories, and why you should, too.
  • How to build a fiction platform with short stories rather than just another blog.
  • How short stories are structured differently than novels. 
  • -----------------------------------------------------------

This post is brought to you by Damyanti@Amlokiblogs


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ask Me First! : Guest Post from D.G. Hudson

         D.G. Hudson joined the A to Z Challenge in 2012 with her wonderful posts about Paris from A to Z.  She caught my attention recently when she did a post that linked back to my memoir blog Wrote By Rote.   I asked her to share something with the readers of my blog and she happily consented.   I thought I'd share this post on the A to Z Blog for those of you who missed it on my memoir blog.   Be sure to check out Wrote By Rote--this blog publishes each Saturday.  And don't forget to stop by D.G. Hudson--21st Century Women and say hello and take a look at what she does. 


Ask Me First!

Thanks, Lee and Tina for allowing me to write about an aspect of documenting one's family history that may not occur to many parents.  I'm referring to a child's right to say yea or nay about his 'stuff', some of which may become his own future collectibles.

             At NASA, they collect Rockets for a Space Garden (Photo by D.G. Hudson) 

Does your child have a collection which he treasures? Regardless of how age inappropriate it may seem, don't give away those items without his permission. Let the owner of that object decide its fate, perhaps after beginning elementary school.  The concept of ownership has to be understood.


A child's collectibles can be driftwood, badges, favourite books, games, train sets or a special comfort toy. Doll collections, action figures, signed toys, a favourite teddy bear, all are reminders of our past. On the serious side are collections of coins, stamps, sports cards, or sports paraphanalia. If an item has heritage significance to the child, such as a gift from a doting relative, ensure the child is aware of the value and background. Some early collections may turn into a main interest in a person's adult life or perhaps influence a career choice. Don't stifle that urge to hold onto a moment, nurture it.


Have a keep and a recycle box, just like in Toy Story, and let your kids decide what is to be given away. Don't get the boxes mixed up, and never keep collectibles in a garbage bag. It might end up at the curb (just like in the movie). Always keep collections clearly marked in boxes or bins, protected from dust and damage.


Kids may become more involved in the winnowing process, if they are going to be selling the toys that are no longer wanted. Recycling toys at a kids' swap meet with your child is a great way to teach several lessons at once. Packaging the items that are small in ziplock bags keeps them clean, and teaches little ones how to display the items, determining prices for the objects teaches value, handling small sales (with supervision) for the younger ones, and helping sort money promotes a basic understanding of our money system. Don't forget to have a 'float' of small bills and change and be prepared to bargain (older kids can do this). The trick at swap meets is to let the kids keep the money they make or agree to share the profits.


This post originated with the idea that a child should have the right to decide what's important in their 'stuff' and not have it given away as if it's communal property. I've heard my hub's sad tale of loss of a collectible electric train set and hardcover comic books which he had slowly acquired. He was never asked, when these items were given to children of his parents' friends. His regret at losing the early collections spurred him to start anew.


***

Think of your own childhood toys or items like chairs, cradles, wagons? Do you still have any of them?  Have you ever been to a kids swap meet or had your own toy yard sale?

What did you collect as a child?  Do you collect anything now? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

***

Related posts from DG Hudson's blog:

Tips on saving and sorting those boxes of memories, and a 'Memory Quilt' overview, a free-style version.


***
Keeping family records and stories alive, collecting that information, and protecting your history for your descendants.



***

Monday, September 10, 2012

J.L. Campbell -- Guest post Distracted Book Tour


        You've undoubtedly been seeing a lot of this lovely lady around the blogs and now this A to Z alumnus is here on our blog.   You've still got a chance to enter her contest and obtain a free book download.  And now I present to you J.L. Campbell.



I’ve done the A-Z Challenge now for two years and both times, I felt like the Little Engine That Could, “I think I can, I think I can…” Each time, the Challenge helped me do more than I thought I could in 26 days. By extension, some of the blog hops and challenges we participate in as a community help us organize and structure our work. For example, some pieces of flash fiction I’ve written for the Romantic Friday Writers will eventually go into a novel.

Distraction started life as my 2008 National Novel Writing Month project. The story is one of those that came as a gift and didn’t take long to complete.  In Distraction, Dionne, Kyra and Justine face a range of problems, however, with each other’s support they get though some difficult times.

I believe the organizers of the A-Z Challenge have come up with something that resembles the relationship these women share. The team hasn’t stopped at a post-event write up, but continued this blog; a home base and support system for those who participated and a hub to encourage new people to check out the A-Z. I see this effort as a touchstone for what can be achieved when we are disciplined, determined and resilient. Plus, the A-Z Challenge has been a great way to nurture new friendships.

My vision of friendship is encompassed in Distraction and I’d like to share that with you, along with some things Jamaican. In A Baker’s Dozen: Thirteen Steps to Distraction, you’ll see Dionne, Kyra and Justine where they were a year before the start of Distraction. The book is a free download during the run of the tour.

Leave a comment here and you’ll be entered to win an e-copy of Distraction. At the end of the Friendship-is-Forever tour, I’ll be giving away a main prize of a Distraction note pad & pen and a $10 Amazon gift card. The second prize is a paperback copy of Distraction. Enter on the Rafflecopter here.

Thanks to the A-Z Challenge Team for having me. You guys rock!


J.L. Campbell is a proud Jamaican and the author of Contraband, Distraction, Dissolution, Don’t Get Mad…Get Even, Giving up the Dream and Hardware (pen name Jayda McTyson). Campbell is always on the lookout for story making material, loves company and can usually be found lollygagging on her blog at http://thecharacterdepot. blogspot.com











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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Winner of Oracle!


Oracle winner!

There were 27 comments.

Random.org picked 15.

That means that Lynn Proctor is our lucky winner!

Please email me at tndowney (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know what format you’d like your book in, as well as contact info.

Congrats!
Thanks to all who hung out with J.C again.  We appreciate you!

Tina

Friday, September 7, 2012

Alphabet Soup - Naming Names

This word puzzle is brought to you by Nicole at The Madlab Post...



It’s time for Alphabet Soup - The Word Scramble Puzzle of A to Z Wizards! 

Since no one won the Movie Monster Alphabet Soup game a few weeks ago, Marta Szemik is still the current Alphabet Wizard. At this time, it looks like she did not select a letter for the new game so I'm going to go with the next one that follows her previous choice, in the alphabet -- Letter N. Today, N is for Names...

Unscramble the following movie characters' names that start with the letter N. The first commenter who is able to correctly unscramble all or most of these movie character names, at best, wins this weeks’ Alphabet Soup game. Answers and the name of the winner will be posted here at the A to Z blog during next week’s “Friday Fun Time - Alphabet Remix.”

1. iobrNt _____________
2. iNkyc _____________
3. aoNl ______________
4. Nnia ______________
5. eoNm _____________


Have a Fantastically Fun Friday Everybody!

Sign up for the Monday Movie Meme, a weekly group blogging series that inspires discussion about entertainment in a whole new light and provides recommendations for your DVD, on-demand or theater fix. New topics are posted every Monday at The Madlab Post!

NICOLE
Also @MadlabPost on Twitter


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tech Billionaires Plan Audacious Mission to Mine Asteroids

You can visit guest blogger Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs 

After spending a year gazing at Vesta , NASA's Dawn spacecraft was set to cruise toward the most massive space rock in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter — a voyage that will take nearly three years. 

Dawn slipped into orbit last year around Vesta — about the size of Arizona — and beamed back stunning close-ups of the lumpy surface. Its next destination is the Texas-size Ceres, also known as a dwarf planet (folks, these are some very large pieces of rock!!!). 

Vesta and Ceres are the largest bodies in the asteroid belt littered with chunks of rocks that never quite bloomed into full-fledged planets. As cosmic time capsules, they're ideal for scientists trying to piece together how Earth and the other planets formed and evolved. 

This Being Said: A group of wealthy, adventurous entrepreneurs announced a new venture called Planetary Resources, Inc., which plans to send swarms of robots to space to scout asteroids for precious metals and set up mines to bring resources back to Earth, in the process adding trillions of dollars to the global GDP, helping ensure humanity’s prosperity and paving the way for the human settlement in space. 

“The resources of Earth pale in comparison to the wealth of the solar system,” said Eric Anderson, who founded the commercial space tourism company Space Adventures. 

Nearly 9,000 asteroids larger than 150 feet in diameter orbit near the Earth. Some could contain as much platinum as is mined in an entire year on Earth, making them potentially worth several billion dollars each. 

The new company is backed by Google’s CEO Larry Page and executive chairman Eric Schmidt, former Microsoft chief architect Charles Simonyi, and Ross Perot Jr. The venture also counts on filmmaker James Cameron, former astronaut Tom Jones, former JPL engineer Chris Lewicki, and planetary scientist Sara Seager as advisors.

Platinum Alone Is Worth:  around $23,000 a pound — nearly the same as gold. Mining the top few feet of a single modestly sized, half-mile-diameter asteroid could yield around 130 tons of platinum, worth roughly $6 billion. One possibility might be to find a useful asteroid and push it closer to Earth. A fairly low-power solar-electric ion engine could nudge a hunk of rock into orbit around the Earth, effectively creating a small second moon that could be easily accessed. 

Asteroids contain water that can be used for drinking and broken into its constituents. Oxygen is valuable for life support in space-based habitats, while liquid oxygen and hydrogen are both used to produce rocket fuel. Having a “gas station” in space could help enable missions to Mars and beyond. Such a refueling depot might allow people to permanently live and work in space, another goal of Planetary Resources. 

Question: Do you think its a good idea to mine asteroids by pulling these monstrosities into our orbit? Better speak up now or forever hold your peace because it's probably going to happen.