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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Special Challenge Participant Feature - Mary Aalgaard

During the A to Z Challenge, there were some awesome themes. Mary Aalgaard at Play off the Page selected something really unique: “The Quote of the Day that inspired my A to Z Challenge theme - A Word for the Day that takes on many meanings.” She’s here to tell you more, so please welcome my awesome blogger buddy, Mary!

What prompted you to select that theme?

The quote and wanting to keep my entries simple, and yet, have something interesting. It's great to examine words and their definitions and connotations.

What word was your favorite? What phrase was your favorite?

My favorite word is also my word for the year, Dare! My favorite phrase, "The definition of luck, where hard work meets opportunity." In my O post.
My favorite post was Y is for Yellow because it was the most spontaneous. I was on my way to the Children's Theatre in Minneapolis and we planned on a visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Art for the Art in Bloom display, and decided the theme for the day would be to find favorite photos with yellow as the main color. It was a perfect choice with all those gorgeous flowers on display.

Most people struggle by the time they get to Z, but you came up with something good! Tell us about the Zone…

Thank you. I think I knew what I wanted to do with Z fairly early in the challenge. Read my Z is for Zone post to see all the places where I feel like I'm in the Zone. I see athletes, musicians, artists of all kinds, and learners in the Zone and I find it fascinating. It's also a good excuse to be "zoned out" and daydream a while.

I was for Interesting - just what is interesting to you?

I find people and their art to be quite interesting and inspirational. I love watching people create their art, acting, cooking, making music, teaching, whatever fires them up.

Tell us a little about your Opportunity post.

We can make opportunity happen for us by saying Yes, by being available, by working hard, and being Open. I think Open will be my word for the year in 2013. I'm already feeling it speak to me.

Now the M word - Money!

Ah, the word of all words. The cause of great angst and relationship ruin. It is my least favorite topic. Our society places way too much emphasis on money. We are judged, by ourselves and others, by what we have, what we make, and what's in our bank account. As an artist, you have to shut those judgements out. Create for the sake of creating. I recently used a great quote on my blog from Bette Davis, To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy.

D was for Dare. Did you ever accept the dare when playing Truth or Dare? Will you children hide in shame if you tell us about it?

I don't remember. Probably. My most recent Dare, to Jump on the Bike, changed my life.

What topic do you think you’ll tackle next year for the Challenge…?

Oh, boy, I wish I knew already. Last year, I started taking pictures for the April challenge in January and continued into the challenge. Let's see, if 2013 is challenging me with the word Open, maybe I'll use doors & windows and anything else that can be opened. Thanks for that question, it got me thinkin'!

Thanks, Alex. I love the April A to Z Challenge. It is a great way to boost my creativity, my writing, and connecting with others.

Thank YOU, Mary!

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

Friday, October 26, 2012

Alphabet Soup - Big Wigs in the West

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


Today’s alphabet soup game was a bit difficult to put together, so it’s going to be another one of those quick and simple posts. Unscramble the following motion picture companies that have a name either starting with or including Letter W. Ready? Set. Go!

1. WehnCyinmeiesaTnotp _____________________________

2. rseunsrWaPriBecort _______________________________

3. ecsilDePnttsWrauiy ________________________________

Happy Friday Everybody!

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!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In Which I Contemplate Divorcing Google

It's been quite a marriage. 9 years, to be precise.

Back in 2003, I fell for Google the first time, called Google 'God', for its ready answers to everything from 'how to cook a roast chicken'  to 'what is a large hadron collider'.

The same year, I opened my first Gmail account. Then another. Then I got myself a Google Blog, I got on Google Chat, worked with Google docs, owned an Android phone for a bit. Last year I entered Google Plus, and began to watch some of my favorite shows on You Tube.

I've been married to Google and rely on it on a daily basis almost as much (gasp!) as I do on my real-life husband -- and though I joked about how much of my life is lived on my blog and my mails, I did not realize how much of a hold Google had on me till I began to read this: How I divorced Google, of which the following is an excerpt.
When I sit at home, Google (unless I consciously prevent it) knows where I sit, on what machine, and what time of day I'm there. Data is collected not only from the search engine site, but sites that I visit that have Google maps, and so forth. The penetration of Google's ability to sniff a single individual's location and preferences is unprecedented. Google knows more about me than my mother.
Then, as I read about cookies, and super cookies and redirected host files, I hit another realization: I'm not equipped to do this -- I can't go after cookies, eliminate super cookies and then evade going to Google sites forever, not only because Google is everywhere, but also because, like a whole bunch of other people, I'm a tech-dunce.

As a writer, I've had a few 'conspiracy-theory-like' nightmares since, where Google would be able to buy and sell us (it already acquires and uses our info), choose our mates, and decide the fates of our children.

Privacy, once compromised, can lead to any slippery slope, after all.

But for the time being, I've decided to ignore these scenarios. It isn't just Google. All of them do it -- Google is just the biggest Shark. So, I'll go back to my cocoon of the free bounties of Gmails and You tubes and Blogger, and pretend that all is well with me and Google. Isn't that what most marriages are about, anyway?

When this post publishes, Google will know exactly when and where it was put up, and by whom. In a few years from now, they might decide (and be in a position to) to take action. Who knows, they may do it now -- my blog on Blogspot is 5 years old, and I shall be sorry to lose it....!

One thing is sure, they, not me, would have that last laugh. Because, unlike Tom Henderson who managed to divorce Google, I'm both lazy and stupid (besides being a scatterbrained writer).

What is your take on Google? On its Privacy policies? Are you on/ do you use anything Google-related? If, like me, you're married to Google, have you ever contemplated divorce?
--------
This post brought to you by Damyanti from Amlokiblogs

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guest Blogger: Donna B. McNicol


Please join me in welcoming another guest today, Donna B. McNicol. I'm so excited that so many of you are taking advantage of this great opportunity! If you're not sure what I'm talking about, it's all in this invitation post.
Donna is a prolific blogger (and that's putting it mildly). I think you'll enjoy getting to know her as much as I did.



Hello, my name is Donna and I am a blog addict. Doesn't matter if you are talking about MY blogs or YOUR blogs, addict applies to both. It all started so innocently back in 2006 when I started my first blog, From the Lily Pad. I was a 59 year old widow, considering selling my house and belongings and becoming a full-time RVer.

Of course, considering a lifestyle change that massive meant research, LOTS of research. I started using Google Reader to follow some RVing blogs. I slowly added in other blogs having to do with motorcycles, computers, cameras, and anything else that grabbed my interest.

Fast forward to 2008 and I retired my From the Lily Pad blog and started 2 Taking a 5th with my soon-to-be husband. As our interests expanded over the next two years I added a few more blogs to write:

Hopping through Life was created for my 'writing' urges, for things that might or might not interest our RVing friends. That was the reason for Fire Lily Base Camp and Riding Route 66 as well - topics that wouldn't interest everyone so I didn't want to clutter up our personal blog.

In 2012 I added My Write Spot and Write 4 Ten but I retired the Toadily Pets and Foto Footprints. Then family called and I created and now maintain a blog for my daughter's casting company in Atlanta, Catrett Locke Casting. Of course none of these are daily blogs.

Reading blogs is harder to control, I use RSSOwl as a standalone reader and have categories for Authors/Writing, Riding Friends, RVing Friends, Simple Life, Gadgets & Computers, Ebook and Humor/Misc. At one time I was following over 500 blogs. I have tackled that list a couple of times and now have it down to 370. It grew to the largest during the last April A to Z Challenge. I followed a lot of blogs that disappeared after the event or turned into something that I was no longer interested in reading.

I still follow too many RVing and Writing blogs and I'm trying to weed my list down even more. I do have some blogs that I read daily and I've moved them into their own category. The others can be quickly marked as read if 1) I don't have time or 2) they don't interest me. If I do that too many times on the same blog, they are a candidate for pruning.

How do control the number of blogs you follow? Do you write more than one blog? Am I crazy? (No, never mind, that is a rhetorical question).

So again, hello. My name is Donna and I am a blog addict. And you?
Wake me later, I'm napping...
Donna B. McNicol 

Thanks for being here Donna! Can't wait to see you in the next challenge.
Tina








Sunday, October 21, 2012

Getting to Know: JoJo of Tahoma Beadsworks and Photography

Please welcome our second installment in the “Getting to Know Your Fellow A-Z Participants” that I posted about during my invitation for guest posters. Over the next few months leading up to the 2013 challenge, we will have lots more of these posts. If you're interested in participating, just email me (Tina) at tndowney (at) gmail (dot) com. Be sure to include “guest post” in your subject. I get a LOT of emails...

  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.

    I opened my blog, Tahoma Beadworks and Photography on July 6, 2006 and originally it was intended to be a fan site for actor Vincent D'Onofrio.  A bunch of us VDO fans started blogs around the same time.  I soon realized that my friends were providing way better pics and info about him so I transitioned mine into one about my life and featuring my photography and crafts.  This was before Facebook, so it was a way for friends/family to keep in touch and keep up with what I was up to without my having to write emails or *gasp* handwritten letters.  My muse left me in 2009 and I took a substantial break that year, but returned to regular posts in 2010.  It's a fun and creative outlet and I enjoy preparing the posts.  Please come visit!!  



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

    My friend Bev at Blue Velvet Vincent invited me to participate so I signed up.  My fave part was finding and following new blogs and meeting great new friends.  

  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?

    I basically just clicked on random blogs from the Linky List.  It was frustrating as some weren't participating, had removed their blogs or were blogging on topics that didn't float my boat.  That was the most time consuming part.  It'd be great if there was a topic list into which we could place our blog links, so as to find and reach people with similar interests.

  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?

    I can only speak for my own interests of photography, crafts, Canada and life-type diaries.  I am not a full time writer so the writing and poetry blogs didn't really do it for me.  Nor did the ones about babies and raising children or religion.  

  5. Please tell us something unusual about yourself – don't be shy. 

    Unusual....hmm.....that's a hard one.   There was a time, from 1987-1995, when my life literally revolved around the Grateful Dead.  Going to shows, trading the live tapes, hanging out with other Deadheads and talking about the shows, waiting for the mailorder tickets to be available for the next show, recruiting non-Deadhead friends to help me try and get the coveted New Years Eve tickets (I paid for the money order but had them fill out the information because it was one mailorder per person).  I met my ex-husband at a show and we followed them for our honeymoon in 1989, then moved to San Francisco to be closer to the 'scene'.  Got to meet Bob Weir & Jerry Garcia in 1990.  It all came to a screeching halt when Jerry died in 1995 (only a couple miles from my house, too, I might add...I heard the ambulance go by that morning).  I still love them, listen to them and wear the t-shirts, but I won't go see the remaining members...not without Jerry.  I also found that once Jerry died, I had almost nothing in common with a lot of the people we'd been hanging with regularly for years.  I hadn't realized that all we did was talk about the Dead and once that was over for me, there was nothing to talk about!  Still, it was a wonderful time in my life and I'm glad I had the chance to experience it.


    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.

    I am hoping to do the 2013 challenge, as long as I am still unemployed.  If I do end up finding a job and work full time, it will be virtually impossible to keep up with a daily challenge.  No themes....i think that's way too hard, although I thought about doing an A-Z of music I like, but I like to keep it theme-free which is easier for me.


    Thanks for joining us, JoJo!  It was great to have you.
    Tina



Friday, October 19, 2012

Letter Play - Crazy C's

The following blog photos are brought to you by Nicole at The Madlab Post...


It’s time for Letter Play - Where DIY activities, cinema and life offline collide!

After a brief, unanticipated hiatus, we’re back in the swing of things with these images that you can use for your A to Z Challenge posts in April. This batch includes photos of Letter C, taken from items that I found in and around the kitchen. I dare you to guess what products these C’s are from.

I found the item displaying Letter C in the recycling bin.

This Letter C was found in the freezer.
The Letter C on this item was found among snacks.
If you are among the bloggers who are participating in the challenge, you have my permission to use them so long as the usage is made during the month of April and is a part of a blog post that pertains to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. As always, if you do display them on your blog, feel free to credit me and link to my blog or link back to this very A to Z Blog, where you found the photo!

Have a 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, October 18, 2012

The Latest and Greatest in Space and Astronomy by Stephen Tremp

Space Bling: From Diamond Planets to Crystal Oceans to Precious Moon Jewels. All that glitters in the night sky could be, well, diamonds and rubies and emeralds, as space probes uncover a variety of precious minerals in the universe. The discovery of a new planet made largely of diamond, known as “55 Cancri e,” has many itching to add a piece of cosmic jewelry to their collection. Unfortunately, the planet is 40 light years from Earth, but the universe is also home to some other fabulous space gems. From green-crystal rain to ruby-like moon rocks, here is some other bling that’s out of this world. Reference

House-Size Asteroid Comes Closer to Earth Than the Moon Friday: A newfound asteroid the size of a house will fly closer to Earth than the moon on Friday (Oct. 12), but poses no danger of impacting our planet, NASA says. And I thought that five dollar bill I found in my laundry was exciting. Reference

Speaking of Asteroids: Private Asteroid-Hunting Space Telescope to Launch in 2017. A private space telescope mission that aims to discover 500,000 near-Earth asteroids is technically sound and on track for a 2017 launch, a review panel says. The B612 Foundation plans to launch Sentinel in 2017, placing the instrument near the orbit of Venus.

Sentinel will look outward from there, scanning Earth's neighborhood without having to fight the sun's overwhelming glare — a serious impediment to asteroid-hunting instruments on or near our planet. The telescope's infrared eyes should spot about 500,000 near-Earth asteroids in less than six years of operation, B612 officials say. That would be quite a feat, considering that researchers have discovered just 10,000 or so such space rocks to date. Reference

Speaking of Private Funding: Space Funding Startup Uwingu to Unveil 1st Product. The first project Uwingu will fund is SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The firm pledged to donate half of any money raised beyond the $75,000 goal in the IndieGoGo campaign to the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a set of 42 radio dishes in Northern California that are searching for signs of civilizations in the universe. Reference

Speaking of Telescopes: World-Class Telescope For Sale. The impending closure of the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope might be averted if the observatory’s owners can find a buyer. Got $1.24 million in your pocket? That’s how much it’ll cost per year to operate a productive, world-class observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Reference

Speaking of Dark Matter: Giant Strand of Elusive Dark Matter Seen in 3D. Astronomers have taken their first 3D look at a gigantic filament of dark matter, an invisible cosmic structure that can only be detected by its gravitational effects it has on its surroundings. The universe is thought to be structured like a tangled web, with long strings of mostly dark matter intersecting at giant galaxy clusters. Since dark matter cannot be seen directly, these filaments are difficult to observe. But using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have managed to probe one of the elusive cosmic strands in 3D. Reference

Question: So what do you think of our amazing universe in just this past week?

Stephen Tremp posts at Breakthrough Blogs and is the author of the Breakthrough trilogy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Special Challenge Participant Feature - Author Rusty Webb!

Today’s guest is one of my very best friends on the Internet and an incredibly talented writer and artist – Rusty Webb! He attacked the A to Z Challenge in a truly ambitious manner, showing no fear (or very little) as the month progressed. Rusty posted a new illustration for every letter. Brave man! Obviously I had to question his sanity…

What made you decide to do an illustration a day for the Challenge? Glutton for punishment or did you lose a bet?

It felt like I lost a bet! My real thought was that I didn’t want to ask so many people to stop by every day of the month and offer them something similar to what they were getting elsewhere, and probably by people doing it better. So I hoped it would be nice, unique, and most importantly, quick for the reader.

Which image was the most challenging?

Well, the early ones were tough because I was somewhat out of practice drawing, and on top of that, I had this tablet that I never really used because I found it awkward. I didn’t want to sketch on paper because I had this awesome tablet, but I didn’t want to use the tablet because it was hard for me to get comfortable with it. Anyway, I promised myself I would get acquainted with it no matter what. Which is why you see a much more deliberate use of color as the month progresses. I was getting more comfortable and able express myself a bit more freely.

All that being said, I really struggled with ‘G,’ and is still the one I was least happy with. It wasn’t right, not at all. And I think I spent more time with that one than any other.

I thought the sketch of Ish was awesome. Which one was your favorite?

I thought Ish turned out pretty well too, at that point I was beginning to get a bit of confidence in what I was doing. But I still think I like the old man from ‘O’ the best. I love drawing faces, and older faces are really interesting. But since I wasn’t using a reference I found it hard to do an older person, jaw bones atrophy, skin sags, wrinkles form, noses get big… it can be hard to get all that right. People are really good at noticing a face that isn’t done right. I ended up being happy with that one.

Tell everyone about your inspiration for M!

Heavy Metal Parking Lot? Well, it’s this amazing 20 minute documentary done in the parking lot before a Judas Priest concert sometime in the mid-eighties. Everyone who wants to see what being a guy who liked heavy metal was like during that time… well, there you go. I was just starting to really get into metal at that time and had begun attending rock concerts. It’s like a bizarre time machine for me to look back at that. That was me, that was my friends, that was my life (not really, but you get the idea).

Really, it’s probably a lament for my lost youth. It goes by so quick. But for 20 minutes while I watch I’m there all over again. I’m a kid. Great stuff. And who better than Bevis and Butthead to celebrate all that?

You’ve done covers for other authors, including Andrew Leon, and a publisher as well – do you enjoy working with someone else’s vision? Or does that make it more difficult?

Honestly, it’s tougher than I thought it would be. Much of it is communication. Me not understanding what the author (or publisher) wants and then giving them something that neither one of us really likes as a result. When I’m working with someone else’s vision it can take a lot of back and forth to get something right. And even then, after several rounds of back and forth we still might not be on the same page.I’ve lost my cool once or twice in private due to my frustration.The good thing is that everyone I’ve worked with has been so great. I wouldn’t trade some of the relationships I’ve built doing these covers for anything.

But I don’t really solicit my services for cover art to anyone nowadays. I have friends and acquaintances I will do covers for either as favors,or in exchange for services, like editing or critiquing, or because I’m anxious to prove something to myself. But I’d have to charge a lot of money to make it feel like it was worth the effort.

You did the cover for your own book, A Dead God’s Wrath. (Awesome book!) Tell us a little bit about the book.

A couple of years ago I wrote a novel. I really liked it, but thought it was a bit rough around the edges and needed some work.So I set it aside to work on other projects. However, for that novel I created a backstory of a secret war that has been fought on earth for thousands of years over some alien artifacts. I decided it would be great to expand on the backstory through stand-alone shorter works, like A Dead God’s Wrath. I had this vision of interconnected stories that can be read in any order and enjoyed, but when put together paint a much larger picture. In this story, a young man in the late 19th century discovers his beloved has been kidnapped by some local thugs for ransom, but he slowly comes to realize something much larger, and stranger, than what he imagined is taking place beneath the surface. To date, I’ve already written the aforementioned novel, two other novelettes, two short stories and a short novel in the same universe (and plan on writing one, very long novel). I hope to have the short novel released this fall as soon as I get revisions and editing done on it.The rest I’ll get to as soon as I can.

You write, you draw, you play guitar – what else do you do creatively? Basket weaving? Yak herding?

Ha! I’m cursed with the desire to do more than I’m capable. It’s really hard to excel at multiple disciplines, gaining mastery over anything requires undivided attention. Over the past decade I’ve had to make some tough decisions about how I spend my time. I’ve given up acting, amateur astronomy, music, and photography in order to focus more on the things I feel like I can’t live without. In this case, writing, followed by the occasional art project. If I ever win the lottery though, watch out, I’m picking them all back up.

If you do the Challenge again next year, what theme would you consider? (Safe bet it won’t be illustrations, right?)

I don’t know. If I’d planned for the sketch-a-day theme in advance then it probably wouldn’t have been so bad. But I made my decision to do a sketch-a-day on the day before the blogfest began. During the month,I was literally sketching things at eleven o’clock at night in order to post the next day. Or on a few occasions, I was calling in to work to tell them I would be late because I had nothing and I needed an hour or so to whip something up before I started my day. The effort took so much out of me that I went down to posting about once a week after. But it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had blogging. I wouldn’t be surprised if I feel ambitious again come the spring. So, maybe I’d do something similar. Or maybe I’d do A-Z caricitures of blogger buddies.

The one you did of me last year is awesome, so I’m all for that theme! Rock on, Rusty – you’re one cool and talented dude.

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

Getting to know: Author Martha Reynolds


Please join me in welcoming Martha Reynolds, an author and A-Z participant. She's the first to answer the “getting to know you questions” that I posted during my invitation for guest posters. Over the next few months leading up to the 2013 challenge, we will have lots more of these posts. If you're interested in participating, just email me (Tina) at tndowney (at) gmail (dot) com. Be sure to include “guest post” in your subject. I get a LOT of emails...
  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.
I wrote and posted my first blog on July 13, 2011. It was my birthday and I thought it would be a good way to begin. I hadn’t yet started writing full-time (although the book was percolating in my head), so my blog was simply based on my own reflections about life, love, and family. It still is, for the most part, although I have posted a little about this whole crazy journey into publishing! I blog at Wordpress under the title “MarthaReynoldsWrites.” 


  1. How did you find out about the challenges, and how many have you done? What was your favorite part of participating?
The April (2012) Blogging from A to Z Challenge was my first, and I absolutely loved it! I found out about it by reading other blogs, and I think it was late March when I first read about it, so I made a quick decision to participate. By that time, I’d written most of my first novel and was awaiting a response from my editor. The theme I chose was writers, but I included poets, essayists, and songwriters as well as novelists in my group. I received some good feedback and I know I gained more followers from the challenge.


  1. 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?
This is tough, because we’re all so busy. For me, I’d return to the A to Z main page, with the blog links, and simply go through the list. Some blogs just grabbed me, and I liked and followed them. What I’ve found works best for me is setting up my notifications on Wordpress so I receive a digest of blogs every Monday. Some folks only blog once a week (like me), so this way, I can use Monday morning to catch up on what’s been posted.


  1. 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?
I’d love to read reviews, as long as they weren’t too lengthy. I found some great writing tips last April, and that’s always beneficial. Someone blogged about food, and I thought that was fantastic. Actually, I’d be happy with just about anything, although I do remember one blogger who used the challenge to explore some BDSM language and ‘procedures.’ That’s not for everyone!


  1. Please tell us something unusual about yourself – don't be shy. Check out my revelation from last year here.
As a writer who works from home, it can be hard to find the right discipline. I sit at my computer, and social media is all around me. Sometimes when I’m stuck with a scene, it’s too easy to click on Facebook and see what my friends are saying. All of a sudden, it’s an hour later and I haven’t done anything with my scene. The Challenge really made me focus on the topic, because I was posting every day (except those Sundays, when I was planning the week ahead). I tried to keep my posts relatively short (400 words tops, most times 250-300), understanding that we want to read as many as possible.
So I don’t know if it’s unusual that I get distracted, but I know now that writing means writing, not tweeting, or checking my Amazon stats.


  1. 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.
I am definitely joining the 2013 challenge! Can’t wait, really. I loved my 2012 theme and actually thought about doing it again (there are so many wonderful writers), but I’m also thinking about places. Places where I’ve been – a short reflection of that place. It might be a foreign country, city, town, village, or even just a church, a hilltop, a bar. Someplace where something memorable occurred. I think it could work!


Thanks for joining us Martha, and letting us get to know you better! We look forward to reading your April 2013 challenge posts. Congrats on the publication of your first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, available at Amazon.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shhh, sneaking in something with CHILLS!!


Hey, Happy Sunday A to Z...
 
I wanted to share this with you for a couple of reasons... one it's really cool if you enjoy something scary and horror music. Second, well this is the independent record label I do work for and it's one cool event happening all month. 
 
 
Howlin' Wolf Records & Jason Comerford present a 3rd season of 13 CHILLS: Commentary, PRIZES, and good ole October Mayhem. Leave a comment, read a little something interesting and win some prizes. Here is the schedule for the upcoming days for the whole month. 

01 - 10/03, Wed - FRIGHT NIGHT - Brad Fiedel
02 - 10/05, Fri - MISERY - Marc Shaiman
03 - 10/08, Mon - THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH - David Lee
04 - 10/10, Wed - SISTERS - Bernard Herrmann
05 - 10/12, Fri - THE FLY - Howard Shore
06 - 10/15, Mon - ???
07 - 10/17, Wed -
08 - 10/19, Fri -
09 - 10/22, Mon -
10 - 10/24, Wed -
11 - 10/26, Fri -
12 - 10/29, Mon -
13 - 10/31, Wed -
 
Read over the current day's score, read the history and make a comment (right side "What do you think?")... be entered in weekly giveaways. At the end of the month be entered in a huge prize "Friday the 13" Scores 1-6 Box Set by: Harry Manfredini.
 
13 Days of CHILLS
 
Thanks,
Jeremy Hawkins

Friday, October 12, 2012

Alphabet Remix - Couches and Casting Calls

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

October is shaping up to be quite a busy month. I’m currently holding a casting call for the short film that I’ve been working on for several months now - AND - I am one of maybe a dozen or so hosts for Couch Fest Films, an annual film festival that screens short films in people’s houses and other alternative venues throughout many different countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Iceland, Sweden and India, to name a few.

On Saturday, November 10th, you are all welcome to attend a Couch Fest screening if there is one happening in your area. The one I’m hosting is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but there are several other places where screenings will be happening throughout the U.S. including Iowa, California, Ohio and New York. So today, C is for Couches and Casting. Here are some blogging prompts related to these two topics that you can write about during the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Casting Couch Claims

For those of you who are familiar with this term, it is often used to describe the exchange of sexual favors with famous directors who have the clout to help actors land a role or further their careers in some way. Write about a famous Hollywood actor or actress who has allegedly used the casting couch to further his/her career. More specifically, add your opinion on whether you believe the claims are true or false and why. You can also use this time to express why you think this particular actor or actress would benefit (or not) from utilizing the casting couch method of gaining roles, representation, contacts, contract negotiations, etc. in Hollywood.

Critique Casting Choices

Write about films that you think could have been better if they featured different cast members than ones originally cast for the film. You could also write about casting selections that were pleasantly surprising due to low expectations or a mere guess that the casting choice may have been misguided. For example, many fans of the film adaptations based on James Patterson books were not too happy when news broke that actor Morgan Freeman was not going to be in the upcoming Alex Cross movie -- and movie mogul Tyler Perry was cast in the lead role for this film, instead. Surprisingly, however, Perry has received positive reviews from movie critics and industry insiders who got a first-look at the film.

A Cast of Couples

List your favorite couples featured in a movie. They don’t have to be a couple in real life -- your blog post can be about couples who have the best on-screen chemistry or actors and actresses who played the most convincing couple in a particular film.

Now onto other news: The WINNER of Alphabet Soup - Cinematic C’s is....

Tina Downey at Life is Good

Tina correctly unscrambled three of the five cinematic terms that start with letter C. As a result, she has not only reclaimed her title of ALPHABET WIZARD but she also gets to pick the letter for the next Alphabet Soup game as well as the option to suggest a topic for an upcoming Monday Movie Meme over at The Madlab Post.

Congratulations Tina!

Here are the answers to the Cinematic C’s themed Alphabet Soup game:

1. iterapngmhyCoa is Cinematography.
2. ctsuCgnhoiCa is Casting Couch.
3. esdnigirlCsotC is Closing Credits.
4. Cyitnotuin is Continuity.
5. oiroCtls is Colorist.

Have a Fantastically Fun Friday Everyone!

Nicole

Find Me @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!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What does your Bookshelf say about You?

As a little girl, I envied my father's bookshelves, which had pride of place in our tiny living room. They were never far from my eyes or my greasy fingers -- I was forever nicking books and reading them inside the covers of my Social Studies or General Science texts. I was caught reading Anna Karenina at 10, Nana at about 12; I was poring through the complete works of Bernard Shaw at 15, along with generous helpings of Chekov, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Hemingway, Flaubert, Rabindranath Tagore, Neruda and of course, Shakespeare. Then came Camus, Kafka, Schopenhauer (which I persisted in, with the aid of distractions from M & B romances, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Alistair MacLean from the local library.)

All through that time, I never wondered what my father's bookshelves said about him. He was a self-taught reader (English was his second language, as it is mine) -- and his books were filled with notes in our mother tongue, and a variety of underlines.

But obviously folks believe that you can tell a lot about the man/ woman by the books he/she reads. Here's an article that says exactly that:
Your bookshelf is an intimate physical representation of your accomplishments (titles as trophies earned), aspirations (that ever growing to-read pile), associations (that book your boss gave to each employee), personal development (those self-help titles that urged you to talk to strangers), guilty pleasures (50 shades of beach reads), escapes (sci-fi to some, travelogues to others), memories (meeting that author, visiting that indie shop on vacation), interests (the bigger the Star Wars fan, the more Star Wars books) and countless other tells that another reader would unconsciously and immediately compare against their own shelf. And that's just the ingredients – how you organise, arrange, and display these titles should impart even more insight as to a reader's personality.
 
 Perhaps my father's collection showed a well-rounded and insatiably curious reader. I'll have to take a look at the shelves for any deeper insights when I visit him next.

My living room has no bookshelf. All of the shelves are in my study, where they cover two walls, and spur me on or distract me as I write, depending on my level of concentration for the day. They probably show I'm a random reader, with no defined taste, who would read almost anything, depending on her mood on any given day. The pic here is part of the only bookshelf that I could click without bending my back out of shape.

Where are your bookshelves placed, and what do you think they show about you? If you mail us pictures of your bookshelves (you can try me at atozstories at gmail dot com), along with your blog links, may be we could do a blog post series based on bookshelves and their owners.
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This post was brought to you by Damyanti from Amlokiblogs.

Monday, October 8, 2012

To every Author out there. . This post is for you.


Good morning wonderful A-to-Zers!  It is so wonderful to be posting here again.  

Today I am here to capture the attention of every published (or soon to be) author in the world!  (Okay, honestly that would take a lot of work and I really don't have the room for all of you. But you get the point). 

You see, last year I held  this wonderful event on my blog.  Let me tell you about it. 

Last year I did The Twelve Books for Christmas.  I interview 12 authors (per blog, there were three blogs signed up). And each author gave away a book or two or three or twelve.  :)  And we did this for the twelve days leading up to Christmas.  It was a TON of fun and even though it was short notice last year, it got a LOT of attention.

So why am I telling you about this in September?  Well here is why:

Last year I posted the "Are you an author" post on November 30th and it was incredibly difficult to get everything set up and even with my handy-dandy best friend, we still struggled getting everything ready on time.

SO, I am telling you this because I am hoping to get more than *36 authors signed up for The Twelve Days of Christmas.  :)  Want to know more? Interested in signing up?  Want to read the rules?  Everything can be found HERE on this form!

There is a slight mistake in the form.  It does say that Interview Questions will be sent out within the next week.  This is not true.  I will slowly be e-mailing out interview questions as it gets closer to the actual event! But knowing which authors are signing up ahead of time will make it easier to build up some hype!

Oh and if you're worried about participating because you are Indie, don't!  Want to know why? CLICK HERE! 

If you're worried about signing up because you are Traditionally published, don't!  Want to know why? CLICK HERE.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please look at the form first and then feel free to comment or e-mail me!

Okay, now go fill out (or at least look at) the Sign up Form!

*We now have room for more than 100 authors for the Twelve Books for Christmas. 

Alright, so if you're a YA (or middle grade. And Adult by request) Author,  SIGN UP! Seriously, what do you have to lose??  

If you're NOT an (Published) Author,  go tell all your friends who are about this post!  Spread the word!  Because, hey, that means more books for you to win right?

~Konstanz

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's October and I am in a A to Z Challenge PANIC!!

Hail to the King, Baby!
Yes, we behind the scenes of have been [A to Z Team] working on our plans for the "A to Z Challenge 2013" and it makes me wonder what the heck I am going to do for 26 Letters... in 26 Days. There are many things going on in my life as I am sure you all have something happening... I want you all you start you game plan, is there going to be a theme... or are you going to wing it?

-So how do you prepare for something that is so far away and yet.. so close?
-What will inspire you, how do you know?
-Who is thinking about it, right now?
-Are you thinking about right now, cause I brought it up?

Good I am glad I am not the only one, see it is a little early to start the panic.. but at least you are thinking about it...



In the meantime can I recommend a few things:
Retro-Zombie's: 500 Followers "Giveaway"
                            Spray Blood "Giveaway" [Ends Today]
Dave Wrote This "The Nineties Blogfest" [Oct 15th]
Ciara and Alex's "Did I Notice Your Book Blogfest" [Oct 17th]
 

Yeah, I know it feels like a set up, doesn't it... it really is not. I am truly in panic to think of what I am going to post this coming April. Do you have something that will help keep your mind occupied until then or are some really cool people thinking they are ready? See I didn't even mention my "NEATORAMA'S T-SHIRT" store, wait I just did... sorry I could not help myself.

I even put a photo of my cat "Gizmo" she is real relaxed...
alas she doesn't have to think about the challenge!
Jeremy Hawkins
[Retro-Zombie]

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Special Challenge Participant Feature - Author Cherie Reich!

Today’s Special Challenge Participant is author, Cherie Reich! She is the author of the Gravity and Foxwick series, and one of the sweetest people I know. Her theme for the Challenge this year was twenty-six flash fiction pieces from the Foxwick Kingdom. The result was her book, A to Z Flashes of Foxwick.

What made you decide to do flash fiction for the Challenge?

I’ve participated in #fridayflash off and on since July 2010, so I decided flash fiction would be the way to go. It’s generally short (I think my longest pieces was 600+ words, but most were in the 200-300 word range), and I thought it was a great way to showcase my writing.

Did you write it all in advance or as the Challenge progressed?

If I remember correctly, I wrote them all in March, but I had my critique partners look over them, so I didn’t get them all scheduled in advance until after the first week of April. I like to plan ahead.

Which one was the most challenging?

It’s a tossup between “Merrilea’s Music” and “Tyre and Thay.” For “Merrilea’s Music,” the piece wanted to be much longer than a flash fiction piece, so it was a hard idea to translate into flash fiction form. For “Tyre and Thay,” I wanted at least one drabble (100-word exactly flash piece), and I kept going under and lower before hitting it just right.

Which was your favorite piece and why?

Such a hard decision. Hmm, I’ll have to go with “Yonder Yew” because I amused myself with the pun on “Yew” and “you.”

What are the Shadowlands? (And what is a Foxwick?)

The Shadowlands is where souls go to live after they part from their bodies (i.e. die). I came up with the name of Shadowlands from my favorite quote from Sophocles’s Ajax, “For I see the true state of all us that live – We are dim shapes, no more, and weightless shadow.” Thus, we end up in the Shadowlands. As for what is a Foxwick, I’m not sure. I can’t even really remember how I came up with the name. It was either a Fantasy Place Name Generator or something else. I first used Foxwick as a setting in October 2010 for “Lady Death.” I thought perhaps it might be the founder’s name, but the more I play in Foxwick’s realm, I don’t think that’s true. So far, it hasn’t given up that secret, but I will keep searching.

Where do you get the names for your fantasy characters and places?

Various places. I’ve used a fantasy name generator. I think that’s how I got the names for Lochhollow and Merrilea Sea. I studied a lot of history in college since I majored in Classics, so some of the names come from there, like Vesta. I also do baby name searches. That’s how I came up with Eirwyn, Attor, and Kona. And the A to Z Challenge gave me a few names, such as Quaylin.

Now that the Challenge has ended, how can people read A to Z Flashes of Foxwick?

I self-published A to Z Flashes of Foxwick on April 16, and it’s a free read on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes. Of course, people can read it on my blog for free or purchase a copy for $0.99 on Nook and various Amazon affiliates who would not price-match to free.

What are your plans for the Challenge next year? More Foxwick?

My original plan was to write a YA Fantasy Foxwick story featuring Eirwyn (Princess of Wintermill at the time) called The Loveless Princess, but I soon realized my idea was too large for the A to Z Challenge, although I still plan to write it in 2013. Now I plan to find 26 random prompts HERE and try to craft a short story from them for 26 blog posts. I’m not yet sure what genre the story will be in, but I’ll figure it out once I find the prompts. I plan to collect the prompts in December and begin working on the story then. Yes, I really do like to plan ahead.

Thanks, Cherie - you rock!

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