Where's the sign-up List?

For the 2017 Challenge we're trying something new--no Linky List! So if you're looking for a list--stop now. It's really not so bad. Now you'll have many options for discovering participant blogs--blogs that are actually participating in the Challenge. For more info click on the link at the top of the sidebar on the right hand side of your page.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Doldrums Hit Your Blog? Here's an Idea...

How is your blog doing this summer?  Hit a snag?  A rough patch?  Having trouble keeping on keeping on?  You may have hit the doldrums.  You've probably heard the expression, but do you know where it comes from?  Since I'm there myself, stuck in the doldrums, I thought I'd look it up and share.

The Merrium Webster dictionary defines it as:

Full Definition of DOLDRUMS

1
:  a spell of listlessness or despondency
2
often capitalized :  a part of the ocean near the equator abounding in calms, squalls, and light shifting winds
3
:  a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump

Wikipedia offers us (abbreviated by me)

Colloquially, the "doldrums" are a state of inactivity, mild depression, listlessness or stagnation

The doldrums is a colloquial expression derived from historical maritime usage, in which it refers to those parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm.

The doldrums are also noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks.


I had thought that sailing was involved somewhere in there, and I was right.  Just reading about sailing cheered me up a bit.

What does this have to do with your blog?  Well I hit upon an idea that I thought I'd share.  My blog schedule is three times a week, so I decided that once a week I'd write an episode in a series.  I chose my college days as the topic.  Yes, I'm writing true, sometimes embarrassing stories of some of my college adventures.

Having the topic decided for at least once a week has helped me a LOT.  I have no end of material, considering, well, how coordinated I am, how naturally, socially savvy I was back then (was not...) and the stupid things that my roommates used to do.

I'm not saying that you have to have the kind of a blog that writes the naked truth about your life for this this to work, but is there a topic that could be a recurring theme once a week?

Of course you could choose a real-life series if that fits your style, and here are some ideas:

- my first year as a parent

- my first year as a (name of job)

- the horrors of working in a fast food establishment (haven't we all had to endure that?)

- the life lessons I learned from being a (fill in the blank)

If your blog isn't that style, maybe you could do once a week:

- how to...and pick something that fits your category of blog

- organizational ideas for your (name of room)

- my new favorite song, and include a YouTube clip

- I found this great, but unknown movie...

- My favorite beach combing finds

- The best thing I ever ate (thanks Food Network)

If you're stuck in the doldrums, having the topic decided for at least once a week might help.  Just a suggestion.  Come on over to Life is Good if you'd like to know how I experienced college...series usually runs on Mondays, but it might be Tuesday this week. After all, it's my blog, and like a good friend told me, "Will the world end if you for one week don't have a Monday post?"  (The answer is: it won't.  It just feels like that if you're a Schedule Woman like me...)

~Tina, who may or may not finish tomorrow's College Life series episode...and maybe the world WILL end, but I haven't seen any zombies today...so I'm thinking not...

©2014 All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 27, 2014

#atozchallenge #roadtrip - Stormy jumps for joy!



We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride

I'm feelin' okay this mornin'
And you know,
We're on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go


(Road to nowhere by Talking Heads)

Welcome to leg four of the Post A-to-Z Road Trip!





Stormy the Weather Gnome and I are going to try to hit at least 20 new blogs a week from the Challenge list and tell you about a few of them in each of my posts.

When you go visit these awesome blogs, please make sure you tell them that you're visiting on the Post A to Z Road Trip!


Tina Downey
During April, Tina took us on a journey to 'Explore the differences, big and small, between American and Swedish culture'. We learned about new foods, places, booze, vacation spots, language and of course, 'having coffee'. I might just move to Sweden for the care and consideration they give to coffee alone! And, the goodies they serve with it! Thank you, Tina, for showing us the way!


Maybe you wonder where you are
I don't care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there...take you there
We're on a road to nowhere




A Life Less Ordinary
Holli Moncrieff

Want to achieve A Life Less Ordinary? Follow Holli's 26 letters to learn more about about putting yourself out there and living life to the fullest!


Rachna's Scriptorium
Rachna Chhabria

Rachna's theme was Emotions and Feeling Writers Experience. You may have heard of a few. Anxiety. Depression. Passion. Unease. Wonder. Yearning. It's a hard, smart look into the world writer's live in.


There's a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
and it's all right, baby, it's all right
 



Sukanya Ramanujan, A Glimpse into My World
Sukanya Ramanujan


Some stunning photography, from all over the world, for every letter of the alphabet.



Finley Jayne's Going to the Library...
Finley Jayne

Finely's theme...Books I Hate! (I hope my book is not on her list.) Here is the letter Z post which contains a link to every letter post for the whole month!




Thanks for visiting with us today!
Are you finding any great blogs on your trip?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hilary Melton-Butcher: Meet Some Unusual Dragons!

Today's guest, Hilary Melton-Butcher barely needs an introduction.  She's the prolific and terrific lady whom we admire for her uniquely told stories of history and mystery.  A visit to Positive letters...inspirational stories  is always a treat.  Today she's doubling up with two linked posts, one here, one at Life is Good.  Don't miss either one!


Weedy Seadragon …

Art, Science, ‘Down Under’ and bloggers … Tina of Life is Good asked if I’d do a guest post for the A-Z blog and as a guest blogger on her blog … theoretically these might have been on Vikings (these will follow) – but as is the way with my eclectic brain I’ve settled on the Weedy Seadragon and the Great Australian Coast Road.

I expect many of you will have seen or heard of the BBC tv programmes ‘Coast’, where Neil Oliver, archaeologist, historian, author and broadcaster, tells us about Britain and Europe …

he has now moved to Australia (well perhaps he’s travelled there for the programmes!) – this is where these two ideas stemmed from.




 "Weedy Seadragon - taken from the sketchbook of William Buelow Gould - 1832"


Weedy Seadragon – who could ignore such a wonderful name for ‘Phyllopteryx Taeniolatus’? This amazing little seadragon and its sister, the Leafy Seadragon’ are found around the shores of southern Australia.

"Leafy Seadragon"


These endangered, endemic to the south Australian coast, little ‘prehistoric monsters’ are just a delight to see and to have found.



Perhaps, now I’ve looked, even more interestingly … they were drawn and painted by William Buelow Gould, a convict – who had been caught stealing a coat and then was sentenced in 1826 to “seven years beyond the seas”, a phrase indicating transportation to the then penal colony of Australia.

He had a wife and two children … but once shipped out, few convicts returned. He also didn’t change his ways … and got sentenced to the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station, one of the harshest, for forging a banknote.

The only way to the prison was by ship … but it got weather bound … and the convicts aboard mutinied with half of them taking the ship. Gould and the other convicts stuck with the officers … before setting off overland to get help.

For this Gould’s term was commuted; he was assigned as a house servant to the colonial surgeon Dr James Scott, who was also an amateur naturalist.

Scott put Gould’s artistic talents to use, having him paint watercolours of native flora – which today are regarded as being of a high technical standard.

Even now he couldn’t remain out of trouble and so was again sentenced to Macquarie Harbour, but based on his reputation he worked for another amateur natural historian, Dr William de Little on Sarah Island at the penal station.

This time he produced landscape sketches about life at the penal stations, as well as still life watercolours of botanical specimens, birds, fishes and other sea life.

Despite being granted his Certificate of Freedom in June 1835 he descended into a cycle of drunkenness, poverty and prison sentences for theft … he had remarried in 1836, but eventually died in 1853, aged 52 or thereabouts.

His sketchbooks and works are now highly acclaimed; his “Sketchbook of Fishes” being inscribed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of World Register … this is the equivalent of a World Heritage listing for historic documentary material.

It is noted that Gould sketched a number of species for the first time; and his works are recognised as being of enormous value to scientists today … and he’s even had a novel written by Richard Flanagan, published in 2001, from his Sketchbook of Fishes.

I’d better return to my little prehistoric monsters … the Weedy Seadragon and Leafy Seadragon … are marine fish related to the seahorse.



The weedy appendages provide camouflage … but don’t have the prehensile tail like the seahorse … they drift or move very slowly … not far at all.

They blend in so well to their natural surroundings … that they aren’t detected as a food source … the real threat is from us humans as when there is so much pollution in the water it makes it very difficult for them to survive … but when their natural habitat is taken away then it is a real threat for them to blend in and remain hidden.

Like seahorses the males nurture the young … the female lays them into her mate’s pouch on his abdomen … about nine weeks later they are born and have immediately to care for themselves.

The southern coast of Australia was full of prehistoric, now extinct, monsters five million years ago … the seas were 2 – 3 degrees warmer and contained life that we don’t see today …

  • A huge shark – as big as a bus
  • A penguin as tall as a man
  • A killer mammoth sperm whale

We know this from the wealth of fossils that can be found around this area of coast today …

Then these pretty little prehistoric monsters have a wonderful tale to tell – let alone the fact that we have had a record of them for about 180 years
they probably evolved from those aquatic vertebrates now buried by this ever changing earth of ours.

I say here’s to the Weedy Seadragon and to the Leafy Seadragon … you have made me smile while I think about you both … and increased my desire to go down under!

Hilary Melton-Butcher

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Weedy Seadragon
Photo credit: Leafy Seadragon

Thanks, Hilary.  It's always so fun to learn about the people behind the books, and that back story, which wow, I would not have predicted!  Readers, time to go see about the Australian Coast!  See you at my place.

~Tina






Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Never too early to plan for the #AtoZchallenge !


The A to Z Challenge has been done and dusted for almost two months now-- time we started planning the next one!
Here are a few tips from Calli Duncan, a travel blogger, and 2014 A to Z Challenge participant:
------------
The 2014 A to Z Challenge was an incredible success for Have Blog Will Travel. We now have 26 awesome British Columbia travel-themed posts in our article arsenal and have managed to connect with a great group of bloggers, forged some new relationships, and increased our readership. 
Having never attempted a blogging challenge of any type before, we wanted to use this opportunity to share a few tricks that we will be relying on for future challenges.
Format of A to Z Challenge Posts
Jumping into the challenge we knew our regular approach to blogging wouldn’t work. Therefore we decided to keep our challenge posts under 500 words, broken into three or four short paragraphs. This ensured we would be able to write a new post each day, and that readers wouldn’t be overwhelmed.
We also decided to include just one photo at the top of each post. This cut down on time sourcing photos and made each post visually similar. Clicking through our A to Z Challenge posts it’s clear they are part of a set - they look congruent yet can also stand on their own.
A Touch of Professionalism
To really elevate your posts and make a harmonious set of challenge posts, a little extra effort goes a long way. For us this meant editing our cover photos to create a unified look and include some essential information. Like the cover of a book, these images help direct people to our posts through social media channels and give our homepage a consistent look.
For the editing we turned to PicMonkey - a free, web-based editing tool and carried the same font through all challenge photos. The final look feels professional without taking itself too seriously.
Selecting a Theme
Wanting to stand out from other travel bloggers participating in the challenge, we opted to forgo the generic “travel” theme for something more closely related to the direction we are taking our blog. Therefore the theme Beautiful BC from A to Z was born, with all 26 challenge posts relating to British Columbia, Canada.
A specific theme lets visitors know what to expect and increases the chance of return visits during the challenge. When choosing a theme keep in mind that it needs to be broad enough to provide topics for all 26 letters of the alphabet, yet narrow enough that your final product is unique. 
 ---------
Calli Duncan has spent the better half of 9 months traveling through Europe and is one of two faces behind the always honest and sometimes humorous Have Blog Will Travel. For more, connect with Calli on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Themes That Rocked! Cool Speculative Fiction Book Covers from Bob Miline


Please welcome book reviewer Bob Miline!


Your theme was speculative fiction book covers – what made you chose that theme?

Well, I knew my theme was going to be book related (that was a given), but I wanted to do find a way to do something different. In hindsight, my little literary alliteration of the year before really used up 2 themes at once, matching authors and titles, so I was stumped. For a while I actually considered skipping this year’s challenge, until a review copy of Words of Radiance landed on my doorstep. I review so many digital titles, a hardcover was something of a novelty, so I really spent some time admiring the wrap-around dust jacket – and that’s when the idea for the theme clicked.


What type of artwork draws you in? What do you look for in cover art?

Something bold and vivid is what usually draws me in – I like a book cover that calls to me from across the room, demanding that I give it a closer look. It’s not so much a style or even the lines, but the colours, the interplay of light and shadow, and the illusion of movement. I prefer a cover that captures a scene, as opposed to one with characters posing for the artist’s eye.

Which artist was your favorite?

I’d have to go with Michael Whelan as my favourite. He has such an identifiable sense of style, with covers that are vibrant and real, and which just have that ‘epic’ sort of feel to them.

Which cover was your favorite?

That’s hard to say. John Harris’s cover for Ancillary Justice definitely caught my eye, as did Daniel Dociu’s covers for The Expanse series. I think the cover I found most striking, though, was Richard Anderson’s cover for The Emperor’s Blades. The colours there are more subdued, and more background, but the layering of the three almost jagged silhouettes with the background imagery really worked for me.

Which letter was the most difficult?

Everything was sailing along nicely until I hit the letter ‘X’. I searched for days trying to find an artist or two, but kept coming up empty. In the end I had to bend my theme a bit and just look for an artist with an ‘X’ in their name – which, as it turned out, was fine since it allowed me to give Richard Hescox some page time.

Who was the oldest artist you featured?

That would have to be Eddie Jones (born 1935) and Frank Frazetta (born 1928), both of whom are sadly no longer with us.

How important is cover art? Does it influence your decision to read and review a book?

As a reader, cover art still has significant appeal to me when physically browsing a bookstore, and has led me into giving more than one a new author a read. I’d never choose (or not choose) a book based solely upon the cover, but that cover can tempt me into reading the back cover.

As a reviewer, however, cover art has almost no impact. Most of my review requests are either based on a pre-publication ARC that doesn’t have a cover, or a text-based sales pitch that comes in via webform or email, so it’s really all down to whether the cover blurb catches my attention.

If you do the Challenge next year, what theme(s) are you considering?

I’ll probably be scratching my head over that again until the end of March, but I’m toying with something revolving around names (characters or places) that have been memorable for me.

That would be a cool theme – thanks Bob and see you next year!


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, June 20, 2014

How to Blog Better by the Day

Having fallen behind on blogging activities myself, coupled with several social media hiatuses, I know what technology burnout looks like and I understand that overwhelming anxiety of feeling like you'll never get up to speed...at least not as soon as you hoped. The solution to this recurring issue is designating each day of the week for one specific blogging activity or other online task. It is an effective way to get a handle on your internet presence so that it doesn't drive you bonkers. 

A fun way to get in the habit of sticking to an online routine that goes day by day is naming days of the week in a manner that coincides with the task -- Wordless Wednesdays style -- and then listing this schedule on your calendar, in a notebook or some other place where you'll have them handy:
  • Return-Commenting Monday
  • Blog Promotion Tuesday
  • Visiting/Reading Wednesday
  • Email Inbox cleaning Thursday
  • Blogging Friday
  • Social Media Saturday
  • Blog Planning Sunday

Using the above sample schedule, I've been able to complete more tasks with this method than when I try to squeeze several important online activities into one single day. My experiences with doing this has led me to realized that the days on our blogging calendars are not set in stone. Sometimes I miss a day (or two) and end up playing catch-up by either doubling up on the task of the day or moving the next scheduled tasks to a later day. Sometimes I even skip a day (or more) depending on how well my week is going. In any case, naming one day each for a different blogging activity makes it easier for me to not worry about having to be everywhere, all of the time.

Do YOU control the internet or does it control YOU?

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Hostess Nicole Ayers writes about movies and the people that make them, at The Madlab Post. She also tweets @MadlabPost.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Storyteller's Perspective: On tradition, selective memory, and #NotAllFolktales

Most of you are probably familiar with the #YesAllWomen hashtag that took Twitter by storm and created a flood of articles, analyses and arguments all over the Internet. It was a spontaneous, online social movement raising awareness of everyday sexism, misogyny, violence against women, gender bias, and some cultural roots associated with all of the above.
In the middle of all of that, following the real-time roll of tweets, blog posts and articles, there I was, as a professional storyteller, wondering what I had to contribute. Of course I have my own personal stories as a woman (#yesallwomen have those), but there was something else, something that has to do with the stories we tell...
... or, rather, WHICH stories we tell.

I once had a serious fight with a faceless man who claimed that I was "against tradition" when I expressed my opinion that folktales that end with "and the man beat his wife, and she learned her lesson, and they lived happily ever after" should not be told anymore. He said I was trying to destroy the culture of our ancestors. I told him that if domestic abuse was the "culture of our ancestors," I am willing to let go of it.
But it's not.

I started tweeting under #NotAllFolktales, posting excerpts and tidbits from traditional stories (myth, legend and folktale) that prove that not every traditional tale is biased against women, or holds the dangerous cultural values that lead to misogyny. I did it for two reasons:

1. A lot of the backlash against #YesAllWomen brought up excuses like "but it's natural" "but it's traditional" and "but it's always been like that." They threw out shards of fairy tales about princesses on both sides. Most people completely disregarded one simple fact: Fairy tales and folktales are not biased because "it's natural." They are biased because they are a product of culture. Four hundred years ago Sleeping Beauty was raped in her sleep, instead of kissed awake. Try telling it that way nowadays, see what happens.

2. People who cry #NotAllFolktales (just like people who cry #NotAllMen, or #NotAllWhitePeople, or any of those backlash hashtags) have the responsibility to change the group they want to set themselves apart from. Storytellers who know that there are stories out there that are not sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. have the responsibility to tell them, understand them, and make them available.

See, my point is: Stories that promote diversity, equality, freedom of expression and choice are all ALREADY OUT THERE. We don't even have to make them up. We don't even have to write "feminist fairy tales" (although if we want to, we can, and they are amazing). Stories have been out there for millennia. We just need to find them (often cleverly hidden or left out of collections and publications), revive them, and tell them, tell them, tell them.

Case in point: I did my second A to Z challenge run about Weird Princesses - folktales and legends that involve female heroes who are not only brave and clever, but also quirky and unique and lovable (or, in Internet speak: anything but Mary Sue). There are hundreds of them, and guess what, boys love them as much as girls. I also frequently tell the story of Dame Ragnell that teaches kids about respect for women, and works splendidly with all ages from kindergarten to high school.
I recently (after the backlash against the Bearded Diva winning the Eurovision) posted a collection of folktales and myths about trans heroes and heroines, as an answer to people railing "young people nowadays don't know what gender they want to be..." It was surprisingly easy to find a whole bunch of folktales from every corner or the world. Heck, I even found a Hungarian folktale about a princess going "men's clothes have always fit me better" (in the end she transforms into a man and marries another princess).

The world of folktales is endless, and stretches way beyond "young male hero saves beautiful princess." There is a story about everything. There are folktales about pregnant women saving the world. There are folktales about old people falling in love. There are folktales about kind stepmothers, loving fathers, homely princesses, divorce, same-sex love and marriage, culture clash and acceptance, and a million other things that are still important in our world.

Find them. Read them. Think about them. Tell them.

As usual, you can find Csenge at:
@TarkabarkaHolgy
The Multicolored Diary - Adventures in Storytelling
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Guest Reflection: SammyD #atozchallenge

 As I've been out on the 4th Annual Post A-Z 2014 Road Trip, I've been reading Reflection, and inviting some of our participants to share theirs.  SammyD and I hit it off right away, and I thought it would be great to hear from one of the newbies!  Take it away, Sammy!



  A-to-Z_Reflection_[2014]  
"Blessed are the weird people: poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters, troubadours; For they teach us to see the world through different eyes." by Jacob Nordby (shared by Happy Holly)
That is one of my blogging goals – to see the world through different eyes. April brought me that, and more. 

I used March to “pre-visit” blogs on the linky list of bloggers with <100 followers and compile a list of "follows" for April. Being a new blogger myself, I wanted to give most of my attention to newbies. 

In early April, I did additional bloghopping to accumulate 85 blogs I regularly visited. I spent several hours morning and evening to visit, read and comment, as well as respond to comments on my own blog. Would I use that approach again? Absolutely! Of the 85 I followed, 83 completed the Challenge. 

Not all visited my blog; not all responded to my comments, and not all are blogs I follow now that the Challenge is over. However, more than a handful of very talented, interesting people have become my cherished blogging buddies. We laughed, cried, learned and supported. I have every confidence our relationships will flourish, and our blogging passions will be richer because of our connections. 

In addition to my treasured blogging buddies, my Challenge rewards are: My new library. Every blogger I followed has not only 26 excellent A to Z posts which are worth re-visiting, but an accumulation of posts I’ve never read. And they will publish future valuable posts. I can travel, eat, garden, paint, think, imagine - knowing I’ll enjoy wherever I meander in my library. 

My referral system. Each blogger I follow has a treasure trove of bloggers they follow. That's a rich reservoir of talent, and the potential for broadening my horizons is immeasurable. 

Material for my future posts. My buddy bloggers have triggered so many memories, questions, emotions, curiosities, musings during my April visits that I have a notebook full of triggers and prompts. It’s impossible in this post to say how uniquely each of you has touched my heart and energized my brain, but my future posts will pay tribute to your individual talents and your cumulative impact on how I view my world. I think about each of you every day, and feel so blessed that you have come into my life. 

What I liked: I pre-wrote 95% of my posts. I couldn’t possibly “wing it”. The support from Co-hosts and Minions! A bucket load of Thank You’s to each of you who worked tirelessly and cheerfully to support this Challenge. I cannot imagine participating AND performing your functions. Kudos to all for your stamina and dedication! The pre-Challenge instructional posts by Co-hosts and Minions. Very helpful. 

What was difficult: Sticking to my theme. I’m not sure I’ll pick one next year. The (no one's fault) snafus between blogging platforms: My WordPress Reader only intermittently picked up non-WP bloggers I followed, so I had to refer to my list and visit them manually. Commenting on Blogspot was a time-consuming process – even with Captcha turned off. I can only assume it was the same hassle for Blogspotters to comment on a WP blog. 

Suggestions for next year: Perhaps Z to A Challenge (backwards) for a change of pace? People seemed to burn out just as the toughest letters came up. A few bloggers suggested we drop Q and X. I disagree. We’re a creative bunch; if we can’t take “literary license” during the Challenge, what’s the point? 

During March instruction period, please clarify when "how-to" instructions pertain specifically to Blogspot platform. I finally figured out it was Blogspot bloggers hosting A to Z, and the instructions were written accordingly. But I wasted a lot of time, as a WordPress blogger, trying to figure out what those instructions meant. 

Will I do this Challenge in 2015? Sign Me Up! Click here to return to the Reflections List for other A to Z Bloggers

She tells it like she sees it, eh?  Sounds a bit organized, planning ahead...I think you can see how we get along ;-) I attest to the fact that she's followed through on this and regularly introduces new bloggers for us to meet!  Be sure to give her a visit at Bemuzin for more of her generous spirit and contagious charm!
~Tina


Friday, June 13, 2014

Honk if You Read Me! A Brief Tune Up for A-Z Road Trippers #atozchallenge #roadtrip

Wondering how in the world you’ll keep (or even find) the energy to continue visiting new blogs throughout these busy summer months? Look no further, because your participation in the 2014 A-to-Z Challenge Road Trip can be simplified by designating a regular time of the day to carry out this task. 

It doesn't have to overwhelm our daily activities; we can master the art of having a productive and adventurous road trip experience, in as little as 30 minutes per week or as much as one hour per day.

For those multi-taskers, consider squeezing in some blog visits on your lunch break and voila! You’ll have completed your road trip activities before dinner time by killing two birds with one stone – eating and surfing the blogosphere. Try it. Morning, noon or night, creating a habit of visiting blogs along a set schedule will keep you on track to discover all those gems that you may have missed in April – and doing it all without losing your wheels and falling by the side of the road.

Happy Road Tripping!

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Hostess Nicole Ayers writes about movies and the people that make them, at The Madlab Post. She is currently on tour with her short film “ABYSS: THE GREATEST PROPOSAL EVER,” to raise money for the American Red Cross. At times, she also tweets @MadlabPost.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How's Your To-Read List?

To-Read, TBR, the pile of books in the corner... whatever you call it, is it under control, or eating you alive?

About three years ago, I went to a conference on becoming a published children's author.  One piece of advice was to read great children's books.  They mentioned some books and authors, so I scribbled them down: Skellig, the Tiger Who Came For Tea, Liz Kessler, The White Giraffe Series, Eva Ibbotson, Laura Marker series, David Almond, Marcus Sedgwick, Sally Gardner, Meg Roscoff, Anabelle Pilcher, Jonathan Gould, Pongwiffy, Boy in Striped Pyjamas....   These have a UK bias, but the ones I've read are great books. 

First I put them on a reading list on my blog.  Then I found Goodreads and put them on there - other book sites are available: I also belong to Librarything, for example.

So about twenty books found a home on my reading list.  Then I got my kindle app on my laptop, and discovered free books...  you know the story. I had 100 books very quickly.  Then I started getting books I wanted to read, as opposed to those that looked good.  Last November I went into a bookstore with a £25 ($40) book token.  I spent over £35 (nearly $60), and have only just started on those.  I listed ten more I'd like to read but didn't buy.

I am trying to read a book a week.  But I make the error of entering blog review tours, and get advance or free copies to review for the tour.  I have read some wonderful books that way, but my plan to read 60 books from my TBR list this year is under severe strain.  The book that was number 4 at the start of the year is now number 1.  And I am skipping down a way because I really want to read and review the books I won in Giveaways last year.

I'm beginning to feel anxious about all these books I have to read.  And my list isn't even that big.  Go on, guess how many it is.  I'll tell you at the end.

I saw a lovely short post from The Story Reading Ape at the end of April:  What’s YOUR TBR pile like?
Click the link and it'll open in another tab or window.

Feel familiar?  I bet!

What's even funnier is reading the comments - I'm sure they'll resonate with you, too.

I'm looking for the person with the longest current TBR list on Goodreads (or any other list, but it needs to be verifiable).  Just flicking through people who have my first book The Princelings of the East on their Goodreads TBR list, they seem to range from less than 8 books to over 29,000! (Authors, you can find this by looking at your Author Dashboard and the TBR listing for your book).

Can you beat that?

Mine's currently 270.  I have copies, print or ebook, of around 90 of them.  You can add another to yours if you want to download my latest book, Bravo Victor, which is free today on Amazon.

How many books do you currently want to read?  What's your strategy for getting through them?  I'd love to know.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Themes That Rocked! Challenge Participant Charity Bradford and the World of Dr. Who


Please welcome author Charity Bradford!


Your theme was Dr. Who. What made you choose that theme?

Two reasons. #1 I LOVE Doctor Who and knew it would be a fun topic that I would enjoy exploring for an entire month. #2 My kids love Doctor Who and agreed to help me with the posts. I thought it would be a bonus to share the Challenge with my children.

Which letter was your favorite and why?

This is hard because I must confess I loved almost every letter. Reliving the series through video clips was amazing. Looking back over the episodes knowing where the story was going made everything more emotional. If I had to narrow it down I'd pick--C, R, S and T because they cover my favorite characters.

Which letter was the most challenging?

Q, X and strangely Y were hard. I just couldn't think of anything Doctor Who and had to get creative to make it work. I finally did favorite Quotes, X-tra clips/episodes that I couldn't fit in earlier and thanked YouTube for all the great videos I used during the month.



What is your favorite race or creature from the show?

The Weeping Angels are a great race in the creepiest way, but if I could get a full make-up job I would choose to be Silurian. Every one that I've seen on the show has this aggressively sexy look to them. Plus, who wouldn't want to be a reptilian warrior?

Who is your favorite Doctor?

You keep asking really hard questions! I should qualify this by saying I haven't watched the classic Who series. David Tennant was my clear favorite until series 7. Now Matt Smith is equal if not edging slightly ahead of Tennant. It doesn't have anything to do with the actors as much as the way the story line changed a bit and drew me in even deeper. Both of them made me think about things, laugh out loud and cry. I can't ask for more than that.

What’s your favorite Dr. Who quote?

I have lots of favorites, but here's one that didn't make my Q post--"Don't play games with me. You just killed someone I liked. That is not a safe place to stand. I'm The Doctor and you're in the biggest library in the Universe. Look me up." ~The Doctor, Series 4, Forest of the Dead

Just what is a Silurian?

The Silurians were a sentient race of earth reptiles that dominated the earth before humans. At some point they went into hibernation deep under the earth's crust. The first time I saw them on Doctor Who was series 5 with Matt Smith in "The Hungry Earth". The warrior class woke from cryo sleep when their settlement was threatened by humans drilling into their air pockets. Humanity barely escaped all out war with them thanks to the Doctor's quick thinking.

If you participate next year, do you have a theme in mind?

Yes! My kids already voted and we are going to do A to Z posts from the TV series X-Files.


I’m an X-Files junkie, so that sounds like a great theme. Thanks, Charity!



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, June 6, 2014

#atozchallenge #roadtrip - Stormy's cruisin' with the top down!



Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure

And whatever comes our way

(Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf)


Welcome to leg three of the Post A-to-Z Road Trip!



 
Stormy the Weather Gnome and I are going to try to hit at least 20 new blogs a week from the Challenge list and tell you about a few of them in each of my posts.

When you go visit these awesome blogs, please make sure you tell them that you're visiting on the Post A to Z Road Trip!


Author Stephen Tremp
Stephen Tremp

Stephen's A to Z Theme: The Wonders and Oddities of our Universe.
From Aliens to Galaxies. 
From Quantum Computers to Water in Space. 
Stephen covers it all and explains it in a way even I can understand! 


Like a true nature's child
We were born
Born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die
Born to be wild



The Slightly Eccentric Diary of Rob Z Tobor
Rob Z Tobor
 
Rob's A to Z Theme ... one giant-run-on-poetry-compilation-extravaganza. 



Astral Traveller
Cat Starr

Cat's A to Z Theme ... absolutely beautiful travel pictures from around the world. 


Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space



Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time!
Sharon Arthur Moore

Sharon's A to Z Theme ... food terminology, techniques, foods, gadgets, recipes and all things, well, food!


Wilderness Apocalypse
D Kai Wilson
Kai's  A to Z Theme ... Everything you ever needed to know to survive any Apocalypse.





Thanks for visiting with us today!
Are you finding any great blogs on your trip?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Steve's Science And Other Fun Stuff



Hi all, and thanks for stopping by. Stephen Tremp here. I post "Stephen's Science And Other Fun Stuff" here very first and third Thursday of each month .

I'm taking a break from my break for a power packed week. Then I'm go back to my Man Cave and finish my latest book Murcat Manor. So let's look at a few of the recent high lights of the latest and greatest regarding science and astronomy.

Hubble Team Unveils Telescope's Most Colorful Cosmic View: More than a decade after they started, scientists have finally filled out their view of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field on the ultraviolet side of the spectrum. The updated image, released Tuesday, incorporates all the colors that the Hubble Space Telescope can detect, visible and invisible. Oh yeah, a picture does tell a thousand words.

NASA Finds Mega - Earth: Scientists announced Monday that NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has spied an exoplanet that is 17 times larger than Earth. Kepler-10c has been described as a “Mega-Earth” because it is even too gargantuan to fit into the category of “Super-Earths,” which are about 10 times the size of Earth. 

Scientists didn’t even think an Earth-like planet this big could exist because it was believed that planets 10 times the mass of Earth would hold on to so much hydrogen gas they would become like Saturn or Jupiter. But Kepler-10c is a rocky, dense planet not enveloped in gas. This discovery suggests there is plenty of room for life to exist on other plus-sized planets.


Elon Musk's Space Capsule Is So Much Nicer Than The Competition: The Dragon V2, unveiled at SpaceX headquarters Thursday, can carry seven astronauts to the International Space Station.
SpaceX revealed on Thursday an updated version of its cargo-only-carrying Dragon spacecraft, showing off the new capsule's sleek interior with room to seat seven astronauts.
The Dragon V2 is much more spacious than the Russia Soyuz spacecraft, which fits three crew members and has been NASA's only way of sending American astronauts to space since the agency shut down its shuttle program in 2011.
Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli (right), pictured inside the Soyuz with Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, called the capsule "small but reliable" after returning to Earth from the space station in May 2011.
City of Tomorrow Might Already Be Here: Right now, 21st century challenges like greenhouse gases, crime and high energy costs — are being met worldwide with real innovation.
In the coming years communities will grow at an amazing pace. The United Nations predicts by 2030, 60% of the world will live in cities. Demand for clean air, water, energy — and convenience — will skyrocket.

Along with emerging innovations, increased connectivity via the Internet and smart devices promises to help solve many of these threats.

Imagine turning the ocean into drinking water, ending traffic jams, making policing smarter and creating buildings with zero carbon footprints.

NASA'S New Mega-Rocket On Track For Future Test: A new era of space exploration — supported by a history-making new mega-rocket and a spacecraft designed to deliver humans into deep space — could be on the horizon for NASA.

The space agency is gearing up to build the largest and most powerful rocket in history. The huge launcher, called the Space Launch System (SLS), will move a new spacecraft dubbed Orion, designed to send up to four astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before. A short list of destinations includes the moon, nearby asteroids and, eventually, Mars.
Everyone is looking forward to 2021, the year when the first manned launch will occur. But before that happens, the rocket and spacecraft will have to pass a number of tests. 
Back To My Man Cave: Okay, I need to return to my Man Cave and finish Murcat Manor. But I am thankful for my time out of the cave as I was able to have a lot of fun and meet some very interesting people. I'll share my pics with you. So enjoy and I'll see you all Thursday June 19th.














Okay, Back To My Man Cave. Where's My Lava Lamp???
You can visit me at my blog: 
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