Monday, August 30, 2010

Google Reader Schedule

Like many of you, I follow a lot of blogs - somewhere close to the 300 mark at the moment (not counting agent/publishing blogs). I try really hard to keep up with most of your posts, but it's not easy. You all know this!

With school right around the corner, I've decided I need a better system than using my blog roll. If I start at the top of the blog roll, I may miss some of the older ones, and I may miss some people altogether.

So I played around with Google Reader a bit. I'm not always intuitive with new software - it takes me a while to become comfortable with a program. I needed to Google a couple of websites for help, but I think I've got it organzied now. *crossing fingers and toes*

I created a folder for each day of the week and then I went through each blog on my list and assigned it a specific day. In a really creative move, I started with the first blog and assigned it to Sunday, the next to Monday... Of course after I finally finished, I found a few new blogs to follow and had to remember how to assign them to a folder :)

So... long story short, each of your blogs is in a folder. Each day I'll use that folder and read and comment on those blogs. If I have time, I'll visit more, but this way I'll get to everyone at least once a week.  This is NOT an ideal system, but for now, it's the best I've got. So I apologize in advance for missing some of your posts, but I think it will make it more manageable. If you don't see me for a bit, check in and let me know. There's a rather giant possibility I didn't do this perfectly!

How do you manage to connect with all the blogs you follow?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lucky Summer!

I've had a really good run of luck this summer. I've won several prizes from the blogs of fellow writers. It's such a thrill to come home & find out I've won a prize, and then even more exciting when the prize arrives at my house. Definitely a great way to brighten up a busy June, July & August! I thought I'd share pics of my winnings - not to drive you crazy with envy - but to point you in the direction of some very generous and fabulous bloggers. Check out their links - these are some mighty fine people!

From Shannon Whitney Messenger over at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe, I received a signed ARC of Archvillain by Barry Lyga & some assorted Barry Lyga swag. AWESOME! My kids at school are going to love this book! If I let them get their hands on it that is... :)

Next from Courtney over at Southern Princess sent me a book from the Book Depository - just because she was happy Elena Johnson got herself a book deal! What a sweetie! I chose The Ruins of Gorlon - the first in the Ranger's Apprentice series. This one will be a great read aloud for my classroom.

Then Lindsay (aka Isabella) at Adventures in Writing had a 100 followers contest. I won that too! The lovely Lindsay sent me a copy of Hex Hall, a great notebook and chocolate!! And, yes, the chocolate package is completely full in the photo, why do you ask?? :)

And that wasn't all! Martina & Marissa at Adventures in Children's Publishing had a terrific contest to find some Underappreciated YA novels. I was one of the winners there as well! They wrapped all the goodies in the cutest pink polka-dot gift bags. I won a copy of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater! The ladies were kind enough to include blody lotion, balt salts and chocolate. The chocolate must have disappeared somehow - I can't seem to find it for the photo. Hmmm. That's odd. :)

The wonderful TK Richardson over at My Writing Masquerade had a blog party celebrating the release of her novel Return the Heart. I won a prize package filled with goodies: a bright yellow mini tote bag, Lindor truffles, breakfast coffee, a cupcake scented candle, a journal from World Market and a Root Beer scented pencil!

Then I won a copy of Carolyn Brown's I Love This Bar over at Mason Canyon's Thoughts in Progress. If you haven't visited Mason's site, you really need to hurry over asap. Mason has tons and tons of terrific give-aways.

Then Renae Mercado at The Siren's Song had her first ever contest. The prizes were an ARC of Immortal Beloved, Pretty Little Liars and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. I won that one too!!!

Elana Johnson had a contest to celebrate the fantabulous WriteOnCon. I won The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk - one of the presenters at the Conference!! Woohoo! :) Another great book for me and my students!

On the same day, Lisa Jackson's Without Mercy arrived in my mailbox. I won this one at Donna's Book Pub - she had an interview with Lisa & I was lucky enough to win the book! Awesome :)

That's Part 1. Yes there are more, but I won't drag this post on any longer. :) Remember to check out these fabulous bloggers - you won't regret it!

How's your luck been lately??

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Tantrums

I just renewed my library books online and it brought to mind a story my mom loves to tell. :)

When I was 4 & my sister was 5, my mom took us to the library. I don't remember this visit, but she tells me I fell in love. Books, books and more books. Everywhere I looked. I already loved books by that point and apparently couldn't get enough of the place.

So we got to the counter and the lady said my sister could have her very own library card. My sister. Just my sister.

Don't know if it's still the case, but back then the magic number to have your own card was 5. I was 4.

That would be when I had my first ever melt down. Total melt down. Sobbing, limp body, heels kicking the floor, full blown tantrum. My mom was mortified. Supposedly I was pretty much the happy-go-lucky, placid baby and kid - smiling & pleasant all the time.

Until I couldn't have a library card.

Can you see the library lady caving? She did. I got my card. :)

Not a great lesson for a kid. I think if it had been my kid I'd have refused the card. But neither my sister or I ever did this kind of thing & I don't think my mom had a clue how to handle it - she just wanted to get OUT! Can't say I blame her. Apparently I only ever had 1 other melt-down (over puppets - another story) in my childhood, so thankfully it didn't scar me, or teach me tantrums got me goodies. I seem to have turned out okay. :)

But I got my card! And I've visited that very same library every 3 or 4 weeks ever since then.

So how about you? Any book tantrums to share?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

People Watching

I think all writers are people watchers. It's so entertaining and enlightening. Plus it's fun!

While at the Roger's Cup tennis tournament last week, I spent a lot of time watching people: fans, people dragged to the event by fans, people attending so they could be seen, security, players, volunteers, ball kids, umpires, vendors...

I don't know if most people realize how much is revealed about their personality in the little things they do. They don't realize writers lurk in every crowd and watch.

Clothing says so much about a person. Many people wore the most inappropriate outfits imaginable to the event. The temperatures ran in the high 30s (Celsius or 90 - 100+ Fahrenheit) before you poured 10 000 people into a bowl and watched them stew and simmer for 12 hours. Probably not the best place for 3 piece suits or silk blouses and skirts. Or terry cloth dresses. Or polyester pant suits. Sweat stains make the most interesting patterns.

One poor lady cried when she stood up and saw the large diamond shaped sweat pattern on the front of her dress and then realized the front looked much better than the back.

We sat beside one young man who'd brought a girl he was trying desperately to impress. He was so excited to be there with her. He babbled. A lot! He bombarded her with information about the players, the game and the rules. Way more than a tennis newbie needed (or wanted) to know. It might not have been as bad if he'd known his facts. He enthusiastically tossed out incorrect info that had every tennis fan around him stiffening then smiling. He was excited, eager to impress and kind of adorable. I hope he got another date. :)

One man had the most interesting hair on his forearms - long, curly, almost prehensile.

One lady wouldn't stand up or move her legs to let the ready-to-pop pregnant lady pass. She had to climb over the woman!

A security guard stopped people from getting to close to the players with only the slightest movements - a tilt of the head, a lift of an eyebrow, a movement of the finger. Awesome presence!

Some fans wore crazy costumes supporting their favourite players - including wigs (did I mention the heat!).

One of the ice cream sellers probably used up more energy than the players. He ran up and down those stairs continuously. He was so careful to never get in anyone's view, to never move during the play. He made eye contact with his audience, smiled, responded politely to everyone. He probably made more money than all the other sellers combined.

A family sat behind us for one session - parents and 3 boys. The youngest was about 7 & his favourite player was Rafael Nadal. The little guy cheered loudly and at the right times. But when the game got tense, he'd whisper, "Give him hell, Rafa." Then he'd ask his older brother if his parents had heard him. :)

Some of what I observed this week will provide me with quirks or actions for upcoming characters. So even if I didn't have a computer I was working on my writing. After all, it's not just what we do, it's who we are. :)

Those are a few of my favourite people from the past week. Who are the most interesting people you've watched lately?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Love Means Nothing

'Love Means Nothing' --- isn't that a great marketing slogan for a tennis tournament? Love it (pun intended...sorry :)).

Anyway... that's the slogan for the Roger's Cup tennis tournament in Toronto this week. I spent some of the past week down in Toronto enjoying the tournament and with no Internet access. In fact I didn't have a computer with me at all - no writing, no email, no blogging, no Twitter. We were at the stadium for over 12 hours each day and the tennis was SO good, I didn't even miss it :)

I had my Kindle with me for the ride down and back and it was fabulous! I often sit cross-legged or with my feet up on the dash when I'm in the car and I set the Kindle in my lap. I liked not having to use 2 hands (or even 1 hand!) to hold open a book and it was very easy to read in the sun. I finished Nowhere to Hide by Terry O'Dell. FANTASTIC!! It's a great romantic suspense story - check it out :)

I missed most of WriteOnCon and I'll be catching up on the website for all the goodies I missed there.

So, did I miss anything else?

What's another favourite marketing slogan that makes you smile?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

High Drama Blog Fest

If you somehow missed the news, DL Hammons is hosting the High Drama Blog Fest today. Check out his blog Cruising Altitude to find the list of bloggers participating.

I enjoy visiting blogfests, but don't usually join them because of the time factor. I don't get much writing time as is, and would rather focus on my ms for the most part. But it's summer time and DL's lead up posts were so much fun I couldn't resist. :)

I decided to write a piece specifically for the blogfest rather than use a piece from my ms. So here we go...

Fog curled through the brush. Hopefully it would conceal her. Had he seen her or found her tracks? She leaned back against the tree, fought her breathing under control. She couldn’t let nerves betray her presence.

Not many people had true patience. They didn’t wait. Couldn’t stay still. He did and could so she had to as well.

Maybe she should run, take her chances. But he’d hear her. It hadn’t rained in weeks. Orange, red and yellow alarms littered the ground.

Staying still didn’t get her to safety though. She needed to move. Remaining meant certain death.

When she couldn’t take it anymore, she eased up from her crouch, loosened muscles without shifting her feet. Her dark jacket and jeans had been a fortunate choice, she should blend in with the shadows. Her eyes moved continually as she leaned forward and peeked around the tree.

Nothing. She waited, but didn’t shift her weight. Patience.

One careful step. Wait. Another.

She traveled for twenty minutes before she heard a branch snap and froze. A bird? Squirrel? Or him?

The way her luck had gone? Him.

Keeping her weight squarely over her feet, she slowly lowered into a runner’s stance. Carefully she placed one hand on the ground for balance. She eased her head to the right. The sound had been behind her. Nothing moved in the shadows, but the light was fading rapidly.

A cold ring of steel touched her neck. She forced back the fury and kept very still. As long as she lived, there was hope.

“Where’d you bury him?”

She smiled, hope indeed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“One chance, Laura.”

“You’re a cop. You’re not going to shoot me.”

He cracked the safety back. “He was nine. Where’s the grave?”

Always hope. “What’s it worth?”

“Same as you. Nothing.”


Her skull erupted, then nothing at all.

Thanks for dropping by! Remember to click on DL's link and check out the other entries :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm a Versatile Slacker

Okay, I've been sitting on awards again. It's been a much busier summer than I expected - a lot of fun, but I'm always running behind. Not a big surprise for the most part. :)

Several people tagged me with the Versatile Blogger Award in the last little bit. This is a fantastic group of bloggers. If you see someone you haven't met yet, click! You won't regret it.

A great big THANK YOU to...
Kathi Oram Peterson at Kathi's Writing Nook
Rosie Connolly at East for Green Eyes
Susan Gourley at Susan Says

Dawn Simon at Plotting and Scheming also passed the Sweet Blog Award my way - love that teddy bear! Thanks so much Dawn!

I'm not going to list the traditional 7 things about me (you're welcome!), but I am going to pass along the awards. Feel free to choose whichever award you prefer (both if you're daring!) and as always these are no pressure awards. Do with them as you will. Or don't. :)

Cate Woods at Words from the Woods
TK Richardson at My Writing Masquerade
Aubrie at Flutey Words
Cassandra Jade at Cassandra Jade in the Realm
CJ Redwine at The Last Word
Helen Ginger at Straight from Hel
Lola Sharp at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword
Mari at Mari's Randomities
Rosalind at Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain
Summer at And This Time Concentrate
Bethany & Suzette at Shooting Stars
Karen Walker at Follow the Whispers
Laura Marcella at Wavy Lines

Whew! That's a lot of linkage. Hopefully I don't slack off in notifying everyone... :) Again - check out these links - these are some seriously awesome people!

So what have you been slacking off at this summer?