Saturday, June 26, 2010

Awesome Versatility

Summer is getting closer! My excuse for hoarding these awards is that my life in June is crazy chaotic. I haven't posted as often and haven't even had the time to do a post with a lot of links. Sad but true.
Anyway, in the last couple of weeks, 4 terrific bloggers passed the Versatile Blogger award my way. Thank you all!

Bethany Elizabeth at Ink Splattered
Dave Bartlett at Bartie-Blog
Bec at Gaining My Writing Wings
Erinn at Something Else to Distract Me

These are all super creative people who are well worth a visit. You won't be disappointed! Check them out.

For this award I'm supposed to follow some rules (this doesn't always happen in my life). Let's see...
1. Thank the folks and link them (that one's easy!)
2. Share 7 things about myself (yikes!)
3. Pass along to 15 bloggers (this linking time is why I have been hoarding :))
4. Comment on their blogs to tell them of the award (I hope this happens - no promises!)

Here we go...

7 Things About Me
1. I'm a tennis addict. Currently watching Wimbledon & really unhappy I worked during the marathon match - all 3 days of it!!!

2. Once upon a time I played on a tennis team. Not very well, but I played. Practising was fun, playing in tournaments was oh-so-scary. Needless to say there are no trophies in my attic.

3. I'm going to the Roger's Cup (Toronto) - tennis tournament - in the summer and the top 40 men are supposed to be there! Can't wait!! :)

4. I love flowers, but don't know all that much about them. There's a pretty thing growing in my garden right now I don't remember planting. I think it's a weed. Gotta have my mom come by & see :)

5. Daisies are my favourite flower.

6. I nearly hit a small child once while playing horseshoes. No, he wasn't near the post. Sigh. Apparently not my sport.

7. Mushrooms and pineapple are my favourite pizza toppings.

Phew. Okay - 15 versatile bloggers it is...

1. Alex J. Cavanaugh
2. Anne Spollen
3. DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 
4. Layinda at Layinda's Blog
5. Medeia Sharif
6. Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs
7. Lola Sharp at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword
9. Niki at Wool'n'Nuts
11. Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out
13. Karen Musings at Musings of a Novelista
14. Mason Canyon at Thoughts in Progress
15. Aubrie at Flutey Words 
16. (I did mention I don't always follow rules right?) Lisa Gail Green at Paranormal Point of View

Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming also passed the Who's Awesome award my way. I love the puppy on this one (originally created by Stephen Tremp).

As always these are no pressure awards! Choose your favourite and do with it as you see fit :) Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Movie Dirty Dozen

Alex J. Cavanaugh has initiated The Movie Dirty Dozen blog hop. Great idea! Who doesn't love the movies? :) Make sure you click on Alex's link above to check out his post and find the links to everyone else involved. It's sure to be a lot of fun to compare our faves :)

So, without further ado, here are my top 12 favourite movies!

12. Can't decide: To Kill a Mockingbird. Singing in the Rain. White Christmas. Rocky Horror Picture Show. Toy Story. Chicago. Miracle on 34th Street. Miss Congeniality. Oklahoma. :)  ... *sigh* (I know, all over the place!)
11. Blind Side. Incredible story. This one touched my heart. I've only seen it once, but several scenes are pretty much engraved in my brain. I've taught kids in pretty tough situations, but thankfully none in as difficult a situation as Michael. This story of perseverence, courage and above all love really touched me.

10. Planet of the Apes (the original). I loved this entire series when I was a kid. The scene at the end with the Statue of Liberty was such a Wow! moment. Made me want to be an astronaut and believe in time travel. Love it!

9. The Matrix. Great concept. Loved the idea of the phone entry, the fake reality, and the moves. Lots of fun in this one.

8. Bourne Identity. I enjoyed the entire trilogy, but the 2nd and 3rd movies are so vastly different from the books that they kind of drive me crazy. I keep wanting to say, "But that shouldn't happen..." Nevertheless, I enjoyed this fun adventure. Damon's great and the action is fun!

7. The Sound of Music. Yeah - most of my pics are fantasy & science fiction, but I've loved this movie from the first moment. The music and the story line get me each time I watch it. Powerful stuff in there. I do believe I can sing every word. Not well perhaps, but I can sing them! My mom has this record album - yes, record! - and I listened to it repeatedly growing up.

6. X-Men. #1. Love the characters. In fact, I love the entire concept. Mutants. Will this be the way our futures will look? And will it be deliberate or accidental? Hmmm.... :)

5. Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. I love Star Trek - always have. I think this is my favourite movie of them all. Even though some of the movies are bad, really bad :), they're Star Trek so that means I love them! This one has great humour and a sense of fun. My favourite scene? Spock on the bus! Or maybe Spock swimming with the whales. :)

4. Serenity. This Josh Whedon series (Firefly) is amazing. Great characters, fun story lines that always say more than they seem to say, and great humour. Although I always tear up when they land ... no spoilers, but if you're a fan you know the scene I'm talking about. Breaks my heart every time.

3. Star Wars - the orignial trilogy. I grew up with these movies and love them more than #1-3. Lucas is amazing. His technologies and special effects are mind boggling - as is his imagination. Favourite character? R2D2. Who knew you could say so much and feel so much with no words and no heart? :) Or maybe, Chewie...

2. Wizard of Oz. I've always loved it. The monkeys scared my sister and she wouldn't watch it with me when we were little. It used to come on once a year, and my family always let me watch it on our one TV, even though no one else loved it. The magic, the power of home/family/love and the message that kids can have some power too - awesome! And we get to hear Judy sing!

1. Lord of the Rings. And, yes, I'm cheating and taking the entire trilogy :) I was so worried when this movie came out. I don't like when they make movies of my favourite books. The movies rarely live up to the mood or the theme or the characterization or the... Even though these movies are different from the book - obviously they had to be - otherwise the movies would have been days long! - I think they did a great job staying true to the voice of the books. I think Tolkein would be quite happy.

So there you have it. My favourite movies. At the moment. :)

What's your all-time favourite movie? The one you watch every time it shows up on TV?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

DL is on a Quest

My blog buddy DL Hammons is on a quest: Blogging Buddies Around the Globe. He's trying to find like minded followers in all 50 of the United States and as many countries around the world as he can. As of last time I checked he's got at least 38 states and 14 countries (including yours truly & several others from Canada).

DL's blog is Cruising Altitude - if you haven't visited it yet, it's well worth a look. DL has a wonderful attitude - he's fun, positive and really gets you thinking.

In his words, here's his thinking:

I’m sure that if I turned to Google Analytics to analyze my site hits, I would see traffic from each of the 50 states. That’s not what I’m after. What can you learn from a site hit? Nothing. Somebody could have been searching for a cheap cruise, or researching the average cruising altitude for jet airplanes and stumbled across my blog accidentally. I desire interaction, active participation, feedback about the words I’m tacking up on this electronic bulletin board. I get that in spades from a significant portion of the ‘Like Minded’ that follow me regularly, but I’m greedy, I want more. A nudge in my direction is all I’m after, I’ll do the rest.

I love the idea - and I'd like to help out a buddy. Check out DL's blog and see if you can help him out.

I'd like to know too! Where are you from?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crazy or Calm?

June is a crazy month for teachers here. I know some schools have already started summer vacation, but we don't start ours until July 1st. It's really not that far away, but it feels like light years right now! Government testing is finally over, but we still have report cards and all the usual year end stuff to do. So, I've not been around as much, and that probably won't change a whole lot until next month.

One side effect of the nuttiness is that I haven't thanked 2 wonderful people for the blog awards they sent my way a week ... or four... ago. *Sigh.* Sorry.

First, the lovely Lisa Gail Green over at Paranormal Point of View awarded me the Beautiful Blogger Award. Thanks so much Lisa Gail. If you haven't been over to her site yet, you've got to visit. She's fun and has the most interesting interviews! :)

The equally lovely Lynn over at Place to Create awarded me the Blogger BFF award. Lynn is another Canadian girl - she lives out in Alberta. You've got to visit Lynn's blog as well. She's a sweetie. She's doing a Creativity Boot Camp that's sure to spark some ideas for you. :)

Thanks again to both of you. I really appreciate you thinking of me.

I haven't passed along awards lately - but I will this time. Again, this time I'm going to choose some blogs/bloggers that are fairly new to me and a few 'old' friends. :)

Charmaine Clancy at Wagging Tales
Stephanie Thornton at Hatshepsut: The Writing of a Novel
Maribeth at Giggles and Guns
Lindsay (aka Isabella) at Adventures in Writing

And, sadly, that's as much linkage as my tired old brain can handle at the moment! If you have some time, please check out these blogs -- they're all a lot of fun. You won't be disappointed!

So, how's your June going? Crazy or calm?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Guest post by L. Diane Wolfe - Writing a Series

Lucky day! L. Diane Wolfe is here today from Spunk on a Stick.

I asked Diane to talk about what it is like to write a series. Her thoughts are sure to help all writers - published and yet-to-be published. Enjoy!


Writing a Series

Writing a five book series was a unique adventure. I never intended to write that many books! However, once I began writing, four additional stories emerged from the first. I was on a roll!

There are two types of series - those that continue one storyline throughout several books and those with a central theme or setting but the books are stand alones. (Mine is the latter.) Writing a series has its advantages. The setting is established in the first story and subsequent books build on that world. Creating a series means that writers hooked on the first book will want to read the others as well. (This is why book one must capture an audience.) A series also allows more time for character growth and development.

When does a series work? What drives the need for more books? Interesting characters can spur additional books, allowing the readers to continue on their adventures. An intricate world with numerous possibilities can foster more stories. Consider the epic novel - a perfect candidate for a series. Since publishers prefer to see manuscripts under 100,000 words from first time authors, a story two or three times that length can be broken down into several books. (Or receive mass edits!)

The secret to a series is knowing when to quit! Readers are quick to notice when a story has run out of steam even though the author continues to crank out books. Storylines grow repetitious or formulaic when pushed too far. The final book needs to end with a bang, not a fizzle! Sometimes the age of the characters determines a good stopping point. Three appears to be the magic number, but many successful series contain five, seven, or more volumes.

With my series, The Circle of Friends, I began with one storyline. As I worked, I envisioned stories concerning the main character’s two best friends. By the time I finished Book I, two additional characters demanded a turn in the spotlight. I now had four outlines, taking the series to five books. And as I completed Book V, I felt certain I’d done everything possible with the characters and was ready to lay them to rest.

So when contemplating a series, be prepared to see it to the end and say goodbye when finished. As long as there’s enthusiasm and purpose, the ride is a blast!

- L. Diane Wolfe, Professional Speaker & Author

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association and the American Business Women’s Association. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties all of her goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Her YA series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and experience as a foster parent gave her the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits, and success principles. Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contributes to several other sites and newsletters

Thanks so much for dropping by today, Diane! I really enjoyed your insights into writing a series. I hope everyone has a chance to stop by one of Diane's sites - you'll find your time has been well spent.

For my readers out there... Do you write (or hope to write) series? What challenges have you found and overcome?

Sunday, June 6, 2010


@EgmontGal (Elizabeth Law) hosted an impromptu chat last night in the Twitter-verse. She is a self-proclaimed children's and YA book fanatic and publisher at Egmont USA. The hashtag for the chat was #askYAeditor and it was totally fascinating.

So what kinds of advice did she give out? Lots. Here's what she sees as trendy in the YA market right now:
  • sexy, action packed fantasy.
  • funny, humourous works
  • horror - really scary stuff
  • mysteries
  • romance in everything - teens are walking hormones!
  • contemporary stories
  • summer before college stories
  • maximum age of protag is 17 or 18
  • near future stories
  • including parents - maybe spotlighting positive dad/daughter relationship
What's not?
  • trying for 'hip' dialogue
  • mash-ups
  • names: Grace, Caleb & Calllum (too many of them)
  • college aged kids
 What's on the fence?
  • dystopian - so many great ones right now & coming out soon, she worries market is saturated
  • steampunk is interesting, but not yet BIG (maybe I'll be in time for the trend to take off!)
  • centaurs, angels, and... mollusks (trust me - you had to be there!)
If you write YA and didn't catch it, try searching the hashtag. It won't give you the whole chat (at least I don't think it will), but you'll get some awesome information! Ms. Law is one of those amazingly helpful people in the publishing world who enjoy sharing information. She chatted for hours, answered a bazillion questions and eventually broke Twitter -- or at least tweeted so much she went over her limit and Twitter cut her off! I didn't know such a thing was possible. Chats like this are reasons I enjoy the Twitter-verse :)

Thanks to Ms Law - and thanks to the pedicure that prompted the chat in the first place!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Find the Fun!

Oddly, The Wizard of Oz has been cropping up a lot in my life lately. It is one of my all-time favourite movies (as you'll see in the upcoming Dirty Dozen Blog Hop hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh), but it's been popping up all over my life.

I figured fate was telling me something, so I gave in and shared the movie with the students in my class. We'd had a tough week of government testing so I decided they deserved a treat. Almost half the class hadn't seen it before. The movie worked its magic - the kids were enthralled.

This is a movie made in 1939. Not one kid was bored, everyone enjoyed it. When I asked what they like about it, they kind of shrugged, not sure. When one student said, "It was fun," the rest all nodded in agreement.

It was fun.

Fun is important. As adults, it can be easy to forget that. We have all the pressures of the real world surrounding us.

So many bloggers lately seem to be overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, disappointed, worried, apologetic and stressed. I worry about my bloggy friends & I hope everyone can remember that we all do this writing thing because we love it. Because it's fun. Don't lose the fun admist all those pressures. If you're not enjoying it, it's going to show. And, honestly, if you're not enjoying it, why do that to yourself? Find the fun again!

Take a breather, slow down, relax, read, enjoy your family & friends. Find the fun! And if you need some help finding it, take a bit of time and follow that yellow brick road. Really listen to the words - the writing is terrific! Catch those inside jokes and the nuances.

Or just enjoy the Cowardly Lion - he's always going to make you feel better!

On another fun note... On June 10th, I'm lucky enough to be hosting L. Diane Wolfe. She's going to be blogging about writing a series. Make sure you drop by - she's got tons of great advice! :)