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Survival Tips- A to Z Challenge Countdown

Are You Ready?

For the greatest blogging challenge in history? 

 Arlee Bird   and his gracious co-host are hosting the the annual A to Z blogging challenge ( just in case you live on a remote primitive island-with no internet access) and have not heard of this challenge, please visit the official   A to Z blogging challenge site.   (here)

Because, time is drawing near.

I know that I have not been around much.  I want to thank all of you who responded to my facebook prayer request. I am so appreciative of all the kind words and prayers for my dad. He is doing better & is off of the ventilator, but he is in his mid 80's so we have to prepare ourselves. No matter how old a family member is, losing your dad or anyone is devastating. He is still with us and I ask for your continued prayers.

Let me tell you something else that I uber grateful for right now.  As an A to Z challenge newbie, I am filled with the same anxious feeling some of you may also be experiencing.  In late February, I took the advise of  Captain Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh and D.L. Hammonds over at Cruising Altitude (both are co-host) & several other bloggers who suggested we try to write at least some of our daily A to Z post in advance.  With everything going on in my personal life this past month, I would be a basket case if I had not already written most of my post.

Don, posted an excellent article back in February, that helped me get prepared. He used to be involved in planning & scheduling and he wrote instructional manuals and trained new employees so he is someone I count on as a my go to guru for events like the A to Z blogging challenge.  Read his post, which includes his A to Z Survival Kit for the month of April.

I am sure most of you have some idea of what to write about by now.  I like the idea of using a theme.  I won't tell you what mine is, but I have a couple of ideas for those of you still contemplating what you will write.

What about an A to Z theme of your own personal Bucket List.  Obviously, the letter "B" would stand for the " Best Seller List" that your next novel will climb to the top of.

How about an A to Z theme of all the places you want to visit, from Aruba to Zetland. 

How about the title of your next 26 novels beginning with A and the last one with Z. Since I write mystery/suspense/legal thrillers, mine would be something like  APPEAL OF INNOCENCE & ZERO DEFENSE.

My last bit of advice from a newbie (all of this taken from the advice of others):

1.  Brevity of Post- Keep them short

2.  Visit as many other bloggers in the challenge as you can. My goal is to visit the 20 blogs below my name & hopefully the 20 below that and the 20 above my name.

3.  Make sure your A to Z badge is placed high up on your blog where it is visible to every person who clicks on your blog.

4. and for the sake of the insanity of everyone participating,   please make it easy for readers to comment on your blog.  Turn off the word verification, make sure your comment area is easy to find.

5. Make sure your "follow me" section is prominently displayed at the TOP  of your blog so new readers can easily find it and become your newest blog followers.


Most importantly, have fun, relax & make new friends.


Google Plus & Blogspot Profile Merge (and other questions & answers)

Random Rudeness (The picture to the side is the rude random question fairy)

 I have some questions & I hope you wonderful people have answers. I have some basic blogging questions, writing questions & then some fun questions-well- because I guess I'm nosy that way. 
 Not really: Don't worry. I don't have 75 questions. Well, actually I probably do, but I will break them up into several blog post.
Random Rudeness:  How do you like that title?

1. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what do you prefer? Do you compile a mix of your favorites on a CD or your iPad or iPod? Or do you listen to film soundtracks? Or something else?

2. This one might just be for the lady writers/bloggers/readers ~ but men, feel free to jump in if this applies to you. How many of you read while you take a bath? Not your quick bath to get going somewhere, but do any of you like to relax in a hot bathtub with a good book? Anyone brave {or stupid } enough to write while relaxing in a hot bathtub?

3. If your current WIP was being made into a feature film & you had complete control over casting, who would you cast to play your MC, Protagonist, Antagonist, Hero, Love interest, Villain?

4. How many blogspot bloggers have actually merged with Google+. I don't mean just joined it. I mean where you merge your blogger profile with your Google+ profile. I understand that once we do this we lose our blogger profile. I am okay with that, as long as I don't lose any of my important blog information. Do our contacts, friends, followers go with us to Google+?  I am hoping that a good blogger friend out there who has made the complete merge will tell the rest of us what it is like and what we can expect. What are the pros? Cons? If you had the choice to make over would you make the same choice?

Here is a post that explains how to merge your Google+ and You Tube Profiles

The same blogger,  Saket Jajoda has a Tecko blog (an area that I lack all knowledge) with an easy to follow guide on how to merge your Blogger profile with your Google+ profile.  I'm pretty sure I know how to complete the merge I'm just still so unsure.  I guess I'm a creature of habit and I'm also afraid of losing my blogger profile.  Are my fears unusual or unreasonable?

6. Google plus users: Has your Google + time taken you away from facebook or not? Can you ever see yourself relying on Google+ as your "go to" like you once thought of facebook?  Can you share any apps or Google+  features that you actually prefer over facebook? What are the biggest complaints and or let downs with Google+   (okay, I realize that the Google+ questions are somewhat compound & loaded-but I am so confused and on the fence about merging)

 7. How many of you are really into Twitter? Has Google+ affected your twitter time or performance in either a positive or a negative way?

 8.  What is your favorite writer's craft go to book for fiction writing?

9.  What is your biggest blogger annoyance?

10. What is your favorite NON WRITING blog?

I appreciate any & all answers. If you have a a few minutes, please answer a few.  Short on time? Answer one.  I know that other bloggers will benefit along with me for any answers, advice or tips you share. The other questions are just for fun and entertainment.

Lucky Seven

I hope everyone who participated in Irish Yoga last night is feeling well today. Nothing like a Yoga hangover~ A Yogangover. 

I have been tagged in the Lucky Seven Meme. Thank you, Jennifer Young  for picking me. It sounds fun. I hope I wasn't too~too obvious with my hints that I had not been picked yet to play this game on the playground with the rest of you kids. 

Jennifer writes quirky stories for children and if you have not already visited her blog,  Castles in the Sky, then you are missing out & should head over there right now.  She is handing out free candy to the first fifteen of you to get there starting now... Sorry, I made that up. No candy (not that I know of) just a cool looking blog full of fun and entertainment.  That's better than candy anyway, right?

 Jen's  debut book, A Cherry Tomato on Top, is scheduled to be released by Willow Moon Publishing sometime before fall 2013.  Congratulations, Jen.  With an awesome title like A Cherry Tomato on Top, can you see why I thought there might be free candy?

These are the rules to the Lucky 7 MEME:

1. Go to page 77 of your current ms.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they're written. No cheating.

4. Tag 7 other victims, er, authors.

My WIP is called Degrees of Innocence 

  and here is line 7 (remember this is a work in progress & this is my first draft.)

     Kate scudded into the attorney's waiting room at the parish jail It was two in the morning on the eve of the biggest trial of her career and she suspected she was committing political suicide and violating every ethical cannon she could think of by visiting the woman she was prosecuting. The robust female guard approached, waiving a magnetic card against the square pad that unlocked the door to the waiting room.
      She shrugged. “Says she won't talk to you.”
      Kate sunk back into her chair, resting her head in the palm of her hands. She had to get in to see her, she just had to.
      “Look, you've always been straight up with me-even helped my kid with that ticket-I know I'm gonna regret this in the morning, but-”
 There you have it. I know it won't make much sense-so out of context, but this was fun. 

Now for the next seven lucky victims participants... 

1. Tracy Jo 
2. Clare Dugmore 
3. Jessica Hill 
4. Bee 
5. Erin Summerill 
6. Murees Dupe 
7. Stacy Henrie 

I apologize if you have already been tagged in the Lucky Seven Meme. You can just skip the post, pass it on to another or whatever you decide. 

Happy Monday 

Got Green? St. Paddy's Day Blog O'Hop

"Got Green?" 
Blog Hop
Mark Koopmans is hosting this really cool Blog O'Hop in honor of St. Paddy's day. All you have to do is post a fun Oirish Memory.


 And he has prizes.  You can win anything from a 

To an all expense paid vacation to

Okay, I lied about the trip to Hawaii. But, it just doesn't seem fair that Mark gets to live there. He is going to kill me if bloggers start inquiring about the free trip.  I'm sorry mark.

What St. Patrick's Day Means to Me:

I am not Irish and I'm not really around many Irish people so we will basically wear green. Don't want to get pinched. I know, not the most exciting story you will read about this topic.

Years ago, while my ex-husband (father of my kids) and I were still in law school (in Michigan), we spent every St Paddy's day in Chicago, with lots of friends.  After graduation, we continued to go back to Chicago for St. Patrick's day for the next 10+ years.  He is from Chicago and so is my b/f/f who was my college roommate (still my b/f/f ) so they knew all the cool, non-tourist Irish,hole- in -the- wall- pubs. 

We did all the traditional St. Paddy's day events. We drank beer, watched the river turn green, drank more beer, stumbled to the parade & drank more beer. We made our way back to the Irish pub near my b/f/f's (can't remember the name of it, but it was close to her place on the corner of State & Ontario. We drank more beer & the rest is kind of fuzzy. So you can see why we don't have any cultural memories that we can share with our children.

For almost forty years, Chicago has been dyeing its river an "Irish" or emerald shade of green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

So this year I'm hoping for an invite to Leigh Covington's House  because I want her to paint my toenails green & I hear she is making pancakes the colors of the rainbow (green is in the rainbow). Plus, I'm pretty sure I'm not getting an invite to Mark Koopmans' Home in Hawaii.

Did I mention that he lives in Hawaii?  Honolulu!

Thank you, Mark for hosting this fun Blog O'Fest.

Get Fired up for the Winners

Announcing The Winners Of The Get Fired Up Blogfest!!!!!

 I want to thank each and every one of you for participating and voting. The grand prize winner came down to a tie breaker between two phenomenal bloggers and I don't think it could have been any closer. Both did an extraordinary job of lending their talent, skill, experience & expertise to other bloggers. I am honored to be part of such a sharing group of writers and bloggers.  

I have already told you how close the vote was, but I want to add this unique factor. Imagine how difficult it was to select the winner based on the criteria of the contest. Now factor in the similarity of the first names of the finalist. 

In alphabetical order:  Carrie and Cassie (one letter difference). 
I have grown so found of these two girls and their names. I swear, if I was still young and having more children their names would be Carrie & Cassie. And I already have a Casey.

Get on with it you say:
 The grand prize: Choice of a Kindle Fire or a two (2) hour plot consultation with  Martha Alderson  , author of The Plot Whisperer, is

Congratulations, Cassie.

Cassie writes a fun a upbeat blog. If you have not read it, be sure to check it out. Her blog, Reading Writing and Lovin it is one you will frequent often. Her vivacious personality is breath of fresh air.

Carrie Butler's blog, So, You're a Writer, has become one of my favorites. From her cool design to her informative and personal post, I always find myself lingering and pilfering through her older post.  I am borrowing this next line from her post today to demonstrate how she always manages to inspire other bloggers.

          " As I said on her post, for anyone who "shows up late to the party," don't think you need to wait for another blogfest to get help with your blog. With a supportive community like ours, there's no reason to go it alone.:)"

Thank you, Carrie.

The Next two winners were randomly selected.  Participants earned entries if they commented on my blog, used the word "Leap" (Leap Year) in their comment, blogged about the contest, tweeted, put a badge on their blog or sidebar, or commented on facebook.

I learned a lot from this blogfest (give a way). First of all, a lot of time and preparation goes into contest and blogfest. This was my first so I made a bunch of rookie mistakes.  I now know that I should have used rafflecopter, but I did not even know what that was when I came up with this idea. 

So I had to do the random selection the old fashioned way.  Yup, draw from a hat.   I didn't even have a raffle bingo thingy (just an L.S.U. Tigers ball cap)

Hopper~~ That's the word I was searching for.

 So let me explain the weird photo collage that you see above.   I wanted the drawing to be fair and I didn't want anyone to think I cheated so I accosted the painters who are at my house to paint my two teenage daughters' bedroom.  So starting at the top left...

     1.  I asked the stranger to please select a folded piece of paper from the hat (with his eyes closed).
     2. Then he held the folded paper up for a photo
     3. That's the other painter (painting their ceiling hot pink faux suede) my hubbie hates it.  I Kind of love it.  Grow up, right? But why? Colors are fun & cool.
     4. Then he held up the first random winner.
     5. Another photo of their wild room
     6. And the second random drawing winner.
     7. Another photo. I guess I needed to see if I am wacko for letting the girls do this??

and the winners are...

That's Right~ Leigh T. Moore (no, I mean, That's Right is the name of her blog. Check it out, here.  Leigh is the winner of a fifty dollar ($50.00 Amazon Gift Card)


The second random drawing winner is,  Coleen Patrick.  Coleen is the winner of two of Martha Alderson's books.

I know that I have a third category, but I have not been able to get to that category.  I will as soon as I can.  Thank you everyone and don't forget,

    I would like for all of the winners to please email me with your physical mailing address so that I can get your prizes to you.

Congratulations to all!!!!

Tie Breaker- Get Fired Up

Tie Breaker: For The Grand Prize Winner

I am close to wrapping up the Get Fired Up Blogfest. Winners for all three categories will be announced Friday, March 9, 2012.  I want to thank everyone for participating. If You took part in the "help or mentor a new, struggling or undiscovered blogger",  I hope you made new friends.

I am delighted with the amount of blogger spirit and energy that you put into this contest.

I need the help of my blogger buddies out there. I have narrowed the grand prize category down to two bloggers, both who did exceptional jobs in completely different ways.  Can you lend a hand to help me select the winner - It goes without saying, "There are no losers."
  My picture does double duty: Not much of a mystery, huh? If you have not already signed up for Arlee Bird's  A to Z blogging challenge, please do. The last time I looked 928 people had signed up.  C'mon,  let's get to 1000 before the challenge begins on April 1, 2012.

What is the blogging A to Z challenge? Click on the link to the left and find out.

For the grand prize winner:   Winners choice of either a Kindle Fire or a two (2) hour plot consultation with Martha Alderson.  Participants were asked to mentor or help a new, struggling or undiscovered blogger.  No rules, just to do what they could to help a fellow blogger.  If you want to read the original post announcing the details, read about it here.

I have narrowed my choice to two bloggers.  Both did exceptional jobs and each mentored or helped fellow bloggers in a completely different way.

 Carrie Butler,  over at So, You're A Writer, mentored and guided one person, Melissa  Maygrove, from beginning to completion of setting up an entire  blog. She provided tips and ideas and even helped with the blog design. Check out what she did. I wish someone as skilled and talented as Carrie would have helped me get off to running start.

Cassie Mae, at Reading, Writing and Lovin it went in a different direction and provided blog critiques to several bloggers.  Many of those she mentored reached their 100 person follower milestone as a result of Cassie's tips and ideas. So go read, Helpin' Dem Bloggas Out and tell me what you think.

I am torn between their diverse, but equally dynamic, awe-inspiring results. This is where I need your help. I am asking you to check out the articles posted by Cassie Mae on her blog, Reading writing and lovin it and Carrie Butler on her blog, So, You're a Writer.  Both are equally impressive and it is obvious that Cassie and Carrie devoted a tremendous amount of time and effort into this project.

Then cast your vote for the first place winner.  You can cast your vote in the comment section or if you prefer to submit your choice by secret ballot, then send me your vote via email.  If you want your vote to remain private and confidential, I assure you I will not share it with anyone.

Voting will remain open until Midnight, Friday, March 9, 2012, and the grand prize winner will be announced later that day. I have the winners for the other categories, but I will announce all winners in one blog post on 3/9/12.

Thank you for helping me with this tough choice. It is quite a conundrum-but a good one.

I need your help. I am riding the middle and don't want to

Flip a coin.

Take a few minutes to check out the goodwill and support our blogger friends shared with others. I am proud to be part of such a supportive group.

Winners To Be Announced-Get Fired Up

If you signed up for or participated in any portion of the "Get Fired Up" blogfest~ The time has come to select the lucky winners.
I have some announcements so please read on: 

My husband went back in the hospital on Monday, with complications from his recent heart surgery. He is doing well & they did not have to perform a bypass. My youngest was sent home from school with a fever on Tuesday and wouldn't you know it- he has the damn flu. Poor baby, he is so miserable.
                                                    Bennett, is home from school for the next two weeks according to the doctor which means I am home as well.  I am trying to sleep when he sleeps because when he is awake he is seriously suffering. I have him sleeping in a chair by the fireplace in my room for two reasons, (1) so hopefully none of the other kids will catch it-yea right, I know and (2) his body temperature fluctuates depending on whether his fever is high or breaking. We have the air conditioner on 68 and the fireplace going. I hate that I cannot be at the hospital with my husband, but his prognosis is good and my little boy is so fragile right now.

I cannot believe I am about to show the world how messy & cluttered my bedroom is, but he is sleeping peacefully right now (until motrin stops working again).  OMG, my room is bad, but it is his little sick corner & I do clean it up every couple of hours. He has his puppy with him. Wow, you can even catch a glimpse of my storyboards on the wall.

I don't know my blogging schedule for the next couple of weeks. 

I will select the winners of the "Get Fired Up" blogfest this week. You may or may not know that there are three separate and distinct contest or raffles that will have winners. I should have the winners of the random drawing prizes by the end of the week.

The second two may take a little longer, but I will have the winners announced as soon as possible.
Those of you who entered to win the Kindle fire by helping a new, struggling or undiscovered blogger, please leave a comment in this post with a link to your blog post that shares the name and URL of the blogger.

With everything going on at home,I will not be able to pop around much this next week.  I have not forgotten you and I apologize in advance if I am unable to participate in any blogfest or other events I may have signed up for.  I will pretty much be a sporadic blogger until Bennett is better and my husband is home and well. I am guessing a week, two tops.

I will post contest updates and announce winners as they become known. Thank you to everyone who participated and thank you for your understanding of my family issues.

my email if you have any questions about the contest or selection process:

I have an unrelated question I hope someone can help me with.  I am curious how each of you are coping with Google Friend Connect's untimely demise?  I understand it is not supposed to  apply to blogger accounts (not yet anyway),  but they can pull the plug on us at anytime-they have already demonstrated that.   

Goodbye Google Friend Connect?  Or is it really?

This is disturbing news. I know it has been in the works for over a year,  but I hate to lose my friend connect community.  I am a newer blogger and I can only imagine how much this sucks for those of you who have colossal communities, especially if your google friends and members have opted to receive your newsletters.
No, that is not my Google Friend Connect. I am close to three hundred friends and I am proud to have each and every one of you.   I shudder to think you will just disappear after I worked so hard to get you here.

Google, of course, recommends that we all join google plus and transfer our communities to their site.  I am a google plus member,  but I have not spent a significant amount of time on my google plus page.  So far it has failed to hook me.

I don't want to risk losing my  contacts and friends.  I hope we will all continue to follow each other. 

 Here is where you can find me on Google Plus

Have ya'll already made alternative blog follower arrangements. I have read many articles that suggest I should voluntarily remove my Google Friend Connection widget, but I don't want to. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I don't even really understand the whole RSS and Feedburner craze.  I am going to learn.

Other options include:  But how many hours per day can we devote to learning the ins and outs of more social networking sites?

  • Linky Followers
  • RSS Feed
  • Google Reader (or does it disappear as well?)
  • Subscribe by email                                                          
  • BlogLovin'
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google  Plus                                                                                                                                  What is your plan?                                       
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