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Thursday, December 28, 2006

I've been tagged!

Well, West of Mars tagged me!

Four Jobs That I've had
1. DJ in high school at the local TINY radio station
2. Nursing assistant (I lasted two weeks. I just wasn't cut out for it)
3. Manager of International Distribution for a Cosmetics Company
4. Manager of Client Services

Four Favorite Foods
1. Any kind, form or shape of Chocolate
2. Crawfish
3. Rice & Gravy
4. Spaghetti

I just love food... I can't seem to stop myself from eating it :D

Four Movies I can Watch Over and Over
1. Boondock Saints
2. Dodgeball
3. Constantine
4. Does being forced to watch Spongebob over and over count? What about Barbie and whatever fruity animal she has as a sidekick...

Four Favorite TV shows
1. House - course... I'm not too happy about recent developments
2. Heroes - that show just rocks
3. Project Runway/America's Next Top Model/Extreme House Makeover (basically, whatever silly reality show I come across as I'm flipping channels)
4. Rockstar/American Idol... yeah, I watch em.

#1 and #2 I watch religiously. I also try to catch all the CSI's. But I don't usually spend that much time actually watching the television.

Four Places I've travelled

Well, I refer to a previous boss as the devil... so does that count as hell?

1. Paris, France
2. Tokyo, Japan
3. Dubai, UAE
4. Taipei, Taiwan

Business trips :) for fun, mostly the states. I've lived in: Missouri. Florida. Indiana. Arizona. New Mexico. Minnesota.

Four Websites I go to daily (I go to quite a few every day but here are probably the top four)
1. My own blog
2. My stat counter page
3. West of Mars
4. Miss Snark

Four people I'm now torturing uhh... tagging
1. Written Wyrdd
2. Bernita
3. Sean
4. Thomma Lyn

Now, let's see if any of them participate!

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tools of a Blogosphere Junkie


Thursday Thirteen Edition #73 12/28/2006
Rashenbo's Edition #4

I hope you all had a lovely Holiday. It is that time once again for the Thursday Thirteen. I don't know about you... but I love blogging and I love the blogosphere. I know that one of the ways to increase my own traffic and to better learn the tricks of the blogosphere is to get involved. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your outlook) there are about a BAZILLION different tools that bloggers can use for SSP (also known as Shameless Self Promotion). So, I thought I'd share with you 13 goodies and tips out of the blogging basket.

Getting out in the blogosphere can help you generate traffic. That traffic may turn into repeat visitors or it may just boost the quality of your traffic and impact your blog advertising or money making.

1. Technorati. By now, you'd think just about every blogger would know Technorati and would have signed up... even if they ignore the ranking. However, there are many bloggers that don't use it. I do. I find it has valuable information and I use it frequently for searching information and it provides me another way to view the traffic to my site and I've certainly found links to me through Technorati that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Update: Scribbit has an excellent post on Technorati, if you've got questions about it - it's a good read.

2. Listed on BlogShares
Ok, this is just for fun... It's amazing the thought that has gone into the development of the blog stock market. I admit... I just signed up to it but it's amazing how many blogs are on here and how involved the blog discussions can be! I can't wait to really check it out.

3. Blog Surfing Exchangers. I've seen a few of these and I've tried Blogexplosion and it seemed ok. I have also recently been checking out
These may require more time or devotion than you want to give. Some people have said that these tools can be very helpful to increase traffic.

4. Directories can be very handy, like top 100 authors and such. I've seen some directories that are total junk. So it helps to take a look at the directory. I found a new one recently that I thought looked interesting.

5. Get in on new action... When you hear of something "new" that's coming into the web. You may want to go ahead and investigate a little further. Sometimes getting in early on a new program helps provide a burst of traffic (or helps increase revenue). I found two "new" items today that I'm investigating. eXlinks

and then there is this one... which per this article says it might be a good thing to keep an eye on. It's something that supposedly will help you generate funds.

agloco


6. Forums, clubs and groups. There is no doubt that being involved with individuals that share your own interest can help build your traffic. If you aren't already doing it - look for forums or areas on the net where you can chat with other people who share your interest. Use the signature field to create a link to your blog... I'm surprised people don't do this more. It can really help you network and make new friends (and create traffic)!

7. Problogger and blogging expert sites - Use the knowledge and experience of others. I've learned so much from reading up on sites like problogger. You can also usually find some good links to other valuable tools that will help enhance your blog or just get you more involved in the blogosphere.

8. MyBlogLog and online communities are also a handy little tool. I like mybloglog and I really love seeing that widget that shows who has recently visited your blog. I'm also a regular on BlogHer - I have found some great bloggers over there.

9. Comment Magic - making comments can be one of the best traffic generating tips you can follow. Andrew Wee has a good article that discusses this.

10. Link Love - Find blogs that you like and have content that interests you... reference it with a link in a post of your own. Linking to other people - on your sidebar or in your content increases your chances of those reciprocal links.

11. I think this one is another "directory" type... but the name was catchy and I found myself signing up for it anyway!

12. Feed!!! If you don't have a feed, get one. Go to feedburner or wherever... and then get to pinging! :) Having a blog feed can provide you with an easy way to reach repeat readers and hit the search engines for better content placement.

13. What are some blog tools you like to use? Is it a community? Is it a link exchange? Have you ever blogged for a "carnivale"? I've been interested in learning more about those.
* Disclaimer: I am currently enjoying the potent powers of Nyquil. If something in the list doesn't make sense... I'm not surprised. I think I just saw little Bunny Foo Foo bouncing by and I have a little green martian whispering in my ear. He's so naughty!

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Upcoming writing competitions

If you are curious about the validity of a competition, I would recommend you visit Preditors & Editors contest list.

I've not checked all of these... I just wanted to add some more links

The Paris Review

After January 15th you can check on the William Faulkner competition

For you folks in the UK – First Writer appears to have a selection of writing competitions

Writer’s Digest has theirs

Look I found a writing competition on Transnational Law. Sorry, fraid I won't be jumping on that one! :)

Script Pimp has a screenwriting competition… I know absolutely nothing about them. So, I’m not quite sure about this competition.

Association of Securities and Exchange has a writing competition… Ok, there are a lot more writing competitions out there than I thought.

It also appears like local groups have their own competitions - so there's another spot for you to look. Florida Freelance Writers Association has one.

Southwest writers are working on their 2007 guidelines.

A Women’s Write

James Jones First Novel Fellowship

The Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel for the from Crime Writers of Canada

Here’s a link to an article with some competitions that have deadlines in January.

Well, be sure to check on the authenticity of a competition if it's asking you for an entry fee. If you are entering something - good luck!

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cup of coffee, a donut and the muse.

The other day I decided to share some of the things I've learned on my own writing journey. I didn't want it to turn into a full length novel so I broke it up in to parts. I ended on revisions and I wanted to continue.

Writing Time
Just about anyone who is working on a long project will tell you that it is critical that you devote time for it. I like to call it PoT - project over time... not to be confused with an herb (shame on you), HoT (heal over time) or DoT (damage over time) that my gaming buddies may recognize. Consider what is a realistic amount of time for a consistent frequency and then stick to it. Some people select to write an amount per day... some an amount per week. Whatever, pick something and then do it.

The Zone
Anyone who has actually tried to write an amount each day (like 250 words per day) knows that sometimes it's pretty darn hard. Either the dishes going in the dishwasher sounds more important... the kids have too much homework... you are too tired... or, you just sit there and struggle over one sentence. Creativity is a workout. It's exercise for your mind. Sometimes your mind is sluggish, slow to respond or focused on something else. It's not always going to be primed and ready. There are days when my brain is stimulated... I can spend the entire day just writing and writing and writing. I'm excited. I know I'm making progress. I know IT's GOOD! Then there are days when I sit here staring at my poster boards of my outline and characters and can't seem to write a line to open the next paragraph (don't even think about a smooth transition either). It's frustrating. It's irritating... It makes us feel, well, like we aren't good.

Here's a little secret with writing. Nothing comes out perfect the first time or the second or the third or the fourth. The first time you write that scene of dialog it may sound repetitive or the characters may appear flat. The first stage is getting from point a to point g to point z. Beginning - Conflict - Final climax - Ending

Polishing, fleshing out, smoothing and more - these are really done during the revisions, edits, adjustments and critiques.

The Inner Editor: We Hate to Love Him
I lovingly call my Inner Editor, Bob. He's an asshat. Usually when I'm not in my writing zone it's because Bob is telling me... "you know, that scene in chapter two - you know the one I'm talking about - well, it really is rough and if you were to just change this or that... it'd really smooth it out." Or he's saying, "Rashenbo! You haven't made L.T. do anything this entire chapter. He's fading. Fix it now, go back and add him back in... oh, and I'm thinking we should change his attitude a bit."

Sometimes Bob is right and I've forgotten an important plot device and it's important that I go ahead and get it in the right place. Many times, Bob is wrong. What I need to do is just drop a little note to myself like [this statement is inconsistent with character behavior - revisit]. This tells me there is something that I should look at when I'm spending time on "fixing". Perhaps while I was writing the character took on a life of his or her own and said something I don't think fits... Now, the character could be changing in a way I'm not seeing and fixing it requires more than just changing a simple statement... or maybe it is just a simple fix. But, if I spend half my day thinking about the character and that one line... well, how much farther forward have I made it?

The inner editor ties closely with the comments I made last time on revisions. There are days when I just can't seem to write anything new and I spend that day smoothing here or there or making notes to myself... or, I'll read over critiques that I've received from writer buddies. I like to keep some of their comments fresh in my mind so that I can think about it and how I can continue improving.

The inner editor is all about balance. Listen to him or her, but know when to act. I imagine that's enough for today.

Get a nice hot cup of coffee, tea or chocolate. Grab a donut... and wait, the muse will come to share. Just watch out for Bob... he might eat all the donuts while you aren't watching.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Even the clown prince celebrates Christmas.

The cookies are baked. The presents from mom and dad are wrapped... the count down has begun.

However, Boudreaux (aka the clown prince) got to celebrate a little early and got his present from the Pea Pie today around 1:00 this afternoon.

The Pea Pie, the clown prince and Ralph.

He really loves his new friend...

He loves him A LOT... in fact, Ralph suffered severe trauma after only a few hours of play and needed emergency surgery. We hope he survives the night!

Note the lovely PJ's on the Pea Pie? That's the Christmas Eve gift and she's anxiously waiting for dark time. She just knows Santa will be peeking in her window as soon as it's dark enough!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Rashenbo Reviews the Blog: Waking Jonas

Waking Jonas Header

Waking Jonas is a blog that I would categorize as personal/humor.

The Rating Scale: 1 = Dreadfully dull 5 = Alright 10 = Awesome! I'm so jealous.

The Title:
At a glace, one might say... "Waking Jonas, hmmm what is special about this title?" At first, I just give the title a 4-5. However, this is one of those titles that as you read the content - you realize it has a meaning and the title wasn't really made to grab attention from a list. From the about page, this is a little tidbit to think about regarding the title:

jonas was a kitty who had many adventures with me. his life was short but he was loved very much. the site was named after a lonely afternoon where i found myself so in need of attention that i woke him up from his afternoon nap. what are cats for? a captive audience.

I'm not a cat person, but even I think this is sweet and it changes my thoughts about the title... and gets at least a 6.

The Layout
Ah, the joy of Word Press... I see some great Word Press blogs. I'm even thinking of starting up a blog for my husband and using Word Press. The layout here is simple and clean. No flashy colors or annoying backgrounds. I like the sidebar on each side of the content here. Sometimes having the two sidebars limits the width of the main content column - but I think the spacing is good here. I think it could be a little more "catching" or unique so I only give it a 6ish... but it is nice and it's easy to navigate - that's always a plus.

The Sidebars
Those of you familiar with my reviews know I like to see links, widgets, something in the sidebar. I think it makes the site more interactive and gives the reader more opportunity to spend time on your site surfing through your options. I have to say that I love the little ninja in the sidebar. It makes me happy. Maybe I need my own blog ninja?

Waking Jonas has some nice little images on the sidebar. The sidebars are organized nicely. Site navigation and widgets to the left... link love to the right. Course... I did notice that I'm not on the link love (/sigh) but it's ok. No points are deducted if you don't mention me! The comic links are a great little area to surf around - I know... I spent some time surfing through there.

I also liked the sleeping pose widget. I noticed it when I saw WJ during the nablopomo competition - I even posted my own in one of my blog posts. She's got quite a few things for readers to click on, surf through and visit so that chances of a reader hanging around longer is a little better. I give her at least an 8ish - (and this is not higher because my personal preference is to see a little more than what she's got). Other people don't... but they can do their own review and give a 10 if they want! :)

Blogosphere Presence
It's good for bloggers to get involved in the blogosphere... through links, through community blogs, through widgets that join folks together, etc. I don't rank it, but I always check on blogs I review. Her blog is on technorati and she's got a few sites that link her through technorati - like Testament to Youth in Verse. She's on BlogHer (a blog community I'm also a member of and recommend) and she's got some Flickr action happening. Looks like she's been having some fun! :) With the history of blog posts, I'm sure there is more of her out there in the blogosphere. Although, it could probably be improved - if that's what she wanted.

Now... to what we all know and love...

The Content

The first post appeared waaaaay back in April of 02... yeah, 2002. That's got to be one of the earliest dates in an archive I've seen... at least among the general population of bloggers. Kudos on the history. The posts are frequent... the posts are often short. Sometimes they are funny... and sometimes I had no idea what she was talking about! And, some of them are cute! I particularly enjoyed the recent post regarding the Christmas Plague and Kitty Mittens.

Overall, there are some nice posts here... some of them definitely had more of a "quick mental note" feel to them. I know the writing style and structure is intentional (read the about)... but I did find it a little distracting from time to time... that's probably my inner editor rearing it's head. I like the use of images in the posts... but if the goal is to increase reader awareness and blogosphere presence... there may be some room for improvement with post content. Now, that's just me... others may disagree... but I think I have to go with just a 5ish for the overall content. Not that there isn't some great content in there... it's just a little hard to find.

As always, I appreciate the time I spend on blogs. This is my opinion. I'm not an expert, I'm just sharing my thoughts. I tend to review a blog each Saturday. I keep a list and pull in the order of receipt. If you would like me to look at your blog. Click the "Rashenbo Review Me" link in my sidebar.

Cheers!



Updated to reflect the new URL.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Writing Competitions

Writing Spark has a nice list of some writing competitions. I wanted to link it, for those of you looking at what competitions are coming up.

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On the writing journey, so much experience is gained…

Many people have the desire to write a novel. They enjoy reading and they toy with thoughts of writing and one day an idea comes to them. They think: That would make such an excellent plot. I’m going to write a book! - They sit down and get started.
Some of them kept with it… and some of them didn’t. Other people may have started writing simply because they have a passion for words and somewhere they picked up this need to write. It’s like breathing… one of life’s little necessities.

David Eddings said, “Start early and work hard. A writer's apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he's almost ready to begin. That takes a while.” Yeah… no joke there.

“Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.” Oscar Wilde

You do not want to see my first novel… it was never finished and I keep it close to me so that I can remind myself how far I’ve come. I’m not published. I’m not an expert. However, I wanted to share some of the things I have learned on my writing journey.

Subjective

If you don’t know what this word means, learn it. Right now. Come back when you know. I’ll wait here.

Writing is art. Art is subjective. You will not please everyone. Some people will love your work. Some people will hate it. Some people will think it reflects your intelligence or stupidity. They will all comment with their opinion.

Defense

If you want to seriously take part in the writing process… prepare your defense mechanisms now. This is termed: “grow a thick skin”. People have a multitude of ways to communicate and one day, someone will say “Wow, this is terrible. Your plot is boring, your characters are as flat as pancakes and your syntax is as crooked as John Boy’s teeth.”

Don’t cry. Don’t argue. Grin and bear it. Sometimes, those people are right and there is something you need to improve. Sometimes, those people are wrong. Regardless of how they say it, consider it to see if it has value TO YOU (see subjective) and then set it aside to consider when you do your revisions.

Revisions

If you are working on your manuscript and you aren’t finished with your novel. Put revisions aside. You will become lost in edits. The only thing writers get more obsessed about than writing the story… is editing the damn thing. I didn’t finish my first novel because I got lost in those edits. I changed main characters twice, changed the plot three times, rewrote the prologue scene, etc.

If you are going to write a novel, story, whatever… commit to it. Finish it… and then you get to play with your red pen.

This is a three part article and the continuation will be posted later today or tomorrow.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Problogger favorites & tickle me blog style.

So... yesterday sucked at work. Today I'm giving myself a little break and was surfing through the participants on Problogger Writing Project.

I'm finding some really great reads and it's hard to pick just my favorites... but I wanted to share with you a few of the highlights I've enjoyed.

Predictions of 2007 by Jason - some great technology predictions

Why I won "Times Person of the Year" by Sarakastic - this is a short read and will give you a giggle or two!

2007 Psychic Predictions by Matt - I just found this pretty darn entertaining.

Kickstart your blogging business & make big money: 7 reality checks by Andrew

And then I saw his post about TickMe and had to check it out. So I've signed up and I'm going to see how beneficial this is to networking in the blogosphere. If it seems good - I'll let you know and if you decide to try it - send me a tickle!

TickMe Banner


Well, I guess I better get back to work. I'll be writing a more writing focused blog entry soon... I promise! :)

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

TT: Happy Birthday To Mememe

Thursday Thirteen Awesome Graphic

Thirteen Things about Rashenbo #3
TT Edition #72 12/21/06

Today is my birthday. So, I'll just make a post for 13 all about me and my presents and whatever tickles my fancy.

1. From my husband: A Keurig Special Edition B60 coffee pot. It's one of these machines that has little cups and I can have coffee... and tea... and hot chocolate... it's SOOO cool.

My cool coffee machine

2. My husband was reading my blog and saw a reference to the new Lecter book... so he got me: (I'll be following up with a review soon!)


3. The next thing my husband got me is a $15.00 gift certificate to itunes to get more music for my ipod!!! :) What should I get? No folk... no rap...

4. My mother is sending me a $100 gift certificate to Michael's to buy some scrapbooking supplies so I can try my hand at scrapbooking... course... I may not actually buy scrapbooking supplies *wink*

5. Work gave me the panic day from hell. I had this great idea that I'd wake up, get the kids on the bus, then slide back in bed and sleep in till 8:30 and then wake up, shower and THEN get to work... but no... 7:30 I get a crisis call and ended being the flame controller on about a dozen issues till about 5:40 this evening. Nothing like your morning shower at 6pm and boy did I need that shower. There is a reason deodorant exists.

6. A birthday memory from my past... I remember my 18th birthday so well. First off, it was the first birthday with my husband. He bought me the crappiest sweater he could find. Wow... it was terrible, I nearly shocked myself to death it built up so much static with its fake chenille (sic?) powers. Anyway, my mother gave me the best Christmas card ever that year... it was a rip off of a romance book and I laughed so hard. I still remember that card. Then she made me my FAVORITE cake - devil's food cake with cherry pie filling and then iced with melted hershey bars... oh yeah. Unfortunately, I had the flu. In true teenager fashion - I couldn't let it hold me back. I remember throwing up in the kitchen sink moments before I strolled out the door to spend the evening with my boyfriend and friends at a party. (Yes.... I wasn't nearly as smart then as I am now. I also recovered so much faster.)

7. One year I really, REALLY, wanted a particular book. I believe it was a Dean Koontz book... anyway. My mom gives me my present and I'm totally excited... I rip off the paper and I say, "oh yes, I wanted this. Thank you, mo..." and then I looked at the cover... it was a book I ALREADY HAD! Oh... the pain. I tried not to let my face show my expression... I know I failed my mom said, "what? I thought that was the one you wanted - you were so excited." And then... she started laughing her ass off and told me to open it up. It was the book I wanted and she grabbed the book cover off my old book and switched it. All she could say through her laughter was, "you should have seen your face".

8. My 21st birthday was six weeks after the birth of my first daughter. If you've delivered children you know what the six week mark signifies... nuff said.

9. This year I got myself a new blog layout. I really like it... What do you think?

10. I signed myself up for a membership at Backspace The Writer's Place.

11. Anyone who has a birthday so close to Christmas knows the joy that is the "combined gift". Yeah... you gift givers know who you are... Hi Rashenbo... I hear it's your birthday... Happy Birthday AND Merry Christmas... here's a mug for ya, it's for both ha ha ha. I'm over it now and really don't mind... but it's tough on the kiddos and teens can be real resentful of it. Even if they tell you it's ok. Unless it's a car, or a trip to Paris, or a new computer... it's not ok...

12. I came home on Christmas day, December 25th, 1976 in a large red stocking from the hospital. My mother still has that stocking in her hope chest. I have my very first winter cap... it's this red knitted thing - it's in my cedar chest... with my signed Spiderman comic... yes, it was the REAL spiderman, not some faker dressed in costume... :P~~~~

13. I'm really looking forward to my year in the realm of "30". I think it's an interesting place and I am looking forward to meeting my fellow 30'ers. Naturally, we are the best age ever... as anyone born in 1976 knows. Those other years only want to be as cool as we are... and if you didn't know... that's the year of the DRAGON... by far the coolest. You tigers just think you are cool. Neiner, neiner, neiner.

Oh, I found this great site today and I wanted to share this blogger with you guys. His blog is awesome. I think I'll keep him for my own and call him George. I was laughing so hard I almost snorted my beer... and that would NOT have been good... although, it might have made for an interesting post! :)


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My planet to rule... on my birthday!

Yes... in case you missed the notice yesterday, today is MY birthday. YAY! *does a little dance*

Happy Birthday to ME!

So, I decided I'd get myself a planet for my birthday. I'm not quite sure I agree with this particular description... but, all things bloggy says:

You Should Rule Mars

Mars is a planet that shines brightly and loops wildly around the solar system.

You are perfect to rule Mars, because you are both energetic and independent.
Like Mars, you seems attractive and bright to others - but you're difficult to pin down.

You are a great thinker, but you only think in the present and ignore the future.
Full of enthusiasm and inspiration, you are into your own thing... and rather insensitive to others.


Look out, Susan! I'm your new neighbor!

Then I decided to find out what my vampire name would be... because, well... it looked fun.

Your Vampire Name Is...

Princess of Pain


And then... I decided to find out my Stars Wars Horoscope....

Star Wars Horoscope for Sagittarius

You are superbly wise and have been known to spread your wisdom widely.
You are impatient and pushy when people take your teachings too lightly.
And your philosophical side always peeks through.

Star wars character you are most like: Yoda

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My ball wonders... how bout yours?

Rashenbo's Ball of Wonder


"Oh great and powerful Ball of Wonder,
what will happen in 2007?"


"Foolish blogger, only the worthy
can know my secrets. However,
I will share with you the top 5
predictions for 2007."


1. Judith Regan will announce the creation of her own publishing company. Celebrities will flock to her editors to push their own life story. We will see items like, "If I Did It" by O.J. "The Cruise" Tom Cruise's biography of his love life and phantom child. "The Publishing Mistress" by Judith Regan. "Drunk Politics" by a ghost writer on the presidential campaign and more!!!



2. Someone will buy the Holy Toast maker and they will try and sell their "special" toast on Ebay.


3. Agents Who Blog for Dummies will be released to the public. All aspiring novelists in search of literary agents MUST purchase one.

4. The Google Blog Bombers, as reported by Barbara Bauer in her infamous podcast, are offficially making their presence known in the blogosphere. In 2007 they will activate their coalition and work with one goal - complete and total BLOGOSPHERE DOMINATION! *que music* Muhahahah

5. Miss Snark will don her hero garb and personally stomp the 'creativity' out of a flock of writing nitwits in an attempt weed out the population of blathering idiots. Armed only with her flashing stilettos, glass of gin and fluffy poodle - she will take the crapometer to the next level and embark on the crapfest... further details are only for the worthy.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Get fortune to guide you into 2007!


Your Fortune Is

Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement.
This blog entry was made in response to ProBloggers blogging predictions & reviews contest.

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For you blog contest fools...

This looks like an awesome little blog contest with some awesome prizes!

ProBlogger Review or Preview Blog Entry Contest
Deadline is Thursday (day after tomorrow)... so put your thinking cap on guys and gals.

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Happy Holidays

Admist the hustle and bustle of the holidays it is easy to let the positive energies go and get stuck on some of those less than pleasant negative ones, like depression, frustration, stress, etc.

This time of year is my favorite, for various reasons. I tend to experience each day with excitement and joy. This morning as my pea pie came inside crying from the bus stop, I immediately jumped up to find out what had caused her to come inside only moments from the bus. She sobbed and told me how the neighbor girls were calling her names and hitting her. I escorted my little one back outside, yelled across the cul de sac to the two little bra... err girls and then proceeded to walk over to their house. I then informed their mother of their behavior. I got home and was fuming. This is not the first time the neighbor girls have picked on my girls.

My girls have a few things that make them a little different from their classmates. My older has a genetic disorder that makes her more sensitive to even the most minor injury - and she's very slender and rather awkward in her movements. My younger daughter has ADD and she's been known to annoy even the most patient of friends. My girls are sensitive, my 9 year old cries when she watches many movies because she has a strong emotional connection not only with make believe characters, but with people in general. As their mother, I want to protect them. I don't want them to get hurt.

Where am I going with this you ask?

Well, quite frankly, life is rough. No one has it easy these days. It's easier to get angry than to accept a troubling situation and make peace with it. Some one is always being hurt. There is always something terrible happening, someone is always sick, someone is always struggling to make ends meet and somewhere, a school bully is picking on another kid. Why do we seem to focus on the troubles? When we can make change, when we can make something better... I'm all for it... but it seems to me we fascinate with the negative just so we can be fascinated by it. Sounds sad... doesn't it? It's life... society... our realm.

With the negative comes the positive. Right now, someone is discovering love; somewhere a baby is coming into this world surrounded by family and friends who love unconditionally; somewhere a person has mastered a skill and is experiencing the joy and satisfaction of self-accomplishment; somewhere someone is experiencing peace and contentment; somewhere a person's pain is ending; somewhere a family is sitting together and just enjoying the happiness of being with those they love; somewhere a person's life is being saved by a doctor, a friend, a police officer, a fireman, a priest.

I don't know what you believe in and honestly, I don't care. Whether you celebrate Chanukah, Kwanza, or Christmas; whether you believe in God, Jesus, Budha, Jehovah, Aliens or even if you believe there is no great being... We are here together and we do have the power to make our days brighter.

Don't let the negativity blind you from what is good and bright and wonderful. I wish you the happiest of holidays. May a smile lift your lips each day and a giggle of joy reach your ears.

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Happy Birthday to Me! Neiner on you, Blogger Beta!

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me!

Yes! Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn... are you ready? 30!!! I bet some of you feel old :P AND I bet some of you think I'm old. It's ok, you are only as old as you feel.

I had blogger beta since October, but for some reason in the mysterious land of blogger something changed today. I changed no code... had no new comments with funky code, but *poof* my layout took a crap on me. It's ok because....

I bought myself a present.


Nothing like a birthday present to really help you enjoy the festivities. I got myself a new blog layout... what do you guys think? Thank you to Blogs Gone Wild.

Neiner, Neiner, Blogger... I am not so easily thwarted.... MUAHAHAHAHAH

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GAH! Blogger Beta!!! WTF happened to my layout.

This morning my site was fine... now my layout is all messed up. I apologize to all you folks annoyed by it. I know I sure am. Even when I switch my templates it is still doing it. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to trouble shoot it right now. I'm going to have to fix it later.

Cheers!

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Monday, December 18, 2006

The Snarkfiles: HHCOM Highlights

The first 50... what do they share?

So, for those of you who aren't familiar with Miss Snark (the blogging literary agent), she offered to take a look at the Snarkling's (that us) hooks. There were only a BAZILLION entries and it's only going to take several (several) days for her to post them all... I'd thought I'd offer up some quick recaps on the Snark comments. I'm seeing some consistencies... how bout you?

HHCOM = Happy Hooker Crapometer # and the Snarkilicious comments:

#1. Snark was "grossed-out" gave it a "pass" and described it as "non-specific"
#2. It got a "yawn" with a comment on the good writing (however).
#3. It was a synopsis, no clear genre.
#4. No plot, was character development - could have some possibility. Our first to get the dreaded "cliche".
#5. Not really sure what it is... it's about a herd of dogs or horses or something. The Snark responded with a "form rejection".
#6. The perfume quest, questionable plot, no hook.
#7. "Bunch of description"
#8. 54 sentence - not a good sign for writing style. Not specific.
#9. "no substance"
#10. It's the description for Ten Little Indians - Writer Style and Miss Snark is the Squisher!
#11. Plot synopsis, not hook. Reader flag alert! (aka issue with suspension of belief)
#12. Futuristic, meteor attack, yet the end of the world, yet a compelling character and a bodega AKA "everything but the kitchen sink" Another "cliche"
#13. "Nothing fresh and new" / "cliche"
#14. No hook, plot... cut and retry
#15. Character development, not plot
#16. Interesting last paragraph, otherwise, no interest.
#17. "Blather" all plot - no suspense
#18. Miss Snark the one who would trip all... and giggle like a school girl when they smacked their asses.
#19. Story opener, no hook.
#20. Recitation, no movement, no compelling reason to care
#21. Word bungler! possibility, though.
#22. No antagonist and "cliche"
#23. No hook, poor timing of events, tired plot
#24. Cliche - needs precise description
#25. No specifics
#26. Poor imagery - the caged lion-man
#27. WINNER
#28. Snark rule: Never say, "it explores this question." No plot and poor description.
#29. WINNER
#30. No hook, is just a list of characters - "focus"
#31. "Fugitive in space"
#32. Hook too anorexic - give names and more detail
#33. Cliche - ok writing, no compelling plot
#34. Mine - meh.... I've already posted on this.
#35. "Bingo"
#36. Our first "WTF???" - no discernable logic
#37. No hook. Awkward wording.
#38. WINNER
#39. Cliche and our new saying, "Jesus Herbivorous Martinez on a raft."
#40. WINNER
#41. WINNER
#42. No hook, not fresh & new.... Mormons on Mars
#43. pass
#44. Made no sense to Miss Snark
#45. Character fest... Focus
#46. Useful only to make the plot happen - it's forced!
#47. Interesting - 2 ideas
#48. Plot appears to be who sleeps with who... no plot.
#49. Blather... focus
#50. 50 hits our first "SUX" and get's a "cliche" and no main character

So.... our first fifty entries seem to share some similarities... the hooks are either synopsis of plot... or not enough plot is given. Some of them try to cover too much and ending up looking scattered.... seems a lot of people have used cliche crutches to try and get a response and the response was not good. I think it's interesting to look at the general feedback she's giving... She's pretty clear about the type of books she represents so I'm sure that some of these items don't appeal to her specific taste, but still... it's interesting to note.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday Updates

I don't think I'll be doing a blog review today. Although, I may try to do one tomorrow. My husband was in CCNP training for two weeks and then this week was in Florida for Net Backup training. So it's pretty much been three weeks since I've been able to hang out with him. He comes home today and I feel like spending a little quality time with him. Maybe even take the kiddos to see Eragon.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

The Crap-O-Meter Cometh

Well, crappers, here's the Snark's view on my hook. I didn't even realize how someone not familiar with the story might link it to the Predator movie. Course, now that I look at my hook with that movie in mind, I see how it does make it sound like it. Yup, I did a piss-poor job of describing my plot in 250 words. There are no military, no aliens... the only real similarity is that both stories happen to occur in the jungle... and both stories happen to have characters trying to get out alive (but even that part is only partially similar).

What can I take from this? It gives me the ability to see what people think when they see that initial description I give them. It'll help me figure out how to tailor my description to be a better representation of my novel.

On a completely side note... as I was waiting for my hook to hit the crap-o-meter I found a couple of interesting links. If you are a fan of Hannibal Lecter by Thomas Harris here's an interesting blog post on the new book.

And, fresh from Backspace a link to some news about Judith Regan, the publisher who was working on the OJ Simpson book If I Did It, got canned.

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In preparation of the Crap-O-Meter

Today we get to submit our 250 word hook to Miss Snark. I'm going to share the first draft with you. There are several things wrong with this particular draft and I'll be editing it to tighten it up and to clean up some of those pesky errors that tend to slip through when your writing quickly. My grammar and mechanics aren't the best in my blog posts, but I can't let things slide for my hook, query, synopsis or manuscript.

[Title] is an adventure that carries the reader through the heart of the Amazon.

Sean Watts’ life is just the way he wants it – minimal responsibilities and a job that appeases his wanderlust. As a guide on the Rio Negro, Sean’s no novice to jungle adventures. When he’s approached by the Harkness Institute to lead a group in search of some missing scientists, he accepts the chance to pocket the extra cash.

A World Health Organization physician, an American telecommunications specialist, and an indigenous tribesman are just a few members of his team. At first, Sean doesn’t consider the unusual mixture of individuals selected by the Harkness Institute, but it becomes obvious they were brought together for a purpose. Shortly after entering the depths of the Amazon rainforest they become hunted. One-by-one, they are being picked off, either to disappear into the darkness or to have their butchered remains left, as if to taunt those still living.

The missing scientists play only a small role in the real interests of the Harkness Institute. Adelia Harkness, its director, has a greater mission. The members of the team have been selected to play a part in an experiment. One that Adelia hopes will change the future of the rainforest and eventually, the world.

While Sean and the remaining survivors race for their lives to escape the jungle, forces are at work inside the institute that threaten to topple man’s long-held position at the top of the food chain.


I'll post the updated version and link to it on the Snark site... unless I don't get in for some reason!

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Backspace Writers Conference '07

Miss Snark posted a link to some details of a "scholarship" for two writers to the 2007 conference.
I WANT IT
Crap, I had my goal set for June of 07 for novel completion, edit, edit, revision... but that's too long. I'm seriously going to have to put my nose to the grindstone. I'm going to have to finish my first draft much, MUCH, sooner.

*I crack my knuckles and flex my fingers over the keyboard*

There is nothing like pressure to get me moving. I excel when I have a challenge and the goal is something I really want. So, here I go ladies and gentlemen. Let's see if I can get a complete manuscript by February 10th. That'll give me a couple of weeks to harrass all my writer buddies to beta read.

You may find that I'm not blog surfing quite as much over the next two months. I've got to get my ass moving!

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Blog Worth

So... I've seen some people have a "how much is my blog worth" widget in the side bar... How on earth does this applet figure value? Anyone know?

Here's what it says about mine...


My blog is worth $46,856.82.
How much is your blog worth?

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TT: 13 Characters For You to Meet.



Thirteen Things about Rashenbo #2
TT Edition #71 12/13/06


Have you ever done that "get to know you" activity where you tell 2 truths and a lie? The idea is that you share three things and one of them is fake and then you have people guess which one is the lie? Well, I thought that I'd share some people that I know and then some folks that I've made up. I'll change names to protect identity... but six of them will be people I've never met and I've made up and six of them will be people that I do know and one of them will be me. Can you guess who is real and who is fake? Let's begin. (I've now added a link at the bottom that will take you to the answers - for those of you who have already guessed!)

1. Crazy Aunt Mabel. Crazy Aunt Mabel is just about as schizophrenic as they come. She once claimed to single-handly battle a cougar on her porch. She lost all her teeth in a bar fight. Then said she had mouth cancer, but it just turned out to be old food stuck in her dentures.

2. Double O Z. The boss from hell. He claimed to have been a harvard professor, professional pugilist, a computer coder when coding was done by hand AND had been offered the ambassadorship to France. He delights in turning employees against each other just for his own amusement.

3. The Ecochallenger. Brad grew up in an abusive home with an alcoholic father. He doesn't deal well with emotion and is incredibly sensitive to drinking. He has jumped around the world and has some interesting philosophies about life. He was a team member of an ecochallenge race.

4. The Hillbilly. Jinks is from a family of hillbillies. The family farm has a long history of dairy farming and small town drama. One crazy uncle fought the local church with guns and threats of septic tank runoff. Her great uncle got caught doing something he shouldn't and spent some time in San Quentin. Her grandmother disinherited two children and one grandchild from the will.

5. The Doctor. Sally grew up on the Hopi reservation in Arizona. Her mother was grandaughter of the tribe's wiseman and her father was a federal agent with the BLM. She's got strong roots in Indian traditions and culture and currently works as a doctor in Africa. She regularly prays to her guardian totems and has performed a special ceremony to speak to her ancestor shaman.

6. The ditzy blond #1. Greta grew up in a small town in central Minnesota. She's a blond-haired, blue-eyed German married to a six-foot-five African-American who plays professional basketball in Macedonia. She plays on the stereo-type of blonds to get further in business. She's a hell of a politician and can bull-shit with the best of 'em. She's also a pharmaceutical sales rep.

7. The ditzy blond #2. Anna is the 7th child of a well to do family from Minnesota. As the baby, she gets to do whatever strikes her fancy and picks a new hobby each year. The most recent obsession has been geocaching. She's got a plan to drive across the US hitting as many treasures as she can.

8. The Executive. Jenna is the only daughter of a man who was passionate about conservation. She's grown up with the best education money can buy. When her father died she became obsessed with his own goals and is a strong activist for conservation. There is no one more OCD than she.

9. Cajun Bob. Ah yes, Cajun Bob is the life of the party. He was born in Acadiana (known by everyone else as south Louisiana). Cajun Bob drinks too much. Loves his food spicey and says things pronounced like, "cooyon" for stupid... "do do" for sleep... He makes the best gumbo that can be found and "oooo eee" - I'm not sure what that means.

10. The Dermatologist. Dr. J is a lovely older woman. She survived a terrible marriage and became a recovering alcoholic. She then went on to partner a business with another person. The business took off, until claims of brain washing and sexual harassment forced her to file a major lawsuit.

11. Psychic Claire. Claire has been touched... yes, she has a gift. She has 15 different sets of tarot cards. She likes to think she's reincarnated, usually by whatever dead celebrity she can think of at that moment. She is the most loyal friend you can have and every now and again her "premonitions" do come true.

12. The Twin. Sue is a lovely woman in her mid-40s. She is an identical twin. They are identical in every way, except where it really matters. Sue has no uterus. Anna, her twin, was able to have a child. Sue has always longed for a child but she has had to accept that she will not. Now she dedicates her love to her doggies... a pack of yapping Terriers. She's married to a wealthy executive and spends her time on various boards and sells Arbonne products for "fun".

13. The Housewife. Trisha became pregnant with her first child when she was 16. She dropped out of highschool and married the child's father. After 13 years they are still together but their life is anything but perfect. She struggles with her own self-worth and confidence. Her husband is verbally abusive and ignores their two daughters. Instead, he only devotes his time to their son. She has been unfaithful several times but can not build up the courage to leave her husband. She suffers from several illnesses and is unable to work, which just compounds her problems.

Ok, there you go 13 characters. Who is real? Who is fake? Who is me? 4 of the characters are from my novel. 2 of them are from a future novel. 1 of them is me. The others are real people that are family, friends or acquaintances.

The answers are found in this link. You should only click it once you've come up with your guesses! No Peeking!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

On Hooking...

No, this post is not about sex. It's not about the world's oldest profession...

In a previous post I rambled on about what makes material interesting vs boring. Miss Snark (a literary agent blogger) periodically offers the crap-0-meter. She'll make a comment on your material and then her visitors will make additional comments. She's listed query letters, synopsis', etc. This round is on a 250 word hook. In 250 words describe your book in an attempt to capture the interest of a literary agent.

All of us unpublished and unagented writers are pretty obsessive about the ole literary agent subject. I've been working on my own hook and I will be submitting my own this Friday. I'll post a copy here. But, in working on my hook I did decide to read the back cover of a couple of books off my bookshelf. After all, the blurb on the back of a book should be an excellent hook - right?

So, here we go: 140 word description of a book by a bestselling author. Do you recognize it? What book is this from? Do you know the author? I'm taking out the character's name so you google freaks can't find the answer in two seconds.

[Character’s name] could track anyone – or anything – on earth. Now the military desperately needs him for a mission that his ultrasensitive instincts tell him he should refuse. A beast is loose somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. It has already decimated a secret research facility and annihilated a squad of elite military guards. And the raging creature is headed south toward civilization, ready to wreak bloody devastation.

It’s a job [name] can’t turn down, but he soon discovers that his prey is terror incarnate, a half-human abomination created by a reengage agency through a series of outlawed genetic experiments. It has man’s cunning, a predator’s savageness, and a prehistoric power that has transcended the ages. And even if [name] survives its unrelenting hunger for human blood, he’ll still have to confront the grim reality that it may have grown immortal.



To me, it's a great hook. It got my attention and I loved reading it. Does this grab you? Why? Is it the premise of the plot or is it the way the plot is described (the words used)? If no one guesses correctly, I'll be posting the correct answer in a later post.

Updated: Blurb is for: Hunter by James Byron Huggins

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International City Swap Update!

I participated in the International City Swap and I got a great package from Texas Espresso and I wanted to take pictures and post them... but, my husband took his digital camera with him on a business trip. I'll have to come back and update this post with pictures.

It was so nice to get a package. She sent me some great spices, little cookbook, Cowboys tray, this great book on Texas writers, and an awesome pecan syrup!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Some Links of Interest

There is a blog that has a Dear Santa contest and the winner receives a $100 donation to the charity of your choice.

I found a link for Widgetbox in my gmail account... I played around in there for a bit. I grabbed the Sudoko game to see how the games look. I doubt I'll keep it up very long, but it's kind of a neat little feature for a site!

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Blogging Tips

So this was linked on the absolute write forums and I wanted to share this blog article with you folks. I thought it was interesting.

Blog Traffic

Note how he comments on titles and themes? I guess I do know what I'm talking about sometimes!

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I hate Mondays.

Yup, it's true. My least favorite day of the week. When I was a kid there were two things I really collected: Mad Magazine and the Garfield comic strip books.... Garfield hated Mondays too...
Don't be deceived... Mondays are rarely a nice day.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Interesting Vs Boring

Continued from "On blog content"

What makes one story interesting (or blog post) and another boring? (Thank you to those of you that shared your thoughts... Some great comments and suggestions.) First, you have to consider what people are searching for or the type of content provided.

1. Educational:
People are looking for something specific. They don't need personal tidbits, humor or clever anecdotes. They want to know how to do something and they are performing a targeted search. If the content shows or teaches them what they want to know - they are satisfied. If the source offers ongoing information that will continue to teach them, they'll likely be repeat readers/visitors.

2. Informative/Statistical:
People are looking for data. They want to know the percentage of female to male bloggers. They want to know how many people live in their town. They want to know the rate people die from smoking. Again, the search is fairly targeted.

3. Humor:
A lot of people enjoy a good laugh. Some people look specifically for jokes and funny anecdotes. Many times in stories and blog posts - if you get a chuckle out of your reader, you may have just landed a fan. There have been times when I've visited a blog and I don't really have interest in the main content (like entries about car racing, or politics), but the way the story has been told is funny... or many of the past posts include such a humorous tone that I can't help but: LOL!

4. Emotional/Sentiment:
Most of us enjoy a tug on the old heartstrings every now and then. Especially if it is thought-provoking and gives us something. It could be that we are looking for those with a similar experience. It could be that we want to experience or relive a moment in our past. It could be that we are searching for some cosmic answer to understand more about life in general.

5. Hobby/Passions/Dreams:
I think this is where most of us fall into play. We have a dream or a passion or a hobby and we want to know all about it. We want to find others that like it as much as we do. We want to talk about it. We want to feel a part of it. We want to live vicariously through the internet or publications... dreaming about the possibilities... We are addicted and we have to get our fix. (And then we want to share it with the rest of the world).

To me, this is why there are genres, categories, themes, etc. It's easier to bring people together if you can organize things... course, that could be my OCD (or CDO as a friendly visitor pointed out to me!)

Just because you have a theme or category or genre - doesn't mean you have suddenly hit interesting. I have read books that were boring... and I've certainly visited blogs that were boring (even though they were focused on something I was researching or browsing). To me, the real difference between interesting and boring is...

CREATIVITY

How clever can you be? Can you turn this: [There is a guy. His name is Bob and he has a boring job. ] into something delightful and witty? Can you make someone enjoy reading it? Can you turn: [I've got kids. They are funny. Just yesterday one of them said, "Outer-in-space" and we all laughed.] into an entertaining post about the daily life with children? Repeating information is just that - you are repeating facts or events. Maybe for educational or statistical purposes that's fine... but let's face it... It's boring. It's dull. It's dry.

Thinking about something and then using the imagination or brain juice to say... "you know, that's an ironic situation there and if put this way, it's damn funny." - that's what it's about... To me creativity is synonymous with (or at least encompasses) critical thinking, imagination, wit, cleverness, and insight.

So, by now you may be sitting there thinking, mmmhmmm, ok, where is she going with this?

One of my life's goals is to complete a novel. Beyond that I would like to land an agent and get published, but one step at a time. I'm a fan of Miss Snark and while I may not always agree with some of her comments, I'm a loyal reader. She has an event lovelingly referred to as the Crap-O-Meter.

My meandering rambles on 'interesting vs boring' has led me here... to the situation of a hook. On December 15th, Miss Snark will accept emails of a 250 word "hook" of your story. Have you ever tried to write, in 250 words, the basic plot and why a book would be interesting and why you would want to read it? It's not as easy as you might think.


To be continued with... "On hooking..."

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rashenbo Review's Bite The Rabbit


Bite the Rabbit is a blog that I would categorize as personal or a blom (blogging mom).
The Rating Scale: 1 = Dreadfully dull 5 = Alright 10 = Awesome! I'm so jealous.

The Title: Bite The Rabbit
I find this title just great. I give it a 9 for sure! If this blog were on a list and I was just looking at blogs because of the title - I'd definitely hit it just to see what it was about... but then, I have a slightly morbid sense of humor. The reason for her title is found in this post from her early posting months.

The Layout (also known as the "look & feel"): Typepad standard template
It's been a while since I used typepad, but I'm thinking this is just one of the basic template styles that's been personalized a bit with colors and header image. The header image is good and I like the color scheme: colorful, but without over doing it. This layout is nice, neat and tidy. Categories and archives keep things organized and it's easy to navigate through her blog to see past activity. I give her layout a 6.5 - it's a very pleasant look and feel.

The Sidebar:
Well, I'm gonna have to go with a 5 here. She's got a cartoon button, which is nice, and of course, she's got her Nablopomo button and she's got some links to other bloggers. I like theway categories are handled and links to recent comments is also kind of nice. But, it just seems a little empty and I'd like to see just a little more either with buttons or images or something of the like to get some more interactivity going.

Blogosphere Presence:
Well, a lot more people mention biting the rabbit in their blogs than I expected. I had a hard time finding her on Technorati, not sure she's there. If other blogging tools are used (exchange, blog lists, sitemeters, blog counters, etc) they aren't displayed. I certainly found her in the Nablopomo archives and she won the sock monkey - lucky little bunny! Kicky boots, Sgt. Pepper (her sister if you read through her posts - you'll discover this tidbit too!), and Teresa's Scrapbox are a couple of blogs that keep an eye on Bite the Rabbit. She's out there and she's making the rounds. She might just be a little bit harder to find that some of those SSP's (shameless self-promoters, one of Susan's terms), but she's not invisible.

Now, on to what we all know and love...

The Content

The first post was circa early 2005, a lovely little tale about a trip to Disneyland. The way she blogs makes me think this wasn't her first blog post but I can't find any earlier posts on this blog. Heheh, one of her early posts about cooties was cute and humorous and it makes me wonder when she might have continued that discussion! Her paintballing games sound like way too much fun! And she totally disgusted me with the booger post... I have this thing about boogers... it dates back to my brownies days when several girls were squashed together in a vehicle coming back from camp. One of them wiped a booger on another girl... the puking started and I've been booger traumatized since. Really - my husband has to wipe my kids' noses... I just can't stomach it. So thank you Rabbitgirl for bringing that memory back to me :)
Basically, I really enjoyed browsing through the posts. Many of them were funny, interesting or just darn cute! She's got a strong writer's voice that comes across in her posts and I could "hear" her telling me many of her tales. She has some great posts of her offspring but the blog isn't flooded by all things Harrison. There are plenty of other topics to enjoy.

If you haven't swung over to her site by now, give her a look see and enjoy yourself while your there. I give her content at least an 8!

If you'd like me to take a peek at your blog and possibly get a Saturday highlight - let me know.

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HOLY BUCKETS, BATMAN! I won BOTD!

*does a funky, groovy little dance*
(you are better off not seeing me do it!)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I wake up this morning and realize I need to do some cleaning (blech!). First I decide to pop on and check my mail... guess what! I won Blog of The Day!


Blog Of The Day Awards Winner
That's way cool guys and gals! Thank you to whoever nominated me. You've totally made my day!

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Friday, December 08, 2006

On blog content...

This blog kicked off on October 19th, 2006. I've had 6,800 visitors since I hit that first "post" button. By chance, I joined the November blog post a day competition. I wasn't really thinking about how that event would impact the traffic to my blog, but impact - IT DID.


I've had a few blogs and I created this one specifically as an outlet for my writing passion and figured I'd focus primarily on one theme and that over time I'd collect (hopefully) a small group of repeat visitors.

During the Nablopomo, I didn't have time to think about my passion for writing, at least not as far as my novel is concerned, or the general industry of writing and publishing. I instead focused on blogging, general tidbits, and random bits of personal observations. I was amazed and excited by the traffic I was receiving... Every day I could watch the numbers climb and I could see those hits of repeat visitors. When the November event ended my first thought was... what will happen to my traffic?

I became addicted to seeing all those hits. I LOVED IT! All bloggers want traffic (anyone who says they don't is fudging the truth)... but, most of us have varying degrees of how much they want. I wanted to have enough visitors to just create a little network of folks with similar interests to my own - an extended family, let's say. I wanted to have a place to make my own comments about news and drama happening in the world of literary agents, novelists, and publishers. For awhile, I lost a bit of my writing groove (I haven't worked on my novel since October!), but now I feel my brain warming up and getting back into my "writing" mode.

I tend to call bloggers "writers" and why not, you're writing after all. Something that truly links "writers" to bloggers is that content must be interesting. When was the last time you finished a novel that you thought had a boring plot and flat characters? When was the last time you said, "I loved that character! She was so dreadfully dull and boring."

A boring plot doesn't get published. A boring blog doesn't get repeat readers.

So, that leads us to:

What makes something interesting and not boring?

Is it the story or how the story is told?

Is it the punch line or the delivery?



To be continued...

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

What Tarot Card Are You?

I love these little tests!


You are The Magician


Skill, wisdom, adaptation. Craft, cunning, depending on dignity.


Eleoquent and charismatic both verbally and in writing,
you are clever, witty, inventive and persuasive.


The Magician is the male power of creation, creation by willpower and desire. In that ancient sense, it is the ability to make things so just by speaking them aloud. Reflecting this is the fact that the Magician is represented by Mercury. He represents the gift of tongues, a smooth talker, a salesman. Also clever with the slight of hand and a medicine man - either a real doctor or someone trying to sell you snake oil.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

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I'm a featured TT blog today!

YAY! Here I am... trapped to my phone. I had an hour and a half long client call this morning (before breakfast)... then a 45 minute call training a new employee... and now, my timer says I'm at 131.39 minutes on another client call. My brain is leaking. My neck is totally stiff. I just want to take the phone and bang it against the desk... I pop over to check my email and I'm getting notes congratulating me on being a featured blog... I'm like, huh?

Look! Thursday Thirteen featured me as a 1st timer blog on the TT! WOoo.

Isn't it silly how something basic can give you a great big smile and make your day seem better? I think I'm good for at least another 30 minutes now!!!

So thank all of you with the TT who have visited, commented... and helped me be a featured blog today.

Yay! Ooo and the Thursday Thirteen has a forum now. I love forums!

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Wish List goes on the Thursday 13!



Thirteen Things about Rashenbo #1
TT Edition #70 12/07/06

So, I've got a friend (yes! I have a friend! Woot! I know I've got at least one of em!) You've probably seen her comments on my lovely ramblings. She's got a great blog and every single Thursday without fail she has this little thing called the Thursday Thirteen. I tried to resist... really I did. You see the post... so you know I failed in my resisting. Here it is, I've joined the Thursday Thirteen jubilee! (Feel free to blame Susan.)

Since I decided to start the little Secret Santa (also known as the holiday gnome, wish fairy, or whatever floats your boat) I thought that I would make a wish list... the Thursday Thirteen is a list - so here we go!

1. I wish I knew how to make the codes work to actually place buttons side-by-side in my sidebar instead of paragraph spaces between them. I think it will dress up my site. I like to just sit here and stare at my blog sometimes when I don't want to do anything else. The unorganized button structure bugs my OCDness.

2. I wish I had mad musical skills like my friend (I've claimed him - so there's no point in his resisting) Crushing Krisis or my other friend, Susan. Unfortunately, I can't carry a tune in a bucket, keep a melody if my life depended on it, or remember anything about a beat. I can hear a song 3 times in a row and still not recognize it within the first 4 or 5 seconds. My husband likes to test my musical knowledge all the time. He says, "who sings this?". I like to respond with: "Michael Bolton", "Cyndi Lauper" (however she spelled it) or "Michael Jackson". He just loves when I do that :D Every now and then I get lucky - usually with Nickelback, Aerosmith, Metallica, The Beatles - folks like that :)

3. I wish I knew how to teach my daughter how to understand counting by twos.
4. I wish I had more patience.
5. I wish I was a teacher.

Here's why: She's six. She's in the first grade. She's got ADD. I counted by twos for about 15 minutes. I showed her how adding 2 each time is like a pattern. She even said, "it's a pattern!" Then I gave her a work sheet of numbers 1 - 50 and said, ok, count by 2 and color all the 2's blue. It was a worksheet she was supposed to do at school and the teacher sent it home so that we could try and get her to do it. After more time (about 30 minutes) talking about 2's... I drew pictures. I drew little math problems of 2 + 2 = 4 / 4+2 = 6, etc. I wrote the list of 2's up to #30 and had her look at it and read the numbers to me.

This is how the conversation went down after our "studying":
"Pea Pie, count by 2's and color them blue. Here is the crayon and here is the worksheet."
- - "What do I do?"
"Do you remember talking about 2's?"
- - "Yes."
"Can you count by 2's for me right now?"
- - "um... no."
"Why not?"
- - "I don't know how to count by 2's"
"Do you remember how we counted 2, 4, 6, 8"
- - "Yes."
"That's counting by twos. Find the 2s and color them blue."
- - "But there are more numbers than those ones."
"Yes. Yes there are. Can you find them for me?"
- - "Are they these ones" she points to 20, 21, 22, 23 and begins to color them all red.
= fast forward five minutes later *thud* *thud* *thud* That's my head hitting the table while she is rolling around on the floor crying about how bored she is, how she doesn't understand, and how she wants to go take a bath. Good lord - teaching children is hard work!

6. I wish my husband would send in our XBox 360 for repair so I can build up more gamer points! He can be a real slacker sometimes. :) I think our gamer profile is um, Snaggle Tuuth (A name with a real history here... we used to telnet into MUDS and then used Zmud to play text based rpg's and one of my hub's first characters was Snaggle. Then we moved to EQPC... we had the whole Tuuth family: Gappe, Sweete, Snaggle - etc. I've posted on where I got my handle. Snaggle is my husband's.)

7. I wish I had endless amounts of gift certificates to Borders, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble book stores! Mmmm, gift certificates... they are as good as donuts!

8. I wish I had a diet and exercise plan that I was actually able to follow!

9. I wish I had some new socks. I love socks. I like fuzzy ones and wool ones and knee high ones. I like ones with bright stripes. My favorites are a pair of red and whites... and then I've got this great pair with monkey faces on them... Right now I'm wearing black, white, and gray striped slipper socks with the grinch on them. What kind of socks are you wearing right now?

10. I wish I had a neat "Reviewed by Rashenbo" button that I could give to blogs I review.

11. I wish I had one of those new Civilizations games - they look neat.

12. I wish I knew what was going to happen on Heroes next... I want my own super power. Like a little magic cleaning fairy. I could squint my eyes real tight and then she'd appear and she'd dust, and vacumn, and do my dishes, and yes... she would even tackle the dreaded laundry...

13. What's a wish list without wishing for World Peas? I wish for world peas.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!


1. Judy 2. Susan 3. Courtney 4. Tug 5. Mikala 6. Mistress of the Dark 7. Lil Duck Duck
8. Debby 9. Jennifer 10. Colleen Gleason 11. Patent Princess 12. Goofy Girl 13. Janene

Ok, I had to grab this Mister Linky thingy because I'm too lazy to update my links :) And it looked neat on other folks blogs. I'm checking it out to see how I like it! :)


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The List!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The Basic Idea
Some More Specifics

So, here are the participants who are hoping to get a visit from a secret santa, holiday gnome, wish fairy or other delightful spirit during the holiday time of year. Visit them, enjoy their list, decide if you want to make a *wish* come true. (I think I'll use the Thursday Thirteen as my prompt to list my wish list!)

Sock Girl - She's got an awesome little holiday gnome button. Maybe if you ask nicely she'll let you use it... or maybe it will be one of your wish items!

Never That Easy

Ice Cream Mama

Wopalockapino

Gabrielle


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Join the Secret Santa Blogging Event!

Ok, so I've had some questions and comments on the Secret Santa Bloggin Style post. I shared the concept but I didn't really add any details or specifics to it.

If you would like to participate as a Secret Santa Blogger, here is what you should do.

1. Tell me via email or comment that you'd like your name on the participant list (or not if you don't want me to list you).

2. Create a post with your "wish list". Tag it "Secret Santa" so it's easier to search.

- If you have items that need to be mailed, be sure to leave a way for a secret santa to send you something. (Either your address or give your address to a friend blogger [yes, you can use me] and then leave a note like: If you want to mail me something - email my friend at "whatever" to request my mailing address - that way it's still a surprise and you aren't sharing your address to the world)

3. Grab a button to use on your site. Like this one:


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
4. Put the button in your sidebar and have it link to the post of your wish list.
5. I'll create a post of participants and create a button that will link to a page of those participants.
- send me the link to your wish list or secret santa post so that I can include the link to it on the list of participants.

There you go! This is just for fun. This is completely voluntary and there are NO promises that you'll receive anything. Your wish list can be silly and include things like: "I wish someone would show me the code to align the buttons on my sidebar" or "I wish I had a button of a pretty ornament" to something more serious like "I would like a gift certificate to Borders" or even "I wish someone would get me a car."

If this doesn't tickle your fancy, but you'd like to participate in something. Check out this Pay It Forward contest - there is even a prize to win!

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