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Monday, April 30, 2007

Crappy Poetry Hour

Swirling crimson liquid, thrums with vibrations;
Whirls spread out, farther, faster, stronger;
The soul's elixir vociferous with discord.

A moment's breath and swell, the flood rushes;
The sea of red reigns over all.

With a scream the barrier is torn asunder;
The deluge breaks free and
Life glistens with its dew.

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Death by Times New Roman

I once had a creative writing teacher tell me:
Kill a character your reader knows and it's a tragedy,
Kill a character your reader doesn't and it's a mystery.
For whatever reason, it's something that has stuck in my mind. I was thinking about writing my novel this weekend, and I say thinking because that's pretty much as far as I got with it. My novel is an action piece and as such, several stranger characters have already died. Really, they should have heeded the warning signs.
Anyway, I'm quickly coming to the point in my novel when one or two of the primary characters must bite the dust. They must be torn to pieces (yup, literally).
I find killing stranger characters easy and surprisingly satisfying. Nothing is quite so stress-relieving as writing someone's death by the teeth of a crazed jungle creature. And if the helpless victim resembles the jerk at work - all the better to make things more realistic, eh?
It's the build up to killing them off that's causing some obstacles for me. I don't want to suddenly pay too much attention to the character, but I also don't want the death to catch the reader completely by surprise. It's that balance...
So, how do you cope with the death of your characters? Do you go with a slow build or more of the direct approach with suspense? Do you treat death more as a tragedy or more as a mystery?

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Fun with Blogthings

Your Pirate Name Is...

Dirty Neck Snapper Nellie

You Are A Fig Tree

You are very independent and strong minded.
A hard worker when you want to be, you play hard too.
You are honest and loyal. You hate contradiction or arguments.
You love life, and you live for your friends, children, and animals.
A great sense of humor, artistic talent, and intelligence are all gifts you possess.

In a Past Life...

You Were: A Lazy Herbalist.

Where You Lived: Quebec.

How You Died: The Plague.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thursday’s Link Love!

I’ve got a few sites I wanted to share with you.

The spicy link of the week: Tshirt Hell. I’d never been there before and my husband said I had to stop by. Man, I laughed so hard over some of those shirts. Site does include mature content.

The “get together” link of the week: Blog Writers & Artists Network is a fairly new Ning community and it’s got some very nice folks as members (like me!) Stop by, check it out, stay awhile.

For moms, Felicia linked to True Mom Confessions. If you’ve ever had one of those moments when a crazy thought or feeling comes across your mind and you need to just get it out – True Mom Confessions provides an anonymous sounding board of mom confessions. Just reading through what others have “confessed” makes me feel a little better about my “momness”.

A moment for some shameless friend promotion: My friend Susan has been nominated for a variety of Bloggers Choice Awards . If you haven’t voted or don’t have your own favorites, check her out (and vote for her!). Another friend, Laughing Muse, is in the running to get paid to blog for a year , she just needs votes!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The State of Literacy: Did you know?

TT 04/26/2007
Rashenbo's Edition #19

Millions of blogs take up space on the net and they come in all shapes and sizes. Truly, the blogosphere is a reflection of our diverse cultures and beliefs. Blogs that: are mom blogs, pet blogs, corporate, political, humorous, focused on a hobby, focused on making money, and everything else with a bag of chips. One thing they all share is the written word.

Each and every one of us not only has a familiarity, but a passion to write and read… even if the writing is just a joke, a review of a TV show, or a title on a photograph.

As long as there are humans, there will be conflict. Many of us are focused on the major situations prevalent in our news: Global Warming, War, Economic Instability, Crime, Violence, Natural Disasters, Anna Nicole Smith…

It’s easy to forget about the more basic problems that face our society, problems that affect each state, every country. Through our ability to learn, from our parents, and from those educators that showed us the way - we received a gift, reading and writing. Such a basic thing and our lives, our successes, even our futures are all based upon this skill.

- "The UN defines illiteracy as the inability to read and write a simple sentence in any language. In 2003, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), conducted by the US Department of Education, found that fourteen percent of American adults scored at this “below basic” level in prose literacy in English. More than half of these persons did not have a high-school diploma or GED. 39 percent of persons at this level were Hispanic; 20 percent were black; and 37 percent were white." Source

- Our country ranks 49 out of 156 UN countries in literacy, 18 spots lower than where it was in 1950. Illiteracy costs the US more than $225 billion a year in productivity. 60% of all juvenile offenders have problems reading. Source

- "According to UNESCO, in the world today there are about 1 billion non-literate adults. Women represent 2/3rds of that 1 billion." Source

- "In 1998, the EFA 2000 Assessment measured progress and reported that, while some progress had been made in educating children, 113 million still remained out of school. The overall adult literacy rate had risen, but at least 875 million adults remained illiterate, 64% of them women." Source

- "To examine fourth-graders' views on reading for enjoyment, PIRLS 2001 created an index of Students' Attitudes Toward Reading (SATR). All of the participating G8 countries, with the exception of England, had greater percentages of fourth-graders with higher SATR scores than the United States." Source

- The CIA reports that the US has a 99% literacy rate. Source

- There have been minimal increases in the reading scale scores over the last 30 years. Source

- "In California, 85% of nonfiction books in school libraries were published 15 years ago." Source

- "Evidence shows that children who do not read by third grade often fail to catch up and are more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, or go to prison. So many nonreaders wind up in jail that Arizona officials have found they can use the rate of illiteracy to help calculate future prison needs." Source

- Utah claims to have the highest literacy rate in the nation. Source

Three simple ways you can help improve literacy:

- Read books, let people see you reading, and talk about them. Ask questions.

- Get involved in your library by volunteering your time to help local literacy programs.

- Encourage children to read for enjoyment and pleasure. Reading is fun. Share that. There is more to life than myspace, ipods, PSPs, and nickelodeon.

Now I have a question for you, take a moment and ponder, where would you be if you couldn’t write, let alone read, a sentence?

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Participate in an interview of Leslie Bennetts The Feminine Mistake

Edited for a bit of Clarification. This message is from Felicia C. Sullivan. She is a great contact and is always sending me great information on new books and she often has offers for folks to pick up a new book for a review.

I wanted to share this message from her with all of you:

As you may know, there has been a firestorm debate over Leslie Bennetts' new book The Feminine Mistake.

About the book
Author's Blog

I (Felicia, not me!) plan on interviewing the author on an uncoming podcast radio show that I'm producing (which will garner a great deal of attention) and I want to put you guys in the driver's seat. I want to use your questions/comments/praise/criticism when I chat with the author.

If you have a question/questions for the author, leave them here, in the comments space (along with your blog URL). (Even if you don't have a question, be sure to check out Felicia's little corner of the blogosphere)

And if you are one of the ten questions/comments, etc that I use on my show, not only will you be credited, but you'll receive a free copy of the book!

Do feel free to pass this on to other parenting bloggers/friends. I will drop you a line when the show will air.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Are apocalyptic scenarios still fresh or are they becoming cliche?

We know that man vs man and man vs self are two of the more common forms of conflict, personally, I enjoy man vs environment just as much. In my "What would your character do?" book there is a small section on apocalyptic situations:

- highly contagious plague strikes
- a tsunami is predicted
- two nuclear nations look poised to launch missiles
- ozone layer is suddenly degraded
- an endless drought leads to famine
- during a way, an enemy approaches
- civil war erupts after long economic depression

Definitely situations that can create a dynamic, fast-paced (or tragic) back drop for a story.

It seems that movies and television have taken hold of the apocalyptic / mass destruction realm and constantly churn out something new about the end of life as we know it. But what about books?

Swan Song, The Stand, The Postman, Eternity Road - these are just a few of the works that have an apocalyptic situation.

My question comes down to... are apocalyptic themes still "in" or are they "out"?

Here is an older article on the 20 ways the world could end. It's pretty interesting... and a little frightening at the same time.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

How does Inspiration find you?

Writing is a mentally challenging hobby. Nothing stimulates the brain quite like creating an entire new world and people to interact with it. It is a dynamic field, of that, there can be no doubt.

As I sit here on this beautiful and sunny Monday morning. The energy of my mind is high and I feel my fingers twitching in response. Unfortunately, I need to work... but I did wonder, what is it that has me inspired today? Could it be the relaxing weekend? Perhaps the bright and sunny day?

Have you found any trends that seem to influence your creativity and inspiration? When is your creativity highest? First thing in the morning or late into the night?

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Brand New Website for Writers, Word Dork!

A long while back I sent in some comments to a woman who was collecting information on what writers might be looking for on another website for writers. Now, I know we have lots of websites available to us, but there is always room for more. I sent her in some feedback and she recently announced the site is live. It's a free site and it's new. They are looking for people to sign up and provide feedback on ways to improve it.

I do see some ways it can be improved, but it's got a good start to it. Check it out, if you create an account... request to join my circle :D My user name is.... tada! Rashenbo!
(Sorry to my feed readers, stupid blogger messed up my hyperlinks. Had to fix em.)

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What do the Tarot Cards reveal?

When I was younger my mother experienced what she believed to be a few psychic occurrences. As a birthday present, my aunt bought her tarot reading classes from a psychic. In one of those rare coincidences, one of our neighbors bought her a deck of tarot cards thinking that my mother should use them. The neighbor didn't know that my mother had just received classes. Tarot cards were pretty cool and my mom bought me my own deck. I found them today (they live in a handy dandy Crown Royal pouch). I thought I would perform a Thursday reading for all the Thursday Thirteeners. So, using the Celtic Cross Spread (or ten card), here's how Thursday shapes up for us.

1st Position represents our atmosphere, our question, or us: Six of wands. It means we are on a conquest, a conquest of the blogosphere! Good news for us. Our desires are achieved through our activities and the activities of others!

2nd Position represents our immediate influences or obstacles: The World. Rewards received from hard work. I take this to reflect our desires and influences; we seek success, fulfillment, and attachment. Truly the blogosphere brings us together and Thursday will be another day when we come together and we will be influenced by each other.

3rd Position represents our goal or destiny (or aim or ideal): Nine of Cups. It means success, well-being, good health, and difficulties surmounted. We aim to have balanced, happy lives with fulfillment.

4th Position our past influences/foundation: The Emperor. One of the "masculine" cards shows us a history of stability, spirit, domination of reason, and overcoming emotional situations. I believe it shows how we confront what faces us and have achieved victory of them. (I'm reading, so I get to interpret and put my spin on it).

5th Position to reflect recent past events: The Lovers. (We have a great reading so far! So many major arcana!) Reflects our passions, our relationships, it appears many of us focus on our relationships and it is those relationships of those we like, love, and trust that are most recent in our memories... or rather, they are the things of most interest to us at this moment. It reflects the power of our feelings and how our feelings have driven our actions.

6th Position a broad sense of future influences: Page of Wands. Friends and associates with good intentions. We will all be touched by someone who cares for us and hopes to help us. The blogosphere is truly a place where we can support each other and create stronger bonds of friendship!

7th Position reflects our attitude or present position: Judgment. To accent and forgive, to rejuvenate, to promote, thinking and consideration, desire to immortalize ourselves... Seems like we've got a mixing pot here and too many of us are bringing together our present attitudes!

8th Position reflects how we influence each other (our environment) and the tendencies that we have when interacting with each other: Six of Pentacles. We act with generosity and sincerity! We lend an ear or a shoulder when we are needed.

9th Position our inner self... hopes, hidden emotions, secret desires: Seven of Wands. We all want victory, now, what victory is may differ for each of us. We want to win. We want the promotion. We want the biggest hits for the Thursday Thirteen.

10th Position is the final outcome of the reading, the overall result. Ten of Pentacles. A good reading, we are individuals focused on family and the importance of a happy home. We all have our own riches, sometimes we may have to remind ourselves of what they are - but we are all blessed in some way and we know it. Good things will come to each and every one of us.

Now then, at the conclusion of the 10 card reading my mother allowed 3 questions that were yes/no questions or to ask about something specific on the reading. I will think of three questions for all of us.

1. Will one of us win the lottery this weekend?
Alas, the cards say no. Sorry guys and gals. No winning this weekend.

2. Will Sanjaya ever get voted off American Idol?
YES!! The cards say goodbye to Sanjaya. - They just don't say when.

3. Will I ever finish my current WIP? (Ok, so this one's just for me)
Ace of Cups... That's a definite "YES" wipppppieeeeee!

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What Movie Are YOU like?

I was surfing through my usual blog spots and saw that Sophisticated Writer had a fun little blog quiz. She's Apocalypse Now.... I'm:


Quick Q&A with Jenny Rappaport

A while back I had sent some questions to Jenny Rappaport with the L.Perkins Agency. She is a regular blogger, for those of you who don't recognize the name, and her blog is called Litsoup.

1. What has blogging done for you in the literary industry?

Blogging has given me a much greater visibility. People know who I am from my blog, and I've gotten a large number of clients through it. It's also made me more visible to editors, of which quite a few read my blog as well. I think blogs are some of the most effective marketing tools out there, at least as far as promoting yourself goes.

2. Has blogging impacted your writing?

Blogging hasn't really impacted my writing. If anything, I write more now, since I've started blogging, which is an accomplishment for me. =)

3. So... Miss (soon to be Mrs.) Lit Soup, what's your favorite soup and why?

Progresso Macaroni and Bean--simply because I love it, and it's great with a little bit of Parmesan on top of it.

4. Many writers have a book or two that had a profound impact on them, an epiphany, or perhaps just a deep rooted love that began their journey into writing. Do you have a book that you've read like that? If so, which one?

I don't really have a book which started me on a profound journey to be a writer, or anything like that. I've been reading since I was three and a half years old, and I pretty much devour everything in my path. I've been telling stories for even longer than that, as my mother literally has notebooks full of the ones I would tell her, before I was old enough to write them down myself. It's just something I've always done...

5. What advice would you give to people that want to follow a literary agent career path?

Publishing is still very much an apprenticeship-based business, so you really need to get in on the ground floor. Work your butt off to get an internship in the publishing industry, even if it's not in a field you want to work in (i.e., textbooks); the experience you gain is going to open doors to you, which would otherwise be closed.

6. What's your biggest pet peeve when you read manuscripts?

My biggest pet peeve is bad grammar and spelling, as well as improper manuscript format.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Prestigious Thinking Award

Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am."

While it is fun to debate precisely what Descartes meant, or how much our thinking selves impacts who we are - I'm not going down that road today. My friend and sister-in-blog, Susan, gifted me with the Thinking Blogger Award while I was at my brother's wedding.

We share our stories and our thoughts for many reasons: to educate, entertain, call to action, anger, appease, or just boost our own ego, etc. For any reason, when you share something that stimulates or causes another to think - it's a wonderful thing. One of the reasons that I am so addicted to the blogosphere is that connection, the sharing of minds that we can do.

Now that I have received the thinking award I am to send it on, to other bloggers that have made posts that I found particularly thought provoking. I'm a little behind and I've seen several of my usual blog haunts have already posted, of course, Susan... and then I was going to tag December Quinn - but someone else got her first! So, I'll just have to try others that may not have been hit yet. In no particular order, I am giving the Thinking Award to:

On 101 Reasons to Stop Writing there are often humorous and cynical posts, which I find amusing. There was a post in March that I enjoyed reading. Here is the link to Aside: The Ark of the Incompetent

Erica Writes often has great posts that bring a smile to my lips, or make me get to thinking. She's got a great post on Battling Writers Blocks. Since I haven't written a word on my manuscript in the last month... I think I'm right in the middle of a block!

Cuss and Other Rants is one of my favorite stopping spots. It's definitely for a mature ready, sometimes her humor is dry, to-the-point, and oh so witty (but with a touch of *naughty*). She recently went on a trip and has had several posts about her trip. I found her post on Polyagomy=A Nor'eater on a Sunday in April a read to get you thinking.

I enjoy visiting Mark Terry's blog and often think about the tidbits, observations, and advice he shares for writers. His post Writing As Chess is another great read.

Daisy Dexter Dobbs is a blog I've only recently discovered because Rhian/Crowwoman said she had some great posts... and she does! And here, a post dedicated to chocolate... how can that not get your synapsis firing? Daisy Visits Junk Chocolate Heaven

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fun with Google Maps

I am returned my friends! My brother is happily wed to a lovely young lady. I forgot I was pretty much allergic to the entire state of New Mexico. Allergies... *shiver*

It's taken me a few days to get back in the groove, but a friend sent me this fun little tip and just wanted to share!

1. Go to google.com.

2. Click on Maps.

3. Click on Get Directions.

4. From: New York, New York.

5. To: Paris, France.

6. Then, read line #23...

7. Laugh

8. also read the amount of time it takes too do this trip!!!


Friday, April 06, 2007

I before E, except after C and sometimes Y.

There are a few executives at my organization, and on more than one occasion they've sent out emails with some poor spelling... and, the developers have some of the worst spelling I've come across. I'm product testing today and I noticed on the shipping pages they kept using "reciever" or "recieve" - Now. Receive happens to be one of the words that I will type incorrectly, but I always check it and ever since grade school the little rhyme: "I before E, except after C and sometimes Y" stays with me. I don't know when I learned it... but I don't think I'll ever forget it.

What are some that you remember and you use to help you?

I sent an email to the developer with that little rhyme and circled the misspellings. We'll just have to see if he responds. He's also the one who uses "availible". Every time I see it - I twitch a little. Is it really that hard to spell check?

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

A brief look into the Cajun dictionary

My husband and his family are Cajun. His grandfather, Pop Blackey, is not doing too well. They found an aneurysm in his abdomen (and won't operate because of his age). He's a riot of an older man. I can barely understand him because he's got a thick (THICK) accent. This week was also my husband's birthday, so I thought I'd focus a little on Cajuns today. I may have already done this before... I can't recall :) So if so, here's more.

"Making fun of the way people talk is one of the oldest forms of good-natured humor. It's a combination of ridicule and respect, for we seldom tease anyone we don't like." - Cajun Dictionary
1. Abdominal: detestable, horrible
"If you don get a hair cut you gone to look like de abdominal snowman."
2. All: petroleum
"Check de all too, please."
3. Ball: to boil
"Ya'll come over tonight, we gonna ball some crawfish!"
4. Boo-dree-ox: How Rednecks & Yankees pronounce Boudreaux. (Note... our dog's name is Boudreaux!)
5. Cam: trainquil, calm
"De fish should bite, de waters cam."
6. Cooyon: stupid, dumb, also an educated fool. (Note: This is used on a regular basis in our household)
"If dem cooyon engineers don stop digging canals all over, we gonna all flood."
7. Do Do: to sleep (Note: Grammie Lina sang a do do lullaby to the chiddrens when they were young. They love the do do song.)
"It's time to make do do, I got to get up at five tomorrow."
8. Hafass: low grade, half hearted effort, inferior
"Dat's a hafass job if I ever saw one."
9. Juga Keen: Sugar Cane
"Arry time dey spray de juga keen it kills all de doves."
10. Kang: a metal container
"Pop me another kang of Bud, please."
11. Ma: possessive adjective
"Ma feet hurt!"
12. Pansil: implement used for writing
"Don't run wit dat pansil in you mouth!"
13. Q - There is no Q in the Cajun Alphabet!!!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mother Pie's results on female blogger study

A while back I participated in a study for Mother Pie, she was collecting information from mothers/women that blog. She's got a series of entries posted about the study. The information is pretty interesting. Here's a link so you can check it out if you are interested.

Mother Pie's Blogging Study

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Juggling those eggs, when life tosses in one too many.

Most of you know that I've had a few busy weeks lately and Domestik Goddess tagged me with a meme focusing on how one achieves balance in life. Now this meme did as all memes do and floated around the blogosphere, Lillie Ammann started it (so blame her!), and now it's landed at my doorstep.

How do you achieve balance in life?

Well, I've got a highly technical and overly complicated formula that goes something along the lines of:

Square the root of messy household and divide that by the sum of children running through the household and then multiply that by what you want to accomplish and then subtract what you actually accomplish and then factor in the "husbandly rights" quotient and then fractionalize resting time... and you'll end up with harmonious balance.

Honestly, there is a basic formula for balance in life and I call this the "sum of me".

Identify who you are and how you spread yourself.

Here's my "me formula": I am first myself. I am then a mother. I am then a wife. I am then a daughter. I am then an employee. I am then everything else.

You must identify the priorities of where you stand and your relation to life. As busy as life gets, never lose yourself in the chaos of the moment. If the "me" isn't centered, then everything else is out of balance.
What is your biggest challenge in balancing your life?
It's easy enough to figure out where your priorities are once you think about it. But... ah, the execution... that's where so many of us fail. I don't know about you, but I'm a list maker. I make lists of to-do items. I make lists of chores. In my mind I'll create a task list of what I need to accomplish, and in what order it should be accomplished. Making lists is easy.... actually running the errands, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, having quality time and squeezing in a little me time is much harder to actually accomplish.
There are many challenges when you try to balance out life... These are my big three:
Time is a big culprit, it never seems as if we have enough of it.
Third parties are another one... how many times have we had a last minute potty stop that ended up lasting 15 to 20 minutes? How often have you had to wait on someone to get you information or call you back or not be there when you need them?
Unforeseen complications are just about the worst, because even when you've got a plan - it takes only one unforeseen complication to throw everything off kilter.
What advice can you share to help all of us balance our own lives?
Make your plan as if you have all the time in the world. Make your contingency plan as if you only can accomplish one thing. Expect to fall somewhere in the middle and when the chaotic monkey is climbing up your back - take a deep breath, reach back, carefully grasp its scrawny little neck and then beat the ever loving piss out of it as you bang it against the kitchen counter.
And if your day is just a little too crazy - stop all your plans. Go rent a movie or buy a book, grab a bottle of wine... go home, climb into some jammies and relax on the couch, because sometimes you just need a little "me" time to get back to being centered.
I invite you all to share your own bits of life balancing advice... I'll tag a few people in particular like A Spot of Tea, Susan at West of Mars, Thomma Lyn, and Laughing Muse

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Who says google doesn't have a sense of humor?

Did you see google's announcement for totally free wireless internet?

Google's TISP Beta

Too funny!

I was offline this weekend... buying a brand new 60 inch television and playing with some new HD movies. HD ROCKS! :)