Authors Answer 21 – The Ultimate Goal

TraceyLynnTobin:

What are your goals in life? This week on Authors Answer, the authors and I talk about our ultimate goals concerning our writing.

Originally posted on I Read Encyclopedias for Fun:

We’re in it for the money, right?  Or is it to become famous?  Or do we want a bunch of fans chasing us down to our book signings?  Or nothing like that?  We all have a goal in mind for our writing.  This week’s question comes from H. Anthe Davis.

154px-Billets_de_5000Question 21: What is your ultimate goal with your writing?  Fame, fortune, changing the world?

Linda G. Hill

Again, I don’t seem to have a choice in the matter: I’m a novelist. I have a hard time writing anything between 500 and 50,000 words. Being a novelist I suppose if any of it’s going to be read, and read widely (which is what I hope) fame and fortune are the consequence. I want neither. What I would like is to be able to write, to be read, and to be financially comfortable… and have at least enough money to travel…

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Horror Block Unboxing and Review for February 2015

In February I was horribly behind on everything and you guys didn’t see any of my unboxing videos until the first week of March, so this month I tried really hard to get everything out before the end of the month. Unfortunately, Horror Block is stymieing that effort because it is shipped at a different time from everything else I receive. Since I started on a slightly different schedule than my last job, I am now out West for only a day or two when Horror Block arrives, meaning I don’t get to even look at it until it’s been sitting around the house for over two weeks. That said, I would rather the one block be super-late than if everything I get showed up while I’m out West, which happened a couple of times last year.

And now that I’ve gotten that little babble out of the way, why not check out the unboxing video for February’s Horror Block:

It might come as no surprise to you guys that I was disappointed in this block, because it seems like I’ve been disappointed in everything lately. It’s just been a bad couple of months for subscription boxes, let me tell you. But let’s go ahead and look at the breakdown anyway.

Giant Microbe “Zombie Virus”: Though not exactly something I want a bunch of, I do have to admit that these giant microbes are kinda funny, and it’s somehow suitable that we got a “zombie virus” in our Horror Block. This is the only one of these little guys that I’ve seen that is actually a fictional virus, and I’m curious as to whether they entirely made him up, or if he’s based on something else. Either way, plushy, red-eyed zombie virus retails at $10.
Bride of Frankenstein t-shirt: A lot of the Horror Block t-shirts have been bordering on horrible, in my opinion. This one isn’t terrible, but it’s also nothing my husband or I would really wear. I believe this was a Shirt Punch shirt, so we’re going to go with $10 for the value.
Zombie Containment Unit: So, I couldn’t actually see anything inside when I was examining it during the video, but apparently this is one of those toys that has a little figure inside all the goop, and said figure is a glow-in-the-dark shambler. You can collect ‘em all for $3 per containment unit.
Vampire Teeth slap watch: I get the feeling my daughter is going to wind up with a collection of watches, since my husband and I don’t really wear them. Not too much to say about this item; it’s a slap-bracelet watch with vampire teeth on the watch face. Kinda cute, and worth about $8.
Bitten novel by Kelley Armstrong: Now, the thing is, I’ll probably like this book well enough, because while I prefer the kinds of monsters that rip your guts out, I can also appreciate the “sexy supernatural” versions, so this is an okay item for me. But I hold to what I said in the video, which is that a lot of Horror Block subscribers were probably not impressed in the slightest by this item. My husband, for example, would probably have thrown it in the trash if it was his subscription box alone. Poor form, Horror Block. The book retails at about $10.
Rue Morgue magazine: And as always, we have the magazine, which I don’t usually read, therefore making it a bit of a wash item. It’s a good item for someone who likes reading these types of magazines; it’s just not an item for me. About $10 is what these magazines go for.

Total approximate value of box: $51
Total cost to me: $38

It’s getting difficult to keep track of the costs of these boxes since they keep changing lately, but I went back in my credit card charges to find that last month’s Horror Block cost me just shy of $38, and that alone frustrates me to no end, because I’ve been finding what’s been in the boxes has not been worth that. Yes, technically, the value is there, but most of the items we’ve been getting are things we don’t want. The zombie virus is probably the only item that will actually end up amongst our collectibles, and though I will read the book it feels more like a bonus item because I wouldn’t have ever purchased it myself.

All in all, I was pretty disappointed with this box, and I’m definitely thinking about cancelling it since my husband hasn’t been particularly impressed either.

Did you receive Horror Block for the month of February? What did you think? What was your favorite item? Least favorite? Please share!

Also, a reminder that I am running a contest throughout the month of March. For each comment you post on my blog throughout the month, you will receive one entry toward a draw for a hard-copy of my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide”! Please note that in order to accept the prize, I will need you to give me a mailing address where I can have the book sent. If the winner drawn did not intend to enter the contest and/or does not want the book, I will draw another name. Please also note that obvious spam/duplicate comments/etc. will not be counted toward an entry…play fair! And good luck! <3

Nerd Block Unboxing and Review for March 2015

How many months has it been now since I first suggested that I might cancel Nerd Block? Several, for sure. And this was to be the last! But theeeeennnnnn…. Yeah, they went and threw an “80’s” theme out there for next month so I had to resubscribe to keep my husband’s head from exploding.

But THAT will be the last one, I’m sure of it. >.>

Anyway, check out the unboxing video:

You may have noticed that I wasn’t terribly impressed, though there were a couple of cute items. Let’s take a look at the breakdown:

“A Slice of Fried Gold” t-shirt: My husband seemed to like this shirt of the titular character from ‘Shaun of the Dead’, so it’s too bad that I didn’t get it in his size, because it’s definitely not my favorite shirt. It could be worse, for sure, but I just don’t really see me wearing a shirt with Simon Pegg’s face plastered across it. Value of shirt: approximately $15.
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ nesting dolls: Okay, I can’t say that these aren’t cute, albeit a little silly. If anything, my daughter seemed to be amused by them, especially when the smallest one turned out to be baby potted Groot. These are a Nerd Block exclusive, and thus difficult to put a value on, but I found a similar Avengers set that goes for $15. I have a hard time accepting that value, since these are made of pretty cheap materials, but I guess I’ll go with it since I wouldn’t know what to assign to them otherwise.
‘Star Lord’ magnet: One of the nicer magnets I’ve gotten in these boxes, since it’s a shape other than rectangular, and seems to be pretty sturdy. We could have gotten Groot or Rocket as well, but we were kind of glad to get Star Lord since my daughter already has several Rocket toys and I have a couple of Groot collectibles already. I couldn’t find these exact magnets online, but similar ones go for about $5.
MunnyWorld mini munny: I was a bit annoyed to see this item, since we just got a Munny in last month’s box, and I prefer my collectibles to be created for you, thank you very much. That said, I might be able to create something cute. I’m guessing at a value for this one, since it’s only a little fellow and the smallest size on their website is 7″…I’m going with about $4
“April Fool’s” Batman-themed kit: This…this is just silly, I’m sorry. It’s kinda funny since it’s themed with Batman villains on the items, but really…plastic ice cubes with bugs in them and a whoopie cushion? Just…wow. I couldn’t find this little pack online anywhere, but either of these items would be a buck or two at a joke store, so I’m going with a max of $3 for the pack.
“Nerd Do Well” novel: Of course, given that Simon Pegg helped curate this month’s box, it’s not a surprise that he included his own book in with the contents. I’m definitely interested to read it since Simon is hysterical, but it’s longer than I would have guessed so I’m going to have to carve out a bit of time to dedicate before I start it. Though it kills me a bit, I have to admit that this book is currently being sold for $20, so it really does boost the value of the box.

Total approximate value of box: $62
Total cost to me: $36

So first off, I have to mention that the cost to me changed again, this time going back down a couple of bucks. I’m not sure what’s up with that, exactly; I’m just reporting what’s showing up on my credit card statement.

The cost to me aside, this is one of the highest-value boxes I’ve received from Nerd Block, but since the biggest part of that value comes from the book, I’m not really all that impressed. Similarly, the nesting dolls are a large chunk of that value, but I personally don’t feel that they’re anywhere worth that much, considering that they’re made of a super-cheap-feeling plastic. My husband, apparently, would have liked the shirt, but unfortunately I’m not that big a fan, so there’s the third strike. And then there’s the April Fool’s kit…just…I can’t even say how stupid I think this is.

The long and short of it? I’m interested in the book for sure, and the fact that there were two Guardians of the Galaxy items is pretty cool, but overall I don’t feel that this was a great box. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed for the “80’s” box next month, both because there’s supposed to be a Ghostbusters item, and because my husband and I are kids of the 80’s, so it should be a nostalgia trip if nothing else.

Did you receive March’s Nerd Block? What did you think? What was your favorite item? Least favorite? Please share!

Also, a reminder that I am running a contest throughout the month of March. For each comment you post on my blog throughout the month, you will receive one entry toward a draw for a hard-copy of my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide”! Please note that in order to accept the prize, I will need you to give me a mailing address where I can have the book sent. If the winner drawn did not intend to enter the contest and/or does not want the book, I will draw another name. Please also note that obvious spam/duplicate comments/etc. will not be counted toward an entry…play fair! And good luck! <3

Loot Crate Unboxing and Review for March 2015

It’s that time again, and though we’re nearing the end of the month I’m actually on time this go around! That’s worth a celebration right there, so why not check out my unboxing video for the Loot Crate of March 2015:

As you can see from the video I wasn’t terribly, terribly impressed with this month’s Loot Crate, though there were a couple of amusing things in the box. Let’s look at the breakdown:

“Super-Emo” James Bond t-shirt: A design by J Salvador, this is definitely my favorite item in the box. It’s something different to add to my nerdy t-shirt collection, and I think the little “This is Stirred” phrase is actually pretty cute and clever. I’m not sure where this number is coming from, but I’ve seen a couple of other people list this shirt at a value of $15, so that’s what I’m going with.
“Confidental” Field Notes 2-pack: Apparently these “Field Notes” actually come from a website that does tons of different designs for blank note books. This 2-pack is a Loot Crate “exclusive” set, valuing in at about $6. Though, as I said in my video, I always get a little annoyed to find things like stationary in my subscription boxes.
“Agents of Shield” Replica Lanyard: I’m not going to say that this isn’t neat, because it kinda is, but it’s not exactly the most impressive item I’ve ever gotten. I’ll probably end up hanging it up with my Marvel Funko’s somewhere. It’s an exclusive replica from the show, so it’s difficult to put a value on. I’d say the card and lanyard themselves are worth about $5, but I’ll bump it up to $10 since it comes with a certificate of authenticity from the show.
Mad Libs “Spy” Version: Okay, seriously Loot Crate? I’m sorry, but this item is just kinda stupid. It might be amusing for a kid, but it’s not “geeky” at all, so I feel like it has no place in a subscription box for geeks and gamers. Also, as I said, you can probably find books of these at the Dollar Store, and I hate it when cheap, easy-to-find stuff is in my subscription boxes. For shame. I wanted to give this item a value of $1, but I actually did find it for sale online so I guess I should be fair and list its retail price, which is about $4.
Field Agent Blink Time Wrist Watch: Okay, I’ll admit that this one is pretty neat. Unfortunately neither my husband or I usually wear a watch, so this will probably end up going to my daughter, but at least it is pretty amusing. These watches value in at about $8.
Paracord Survival Bracelet: This is apparently another exclusive made just for Loot Crate, and is also pretty neat in its own way. It definitely fits with the “Covert” theme. I might actually wear it, just because it’s kinda amusing, but I doubt it will ever “save my life” because my husband and I aren’t exactly adventurers. Weigh in, fellow Loot Crate geeks: how many of you regularly go trekking out in the wilderness? I’m genuinely curious. Similar bracelets go for about $6, which is actually kind of a deal if you are the outdoorsy adventurer type.
Orphan Black comic: There have been a lot of comics in Loot Crate lately, and while that isn’t exactly a bad thing I’m kinda getting a little tired of them. Maybe try something else for a change, Loot Crate? Anyway, I don’t really know anything about Orphan Black, so this isn’t a huge item for me, but you never know, I might enjoy it. These comics go for about $4.
Total approximate value of box: $53
Total cost to me: $39

So the box is pretty standard as far as Loot Crates have been, with the value of the box being in the $50’s, but as mentioned last month the cost of the box to me has gone up a bit because of the low Canadian dollar. This makes it a little bit more difficult to determine if the box is worth it or not. Also, I’m just not really feeling this particular box. I like the shirt, for sure, but everything else is very “Meh”. While a few things are neat (the paracord bracelet and the watch), they’re not the least bit “geeky” and don’t actually relate to any fandoms, which is what I’m looking for in these boxes. A few other things are complete junk, in my opinion (field notes and Mad Libs), and also don’t relate to any fandoms. When more items are not geek-related than are, that makes me sad, I’m just saying.

All in all, I can’t say that I was impressed with this particular box, and I’m really hoping that next months will step it up a bit.

Did you receive March’s Loot Crate? What did you think of it? What was your favorite item? Least favorite? Please share!

Also, a reminder that I am running a contest throughout the month of March. For each comment you post on my blog throughout the month, you will receive one entry toward a draw for a hard-copy of my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide”! Please note that in order to accept the prize, I will need you to give me a mailing address where I can have the book sent. If the winner drawn did not intend to enter the contest and/or does not want the book, I will draw another name. Please also note that obvious spam/duplicate comments/etc. will not be counted toward an entry…play fair! And good luck! <3

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015 – Theme Reveal!

atoz [2015] - BANNER - 910
Yes, it’s that time again! In just a little over a week it will once again be time for the “A to Z Blogging Challenge“. When I found this challenge last year I was over the moon, because not only did it give me an easy way to come up with things to blog about for a full month, but it turned out to be an excellent way to gain new followers, find new blogs to follow myself, and meet new online friends. If you’ve never heard of the challenge, you should definitely think about checking out the website and maybe even signing up as a last-minute participant! There is still time, and it’s a ton of fun, I promise!

I had a ton of fun last year with my “Fictional Characters” theme, so of course I started thinking about 2015’s theme months in advance, but for a long time I had absolutely no ideas. For a little while there I was actually considering just doing the same theme again, since I was confident that I could come up with another 26 fictional characters to talk about, but I really didn’t want to do a repeat, so I kept thinking. Eventually I thought of an idea that I believe will be fun and entertaining. So here it is, my “A to Z Blogging Challenge” theme reveal for 2015…

Video Games!

Now mind you that this theme is going to be a little broad. For one thing, I might talk about video games that are so old there are teenagers alive today that have never heard of them, or I might talk about games that haven’t even been released yet. For another thing, I might not talk about a game specifically, but a video game character that I feel to be an important part of pop culture, or even a video game world that I love, or a console that was a big part of my childhood. The sky is the limit! (So long as the sky involves one use each of each of the letters of the alphabet.)

What do you think of the theme? Are you going to come back and check out my posts? What about the challenge…are you taking part yourself, and are you basing your posts on a theme? Please share! I’d love to hear from you!

Also, a reminder that I am running a contest throughout the month of March. For each comment you post on my blog throughout the month, you will receive one entry toward a draw for a hard-copy of my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide”! Please note that in order to accept the prize, I will need you to give me a mailing address where I can have the book sent. If the winner drawn did not intend to enter the contest and/or does not want the book, I will draw another name. Please also note that obvious spam/duplicate comments/etc. will not be counted toward an entry…play fair! And good luck! <3

Authors Answer 20 – Writing Is Challenging

TraceyLynnTobin:

Have we really done 20 of these already? This week on Authors Answer, the authors and I talk about which parts of the writing process are the most difficult for us.

Originally posted on I Read Encyclopedias for Fun:

Writing doesn’t always come easy.  In fact, it’s a rather lengthy process that is hardly easy at all.  Everyone has something they’re good at and something they find very challenging to do.  This week’s question was asked by Amy Morris-Jones.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 20: What element of writing (setting, characterization, plot development, etc.) do you find most challenging?

H. Anthe Davis

I think creating a coherent and controlled plot is my biggest problem.  My characters are basically people, so I’m rarely concerned about them, and I’ve been working on my setting for more than a decade so could probably detail it down to individual blades of grass if pressed.  But actually figuring out how to push all the characters into one place, keep them there, and make them do something dramatic and purposeful, can take me a long time to get right.  My first book spent a decade being rewritten until I…

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Random Favorites of Early 2015

I was considering doing a YouTube video for this, but since I have a hard enough job getting the other videos I do out on time I thought it would be safer to just go ahead and make this a blog post. So without further ado, here are some of my random favorite things of the first part of 2015.

Steeped Tea’s Pop Top Tumbler & Strawberry Fields Tea

steepedteaIn January a friend of mine hosted a “Tea Party”, which is one of those parties where a bunch of people (usually women, let’s be honest) get together and look through a company’s product line. The company in question is Steeped Tea, and since I love me some tea I decided to order a few things. One of the teas I ordered, Strawberry Fields, is my absolute favorite so far. Not only is it made with all-natural ingredients and flavors, but it smells so heavenly that I would be happy to sit with a spoonful of it under my nose all day. Plus, the most important part: it’s delicious. It’s an organic green tea with strawberry and papaya that is smooth and comforting, with just a hint of sweetness. It needs no additives; it tastes absolutely perfect all by itself.

The other super awesome item that I picked up through the party was one of Steeped Tea’s Pop Top Tumblers (in purple, to match my coat, purse, carry-on luggage, etc…I have a problem). I grabbed it because I wanted a travel mug to take out West to work with me, and because the steeping net inside is made of a stiff material it looked like this one would be a lot easier to clean than the last one I had (which was a disaster). What I didn’t realize when I bought it is that this thing is super air-tight. When closed you can shake it around upside-down if you want and nothing will escape. There’s even a little locking mechanism on the cover release so that you can make sure you don’t accidentally pop it open while you’re traveling with it. All this means, of course, that the heat is sealed in. The tumbler is double-walled so you don’t feel a hint of heat when you touch it, and inside your tea is piping hot for hours. I have actually made tea, forgot about it for several hours, and then burned my tongue on it when I finally had a sip. It’s seriously that good, and I’m so glad I picked it up because it has made my 12-hour shifts a hell of a lot more tolerable.

Tibetan Goji Berry Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Serum

Tibetan-Goji-Berry-Let me first say that I don’t go in for products that make outrageous claims like “anti-aging”. I think that the majority of products that claim to make you look younger, make your wrinkles vanish, or otherwise defy normal biology, are generally just a pack of lies wrapped in clever marketing.

But. I received this item as part of my Fab Fit Fun box for Winter 2014/15, so of course I was going to give it a try. And I have to admit that I’ve fallen in love with it. I don’t know if it necessarily lives up to all its claims, but I have definitely noticed a difference. By dabbing a small amount under my eyes at night I’ve noticed that the skin under my eyes has been tighter, smoother, and significantly less dry. I really suffer from dry skin under my eyes, so this is a pretty nice result. My only problem with this product is the price. The bottle, which only stands about an inch and a half high, retails for $88. Now, I’ve been using it nightly for over a month with no signs of running out, but it would have to last at least four or five months more for me to even consider maybe spending that kind of cash. So, while it is one of my favorite things at the moment, I don’t expect I’ll be buying more of it in the future.

The Dragonball Z Funko Pop figures

DBZFunkosMy husband and I have finally begun the task of turning our basement into a geek and gamer area, which means that I’ve finally begun opening my Funkos. There are lots of the little guys that I love just to death, but right now I think my absolute favorites are the Dragonball Z crew. I don’t have them all (I missed my chance to get black-haired Goku…booooo…) but the ones that I have make me giggle like a fool every time I look at them. My particular favorite is Vegeta, whose crossed arms and little scouter make him extra-super adorable. I love cute versions of things that have no business being cute.

Physician’s Formula Super BB Powder & Bye Bye Under Eye from IT Cosmetics

ByeByeI had to combine these two items because I always use them together and I love the effect. The Bye Bye Under Eye I got as a sample in one of my Ipsy Glam Bags. I originally didn’t think that it was the kind of thing I would use, but I gave it a try and I’m so glad I did. I have chronic black circles because the skin under my eyes is very thin, and this product does a great job of minimizing those circles. It doesn’t get rid of them completely (I don’t think that’s even possible), but with only a tiny application I look instantly brighter, healthier, and more awake, and I love that.

The Physician’s Formula Super BB Powder I actually purchased on a whim after seeing how great the Bye Bye worked and noticing that it was on sale at my local drug store. I don’t like a lot of gunk on my face, but I thought I’d try this out as a complement to the Bye Bye, and I wound up loving it. Because of my work in the super-dry Alberta oil sands, I often wind up with dry, red patches on my cheeks and forehead. With a little moisturizer to combat the dryness, the Physician’s Formula does a beautiful job at hiding that redness. The “Light” option matches my skin tone extremely well, it blends very smoothly, and it doesn’t make me look like I’ve got a ton of crap on my face. When I use these two products together I absolutely love how I look, and with just a little lipstick I feel ready to face the day!

Dragonforce

DragonForce_logoDoes this seem way out in left field? It may be just a little bit.

I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, but most people wouldn’t expect Dragonforce to be the kind of band that I would listen to regularly. Most of their songs are extremely loud, fast, cluttered with an abundance of different instruments and sound effects, and their lyrics more often than not sound like they were written for the soundtrack of a 1980’s swords and sorcery movie. And I love it.

I mentioned before that I find their music counter-intuitively relaxing because it’s so complicated that it practically forces my brain to turn off, and that hasn’t changed. I have five of their albums on my phone now and I’ve been rather enjoying how the loud, fast tracks strangely make my anxiety melt away when I’m trapped on a work bus. I’ve even been known to fall asleep while listening to this music on said buses, and believe me when I say that is a big deal.

So that’s it for now! Are you familiar with any of the things I’ve mentioned? What do you think of them? Have I convinced you to try anything new? What are some of your favorite things so far this year? Please share!

Also, a reminder that I am running a contest throughout the month of March. For each comment you post on my blog throughout the month, you will receive one entry toward a draw for a hard-copy of my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide”! Please note that in order to accept the prize, I will need you to give me a mailing address where I can have the book sent. If the winner drawn did not intend to enter the contest and/or does not want the book, I will draw another name. Please also note that obvious spam/duplicate comments/etc. will not be counted toward an entry…play fair! And good luck! <3