A to Z Blogging Challenge: Prologue

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It’s been a while since I participated in any kind of blogging challenge, so I was quite interested when I came across a passing mention to something called the “A to Z Blogging Challenge“. Apparently this is a yearly challenge that has been around for a while now, and there’s a good chance that I probably heard it mentioned before at sometime in the past, but this is the first time that I took the initiative to actually go to the website and see what it’s all about. The idea is that if you blog every day except Sunday (because you have to have a day off, right?) through the month of April, you wind up with 26 posts. For the less observant of you out there, that means one post for every letter of the alphabet. So on day 1 you would blog about something that starts with the letter “A”, on day 2 something that starts with “B”, and so on. You can blog about anything you like; you can be totally random or come up with a theme. The only real rules are 26 days = 26 posts, and to use the alphabet as previous mentioned.

I thought it sounded like fun, so I decided to sign up, and was quite surprised to see that approximately 380 people had already signed up by the time I got to the form (back at the end of February). I thought to myself, “Self…that is a lot of participating blogs!” Imagine my surprise, then, when I checked back to the website a week into March and found that there were now over 1000 participating blogs? And that was with three weeks still left to sign up! Yikes!

All that aside, I’m telling you all this because tomorrow is the first of April, which means the first of my 26 alphabetic posts, and I need to explain a few things ahead of time. First of all, since my accountability posts are an important part of my blog, for the month of April there will be two posts each Wednesday: one accountability post and one challenge post. Second, along the same vein, I’m going to continue posting Fiction Fragment Fridays during April, so there will also be two posts every Friday. Lastly, as previously mentioned in the big “Theme Reveal” post, I decided that I am, in fact, going to use a theme for my challenge, and that theme is “Characters”. Whether they be from my favorite books, comics, TV shows, movies, or video games, during the month of April I am going to blog about 26 different fictional characters whom I love. Doesn’t that sound awesome? 😀 I think it sounds awesome.

And one final little point: since this challenge is a “blog hop” that encourages participants to spend a little bit of time each day visiting each others’ blogs, the people who run the A to Z Challenge suggest that posts be kept short (so we can all visit as many other blogs as possible). For that reason these 26 posts will be a fair bit shorter than my usual posts. Most are in the range of 400 words (as opposed to my usual 1000 words or more). Don’t get used to the brevity, because I’ll probably be ranting like a lunatic again in May. 🙂

The fun starts tomorrow! Good luck fellow challengers, and to my readers, I hope you enjoy!

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 10

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I almost forgot to write this post today, and I blame that on the fact that I have very little good to report. I lost an entire day this week as a result of having to drive quite a ways for a doctor’s appointment (which served almost no purpose besides scheduling day surgery, which really could have just been done over the damn phone), and I spent most of the other days trying to get organized, do some work around the house, and search for a new job, all while dealing with the little barnacle that I call my daughter. You have been forewarned: this will not be a great accountability post.

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha…oh my. I don’t even know what to say here. I can tell you that on one day near the beginning of this week I spent about forty minutes playing a dance game on the PS3 and that I haven’t touched it since because it made me feel absolutely horrible about myself. I can also tell you that I’ve been continuing on with my attempts to drink mostly water, so that’s a good thing, I guess. But also, my eating habits have been horrible this week. I don’t know how much chocolate I ate this week. I think I only ate breakfast once in the last seven days. There was one day when I ate a lot of fruit, but I subsequently was sick of it after that and changed over to junky stuff. There’s been a veggie tray sitting in my fridge for almost an entire week now, with healthy dip even, but I haven’t even broken the seal on the sticker.

I am in such a mood this week, you have no idea. It’s no excuse, I know, but just trust me when I say that I don’t even feel bad.

(Except for the part when I stepped on the scale and totally ended up feeling bad. Very bad.)

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

On the one hand, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Facebook this week, specifically on my new Author Page, which I have linked to on the right sidebar of this page, under my photo. Please visit and “Like”! 😀

On the other hand, I’ve been totally absent on Twitter, for the most part, and I’ve only managed to scrape together a minute here and there to interact with other bloggers. I don’t know what it is the past few days, but I swear my days are just flitting away from beneath me while I somehow manage to not get anything done. What’s up with that?

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

At the very least I wish I could say that the reason I haven’t been accomplishing anything else is because I’ve been busy working on the final draft of my novel. I wish I could say that. Alas, it would be an enormous lie. I haven’t even opened the file, or glanced at my beta-reader’s notes. I’ve done absolutely nothing and I feel positively horrible about it because it’s terribly unprofessional. Please feel free to yell at me.

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

On this one front I will say that the week wasn’t too bad, but it still wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. Remember last week when I said that I was going to at least double my word count from that week? Yeeeaaaahhh….that didn’t happen. With the bits of time I managed to actually sit at my computer and think I wrote a few blog posts that totaled up to 4923words. Not too shabby, but nowhere near doubling last week. This is not me whining, I’m just pointing out that I’m consistently failing. Ha!

So now that all that painfulness is out of the way, let’s just go ahead and pretend that week 10 never happened. On to week 11!

You Know What Opinions are Like, Don’t You?

A fellow blogger, one I happen to follow, has started up an interesting project. This blogger is known as Opinionated Man, and on his blog HarsH ReaLiTy he has come up with the idea for “Project O“. Basically, throughout the month of September he is going to be researching and discussing the concept of “opinions”, what they are, where they come from, what factors in our lives affect the ones we have. He plans to do this by way of information gathered from us, the bloggers, the readers, the people around the world connected together by the internet.

opinionsI thought this sounded particularly interesting, so when I saw that he released a template of questions for use in the project, I decided to write a blog post answering them. As per his requests, I will also be emailing my answers to him for use in the project, and I urge you to do so as well, should you decide to take part on your own blogs.

So without further ado, here we go:

Question 1: Please provide a window into who you are, some background information in a not too overwhelming profile here.

I’m a wife and mother, and an only child, but I grew up positively surrounded by cousins. I was a book-nerd kind of kid growing up, as well as a bit of a geek (I liked Star Wars, anime, video games, etc). I never had a lot of friends, but I loved the few I did have. I’ve wanted to be a fiction writer since the third grade, but somehow or other I became an instrumentation technician by trade. It’s a very male-dominated field but I’ve had surprisingly few issues in my seven years in the trade. These days I write whenever I can and aspire to become published sooner rather than later.

Question 2: If you haven’t already done so please provide your country of origin, whether you are male or female, an age would be nice, and where you currently live if that differs from the country of origin.

Country of origin and the country I’m currently living in are both Canada. I’m female and 29 years old.

Question 3: Recount the first time you remember having a differing opinion from someone significantly older than you. Do you remember what the topic was about? Did you voice your opinion or hold it to yourself?

The first time I can remember having a really strong opinion to the opposite of my elders was when I first started to realize that I thought religion was hooey. I was in the 7th or 8th grade, I believe, which is when Catholic kids complete their “Confirmation” ritual. It involves going to church every week for so many weeks and doing this and that and there’s a big ceremony at the end…and after a couple of weeks of church (I hadn’t really gone since I was little) I remember thinking, “This is ridiculous, I don’t believe a word of it, and so why am I trying to become a permanent member of this church?”

I did voice my opinion to my father, who more or less told me that I could believe whatever I wanted, but that it would probably be worth it to just complete the confirmation and be done with it since some of my family is very religious and it would likely have ended up in a huge fight. I took his advice and never went to church again after that ceremony.

Question 4: What levels of respect were practiced around you when you were a child? Was there bowing involved, handshakes, “yes Sirs and yes Ma’ams,” or some  other equivalent respectfulness in your culture’s tongue? Is an honorific given to someone older than you and do you often respect and practice that? How might the culture you were brought up in have affected the growth of your own opinions?

There weren’t a lot of honorifics in my childhood. Mostly we were just expected to watch our mouths (no profanity) and our tones (no smart-mouthing). I don’t know if it was a product of my upbringing, or if it’s a general feeling that I absorbed from my environment, but I grew up believing that age has nothing to do with respect, and that it doesn’t matter if you’re 100 years old and I’m five, you do not automatically get my respect if you haven’t earned it. There are, in my opinion, too many older people out there who feel that they should be respected by the sheer fact that they’ve survived for a while longer.

Question 5: How traveled are you and to what degree do you keep up with international news? You might also provide an educational background if you wish and if that education was gained from somewhere other than your current location. How available is the news and what goes on in the outside world to you in your country?

I’m not particularly traveled. I’ve only traveled within Canada, and not even all the way across (I’ve started in Nova Scotia and gone as far as Alberta). I obtained my education (Bachelor of Technology) in Nova Scotia. International news is available enough here (if not a little bit “tweeked” by the media), but I can honestly say that the degree to which I keep up with it is minimal at best. I glean my news stories from what others deem to be important (my husband might tell me about something, or my father might post a status update about it on Facebook). It’s not that I don’t care what’s happening in other areas of the world, but I’m the kind of person who can barely handle the events going on in her own life, never mind the lives of people I’ve never met.

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

As mentioned above, I don’t really keep up on the news or international incidents, but if there was one topic that I’d impress upon the world if I could, it would be the stigmas surrounding depression. These days it’s been proven that depression can stem from any number of factors, including physical (hormonal, for instance) ones that in no way reflect a person’s life or situation. I’ve seen people be berated for “pretending to be depressed” because the feeling is that someone can’t be depressed if they have what is considered to be a “good life”. Too many people think that depression is only allowed if the person has “real” reasons (got fired, wife left, someone close died) to be depressed, but there are scads of reasons for someone being depressed. I myself had a doctor check me out for chemical-imbalance depression because of a couple of other complaints I had brought to him, and the reaction I got from a few people close to me was very simply, “you’re not depressed”, as if it was an impossibility. I wasn’t, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to presume to know what’s going on in my mind and body, and true depression – whatever the cause – is a very dangerous thing to ignore and scoff away.

Question 7: What does the right to an opinion mean to you? Is it essential to freedom to have this right? How far would you go to protect that ability? The world is on fire with people of passion, how passionate are you about things you value?

This is a tough one because while I believe everyone has a right to their opinion, there are plenty of cases in which someone’s opinion is clearly wrong or psychotic. For instance, a kid who shot up his school because he was being bullied had the opinion that his tormenters deserved to die.

I do believe that everyone has a right to their opinion, but how you act on that opinion is the real trick.

I’m passionate about a great many things (the depression issue above, acts that I consider to be extremely poor parenting, the current employment insurance scandal going on in Canada, and so on), and this kind of passion inevitably leads to a battling of opinions. It can be very difficult, in these situations, to grit your teeth and accept that other people have different opinions. How does one find a happy medium in this sense when your opinion is that another person’s opinion is wrong? It’s a bit of a catch-22, isn’t it?

Question 8: Is it ever right for you to be allowed an opinion while someone else is denied that same right on the same topic?

In my opinion (haha, this is getting silly…) there are plenty of situations where I would deny someone their opinion. People are going to have an opinion whether you like it or not, because that’s the way that works, but I would deny someone their opinion if they had absolutely no knowledge or experience of the topic at hand. For instance, say I’m yelling at my daughter in the mall for doing something bad, and someone comes up to me and berates me for yelling at her because I’m “causing her psychological issues”. If that person has no kids of their own, has experienced no psychological issues as a result of the same kind of situation, and has never so much as opened a book on psychology, then what right do they have to impress their completely-pulled-out-of-my-ass opinion on me?

Question 9: The last question. upon completing this template and hopefully contemplating the issue what does this project mean to you? How can Project O potentially enlighten or help the world?

Mostly I’m interested to see some of the outcomes of these questions. Opinions are a tricky concept because they can come from so many different places, including but not limited to plain old base emotion. I hope that reading other peoples’ responses to these questions will help people to understand each other a bit, and maybe even help them learn a bit of tolerance.

Balance? Ha! Baby, the world is tilted!

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

97. Finding life/writing balance

I’m going to confess something here: when I first read the words “Finding life/writing balance” I nearly died from the gut-wrenching laughter/hysterical crying that occurred. I may have gone just a tiny bit insane from reading those words. It’s okay now. I had a peppermint-Kahlua-spiked coffee that my husband made me and all was well. But it was touch and go there for a moment.

In all seriousness, this is something that I’ve been struggling with for years, and to this day I haven’t figured out how to manage it. Additionally, over the past year of blogging I’ve come to follow quite a few very talented bloggers/authors and it doesn’t really seem as though they’ve figured it out either. I’ve even Tweeted with writers – published and otherwise – who seem to react to the topic with the same mad hysteria/life-crushing misery as myself. It just doesn’t seem to be a subject that many find they have been able to work their minds around It’s one of those things…like trying to get a moment’s peace with 20+ members of immediate and extended family having a shouting match in your home. Possible? Maybe. Likely? Not really.

Finding a balance between life and writing is one of those mysterious things that most people don’t believe is possible…like leprechauns. Or unicorns. You’d like to believe, you really would, but in your heart you know it’s a pipe dream.

Okay, so maybe I’m being over-dramatic. Perhaps it is possible to find a balance, but I personally don’t know anyone who has managed it.

The problem is that most writers have a heck of a lot of responsibilities aside from writing. Many writers will tell you that the only way to truly become a successful author is to suck it up, grit your teeth, and focus 100% on your writing, even if that means that you’ll be destitute for a while during the interim. And while part of me agrees with that, it’s not exactly as simple as being willing to make life hard on yourself in the short-term for the hope of long-term gain. After all, people have important responsibilities. They have families, children, mortgages, car payments, other assorted debts, and any other number of things that require them to have an income that stems from something more stable.

So immediately we have that disconnect. We have the day-job life, and the writing life. Now add in a couple of other aspects of life that many writers have to deal with… In addition to the day-job life and the writing life you might have the mommy/daddy life, the (ever elusive) social life, the household-chores-and-errands life, the “I desperately need to lose some weight before I die of a heart attack” life, and so on and so on.

Personally, the only way I’ve been able to “balance” life and writing is by sneakily combining the two. When I’m at my day job I write between tasks and during breaks. When I’m in mommy mode I’ll pluck out a blog post (sometimes a sentence at a time) whilst braiding ponies’ hair and making Leonardo beat up Michelangelo. Sometimes I’ll pluck out a few words whilst keeping an eye on supper, or I’ll save a couple of sentences on my iPhone while waiting in line at the supermarket. And since it’s pretty much impossible to write while exercising, I’ll use that time to mull over a scene in my mind, which doubles as a way to distract myself from the burning pain all throughout my body.

(I’m not going to comment on my social life. It’s silly to comment on things that don’t exist.)

And that’s my two cents on that. If any of you other writers out there ever find a better way to “balance”, I submit to you that it is your duty to share it with the writer community (in the form of a comment on this post). 🙂

Twitter: The Paranoia that Binds Us

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

89. Respond to a blog post by a well-known blogger

My first thought when reading this prompt was: “A well-known blogger? Do I even read well-known blogs?” Sure, I read some blogs by people who are fairly popular, even successful, but are they well-known? How do you even define well-known? The basis of comparison that I immediately think of is that if you typed their name (or blogger handle) into Google they would be the first result that shows up. So with that in mind I set out to Google a few of the bloggers who I keep tabs on. Lo and behold, my test worked for several of them. Would you look at that…I read well-known blogs.

My second thought was: “Okay, so which post should I ‘respond’ to?” So I started backtracking through the piles and piles of posts that have been piling up on my “Blogs I Follow” page. I started reading through posts I had skipped because I was busy at the time, re-reading posts that I might not have paid quite enough attention to, and in general searching for something that I felt would be interesting to respond to. This virtual rummaging-through-the-closet ended up creating a number of distractions, as such a thing is like to do, and at some point I happened to come across a mention of “The Bloggess“. It got me thinking, that as popular as this particular blogger supposedly is, I’ve never bothered to stop by her blog.

That’s how I found myself scrolling through the most recent of The Bloggess‘ posts, chuckling to myself because, contrary to how I’d been imagining her, she’s a bit of a nut. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting – I think I was equating the word “bloggess” with the word “duchess” and imaging her as a stuck-up, better-blogger-than-thou type – but I was pleasantly surprised. Her posts are amusing, well-written, and don’t hold anything back. It was with that in mind that I finally chose a “blog post by a well-known blogger” to respond to.

The post I’ve chosen is Twitter is confusing.

My response is thus: I hear ya sis.

(Is ‘sis’ the appropriate female version of ‘bro’? Somehow it doesn’t sound right to me. Ladies, I suggest we hijack the word ‘bro’. The guys have used it long enough.)

*ahem* Anyway, I hear ya, Bloggess! Twitter is oft more confusing to me than I might admit. While I’ve never had people contact me to let me know that they aren’t going to follow me anymore, I’ve had plenty of people start following me only to never attempt to interact with me in any way, which just feels like stalking to me. That’s not to say that I assign a time-slot every day specifically to ensure that I interact with the Tweeps I follow, but I do make a habit of not bothering to follow people if I have no intention of ever interacting with them ever.

Most of my Twitter experience has consisted of signing in, looking at the “Interactions” page that shows x-number of new people are following me, and quietly rocking back and forth in a corner while muttering, “Who are you people…who ARE YOU PEOPLE?!”

Come to think of it, maybe Twitter isn’t for me. It exacerbates the paranoia.

Trailers of the Bookish Variety

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

61. Book Trailers

Book trailers. Book trailers. Book. Trailers.

Is this a thing? Really?

Google tells me that it is and that there are apparently tons of websites specifically dedicated to producing and sharing them. I’ll be honest, when I first saw those two words together I just assumed that it meant something like a synopsis…a quick blurb that reveals just enough about your novel to make people want to know more. But then I did my little Google search and found out the truth…people spend time and money to create little movie trailers for their novels. Literal, live-action trailers for their novels.

I must admit, this concept has me pulled in two different directions. On the one hand I find it so hard to believe that writers are doing this, that they find the time and resources to put something like this together. On the other hand I find myself imagining what my book trailer would look like…

Fade in on a typical young woman laying asleep in her bed. Slowly zoom in on her serene, dreamless face…

*BANG!* Her eyes shoot open.

Fade to the woman peering out her apartment door; pan back to see several other neighbors doing the same.

Fade to the woman peering up the stairwell; zoom in toward the back of her head as she looks up to where the steady thud echoes over and over…

Screams; the camera shakes as the apartment building erupts into chaos. Sirens and screams fill the air and the light of a fire blazes in the background.

Fade to the woman holding a bloodied kitchen knife in her shaking hand; a shambling body, covered in stab wounds, shambles into the shot as the woman takes a deep breath and shrieks.

Eh? Eh? Bah, whaddaya want? I’m a novelist, not a screenwriter.

Weekly Word Count and Kreativ Blogger Award

Okay, let’s get my word count accountability out of the way because my first week wasn’t so hot:

Friday: 1188
Saturday: 1015
Sunday: 1086
Monday: 0
Tuesday: 0
Wednesday: 966
Thursday: 691
Friday: 196

In my defense, I spent the time between approximately 9 am Monday and 8 pm Tuesday on a shopping trip with my husband’s mother, aunt, and grandmother. Yes, I willingly went shopping for two days with my in-laws. Unprecedented, I know. 🙂

Yeah yeah, no excuses, I know. I’ll do better this week. 😛

Now on to more important things! I’ve been nominated for the Kreativ Blogger Award by miss amyauthorblog. I had actually noticed a few other blogs posting their own acceptance of this award and was wondering what it was all about, so I looked into it. Basically, from what I can figure, the idea is to “award” several blogs that you personally enjoy and think deserve some kudos, and in turn those bloggers give their readers some random facts about themselves and pass the torch on. So without further ado, the Kreativ Blogger Award rules:

1. You must thank the person who gave you the award.
And of course I thank you very much, amyauthorblog of Pen Names and Other Escapes! I honestly couldn’t have expected to find something like this in my comments so soon after creating my blog! Thanks again, and everyone go check out her blog! Her bathtub post this morning cracked me up. lol

2. You must list ten facts about yourself.

  • I’ll be 28 years old in just a few days, and I still don’t know how to properly apply makeup. It’s never been something I was good at, and since I don’t generally wear a lot I never bothered to learn. I struggle to get my lipstick on without getting it all over my face, and when I wear any kind of powder I just sorta…brush it everywhere and hope for the best.
  • I have two cats (once three) even though I’m allergic. I’ve always been a huge sucker for cats, so they make me stupid. Though once these two are gone I don’t think I’ll ever get another one. Once you have a kid running around, dealing with cats just seems to become an annoyance.
  • I’m a huge nerd. I love Star Wars and have more recently gotten into Star Trek as well, there are still a few anime shows that are dear to my heart, and I could watch movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter over and over.
  • I think Plants VS Zombies may be one of the greatest games ever. Can you say digital addiction?
  • I was a cheerleader for a year in high school. Those who know me and didn’t actually see that period of my life would never guess, I promise you this.
  • A while back I got into writing fanfiction, and with some amount of devil’s advocacy from my best friend, I ended up writing a slash fiction between Sirius Black and Remus Lupin (Harry Potter characters). I posted it on FanFiction.net and to this day I randomly get reviews on it. Part of me honestly believes that nothing else I ever write will be as enjoyed as that silly slash fic.
  • If it were nutritionally logical, I would probably drink nothing but chocolate milk.
  • I prefer to wear jeans and t-shirts/tank tops all the time. I hate wearing things that are uncomfortable, and I rarely find skirts and the like to be comfortable.
  • I could sit with a coloring book and a box of Crayola crayons and be perfectly content for hours.
  • Alternatively, I could easily sit in a room full of Lego blocks and just build towers and let my daughter knock them down all day. 😀

3. You must tag other bloggers to nominate them for the award and let them know that you’ve nominated them.

I’ve seen several different bloggers who tagged different numbers of people. Since I’m actually pretty new to blogging seriously and I don’t follow a lot of people, I’m just going to tag a few of the ones that have captured my attention since I started my blog:

Have at it, fellow bloggers! 😀