Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why You Should Blog from A to Z This April...

Founded in 2010 by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out, the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is basically this: Every day in April (except for Sundays) you post a blog connected in some way to the alphabet, in alpha order. In 2013, the first day of this Mac Daddy of a blog hop is Monday, April 1—on that day, you blog about something that starts with an "A." Tuesday, you blog about something beginning with "B," Wednesday it's "C," and so on, till you've reached the end of the alphabet, the end of the month, and the end of your sanity.

Just kidding about that last bit. (Or is she...?)

But wait—there's more!

You sign up to participate on the A to Z linky-list, so other A to Z-ers can find you and check out your A to Z posts. In turn, you check out their posts, striving to read at least 5 (five) different participants' blog posts daily.

This isn't Sparta, folks. It's madness. It's a lot to keep up with, for sure. Picking a theme and writing/scheduling posts in advance can help. Some folks "pants it" and just post on the fly, daily, with no particular theme in mind. And, if they're staying true to the spirit of the thing, they're visiting as many of the other (over 1000) A to Z participants as they can, every blessed day in April.

Why the hell do they do it? Damned if I know. Here's why I do it, and why I think you should too:
  • A to Z is the biggest, baddest blogger-networking opportunity I know of. Not getting a lot of traffic to your blog? Sign up for A to Z and that'll change. I started getting regular comments on my blog posts and my follower count shot up over the course of last April (my first go at A to Z). Your mileage may vary, of course, but even if you experience but a mild spike in visits/followers, it beats the hell out of talking to yourself in cyberspace. (Talking to yourself at home is totally normal, though, or so the Voices tell me.)
  • You can learn a lot about self-discipline and sticking to a schedule, both of which aid in increasing your creative output, whatever your art/craft. (Sure, everything else in your life may grind to a screeching halt and you learn to live on 4-5 hours of sleep every night but, you know, art is pain, no pain no gain, time is money and money is power, the black hawk squawks at midnight, etc.)
  • You stand to learn a lot of nifty bloggy tricks, such as how to make your own link-back signature (and why the devil you'd ever want to make one).
  • If you're new-ish to blogging, you can rip off get a lot of good ideas of how to style your blog from checking out what others are doing on theirs.
  • You can make blog-pals that'll stick with you through the dark space of the blogosphere.
  • Damn it, it's fun, OK? (Sheesh.)
Anyway, click here if you want to learn more. I know it seems a daunting challenge suitable only for the dangerously insane,, I can't follow that up with anything soothing. What the hell, give it a shot, what've you got to lose? (Aside from the aforementioned sanity?) (Sanity's overrated, anyway.)

Or, in the immortal words of the great Edgar A. Poe:
“Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence– whether much that is glorious– whether all that is profound– does not spring from disease of thought– from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.”
Word up, my brother. Word. Up.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Guest Post & the Lunar Lovin' Hop!

The Guest Post

YA Romance author, Cassie Mae, put a call out for guest posters back in December, which I answered with an offer to recycle an earlier post of mine, Writerly Things. You can check out this groovy chick's blog (and my guest post) on Monday, Jan. 28 (like, today) by clicking here.

And now, the...

The full moon of January is known as the Wolf Moon. Appropriate for a Lobo like me, would ye nay say???

If you don't know what the hell I'm on about, click here for more info, and know that it ain't too late to sign up for this thang.

I was born on the moon's day (Monday, as was my son), and I'm sooo in love with la lune, if I were a dude, I'd say I have a raging hard-on for it. Hell, I'll say it regardless. I have a raging hard-on for the moon. There, I've said it. So I snapped a stupid number of pics of her on January 27, from the wee hours of the morning till just after Downton Abbey aired on PBS. You don't have to look at all of them, of course, but I hope you'll scroll down to see the (short!) list of participants in my lunacy. (Lunacy, didja get it? See what I did there? Didja?)

This was shot a little after midnight, Sunday morning, probably the best shot of the lot.

This was my first glimpse of her Sunday night. ::swoons::

Here's the saucy wench from the opposite end of my block, sorta.

Peek-a-Boo Moon I

Peek-a-Boo Moon II

Post Downton Abbey

The last shot of the night

::Sighs:: What a gorgeous gal, is the moon. Oh, to bask in her reflecting glory from my beach house's master bedroom's balcony...

...maybe someday...

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blogfests: To Remind and Promote Others'

The Reminder

My Lunar Lovin' Hop's
coming up THIS WEEKEND!
Click here if you forgot
what the hell you signed up for
(or if you simply forgot
to sign up!)

The Promotions

Jolie Du Pre of Precious Monsters
hosts a Valentine's Day blogstravaganza
(that is SO TOTALLY A WORD).
(Well, now).
You dig the vamps?
Let you count the ways for this blog hop!
Click here for the fangs facts!

Elise Fallson & Michelle Wallace co-host the
She said what?! Blog-o-versary Giveway Bash! Feb. 18 - 20.
I'm too wrecked from work
to remember what happens with this one...
something about writing captions for cartoons...
Anyway, I know I signed up for it,
so I reckon y'all should, too.
Go on, then; click here or there.

And just to remind you, one last time, that my Lunar Lovin' Hop's coming up THIS WEEKEND, here's Mike Oldfield's gorgeous, heart-squeezing tale of a tune, Moonlight Shadow, with the best vocals I've heard on this song to date, by Miriam Stockley.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Indie-Publishing Timeframe? (IASOS)

So, here's my first Indie Author SOS post, which I address to other writers who've gone boldly where they hadn't ventured before—the thrilling/terrifying world of independent publishing!

I plan to publish my Greek-myth inspired romance novel, That Fatal Kiss, later this year. I'm shooting for the first day of fall which, from today, is about 9 months away.

Those of you who've been down this road already, what do y'all think: is 9 months enough time to get this shit together? (You know, assuming I've got my shit together?)

I'm in the final (hah!) revision stages and anticipate having my final (hah!) draft complete by the end of January. Yeah, this January. (I'm emphasizing this for my own benefit, so I'm sure to kick my own ass into getting it done by the time I've publicly said I would. Feel free to bust my chops if I've not kept my word.) (But gently; I'm a delicate flower.) (Yes, I am. Stop laughing.)

In an upcoming IASOS post, I'll list the things I believe need doing to make this indie-pubbing lark a reality, but until then, should I budget for more time, less, or does 9 months seem about right? Please leave your thoughts in the comments and feel free to Tweet/Facebook this to encourage other indie authors to chime in!

The easiest way to share this post on the social media of your choice is to click one of the little icons above this post's tag: "Posted by Mina Lobo at 12:00 AM." THANKS!

Friday, January 18, 2013

100 Unfortunate Days by Penelope Crowe

100 Unfortunate Days My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of Penelope Crowe's blog and enjoy her writing style there. Reading some of 100 Unfortunate Days' reviews on Amazon (as well as the free samples she posts on her blog), I decided I had to give it a read. So I inhaled it. One Amazon reviewer mentioned reading a few days' entries and putting it down for a week. I couldn't be so patient; I had to keep going, to see what newly outrageous, crazed, or twisted day would follow the last.

Framed as the diary of a madwoman, it takes a long and circuitous path over the course of roughly three months. Three grim and uncanny months. It's not a traditionally plotted tale, more like the thoughts of a (not quite well?) woman as she gets through a tedious, sometimes tortuous, series of interminable days. Lord, how many of the thoughts written have I had myself? How many have we all had? (A lot, though I must speak for myself only.) (But, yeah—a LOT.) And I think that's what contributes to the creep factor of the book—how much of ourselves we might find (dread to find?) in the narrator. I mean, the gal's clearly crackers. Or maybe she sees the truth of things all too well, and if that's the case, well, we're all fucked.

The other shadowy factor is that the voice is clearly that of a grown woman AND YET the way it talks of superstitious mumbo jumbo, the simplistically scared view of the Devil and how he's OUT TO GET YOU (as are the worms, and the spiders, and things lurking in your basement, the corners of someone's house, the backyard), reminds me of when I was but a wee Gothling attending Catholic school. The girls in my grade sometimes spoke this way, I could nearly hear the cadence of their voices as they relayed to me, quite factually, what evil horror would befall me if I looked into a mirror in a darkened room at midnight. It's this credulous childlike view, coupled with an air of know-it-all expert on supernatural terrors to avoid, heavily threaded by a fatalistic belief that no matter what you do, you're doomed, that seeped through the pores of my skin and into my bones. I felt compelled to read on, whether I giggled or shivered or turned off my Kindle device because that hollow feeling within me threatened to keep me from sleep on a given night...Dudes, this ain't for the faint of heart. But then, neither is living.

I regret only that I gobbled it up in about two or three days...maybe over the summer, when the night doesn't seem to return so quickly, I'll pull the book out again and take dainty bites of it unfortunate day at a time.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lunar Lovin' Hop! (A Blogfest, Yo!)

So, like, this one night (about a year ago, 'cause it totally took place in January), my dad was driving me and the Kid home from somewhere and I looked up at the sky and became entranced. La lune was big, luminous, and full, and more beautiful than I remembered ever seeing her. I was so stunned I remarked on it aloud.

My Dad checked the moon out and said, "In Portugal, we have a saying:
Não há amor como o primeiro,
nem luar como o de Janeiro.
Mas lá vem o de Agosto,
que lhe dá no rosto."
The best idiomatic English translation for this I can think of is:
There's no love like the first,
nor full moon (or moonlight) like that of January.
But later comes the one in August,
Which smacks January's right in the kisser.
That's kinda romantic, right? No? Gosh, picky, picky...

So I was thinking (unlikely though that seems): how about we put this old saying to the test? Here's what I propose:
  1. Sign up on the linky list below (where it asks for "Your name" please enter your blog's name).
  2. Use this badge on your blog's sidebar and Tweet or whatever to spread the word about the hop. If you don't use The Twitter, don't sweat it; join in anyway!
  3. On Sunday, January 27, 2013, snap a pic of the full moon.*
  4. Post that sucker up on your blog on Monday, January 28.
  5. Go check other folks' pics!
C'mon, this is easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, folks!

Are ya with me?????

*One of the comments below references the possibility of poor lunar visibility. If that's the case wherever you are in the world, just take a picture of the night sky and post that instead.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Blogfest, A Challenge, & A Tune

The Blogfest

Y'all, I'm gonna need you to go ahead and check out this groovalicious blogfest hosted by the creative and prolific L.G. Keltner at Writing Off the Edge. January 9 will be her one year blogiversary and to celebrate she invites fellow bloggers to post about stuff like (and I quote):
  • events that inspired you to start blogging
  • that first awkward blog entry where you tried to introduce yourself to the blogging world
  • what inspired you to embark on your career path
  • where you were born and what the times were like
  • the origins of a favorite book, movie, artistic movement, or pretty much anything else
You've got seven days to whip something up and can either swipe the above badge or the one I've got on my sidebar, over to the right, there. So click here to sign up for it, already! (At the very least, you should go check out her nifty new banner, gosh.)

The Challenge

Like, I totally signed up for Goodreads' 2013 Reading Challenge. What attracted me about it was that I could set my own goal of how many books I want to read this year, regardless of genre (some of these book challenges get very specific, which is fine, only I need the freedom to fly my freak flag in whatever bloody direction I like, at any given moment). (So to speak.) According to Goodreads, I read about twenty-ish books last year so I thought I'd see if I could swing 50 this year (about a book a week, giving myself a couple weeks' leeway, 'cause I'm kind to myself like that). Click here if you'd like to learn more about how to participate in this Challenge yourself. Or not, whatevs.

The Tune

I'm shocked, chagrined, and otherwise appalled that the first time I heard this righteous, "unofficial cover" of Berlin's Sex (I'm a...) was only just last week, especially when the Bollock Brothers recorded that shizz back in 1988. It's an "unofficial cover" 'cause they changed the title of the tune to God Created Woman, which was pretty crafty of them...wonder if they'd be able to get away with that nowadays. Anyway, I've always thought the original Berlin version to be smokin' hot, but there's something about this cover that really turns me on. It probably won't do a damned thing for most of you, but what the hell—it's my blog and I'll link the hell out of it, if I wants to.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy Hangover!

As I've mentioned recently, I'm on meds which make the imbibing of spirits unwise, so I couldn't toast the new year. But perhaps you did. Perhaps you toasted so damn hard that you never want to toast again. Aw, poor baby! But I don't mean to mock your headache/nausea/fatigue/vomiting/ vertigo/photophobia/or tremors. Au contraire, mes chéris!   Instead, I've done some research on possible hangover cures, for your benefit. Ain't that kind of me? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

WebMD advises drinking lots of water the morning after, to combat the dehydration caused by excessive boozing. Other possible options include consuming burnt toast and drinking sports drinks with electrolytes (Ed. If you don't want the sugar, I suggest something like Smart Water instead). A couple of pain-relief pills should help with the inevitable headache (though other sources warn against taking aspirin, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen while alcohol's still in your system).

eHow seconds the re-hydration recommendation, adding that a BRAT diet the morning after comprises mild foods your stomach should be able to tolerate (Bananas, Rice, Applesause, Toast).

Men's Fitness recommends eating eggs but avoiding coffee, as caffeine serves to dehydrate you further. (Ed. Though perhaps drinking twice as much water as coffee may negate this effect? The caffeine can help take the edge off your headache, just sayin'.)

Real Simple also hops on the toast/sports drinks wagon, but tosses out the surprising suggestion of eating spicy foods which "distracts your body from focusing on your hangover." (Ed. Yeah, I'll just bet.) And apparently, the extract of prickly pear may reduce nausea. (Ed. Who knew?)

I suppose, as a last (or first) resort, you can give products like Hangover Helper a try, though I can't personally vouch for it, or any's, efficacy.

Probably the best thing you can do for yourself is eat like you're just getting over a stomach bug and get as much rest as you possibly can. And next time you go out boozing, be sure you've filled your stomach with a good dinner beforehand and pace yourself, damn it. What are you, just out of college?

(Ed. Ignore me; I'm just snippy 'cause I haven't had a drink since August 2012 and God knows I coulda used several!)