Thursday, March 28, 2013

Back Already??

Weren't we just here a day ago? :)

No, I haven't quit my hiatus before it's even begun, but I just wanted to pop back in and remind you that the lovely and talented Sydney Aaliyah is celebrating her blogging anniversary and is asking people "Why do you blog?"

A big 'congrats' to Sydney on her blogoversary and I was honored that she thought of me.

You can catch all of my semi-coherent ramblings here.

Now...once again....see you in April!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gone Fishin'

O.k, not literally....I haven't been fishing in decades.....not that I have anything against fishing, mind you.

Especially in a case like this.....

What? I'm talking about the fish.... ahem

Or, in a case like this, I'm not too thrilled....


I've just been seeing this on a few other blogs and, with the A to Z Blogging Challenge coming up Monday, thought it was a good idea.

I'm going to be taking a small blogging break until April 1st to gear up and get ready for A to Z. I'll still be visiting/commenting on others blogs, I just won't be posting anything else until Monday.

In that time, I'll have to decide whether I'll split my posts between this blog and my other blog (with directions there on the 'off days' here) or just keep all my entries here and put my other site on a month long hiatus. I already blog six days a week, so A to Z shouldn't be that much of a departure for me, blog-wise, except on where I'll be posting.

Getting ready for A to Z?

Should I keep all my posts here or split them up, keeping my other blog on 'schedule' and, possibly, directing some traffic there as well?

Hmmmm.....decisions, decisions...

See you on April 1st!

Christine's Odyssey / YA Giveaway!

Did you know that my blog buddy, J.L. Campbell, has a new book coming out? 

"Oh yeah, when?" you might ask.

And the answer to that would!

To celebrate and help spread the word, she's holding a contest with some other authors and you don't have to do much...just hop on the Rafflecopter below and you're in.

Easy enough, right?

Anywho, J.L. sent the main character of the story, Christine herself, to tell you more.

Take it away, Christine!

Howdy. I’m glad you’ve stopped in. My name is Christine and although I’m only
eleven, I’m what some adults might call precocious. A lot has happened in my life,
some of it bad, but like my dad used to say, good things can result from the bad stuff
that happens to us.

To help me celebrate overcoming my challenges, a great gang of authors have teamed
up and will be giving away copies of their books. Sweet, yes?

For a chance to win a pair of the books listed, you can do anything included on the
Rafflecopter below or on Facebook. However, for those who’d like to win a $10.00
Amazon Gift Voucher, hop on over to the Jamaican Kid Lit Blog to enter for that.

Anyway, I tend to talk a lot, so before I carried away, here’s my story:

Raised in a hotbed of arguments and fights, eleven-year-old Christine Simms is the
victim of her mother's cruelty. A domestic dispute ends in tragedy, sending the family
into a tailspin.

A shocking discovery sends Christine on a quest to find the stranger who left her behind
in Jamaica. Determined to unravel the mystery of her birth, Christine uses every tool at
her disposal and treads with courage where no child should.

Thanks so much for dropping in! I hope you win the novels of your choice. I should tell
you that you get to choose books based on how the Rafflecopter does the drawing of
the winners. So, if your name comes up first, you get to say which pack you want.

Available in ebook format at AmazonUS

J.L. Campbell is a proud Jamaican, who is always on the hunt for story-making

She writes romantic suspense, women's fiction and young adult novels. She is the
also the author of Contraband, Dissolution, Distraction, Don't Get Mad...Get Even,
Giving up the Dream, Retribution and Hardware (written under the pen name Jayda

Visit her on the web at 

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 25, 2013

Reality Check / Music Monday

One of the (many) cool things about blogging is when people read and comment on what you have to if you've made some sort of....connection, with your audience.

What's even cooler is when someone thinks your blog is deserving of praise and/or accolades.

So, imagine my surprise when my blogger pal jaybird (you all do know jaybird....right?), over at The Bird's Nest, graciously bestowed upon me and my humble little blog, the Reality Award.

Now, I think the way this one goes is that I'm supposed to answer a few questions and pass it on to three others I think are deserving....which isn't going to be easy as I follow a ton of great blogs.

So, on to the questions....

If you could change on thing, what would it be?

I would have scrounged some money together to invest in a little company called Microsoft when it first went public, back in 1986 (the year I graduated high school) like $21.00 a share!

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

I could say something like "I hate repeating myself.", but that's totally not true. Anyone who knows me and has heard my jokes can attest to that. Still, though, I think I'd have to say my early 20s, where I would have finished college.

What one thing really scares you?

Flying in an airplane. I get nervous just going to the airport to pick up/drop off people. Truth.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?

Indiana Jones, because I hate snakes and Nazis too!

O.k, for the three people I'm choosing for this one, I'll go with....

1. Elise Fallson-- Funny, a bit silly (in a good way), and passionate about writing.

2. Sydney Aaliyah-- A great blogger with a superb sense of community.

3. Celeste Holloway-- Always upbeat and positive and a real pleasure to read.

I always look forward to updates from these three ladies as well as the comments they leave. If you're not familiar with them, already, then do yourself a huge favor and check them out...I promise you won't be disappointed.

Thanks, again, to jaybird for thinking of me...I really appreciate it!

Music Monday

For my Music Monday offering, today, I'm going with a suggestion from a comment last Monday via Celeste Holloway ( what are you waiting for? check out her blog, already!). Celeste mentioned The Oak Ridge Boys, who also happen to be one of my all time favorite country groups.

Way back in the my early teens...I was a huge country music fan. While the genre has gone through a few changes today, back then it was all about twangy, steel guitars and great harmonies. I remember, literally, wearing out the  Oak's 'Greatest Hits' cassette when I was young.

This, above them all, is my favorite song of theirs.... Y'all Come Back Saloon 

Have a great Monday and, if you can't...don't worry, it'll be over soon :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Healthy Writer's Club

I mentioned, on Wednesday, that I had some pretty cool news regarding my health/fitness journey. It's a journey I've been struggling a bit lot with lately....not really sure why except to say I've been pretty lacking in the motivation department.

As with a lot of areas of life and like a lot of us, I tend to run hot and cold with things. One day I'll really be into it...the next....meh. This, though....this really grabbed my attention and speaks to the core of why many of us struggle with weight loss and getting fit.

It's about eating right.


It's about eating, right?

In either case, I think the answer is a resounding 'Yes!'.

When I was younger I wouldn't have much of a problem eating what I wanted and in whatever quantities I wanted. I also had a younger metabolism backing me up.

That 'young guy metabolism' has headed south, so now it's not just about's about how much and what, exactly, I put into my body. I've never been one to "diet" and have always been of the "eat what I want and just work it off" mindset.

My wife, who is always looking for new ways for us to get healthy, sent me a link for a website called Hungry For Change. It's all about the poisons we're literally putting into our bodies and what they're doing to us. It's a pretty powerful documentary which you can watch from the website (you have to register) or, if you have Netflix Streaming, you can watch it HERE.

Last Sunday we watched it and it really impressed me, for two reasons. The first was that the people giving the information had all been there. Most of them were chronically overweight or had other ailments that forced them to look to alternatives to help, in some cases, save their lives. They weren't "models" or "fitness gurus" or folks who were blessed with that 'young person's metabolism' trying to sell you something. They had been there and had done that.

Experience is a great teacher.

The other thing that impressed me was that they weren't selling anything. They were laying the information out there and you could use it (or ignore it) as you saw fit. It wasn't 'preachy', it was just plain, matter of fact, talk based on common sense and research.

Honestly, it really opened my eyes to just what, exactly, I've been putting into my body. I'm, usually, very skeptical of these sorts of things but what they were saying made an awful lot of sense.

That night, after watching, we went and bought a juicer and have been stocking up on fruits and veggies.

The first concoction we tried was from the recipe book (included) apple, carrot, celery mix.

I know it looks a bit....odd, but it was really good. Oranges from a juicer is awesome, I just have to say. We also tried a few other recipes, adding things like cilantro, kale, and parsley  A word of warning, though, a little of those goes a long way taste-wise  We did a tomato, carrot, celery mix and threw in some kale...and it wound up being too much. It had an "earthy" taste, as my wife described it, but I thought it tasted like grass.

What? You've never eaten grass before?

Anyway, we decided to try a 'mini-detox' type of thing this past Wednesday where we'd just drink water (a LOT of water) and juice a bunch of stuff. The documentary talks about trying to do this every so often to clean the system out of heavy metals (mercury) and such that stick with us in the processed foods we eat. We wound up 'amending' the 'fast' just a bit....having some salad, fruit, and gluten free cheese to get us over the rough patches but, all in all, we did pretty well. We plan on doing another next week.

Trust me when I say I've never been the 'hippie' type, but a lot of the things this documentary was saying made a lot of sense. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things and gave a lot of food for pun intended....o.k, it was intended, but still....

The most important thing, though, was that it helped in motivating me and getting my mind right. A healthy mindset is the first and most important step in the road to getting fit, in my view.

If you get the time/inclination, give this a watch and see if it doesn't change (or start to change) your view on processed food, eating, and nutrition.

I know it did mine.

This has been a post (obviously) for The Healthy Writer's Club, hosted by Shallee McArthur.

Any health/fitness goals in your future? If so, how are you doing with them? Ever tried juicing?

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Random Ramblings

What does the picture above have to do with this post? Nothing,I just like it :)

I really enjoyed Monday's blog hop and want to thank Alex J. Cavanaugh, again, for hosting. It was a great time and I was reminded of a lot of movies that I hadn't thought of for a long time.

You guys had some great top ten lists, for sure.

I'd also like to thank all of you who stopped by and commented. I apologize if I didn't get back to everyone and, if I didn't make it to your list, please don't be offended...I gave it the old college try (because I went to an old college).

Anyway, not much going on today and I'll probably keep things brief after Monday's festivities so here goes...


I mentioned on Friday about Google Reader going the way of the dodo on July 1st and that I was looking into some alternatives. I checked a few out and a couple of them looked decent, but had a limit on how many blogs you could follow...which wouldn't work for me. Another wanted you to pay and the other wasn't taking any new accounts.

So, I decided to give one of the best of the free readers (in my opinion) a shot.

I've been using Feedly for about four or five days and have had pretty good results. It's pretty user friendly and imports all your subscriptions with just a few clicks. After some finagling, I managed to get it looking like the Google Reader template (if that's what you're going for), but you could also configure it a few other ways, too.

 If you're a Chrome user, it also has a little, handy dandy, extension for your convenience.

Now, I'm not married to this reader (my wife wouldn't like that) so if you know of something that works better and is free, please let me know!


In other "news", I saw this on Google Plus (see, you should be using it!) and thought it was pretty cool. It also ties in with Monday's blog hop as a lot of people had Star Wars (or sequels) in their top ten.

The cast of the Star Wars films, spanning the six episodes. I don't think I've seen the kid who played young Annakin since he did the film.

Small gripe here, besides them including Jar Jar ahem, but I think Lucas should be sitting on the other side by Fischer, Ford, and Hamill. I mean, that's where it all started so it only makes sense.



On Friday's I've been trying to do a post for The Healthy Writer's Club, which I think is a fantastic idea and want to stay on board with. Last Friday, though, I purposely excluded doing an entry because I hadn't really done anything of note and didn't want to post excuses as to why I hadn't done anything of note.

This Friday, though, I'll have something pretty cool to talk about relating to THWC so tune in then for the skinny....figuratively speaking, of course :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ninja Captain Alex's Top Ten Movie Countdown / Music Monday

I thought this was one of the most devious ideas yet, for a blog hop!

Yes, I said devious....I mean, think about it...having to narrow down years of movie experiences down to just ten films?? I'm sure Alex is just sitting there...cackling in maniacal glee at the quandary he's put me in!

O.k, I'm sure he's not...but still...this is a toughie. All the particulars, as well as a list of others doing this hop, can be found HERE.

I think it's going to take some thought so, while I do that, I'll leave you with a little tie in Music Monday selection from The Statler Brothers. An old country classic...The Movies. (And you thought I just liked surf music....)

O.k, I think I've had some time to think and here's my top ten movies, in descending order:

10. Trancers-- I loves me some cheesy, "B" movies and no studio does them better than Full Moon Pictures. Trooper Jack Deth, trancer hunter extraordinaire, is sent back in time to stop a madman from murdering the ancestors of The Council and sending Angel City (Old Los Angeles) into turmoil. The only catch...he has to inhabit the body of an ancestor to complete the trip. And the other catch....the ancestor of the madman is a respected police chief. Cult movie icon, Tim Thomerson stars with a very young Helen Hunt (before Mad About You) and Telma Hopkins (Tony Orlando and Dawn, Family Matters). While not really Oscar worthy, it still remains one of my most favorite 'fun flicks'.

9. Armageddon-- I really can't tell you why this movie is on my just is. Every time, without fail, that I see this on t.v., I stop what I'm doing and watch it. Maybe it's just the idea of a bunch of misfits getting together to save the world, or maybe it's just the Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck dynamic, I'm not sure. This movie even made me stomach Billy Bob Thornton who plays a great role as a NASA coordinator, tasked with saving the world. This movie also has one of my most favorite quotes from a movie.

 Dr. Banks: [going through the roughnecks' medical reports] Fail. Fail. Depressively fail! One toxicology analysis revealed ketamin, that is a very powerful sedative!
Harry: Sedatives are used all the time, doctor.
Dr. Banks: Well this one's used on horses.
Harry: Some of these guys are pretty big.

8.  Charlie Chan-- This really encompasses any of the films made back in the 1940s and featuring the famous oriental sleuth created by author Earl Derr Biggers. I always enjoyed Charlie's little bits of wisdom "Mind like parachute...only works when open." and the bumblings of his well meaning, but inept, Number One Son. Again fun films from a simpler time.

7. The Thin Man-- Another film series that I've always enjoyed. William Powell and Myrna Loy had incredible chemistry which, in my opinion, was most of the reason for the series' success. Powell plays famous detective Nick Charles who marries the wealthy Nora, played by Loy, and try as they might, they just can't seem to stay out of trouble. Mysteries and snappy patter abound in these clever movies.

6. Casablanca-- A timeless classic that has it all. Romance, action, adventure, Nazis...the works. Humphrey Bogart plays the American expatriate, Rick and Ingrid Bergman is his long lost love, Ilsa. For me, though, some of the best parts are played by Claude Raines, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre at his creepiest.

5. The Avengers-- The movie that I didn't have a lot of faith in before it came out, but hit it out of the park when I saw it. I found it simply amazing how Whedon took such an ensemble cast, gave them each screen time, and still told an all encompassing story. Marvel really did it right with this one, I have to say. From the teasers in the separate films to the finished product, this movie really made it feel like I was watching a comic book come to life...and that's saying something.

4. Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins-- Based on the old Destroyer novels and starring Fred Ward and Joel Gray, this action/adventure tale didn't fare well at the box office, but I've always found it to be just one of those 'fun' films I can watch over and over. I've tried giving the novels a read, but never got very far so I have to wonder just how well the film sticks to the original source material. Either way, though, I guess you could classify this as a 'cheesey' sort of movie, but I'm good with that. It does one of the things I feel movies should do, if nothing else, and that's entertain.

3. Back to the Future-- I've always loved time travel movies...especially one with as many twists and turns as this movie had. While I was never a huge fan of Michael J. Fox, I thought he was outstanding as the awkward teen who had to travel into the past to find the confidence to face the future. For me, though, the true star was Christopher Lloyd who played the 'slightly' eccentric, but father like figure of Doc Brown. This movie hit a lot of the right spots for me as far as blending action, sci-fi, romance (a tiny bit), and even teen angst into one great film.

2. Star Wars-- O.k, come on now...what self respecting, self professed, geek wouldn't have this one in their top ten? This came out at a time when sci-fi films weren't taken all that seriously. It started an almost cult like following among sci-fi fans as well as launched one of the biggest franchises in movie history. The hero's journey of Luke Skywalker is one I can watch again and again. Granted, I haven't been so enamored with the newer offerings as I was with the original but, to paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, 'a more elegant movie for a simpler time'.

And my number one movie is.......

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark-- Ever since I was a kid, I've loved the old movie serials. Having seen quite a few of them overseas, I fell in love with the weekly cliffhangers and the larger than life heroes (and villains) who escaped dire peril week after week. This film was all that and more....on steroids. Harrison Ford is just awesome as adventurer/archaeologist Henry "Indiana" Jones. Initially, I wanted to see this movie because 'Han Solo was in it'....but it wasn't long before Raiders surpassed Star Wars as my favorite film. It has all the elements I love in a film....except for time travel...and I can forgive that because it's just that good a movie.

I always wonder how this movie would have done if the original choice to play Indy, Tom Selleck, had taken the role?

So, there you have top ten films....and, let me tell you..this wasn't easy. Thanks, Alex, for hosting this and I'll look forward to seeing everyone else's entries.

As they used to say in the old movies...."See ya in the funny papers"

Friday, March 15, 2013

Got Green Blogfest 2.0 / Google Reader Woes

Mark (O') Koopmans is hosting this colorful, little, bloghop to help celebrate that moss hued holiday...St. Patrick's Day. I believe there's still time to sign up if you want to join in on the festivities and you can find all the particulars HERE

Basically, the idea is to share our thoughts on how we get our 'Irish' on in 333 words or less.

Yes...333 words....though, I'm sure if you go over Mark won't show up at your house and hit you over the head with a shillelagh.....or will he?  >.>

Anyway, since I'm not Irish and really have no experiences of that sort to relate, I'll drop some trivia on you...

  • The man who was to become St. Patrick was kidnapped, at the age of sixteen, by Irish raiders and brought to Ireland to serve as a slave. He was told by God, in a dream, to flee to the coast where he found a ship that took him back to Britain.
  • According to legend, St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland and to the sea. It's generally agreed upon, though, that its' a metaphor for his good works. Snakes being the common symbol for paganism (and not found in Ireland), it represents St. Patrick driving paganism from the country.
  • While it's generally believed that the shamrock was what St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity, others believe that the three pronged leaf was worn as a symbol of the cross.
  • The Druids believed that four leafed clovers aided in spotting witches and demons, hence they were 'good luck charms'. 
  • Usually the clover leaf is only split into three parts, but some botanists believe that if a young clover leaf is damaged or exposed to certain chemicals, it takes on a fourth segment and becomes a 'four leafed clover'.
  • It's said that snakes avoid shamrocks and that the plant is also a remedy for snake and scorpion bites.
  • Some say that for good luck you should kiss the Blarney Stone, which is set into one of the walls of Blarney Castle. Legend has it that a witch cast a spell on the stone to reward the king for saving her from drowning. The spell gave the king the ability to speak 'persuasively eloquent' after kissing the stone.
  • Legend has it that if you catch a leprechaun, you can make him tell you where his gold is hidden IF you don't look away from him. If you do...and they'll always try to trick you into doing so...he'll disappear, taking his gold with him.
I'll leave you with this Irish blessing:

May you live as long as you want
And never want as long as you live.

So, how about you? Any plans for St. Patrick's Day?

A big 'thank you' to Mark Koopmans for hosting this hop and I'm glad I had a chance to participate in it this go 'round.


You've probably already heard that on July 1st, Google Reader will be no more.

Google is citing that declining usage as well as their need to focus on other products as the reasoning behind this.

While you can download your Reader data via Google Takeout during the three month 'sunset period' they're giving us, you'll still have to find an alternative.

While the site Lifehacker had some alternatives, I'm still not sure which might be the best route to go.

Needless to say, I don't think the blogging community is going to be too happy with this turn of events.

Any ideas on what might be a viable alternative?

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Little of This and a Dash of That...

Not much going on today. My friend's daughter and her friend have been staying with us as they do a fact finding mission on our local beaches as well as our "night life establishments".  *Ahem*

Ah, to be young again.....

Anyway, I just thought I'd throw out a couple reminders of some fun blog hops that I'll be hopping around to in the next few days.

The first is coming up this Friday, the 15th. Mark Koopmans is hosting his second "Got Green Blogfest". All the pertinent info as well as sign up, HERE and it looks to be a lot of fun. The premise is simple....just explain how you get your "Irish" on...that's it. The stories can be real or imagined and, being of Cherokee Indian and German descent, my story will, more than likely, be imagined :)

It should be a fun one, so sign up and give Mark K. a virtual kiss....he's Irish...I think...

The other hop, coming up on Monday, the 18th is hosted by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh and it's another straightforward and fun hop, especially if you like movies.....which I do! You can find the info and sign up linky HERE . So, your mission...if you should decide to accept it (and you should) to mentally round up your top ten favorite films and report in with our Captain on Monday. It should be a lot of fun.

Something else I've been thinking about as I hop around the blogosphere...and this idea might serve me better as next month's IWSG posting....but, I've been thinking if, mabye,  I'm too lowbrow for this writing thing.

I won't go into the particulars here, but sometimes I just get the feeling that the life of a writer seems more complicated than I anticipated. Not that I plan on quitting writing or anything like that....I enjoy it too much..., it's just that I consider myself a pretty un-complicated guy and that's how I like to live.

I don't know....I guess I'll have to think more on it and, like I said, it might wind up being my IWSG post for next month....we'll see.

I know it's not Monday, but I'll throw in a little bit of Surf Music to help you get over the Hump. Here's the 'King of the Surf Guitar' himself, Dick Dale, doing his rendition of "Ghost Riders in the Sky".

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, March 11, 2013

More "Google Plus" Stuff and Music Monday

My post last Friday, about some of the ins and outs of Google Plus, generated some interesting comments. Most of them along the lines of "I'm on it, but don't really do much with it."

Given that Facebook has the lion's share of the users, for now, it's understandable. Unless you have regulars or just a lot of circlers, there probably isn't much on G+  for you at this point. That can change though, if you're willing to work on it, a little.

Maybe you've already decided that Google Plus isn't for you. You're busy/happy with Twitter and Facebook, or any other social media site you might like...Tumblr or Pintrest for example. That's o.k, too.

For those on the fence and/or curious about Google Plus, I'd like to share my thoughts as a sort of 'mini tutorial' on using G+...or, at least, how I use it. This isn't going to be all inclusive or all that extensive, but it should touch on some of the main focal points and don't worry...I won't put it all into one post.

To begin with, let's talk about.....


Circles are how you organize the people that you want to follow/keep in contact with. Whenever you mouse over someone you haven't circled, you'll get a drop down menu with all the circles you have created. All you do is check the boxes that apply and you've added the person to your circle(s).

Shannon isn't in my circles, but I could just mouse over her name or the "add user" button and then check the boxe(s) that go with each of the circles I think she might belong. This would add muss, no fuss.

For better circle management, you also have the option of, under your circles tab, dragging your circler's portraits to other circles or deleting them if you need to.

(Just a note, I have more bloggers in my "Blogger" circle than what the above picture shows. I just have it cropped to show all my circles, which cuts down the view on the amount of people in the Blogger circle)

Also within your circles, you can edit (pencil icon), share (arrows icon), or delete (trash can icon) a circle. Sharing a circle or being shared in someone else's circle is a good way to find many people you might not have found otherwise.

Now you're probably thinking "O.k, I get's a circle...move on!", but circles are important. It's your main organizing tool and the foundation of how you post and who sees which posts. Yes...I said "Who sees your posts..."

Google Plus gives you the option of only posting so that certain people or circles can see what you put up. You can also just post to just one person, if you like. G+'s way of "messaging".

The screen shot below is your typical posting template. 

The top (Share what's new) part is for your text. Using * * on both sides of your text will put it in bold type. Using _ _ on the sides of your texts will italicize the word.

The space after the chain icon is for links. The 'Add' button allows you to attach pictures and videos, as well.

Once you get your post set, the drop down box allows you to share to as many or few circles/people as you like. In this example, we have "Your Circles" (just the circles I've created), "Public" (meaning anyone using G+ can see it, if they stumble across it), "Extended Circles" (your circles as well as their circles), then goes down to my individual circles. If you want to 'send a message', just add the person's name after a "+" and hit send.

(The 'Send to Do Share' button isn't standard, it's there due to an extension I use and mentioned last Friday)

The number in parenthesis after the circle name is how many people I have in that circle. Yes, it's true...I follow two celebrities.

This is how it looks when I send to some of my individual circles...

If you look down on the lower right, you'll see a check box (Also send email). If you check it, it sends an email to everyone in those circles that you've just posted something. The general consensus says that you shouldn't do this unless it's really something important that you think these people must see. Doing this too much is akin to spamming in the Google Plus universe.

The way you organize your circles is pivotal to how you keep track of the people you want to follow as well as how you share to them.

Make sense? Clear as mud?

I'm thinking that's probably enough G-Plus talk for today, so I'll save the discussion on "Plus One"ing, resharing, and a few other things for my next Google Plus post.

Now, let's talk music....

Music Monday

Aaaaand the infatuation with 'surf music' continues. There are quite a few versions of Apache, but this version by The Shadows just nails it.

Now, granted, these suave Brits don't look like they would be able to to capture the true surf sound, but they did and put on quite a show doing it. Nice suits and choreography usually doesn't fit the 'surf' image, but the music speaks for itself.

Just in case the coffee isn't giving you enough of a kick this Monday morning, maybe this will help...


Have a great Monday!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Google Plus....the 'New' Facebook? / The Healthy Writer's Club

With Facebook seemingly facing a new privacy issue at each turn, it's no wonder that people would begin looking for new social media alternatives....and that's where Google Plus comes in.

That was one of the main reasons I started using G-Plus. I was concerned over Facebook's weekly 'privacy tweaks' and the fact that they tracked your browsing habits even when you weren't on your FB page. If I didn't have friends and family so reluctant to try something besides it, I would have cancelled my Facebook account years ago. For me, Google Plus wound up being the best alternative.

In my view, Google Plus is kind of like Twitter on steroids. <Flex!>

You can post a sentence, a paragraph, or even longer. There was a time where I was posting things I would consider "blog worthy" (meaning length-wise) on G-Plus, on a fairly regular basis.

It also allows posting links, pictures and videos. Anything you could post on Facebook, you can post on G-Plus and without all the little annoyances, such as "game spam". Google Plus has games, but all the requests, etc., are relegated to the "games" page and not your main "feed" or "stream".

The concept of "friending" is also easier and makes organizing a snap. Set up a circle, put who you want in there, and only they can see your posts as long as you post to that circle. You can also post "public" for the world (or, in this case, the cyber world) to see or to all your circles at once.

One of the best features is that someone can follow you without you having to follow them back and vice versa. Of course, if you don't want to follow someone who doesn't follow you, the Uncircle Uncirclers extension (for Chrome) can let you know who's not following you back...if it matters that much to you.

The "trick" to using G-Plus, if there is such a thing, is that you should use it as you use Twitter. Sure, pimp your stuff, but also take the time to interact with the people who follow you. That, needless to say, is the "social" aspect of social media. It's not just all about your book, your blog, or your writing. If you don't have time to comment on a post, the "+1" feature lets them know that, at least, you were there. I still look for the nonexistent "+1" button when I see other people's comments on blogs...

There are also a few handy Chrome extensions that can make your G-Plus experience all the easier.

Circle Count gives you more information than you probably want to know about your circles, who follows you, who has shared you in a circle, how many +1s you get, what's your best day and time to post, etc. It's extremely handy if you're interested in all the numbers.

Do Share gives you the ability to write a post, save it, and put it up at a later date and time...even if you're not there.

Facebook Disconnect stops Facebook, as well as third party sites, from tracking your browsing habits. As an added precaution, I log out after any of my rare visits to FB Land.

There's a ton more to G-Plus and, for the sake of brevity, I'm only scratching the surface here. For my money, Google Plus is every bit as viable as Facebook (more so, in my opinion) as a great social media platform.

If you find yourself over on G-Plus, drop by and say hi.

Friday usually means another installment of The Healthy Writer's Club where we post about fitness, eating healthy, working out, etc., from a writer's point of view. Unfortunately I don't have much to report on this week. If anything, I feel as if I took a few steps back as I haven't even been keeping up to date over at MyFitnessPal.

While I'm not discouraged, I'm a bit disappointed in myself and my total lack of motivation. Just this very evening, though, my wife sent me a link to something that really got her energized about eating better and developing some healthier habits. After I watch it, I'll post what I thought about it.

Are you on Google Plus?

If so, how do you think it compares to Facebook?

If you're not on G-Plus, why not?

How are any fitness goals you have coming along?

With that, I'll wish you all a great Friday and an even better weekend.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday Re-Wind / IWSG for March, 2013

Being the first Wednesday of the month also means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Hosted by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is a time for reflection and introspection about the things that, as writers, make us feel less than secure in ourselves and our writing.

Today I'm going to double up, just a bit, and throw in another Wednesday Re-Wind offering where I re-cycle 're-position' (as Mr. Koopmans might say :) ) an old post for newer followers, who might have missed it the first go round. 

Sharing my stories (again) ties in with some insecurities I have about people reading my stuff. I know that I'm by no means alone in this. It's something I think we all go through and is part of writing for public consumption. People, at some point, are going to read your work and not everyone is going to like it.

It's just a fact.

Back when I first started this blog I, of course, had zero people checking in and leaving feedback, so I felt o.k in posting my flash fic, short stories etc. here. Now, though, I'm getting a little bit of traffic and, honestly, I'm not sure just what sort of responses my stories will get. Not that I worry about people being mean or anything....this community is great and extremely supportive all around. 

I just, sometimes, fret about the constructive criticism falling more towards the criticism and less on the constructive. Not because people are looking to be cold or hard, but because my writing needs work. A lot of work.

I just wonder, though, if I have what it takes to get that work done. Doubts and insecurities abound, but I just have to keep plugging away and see if time will tell.

On that note, I'll shift gears for another Wednesday Re-Wind.  This story is in the same vein as the first Fortune Society tale, using the same pulp setting, some of the same character types, beats, and gags. This time, though, it's the ladies' turn.

The Fortune Society in: 

(Diamonds aren’t just a girl’s best friend…) 

Dramatis Personae: 

Aphrodite: Self-professed demi-goddess with the power to cloud men’s minds….with love. Blessed with mystical senses, she’s one of The Baron’s most capable Team Leaders.

Libby “The Librarian” Langley: Thanks to a near photographic memory and growing up in a library, if she’s read it….she knows it. One of the smartest people on the planet….also one of the most annoying.

Amanda Oakley: Just like her great grandma, Annie, Amanda is one of the best shots in not just the West, but the entire world. Always up for a challenge, there’s no weapon she can’t shoot and no vehicle she can’t pilot.

“Prima” Donna McGurk: A one time Olympic track and field hopeful, destiny took her in a different direction. Becoming one of the ‘Jet Set’, her lifestyle affords her to travel the globe, picking up all sorts of different skills while living the high life. Marrying a djinn (genie) didn't hurt, either.


“Just so’s ya know….ah ain’t likin’ this one bit.” Her twin .45s barked once and two goons jerked back and spun around, falling to the ground in a heap. 

“Duly noted Amanda”, Aphrodite said with a wry grin on her beautiful features. She moved a mass of thick, blonde hair from her face as she quickly turned to see another wave of Mr. Lee’s men approaching. “Orders are orders and clients are clients. Oh, and by the by, remember….don’t kill our lovely welcoming committee….” 

“Ah ain’t….just wingin’ ‘em is all…” 

A shrill scream to her left almost made Grammy Oakley’s favorite granddaughter, with the nerves of steel, flinch….almost. 

Glancing to the side, between shots, she saw four of Mr. Lee’s well dressed, hooded, goons slowly surrounding Libby. The smaller, thinner, librarian had her left arm out as if to shoo them away with a wave of her hand. Her right hand was digging into a messenger bag which slung over her left shoulder. 

Her shriek also got the attention of the fourth woman in the group. A larger than average woman, one that looked as if she spent a lot of time outdoors, lifting heavy things. The curvy redhead was engaged with two other hooded goons, kicks and punches flying as the two, even larger goons, looked to want to do her physical harm. A look of concern marring her attractive features, Donna grunted out “Let me show you fellas something I picked up in Paris, France…” and, with that, she spun on her heel twice and delivered two, hard, savate kicks to each side of the hooded goon’s heads….dropping them to the ground while she rushed over to give Libby a helping hand. 

The slimmer woman, who bore a striking resemblance to Myrna Loy, seemed to have recovered her wits. Quickly, she pulled her hand from her messenger bag and, in it, was a large can of Morton’s salt. She flipped the lid up with her thumb and spun in a circle, dousing the goons surrounding her with the white flakes while they, in turn, proceeded to burst into flames. 

“Wights” she said, catching her breath and moving away from the now dying, open flames. 

“White, black, Asian, Moroccan, who cares?”, Donna said, her eyes still wide in amazement. 

Giving her a confused smile, Libby shoved the salt can back into her overstuffed bag. 

“No….they’re called ‘wights’. If you check the small amount of skin that shows between their cuff and gloves, it looks gray and scaly. Added in the slight stiffness of their movements and the rabid fervor in which they follow orders and you can tell they’re the newly deceased. 

Donna just shook her head as she glanced over Libby’s shoulder, then ran over to Aphrodite as more goons approached. 

“What? You didn’t know that?” Libby called after her. 

“Hey Boss”, Amanda shouted as she continued pumping lead into shoulders and knees, the goons were being slowed, but not halted and there were more waves pouring into the large room, “ah’m runnin’ outta lead here!” 

Giving her a slight nod, Aphrodite concentrated on the moving throng approaching her from the glowing circle of energy on the wall. Their arms out, fingers flexing, they prepared to rend her limb from limb. Shoving another mass of thick, blonde, hair from her face, she smiled and pursed her lips. She extended her arms wide, her clingy tunic fluttering in the air that was coming from….somewhere, no one was quite sure as there were no windows in the room containing England’s crown jewels. She began to levitate as she surveyed the mass of tuxedo clad, hooded, figures approaching….her strappy sandals leaving the ground. 

“That’s it boys, come close and feel the love!” 

Aphrodite began to glow and the air filled with little sparkles of light. A wave of that same light rushed over the approaching goons, halting them in their tracks. They just stood there as if unsure what to do next. 

“Dazzling…” Libby murmured in awe. 

“This won’t last long, ladies, so grab what we came for and let’s hop the next chariot out of here. I sense the Beefeaters are on their way.” Aphrodite said, still holding her arms out wide, a look of concentration etched on her pretty face. 

“Ummm…just where, exactly, is the thing we’re here for?” Donna asked, looking at the vast and varied types of jewelry and cases in the room. 

Libby pointed to the far wall. Sitting on a small pedestal under glass, a tiara made of bright diamonds shone in the darkness. 

“Right there. I once read that the Princess’ crown was placed near the back of the room as to not take away from the Queen’s jewels.” 

“You’re sure about that?” Donna said as she sprinted over to the case, bashing in the glass with a gloved fist before Libby could confirm. 

“Of course, I’m sure. What? You didn’t know that?” Libby asked while Donna just rolled her eyes. 

With the tiara in hand, Donna yelled “Got it!” and made her way over to a still floating Aphrodite. Libby and Amanda, salt can and guns holstered respectively, followed suit. 

“Ah still don’t like workin’ fer that lil house painter fella….gives me the creeps.” Amanda intoned as they huddled up. 

“Well, we’re not so much working for him as we are against him. He only thinks we’re doing him a service. Uncle Adolph’s blind faith in supernatural artifacts will, one day, be his undoing.” Aphrodite smiled. “This may look like a princess’ crown but, in reality, it’s the Crown of Verwechslung….the Crown of Confusion. His so called ‘scholars’ were a touch off base on this one. Once he puts it on, his judgment will be forever clouded and, the best part is, he’s paying the Society for doing it.” 

“What? You didn’t know that?” Libby nodded towards the other two girls who had perplexed looks on their faces. “Mr. Lee’s after it to give to the Empress of Japan, hoping she’ll finally accept his proposal of marriage.” the librarian added. 

Again, Donna rolled her eyes. “Put it on? What makes you think he’s going to wear a girly tiara?” 

“Oh, there’s intelligence out there that says Hitler has some…let’s say…odd traits.” Aphrodite said, though clenched teeth, the smile fading as she continued to concentrate. “Good thing these…wight things still seemed to have some vestiges of manhood still left in them…” 

Libby nodded again, opening her mouth before Donna cut her off. “If you say it, I’m gonna throttle you…” 

Libby, promptly, closed her mouth again. 

“Awright, Donna….yer up….” Grammy Oakley’s favorite granddaughter said, “git us outta here.” 

And, with that, Donna held her left hand up and removed the expensive looking leather glove that covered it. A huge diamond, wedding, band sparkled on her ring finger. She kissed and whispered to it…. 

“My love, I wish us home.” her voice taking on a haunting, sing song, tone as she spoke.

The four women began to shimmer and fade from sight. As they glowed brighter, Libby cocked her head towards Donna. 

“ many wishes do you have with that?” 

“I honestly have no idea.” Donna smiled wistfully and winked. 

“So then….we could’ve been stuck here and….” Libby gulped. 

“What? You didn’t know that?” Donna winked, patting Libby on her cheek.

Aphrodite’s hearty laughter was the last thing heard as the four women blinked out of sight

So, what are your writing insecurities?

Would you like to see any more tales involving The Fortune Society?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Overcoming Adversity Reveal / Music Monday

A couple of weeks ago, Nick Wilford over at Scattergun Scribblings, came up with a little blog hop to help raise some money for his stepson's education. His stepson, Andrew, has cerebral palsy and his choices of colleges aren't as wide or varied in Scotland as we have here in America.

To that end, the goal of the hop was to gather material for a book Nick was planning and use the proceeds to help Andrew further his education.

I was happy to help out with a (last minute) entry and even happier to see the project come to fruition.

So, without further ado....I give you Overcoming Adversity. 

Take it away, Nick.....

A collection of seventy moving and uplifting original pieces - real life, flash fiction, and poetry - about battling against the odds and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. The contributors include Amazon bestselling authors Alex J. Cavanaugh and Kyra Lennon, and the cream of upcoming talent.

 The anthology is part of a fundraising effort to send the editor's stepson, Andrew McNaughton, to a specialist college in England. Andrew has cerebral palsy, and is a remarkable young man with a promising future. However, the free further education options offered in his own country of Scotland will not challenge him and allow him to progress. In order to access the education he deserves, Andrew will have to pay exorbitant fees, thus creating a situation of discrimination. 
Help us get Andrew to college by buying a book that runs the full gamut of human emotions, ultimately leaving you inspired and glad to be alive. Whatever struggles you are going through, our sincere hope is that this book will help.

"But Mark", I hear you thinking (I can, sometimes hear your thoughts, yes), "just where can I get my hands on this amazing anthology?"

Well, I'm glad you asked that....because Overcoming Adversity can be found at....

Amazon U.S.

Amazon U.K



 So head over and buy a copy...or two...or three...and enjoy some great stories on Overcoming Adversity. It's for a great cause.

Best of luck to Nick and Andrew!

I'll leave you, this Monday, with some cool music that's been running through my brain all weekend.

If you follow along on my other blog, you've seen how I've recently re-discovered my love for "Surf Music". Having grown up listening to The Ventures, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, as well as many others (thanks dad), it was only natural that I carry my fondness of this music genre with me through and into my, ahem, later years.

So, if this doesn't get you going or, at the very least, your foot tapping then go back to bed!

The Ventures: Pipeline

Have a great Monday!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Time Circuits On....Flux Capacitor...Fluxing...

You're up before dawn on a Saturday when the doorbell rings. You haven't brewed your coffee so you wonder if you imagined the sound. Plonking the half-filled carafe in the sink, you go to the front door and cautiously swing it open. No one there. As you cast your eyes to the ground, you see a parcel addressed to you ... from you.

You scoop it up and haul it inside, sensing something legitimate despite the extreme oddness of the situation. Carefully, you pry it open. Inside is a shoebox -- sent from ten years in the future -- and it's filled with items you have sent yourself.

What's in it?

This is the premise for The Back from the Future bloghop going on today...all day! Brought to you by Suze over at Subliminal Coffee, M. Pax, and Nicki Elson at Not-So-Deep Thoughts, it looks to be a lot of fun. What are you waiting for? Hop around...check out some new blogs...see what the future might have in store for them!

This could be heavy, Doc.

When I opened the shoe box  I would have sworn it was just some sort of stunt. Yeah, I signed up for the blog hop and figured it'd be a lot of laughs. I never expected something like this, though. I mean, how on earth did they get my address?

The more I began going through the box, the more I got the eerie feeling that this wasn't a hoax. I mean, first of all the name brand of the shoe was "J.Biebers". I shook my head thinking it couldn't be. I mean if someone was going to pull a gag, you would think they could do better than "J.Biebers". A chill ran down my spine.

This was the real deal.

Inside I found a very worn, used, copy of a book called "The T.E.M.P" Agency", with my name as the author. The cover featured a ruggedly handsome man in a hat and trench coat, a deep cut in his chest revealing blinking lights and fiber optic cables, as he stood in front of a gypsy woman protectively.

I shook my head...."It can't be, I thought....I...haven't...finished this yet." 

On the inside cover, in my handwriting, were the words "The first of many!"

Slowly, I turned the book around to the back cover and saw a black and white picture of me staring back at myself with a smirk. My eyes widened and I could tell that it was the same face I stared at in the mirror every morning....just with a few more wrinkles. My hair still cut short and cropped as it is today.

" least I still have my hair." I said to myself, my fingers running through my short cropped, receding follicles.

The more I rifled through the box, the stranger it got.

I found a pair of  front row tickets to a concert. The headliner, strangely enough, had the same name as my nephew. There was also an invitation to my sister's wedding, dated just a couple of years from today. "Whew! At least mom and dad can quit worrying." I thought as I stared in awe at the artifacts, obviously from the future. 

The biggest shock, though, was when I looked at the only picture in the box. It was me and my wife, posed with two sets of twins. Two boys and two girls. It made sense as my mom and my wife's mom were both fraternal twins.

"I better start saving some money...." I thought.

The very last thing I pulled out of the box. The thing that filled me with the most hope. An envelope.

Inside the envelope was a piece of paper with these words, written in my crappy handwriting....

And that was it. 

No stock clue on who wins the next ten World Series or Super Bowls...nothing. The way I figure it, though,is that 'future' me knew how lazy 'present day' me is and, if my life got any easier, I'd probably give up writing for laying on the beach or something. Either that, or 'future me' might have thought too much info could punch a hole in the space-time continuum the size of Belgium. Who knows?

Anyway, it was like Doc Brown always told me...o.k, he didn't actually tell me....but, in the movies he told Marty....

"Your future is whatever you make make it a good one."

And that's just what I did....or will do...or....well, you get the idea.

(A big "Thank You" to Suze, Mary, and Nicki for hosting this fun hop)

The Healthy Writers Club

Since it's Friday, it also means it's time for a 'getting healthy' update and The Healthy Writers Club.

Shalle McArthur hosts the club each week and we come together to discuss all those fun (can you hear the sarcasm?) topics such as losing weight, getting in shape, eating right, etc.

Unfortunately, this week isn't much of an improvement over last. I did, though, manage to work out once this week as well as go for a couple of brisk walks with the wife.

I haven't been keeping up much with MyFitnessPal, but try to pop in to encourage my fellow fitness enthusiasts. On the flip side, I'm not really eating a lot or even badly....but I know I should still, at least, be confirming it with some sort of calorie measures.

While I'm still nowhere near where I should be, I'm getting closer. Hopefully, I'll have a better report next Friday.

How about you?

What might 'future you' send back to 'present you'?

In shape? Getting there or just thinking about it?

Here's hoping you all have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

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