Category Archives: Random Ramblings

2012 is a wrap!

Happy New Year!

 

This is the time of year when I look back at last year’s goals to see how I did. I usually list them here with some commentary on how they went. Well, last year’s goals didn’t go very well. I was behind in writing, reading and watching movies so I’m going to forego the yearly breakdown. I did read more books last year than I had the year before though, so that’s a good thing.

 

I blame it on the P word. Procrastination. I’m sooooooo good at procrastinating. It’s super easy to do. You decide to work on something else, or do something else instead of what you should be doing. But what you should be doing is far more important and usually not as much fun, as what you procrastinate with.  My favourite choices for procrastination – playing with PhotoShop Elements, designing websites, playing Sims 3.

 

I need goals. I need deadlines. I need to move forward with these writing goals and actually get somewhere.

 

This year’s goals will be simpler. Some will be the same as last year but some are going to be a little more specific than they have been. Onto the goals.

 

Have at least 5 books available on the major online stores – the first one in January (most of these will be under my pen name but Reflections will be under mine)

 

Submit the four short stories I wrote for Woman’s World to Woman’s World

 

Submit at least 2 other short stories for calls for submissions

 

Finish writing one script (I have a few on the go so I should be able to finish one of them)

 

Read 24 books (I’m starting today with Tess Gerritsen’s The Apprentice)

 

Watch 100 movies (I’m starting this today too with January Man)

 

Read 12 scripts (I have a list started of the ones I want to read)

 

I saved the most important goals for last:

 

Spend time with family and friends

 

Plan my wedding!

 

Save for my wedding

 

Diet and exercise to improve my health

 

What about you? Got any goals for the New Year?

 

Until next time…

 

Cindy

Looking for nerdvana? Go to WorldCon.

Every year science fiction fans gather to celebrate one of the best genres out there. The genre where anything is possible. They come from all over the world – hence WorldCon. I love science fiction. So does the boyfriend. He’s been to WorldCons before but this was my first time. Having been to other conventions and conferences I thought I knew what to expect. But I’d never been to one of this size before and I learned a few things.

It was the largest gathering of nerds I’d ever seen. I love nerds, my boyfriend is a nerd, a lot of my friends are nerds and I like to think I’m a nerd. I learned that I’m an impostor. While I love the genre I’m not as well read in it as pretty much everyone else there. I also felt like the least intelligent person in the room for most of the panels I attended. When people start talking about axial tilt and atmospheric pressure my brain hurts.

I learned that while I thought I’m shy I’m far from it compared to most of the people at the convention. Many of them were obviously uncomfortable even being around other people let alone talking to them. And I’m talking about people being uncomfortable talking to people they actually know. It was painful to watch at times but it made me like them even more because they were still putting themselves out there because they love the genre.

I learned that other conventions and conferences could learn a few lessons from WorldCon. There were over 5,000 people there and everything, from my perspective, ran pretty smoothly. Besides the panels (and there were over a hundred panels) they had an art show, a con suite (free food and drinks), news sheets that went out every day, a dealers room where you could buy just about anything your little scifi heart desired. And all of that for less than what I’ve paid for other conferences and conventions. Not to mention the news sheets (the blue, green and orange sheets) and panel updates (the pink sheets) they had everyday.

 

And the parties. Convention goers are there for the parties. There were signage boards all over the convention to let people know when and where the parties were being held.  Most of the parties were in the suites. The London 2014 party we went to was packed.

 

 

The most important part of the convention was the camaraderie, the feeling of belonging. No one cared how anyone else looked or what their sexual preferences were. All that mattered was the science fiction. Did I mention the games? They had video games!

They also had a masquerade where convention goers could show off their talent in costume design. On the Sunday night of the convention is the presentation of the Hugo Awards. I like the Hugos because works are nominated and voted on by fans. You cannot submit your work to be entered in the Hugos. Readers have to think it’s good enough for a nomination and nominate the work.

I intend to go to WorldCon in London 2014. And I hope to have something out by then that’s been nominated for a Hugo!

If you went to the convention this year please say hi in the comments. There were so many people there it’s hard to keep track of everyone and there are so many people I missed saying hello to.

Until next time…

Cindy

Three truths, one lie – udpated

It’s an ice-breaker used in corporate classes. I’m sure it’s used other places as well. It’s a good way to learn a little about someone and get a conversation going. So I am going to tell you three truths about myself and one lie. Your job is to figure out which one is the lie.

1. Patrick Swayze kissed me. – Yes, he did when I was an extra in Youngblood, filmed in Toronto.

2. I talked TV writing with Dean Cain when he came into the bar I worked at – Nope. He did come into the bar I worked at but I wasn’t working that night.

3. I flew an AWACS flight simulator at the NATO base in Germany – Yes. My uncle was stationed in Germany in 1989 and took us to the base and I flew the simulator.

4. I was in a movie with Rob Lowe – Yes. I was an extra in Youngblood with him, Patrick Swayze and Cynthia Gibb.

So, which one is the lie?

Until next time…

Cindy

Par-tay with Mimi Barbour

Before I get to the actual par-tay and a chance to win books and more below let me introduce you to Mimi Barbour’s book, My Cheeky Angel (1st book in the Angels with Attitudes series).

Annie is naïve and love-starved, she’ll soon to be celebrating her big 3-0. Something needs to be done! Celi, her ‘down-to-earth’ guardian angel appears to help kick-start Annie’s big change—her looks, her job, her whole life. By taking a managerial position with a sophisticated shoe manufacturer, Annie becomes embroiled with her new associates and hooked on the power of big business. Unfortunately, her exhaustion from overwork forces her to ignore old friends, and her lapse places someone she cares about in terrible danger.

Tyler, a Social Worker and a woman-hater previously hurt in two relationships, only wants Annie in his life as a good buddy. Oh yeah! And to help with his mixed-up street kids. Perversely, once her life alters, he misses her like hell. In one sweet night of loving everything changes. But, due to an overabundance of nightcaps, she doesn’t remember the night he can’t forget.

Announcing:

Lucky Days Free Par-Tay

Discover over 40 amazing ebooks: Romances, Thrillers, Mysteries, Humor, Fantasies, and more!

All FREE at Amazon.com

Fantastic ebooks, many by award-winning and best-selling authors.

There’s a genre for every reader’s taste.

Romance from sweet to HOT, suspense, paranormal, humorous, historical…we have an awesome range.

If Mysteries and Thrillers are your thing you can’t go wrong. Police action, murderous mayhem, amateur sleuths and more.

You’ll also find Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Woman’s Fiction…. A fantastic selection!

Got kids? We have books for elementary school age and teens alike.

Don’t miss out! Soon these amazing ebooks will be back to their usual prices. Grab them while they’re FREE! March 14th-18th.

Who says you can have too much of a good thing. You can never have too many great books. Load up your Kindle and tell your neighbors to do the same.

The FREE Par-Tay is a BLAST!

Some Examples of the Great Books Available:

You like Romance? Find them here.

Don’t miss Mimi Barbour’s “My Cheeky Angel” or Virna DePaul’s “Chosen by Sin.” Rita Herron will make you smile with “Marry Me Maddie.” Stephanie Bond’s “I think I Love You” and Denise Domning’s “Almost Perfect” are perfect for the addicted romance reader. Debra Burroughs “Three Days in Seattle” and Nina Bruhns’s “The French Detective’s Woman” add a splash of mystery and suspense to their romance.

Excited by Thrillers? Ecstatic for Mysteries? Scared by Horror? Tweaked by Sci-Fi? You’re in the right place!

Ron Kierkegaard’s “The God Particle” stretches the boundaries and Michael Shean’s “Shadow of a Dark Star” will open your eyes to new worlds. Michael Paneush’s “The Stein and Candle Detective Agency” is a fantastical take on mystery and fantasy abounds in Jack Albrecht’s “Osric’s Wand” and Vicki Keirie’s “Worlds Burn Through.”

“Liquid Lies” By Lois Lavrisa dives into secrets, lies and murder, while Shannon Mayer will lead you through ten Horrifying stories in “Ingredients of a Caldron.” Nathan Yocum investigates a post-apocalyptic future in “The Zona” and Katherine Owen digs deep in a story of love and loss in “Seeing Julia.”

And don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter. You’ll automatically be entered to WIN $100 in Amazon Gift Cards.

Social Media Pet Peeves

I’m a pretty easy going person and I don’t let a lot bother me. But I do have some social media pet peeves. Who doesn’t?

The new Facebook changes. Hate them. Now, I know it’s a free service and they can do what they want and at least there’s a work around if you hate the new news feed but I am getting close to jumping ship. Google+ is looking mighty good right now. If I could just get all of my Facebook contacts over there.

Had to get that off my chest. What I really wanted to talk about were things the people who use social media do that annoy me.

1. InkCanada – ignore this one, it doesn’t apply to you. If you’re inviting me to an in person Facebook event make sure I’m at least in the same province as the event. You can imagine how ridiculous it is to be invited to something that isn’t in my province but I get ones that aren’t even in my country.

2. Friends who turn off their wall functionality.

3. A gazillion posts a day, every day, promoting your book. Keep it up and I will unfriend you.

4. Protecting your tweets. If you don’t want people reading your tweets send an email. I won’t request to follow you.

5. Using a service to verify I’m a person. I won’t click on that link either.

6. People who aren’t celebrities who have hundreds (or thousands) of followers and only follow a select group. If you have 4000+ followers and you only follow 100+ who do you think you are? I won’t follow you.

7. People who aren’t celebrities who don’t @ reply if you tweet them. I’m lucky that most of the people I tweet to do reply.

8. People who use a service to find people to follow and then auto unfollows them if you haven’t followed them back in X number of days. People are busy. They have lives, families, vacations, work. Sometimes it’s not possible to follow you back within three days. I don’t follow back until at least the fourth or fifth day to weed these ones out.

9. People who follow just to get followers. You know the ones. If you don’t follow them back they unfollow you. FYI, not everyone is going to follow you back.

10. People who aren’t celebrities who don’t follow you back. It’s just good Twitter karma to follow back. There are ways to filter tweets, mute people, if you get too many tweets in your stream.

Okay, here are some celebrities who have been known to @ reply or retweet. Keep in mind they don’t ALWAYS reply or retweet:

Jason O’Mara, Angie Harmon, Gordon Ramsay, Eric Johnson, Alyssa Milano.

Until next time…

Cindy

Read an ebook

So it’s read an ebook week. I’m late, I know because ebooks really aren’t my thing. I’m an old fashioned girl when it comes to books. I like printed books. I like to turn the pages. I like the feel of them in my hands. I like the smell of them. I like seeing them on a bookshelf.

I thought I would give an ebook a try because my friend Danielle Gavan has a few out. She’s a great writer with interesting takes on some of your favourite princesses from your favourite fairy tales. I’m reading Tarnished Tiaras right now, an ebook of short stories that answers the question – what happened to the fairy tale princesses that the fairy tales didn’t tell us? You’ll never look at fairy tale princesses the same way again. I’m liking the stories. I’ve always loved fairy tales. And I’m not minding reading it on my iPhone either. I can read in bed with the lights off while the boyfriend is sleeping. You can buy her book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords.

Until next time…

Cindy

Meetup, what have you done?

I loved Meetup once. Notice the past tense there. I used to be a huge fan of Meetup. I told everyone about how great it was. To all those people I’m sorry. Meetup has committed such an epic fail that organisers are leaving in droves.

Remember the post two weeks ago about website pet peeves? Meetup went all out. Not only did it fix something that wasn’t broken but it isn’t listening to the organisers, who pay dues, about just how bad the new site is. They flat out refuse to change things back to the way they were, or at least keep the new and allow organisers to use the old format instead of the new.

Rumours are flying that they are banning members for speaking out and deleting their posts. They of course say they aren’t doing that. And to be fair I’ve seen posts that are still on the site that, if the rumours were true, would have been removed. However, they are closing topics instead of allowing further discussion forcing organisers to create another thread.

I have moved my groups to GroupSpaces. Now, GroupSpaces doesn’t have everything I want. I HATE that partial email addresses are visible in a person’s public profile. I don’t like that I can’t choose the background colour for my page. I’m not thrilled with the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a way for RSVPs to show up with comments on the home page. My welcome email isn’t being sent out to new members. It’s going to be a chore to move all of my discussion topics and messages from Meetup to my group’s GroupSpaces forum. And it’s very hard to search for groups near you. GroupSpaces didn’t start out as a place to find groups near you but rather a place for groups where people already knew each other. That’s fine. They’re working on a lot of the suggestions coming from former Meetup organisers.

If you’re a writer in the Milton, Guelph, Kitchener, Action, Hamilton, Waterloo areas you should pop over to Guelph Write Now’s new home and join! We offer lively discussion about writing, some critiquing, writing exercises, a website, write ins, weekly on-line writing sprints, a short story challenge loop and coming very soon, a goals loop.

Now, I’m off to work. The GroupSpaces page is still a work in progress so tonight I’ll be tweaking that.

Until next time…

Cindy

Blog and website pet peeves

I surf the web a lot. Okay, maybe not as much as some people but I am on there checking out pages, reading blogs, looking up information quite a bit. And there are some things that just irritate me about some blogs and websites.

Layout:

A confusing layout, one that is hard to navigate, hard to find what you want. For crying out loud have a streamlined layout with the main menu navigation clearly visible. And if you do have a pleasing layout don’t change it. Why fix what’s not broken? I HATE the new Chapter’s layout. And I can’t stand the new Facebook profile page. Also not fussy on the new Twitter.

Colours:

Please, please, please, pick colours that are not only pleasing but don’t make me strain my eyes to read them. Bright colours with a funky font will guarantee I won’t be back to your website. Ditto for dark backgrounds with white or light writing. It’s too hard on my eyes. And make sure the font isn’t too small. My preference is to have black writing on a white or nearly white background. Go nuts with the rest of the site, the header, the outside background, even the sidebars to a degree. But keep the main content easy to read.

That said about bright colours and black backgrounds, there are a few that work for me, but again, the actual content is on a white (or light) background with black writing.

Karin Tabke

Melanie Atkins

Delilah Devlin

The Break-Up Diet


Comments:

Most bloggers love getting comments. And a lot of web surfers love to comment. So, some tips for you:

Allow readers to comment. If you have a blog and you’re spilling your guts about something let people comment. I’ve stopped going to blogs where all the person does is talk about stuff but won’t let people comment.

If you are moderating comments to filter out spam get a spam filter and turn off moderation. It’s annoying to comment on a post only to have the comment not actually appear until hours later. Sometimes the next day. If you’re worried about spam there are plugins you can use. If you’re worried about what someone might say, most blogs notify you that you have a new comment. Check it right away and if you don’t like it, delete it.

Make it easy for people to comment. Don’t make them have to become a registered user of the blog. Or make them have to have a Google account (Blogger people, I’m talking to you). If I try to comment on a blog and the only way I can comment is to sign in using my Google account ID I don’t leave a comment. And usually I don’t go back to the website. And yes, I do have a Google account. I shouldn’t have to use that though to post a comment. There is a place in Blogger where you can change that to allow anyone to comment.

Add a plugin so readers can be notified of future comments. It’s annoying to have to keep going back to the site to see if there are more comments. Let them get notified so they only go back when an email pops up saying someone has left another comment.

Contact:

Whether your website is a personal one or a business one have a contact page. On the contact page list all the ways people can get in touch with you. For businesses that means phone numbers, address, Twitter, Facebook, email address. For personal sites at least an email address. I went to a business site and there was no way to email the company. Sure I could call but during their business hours I’m at work. I went to a personal site because the person had on Twitter asked for guest blogs. I went with the intention of sending an email to express interest. No way to contact them through email on the site.

Of course all this is just my opinion. Some people may like the funky colours. The black background with bright lettering. The not being able to comment unless you jump through a million hoops. So, what are some of your pet peeves when it comes to blogs and websites?

Until next time…

Cindy

Not a happy neighbour

First, let me say there is a lot I like about the U.S. I have a lot of friends I adore who live there. I visit there when I can to see them. The U.S. has some great products you can’t get in Canada like Chocolately Delight Special K (Kellogs Canada, I’m still bitter with you for discontinuing it). You’ve got some great scenery. Some awesome cities. That said, I despise some of the exclusionary practices of some companies/contests. I just don’t understand WHY.

For some I get it. The Disney fellowship for screenwriters. I get you have to be a U.S. citizen to enter because if you win you will essentially be an employee. To be an employee you have to be able to legally work in the U.S. Got it. And I understand.

For others I don’t get it. Publishers that normally would publish authors from other countries suddenly opening a contest – where the prize is publication – but only allowing U.S. residents to enter.

Contests to win a walk on appearance on a TV show that is filmed in British Columbia only being open to U.S. residents just boggles my mind. You film the show in Canada but Canadians can’t enter your contest? How does that make sense?

iPhone apps that only allow you to download them if you live in the U.S. Again, if it was a local app I would understand. What would a Canadian want with an app that tells her all the hot places to go for getting a manicure in Phoenix? But an app by a bestselling author to only be available to U.S. residents makes me rethink buying his books now. He was a favourite author. Now, well, not so sure. I’m extremely disappointed.

Okay, rant over. Sorry it wasn’t actually writing related. Well it sort of was. I did mention writing. 🙂

Until next time…

Cindy

Gargoyles

I don’t know what it is about them but I love gargoyles. Back in the GEnie days (anyone who was a member will know what that is) there was a writer on the critique boards who was writing about a gargoyle. I always remembered that story and wondered what became of it. I remember the gargoyle and a helicopter. Or maybe it was the cartoon in the early 90s. I loved that show. I loved the Star Trek: The Next Generation voices in it too. I loved the idea of these medieval gargoyles coming alive at night to protect New York. How can you not be drawn in by the tagline? One thousand years ago superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness. It was a world of fear. It was the age of gargoyles.

Gargoyles have been around for a long time. A very long time. They can be traced back to ancient Egypt and Rome. But they are more commonly associated with the middle ages as well as gothic architecture. The gargoyle is actually the hollowed out stone carved grotesque used as a water spout. The carvings not used as a water spout are simply called grotesques. Commonly found standing guard on top of churches, they were believed to ward off evil. So how could they ward off evil? Well, they’re hideous and can frighten off almost anything. They come alive at night and can protect you while you’re sleeping. They return to their perch when the sun comes up so no one is the wiser.

I like some of the guesses for the origin of gargoyles on the Gargoyle Etymology & History page. The rainwater plumbing is practical. But some of my favourites include the idea that they were carved out of mischief, retribution for not paying the stone carver, caricatures of local townspeople.

I’m not going to go into all the history, religious and architectural. There’s way too much out there for this little post. But check out some of the links from the post is you want to know more. Looking into gargoyles has nudged my muse and got the creative juices flowing. Not that my muse needed any help of course. I already have enough to write about. But now I’m thinking there might be a gargoyle story in my future.

Well, off to get some work done.

Until next time…

Cindy