30 Days of Thanks – Day 6

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Time to pause and regroupI am blessed to have parents and in-laws who are supportive, loving and still “worry” about me, even though I’m middle-aged.   I shared the news of the temporary pause, yet again, of my nursing education journey with them.  While they were upset for me – probably more than I was – they immediately had words of comfort and support for me.

This marks a new chapter in my life, into uncharted waters.  Do I want to continue on the same course, or try something different?  Is this my passion or something that seemed like a good idea at the time?   Am I ready to make another leap?   These questions remain unanswered at the moment.

What I Know

1. I have a passion for reading and writing.  Until this Summer, when I was writing consistently, it was only a hobby.

2. I like to help others.  In the broad sense.   I am the person you turn to when you need tough love, or when tough choices need to be made.

3. I like to work for myself.

The key will be to combine 1, 2, and 3.   Stay tuned.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 5

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Today I am thankful for the many people who came into my life through Nursing school.  We will soon be parting ways, but they will live forever in my heart.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 4

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I am thankful for my Nursing school friends, who have become like family.  They are some of the most amazing, caring, patient-centered people, I have ever met and I am blessed to be among them.

Today, we took our last exam as Level IV student, and are waiting for the result.  For many of us, our final grade hangs in the balance of the outcome of this exam.   May we all pass the Level, our End of Program exam, Nursing Care Management and finally, the NCLEX.   Namaste.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 3

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I am thankful to have been born and raised in Panamá, and would love to go back for a visit soon.

30 Days of Thanks – Days 1 and 2

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30-Days-of-ThanksNovember 1st – I am thankful for an amazing Level IV clinical group.  These are 11 of the most patient-centered, thorough, compassionate people I have ever met.  I am blessed to have done my last ADN school rotation with them and would be happy if any, or all, of them were my, or a loved one’s, nurse.

November 2nd – I am thankful for my Husband and Zeke, Hannah Bean and Charlotte (aka. Charlie), my K9 kids.  They are all keeping me company as I study for my Level IV Final Exam and I am feeling the love.

Mable’s Chain

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Pitties, as I know from personal experience, are nothing more than a bundle of love. Sadly, they are maligned due to the unconscionable actions of irresponsible owners.

Please read Susan’s post and help, as you can. Rescuing Mable…The Links in Her Chain

Etiology of a Book Trailer – “Searching for Moore,” by Julie A. Richman

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Searching for Moore by Julie A. Richman
Cover used with permission by author, Julie A. Richman.

Summer of 2013 has been the Summer of books and reviews, where I rediscovered the joy that leisure reading brought me.   My newest ventures have been writing book reviews and beta reading books for independent authors.  I am still learning how to do both, but writing reviews is definitely my favorite of the two.

Earlier this year, I read and reviewed Searching for Moore by Julie A. Richman (Book 1 in the “Needing Moore” series).    Julie’s book kept me up all night,  deeply invested in Schooner and Mia’s story and I was emotionally drained but my mind kept spinning.   That inspired my best book review to date, as words flew, organically, off my fingers, onto the keys, and onto the screen.  When I hit “publish” on the blog post, the sun was rising and I knew I had to know more about the woman who wrote Searching for Moore.  I had to talk to her.

I “met” Julie on Facebook.   There was the initial awkwardness of the clichéd OMG-when-are-you-releasing-book-2 comment.  Followed by the blubbering on of a fangirl who had too little sleep, too much coffee and not enough Schooner Moore or Mia Silver.  Finally, we started to talk.  Like lifelong friends.   Who had never met before.    The more we talked – about music, college, jobs, life experiences, relationships, etc. – Julie and I found that we had been separated at birth!    Synchronous would be the best way to describe our connection.

Our friendship brought three other women into my life.  All fans of Searching for Moore who had similar reactions to the story.   As, we began “hanging out” together on Facebook, the bond became stronger.    Sure we talked about our favorite parts of the book, but we talked about ourselves.  If someone had a bad day, there were four other women to help her through it.  If we needed a laugh or bawdy comment, we were there.


Together, we decided to create the following book trailer.   Kristen was our computer guru, taking all the pieces and creating something that represented all of us, even after the infamous crash of “Video Version 1” (shudder).   Cleida brought us Mia and Schooner and had the uncanny eye to spot the right photos of them.   Samantha was our cheerleader, keeping everyone in good spirits.  I suggested “If I Should Fall Behind,” by Bruce Springsteen as the accompanying song and critiqued the final product.     We accomplished this in about two days and presented it to Julie, on Sunday, just past midnight.

As we waited, impatiently, for Julie to view the video, so many thoughts went through our heads.  “What if Julie doesn’t like it?”  “What if the fans don’t like it?” “What if it’s not good enough?”  “What if it doesn’t capture the essence of Schooner and Mia?”  These were the longest three minutes of the entire process!

Julie loved it!

She immediately posted it on her Facebook page.  It was received warmly by other fans, who then shared it with their friends and family.    Now, I share it with you.   Please share, reblog, buy the book and fall in love with Schooner and Mia.   (Book 2, “Moore to Lose,” will be released in September 2013.)    Amazon     Barnes and Noble

After reading Searching for Moore please visit Julie’s author website for additional scenes, written in the point of view of other characters, and find her on Facebook.

Here is our labor of love for Searching for Moore  .

The Eye Patch for your Va-Ja-Jay by Vonnie Davis

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If you are not following the Chick Swagger blog, – what are you waiting for?! Snark of the highest caliber for all tastes. Two, enthusiastic thumbs WAY UP!

Chick Swagger

Chickas, I’m continuing on with Avery Flynn’s most excellent topic of underwear. Lingerie. Or in this instance, the space age eye patch for your va-ja-jay.


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Is “Kindle Wrist” an Ailment, and is it Covered by Insurance?

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Having devoted time to reading books is a Summer ritual that I started in childhood.  Mami would take me to the Library Museum, where I would choose as many books as I could carry, place them on the librarian’s desk and hand her my library card.  It was my first completely independent act, as Mami never “censored” my choices.   Her only requirement was,  “if you can carry them, you may check them out.” I quickly learned to carry a book bag with me for each library visit.  Thus, my love affair with Summer reading began.  In fact, I may have been the only kid in school, at any level, who wanted to receive the dreaded Summer Reading List.

Go ahead.  Gasp, in horror.  Wrist Support Brace Unless you’re an “I ❤ SRL” geek chick (or guy) like me.  In that case, welcome, kick your feet up, popcorn’s on the coffee table and adjustable reading lights are available in the basket.

This Summer, I have spent a considerable amount of time on my Kindle.   90% of the time is reading books and the other 10% is reading my email, cruising the Internet or chatting on Facebook.    I have also been on Lappy, my “small” Toshiba Ultrabook, because she is light to carry.  She and I have perfected the knee-to-belly chunk prop, to ensure the optimal reading and typing angle.   Toesh, my “big” Toshiba Satellite laptop, acts as my desktop.  Toesh weighs over six pounds  and forces me to sit upright at the table.  I tried carrying Toesh through the house, once, to disastrous results.  Fortunately, I had purchased the what-happens-when-Michelle-drops-Toesh-and-the-screen-shatters-rendering-her-FUBAR insurance.  While it took three, long, agonizing weeks, until she was repaired, it was worth the wait to see her returned with a brand new screen.  Lesson learned: do not parade Toesh around the house.  She prefers the contemplative quiet of the kitchen table.   Which is where I find myself writing this post.

I lost count after 25, at how many books I have read this Summer.  But, in the past few days I felt that familiar “twinge” of discomfort and stiffness in my wrist.  I do not suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, but as I have gotten older, I am finding more and more aches and pains that did not exist before.  I first noticed the wrist stiffness and soreness when I was laid off.  All of a sudden, my wrists felt “funny” and stiff.  It was likely from lack of use, rather than overuse, because while I spent time on computers for my jobs, it was not the only physical task I did.  I spent a few dollars at the drug store for a couple of wrist supports with removable metal plates, slipped those babies on, and I was back in business.  When I bought Kindy, my first Kindle, I started reading exclusively on her.   I noticed the “twinge” came back, but once I put my wrist support on my right “Kindle hand,” all was right with the world.   The same thing happened when I upgraded to Fire K, my Kindle Fire, and finally with Lappy – although Lappy necessitated the use of both wrist supports.

Today, however, I am wearing both wrist supports and sitting on Toesh, in my superior ergonomically designed, yet affordable, Ikea office chair.  And, dammit, I noticed the difference.  I am sitting taller, typing faster and and more accurately, and haven’t had to reach for my bifocals to read the darn screen as I type.    This leads me to my “discovery” of the day:  Kindle Wrist.  A condition for people who spend an exorbitant amount of time holding their electronic readers at odd angles for maximum reading comfort, leading to wrist and forearm discomfort and, sometimes, pain.   I shall explore “Kindle Neck,” a co-condition, at a later date.

I am self-diagnosing myself with “Kindle Wrist,” and fully embracing the bitter with the sweet.   Will it get worse, or improve with the use of wrist supports?  Frankly, I don’t care.  I refuse to give up my Kindle habit.   I am deep in relationship with my Kindles and it is a codependency built in heaven.  My next step will be to seek discomfort relief either by wearing my decidedly unsexy wrist supports, or by self-medicating with a lovely glass of Malbec, Merlot or the sweet delights of Moscato.

The Slippery Slope Between Fanfiction and Plagiarizing an Author’s Work

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Fan fiction has existed alongside storytelling, throughout history.  My undergraduate Shakespeare courses featured heated discussions on whether or not The Bard’s plays were homages to, or plagiarized copies of  “Plutarch’s Lives of Noble Grecians and Romans.”  The similarities were uncanny, to say the least.  Another infamous case involved a college student who had a “photographic” memory and plagiarized a popular, “darling” series about six or seven years ago.   Authors are influenced by stories they read or hear, but most acknowledge their sources of inspiration, either in their writing or in interviews about their books.  New Title on Someone Else's Chapter

Recently, one of the biggest fan fiction “success stories” rose out of anonymity and became a household name.  She re-wrote an incredibly popular Young Adult (YA) series, based in Washington State, into one of the best-selling trilogies of the past decade.  By changing her story substantially, the fan fiction author ensured it would not be confused with the original.  She further set the right example, by explaining that the YA series was her inspiration.  She went on to self-publish her series, and continues to profit from it.

I read both series.  I am not a fan of YA (or its older, sexed up cousin, New Adult (NA)) novels, but the original was a sweet, well-written set of stories.  The author captured the angst and irrational emotions of hormonal teens, experiencing their first loves.  My twelve-year-old self would have LOVED this series.  My 45-year-old self thought it was “cute” and perfect for its tween/pre-teen/teenage demographics.   It was spun-off into movie series juggernaut that propelled the actors into the stratosphere of stardom, and brought more attention to the book series.

The fan fiction series, however, left a lot to be desired.  This author kept the location as Washington State, only moving the action to the city of Seattle.   The characters are chronologically older, but less mature.   The stories are entirely too wordy and should have been condensed  into one book.  The action is decidedly more “adult,” in that the characters engage in sexual activities that incorporate an alternative lifestyle.  Sadly, the author did not research this lifestyle thoroughly.   She failed miserably in conveying the three key tenets of this lifestyle in her work: safe, sane and consensual.   Be that as it may, this series has provided a venue for adults to discuss sex in a more open, provocative way.   That is a good thing.   This series has been greenlighted and could be in theaters next Summer (according to Perez Hilton’s website FSOG Movie Deal).    No comment.   (It’s already been done.  Just watch the movie Secretary, starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal, then come back and tell me about it…you’re welcome).

With all that off my chest, I arrive at the reason for my post today.

 Plagiarizing another person’s work, is STEALING. 

Fan FictionI am not accusing the above unnamed authors of stealing, because clearly they did not.   Unfortunately, not every writer of fan fiction is honest, and the number of plagiarized works is growing at an alarming rate.  Perhaps the plagiarists were always there (i.e., Shakespeare, etc.), but the Internet seems to bring out the worst in people.  The lure of fame, money and/or greed by taking someone else’s hard work, changing the title and a few names, adding your name as “author,” and releasing it to an unsuspecting public, is magnetic.  And illegal.

In the past two weeks, some super sleuth book bloggers/reviewers uncovered at least five plagiarized books being sold as “original works.”    These people were not professionals who worked for publishing companies, simply fans of books, who noticed uncanny similarities to books they had already read.  Furthermore, several had hosted the thieves on their blogs to PROMOTE the plagiarized works.   Not only were the bloggers/reviewers duped, they knew they inadvertently “helped” hurt other authors they cared for.   I believe they, along with the wronged authors were innocent victims of liars and thieves.

Teresa Mummert provides a great chronology on her blog, for those who like to follow the bouncing ball “Plagiarism” from Author Teresa Mummert’s Blog

I started this post as a cautionary tale, but it is not.  If you choose to steal another person’s work you are a THIEF, and deserve the world of hurt that accompanies legal action against plagiarists.  It is a fantastic way to destroy your life and credibility, immediately, so HAVE AT IT. Just know that the Internet is forever.  Fans of books are a smart, resourceful, loyal community who protects its own (authors and books) and we will find you.

My advice: write the stories that live within you.   Place your characters in worlds of your own creation, but write what you know.   Then, give credit where credit is due, for your inspiration.  Thank the authors who write the stories that move you, by buying, reading and promoting their work.  Not by copying and pasting it into a new file, and calling it yours.

You are more interesting than you think you are, and your story has not been told…by you.  So write it.

Ode to my Blog’s Spam Blocker – Update

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Since I published Ode to my Blog’s Spam Blocker, about two weeks ago, the amount of Spam my site has generated has tripled!  SCORE!

S4 places all Spam into a recycling container for easy disposal.
S4 places all Spam into a recycling container for easy disposal.

I suspect the Ode reinvigorated Sexy Studly Spam Slayer to work harder.  His endurance is AMAZING.   Yes, S4 or “Sugar Britches,” as I affectionately call him, is a male Spam Blocker.  I picture him wearing green (jungle) or grey (urban) camouflaged pants, a black t-shirt, a custom-built computer complete with diamond plating and a tool belt to rival Batman’s utility belt. His hair color and facial features may change depending on my mood, but his attention to detail, to eliminating the refuse from my Blog, is unmatched. Oh, and he is buff…or does his best work in the buff.  I haven’t decided.

He is the perfect Spam Blocker – the standard of excellence by which all Spam Blockers should be judged.  He is no amateur teen, or twenty-something, socially awkward hacker.  No, Sugar Britches is battle-weary, internationally debonair and prepared for anything.  He does not sleep, but is never cranky.

In past two weeks he has expanded his repertoire to include such gems as information about swans,  mobility challenges in the big city, “funding” for my film making career, more detailed requests for technical support, and a myriad of posts agreeing with my political ideology, even though I cannot recall ever writing or thinking about writing a manifesto.  Of course the requisite “opinions” on the use of “toys” still pop up on a daily basis, but they have been joined by weather reports, descriptions of some unnamed, bucolic countryside (Chernobyl, perhaps?), and Cyrillic, or possibly Aramaic messages, encoded for my protection.   And, the question for the ages has been answered: there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Just send your bank account information to…

No, you may not “borrow” Sugar Britches. He is mine and I do not share.  Ever.  So, excuse me while I prepare him breakfast and supply him with endless cups of gourmet coffee.  He’s earned it, and a private massage later.

That swan thing is deeply puzzling.  Should I contact Animal Services?

Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews?

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Reviewing books may be hazardous to your health, especially if you are an author. Kristen Lamb discusses her experiences and how they shaped her reviewing style.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not published any books.  I have learned not to publish reviews on any books I did not like. If I strongly disliked, or worse, did not finish the book, I will not write a review.   Period.  To this day, I have only posted one negative review for a book.  I purchased the book, at full price, and expected to get a “full-price experience,” based on the glowing and outstanding reviews.  I did not.  I got something far less enjoyable and felt gypped. My negative review is still “live,” and will remain so, because my feelings were honest.    If I receive any negative feedback I will immediately delete the review.

The “anonymous bravado” of some people on the internet, is not pretty and not something I wished to engage in.  Seeing the vitriolic backlash towards reviewers and authors, has helped me determine when, and if, to post a review.   I will continue to give a book a low rating, if I feel it deserves it.  Amazon and Goodreads like to “recommend” future books, based on what I have already read. This not been a successful “system” for me.  I prefer to have books recommended to me via word-of-mouth or after reading remarks by reviewers who provide enough information about the author’s character development and mechanics of the story, rather than a marketing algorithm.

No review from me means  “I did not have time to write a review, and none was requested,” the book was “fine,” or “the book was so poorly written that ‘silence is golden.'”  If an author, or other reviewer, requests my thoughts, I will provide my honest thoughts.  If I rate a book as an “A,” “B,” or “C” (outstanding, very good or good), the review will go “live” without input from the author.  Anything lower, like a “D” (fair),  “F” (poor), or “DNF” (did not finish because…why bother?) will not be reviewed.  I will give my opinion of the book , along with an explanation as to what worked and did not work for me, to the author/reviewer, privately.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Okay, yesterday we had a little bit of a debate about leaving book reviews. First of all, the post is to warn you of the dangers of posting bad reviews as an author. Does it mean you can’t? No. Can you tweet while drinking and listening to LinkinPark? Yes, but you do so at your own risk. Same here. I am not the social media gestapo, but I am here to warn you of the hazards that are REAL.

We Never Know Who People Know

I once commented offhandedly to an acquaintance about a book I was reading. I wasn’t nasty, I just mentioned that I found it confusing and the dream sequences were messing me up. I also added that it could be me. I WAS seven-months pregnant, so I added the caveat that it could just be Baby Brain.

Little did I know the acquaintance was BEST…

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Blog Giveaways on Facebook and Learning to Step Away from Them

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For several months I entered book giveaways sponsored by book blogs like an addict seeking her next fix.  The lure of free e-books, paperbacks, bookmarks, magnets and countless other swag was mesmerizing.  It appealed to my basest, “if it’s free, it’s for me” desires.

I clicked away like a mad woman.  I “liked” authors I had not heard of, genres I did not particularly care for, books I would likely never read, and unknown blog, after unknown blog.  I was fanatical in my glee!  I reasoned that the more giveaways I entered, the greater my odds of “winning.”Image

And, I did win.  I won a few well-written e-books, a few not-so-well-written e-books, a couple of signed paperbacks and postcards, magnets and bookmarks.  For some of the books I enjoyed, I wrote reviews and downloaded the authors’ backlists.  For the books I did not like, well…at least I attempted to read them, before relegating them to the “did not finish,” or “do not buy” piles.

A few bloggers posted their dismay on Facebook.  They were unhappy that hundreds of people would run over to their Rafflecopter sites and enter the free contests they advertised and sponsored.  Once the contests ended and the winners were announced, many of their new “followers” simply “unliked” their sites.  My initial thought was, “You should never expect anything, when you offer something for nothing?”  The only requirements for the giveaways were to “like” a bunch of sites, share the giveaways on other Social Media outlets, and sometimes leave comments on the blog.   No real commitments were necessary.

One blogger, however, posted her true feelings on her Facebook status.  She was upset, and hurt, that folks only entered the contests to “win.” It sparked a discussion on how the giveaways were structured.  In that moment, I realized why I did not like the giveaways – they were one-sided with no reciprocation.  The raffles had a finite timeline.  None of the bloggers who sponsored them committed to following the people who entered the contests. There was no give-and-take.  In more than one case this frustrated me, as wondered if they even read the comments posted.  Wasn’t the point to help one another grow each other’s blogs?  No, but it should have been.

At the writing of this post, only two of the blogs I “liked” and “followed” have “followed” me, in return.  This let me know they actually read the comments posted.  Those blogs have my support as they continue to grow their readership.

As for continuing to participate in giveaways…well, “if it’s free, it’s for me,” right?  Perhaps.  In a much more selective manner.

Motivation to Write

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As an amateur blogger, or rather an inconsistent blogger, I am often unsure of how often to post.  Daily writing challenges might work for me while I am not in school, but are unrealistic once my schedule changes.   Weekly challenges are another option because I can schedule it into my calendar.  But, choosing the day to post may send me into an ADHD stress spiral.welcome to my blog now what

So, I have been posting as spirit, stories or books have moved me to do so.  Not the most consistent blogging style, but I have been able to record my thoughts and feelings when they are”freshest,” and therefore, the most transparent.

I been responding to more posts on other bloggers’ sites.   These conversations are helping me find my blog voice and led to some of my own posts.   I feel less “shy” about posting, and more confident about my feelings.   Respectful discourse can be stimulating to read and participate in.

Share with me how you remain consistent in your blogging.  What prompts you to write?