Saturday, March 30, 2013

Getting to Know Tina’s Terrific Team! Philip Verghese ‘Ariel’ !

Please welcome the last of my team members to introduce themselves...Philip!  

As someone said, I too had the intention of keeping myself away from the audience while I write, so in the beginning I adopted the name ‘Ariel’ as my pseudonym.  But at a later stage I understood the value of revealing myself to the general readers.  And I came out with a write up about myself on “HowI got my pen name?” And now I firmly believe and recommend that one (If he or she is a writer) need to have an identity to be revealed in the writing field, just ghost writing will not fit the bill.  And  the present trend at writing field is much more than that, unless and until you reveal yourself the audience may not get into it or sometimes even just neglect even though your thoughts or imaginations are in a high caliber.  

This lesson I learned it while I was actively involved in Google’s Knol pages.  Since then I started promoting myself and my write-ups through different social media.  

For such activities there is an other side too, I received lot of criticism when I started promoting my resources.   I just neglected such talks and am still going on with my promotion as often as I can.  And ha,  Note that unless you do the promotion for your work who else will do for you? Think of this!  On this line recently I published a post at my blog page under the title. 9 Tips to promote your blogs…. to read ClickHere 

Now here at A to Z  Co- host Tina Downey of Life Is Good gave me an opportunity to expose myself and my writings  to the web word by selecting me as one of her A to Z promoters or ambassadors.  Thus this question and answer part.   Though I am a bit late here I am with my answers:

My Full Name is  Philip Verghese ‘Ariel’
I am a freelance author and an Editor of a Christian Bi-Monthly.
I do have few blogs in English (Philipscom) as well as in Malayalam,(Ariel's Jottings) my native language. 

My main hobby is philately, writing and photography.
Here comes my answers to some of the questions asked by our readers:

Q.1. "Where do you go to "Get away from it all"?"
OMG!! Good question, but I have no answer to this instead I have a question to ask back:
Where is the time? I feel 24 hrs is not enough. LOL.

Q 2. "Where do you hail from?"
I hail from Kerala a Southern State in India, quite often known or called as God’s Own Country.

Q 3. "Name an item that you have too much of."
No Doubts. BOOKS, Books And Books  and of course STAMPS too!!! LOL

Q 4. "Who is your favorite fictional character and why?"
Shakespeare’s Tempest’s character ‘Ariel ‘ the good spirit. -  I feel this is one of the best characters the great author ever produced, and the way in which it enacted will no doubt be a praiseworthy one. 

Q 5. "Do you know how to 'Gangnam Style?'"
Yep! Of Course A BIG NO. That’s all! No more explanation!

Q 6. “What items could you typically have in your pockets?"
Home Keys, vehicle keys and of course the purse contains my cards etc…

Q 7.  "When writing, do you prefer to compose your first-draft by hand, on your computer, or using Morse Code?"
Yes, my first draft I compose with my pen, most of the time I use my ink pen for this, then only it goes to the computer.

Q 8. "Cake or pie?"
I like cake but, I love soups for that matter any type like most

Q 9. "Coke or Pepsi?"  

A BIG NO to both, instead I prefer Lime Juice.  No, because, these days in many parts of India cola items are used as pesticides since it is cheaper than other pesticides and more effective too. So after came to know about this fact I said a big NO to these items. :-) 

Q. 10  "What makes life worth living?" 
Well this is a good question I think all should surely find an answer to it.   Our life on this earth is very temporal and let us utilize it well for the utmost satisfaction of our Creator God.  Yes, He created each one of us with a Great Purpose, "To live a life which is pleasing to Him, that is to live like Him, and to be good to our neighbors as well even to our enemies.  As I quite often am reminded and quote, "Let us share our blessings to others, at least the one who have not.  Tomorrow when we leave on this earth,  let others say that there was a man or a woman who lived a life which is pleasing to God as well as to his fellow being."  That is the life worth living!

Is there any more questions you have, please don’t hesitate to ask me: Just drop a comment at the comment box or you can contact me directly through my mail I've given elsewhere in my blog or at my Google+ space, Sure  I will come back to you soon with an answer to your utmost satisfaction.  This is for sure.

OMG! Time is up for the A to Z Blog Challenge.

Wish You All A Happy Blogging Ahead.

Thanks for your time and patience to be with us.

Thanks Philip for taking the time to share a bit about yourself with us.  I'm so glad you're on my team - you're a very reliable and fast worker!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Plans Change ~ Part 3: The Swede and The Nutritionist

In preparation for my Challenge Series: Adventures in America, I've convinced The Swede, my Dad, to share the story of how he and my Mom, The Nutritionist, met, fell in love, moved to Sweden, then in the middle of our childhood, moved to America. It's great to have you here Dad. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with all of us.

Plans Change
by Leif Bilen
My American exchange adventure went by very quickly. On the way back across the Atlantic I reconnected with the other students, and we compared notes. Our dress code had changed among other things, and when I greeted my folks I had a new haircut: a crew cut.

The American “dishes” I brought home were actually not all that nutritious, but hamburgers, French fries and banana splits tasted awfully good. Please don’t tell the Nutritionist.
My American year was a wonderful experience, and although it put me a year behind in the rather stringent academic high school I came back to, I never regretted it. I had two more years before graduation, and then mandatory military service in Sweden, before starting my university studies.

“Will I see anyone in my American family ever again?” The answer to that question came rather quickly. Brother Bob came to visit over the summer of 1959, and we toured Europe together: two 19-year old fellows in a Volvo, where the seats reclined enough to be able to sleep in some semblance of comfort.

I introduced him to most of my friends, many of them girls, wouldn't you know? I am sure we exchanged a word or two about his sister Bonnie. Although I dated some Swedish girls, during high school and army days, I wasn't able to put his younger sister out of my mind.

I had a few months after being discharged from the army before the start of my first semester at the university. I decided to “visit my American family” as I described it to them in my letters. Bonnie’s father suspected there was more to it, and I admit he was right.

During that summer both Bonnie and I realized that we were not just foreign exchange brother and sister any more. There was a lot of mutual respect, but also some caution flags: How is this going to work; two continents, different cultures etc.

The following summer Bonnie visited Sweden and the land of the Vikings didn't scare her too much. As she went back to New York to finish nursing school, we had agreed to stay in touch, but there was no restriction on dating others. If it was God’s plan for us to spend our lives together, it would surely become clear to us.

The only way to stay in touch was via airmail letters, and there were lots of them. After finishing half of my university credits, I had had enough of letter writing and decided to take some time off and move to New York for a while and leave the rest to the Lord.

Eight months later we were married. I had a job at Chase Manhattan Bank, while she finished her B.S. in nursing. We moved to Sweden for me to finish school, and I promised: “If you don’t like it, we can move back to the States.

We stayed for ten years and I had a promising teaching career in the public school system as well as some work at the local teacher institute. I also had the privilege of working with my teaching mentor publishing several books for kids to learn English.

In 1974 I took a sabbatical so that our family, which now included three kids, could spend a year in America. That didn't work out as planned; we are still here, and I eventually became a U.S. citizen. After all, grandpa shouldn't be the only foreigner in the family.

None of this was planned in 1974, and I have found out that one’s life’s path is full of small course adjustments. When we stay close to God and listen to his voice, he directs our path and sometimes these adjustments eventually lead to major changes. In my case it was a change from teaching to a corporate career with Volvo, which turned out to be a nice ride (pun intended). 

People wonder these days what happened to that handsome young Swedish foreign exchange student Bonnie married, and so do I at times. I am an elderly U.S. senior living with my prairie home companion at the foot of the Rockies.

The two of us are very different, and that has in some ways contributed to success in our marriage. Neither of us is perfect, but we are perfect for each other fitting together like two pieces in a puzzle.  

About the Author:
Leif Bilen is the author of numerous books, including text books for Swedish students and adults to learn English.  His latest book, "They Put me in Charge... and Told Me I Didn't Have a Clue: Learning to Lead by Listening to Bosses, Co-workers, and Subordinates" is about leadership and his Volvo career.  It's available at Amazon, and local bookstores if you happen to live in Colorado.

Please come back Monday, April 1st when The biggest blog-hop of the year begins.  My theme for the A-Z Challenge is "Adventures in America" and picks up with how the oldest of the children of The Swede and The Nutritionist (that would be me, Tina, the head-strong, type A, bossy one) coped with moving across the world when she was about to turn 9.  Can't wait to see you and read YOUR challenge posts.

P.S If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, just click and you'll get 'em.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another Culture: Part 2 The Swede and The Nutritionist

In preparation for my Challenge Series: Adventures in America, I've convinced The Swede, my Dad, to share the story of how he and my Mom, The Nutritionist, met, fell in love, moved to Sweden, then in the middle of our childhood, moved to America. It's great to have you here Dad. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with all of us.

by Leif Bilen

When the Arosa Sky of the Holland America Line docked in New York City on August 13, 1957, I was recovering from the Asian flu.  I was one of several hundred high school students who had crossed the Atlantic together. Many of us had spent a few days in bed with high fever and other symptoms. I was not allowed to disembark until local health officials had checked me out and cleared me for entrance into this country; not the greatest start of a year abroad, but it added to the adventure.

From New York City we headed to our final destinations. Along with several others, I was on a chartered Greyhound bus heading to the D.C. area. As the bus made its way to the Lincoln tunnel, I noticed the colorful yellow taxicabs that seemed to be all over the place. Back home all taxis were black and the drivers wore black uniforms. “No, this is not going to be a drab and boring country.”

A Howard Johnson restaurant with its bright orange roof and iconic architecture caught my eye shortly after entering New Jersey. “Wow, I guess I am not in Europe anymore.” It was not the only one along the road. They were all over the place back then. In 2012 there were only two of them left; one in Maine and the other one in New York State. Yes, America’s tastes have changed, and in more areas than food for that matter.

My host family welcomed me with open arms and quickly made me feel at home. During the few weeks before the fall semester I was able to adjust to several things, although they didn’t really come as a huge surprise: a big family, a big house, a big yard, a big church, big cars and so on.

Other curiosities intrigued me. One morning when I walked into the kitchen, there was a man looking into the refrigerator. Then he walked out the back door and returned with some milk, eggs, and butter. The milkman had free access to the house, and it was up to him to determine what the household needed until his next visit. I was used to running to the store for my mother, when were out of something.

Another thing that told me a lot about in what kind of neighborhood we were living in was the fact that nobody seemed to worry about locking their cars while parked in the driveway.

I guess the real culture shock came when I started school. I had attended a medium sized downtown high school for boys. Here I was in a large coed high school on a sprawling campus with huge parking lots for the students who drove their own cars to school, which included Bob, my host brother, who drove me, Bonnie and two other girls. We also had our own stadium for football and other sports. I got used to it faster than I had expected and enjoyed it a lot.

I knew I would probably lose a year of school after returning to Sweden, so I signed up for some rather unique classes not available back home: driver education (1957 Chevy), public speaking, and typing. Although I was a senior, I took 11th grade English and History, because they dealt with American literature and history. Since Bonnie was a year ahead of her peers, we ended up taking those classes together, and from time to time we helped each other with homework.

Other than that I stuck with the program and hung out with brother Bob and that included both of us playing on the soccer team. However there was little doubt that Bonnie was rather cute and pleasant.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Part 1 of The Swede and The Nutritionist:

In preparation for my Challenge Series: Adventures in America, I've convinced The Swede, my Dad, to share the story of how he and my Mom, The Nutritionist, met, fell in love, moved to Sweden, then in the middle of our childhood, moved to America. It's great to have you here Dad. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with all of us.

by Leif Bilen

“Do you have indoor plumbing in Sweden?” “What sort of clothes do you wear over there?” “Are there many polar bears where you live?” Those were some of the questions I got from my fellow students at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, as they tried to get to know their new exchange student.

This was during Eisenhower’s second term about half a year before the Soviets launched the first Sputnik. The internet and social media had not yet transformed communications to give us a better awareness of what goes on in other countries around the world. I probably had similar illusions about this country.

I had read The Last of the Mohicans, and I had tasted that curious soft drink called Coca Cola. Then in school I learned a bit more about the Big Country in the West and the more I learned the more interested I became.

When the opportunity for a year’s scholarship to an American high school presented itself, there was hardly any hesitation. I applied, and after a few months a letter advised me I was one of the fortunate ones. I was told I would be going to Silver Spring, Maryland. “Man, this is going to be great. How can I be blessed?”

I soon found out that my family had four children and a maid living with them. The father in the family was an eye doctor. “How am I going to fit in over there?” I was an only child and my dad was a cop, who had to do a lot of moonlighting to make ends meet.

Later, I learned that this was a back-up plan, because the first host, a pastor’s family in the same town had backed out at the last minute. Now, I realize how different my life would have been, if this change had not taken place.

I was both excited and nervous when I prepared to leave my familiar surroundings. As I started to receive letters from members of my new family, I began to calm down. They seemed so nice and genuine. I would be hanging out with a “brother” my age and his letters were very reassuring.

One letter from his 15 year old little sister, Bonnie, puzzled me though. She told me it would be nice, if I could bring along some Swedish dishes. I didn’t quite panic, but I started to wonder. “How are they going to fit in my suitcase? What if they break in transit?” After consulting a dictionary or two, I eventually figured out that she was talking about Swedish recipes, and had I known then what I know today, I would have made sure they didn’t lack nutrition. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Getting to Know Tina's Terrific Team! Jolie!

Please join me in welcoming another one of my Terrific Team Members. Jolie has been so excited about The Challenge that she approached US about helping. Talk about dedication!  

Bio: Jolie du Pre is a full-time published author, editor, article writer and blogger. Her novella, Litria, is available at Amazon. Visit her blog at Precious Monsters

1. Would you ever join a team that was headed off to colonize Mars?

Heck no! Humans are destroying the Earth. I don't want to participate in the destruction of Mars too.

2. What reason did you have to sign up for the A to Z and what did you expect to gain from entering?

My blog was new, and therefore, I wanted to sign-up with A to Z to bring people to my new blog. I expected to find lots of new readers, and that's exactly what happened. I'm very grateful to A to Z!

3. What rock star would you be?

If I could be a rock star, I'd be Stevie Nicks. I greatly respect her talents.

4. How do you comment - if someone posts 5,6,7 times a week .. once - or 3 times .. then each time or once or twice .. then each time I can't keep up .. but hate not supporting everyone ..

I respond to every comment I receive, unless it's on a blog post that's really old and one I’ve forgotten about. I think it's rude not to.

5. What is the most Underrated letter of the Alphabet?

X - The characters in my novellas The M Series are called Zxxtergins. Power to the X!

6. What movie did you watch that exceeded your expectations?

"End of Watch," starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, is a drama about two police officers who work in South Central Los Angeles. The movie didn't get much attention; however, I enjoyed it better than “Argo” and “Lincoln,” two movies that got plenty of attention.

7. Describe the last Halloween costume you wore.
I was a naughty nurse, complete with white boots.

8. What makes life worth living?
It’s working my dream job as a full-time writer. I’ll never go back to my old life.

9. Cake or pie?
I can't afford to indulge in either, but it's pie when I do.

10. Where do you go to "Get away from it all"?
Staying out of online article writers forums is a great way to “get away from it all.” Article writers forums are dark, dreary places filled with whiners and complainers. Other than that - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Don't forget to check out Litria!  Thanks so much for all your hard work, and for sharing your talents with us on my team.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Getting to Know Tina's Terrific Team! Hilary!

Please join me in welcoming Hilary Melton-Butcher to Life is Good! She's one of Tina's Terrific Team, and terrific indeed. Her very popular blog is called Positive Letters...inspirational stories... and you're sure to learn something new every time you visit.

As you can see, she's also creative, so she didn't use any of the available questions...though she did use something which is about to become even more familiar to ALPHABET!

        A: Age. - Older than 20, but younger than 80 – just!!

B: Books – all sorts ... preferably historical or reference and a good yarn

C: Cooking – love it ... great relaxation, though I don’t do much now

D: Dogs – love them, though now don’t own one

E: Elegance – wish I had it!

F: Friends – essentials to life

G: Gardens – love them and their seasonal variations

H: Height – middle to low; much the same for width!

I:  Intuition – flashes of illumination from our cognitive processes - sometimes!

J: Journeys – exploring new areas, or seeing old friends along the way

K:  Knowledge ... I can’t not find out ...  that need to know is inbuilt

L: Languages – wish I’d learnt them, and would love to grasp a few

M: Measurement ... I like to know pertinent time frames, distances etc

N:  Names and their etymology

O:  Overseas friends and bloggers – the world is wonderful

P:  Paeony – my mother’s favourite frothy (candy pink)flower

Q: Queen – I admire her dedication ...

R:  Roses – scented ones

S:   Scribes – especially those ancient scribes, who ensured we can communicate today

T:  Time – need much much more of it

U:  Undercroft – love that word ... mostly as it refers back to the medieval times

V:  Vegetables – all sorts ... and Spring is nearly here for the new young veggies

W:  Warthogs – my favourite African creatures – but all wildlife

X:  Xstatic for life ...

Y:  Yellow for sunlight, primroses, daffodils ... lifting our hearts

Z:  Zizzzzzzzing of the bees, which need our protection ....

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to this endeavor.  You were the very first to say yes, and haven't stopped working since!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Flex Time

The time when I blog short bits about stuff that's bugging me, or has delighted me, or is just plain what I want to write about. Anything goes...

Teaching a 15 year-old to drive really is fun.
I'd thought it would be this big, scary thing, but I guess I'm lucky. The Transporter is so good, mostly what we talk about is various routes to places. He's excellent at knowing where places are around town after spending most of his teen years using his bike for transportation with his buddy, SkinnyBoy. However, cutting across parks and driving the wrong way down alleys is generally frowned upon when in a motor vehicle, especially when it's the big, blue, prison van, which has been my mode of transport since my lovely lady (1994 Volvo 940, smoke grey, and the youngest in our fleet) died on me over a month ago.

I miss my girl, and her turbo, but I do feel rather tall in the van (something this 5'4” girl doesn't feel very often) and invincible since it seats 12 and is 8 cylinders and a 350. Parking that behemoth is another story. Of course, The Transporter is an excellent parker too, which he never fails to tell me...

Good news is, that after the all the fixes that DIDN'T solve the '94's problems (though they were quite necessary, just not enough) THE problem has been identified , and as soon as we have a Saturday without snow I'll have my new fuel pump installed and be all set. So in other words, not this weekend.

I get totally irritated when those signs where someone in the establishment has control over the letters and changes the signs SPELLS THINGS WRONG.

This irritates more than just the fact that the sign MAKER can't spell. It means NO ONE there, NOT EVEN THE OWNER, can spell, or they'd get that sign guy out there to fix it. Either that, or everyone is blind. Or they've looked at it so many times they don't notice. Whatever the reason, if you want to showcase your stupidity for weeks on end, be my guest. I'll eat/shop/give someone else my dollars who CAN spell. Does this bother other people or is it just former English teachers like me?

We Coloradans joke that if you don't like the weather, just wait 15 minutes.

That couldn't have been illustrated better than today. I was outside after lunch checking in my backyard in prep for spring, and it was sunny and warm and I realized I'd have to change to shorts from capris before I went for my walk. So I sunscreen, I change clothes, I fill a water bottle, put the bare essentials in my pocket, and leave the house.

It's now a grey, cloudy, extremely windy day, and I'm very glad I grabbed a long sleeved shirt on my way out. I'm not deterred though, because I'm feeling good enough to drive to the park to do laps, thereby getting to walk further without a big commitment. This is necessary when your lungs are healing and you never know when they're going to scream “done”. Well lo and behold, they are nowhere near done when it starts to rain! I still ended up walking 50% further than any walk since my slow recovery started, though. So though this is a weather story, it's also a contentment update. Go me! I walked for 35 minutes. That seemed impossible in August when I couldn't even do the stairs.

What bugs you? How did it go teaching your child/children to drive? Does your place have weird weather? What are you content about?


P.S If you haven't heard about The Blog Blitz yet, click on the badge to the right to learn more about this totally cool way of spreading some bloggy love.  The idea is from DL Hammons of Cruising Altitude 2.0.  You have to be signed up as a blitzer if you want to GET blitzed, and trust me, you do :-)  Not talking drunk.  Go check it out!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Theme Reveal Day! What's Your A-Z Challenge Theme?

I feel like I'm at the play-off game, or the championship game even, and they've got the inflatable tunnel set up, the smoke going, the crowd roaring, the beer flowing, the fans waving and the game is about to start. I LOVE FOOTBALL. My kids don't understand why they have to turn off their XBOX NOW so that I can watch that “stupid hoopla introduction run down the tunnel stuff” instead of them finishing a level. Well, it's because I WANT TO SEE IT.

Today feels almost like that. We're getting so close to the start of the biggest blogging event of the year, and today, we're sorta announcing the players' positions. We know the players, since we do have that ever growing list, but we don't quite know what they've got planned.

THAT'S WHY IT'S REVEAL YOUR THEME DAY! It's the awesome idea of Mina Lobo, one of the members of "Team Damyanti", and co-hosted by David Macaulay.  Of course, since I am Miss Hop-on-the-Nearest-Blog-Hop Train, here I am, already aboard.

My theme for the 2013 A to Z Challenge is “Adventures in America” : these are the continuing sagas of a Swedish immigrant during her first year as an American. She boldly went where she'd never gone before...please come along on her journey.

Each day I'll have a story from my first year in America (Summer 1974-1975) and most likely some embarrassing picture. The Nutritionist (my mother for you new folks) is also the Momarazzi, and there is plenty of documentation of my life...

As I started writing these, I started thinking about how I would have felt moving my kids across the world in the middle of their I might add some “if I were my mother” stuff in as well...that should keep her and The Swede reading!

As a special lead in to the series, The Swede, my Dad, will be writing three prequel posts to introduce himself and my mom and tell their love story, giving the set-up for why we're a trans-Atlantic family, and why we even moved here in the first place. Don't miss 3/27, 3/28, and 3/29 when he's my guest author.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Getting to Know Tina's Terrific Team! A.J!

Please welcome another one of my Terrific Team Members, AJ! She guestposted at the A-Z Challenge blog about her novel Armageddon, so don't forget to check it out. It's totally cool – choose your own ending! Alright, let's get to know her better...

"Where do you hail from?"
I hail from the land of cheese and beer. On Wisconsin!
Would you ever join a team that was headed off to colonize Mars?”
Maybe! I do get motion sick though, so they'd have to put me in stasis for the transit because otherwise I'd have a pretty sick tummy the whole time. 
"Which is your favorite fictional character and why?"
Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables. She is such a deliciously feisty nerd, and was pretty much my hero as a young girl.
"Name a book that didn't meet your expectations."
Eat, Pray, Love. Uggghhhhhhh.... 

"Describe the last Halloween costume you wore."  
The last two times we've dressed up for Halloween, I've gone as a Korean soccer player, and Chris has gone as a German soccer player. I was in South Korea for the World Cup a few years ago so wearing my jersey is quite nostalgic.

"Do you know how to 'Gangnam Style?'"
I do! Unfortunately when we were in Korea last fall, we didn't make it to Gangnam. But we did teach my nephew how to sing it, and that was about the cutest thing ever.  

"What items could you typically have in your pockets?"

Actually...only my phone, and that's only some of the time. My purse on the other hand is a treasure trove of pens, notebooks, a Kindle, a copy or two of my book, maybe some choir music...

"Cake or pie?"  

Pie, of course! Because obviously the cake is a lie. Seriously though, my strawberry rhubarb pie is to die for. If Tina's a nice minion-chief I might bring her some this summer... (Tina seconds this motion)

"What makes you cry? (Emotional reasons. Onions don't count.)"
Oh my goodness. Any commercial with anyone in a military uniform. Especially if they're returning and hugging their loved ones for the first time... I'm done for.
"What is the most unusual thing you have ever given as a gift?"
One year for my dad's birthday, we took a bunch of his underwear and used fabric paint to spell out HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the butts and left them out for him to find when he got home from work. He was.. not pleased.. but we thought it was the funniest thing ever :)
As a bonus AJ has joined Andrea in the new tradition of Tina's Terrific Team sweater reveal. So here's AJ in her favorite kitty sweater.  Thanks, AJ for sharing so much of yourself with us.  Don't forget my pie, and I'll join you in stasis.  I get car sick so easily they'd seriously have to drug me for the trip to Mars...but I'm glad you'll be along ;-) 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Double Dip Day:"The Charge" by Sharon Bayliss AND The Top 10 Movie Countdown!

Sharon Bayliss Blog Tour/Top 10 Movie Countdown Blogfest

I usually only do one post at a time, but in true Alex J. Cavanaugh, host of the blogfest, style, I have Sharon AND the blogfest. Of course Sharon gets to go first.

I'm excited to have author Sharon Bayliss here today for a stop on her blog tour. Her new novel “The Charge” is now available on Amazon, and sounds like a terrific book. I interviewed Sharon, and realizing how much we had in common, of course couldn't stay out of the conversation...

1. So far, is being a published author how you expected it to be? Any surprises?

Sharon: I think every author has some dreams of fame and fortune, but on the whole my expectations for my debut novel were somewhere within the realistic range. The biggest surprise is all the hard work and time it takes. Between marketing this novel and trying to write the next one, it's a full time job. But I don't make enough money yet to quit my day job, so I'm stuck with two jobs! It's no longer a hobby I can dabble in when I am able.

Tina: I'm still first novel is dying to get out. It's 17% done if you count NaNo wise, as in 50,000 words, but I have a feeling it will take me longer to pull all the loose threads together.

2. If you had to dress up as your favorite literary character, who would it be? 

Sharon: I'm not a big dress-up type, so I've never dressed up as a literary character. However, I secretly would love to wear wizards robes a la Harry Potter and wield a wand. Don't tell the Gryffindors, but in my dress-up fantasy I would wear Slytherin robes and shout "avada kedavra" and other dark curses.

Tina: Say it isn't so! I'm a Gryffindor all the way! I'd dress up in the invisibility cloak and eavesdrop on staff meetings. As a former teacher, I'd love to be able to hear how this bunch took care of business.

3. Name one habit you want to change in yourself. 

Sharon: I'm very messy. I can't seem to keep my house and car clean, even when I really try. Having two small boys in the house and almost no free time makes it that much harder, but I've never been good at housework. So, I wish I was cleaner. Or made enough money to hire a maid. Although, I'm far from wealthy, I actually think the latter is actually more likely. ;)

Tina: I'm a mess, too. Four pack-rats and one un-packratter makes for an interesting house. The Swede put it kindly, “It always looks like you're about to move in, or maybe out...” BUT, I do have a solution for you. Teenage girls. I have some physical disabilities, and have had teenagers clean my house for the last 8 years. They're cheap, trainable, eager to please, and fun to hang around with. 

4. Tell us something interesting or shocking about yourself.

Sharon: Interesting - My husband is a descendant of Joseph Bayliss, who died at the Alamo.

Shocking - I once stabbed a knife all the way through my hand in a freak avocado slicing accident.

Tina: I'll actually stay out of this one...stories galore here at Life is Good about me and my accident prone nature...

5. What can we expect next from you? Will there be a sequel to The Charge?

I have a completed novel just waiting for me to have the time to edit and submit it to my publisher. So, if my publisher offers me a contract on that, my next book will be an adult drama about a Houston family who are part-Baptist, part-dark wizard.

I'm also not done screwing with Warren's life. :) After I get my wizard novel submitted, I'll start working on a new book in The Charge series.

Check out the reviews of “The Charge” on Amazon. This story of an alternate relationship between Texas and the US has elements of the supernatural, suspense, romance, and non-stop action. Two of the reviewers “couldn't put it down.” I bought one of course, and can't wait to read it. I love those elements, and historical fiction. This seems like a perfect mix!

So leave Sharon some love, and go buy her book!


Alex J. Cavanaugh, the newly christened Blogfather, is hosting the movie bloghop.   Not one to always follow directions, I divided my top 10 into categories and put them in order IN THEIR CATEGORY. Make sense?

1. Lost in Translation (a must see for any Bill Murray fan, he should have gotten an Oscar)
2. Love Actually (best ensemble movie AND most quotable movie EVER)
3. A Love Song for Bobby Long (poignant and sweet, yet real and gritty and the score should have won, not that it was nominated)

1. The Princess Bride (2nd most quotable movie, ever, Rob Reiner is a genius)
2. The American President (I guess I'm a Rob Reiner fan...)
3. When Harry Met Sally (that would be Rob again, I'm seeing a pattern)

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (never, ever, EVER, will I tire of this one...)

2. Terminator (see note on previous entry)

1. Die Hard (started the franchise, still the best, though some of the others are still worth watching multiple Live Free or Die Hard)

2. The Transporter (I don't think I need to say more than Jason Stratham)

Wow, picking only ten was hard. I grouped them by order in genre, not overall order. I'm just as likely to put one in as the other, but as for THE number one movie, it's in the #1 slot.  Lost in Translation.

Brevity card nowhere in sight.  OOPS.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Senior Citizens & Cell Phones

(google free images)

Disclaimer: no senior citizens, or citizens of any age who fit into this category of cell phone users were meant to be harmed by this post. I'm merely stating my frustration, er opinion, regarding how SOME seniors (and others, like Our Youngest Teen) use their cell phones.

The cell phone is a marvelous invention. We can call someone who is NOT at their home! I don't mean to call to have a long, meandering, private conversation that everyone in the waiting room has to listen to one side of. I'm talking about important things like suppose you've got the pukey flu, and your dear mother is at the grocery store fetching some items for you, only you forgot to say diet ginger ale, so you try her cell phone.

Except The Nutritionist's definition of cell phone is an item I keep in my car to make an emergency call to my husband should I need assistance. She doesn't carry it in her purse. She doesn't turn it on unless she wants to make a call. What's a pukey girl to do?

Call The Swede, who always has his cell phone, in fact, has bluetooth in his car so that he can safely answer EVEN IF HE'S DRIVING. This, by the way, is the highest level of cell phone usage. Always at the ready, and SAFE.

The Swede, who is just the best Dad in the whole world DRIVES TO THE GROCERY STORE to intercept the cell-less one, and adds the ginger ale to the cart. Talk about going out of your way to help a girl. I get my precious ginger ale, and feel a bit better.

My parents aren't the only ones who treat their cell phones this way. The pattern is almost the same with my in-laws, The Advocate and The Boss. My father-in-law is an attorney (no, I don't think he'll ever retire – he's just having too much fun as an expert consultant) and his cell is his business cell, so I'm more likely to find it on. However, The Boss, my dear mother-in-law who has been through the wringer health wise in the last two years (she've heard about me in snippets, but she wins...believe me) has been in and out of the hospital, the rehab hospital, and so he's been required to turn it off, so he's been harder to reach the last two agonizing years.

I don't think I've ever reached her on her cell. However, she's a step ahead of The Nutritionist – her phone is at least in her purse.

It's not just seniors who have phone use issues that don't match MY definition of what a cell phone is for, and this particular example is a 13 year old child. Mine. When he started riding his bike to school, I needed him to have a phone so he could call and say, “I crashed my bike, come help.” However, he forgets to bring it, forgets to charge it, forgets to look at it...

I've had to result to punishment (didn't work...) and now I'm actually BRIBING him to use it. I thought, “Teenager. New technology. Wow, he's going to love this present.” Not so much. This boy who plays MineCraft, wants to be an engineer (electrical), can take apart a hobby grade (read outrageously expensive) RC car, water proof the important parts, put it back together again, won't use his phone. What's a mom to do? Five days in a row of texting me before you leave school and I'll buy you a blizzard. I wonder if The Nutritionist can be bribed...

How do you use your cell phone? Have you run into these issues with the older generation? Do your children have phones? Do they use them? Or am I the only one going nuts trying to reach people who HAVE phones but don't USE their phones...