This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! Tricks and Treats Coming My Way

Happy Halloween!

        Tricks and treats are afoot as the cooler weather closes in and another November is about to bring us ever nearer to the end of another year.

        Some of my personal treats are that I've enjoyed a wonderful visit with family in Tennessee, but now it's also a treat to be back home with my dear wife, my computer and office, my own bed, and everything else that comes with being home.   Getting away can be nice, but there's no place like home.

         National Novel Writing Month will be a treat for many of us during November, though it might be a trick keeping up with the progress and meeting the 50,000 words required at the end of the month in order to walk away and claim a win.  I'm going for it again this year.  I may have a few tricks in the way of challenges that may hinder me at times during a busier November than I've had in the last two years, but in the end I hope to be treated with the beginnings of another novel.

            The special treat of attending the BlogWorld Expo 2011 at the Los Angeles Convention Center will be coming this week-end November 4th and 5th.  It might be a bit of a trick to make it around to everyone who will be exhibiting and soak up all the information I can.  You can be assured that I will be reporting my experience to all of you right here on Tossing It Out.

             Those of us in the United States will have the treat of Thanksgiving Day in November.  Many of our Canadian friends were tantalizing us recently with stories about their Thanksgiving Day treats.  Now it will be our time.  I love Thanksgiving dinner.

           Finally, I have a little treat in honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).   My recent cross country drive between Phoenix and Tennessee inspired some thoughts about how planning out the writing of a novel might be compared to planning a trip.

Planning a Trip vs. Planning a Novel

Know where you're going--  Where is my story going to end.

What is the purpose of the journey?-- Why do I want to tell this story?

How are you traveling? -- What will be the genre, point of view, and style of the story I'm going to tell.

Where are you going to stop (stay) along the way? --  What do I what to do when I need to get away from my story for a while.?

When are the best times to stop to take a break?--  What will be my writing schedule?

Watch the road signs -- Spell and grammar check are great tools for me when I write.

Obey the traffic laws -- Write right.

Dealing with road hazards and detours --Think about the story problems as I run into them and try to deal them before I get hopelessly lost.

Learn to read a map --  I like using tools like time lines and character sketches, but outlining is one that I should try to use more often.

           Will you being doing NaNoWriMo in November?   Do you have any big plans for Thanksgiving?  How will you spend Halloween?


Friday, October 28, 2011

For Your Halloween Dining Pleasure: Weird Wild Foods

        After being challenged by Susan Kane at thecontemplativecat, I have been digging through my brain archives to think up some weird foods that I've tried that were surprisingly good.   As I began thinking about this I was taken back to my mid-twenties when I was on a national tour with the Ken Griffin magic show.

         In a post in June of 2010, I told how Ken Griffin was the one who first introduced me to menudo.  I had always thought of myself as a pretty adventurous person when it came to food, but once I started being around Ken Griffin I was introduced to some foods I had never considered.

        Ken had been around a lot in his life.  He grew up near Deming, New Mexico not far from the Mexican border.  He'd spent years as a saddle maker and leather craftsman in the ranch country of Montana.   He and his wife had toured Viet Nam entertaining the soldiers during the war.  In his broad range of life experiences he had also encountered a lot of different foods that I had never tried.

         One of the favorites that he was known to whip up in a crock pot in the motel rooms was chicken hearts and gizzards.  The thought of these did not appeal to me at all.  However, he doctored them up with onions, an assortment of spices, and other ingredients that I don't recall and set them cooking all day in the crock pot.  I was pretty adamant about not trying these at first, but after a while the aroma started smelling pretty good.  They weren't the best looking things in the world, and I'll warn you if they're not cooked right it's can be darn close to eating rubber, but after twelve hours or so cooking in the crock pot they were tender and savory in taste.  Haven't eaten them since, but enjoyed them several times with Ken.

          He also talked me into trying pork brains and eggs.  I guess I was up for anything back then.  It's not your normal restaurant fare--you're not going to find these at Denny's or I-Hop--but when we stopped at some truck stop and he saw them on the menu he knew what he wanted.  And though I wasn't too enthusiastic about it I let him talk me into ordering them too.  Maybe I was just so hungry that anything would have tasted good, but I downed the plate with no problem and with no bad after-effects.

        Then there was the time in Indiana when a friend of Ken's invited us to a local bar where they were having a happy hour special of sorts and were serving lamb fries.  The place was rowdy with congenial working folks chowing down on platters of lamb fries and downing them with beer.  Everybody seemed to be enjoying them so I got a platter.  They were thin sliced, batter covered. fried crispy golden brown discs that looked similar to home fried potatoes.  They had a pleasant chewy texture with a light meaty taste that was maybe closer to clams or something like that.

         As I enjoyed my lamb fries and was working on my third or forth beer, I asked our host what lamb fries were anyway.  He informed me that they were sheep testicles, sliced thin, battered, and deep fried.  That momentarily gave me pause.  Then I looked around the room and saw everyone happily munching away.  What the heck!  They tasted darn good and I still had beer to wash them down with.  We ordered another platter and some more beer.  I was hungry.  And my philosophy is that if I see a whole bunch of people eating something and enjoying it then I'll be willing to try it too.

        I hope I'm never in a bar full of cannibals or worse yet, zombies.

         Have you ever tried lamb fries or rocky mountain oysters?    Do you have a good recipe for hearts and gizzards?   Does it unnerve you when you're having breakfast and the group of unkempt half-dead looking people at the table next to you tell the waitress they want brains?


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is It Me In Disguise for Halloween? No, It's My Special Guest Stephanie Campbell With a Special Halloween Story

         Today as I am visiting in Tennessee, my blog is in the competent hands of a young author I recently met through LinkedIn.  I was impressed by her personal author story and the subject matter of her new book Poachers seemed like an ideal fit for my Halloween theme for this month.  I hope you will enjoy meeting Stephanie Campbell and have fun with the special Halloween story she created especially for today's post.

            Stephanie Campbell had her first book, Until We Meet Again, published at the age of seventeen. Now, at twenty, she is still whacking away at her computer, one day at a time. When she isn't reading or writing, she likes to dance, take karate lessons, and run. After all, you never know when you're about to be sucked into another world.

            Be sure to visit Stephanie's blogs--Stephanie Campbell's Blog and So You Want To Be A Writer and show her your support.

Curse of the Shadow
A Ronnie Toll Side Story
By Stephanie Campbell

          Ronnie Toll sat at his desk, drawing a dark circle over and over again until his pen tore through the paper and ripped through to the other side. The girl that sat next to him—Lizzy-- saw this and scooted her chair as far away from him as possible. Ronnie ignored her. In fact, he ignored everything.

       The truth was, Ronnie had a very scary secret. He has been able to see dark, shadowy figures since birth, and they had been haunting him. His mother had taken him to multiple doctors, but nothing helped. Now, he went to a psychologist. Ronnie was convinced deep down that she was crazier than he was.

        It was Halloween. Everybody in his class was excited and was going to go trick-or-treating. Last year, his parents had tried to take him, but he had ended up kicking some woman in the face. That had stopped the relentless cycle. Instead, he spent his day watching the door like a dog ready to attack the first “shadow man” to creep through.

       This year would be no different. While Lizzy showed off her sparkling princess costume and the rest of the class talked about their plans for the evening, Ronnie sat still and silent. Until the light in the classroom flicked off, of its own accord.

       The whole class screamed in fear. Some of them tripped over their desks. Ronnie strained to hear a shadow monster, knowing that one was to blame. It was just too hard to tell, though, when his classmates were scrambling around like they were.

       “QUIET!” Ronnie cried.

        For the first time ever, they obeyed.

         Lizzy clung onto his sleeve and said, “Ronnie, what is it? I want to go home! I want my Mom! This is so dumb. I hate Halloween.”

        “Quiet,” Ronnie repeated.

         That was when a dark shadow came pouring through the door. It was scary and fearsome, more solid than he had ever seen one before. The rest of the class won’t be able to see it, he thought, though he swore that some of the students leapt back in fear.

          Ronnie pulled away from Lizzy and grabbed his math book, which was far too heavy for him normally. Now, it would be perfect. He had never tried to bludgeon a shadow to death before, but now he had no choice. Even if he hated his classmates, it didn’t mean that he wanted them dead. Here goes nothing, Ronnie thought.

         He leapt forward, holding up his book and screaming like a warrior, “ARGHHHHH!”

        That was when the shadow did something extraordinary, something that it had never done before. The shadow let out a shriek and screeched, “NOOOOO!!!!”

          The shadow fled from the room as the rest of the class cheered behind him. He stared at where the shadow had been and felt his face flush—that had not been his shadow man. Something was rotten in the state of Denmark.

         As Lizzy and one of the other students that usually teased him came up and patted him on the back, Ronnie stuck his head around the corner and groaned. Their math teacher, Mr. Clark, was lying on the floor from where he had tripped on the doorframe. He was in an all-black costume. Oh, no, Ronnie thought, realizing that Mr. Clark had been trying to scare them.

        The class, who had just seconds before been cheering him on, turned against him. Lizzy and the rest of his fellow students shrieked, “Ronnie did it!”

        Mr. Clark made a muffled sound against the carpet and looked up. By tonight, Mr. Clark would have two black eyes that would match his costume perfectly.

Ronnie Toll has never played with other kids. He's never slept soundly throughout the night, turned a corner without checking first, or laughed for the sake of laughing. All Ronnie knows is a world of shadows and monsters. His mother and father, Marion and Leon, are the only ones by his side. But all that is about to change when his mother is murdered by the monsters that only he can see. With his only safe haven crumbling around him, Ronnie becomes a poacher for the other side to help protect human civilization as he knows it. The problem is, he’s taking on more than he bargained for when he tangles with creatures that are larger than life—and himself. 

           For more information about Poachers visit Stephanie Campbell's Blog.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Dressing Up for Halloween

         Some of you, especially those of you with children, might be thinking of shopping for Halloween costumes these days.  Maybe you've already bought something.  Some will choose to be creative and make the costumes yourself or patch something together from things you have lying around the house.  Pumpkins and Halloween decorations are all over the stores.  It's kind of difficult not to notice that Halloween will soon be here.

          I won't be dressing up for that festive day, but I have been dressing up--or dressing down--my blog of late.  Over the last few weeks we've looked at some of the changes and you readers have been giving me some fine feedback.   I've done some major blog cleaning, split up into multiple blogs, and you may have noticed a new header design.

         I've altered the color scheme of my header and removed the reference to the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  After all this is where the Challenge started, but now it's got a new home.  If you haven't visited the A to Z Blog and become a follower I hope you will do so today.   News about the Challenge should start coming in soon and I don't want anyone to miss it.

          Tossing It Out may have a new header with a new slogan--Juggling words and phrases--but the blog content will remain pretty much the same.   Although now if I write anything about dreams it will most likely appear on A Faraway View (my dream blog).   I will still include some memoir material on this blog, but some of that will now be diverted to the memoir blog Wrote By Rote.

          Speaking of which, Susan Kane of thecontemplativecat challenged me a while back to write a blog post about adventuresome food.   I decided to delay this challenge to deliver as a Halloween post.  It's not really all that related to Halloween, but there was just something about the topic that made me think the post would be appropriate then.  I'll be posting this story coming this Friday October 28.

           On Wednesday October 26,  I'll be visited with a guest post by Stephanie Campbell who hosted me earlier on her blog So You Want to Be a Writer?.  Stephanie's got a special Halloween story that features characters from her latest book Poachers.  Don't miss this fun little tale and say hello to Stephanie.

           In the upcoming week I may be more lax than usual making rounds to visit your blogs since I'm here in Tennessee and may not be on the computer as much.  Next Monday, which is Halloween, I'll be back to normal--kind of.  What the heck is normal anyway?

             Are you dressing up for Halloween?   What are the hot costumes this year?  Have you linked to the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Blog yet to encourage your readers to join up?



Friday, October 21, 2011

Sweet Ride Home


           For starters you might want to first head over to DiscConnected and click on the "Sweet Ride" video for some background music to accompany this blog post.  And while you're there say hi to my ol' pal Larry Cavanaugh.  He's got a great blog that's a great place to hear good music new and old.

            So now you got the music playing and I can tell you what's happening with me.  I'm heading back home to Tennessee again.  This year is the most times I've gone back to Tennessee in the same twelve month span.  This time is just another visit and not a relocation.  I'll be back in Los Angeles in time for the BlogWorld Expo.  I wouldn't want to miss that.

            I'll be driving a rental truck from Phoenix, AZ to Maryville, TN as I help my sister move back to be closer to family.  I've lost count of the number of times I've driven across country, but it's always been enjoyable to me.  The difference this time is that I'll be driving by myself as my two sisters follow in a car.

           As long as I'm able to stop whenever I need to and take a break from driving, I should be fine.  I do pretty well at long distance driving.  Usually I'm in a car with my wife and a good stereo.  I'll miss that part.  But driving alone in a truck that will probably be noisier and slower than my wife's car may actually have some benefits that I can take advantage of.

           For one thing I can plan out blog posts for the future.  I often do this even while driving short distances around town.  With eighteen hundred miles and three full days of driving I should be able to plan out blog posts for the next couple of years or so.  I'll keep a notebook in the truck cab with me so I can jot down my ideas when I take my breaks.  Now with five blogs under my name I'd better be doing some planning.

          Then considering that NaNoWriMo will be starting up shortly after I get back home, some of my thoughts will undoubtedly be drifting in that direction.  In my past two NaNo attempts I didn't start planning anything until the first day of the novel writing challenge.   I was considering taking this same approach this year, but now it looks like I may have a very busy November waiting for me and planning the novel ahead of time might be a helpful strategy.

          Another thing that I know will be on my mind as I'm driving is my BlogWorld Expo mission.  I will want to plan out a strategy of which booths I will want to visit the most and what I will want to learn.   Just a few days after I get back to Los Angeles, I will be facing what will possibly be one of the most intense opportunities for learning as much as I can in two days that I've ever experienced.  Getting psyched up for this event will require good planning if I want to get the most out of it.

         There will be no shortage of things to think about as I drive across country--my life, my job prospects, my family's future.   If I need to rest my brain and let someone else think for me I guess I'll always have the radio.  Unfortunately I won't have any mobile devices like a CD player or an I-pod, so that won't be an option, but I don't think I'll be lacking in things to keep my mind occupied.  Then of course, I should probably pay attention to driving some of the time.

          By now, if you were listening to the "Sweet Ride" song on Larry's DiscConnected blog, the song has probably ended.  If you weren't, maybe you can still hop over to his site and say hello to him.   I guess I'm thinking about Larry because he lives in Phoenix and I'll be in and out of town in such a flurry I won't have time to meet up with him

          For that matter I'd say anyone who lives along Interstate 40 between Holbrook, Arizona and Knoxville, Tennessee could stand along the roadside between today (Friday) and Sunday night and wave as I drive by in the rental truck.  Of course since I don't know exactly where I'll be at what time then that won't be very practical.  But if you do happen to see a rental truck rolling down that highway, just think of me.  Think of me anyway as I take my sweet ride home.

          Have you ever made a cross country move?    Did you rent a truck and move yourself?   Have you gotten to know my buddy Larry at Disconnected yet?



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How to Spot a Demon: Ciara Knight Blog Tour Stop

      Today my special guest is Ciara Knight who is stopping in on her blog tour promoting her new release Love's Long Shadow.   In the spirit of Halloween she offers a bit a quandary faced by the main character of her story.  Perhaps you can help out.

        Hi, everyone. I’m Sammy Lorre and I need your help. I’m desperate. I was just invited to the Kemp High School Fall Festival by this guy, Boon. I’d love to go, but I don’t know if he’s angel or demon. I’ve got to find out before Halloween. You see, I fell from Heaven only a few months ago, my brother has left to chase a head demon, and the only other person around is my Earthbound mother, who is totally no help. I mean, she still has a corded phone in her kitchen. Can you imagine?

       I tried to figure out Boon’s true identity on my own. No luck. I looked for the local library for information but due to something called budget cuts, it’s closed. And when I say I’m new to the internet, believe me, I am. But, I have mastered the cell phone, and walking on my skinny legs.

       This internet, though, is so confusing and full of contradictory information. One place states a demon will be covered in warts, another declares they are handsome, and a third says they’ll blow black smoke out of their mouths. With Halloween fast approaching, and my brother’s warning about me being susceptible to demon influence, I’d like to know how to avoid them. I did find this:

Demons usually do not have bodies of their own, except in the case of Acheri Demons, who can "manifest" as human children. Other demons appear as a ‘black smoke’ in their incorporeal form. Their presence may leave traces of sulfur. They manifest by possessing humans, alive or recently deceased, via Demonic Possession.

      This had one thing that caught my eye. When I’ve been around a local demon, Forras, I became nauseous from the sulfuric odor. So, this might have merit. I know they have an affinity to bon fires and their eyes can glow blood orange, but I’ve never seen one blow smoke.

      A few things I’ve noticed about demons:
      Blood orange flickers in their eyes when they get excited.
      Shadows tend to saunter around them in all directions instead of staying still.
      When I’m around Forras, who is a demon big time, I feel an inner pull deep inside my belly to join their group.
      How about you? Do you have any idea how to spot a demon? Are you going out for this event called Trick-or-Treating?

About the author and her book:

        Ciara is happily married and enjoys family time. She has learned to embrace chaos, which is a requirement when raising three boys, and utilizes the insanity to create stories not of this world including, Fantasy, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, and Young Adult Dystopian.

        Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She's backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.





Sammy Lorre was cast from Heaven for conduct unbecoming an angel. Living in a demon-infested small town with no memory of her previous life, she faces never-ending purgatory until Boon saunters into her life with a promise of angelic love. But is he an angel from Heaven or a minion from the underworld preying on her human emotions? To discover his true identity, she must risk eternal damnation and her heart.
Length: 12,000 words, novella
Price: $1.99

           Thanks Ciara for stopping by.  Next Wednesday we'll be joined by author Stephanie Campbell who will have another special tale especially for Halloween.


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Expanding Blog Monster: Another Halloween Horror Story

        At first the blog seemed benign.  An innocuous presence in the peaceful blog community, the blog stopped in daily to chat about this or that with a congenial group of visitors.  The other bloggers became comfortable with the blog and became friends.

         And then one day, quietly, the solitary blog spawned a new blog, subdividing like a traitorous amoeba under the apprehensive eyes watching through a microscope. Some of the other bloggers grimaced with suspicion, while others calmly accepted the new blog on the block. The division passed as the new blog settled into the digital domain

          But then an insidious thing occurred.  Like a mad scientist working in his lab, the blog owner created another and another blog.  They kept coming uncontrollably.  This demented blogger had surely lost his mind and allowed his blog to go out of control.


        Okay, it's really not all that bad.  It's true that I have started some new blogs and anyone is perfectly welcome to view them, but I will totally understand if you think it's too much and choose not to.  This is my little bit of experimentation and you can certainly choose to ignore it.  I know I have done this in many cases where I have run across multiple blogs under one blogger's umbrella.

          I find it annoying when I go to a blogger profile to find a list of blogs and I don't know which is which.  As I have indicated in the past, I will sometimes just turn around and leave rather than try to figure out which blog is the main blog or the blog that pertains to my interests.  I hope that I have not done that.

         On my profile page I link Tossing It Out as my webpage.  In my about me bio I have left a description of each blog in order to guide visitors to the blog that might be of greatest interest to them.  Tossing It Out will continue to be my primary blog.   As a rule, I will only post once a week on the other blogs unless some event--like the A to Z Challenge--makes more posting appropriate.

          This is only my experiment.  Do not be alarmed.  I have been in my laboratory testing with blog ideas that suit me and now I've put them into operation. There are no devious plans afoot here, only my curiosity to see what works and what doesn't.   After all, I am a blog scientist and the science of blogging is one of my fields of interest.

           Now let me introduce you to my new blogs:

          Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Blog is one that many of you have already met and some are now following.  I would recommend that anyone who has any interest in the A to Z Challenge follow this blog for updates and information about the Challenge.

           A Faraway View is a blog about dreams, subconscious mind, and creative mental processes.  This is currently my pet project.   This blog features the imaginative art of Ada Zdanowicz.  Be sure to watch for a special guest post from Yvonne Lewis of Welcome to My World of Poetry on November 10.

          A Few Words: Ecclesiastes 5:2 is contemplative Sunday blog that will focus on selected verses of Psalms.  It's similar to my early Bible study posts except with much shorter entries.

           Wrote By Rote is a blog about writing memoirs and will include various life stories about me and others.  I hope to get a lot of guest posts on this one.  This one could turn into a real focus of attention for me eventually.

            There you have it.  I guess that has me back at seven days a week again, but I will be making a real effort at producing mostly shorter posts.   Don't feel any obligation to keep up with all of these because I completely understand if you don't.  However, I would appreciate seeing your happy little heads smiling back at me from each of these if you would be willing to follow--you know to make the follow box look good.   But only read what interests you--I know you have a lot of other blogs to read.

             Like I've already said, this is my little blogging experiment.  I felt it might be better to expand into more blogs than more posts on Tossing It Out.  I've been that route before.  I heartily welcome and strongly encourage guest posts from anyone who has something of interest on any of these topics.

           Finally I want to extend a big thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh and Matthew MacNish for their immensely successful Pay It Forward blogfest.  I do hope some of you will still check out the blogs I recommended--they are very good ones.  And if you missed my guest post on Friday please be sure to visit So You Want To Be A Writer? and leave a comment.

            Have I overdone it with the blogs?   Have I made it clear about which blog is the main blog to visit?  If you have multiple blogs, how has it worked for you?


Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

       Halloween is on hold today.  But I hope to get a few Halloween posts in before the big day comes. It seems like there's always something and today's something is pretty worthwhile.

Pay it Forward! October 14, 2011 The idea is to introduce all of us to everyone else. We want this to be easy - meet and follow as many other bloggers as you like. In your post, we would like you to please list, describe, and link to three blogs that you enjoy reading and know that others would enjoy as well. And what’s cool, is this can be part of your regular Friday blogging.

Visit those who’s signed up. Visit those they recommend! If you don’t have time to comment, just follow. Take the weekend to go through the list. You might find some really cool blogs out there, just like you did during the first post of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group or last April during the A to Z Challenge. (Or during any of my odd blogfests. Really, I am a writer and an author! Just a little movie obsessed…)

You can find the sign up list on the blogs of Alex J. Cavanaugh or Matthew MacNish.

Here are some special bloggers that I think you should know about:

          On the blogging scene for just a few weeks, but someone whom I have known for many years is Kelly Robinson with her blog Book Dirt.  Kelly has been writing for some time and has had her work published in several places.  She is a top notch writer as you will see in her blog posts.   As a side note, I first got to know Kelly when she played the lead role in a stage production of "Snow White" that I was managing in 1988.   In the photo below you will see why I cast her in the part.

Kelly Robinson as Snow White (1988)
         E.S. Boston aspires to be the "nicest person in the universe"--at least according to his terms.  I don't know about the nicest, but he might be the weirdest.  I love reading his blog My Worlds, My Words, My Worries.  It's one of the earliest blogs I began following.  This blog is intelligent while being totally eccentric.  E.S. can make you think--or maybe make you think you are thinking.  I think.  You will not find many blogs like this one and I think you will enjoy it immensely. Read it and see what you think.

            And since I'm now dealing with wacky I might as well include Andrew's Who Wants Taters? which with a name like that you know it's gonna be something different.  Andrew is clever and demented with some real comic writing skill.  Sometimes he gets a little on the serious side, but that never lasts very long.  The extra bonus is that he usually adds a movie review to every post.  Where he finds some of these movies is as much of a mystery as why anyone would want to watch these movies.  But just in case, we have Andrew's reviews to guide us. 

           I highly recommend that you visit, read, and follow these blogs.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

            UPDATE:   I'm doing a last minute guest post on the site of a blogger I discovered in the past week!    That post is up now and you can find it at So You Want To Be A Writer? which is the blog of young writer Stephanie Campbell.  Stephanie will be guesting on my blog on Wednesday 10/26 with a special post.  Now please check my guest spot where I have some news of something different that I will be doing that might be of interest to some of you.   And don't forget to follow Stephanie's blog while you're at it.   Oh, and don't forget to visit and follow the other blogs I mentioned above.  Thanks.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Catchup On My Blog Burger

         If you read my Monday post you may be wondering what the heck is going on today.  Perhaps we can consider this as an example of what I was talking about when I was saying that awards acknowledgement posts are a lot of work.

         This is a post that I started in April. Since I was in the midst of the A to Z Challenge when I received some of these awards, I began saving them on this post.  As summer passed I continued to add a few more.  I had other posts scheduled and did not want to interfere with those.  At any given time I have over 25 posts waiting in the wings ready to go public and I sometimes hate to break the continuity of what I'm doing to do an awards post.  It's a continual game of catch up.

          It's much like my e-mails.  New e-mails seem to get added to my mailbox faster than I can go through them.  I probably still have more awards that I've missed in my mail.  Sorry if yours is among those.  

          Enough of my yammering.  Let's get on with the awards. No facts about me.  No passing them on to anyone (although they are yours for the taking if you'd like).  Just awards with no gimmicks attached.

And now I humbly accept: 

         Beth at Daily Journey passed this Versatile Blogger Award to me, as did Brianna from A Pocketful of Playdough, Eve from Little Things.. Debra Ann Elliot at Sticks and Stepping Stones, Michelle Pickett, and Fiona Faith Maddock of Novel Thinking.

From Mysterious Rose at Mysterious Books comes this strawberry flavored "Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award".  This was also awarded to me by San at Informed Sharing

Thank you to Sue from I Refuse to Go Quietly for this Liebster Blog award.


Thank you RJR Daydreamer for this Appreciated Follower Award.Michelle Pickett

From Nutschell The Writing Nut is "the Creative Blogger Award"

From Madeleine at Scribble and Edit this really cool looking "Hot Blog Award"--now this is an award that really represents me--I love hot spicy foods.

           I thank you all for your kindness in bestowing these awards upon me.  I hope I didn't miss any and if I did then perhaps I'll find it in my e-mails.

           Don't forget to visit the new Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Blog and please become a follower.  A couple people have mentioned that they don't see the follower button.  It's in the top right hand of sidebar.  You may have to try to reload the page if it's not showing up.  It's there, but apparently there is a glitch that's been going on with Blogger or something.

            Can anybody identify the hamburger shown above?  Who likes hot peppers and spicy foods?  Anyone need an antacid?


Monday, October 10, 2011

In Time for Halloween--And the Award Goes Too...

          It's an old scary story that I visited about this time last year in this post.   As though dressed in a fancily adorned Halloween costume my blog was once festooned with awards given to me by many of my blogger friends.  I even had a separate page set up for the overflow of the awards this blog had received.

          Then the malware scare that began sweeping many of our blogs at the end of August drove me to drastic measures.  I frantically wiped off awards from my main page and even tossed out the special page I had created for my awards.  I wasn't sure what I needed to do to clean up my blog of whatever links may have been responsible for the malware--if indeed there even had actually been any malware--so I decided to just start cleaning up the whole thing--period.

           I have often struggled with the concept of blog awards and the time it takes to acknowledge them.  First I leave a comment for the person who left me the award.  Then I add my awards to a post and include the  appropriate links.  And then, there are the various rules of the award which typically include listing some facts about myself or something of that nature.  Finally the stipulations usually request passing the award on to a certain number of bloggers which may be as many as fifteen.  But I probably don't need to tell most of you about this since you've received these awards yourself.

         So I've come to a conclusion for this issue I raised a year ago.   Awards will no longer be displayed on my permanent pages.  When I have time, I may still continue to acknowledge awards in my posts and I will come to your blog to thank you if you if I see that you've given me an award.  But I will not be spending much time adding awards and links to my site.  I hope all of you understand my decision and no one takes offense from it.

          I don't mean to sound sour about this issue, but I must prioritize my time and energy to do the things that are more relevant to what I am trying to do.   I truly appreciate the sweet attention that I receive from all of you and I hope that you understand my decision.   The biggest award that I can ever receive from any of you is that you visit, read, and leave comments.

          Keep in mind that I am always interested in having other bloggers as guests.  If you are looking for more exposure and greater opportunities to network, please email me at the address in my profile and let me know what you'd like to do.  I've been trying to have guest posters every Wednesday.  There's a place on my blog for you.

          Do you feel that I am being harsh about the awards issue?  What is your opinion of blog awards?  Are you ready to do a guest spot on Tossing It Out?


The winner of the BlogWorld Expo pass is Beverly Diehl who can be found at Writing In Flow. Congratulations Beverly!  See you at BlogWorld.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Talk Like a Beat Day


Bob Denver as
Maynard G Krebs
             The first beatnik that I distinctly remember was Maynard G. Krebs.  He was a character in the television show "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis".  Maynard was played by Bob Denver who later gained fame as the Gilligan who was stranded on an island when the S.S Minnow was shipwrecked during a three-hour tour.  Maynard was the stereotypical image that most Americans had of those who were lumped into the Beat Generation category--a sort of white bread version of a group reviled by many.

           Jack Kerouac's On the Road is a literary manifesto of the Beat Generation.  Although in some ways I would consider Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield to be a truer precursor to Beat.   Recently as I was reading Catcher, somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking this kid's gonna grow up to be a beatnik.   But then again it's probably more likely that he became a banker or a politician.

          Movies and TV shows often portrayed the Beats as unkempt slackers who spouted modern poetry to the accompaniment of bongo drums.  They had a hip way of talking in a special slangy jive lingo that became part of the parody.

        Today, October 7, has been designated as Talk Like a Beat Day by the UK paper The Guardian.  I've never been very good at picking up dialects or talk styles.  I guess I can say "aaargh" and "ahoy mateys" but I don't talk like a pirate very well so I never got into Talk Like a Pirate Day.  But I've always gotten a kick out of hearing others do it.  Same with this Beat talk.  It might be funny to hear people doing it, but I doubt whether I'll be able to pull it off like other cool cats might.

        The whole Beat Day thing was brought to my attention by long time friend and new blogger Kelly Robinson.    More about this chick next week when I do my Pay It Forward post.  But listen up all you cool cats.  You need to be hip and talk like a beat today.  Play fair and don't be square cause today being hip is in the air.   Can you dig it?

        Who's your favorite beatnik?   Are you a Bob Denver fan?   Whatever happened to Holden Caulfield anyway?


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Blog Attack and the Aftermath

         I'm now on the list for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group, and the following post certainly fits into the category of insecurity.    You can still sign up for Alex's group and join in the confessional experience of it all.   Click here to find out more.

Logo Credit

          Since I got sidetracked by BlogWorld on my Monday post I decided to postpone the next part of my series about my blog changes until today.  Changes happen, and sometimes unexpectedly.  It's how we handle the changes that is the most relevant thing and not the necessarily the changes themselves.

            Before I continue I do want to remind any readers in the Southern California about my BlogWorld contest giveaway.   If you can be in Los Angeles November 4-5 you can enter for an Expo Pass to BlogWorld.  And even if you can't, you might enjoy reading about the BlogWorld Conference and Expo. Click the link for more information.

           So back to the changes.  My Labor Day post first hinted that changes had happened and were going to continue to happen on Tossing It Out.  Then a later blog post confirmed that Google AdSense had been a recent addition to my blog.   But there were some other changes that I don't think anyone mentioned.

           Between late August and early September there was a sweeping epidemic of "Warnings" attached to blogs saying that they were possibly distributing or displaying links to sites that were distributing malware. You undoubtedly saw some of these and perhaps were even affected yourself.  My blog was and when it happened I was distraught.

           At first I had visions that my blog was going to be history.  I began to consider the idea of stopping my blogging activity entirely.  I was away on a vacation and couldn't do much of anything.  When I did get back home I guess maybe I panicked a bit hoping to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.  I had no idea where the malware culprit could be residing so I began an all out attack to cleanse my blog from anything that might be responsible.  While I was at it I decided to do some major blog cleaning--period.

          One of the first things I did was get rid of nearly all of the awards and badges, including the special page I had set up for them..  I became ruthlessly unsentimental about this.  I will have more to say about this in an upcoming post.

          Next I began cleaning up my blog rolls.  I had already been receiving emails that others were removing my link from their blog rolls because of the malware warnings.  The ones I was removing were not acts of reprisals but long overdue clean-up of defunct and long inactive blogs.   I also removed some links of blogs that I had long stopped visiting for one reason or another.  I have considered the possibility of entirely removing my blog roll, but I can't bring myself to do that.  For one thing it's too useful for me to use to jump over to blogs I visit with great regularity.  Although if you don't see yours listed don't be overly concerned if you are a regular commentor since I try to visit all of the blogs of those who comment on mine.

         Following the recommendations of the Google Webmaster report and help pages I pinpointed part of the problem as possibly being related to a Linky List on one of my past posts.  To be safe I started eliminating old Linky Lists.  I hated losing those, but on the other hand I wasn't finding the time to refer to those lists anyway.

          The purging of all of these aforementioned things apparently did the trick for clearing my blog to be acceptable to Google and the warning was removed.   Some damage had been done.  I lost sixteen followers and I think some of my regular visitors were afraid to stop by even after the warning was removed.  However, whatever sixteen followers that I lost have now been replaced by more than twice that number.  The state of the blog appears to be back to normal.

          For me this was a big scare.  I hated the thought of losing the blog and all of my work going down the drain.  Fortunately the scare was over pretty quickly, but not without having left a mild aftershock bit of trauma.  Starting over would have not been fun.  But the event brought Tossing It Out to a state of renewal and hopefully for the better.  My goal now is to hone this blog space to be what I hope will be more professional.

          My blog roll will continue to be pared down.  I am trying to minimize the amount of clutter on the page without sacrificing the more vital aspects.  The awards will probably stay gone and as I said earlier I will be posting more about this topic in the weeks to come.

           One other change that I will be talking more about in a future post will be the addition of some new blogs.  I don't want to say much at all about this topic until the upcoming post appears, but I did want to bring your attention to one new blog that is appearing under my name.  You may have noticed mention of it in my new profile that appears in my sidebar.

            The new blog that premiered on October 4, 2011 is Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.   If you click on the link you can read more about it and the intent behind this new blog.  I would encourage you to add yourself to the friends list so you will be reminded of each Tuesday post.  Don't worry--I'm not going to be posting on this blog too much for now.   When any important A to Z news comes about I will be posting it on that site.   Please leave any suggestions in the A to Z blog comment section.

           If your blog was hit by the malware threat, how did you react and how did you resolve the issue?  Have you been experiencing more problems with Blogger that ever before lately?    Are you planning to Blog from A to Z in April of 2012?



Monday, October 3, 2011

Do You Attend Blogging Events?

I have a contest give away that I'll talk about at the end of this post.

Blogging Conferences, Expos, and Other Media Events

        Somewhere in the past I have heard mention of BlogWorld, but I had no real awareness of what this was about.  Then, about a week ago, I heard that BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2011 was going to be held in Los Angeles in November 3-5 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  I got online and began doing some research.

         This sounds like the kind of event I've been hoping to find.   This is what an official press release from the event has to say:       

- BlogWorld & New Media Expo, the world's largest social media conference and new media industry tradeshow, will move its western U.S. event to the Los Angeles Convention Center this November 3 – 5. BlogWorld has been held in Las Vegas for the past five years.

(Logo: credit)
 BlogWorld West will host more than 4,000 attendees, 200 sponsoring companies, 100 educational sessions and 200 speakers. Additionally, BlogWorld's eastern U.S. event took place in New York City at the Jacob Javits Convention Center,May 24-26, 2011.
BlogWorld is a one of a kind show that attracts the most popular and knowledgeable bloggers, podcasters, Internet radio and TV broadcasters, as well as the most influential Facebook and Twitter celebrities and social media professionals.
"New media and traditional media are converging. Los Angeles is the home of the film, television and music industries and also has the single largest population of bloggers and digital content creators in the country. That puts L.A. at the center of the convergence of new and traditional media making it the obvious choice for us," explained Rick Calvert, CEO and co-founder of BlogWorld.The BlogWorld conference offers sessions designed to help bloggers, podcasters and other digital content creators learn how to better create, distribute and monetize their content and covers the latest trends in online journalism, social media, online communities, Internet broadcasting, video streaming and much more.
An important feature of BlogWorld is the Social Media Business Summit, the world's largest social media business conference. This exclusive three-day event offers educational sessions designed to teach marketing and PR executives as well as business owners the most effective ways to utilize social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, YouTube and more in their sales, marketing, customer service, PR, and enterprise activities.
The New Media Expo exhibit floor consists of a wide range of companies serving the new media marketplace, including social media software, blogging platforms, advertising networks, social media monitoring services, recording devices, live streaming equipment and software, video and podcast hosting services, mobile devices, social media consulting services, search engine marketing and more.

           Check out the official BlogWorld website and see for yourself.  After exploring the website and doing some additional research I decided that I should scout out this event to see what it's all about.  Yes, I'm going to BlogWorld!

           My first visit will be a reconnaissance mission in order to get an idea of what happens at an event like this.   BlogWorld sounds like a kind of crash course in blogging and a bit more--kind of like a college of blog and media expertise.  Then perhaps I might consider attending the full scale future events.  This time around I'll be only on the trade show floor to check out who is there and what they do.   Unfortunately I may not be able  attend any of the seminars and panel discussions, but from the sound of things I should have two packed days of getting to know the event and meet some big names in blogging.

And now a contest!

          Thanks to Dave Cynkin, the president and co-founder of BlogWorld, I have one Expo Pass to give away on my blog.  The Expo Pass includes the following:

  • Access to exhibits during open hours
  • Access to main event Keynote sessions (not Track Keynotes, those require a conference pass)
  • Access to Saturday Networking Reception on Exhibit Floor
  • Access to Official Evening Networking Parties & Mixers too!
  • Includes PodCamp
       In order to be eligible for the contest you would first have to be able to attend.  If you live in the Southern California area or know for certain that you could be here in Los Angeles during November 4-5, then you are eligible.  You will be responsible for any costs associated with attending, such as accommodations, travel, parking, etc.   Please don't register if you do not meet these eligibility requirements as you may be preventing someone else from attending who would really like to go.

       If you are eligible and would like to submit your entry then send me an email telling why you would like to attend BlogWorld, what you want to get out of the experience, and one primary thing you would most like to learn.  My email address is (the same address that can be found on my profile).  I will announce the winner next Monday 10/10/11.

        Is anyone already planning to attend this BlogWorld event in Los Angeles?   Have you attended any of the previous BlogWorld events?   Are there any other blogging events that you have attended?   If so, tell us about your experience.