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!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When Things Don't Go Like They're Supposed To

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

         Today I was supposed to have a post about Twitter and my observations on the first few days of using it.  Well, I changed my mind.   My plan now is to move that scheduled post until Friday--if all goes right.

          I was even announcing my Twitter post on Twitter over the past couple days.  Now I'm all red-faced that it's not gonna happen today.  But I will get to it.  And actually I'm not red-faced anyway.  I have my reasons.

          Weird computer issues.  Don't know what was going on yesterday, but I'm sure most of you have had issues like this before.  Actually I think it was Alex J Cavanaugh's fault by setting the blogosphere on fire with the release of CassaFire.  What a day for Alex, eh?  Congratulations on what seemed to be a very successful book launch.  Of course, I missed much of it dealing with whatever unexplained things I was dealing with.  Must have been Alex's fault,  Yeah, that's who I'll blame.  I don't think the Federal Duck would do anything like that.

         Then there is this new Blogger comment thing that seems to only be present in the pop up box.  No "subscribe to comments" option seems to be available.  I saw where others also mentioned this so it's not just me.  What's up with that?  It's difficult to keep track of the conversation without the notification and I can't keep track of where I've left my comments.  I hope Blogger fixes this.  Does anyone know what's going on with this?  The design of the pop-up box is even different now.

           Last time I looked you could still subscribe to comments with the embedded comment box, but so many people had said they were having problems with that system (and I used to as well until I started using Chrome) that I switched to the pop-up box.   Now I'm thinking I might change back--I like the possibility of interaction even though it usually didn't happen.  What's everyone else doing?

          I was also having problems with leaving comments on WordPress sites.  I would compose a wonderful comment, but then when I submitted it the comment just disappeared.  I thought it was just a fluke until it kept happening with every WordPress comment I left.  Now what's that about?  Did anyone else have any problems with that or is this something on my end?

         Twitter did see some action from me over the past couple days and that's what I really wanted to talk about.  Hopefully that will happen on Friday.   Although maybe anyone who saw my tweets about Federal Duck would just wish I'd shut up.   I'm serious about the Federal Duck issue.   Some out in Twitterland probably just thought those tweets were wise quacks.

          So now after a tedious day of frustrations I'm tired.  I'm ready to duck out of here and go to bed. Looks like I'm back on line, but now it's too late to do anything with it.  Tomorrow will be another day from where I stand (or actually sit), but for now tomorrow waits for today.  And ducks are birds too.

          And if all goes as planned, Federal Duck will be my Thursday topic on that other blog of mine--A Faraway View.   Quack!

           Did any of you experience the comment box problems that I mentioned above?   Are you on Twitter? If so, how do you use it and do you find it useful?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catch Fire! The CassaFire Blog Party

         If you don't know Alex Cavanaugh, then you don't know the famed Ninja Captain who is one of the big wheels helping to propel the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge toward the stellar reaches of blog event success.   His book release CassaStar took the sci-fi community by storm in 2011 and even became the darling of those who don't typically read the genre.

        Today is the Catch Fire Blog Party, celebrating the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh! The goal is to help CassaFire “catch fire” on the best seller charts and even surpass the success of the first book, CassaStar. There’s also a special package of prizes being given away at the author’s blog (copies of CassaFire, CassaStar, tote bag, mug, and bookmarks) as well as book giveaways during his two-week blog tour. 
How about this collection of CassaCollectibles?   These can be yours
See Alex’s site for details:

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. 

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available today!
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

You can visit the author’s site at
Book trailer available at

As they say, seeing is believing.   Check out this very cool book trailer:

Now how about you? Are you ready to catch fire? Order CassaFire today and be part of a chart-topping book release.  Be sure to check Alex J Cavanaugh for more information.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Rambling -- #atozchallenge

English: 1965 Ranbler Classic 660 station wago...Image via Wikipedia

      In the mid-1960s my parents bought a Rambler station wagon.  It caught fire somewhere outside Pulaski, Virginia.

      Actually there was only a tiny bit of fire inside the engine when it overheated as we climbed up the mountain after exiting off Interstate 81 because the gauge was registering a high temperature.  The car didn't really catch fire, but it makes for a good story to tell it that way.  This story is always good for some laughs at family gatherings.

      This has nothing to do with my post today.  I only used this thought because I used the word "rambling" in my title and had a flash of word association.  This concept of making associations is something I'll be blogging about in the future.  How can anyone say they can't come up with something to write about?  Or is it more of a case of having so much to write about that you don't quite know where to start?

     Today I'm just killing some time with this post.  In the future I'll be putting up a post about the topic of "killing time"--somehow that post keeps getting postponed.  I kind of hate it when I have to pone my posts, but these new ideas keep interrupting my schedule.  And since I have a special post scheduled for tomorrow, I thought maybe I'd just blabber today.

     And speaking of blabbering:

Follow me on Twitter logo                    Image via WikipediaI am now on Twitter!  Please follow me @ArleeBird


         As the cheering subsides, I will continue.   This was destined to happen.  I began playing with Twitter this past Saturday on the A to Z Challenge Twitter account.   Then when I started getting a bit out of hand with my tweets about "Federal Duck" I knew it was time to take the conversation to my own Twitter site.

       So now you can get updates on "Federal Duck" and all sorts of other inanities and nonsensical wise quacks on my own personal Twitter site--that is unless the Twitter folks decide to kick me out of the aviary for my palavering.  And from what I've seen on Twitter so far I'm probably in no danger.  After all, an Arlee Bird needs to Twitter.

       Yes, this Federal Duck thing is going somewhere.  Some of you might hope it will be going far away and if so, you will be getting your wish.  Be sure to check this week's edition of A Faraway View, another blog that many of you probably don't I have.  How's that for some product placement?

        Speaking of product placement, I'm not done with that topic yet.  I've still got more posts to come on that topic, marketing, advertising, and all sorts of capitalistic fun.  Consider this mention today an advertisement of things to come when I'm not getting sidetracked with other topics.

        So like I was saying, this coming Wednesday on this blog--Tossing It Out--I will be putting in a few words about Twitter. It will be more than 140 words you can rest assured, but I'll try to keep it relatively short.

        Here's my goal:  I want to learn about this Twitter thing.  I'll be tossing out my thoughts on it and looking for some education tossed back to me from you Twitter experts.  And I'm sure that even those of you who don't give a whit about how to twit can offer some valuable insight.

       But I'm stealing my own thunder.  Come back Wednesday for that story because I hear the sound of a nearer storm approaching.  Could it be a CassaStorm?   No, that's coming later.  The roar of revelry I hear in the near future is the sound of the party tomorrow for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Catch Fire CassaFire release party.  Are you ready to feel the burn of a hot new best seller from Alex?

       Join us tomorrow as the Blogoverse erupts when Alex makes his grand re-entry into the sci-fi scene.  Are you ready to party?

        And do not--I repeat, do not--forget to sign up for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Tell your friends, enemies, family, and family who are enemies to get on board with us as we strive to achieve the amazing feat of 1000 by this Thursday March 1st.

        Then we'll talk about April 1st.

         Oh, and one more thing.  Be sure to stop by Yvonne's blog Welcome to My World of Poetry as she versifies the visit we had with one another.  Thank you for your sweet words, Yvonne.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 24, 2012

We Preempt This Post for an Important Announcement

         There was another post scheduled for today but then I changed it.  Actually I've had a few different posts scheduled for today but I've changed them as new ideas took precedent.  But that in itself is going to be a topic of an upcoming post.  I won't say when that post will be since that date might change.  Change can happen, right?  So let me tell you what's happening right now.

But first....!

          Yes, actually, first let me present another "Comment about a comment" based on my post at the beginning of the year titled "Where Am I Now Anyway?".  Here is one more:

Sarah Allen said...
Ha! That's awesome :) Since I usually write posts at night and schedule them for early morning, while I'm still asleep, the time disparity definitely happens for me too. I think its fascinating that we can do it that way, although you're right about possible miscommunication or misunderstanding. Sarah Allen (my creative writing blog)
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Campaign Challenge

Writers' Platform-Building Campaign

       Rachael Harrie has put forth the First Campaigner Challenge and I'll run with it.  Follow the link to see the rest of the entries.   While you're there you can vote for mine.  Off course, plenty of Campaigners beat me there so I'm way behind in the running--I'm #126 on the list--but that's okay.  I'm just playing the game and adding blog content.

Here is the Challenge:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. 

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:
  • end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)
  • include the word "orange" in the story
  • write in the same genre you normally write
  • make your story 200 words exactly!
I took care of all of the above!


                       Blaming Shadows

                Shadows crept across the wall.  The black cat was left behind by Bob’s ex-wife, along with a whole bunch of other bad news.  Shadows was probably the source of a lot of the bad luck Bob had been dealing with of late.

      The cat stopped and stared at Bob.

        Bob sneered at his nemesis.  Picking up an orange, Bob peeled it with his fingers and threw bits of rind at the cat.  With a playful leap, the cat captured a piece of orange peel and began toying with it.

         “Go ahead—play cute cat.  I know what you’re up to.”

           Shadows took a graceful running start and jumped up into Bob’s lap.  Bob tensed.  The cat nuzzled his leg and purred softly.  Instinctively, Bob stroked the cat and then drew back his hand with the realization of what he was doing.

           Bob popped wedges of the orange into his mouth as he pondered his next move.  He thought about what else could go wrong.  It seemed to be a lot of little things.  It had to be the black cat’s fault. 

          The chime on the dryer signaled that his laundry was done.  He unloaded the laundry and groaned.   Everything faded.

  Now remember to go to the Linky List and vote for #126.

                 And a word about the Blogging from A to Z Challenge:   We're trying to hit 1000 sign-ups by March 1st, which is next Thursday.  Please make an announcement on your blog to encourage your readers to join us in the A to Z Challenge.   If you have any special connection to bloggers who haven't signed up yet, send them an email to let them in on the April fun and ask them if they'd like to be a part of it.  This week we're counting on all of you to boost the numbers.   Can you help?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Tribute to a Very Special Blogger

Yvonne Lewis with Arlee Bird who proudly shows off his autographed copies  of  her two poetry books.

This Thursday past I had an experience extraordinaire.
I met a blogger whom most all of you do know.
The lovely Yvonne Lewis of poetry world fame
Was here in L.A. and to see her I did go.

She was staying downtown, so I took the train
And consequently was early to the place.
So I decided to look around the hotel,
When in the lobby I saw Yvonne's smiling face.

I was there early and so was she,
But we recognized each other right there.
We hit it off like long time friends--
We had so much conversation to share.

We talked about traveling, and music, and squirrels;
Of Daniel O'Donnell, and blogging of course.
Then we were joined by Yvonne's brother, Keith--
Who is a musician who plays the keyboards.

They opted to visit that famed tinsel town--
Hollywood.  It's just a short trip away.
The day was just right.  It was sunny and mild.
We walked from the hotel to catch the subway.

Yvonne Lewis and Arlee Bird on Hollywood Boulevard across from Graumann's Chinese Theater

Preparations had started for the Oscar Awards.
Bleachers were set up on the renown Boulevard.
Hollywood was abustle with hustlers in costume,
With tour guides and tourists from around the world.

We walked several blocks looking at stars--
And by that I mean those stars on the walk--
To see who we knew and who we did not
And as we walked, we talked and we talked.

When we reached the next subway station,
We boarded the train with feets all aweary.
Back at the hotel some last photos we took,
And though we were tired we still felt quite cheery.

We bade fond farewells and said our goodbyes.
It was nice to meet Yvonne after all of this time.
After all she was my first A to Z sign-up in 2010
And now she has me blogging in rhyme.

Back to the hotel after our tiring Hollywood trek we bid fond farewell.

          I want to thank Yvonne and Keith for a lovely visit and hope we will have the opportunity to meet again.  I hope you had a good holiday in the States.

          Now let's head on over to Alex J Cavanaugh's blog and see what he's cooked up for us.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 17, 2012

It Sounded Good On Paper: Soap On A Rope

         Back when I was in high school--this would have been about 1968--I was looking through my mother's Avon catalog and saw this incredible product they called "Soap on a Rope".  Now how cool is that!  I'd say most of you have seen this product and it is still available from various outlets.  I know because I have a bar of it.

          Now I'm not going to comment except in passing about soap on a rope being something you'd see men using in prison.   This soap is not as cheap as regular soap so I don't think prisoners with limited funds would be buying this product and for that matter I don't whether the prison commissaries would even make this available. But I really have no idea and I don't guess I really want to know that badly.

          Some of the product advertising I've seen for soap on a rope tout it as being good for elderly folks or people with physical disabilities.  I can understand the point they're making about this, but I wonder if that market is very widespread.

          I have a tendency to believe that soap on a rope is mostly a novelty item for dopes like me.  For that brief period in high school I became a soap on a rope dope.  Yeah, my mother bought me the soap and I used it until it was gone.  But the fact was that I couldn't cope with being a soap on a rope dope.  It was kind of weird soap to use actually.

         That was the only bar of soap on a rope that I recall ever having until a few years ago when my wife gave me this gift set from Macy's that included various men's toiletry items.  The soap was one of the freebies that came with the primary product which was cologne and after shave.

        My wife loves it when Macy's has those specials when they throw in a bunch of free gifts.  I'm sure most of you ladies out there know what I'm talking about.   You should see all the various sorts of carry bags and pouches she has.  And I got some soap on a rope.

         So I took my soap on a rope and hung it on the wall next to the medicine cabinet.  It's like a peculiar piece of art that most people never see.  I don't even see it most of the time--or I guess maybe I just take it for granted since it's been there for so long.

         Occasionally I might accidentally hit it when I'm opening the medicine cabinet and then it just kind of swings there like a pendulum without a clock. When that happens I usually pause for a moment to look at the soap still wrapped in plastic like Laura Palmer (an obscure reference that some may recognize).   Then I'll forget about it until the next time I think about it.

          According to one source I found, soap on a rope first came about in the mid-1800s.  Then in 1949 the product was reintroduced by the company that makes English Leather men's cologne.  Oh yeah, I've got a bottle of that stuff that's been sitting around for probably longer than I've had the soap on a rope.   Where'd that come from anyway?   I'll have to do a post about English Leather some other time I guess.

          So anyway, I guess soap on a rope gets a periodic revival from companies who think it's a cool idea and then new dopes develop soap on a rope hopes.  Or they get it free in some gift set or somebody gives it to them as a gag gift.

           Soap on a rope doesn't seem all that practical to me.   But it does make for kind of a unique wall-hanging.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is Product Placement Selling Out?

English: Sign “ Coca-Cola ” in the mountains o...Image via Wikipedia
       It has not been unknown for authors to write products or corporate concepts into their works in return for something else.  Movies and TV do this all the time.  It's not a coincidence that the judges on American Idol are all drinking out of Coca-Cola cups.

        What about writing?  Is it okay to sell promotional considerations--or advertising if you will--to make extra money from your written product?   If when you were ready to write your next book, some business entity offered you a thousand dollars to place product into your story would you do it?  What about ten thousand dollars?  Fifty?  What is your breaking point?  Some authors have made some good money doing this.  Would you do it?

        What if the placement included something in the cover art work?   Let's say that a top notch artist would be doing the cover of your book and it would look really good.  And you were going to be paid a nice sum to allow product to appear on your cover.   Would it belittle the writing to accept?

       What if your publisher's terms required you to accept product placement that they were paid for and not you?  But--they guaranteed you huge sales?  Or they at least offered you distribution?   Does this seem kind of tacky to you or just business?

         I don't know if this is still a practice, but I can recall seeing books with advertising in the center of the book--kind of a commercial break between parts.  Would it bother you if your book was manufactured like that?

         This is part of my interest in marketing versus art.   Is the integrity of art sullied by commercial connections?   Why or why not?

          What is better having a wealthy patron fund you?  Or getting funded by government grants?   If you had the opportunity, would you quit your job to receive the same pay and benefits in order to write full time?  Dream job or scary offer?

           Just tossing it out to you.   Now play along and toss it back.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 13, 2012

Once Upon A Time: Origins Blogfest

The brain child of DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude, the co-sponsors include Alex J Cavanaugh, Katie Mills aka Creepy Query Girl and Matthew MacNish at The QQQE.

On Monday, February 13th, post your own origin story. Tell us all where your writing dreams began. It could be anything from how you started making up stories as a child, or writing for the school newspaper, or even what prompted you to start a blog. How about stories about the first time somebody took an interest in your writing, or maybe the singular moment when you first started calling yourself a writer. It all started somewhere and we want you to tell us your own unique beginnings. 

           There were always stories when I was a kid and it seemed like we went to the movies every week.  I became enthralled with the art of the story.  It felt natural to write my first story in the third grade.

           After we had moved to San Diego in the summer of 1959, I started my school season at James Whitcomb Riley Elementary School in Mrs. Stork's class.  The Twilight Zone debuted on television that year and I was an immediate fan.  When Mrs. Stork gave us the assignment to write a short story I  was ready.

         My intent was to write a scary story in a Twilight Zone mode, but what I ended up with was probably a bit too gory to be a Twilight Zone kind of story. The story was about a cross-country truck driver  who is going from Pittsburgh to California.  I don't recall what exactly happened, but I do recall the driver disintegrated into a bloody mess..

        I liked my story and thought I was a pretty good writer.  From that point on I was hooked.  Never afraid to experiment with my writing, I tried my hand at writing poetry, songs, essays, and journalistic style articles.  The short stories were my favorites though.  I liked to let my imagination go wild.

          Third grade.  That's when I decided I wanted to be a writer.  I've often slowed down and taken many a break, but the writing dream has always been there.  And that's the once upon a time when it all began.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tumble 4 Ya!

From Nicki Elson (click link for other participants)
Post a picture, video, or whatever of the celebrity you most tumbled for in the 80s---along with your feeble justifications, of course. ;) Or, since it's come to our attention that there are, in fact, persons roaming the planet who weren't of crushing age during the 80s, which 80s star most makes you tumble now?  Jon Bon Jovi, perhaps? Christie Brinkly? Or were you more the ambiguous Boy George type?  

I'll Tumble for You
      I tend not to fall for celebrities and have crushes.   Not even in the 80's when I was a bit younger than I am now.  But there were a few that were my favorites and I'd sometimes think about them for more than a second or so.

Irene Cara--  I really liked her in the movie
FAME.  The song that she sang in FLASH DANCE is so upbeat.  

Olivia Newton John -- She always seemed so pure and wholesome.   I liked her in GREASE and other movies that she was in.  I also liked her music.

Amy Grant--She was pretty young then and she probably looks the best of my choices now.

Jane FondaJane Fonda (Image via Fonda-- My wife and sister used to work out to her exercise tapes while I looked at the picture of Jane on the cassette cover.  From what I've seen of her lately, she still looks pretty good.

 Luba Kowalchyk--She was a singer from Canada.  She was a rocker who I used to listen to a lot.

Lisa Dalbello--Another singer from Canada who could really rock excellently.  She was very attractive and  her music was cutting edge.   If you watch any of her YouTube videos I think you'll see what I'm saying.  Check out "Gonna Get Close to You"--man, that's 80's.

But I suppose if I would have had a  celebrity crush at that time it would have been Pat Benatar.    I guess I had a thing for rocker girls.  "Love Is A Battlefield" is a video that I still like to watch.  There's just something about Pat Benatar that I liked.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This Is Not My Most Important Post Today

          I'm not really posting much here today because I want you to go to my post at the A to Z Blog.

          Last March on Tossing It Out I ran a series about getting publicity.  This was done in conjunction with the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in hopes that some of you would go out and try to get some other publicity other  than blog promos.  Now, don't stop doing the blog promos--we love those.  But we would like to see some enterprising folks out there try their hands at playing press agent.

           Some of you may have done this before.  Undoubtedly many of you published authors have a press kit with releases that you send to newspapers or other publications.  Some of you may also have done media interviews or had feature stories written about you.  If you haven't been doing this, you should consider it as it is a great way to obtain free advertising.

           There's nothing wrong with tooting your own horn to get attention.  If you don't have a press agent (and really, who of you does?) then it's going to be mostly up to you to draw attention to whatever it is that you are doing.  Don't look at self-promotion as something negative.  It's the most common start on the road to success.

          So here's what I'm asking of you who are participating in the A to Z Challenge or those of you who just want to see it be a huge success:   Help us get word out in the media.   Last year we started too late to have much effect.  This year we have an extra few weeks to get this done.   I know all of you are capable of doing this and some of you may have enough ambition to actually get it done.   Will you help us promote the Challenge (and yourself while you're at it)?

          If you want some good experience in doing something that can help you as well, let's make the news with the April Challenge.   Go to the A to Z Challenge Blog and read my tips on how to do this.  Then if you want more information, follow the links that I've provided to get a quick lesson in promotion.  There are also links to some actual A to Z articles that can be found on line.

         Get a story in the news and let us know about it and we'll brag you up big time here on our blogs.  This is your opportunity to be an A to Z blogging star.   Thanks in advance to those of you who help out with this.  The Challenge is already big.   Now you can help make it huge.

          So if you made it this far in this post, get yourself over to the A to Z Blog now and read about promoting the April Challenge.

Enhanced by Zemanta