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!

Friday, August 31, 2012

JUST DIFFERENT (On the Move) : Special Guest Hijacker Lubaina E.

          Our hijacking visitors have taken us throughout the world and today is no exception.  Lubaina is a teenager from Pakistan and judging by this guest post she is one intelligent young lady.   This was an eye-opening read for me and I hope you will gain some insight as well.   

Lubaina E.
What if my life were a movie and I was the audience watching it?   I wouldn't accept any action, nor any horror for that matter.  Yes, there would be many lame jokes like 'What's green and says I'm a frog ?' 'A TALKING FROG!' and much more of travelling and shifting homes.  We sure have moved around a lot.  The home I'm sitting in right now is the ninth one in eighteen years of my life! :D 
Well, seventeen years and eleven months to be exact. (Yeah, my birthday's next month)
Here's how my experience has been of the most recent moving from Islamabad to Karachi last year. (I live in Pakistan)

Disclaimer: This piece of writing is no criticism and nor an attempt to devalue any city or citizen of Pakistan. 

Shifting from Islamabad is a one of a kind experience. Having spent almost a year at Karachi by now, the packing boxes, saying goodbyes and letting go of a place that held memories will always be remembered. Not because it was a very happy one, but because it was just different. And we all love adventures right ? :D
My home at Karachi

From getting used to a city with greenery, the peace and quiet, the early nights and a weather that could not stay warm for long to having to settle in a city full of life, with crowds of people and sudden bouts of rainfall. Being a rain lover the thought of missing all the rain spells was saddening (very saddening indeed), but what has to be done, must be done. 
So, this free citizen packed her stuff, got onto a plane, with her family of course, and landed at Karachi.
My home after it rained in Islamabad

First Reaction as I set foot in Karachi: WIND!
Second Reaction as I set foot in Karachi: WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIND! 
Third Reaction as I set foot in Karachi: DADDYYYY! (Yeah, the wind was getting old by now and my dad who had already moved in was there to pick us up at the airport)

Even then it was settled, that even if I make no friends, stand out in the crowd and do not adjust to living in ‘the Karachi way’, the winds will always be there to whisper comfortingly and to push the newcomer into the crowd. Yes, shifting to a new place does bring with it fears and I-don't-know-how-will-I-fit-in-phobias, but by my third day I had already begun to fit in. Of course, not entirely but a part of me felt like a part of Karachi.

So here’s rule number one of settling in at Karachi; if you want to be accepted, you have to accept it first. Because walking with a smug look on your face and brooding over what you would have been doing if you were not at Karachi does not go down well. Be positive and think positive, that should be the aim.

Most importantly, make sure you do not let all the “news” get you down. (Well, the news abut Pakistan is devastating usually, but my homeland is more than that. You'll see.)
The news comes with the experience of what Karachi has become now. How Karachi comes out of its grasp is a different debate, but for now enjoying all that this injured Karachi has to offer is my top aim. For when one’s injured and in pain, seeing the other’s smile makes the injured one smile too. 

Having spent exactly a week and three days in Karachi back then. I knew one thing for sure, the ‘Karachi-ites’ have not lost hope and that someday it is all going to be A-ok. 
The greens at Karachi are going to be back :D
The political rivalries are going to end :D
My overseas friends will then finally come visit without fear throbbing in their hearts :D

(The news sure is exaggerated at times though)

Apart from all this, Karachi can be very confusing. An ‘Isloo-ite’ like me is not used to living in a city with so many flyovers and bridges. And the inevitable has already happened.
The other day I was going to a friend’s place and was told to tell the driver to take a left turn before a bridge. I saw the road going upwards and immediately took it to being the beginning of the bridge. Well what do you know, I got it all wrong. After asking many passers-by, making calls to my friend and the ones who had instructed me to turn left before the bridge we found out where I had gone wrong.  The road going upwards was merely a road going upwards, not a bridge. For the bridge came after the upward road, with signboards and cemented railings on its sides, I am a newbie and I sure made a show of it. I mean who sees an uphill road as a bridge! Answer: ME :P

When we reached the beginning of the actual bridge, the driver stopped the car deliberately to show a red-faced me what a bridge looked like, all through heaving uncontrollably with laughter. (He would have let out loud guffaws if I hadn't looked so embarassed) 

Well, I still have to get used to the roads of Karachi and I still have to visit the 'Hawksbay' beach, but that experience is for another story. For now this newbie has said all she had to say. Oh and, the ice cream melts faster at Karachi than it does at Islamabad. A fact I thought you should probably know.

        Does moving to new places excite you or does the idea make you apprehensive?   Have you ever been to Pakistan or thought about going?  Does Lubaina's story intrigue you to learn more about Pakistan?

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to Create an Audiobook: Guest Hijacker Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

         No one can say we haven't already covered a wide range of topics via my guest hijackers and today emphasizes that fact.  Sandra Ulbrich Almazan now turns to something completely different and it ain't no Monty Python sketch (though that could be fun too!).   Sandra, I turn the controls over to you.

How to Create an Audiobook through Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX)

If you follow Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, you know he recommends indie writers find multiple ways to generate income from the same project. To do that, it’s not enough to publish the e-book in multiple places; you also need to make the book available in other forms, such as paper and audiobook. How do you convert your work into these formats? Luckily there are websites that can help you do that. There are several places where one can go to create an audiobook, including Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX.

ACX is a website that allows authors, audiobook narrators, and producers to find each other. You can find the on-site, step-by-step explanation for how an author turns her book into an audiobook here. ACX works with Amazon, so you can log on with your Amazon account, and it will find all books or short stories published by you. If you’ve self-published your work, you automatically own your audiobook rights; traditionally published authors should check their contracts.

If you have the audiobook rights, you can set up a profile for the title, describing what the book is about and who the narrator should be. (ACX does allow authors to narrate their own books; however, since I know I speak very quickly, I decided a professional narrator would make a better quality audiobook.) If you’re going to hire someone to read your book, you need to include a brief snippet to serve as an audition piece. Once all that is set, you wait for producers to audition for your work. You can also seek out narrators and invite them to audition for you. After you’ve selected someone, you offer them a contract. (Some producers will accept a split of the royalties in lieu of a cash payment. If you don’t have the funds to pay them upfront, it’s an option to consider. However, you have to decide for yourself if you want to pay the producer a lifetime of earnings for a one-time service.)

If your contract is accepted, the narrator and/or producer will prepare the audiobook. This process can take several weeks, and you’ll have an opportunity to listen to part of the work and contact the producer during this time. When the audiobook is complete, you have the opportunity to review it before it’s placed on sale through Amazon,, and iTunes. From this point, you have to promote the audiobook along with the other versions of your book. Eventually, you should start collecting royalties on this project.

I recently went through this process with my science fiction novella, Lyon’s Legacy. It has a first-person POV, so I thought it would work well as an audiobook. The first parts of the process (claiming my book and preparing the title profile) were straightforward. After that, I waited for auditions to come in. My main character, Joanna, has a bit of an attitude, and I thought the second audition, performed by Leah Frederick, did a good job of capturing it. I looked at the narrator’s profile and wrote up a contract that fit with her rates. She accepted it over Memorial Day weekend and started work on the project soon after that. By mid-August, the audiobook was complete. I just finished reviewing and approving it. Hopefully the audiobook will be available by the time this post goes live.

If you choose to go through ACX to develop an audiobook, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, ACX requires all covers to be square. I’ve included my e-book cover (top) and the audiobook cover (bottom) so you can see how the proportions are different.

Meghan Derico of Derico Photography did both covers. Second, story length will affect both the cost it takes to make the audiobook and the price of the audiobook. ACX offers estimates as to how long the final book will be. At one point during the project, it looked as if the audiobook would turn out to be a couple of hours longer than the estimate had predicted. However, Leah was able to keep the final length at the original estimate. ACX has its own messaging system that Leah and I used during the course of the project. I had a problem getting a long message to go through and eventually had to e-mail Leah directly. (She needed to know how some words and names were pronounced.) The layout of the production page is a bit confusing; during the review process, I had to contact Customer Service in order to figure out how to unlock the files so Leah could upload new ones. Customer Service responded within 24 hours, and they were able to help me solve the problem. Overall the experience went pretty smoothly, and I enjoyed working with Leah.

If you have more questions about this process, I suggest you review the ACX website, as it has additional information and contracts you should read. Feel free to contact me through my blog as well. Best of luck with your audiobooks!

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan is the author of Lyon’s Legacy, the first book in the science fiction Catalyst Chronicles series. She’s currently working on the sequel, Twinned Universes. You can find her on her blog, website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

Do you listen to audiobooks? Have you ever had one of your own works put into audiobook format? Would you be willing to narrate your own audiobook?

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Fun Alternative Fantasy Sports: Guest Hijacker Mike Cushing

       I've been learning all sorts of new and interesting things during all the hijackings and I hope you have been enjoying these guest posts.   The topic today is one that I know zilch about so I will just turn things over to my guest Mike Cushing.

Fun Alternative Fantasy Sports

With summer slowly coming to an end (or a boil), we’re approaching the prime time for workplace procrastination – football season. With college football and the NFL dominating many people’s weekends in the fall, nearly 30 million Americans will sacrifice just a little bit of office productivity each week to set the perfect lineup for their fantasy football team.

Fantasy football is one of the most popular sports leagues formed in offices around the country, but there are plenty of other fantasy sports games for people looking for some friendly competition. If the weekly routine of setting the right running back or the daily lineup changes of fantasy baseball is too much for you to handle, there are some alternative fantasy games that will keep you entertained without requiring an endless depth of sports knowledge.

Daily Fantasy Games

Daily fantasy games like Cover5 are a fun blend of other fantasy sports that don’t require nearly as much expertise or meticulous attention to detail as fantasy baseball or fantasy football. It’s a much more casual online sports game that is much less time consuming. To play, you simply pick five teams from any sport. Depending on their results, your teams will score points as you compete in friendly leagues with friends and coworkers or against the world.

Fantasy Dog Shows

Definitely more of a niche game, but if you’ve ever sat on the couch after a Thanksgiving dinner and thought that you could turn your snoring beagle into a championship show dog, here’s your chance to prove it. lets you manage a kennel of dogs and makes you responsible for breeding, handling, training and grooming of your digital dogs. Even if you know absolutely nothing about dog shows, this brings a fun, unique game experience.

Fantasy Horse Racing

This is another game that might seem intimidating, but is actually quite easy to get into. is an online horse racing game that lets you pick a stable of horses along with two trainers and two jockeys. The game gives you pretty robust rankings of horses and trainers, and there are plenty of horse races to keep you as busy as you choose. Grab a league with friends and coworkers, or join an open league, and see who can create the next winning stable.

Fantasy NASCAR

Although it is one of the most popular spectator sports in America with more than 75,000,000 fans, it is not as well-known as an online fantasy game, which is a shame. NASCAR pits 43 drivers against each other in 36 races before crowning a champion, providing for a long and fun fantasy season. There are plenty of Fantasy NASCAR sites, from fantasy sports giant Yahoo! to the official NASCAR game, so pick the right one for you and your friends.

Fantasy Wrestling

When I was growing up, fantasy wrestling was me and my brother dressing up in absurd clothes, big mustaches and tearing our shirts to pieces while yelling, “Come on, brother!” It has progressed into a fun online game since then, which is all for the better. Fantasy WWE is the official fantasy game of World Wrestling Entertainment, letting you manage a roster of professional wrestlers and take them to victory. The game follows the many official WWE events each week, most notably Monday Night RAW, the biggest weekly wrestling event each fall.

While fantasy sports and other online games are not for everyone, playing games in moderation is actually a great way to increase productivity, focus and morale in the office. Fantasy football might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can find plenty of other fantasy games to keep any sports fan happy!

Mike Cushing is a freelance writer for He’s been an avid fantasy sports player for years, even though his fantasy football teams regularly finish dead last.

        Any fantasy sports fans out there?  Which ones are your favorites?    

On Monday's post by J.L.Campbell there was a contest for a download of her new book DISTRACTION.   A random drawing was done by me last night.  The winner is Angela Brown.  Joy will be contacting you Angela.   Congratulations!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Genre Blending: Guest Hijacker Ciara Knight

           Ciara Knight probably doesn't need much introduction for most of you but those unfamiliar with her can visit her blog here.  Ciara's hijacking this blog with the topic of genre blending.  (??))    Well, let's hear what this is all about.

Arlee, thank you so much for having me on Tossing it Out. I’m excited to be here. I, of course, participated in the A-Z challenge and I’m a huge fan of your blogging. Today, I’m going to tell you a story about genre blending and how it changed my path of publication.

This all started with one of the strangest pitches of my life. Not the worst. That is an entirely different post.

During a conference pitch, I sat down and greeted the editor. We chatted for a minute then I pitched the story, but I never made it past the genre.

Here is how the conversation went:

Me: “Escapement, book I of The Neumarian Chronicles, is a young adult post-apocalyptic—”

Editor: “No it’s not.”

Me: *Attempts to hide horrific look on face.* “I’m sorry?”

Editor: “Go ahead and pitch, but it isn’t post-apocalyptic.”

I take in a long breath and try to regroup. The pitch ends and I’m ready to bolt from the room, since obviously she decided she wouldn’t take the story based on the first line of my pitch. As I reach for my bag, and give a polite smile, she smacks the table. My four inch burgundy heel gets caught on the leg of the chair and I nearly fall face first, in a dress!

Editor: “LOVE it! Send it to me later today. Oh, but you need to come up with a new genre. We can’t sell post-apocalyptic.”

Me: “Um, okay.”

Yes, I know. Not recovering well, am I?

Editor: “Is it science fiction?”

Me: “It has some scientific elements but it is more futuristic.”

Editor: “No, can’t be futuristic.”

Me: “Well it is young adult and has Steampunk elements.”

Editor: “No it doesn’t.”

Me: “Oh, can’t call it that?”

Editor: “No, you don’t want to write that. Doesn’t sell. You can change that.”

This continues for the last four minutes of the pitch. When I get up, she tells me to figure out what genre it is and send it.

I have a brainstorming session with my WBFF and roomate, HIldie McQueen, and we come up with the following: post-apocalyptic, futuristic, Biopunk, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, romantic elements, fantasy, paranormal.

Once the list was done we both looked at each other and said it is all of these things in a way. Well, I couldn’t pitch that to her. At that moment, I realized my series didn’t fit in a perfect package. To this point, I’d had publication in mind when I wrote something, or I’d been willing to alter content to sell the book. I didn’t want to do that with The Neumarian Chronicles, so right then and there I made a decision. I was going to keep the book the way it was and self-publish.

Many books on the self-publishing front are genre blends. I’ve read several and LOVED them because they were fresh and full of new ideas. I think genre blending is really hot right now.

Here is my first genre blend, but I'm calling it Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic. :)

Weighted is a prequel to The Neumarian Chronicles.

Weighted blurb:

The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

Read Excerpt Here

Escapement (Book I) of The Neumarian Chronicles will be released in early 2013, followed by Pendulum and Balance later that year.

Have you ever had a conversation with an agent/editor that shocked you? Have you thought about self-publishing? Have you ever altered a book for a publisher and regretted it later?

Ciara writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her fantasy and paranormal books. Her debut novel, The Curse of Gremdon, was released to acclaimed reviews, securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from the Paranormal Romance Guild. Also, her young adult series, Battle for Souls has won several awards, including the July Book of the Month from Long and Short reviews.

Ciara is extremely sociable, so stop by her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and/or Pinterest pages.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Don't Get Distracted, Get Distraction: Hijacking by J. L. Campbell

          J. L. Campbell is a frequent visitor to my comment section and may be at yours as well.  Joy hails from Jamaica which sounds like absolute paradise when she tells about it.  Joy also writes books and she's here today to tell you about her latest which is called Distraction.  She also has a contest going on.  But enough of me--let's hear directly from the author herself.       

You paying attention?

Yes, you.

Not only have I hijacked Arlee’s blog, I’m going to whisk you off to Jamaica. Okay, well, not really. Today, I’m gonna detour and talk about writing and friendship. All good stuff. That said, thanks to Arlee for giving me squatter’s rights on this blog. 

I’ve found Arlee to be eclectic in his approach to blogging. Check out the sidebar and you’ll find he writes a variety of blogs. I’m like that in terms of my writing. My first book (still unpublished) is young adult fiction, the second action/adventure/romance, and for a while, I stuck with writing romantic suspense. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do have more manuscripts languishing on my hard drive and yes, I cover at least one other genre somewhere in there. 

The book I’m touring is about three female friends, who land in a world of trouble because of the choices they make.  Distraction is women’s fiction, with one of the strongest themes being friendship. The characters are distinct in their tastes and approach to life, and one particular aspect of their friendship amazes me. We all have our own rules by which we live and yet we find it possible to get along with people who have belief systems and moral values that oppose ours.  Ages ago, some wise person who understood human nature, summed up our differences in the phrase variety is the spice of life.  I’m fond of saying that the world is an interesting place because we’re all so different.

To find out more about my characters, their friendship and how they end up in a pickle in Distraction, download a complimentary prequel A Baker’s Dozen: Thirteen Steps to Distraction.

Leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win an e-copy of Distraction. At the end of this Friendship tour, there’ll be a main prize of a Distraction note pad & pen and a $10 Amazon gift card. The second prize is a paperback copy of Distraction. Sign up for that at the Rafflecopter here.

Arlee, thanks again for hosting my girls and me.

J.L. Campbell is a proud Jamaican and the author of Contraband, Distraction, Dissolution, Don’t Get Mad…Get Even, Giving up the Dream and Hardware (pen name Jayda McTyson). Campbell is always on the lookout for story making material, loves company and can usually be found lollygagging on her blog at http://thecharacterdepot. Link with her on Facebook or through her Twitter handle @JL_Campbell.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

The Long and the Short of It: Guest Hijacker Angeline Trevena

       This hijacking comes from Angeline Trevena.   I'll just turn things over to her and let her tell her own story.

The Long and the Short of It
Angeline Trevena

I’ve always been a novelist. I never really understood how you could manage to develop character and plot in just a few thousand words. I needed pages and pages and pages. But then I started seriously having a go at writing short stories, and found how much enjoyment I had being truly ruthless with my editing. When you find you have to cut 800 words from a 5,000 word story, that’s a significant chunk – there’s killing your darlings, and then there’s butchering them.

Through my exploration of the short story form I have been amazed at just how different a discipline it is. A writing friend of mine asked me recently if writing short stories was just a matter of ‘making the middle a lot shorter’. The simple answer is no.

Drop your complicated subplots. In a novel you have the time to reveal back stories and deep rooted motivations for all your characters and their actions, but in a short story you may only have a chance to touch on them. It’s better to keep things simple with a single, compelling plotline supported by a small cast of strong characters. Drop in hints, but let your reader fill in the rest for themselves. Remember, you can say a hell of a lot with a simple smile or raised eyebrow.

Always opt for plot and character development over description. If it doesn’t matter what colour your character’s hair is, leave it out. If it is important, reveal it in an action, or through dialogue. It’s the development of your character that is vital. Readers want to see them make a journey, see them change. Your reader still wants to come away satisfied.

Make your dialogue and setting work twice as hard. A character can reveal dislike for another by refusing to call them by their preferred nickname, or the placement of a photograph can reveal how painful or happy the memory it represents is. Look for how much you can reveal in small, simple ways.

Only describe what you need to. Let your reader imagine what the street looks like, or how big the lake is. You can point their attention in the direction of what’s important, but leave the colouring in to them. If it doesn’t advance the plot or reveal character, it doesn’t need to be described.

Dialogue is probably your greatest tool. Not only is it the most effective way to explore plot and character, it can also be used to control the pace of your story. And be ruthless cutting those speech tags. If you keep your cast small it’s easier for you to do without them, they only serve to slow things down. But make sure your readers aren’t left confused about who’s speaking.

Always read your story out loud. Whether you read it to a friend, your cat or just your bathroom mirror, reading aloud forces you to slow down, allowing you to pick up on things you would have missed reading in your head. You will hear issues like repetition, awkward rhythm, and clumsy syntax (word order). You’ll be more likely to pick up on your spelling and grammar mistakes. If you have someone to beta read for you as well, all the better.

And when you’re trying desperately to get back down under that word count, remember, even if you just cut one word from each sentence you’ll be making a big difference. Your short story should end up slick and compact, while still giving your reader the satisfaction they want.

 About Angeline:

Angeline is a published fiction writer, poet and journalist living in Devon, England. She lives above a milkshake shop with her husband and her cat who both serve as sounding boards for all her story ideas. She has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen and really isn’t sure what she’d do with her hands if she didn’t.

You can follow her on her blog at or check out her work on her website

         Do you write short stories?   What suggestions might you have that are not included here?   What do you struggle most with when trying to keep the story short?

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Too Much Time On Your Hands? Guest Hijacker Brian Russell Can Fix That

        This round's guest hijacker is Brian Russell who can be found at the blog Ranting and Raving.  This blog specializes in web development, digital marketing, and all cutting edge aspects of the internet world.  Today Brian has a little fun as he introduces us to some of the useful--and maybe not so useful, but fun websites you can visit when you need some diversion.

Fire up the web, it’s going to be a long day

When the tick-tock of the clock doesn’t bring you any closer to 5 p.m. and you’ve already maxed out your trips to the water cooler, you can always count on the internet to help you get through a slow work day. Filled with an endless supply of news, entertainment, games and more, double-clicking your way onto the Web will leave time at the mercy of your fingertips.

From inconspicuous to conspicuous, here are a few of my favorite ways to pass the time when the work day feels like it’s slugging in slow motion.


Staying up to date with national and international news is a great way to pass some time. Not only will you be able to catch up on hot topic stories on sites like CNNThe New York Times and Huffington Post, you also won’t have to worry about jumping to attention when your boss walks by.

Get a head start on dinner as you browse through thousands of different recipes. If you’ve been craving something specific, you can search for dishes by name or even find new recipes based upon a single ingredient you want to use. You can also get ratings, reviews and special tips from people who’ve tried the recipes before.

Rotten Tomatoes

Sometimes reading other peoples’ reactions to movies can be just as fun as seeing the film yourself. If you’ve got movies on your mind, get ready to throw some tomatoes as you read reviews and ratings on anything fromThe Avengers to Amélie to Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus submitted by professional critics, writers and other users.


Who can resist a short online shopping break? Etsy is a great place to buy and sell all things homemade. You can find all kinds of unique jewelry, clothing, scarves, mugs and artwork on the site and purchase it straight from the artist. Make your downtime at work more productive by searching for one-of-a-kind gifts for friends or family for upcoming holidays and birthdays.

There I Fixed It

If your workplace has zero tolerance for snickering, this site may not be for you. Browse through countless videos, photos and posts depicting “epic kludges.”


Acting as the Google of blogs, Tumblr gives you access to millions of special interest posts and blogs. You can search for specific bloggers or find what you’re looking for by searching for key words. Hipster animals,nostalgic throwbacks and photos of ‘awesome people hanging out together’ are just a few great ones to get you started.

Web Comics

Web Comics are part of a fun storytelling medium that’s often overlooked when it comes to spending time online. There are some great artists out there just waiting for you to get caught up in their stories or get a kick out of their punch lines. Gunnerkrigg CourtQuestionable ContentBrawl in the Family and the Penny Arcadeare a just a few well-known web comics out there that will help you enjoy your extra time at work on slow days.

People of Walmart

Warning: You may find yourself making strange faces or holding back snorts that would otherwise blow your procrastination cover if your cubicle isn’t that far away from a coworker. People of Walmart will provide you with endless hours highly entertaining people watching.


Muggles allowed! If you’ve ever wondered whether you’d be a Gryffindor, HufflePuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin at Hogwarts, Pottermore is your chance to find out! Explore scenes from all seven books to relive the Harry Potter phenomenon and uncover even more background information about your favorite spells, characters and places from the wizarding world.


There are tons of games out there just waiting to eat up a little bit of your extra time. Try Happy Wheels for some quirky controls and intense cycling. Or check out MyFantasyStable for a fun look into the world of fantasy horse racing where you’ll be able to manage your stable, start a league with friends, create your own silks and fill your trophy room up with wins. You can also search sites like Kongregate for hundreds of free games to try out while you’re bored at work. If you sign up, you’ll be able to keep track of your scores and achievements as well as chat with other players on the site. Check out their top rated pages to find the best games and play your way to 5 p.m. freedom.

          My thanks to Brian Russell at Ranting and Raving for today's post.  

           Which of these sites have you readers personally visited?  Any favorites?

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Pay Me and I'll Write: Guest Hijacker Sydney Aaliyah

        I'll have to be honest and say I don't know much at all about today's hijacker Sydney Aaliyah.  She first fell into my radar during the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.   She reveals bits and pieces of herself in her blog posts.  Like from what I gather on her blog she lives and works in China.  There must be a wealth of story fodder in that.  In any case, if you want to learn more about Sydney you'll have to visit her blog Happiness, Passion, Love & Faith.  In this guest spot Sydney ruminates on writing careers.

I am a Hijacker. What?  Be careful what you ask for, I guess.  Ok, well, here we go.

Looking for Direction – Writing Careers

I figured that giving the opportunity to reach an audience considerable larger then my own, I would seek some advice on writing careers.  I have been researching careers in writing for some time now. And, all I need is something to tide me over until I become a famous author.  The choices are a little confusing or maybe I am lazy, but they didn’t seem to find a job that quite suited me. You be the judge?

Ghost Writer - I live my life now doing all the hard work and watching someone else take the credit.  And, I get paid for it, but not nearly enough and the person I work for gets paid a hell of a lot more, so I couldn't do that with something as precious to me as the creative words I write.  Even if the idea is completely someone else’s, I don’t think this is the career for me.

Editor - If you look through my blog, you would quickly come to the conclusion that editing may not be my forte.  I have typos, and bad sentence structure and I have no clue where the appropriate place is for this comma, or that comma.  I just don't see what editors see in order to make someone’s writing better.  (Should that be s’ or ‘s) Ask me if there is hole in the plot or if the story doesn't flow or if there is a confusing dialogue, I can recognize that.  But, don't ask me which version of the word amoeba to use.  Did you even know there was two ways to spell ameba?

Copywriter – To tell you the truth, I am not quite sure what a copywriter actually does. From what I have learned, a copywriter writes sales copy for websites and brochures and such.  Well, I don not like sales people.  Pushy people who try and get me to buy something that I can’t afford and I don’t need.  I am not a sales person. If I like a product I will buy it.  No amount of persuasive language is going to make me want to buy it more.

Blog Writer – You mean, I am supposed to get paid to do this.  Where is my check? I have been writing blog posts for over 6 months, now and haven’t’ seen a dime.  Yeah, well it has been for my own blog and I have no money to pay myself, but why would I waste all this great content on someone else's blog.  (Yes, I recognize the irony in that last statement).

SEO Specialist - I have read numerous articles, read blog post, seen video seminars (waste of an hour of my life) and still I have no clue what it means. I am a smart girl.  But, seriously, have you seen articles about Search Engine Optimization.  They tell you to do this and this and then they say, but you don’t really need to do anything different.  I am so confused and I am sure you are, too. Bonus points for anyone who can explain it to me? 

I am probably ruining my chances of ever being offered a writing job by this post, but I am just kidding.  At this point, if you pay me, I will write whatever the heck you want me to write.  I will have plenty of time to be picky when I become a famous author.

Any other writing careers out there you think I should consider?

Twitter:  @sydliyah

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Friday, August 10, 2012

What Exactly Is A Profile?: Guest Hijacker Crime Fiction Writer Diane Kratz

          Crime investigation is an ugly business, but someone's got to do it.  Likewise, someone's got to write the stories about the subject and this is a genre that has been taken on by today's guest Diane Kratz from Profiles of Murder.   In this guest post Diane explains a bit about her business.
What Exactly is a Profile?
A profile is exactly what it sounds like, descriptive data.  We all have one. It is a summary (or in writing terms, a synopsis) of our life. Criminal investigators use the crime scene, victims, statistics, and forensics to sketch out an outline of the who, what, when, where, and why of a crime.
 Investigators actually have several different types of profiles to draw from in their tool belts.  
Inductive Criminal Profiling- A set of offender characteristics that are reasoned, by correlation, experiential, and/or statistical inference, to be shared by offenders who commit the same type of crime. These characteristics are based on averages. Example: Men are more likely to be serial killers than women. Why? Because the percentages tell us they are.
Deductive Criminal Profiling- A set of offender characteristics that are reasoned from the union of forensic and behavioral evidence patterns within a crime(s). It is based on psychical evidence suggestive of behaviors, type of victims (Victimology), and crime scene characteristics/analysis.
Victimology Profile-The study of all available victim information including sex, age, height, weight, family, friends, acquaintances, education employment, residence, and neighborhood. Background information is a part of this profile and includes personal habits, hobbies, criminal and medical history. Why is this important? It helps determine victim risk and linkage to other crimes.  Significant facts about the victim’s life, especially in the days and hours leading up to his or her death, are of the utmost importance.  A timeline is drawn up to map their movements, and investigators study all of their personal communications for signals to where they may have crossed paths with a viable suspect. It’s important to know their state of mind and their mental health assessment and history as well as their risk level (for example, a prostitute’s risk would be much higher than a girl with a nine to five job, living in her own home).
English: A crime scene. .English: A crime scene. . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Crime Scene Analysis Profile- A report that examines and interprets the behavioral evidence including location and scene types, point of contact, offender method of approach, attack and control, offender use of weapons, force and resistance, sexual acts, precautionary and contradictory acts, evidence of planning, offense skill level, items taken by or left behind by the offender, verbal behavior, and modus operandi/motivational behavior.
Offender Characteristics Profile. This is similar to Crime Scene Analysis but also includes familiarity with a victim or location, evidence of criminal history and state of mind, evidence of psychopathic characteristics such as superficiality, deceitfulness, impulsivity, lack of empathy or remorse, egocentricity, need for excitement, evidence of personal or sexual conflict, and evidence of sexual fantasy.     
Writers Note:
As writers, we profile our characters. We bring them to life by giving them emotions, goals, conflicts and motivations.  We get into the heads of our characters. We give them an age, sex, height, weight, hair color, eye color, likes and dislikes, hobbies, friends, enemies, personality traits, and emotional baggage.
We can make our characters heroes or diabolical villains. Writers have the advantage of telling a story from any point of view (POV) we choose. It can be told from the victim's POV, the villain's POV or the hero/heroine's POV. By doing so, each becomes a different story to tell.
In crime fiction I have the advantage of allowing my victims to have justice. In real life this isn’t always the case. This inspires me to write about the darkness in murders' minds. I know in the end, I can create the justice they deserve.
Happy Writing,
Diane Kratz


Diane Kratz is crime fiction writer. She has been married to her husband Tom for 25 years, lives on a small farm in Kansas and has worked as a social worker in domestic violence shelters, hospice, and in county mental health.
She graduated from Emporia State University bachelors in Sociology, and from Washburn University with a Masters in Social Work. She is accredited as Licensed Master Social Worker from the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board in Kansas. She has a Golden Lab named Maggie, and a very old cat named Figaro, and another named Patches.
She is an active member of Kiss of Death, Midwest Romance Writers, Romance Writer of America, Sister In Crime and International Thriller Writers Association.
Her favorite authors include Karin Slaughter, Jeff Lindsey, Steven King, Tess Gerritsen and CJ Lyons.
She is currently working on her first novel in a series of five books, Victims of Love Genesis.

You can keep up with Diane on her Facebook page:

Or her blog:

      Are you a fan of crime fiction?  If you write crime fiction do you follow Diane's approach?   Aside from crime, do you create character and motive profiles when you write?

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