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, September 28, 2012

How Many Guest Posts Can A Blogger Host?

Hijack (2008 film)
Hijack (2008 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A Success!

          How many guest posts can one blogger successfully host in the course of a summer?  The answer my friend is blogging in the wind.   I tossed the Hijack! idea out there to you readers and you made it work.  Over the past four months forty one bloggers signed up to participate in my Hijack! project and every one of them showed up.

           I would have expected at least one or two no-shows in my line-up, but incredibly they all delivered their posts in a timely manner  and made Hijack This Blog! a huge success.   A diverse group of bloggers brought a dazzling array of topics and writing style to Tossing It Out, keeping in spirit with the eclectic nature of my site.  I thank each of you for your contribution to my summer project.

           Though I realize it will give this post an appearance of being very long, I wanted to thank my blogging friends by listing the links to their contributions.   If you missed any of these posts you may want to click on a few of the links to check them out.  Or you can scroll down to the end of the list where this post will continue.

            Here is the complete listing of my summer Hijack! guests:

▼  September (9 Hijack! posts)

You Have Been Warned: This Blog Has Been Hijacked...Alex J Cavanaugh
▼  August (13 Hijack! posts)

     Hosting Guest Posts   

           Sadly, I didn't get the writing done that I had intended to do, but I did reevaluate my writing goals and have come up with ideas about completing my work-in-progress as well as taking a sidetrack to another old work that has lain dormant for many years.   

            Hosting guest posts is something I have done in the past, but never as I have done it this year.  It can be a lot of work from the standpoint of organizing everything as well as trying to promote each post, a task which I undertook with less vigor and dedication than I perhaps should have.   Even so, I did put a lot into the effort.   I hope you all enjoyed it.

             If you have never hosted a guest on your own blog, I encourage you to try it.  The experience can be very rewarding in many ways.   And it's fun and interesting as well.   Among my guests were several bloggers who were doing their first guest post ever.  I was thrilled to be the one to give them that opportunity.  

             My blog will continue to welcome guests in the future and I have several scheduled in the months ahead.  If you have something you wish to blog about on my site let me know and we'll discuss it.   

             Patricia Stoltey has put out a call for guest bloggers on her blog as well.  She's especially looking for some humor or inspiring stories.  I think she's pretty open to ideas so if you're looking for a chance to write a guest post go to Patricia's site for more info.

             Also my dear online friend and sometimes guest blogger Dana Sitar posted about the guest blogging topic earlier this week on her blog DIY Writing.   She's also provided some excellent links for you to explore.

   Something's Going to Change 

           Several of you mentioned that you missed my own blog posts and that made me feel very honored.  I am back for the most part and I hope you'll like some of the changes I'm considering.   Next Friday I'll tell you my plan and then see how many of you bail on me.  You can find clues in some of the Hijack! guest posts and in my #IWSG posts--I know I'm being ambiguous, but I'm just trying to create a little suspense.  Be here all next week and then definitely stop by on Friday October 5th and weigh in with your thoughts.  You can try to talk me out of it or spur me on.   

But First #IWSG!

First Wed of Every Month                And speaking of Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group, I'll have my October edition  next Wednesday October 3rd.   Maybe I'll even throw in a hint about things to come in that post.

                There are things coming for better or worse and it's nothing to do with me getting married, unless we are talking in the most esoteric symbolic sense.  And that's really stretching it I guess.

               What did you think of the Hijack! experiment?   Did you visit many of the guest posts?   Did you have any favorites?    Would you care to hazard a guess about the direction I am considering taking on my blog?



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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

You Have Been Warned: This Blog Has Been Hijacked By Ninja Captain Alex

       Today my blog has been hijacked by a Ninja Captain--or should I say The Ninja Captain. Need I say anything else? If you don't know who I'm talking about then you must be new to blogging and must check out the links at the end of this post.

A Love Story, by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh

Thank you Lee for allowing me to grace your blog on this most auspicious occasion. What occasion you may ask? Why, the celebration of the two-year anniversary of SyFy’s Sharktopus!

That’s right – two years ago, the cinematic crapterpiece that is Sharktopus graced the screens of at least a dozen TV sets across America. Conceived and created by a station desperate for cash and willing to torture its viewers to get it, Sharktopus was unleashed on September 25, 2010 to an unsuspecting public. Years of love and adoration for truly awful filmmaking peaked that night, and the small screen has never been the same.

To celebrate this epic low point in movie history, and in case you’ve not had the torturous pleasure of sitting through the film, I am offering my original play-by-play of Sharktopus. That’s right – the Ninja Captain risked both sanity and IQ points to sit through this cinematic marvel. Thus I present to you, in its entirety:

Sharktopus: A Play-by-Play

Did you catch this SyFy disaster Saturday night? Fear not! Though it was far worse than expected, I suffered through the event, just for YOU. There were far better things on TV that night, as well. I caught glimpses of the Boise State game during the commercials, and let me tell you, that Smurf-blue field looked far more enticing. But I stuck it out so that I could present to you:

My thoughts while watching Sharktopus, recorded by the minute.

3 min – The “ding” of the elevator sounds just like my microwave oven chime.

7 min – They didn’t waste any time with pesky details like plot or exposition.

10 min – Roger Corman must have pictures of Eric Roberts with a donkey or something.

13 min – Roberts isn’t even trying. I think he’s cold-reading the script from cue cards.

15 min – Hot woman on beach – the movie is getting better.

16 min – Oh wait, Sharktopus killed her. Movie sucks again.

19 min – Not so attractive woman goes bungee jumping. I’m okay with her dying.

30 min – Various shots of sun-soaked, bikini-clad hotties flashes across the screen. This should be the centerpiece of the film.

37 min – Sharktopus attacks sunbathers. The CGI is so bad I find myself growing nostalgic for a guy in a big rubber suit.

42 min – A man tells Roberts there’s something on TV he has to see. I’m pretty sure it’s not Sharktopus.

44 min – The lead actress’s voice keeps shifting from British to American. She must’'ve studied at the Kevin Costner Robin Hood School of Acting.

62 min – Pretty sure Roberts is drunk. Lucky bastard.

64 min – They should rename “SyFy Saturday Night” to “SyFy Saturday Craptacular.”

73 min – The upside to being eaten by Sharktopus: you don’t have to sit through the rest of Sharktopus.

80 min – A pirate radio DJ mocks Sharktopus and is devoured. This is a life lesson, people!

83 min – Sharktopus just pantsed some guy. That was… awkward.

93 min – No really, Roberts is hammered. This guy was on a three-day bender shooting this film.

98 min – The movie just morphed into a Puerto Vallarta travelogue. Or a bad Bollywood film. Not sure which.

107 min – Roberts is killed by Sharktopus and there was much rejoicing.

110 min – Our hero now intends to run over Sharktopus with a minivan. Hope he’s insured.

122 min – Sharktopus is arrested on tax evasion charges. Movie over. More rejoicing!

You no longer have to waste two hours of your life! You can thank me by sending Hot Tamales…

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Amazon Best Sellers!

Be sure to check out the first two books Alex's CassaStar series:
CassaStar and CassaFire.   The next book in the series will be coming soon.  Watch for it!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

A Guest Hijack by Stephen Tremp

        Stephen Tremp probably needs no introduction to most of my readers, but he is among my earliest blogging friends and one of the co-hosts for the A to Z Blog Challenge for the past couple of years.  Today he's stopping by to catch up on a bit of this and that and to remind you to visit him at his blog.

Thanks Lee for letting me hijack your blog today. I'm always up for guest blogging and hosting guest bloggers. 

Thanks to Mary Pax, Brinda Berry, Ciara Knight and Alex Cavanaugh for the recent What's Your Chocolate and Genre Favorites Blogfests. Nothing like a couple awesome Blogfests to bring in the traffic after a month long Blogcation. 

And thanks to everyone for stopping by my blog. I know I haven't been around as much as I used to be, but life has been crazy busy. I set out to comment on those who stopped by my blog. I'll click over to the blogger of my first comment. But scrolling through their comments I see bloggers I haven't visited in a while and click over to their blog and comment. Then I see another long lost blogging friend and click over to comment. Repeat process. I soon have twenty different blog pages open and have commented, but have not reached out to those who commented on my post. Does this happen to you? 

Upcoming Events Be sure to stop by the A to Z Challenge Blog where lots of committed folks work to keep the site open year round. My latest post there is on NASA. CLICK HERE to check it out. You'll be glad you did! 

M. Pax
I'm happy to say I'll be a guest at Mary Pax's Spacedock 19 on October 10th. I'm definitely looking forward to that.

And I'm having my blog critiqued by Laura Barnes October 22nd. Wonder if I should go for a new look for my blog before the review. 

Free Vs. Paid: Do you download Kindle books because they're free? I have been this year. I look for books that have dozens of ratings that are four star and above. Let's face it. There are a lot of lemons out there. But there are some fun reads too. 

Example: I recently read H10N1 by self published author M. R. Cornelius (83 four and five star reviews) and loved the book. 

Synopsis: A deadly influenza virus rages out of control. There is no easy-fix vaccine. No eleventh-hour containment. Only death. 

With no workforce, power plants are unmanned so there’s no means of communication; police and fire departments have collapsed so no one is safe; looters are scavenging everything from big-screen TVs to canned peas. 

When Dr. Taeya Sanchez finds herself unceremoniously dismissed from an emergency medical facility in New York, she decides to steal the hospital’s armored van for a midnight escape. Unfortunately, Rick DeAngelo, a driver for the hospital, has already stocked the van for his own getaway. 

Thrown into an unfriendly alliance, these two must pick their way across the dangerous wasteland of America in search of a safe haven. And as the miles roll by, they discover that the living should be feared much more than the festering corpses out there. 

Question: Do you get lost while reciprocating to bloggers comments? Read any good free Kindle downloads lately you can recommend?

Stephen Tremp Author: Breakthrough Series

Stephen Tremp
Author: Breakthrough Series

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Friday, September 21, 2012

I Don't Know What to Blog About

          It's the end of another summer, which means I'm coming to the end of my Hijack This Blog! experiment.  I'll have more to reflect on about my summer campaign as well as a look at some of the changes I'm pondering for the future of Tossing It Out, but you'll have to come back next Friday for those thoughts.  Before that though we'll be closing with a bang with special Hijack! posts from Stephen Tremp on Monday and Captain Alex J Cavanaugh on Wednesday.   I still have a few more guest posts coming in October and November, but mostly it will be back to good ol' me.  

           Today's post is an expansion of a comment I left on a blog a couple weeks ago.  It's nothing new.  In fact this post relates to an oft-cited problem that's been around since people decided they needed to be writers.  I'm talking about that age old problem of "Writer's Block".   I've written about the topic before and so have many of you.   But I guess it's a subject that never really gets old and the blog post that inspired my comment just got me kind of fired up.  I hear this unnecessary lament so often and I don't know why.

          Some of you will go through those dry periods that you label "Writer's Block", but really now, there's no good reason to be crying this excuse when it comes to blogging.   Here's my reply to those who try to justify some other problem with the lame claim of not knowing what to write about.

An Open Letter to Bloggers Who Don't Know 
The discouraged Nenene suffering from writer's...
The discouraged Nenene suffering from writer's block continues to lament the disappearance of Yomiko (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What to Write About:

Lacking inspiration eh?  Hmmm--you call yourself a writer in training so why not just write about anything.  Topics are everywhere. Once I was trying to think of something to write about on my blog so I just looked at my desk to write about the first thing I saw.

I ended up writing a post about my stapler. I started coming up with so much content I eventually had to stop writing about it.  What I did was studied the stapler and started writing about everything my mind free-associated with about that common office supply product--how it felt, what it could be used for, where it was made, the name of the company that made it, and so on.

You likewise should just write.  What's your day like?  Who was an interesting person you've met or known in your life?  Do you have any hobbies?--talk about one of them.  Topics are everywhere and you don't have to write very long posts about them.  Just write something pithy that you can try to relate to something meaningful, but if you don't, no matter.  Blogging makes for great writing experimentation for any writer in training.

If you are a writer at heart, once you start writing it will probably be more of an issue of getting you to shut up.  Then it will too late.  You will no longer be "in training".  You will be a real bonafide writer.

And don't forget to read other blogs and leave comments. I've gotten some great training by leaving comments and I'm writing when I do it.  Plus I get ideas for my own blog posts by reading other blogs and commenting on them.

Sorry for this ramble, but I can't help it. I'm a writer and I want to see you attain your dreams.  If you want to write, I want to see you write.  When I see you write, I want to be inspired to write more.  Writing inspiration should never dry up.  Your mind is like a muscle that must be exercised to stay in shape.

If you're going to blog, then be consistent and crank out content.  Blogging is not the same as writing a book, but it's good training for writing a book.   Blogging can be good training for writing just about anything.   You might think of it like those essay questions on high school or college exams.  To make a decent grade you have to come up with content in the best presentable way you can muster.   No teacher or professor is going to accept the excuse of "Writer's Block".    And I don't think it's an acceptable excuse for any blogger.

Whether you call it "Writer's Block" or just say you don't know what to write about, please don't ever use that excuse as a blog post entry.   If you truly want to write, then you will write.   If you don't feel like writing then that's something else that doesn't have a whole lot to do with your ability to write.  Just come out and admit that you don't feel like writing for the time being.  Go for a walk, watch television, sleep, read, or whatever helps you feel better.

 Then, after you've taken your break, you should have something to write about.  If you don't, then maybe writing is not really something you want to do.

          Do you think "writer's block" is a good excuse for bloggers to use?   Have you ever written a blog post telling about how you didn't have anything to write about?    What are some things that provide inspiration for your blog posts?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Workspace of a Rootless Writer: Guest Hijacker Dana Sitar

          Dana Sitar has become a regular contributor to my memoir blog Wrote By Rote.   In fact you can find her writing at many places throughout the web including her own blog DIY Writer.   Be sure to subscribe to her DIY Writing Newsletter for helpful information for all writers.   Dana joins our line-up of hijackers with a look at a topic that will interest most of us. 

The Workspace of a Rootless Writer 
by Dana Sitar

One of the best ways to center yourself for a productive writing session is to create a writing space that guards you from distractions. This becomes a huge challenge when you’re constantly traveling and moving around. In the past year and a half, I've gone from  living with three male roommates in Madison, Wisconsin, to a shared apartment in Berkeley to hotel rooms and friends' couches across the country, to my mom's basement in central Wisconsin -- so I understand how difficult finding solitude for writing can be!

But you CAN do it wherever you are.

Creating your writing space

Without a private office to work in, I have to set up a workspace wherever I am each day. I need to clear a space for my computer, notebooks, and calendar across a desk, table, couch, bed, or floor. I pour a glass of water and a brew a pot of coffee. I pull open a window to let in fresh air. I put on my headphones to drown out surrounding noises and signify to whoever’s around that I'm not to be disturbed. It's a small routine every morning, and when I end up in a new place, it's a whole new routine.

Taking care of these little things before you get started working each day -- or finding a space that you can set up and keep for your writing -- will most certainly increase your comfort and concentration, and as a result, your productivity.

Embracing the space around you

The hardest time for me to focus is when I’m in Madison, Wisconsin, in the middle of the comedy scene and a household of guys who are always there. This is when I’m couch-surfing and enduring late nights and rowdy friends. My writing space is either a living room couch surrounded by television and joke-writing, or a cafe downtown whose atmosphere is out of my control. Neither is ideal, but I have work to do when I’m on the road, so I have to open my computer, pop in my headphones, and write.

My boyfriend is a touring stand-up comedian, and I take advantage of the freedom of being a writer to travel with him around the country. I have had to teach myself to be okay with the constant "unsettled" feeling that comes with a move to a new place or a visit to somewhere new. This will be our life for... months? Years? For...ever? I used to need a few days to shake the feeling -- a few days of not getting any work done, because I couldn't make myself comfortable in new surroundings. But I don't have that luxury anymore. We move around too much to get settled anywhere, so I just have to learn to work in an unsettled state of mind.

What does YOUR writing space look like?

No matter where you live, or what your situation is, you'll likely face the same challenge early in your writing career or starting your own business.  I don’t think so many writers live such a rootless an existence, but even if you have a steady home base and a family who respects your work schedule, writing time can be fraught with discomfort, worry, or distractions. Don't succomb to them! Wherever you find yourself, create a writing space and time that takes you away from those distractions -- or, train yourself to work with them.

How can your writing space complement your work?    In what ways have you had to adapt your writing life with the life that surrounds you?

About the Author

Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and indie author. She shares writing tips and anecdotes for writers and other dreamers through her blog and DIY Writing Newsletter. Follow her on Twitter @danasitar.

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