Hopefully Easier to Find Posts

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:42 pm by Amber

I haven’t been using the Category and Tag labels as well as I could.  Tonight I went through most of the posts and tried to add them into something that would be easier for people to find.  It would seem the tags are only visible to me at the moment though.  That may be a feature of this WordPress Theme or a setting I need to change somewhere.  There is still more work to do but I think I made a good dent! 

Final July Giveaway Post!

Posted in Giveaway at 7:40 pm by Amber

It’s nearly the end of July and there’s a push for blog traffic with giveaways in the air!

Bloggy Giveaways is holding its Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Giveaway Carnival.  Normally they post a site a day that is giving away something.  Let me tell you… the giveaway items for this carnival are all across the board.  I’ve seen magazines, note cards, a Nintendo DS Lite, magazine subscriptions, a blog overhaul, coupons for free food, earrings, knitted items, books (children’s books, cook books, etc.) and gift cards.  There are hundreds of participants.  In fact, there are so many participants that I first thought Bitten By Bookswas having its own blog carnival because they’ve managed to collect donated items from other bloggers for their participation in the carnival.

So what is a blog carnival?  In general, it has an organizing site that hosts a group of links on a specific topic.  For instance, there is a Foreign Travel Blog Carnival.  The links should relate to foreign travel such as traveling tips, how to survive a plane crash and so forth.   In fact, the Blog-To Show event I participated in over the weekend could be defined as a blog carnival.  Liz will be running her next event in January if you’re interested.


2008 Blog-To Show Success!

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:57 pm by Amber

I have to give Liz Strauss a round of applause.  She pulled off the Second Official Successful-Blog Blog-To Show featuring 260 blogs.  Liz accepted blog nominations over a few days.  On Saturday she used the post date feature in WordPress to post all of the blogs every minute.  It was time consuming for her to read through all the emails, visit the blogs, and setup the posts on her blog.

I emailed my entry on Saturday morning before driving to Pittsburgh and she managed to squeeze this writing blog of mine into the showcase.

The blogs she’s featured cover a variety of topics.  Feel free to take a look at them!


storySouth’s Million Writers Award Winner

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:36 am by Amber

Congratulations to Matt Bell for his winning story “Alex Trebek Never Eats Fried Chicken“!  You can read the story on STORYGLOSSIA’s site.  Congratulations should also be extended to Sruthi Thekkiam for getting second place with her story “Friday Afternoons on Bush Number 51“.

Current plans include running the award next year.  If you’re an editor you may want to begin your shortlist of memorable stories to nominate in January 2009.


Bring On The Heat!

Posted in Review at 8:44 pm by Amber

What a shame my culinary curiosity was almost non-existent in my youth.  The last few years I’ve been more interested in food and how to prepare it.  I’m really more of a baker than a cook because I really prefer to mix everything together, stick it in the oven, do something else for how ever many minutes, take it out to cool and find my work is almost done.  With the new house I’ve been more interested in cooking than baking.  I bought new pots and pans and have certainly had my trials cooking with gas instead of electric.

I began watching Top Chef  when season 1 was nearly finished and thus began my love affair with food reality television.  Before long followed The Next Food Network Star season 3 (honestly, I wanted Amy Finley to win before I even knew she had a corgi), Kitchen Nightmares (though I really don’t want to know what’s in those refrigerators) and Hell’s Kitchen (mostly seen in reruns).  Admittedly, I can only learn so much about cooking and flavors from these shows.  They’ve given me a new appreciation for what happens after I order food in a restaurant.

Since my earlier tally I’ve been reading like a fiend.  One of the books I’m presently reading is Heat by Bill Buford.  He goes to extremes to learn how to really cook.  Buford works for free in a New York three-star restaurant, eventually learns Italian and travels to Italy.  I’m about half way through the book.  His misadventures are relayed with humor.  If you’re a foodie this book may not be enjoyable since it’s focused more on working in a restaurant than about the food.  It’s answered my question though of how all those reality tv contests can work without timers.


Janwillem van de Wetering Passes Away

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:37 pm by Amber

I don’t normally read The New York Times but I went to their site today.  One of the headlines announced the passing of this author.  What a shame! 

He’s one of those authors I’ve greatly enjoyed reading over the years but I’m not aware of anyone who knows of him.  That’s why it’s no surprise to me that he passed away on July 4th and no nationwide obituary notice appeared until the 16th. 

For many years my husband worked in bookstores.  Daily access to new books makes it relatively easy to know when new editions or series are released.  Soho Press began releasing their Soho Crime series which features foreign locations and unusual crime solvers.  Chris has a knack for knowing what I’ll like to read, even if I’ve never heard of the author or book, and this series got his attention.  The Grijpstra and de Gier series of detective novels set in Amsterdam was a perfect fit for the Soho Crime series and me. 

I saw the Amsterdam canals in person over 20 years ago.  Having seen them it’s been easy for me to visualize Grijpstra and de Gier on their crime solving adventures.  Not every novel or story has taken place in Amsterdam.  Everyone gets to go on vacation or see relatives every now and then. 

Grijpstra, de Gier and their superior officer are three dimensional characters.  They grow older, get promotions, and find their circumstances can change just by living their lives.  Unconventional problem-solving methods (such as having a jam session or feeding their pets) help them solve the crimes.  A few of the books have been made into movies in other countries. 

A Zen Buddhist, he once lived in a Japanese monastery.  Many of his interests and life experiences (jazz, the environment, police work) found their way into the detective series.  He wrote some children’s books set in Maine that I’ve not read.

Van de Wetering died from cancer complications at the age of 77.  He was born in Rotterdam, lived in several countries and finally settled in Maine about 30 years ago.  He is survived by his wife, daughter, and granddaughter.


More July Giveaways!

Posted in Giveaway at 10:41 pm by Amber

I came across more book giveaways that are taking place this month that may be of interest to some of my visitors. 

Until July 21st you can win copies of Frank McCourt’s books Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis.  All you need to do is comment on the blog entry at MAW Books‘Tis is still on my TBR pile.

Closing on July 22nd is the opportunity to win a paperback copy of Away by Amy Bloom.  This giveaway is open only to US residents and BookBrowse members outside of the US.  Simply type your email address into the form and hit submit.

Mystery author, Brian Kavanagh, is giving away a copy of his book, The Embroidered Corpse.  Indicate your interest in the giveaway by leaving your name and a comment that you want to be included in the book drawing on his guest book.  (Use a working email address so he can contact you if you win.)  This contest closes on August 1st so you still have some time to enter.


Mid-Year Tally

Posted in Tally at 6:44 pm by Amber

An acquaintance of mine gave a mid-year tally of her publications, writings, movies watched, books read, etc. and it inspired me to look at the numbers for my year. 

  • read 7 books
  • saw 58 movies
  • wrote 5 book reviews
  • wrote 2 poems
  • wrote 35 short stories (most still in first draft stage)

I found I am poor at keeping track of such things.  My husband generally keeps track of my movies for me.  For the remainder of the year I will need to do a better job of tracking my read books.  I won’t even attempt to keep track of the short stories I’ve read.  Since creating the tally I’ve read two more books and added them to a Word document that has the books I can remember reading this year.  See?  Already I’m doing a better job! 

Prior to last year’s move I had over 125 books in my “to be read” (TBR) pile.  I’m starting to work on that pile though it goes ever so slowly.  It wasn’t built in a day though, so I have no illusions that it will disappear in a day, or a week, or even a few months. 


storySouth Million Writers Award Voting

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:28 am by Amber

Earlier this year I wrote about the storySouth Million Writers Award.  Voting for the next Million Writers Award is now open until July 17th.  You must vote here.  Fortunately, the voting page includes links to each story. 

I’ve been reading one or two a day since Wednesday so I should be able to vote on my favorite one soon.  Good luck to all the finalists!


Story of the Month – “Say It With Flowers”

Posted in Story Of The Month at 11:24 pm by Amber

This month’s short story is another selection from Every Day Fiction“Say It With Flowers” by Tels Merrick appeared in the June issue. 

It’s not easy picking a new story each month because it can be difficult to define what makes a story stick in my head weeks after reading it.  For this story, it’s because Merrick captured relationship dynamics between a couple that made it stay with me. 

The misunderstandings I experience with my husband come from different expectations in a specific situation or incomplete communication in a thought process.  Thus, I could relate to Elspeth’s anchorless feeling while Jared worked in the garden instead of spending time with her. 

I also liked it that I expected the story to give a little twist and it didn’t do it in the ways I expected.  With near certainty, I thought Elspeth would find the Christmas gift after Jared passed away.  But she found something else and he didn’t die!

Merrick’s publishing credits seem small right now but I’m sure it won’t be long before she’s publishing with more frequency.  We are members of the same online writing community.  She brought my attention to her story by announcing the good news of her publication.  I think I would have found it on my own because it’s so good.

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