Category Archives: Top 5

I’m Not the Blogger You’re Looking For

I’m supposed to be writing a blog post right now. Actually, I was supposed to write on about six hours ago. But the sore throat, snuffly nose, cotton-wool head, achey muscle fairy came by last night and left me feeling a wee bit… shall we say, uncomfortable?

So rather than inflict some terribly bad prose upon you, I thought I’d share a few posts from some of my favourite bloggers. These five posts are all brand new (written less than a couple of days ago), and are written by bloggers you could do worse than to read, follow, and love.

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.” Of course it was.

Vaughn Roycroft talks about his love of reading and writing in winter, and using winter as a backdrop in his novels.

There is something special about an impending storm—a potent cocktail of edgy anticipation and hunkering snugness. My characters endure swirling snow, bone-chilling wind, and stinging rain. My stormy mood is often imposed upon their world, creating a beautiful melancholia—the perfect backdrop for heightened conflict and emotional perseverance. <read more>

Names

Dan Thompson gives some practical advice on how to go about choosing names for characters.

A common question for new writers is where do you get your character names? You wouldn’t think that was much of a problem, but a lot of stories are populated by the all-too-common John’s and Mary’s. Jumping to the other extreme, we run into some tales filled with Xg’hanpl and Krnozj and other disemvoweled words. <read more>

So, You Wanna Be Gluten-Free?

Stephanie explains why choosing to eat gluten-free when you don’t have allergies is more trouble than it’s worth.

For anyone considering going gluten-free as a health-conscious, or “diet” option, I would strongly urge you to consider otherwise. Gluten-free living has roadblocks and detours that I, had I not discovered my allergies, would be less than enthusiastic about overcoming. Between the cost of my quality of social interaction (i.e., dinner and a movie with my husband or a drink with the girls) and the actual cost of living gluten-free in time and money, were I able to avoid these behemoth sacrifices, I would. <read more>

Football is our India Gang Rape

Bridget discusses the culture of football in America, where sexual assault and rape are covered up to protect the reputation of “The Game”.

I can’t help but draw a comparison between the gang-rape in India and the rape scandals that seem to plague the American institution of football. Penn State, Notre Dame, and Steubenville High School have all been accused of covering up or ignoring rape allegations in order to protect their football programs. <read more>

Mean people suck! (Or maybe they don’t?)

Janelle shares an experience where an old lady is mean to her toddler… and learns something inspiring along the way.

I wonder what kind of life must have been endured, to turn a human heart cold against the irresistible warmth of a baby. To make it impossible to utter a “hello,” to find even one millisecond of joy in the antics of a little girl, throwing her innocence and smile and trust your way, a complete stranger, even for just a moment becoming your child, your friend, your own. <read more>

Share with me! What did you think of these posts? Have you come across any must-reads recently? 

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Tuesday’s Top 5

Have you ever written a post and then wondered why you haven’t had any comments on it, only to discover that you forgot to hit the ‘Publish’ button and it’s been sitting as a draft for almost a whole day?

Yeah, me neither.

On with this week’s Top 5.

Anthony Lee Collins is one of the most regular commenters on my blog, and an incredibly interesting person. He’s been writing in the same world, with many of the same characters, for the last 22 years, and he does so in an incredibly interesting (and unusual) fashion: he posts each chapter online as he writes it. This means that he is writing novels in a serialised format. I’ve long been interested in his process and his reasons for writing this way, and this week my curiosity has been assuaged. The always-amazing Laura Stanfill hosted Anthony Lee Collins for a guest post titled Writing and Publishing Fiction One Piece at a Time.

I’ve recently come across an interesting new blog called Already Not Published. The author (I’m afraid I haven’t come across her name as yet) has a great post about unintended meanings in fiction. As she says: “The meaning that was intended, the messages the writer wanted to impart are secondary. Once you put it out there, there’s no telling what people will read into your words, what messages you have unintentionally portrayed.” Check out the whole post: Ride the Lightning.

Have you ever stopped to think about what your core values are? Ever tried to write them down? Kim “The G is Silent” Pugliano wrote about Core Values this week when she tried to help a friend and found herself thinking, “I don’t even know what my core values are; how am I supposed to identify hers?  What the hell ARE core values, anyway?” As always, Kim’s post is funny, touching, and a all-around great read.

If you know anything about Bridget of Twinisms, you know that her life is one long, wine-fuelled adventure after another. So when she went for a nice, quiet dinner at her friend Christin’s house, it should come as no surprise to find that things weren’t quite as peaceful as she would have hoped. Midway through the meal, the smoke alarm informed them that carbon monoxide levels in the room were at dangerous levels. Read all about Bridget’s Deadly Dinner to find out what happened next.

Janelle, the resident Renegade Mother, has a sense of humour that I can’t help but love. When she recently read the Occupy Wall Street Official Statement, the first thing that occurred to her about it was that many of the statements could so easily be applied to the way children behave in the home. So she brings us the official Occupy Single Family Homes with Children statement, which includes such gems as:

  • They have sold our privacy by telling inappropriate facts about our family to their friends’ parents, mostly in the form of what mommy said to daddy last night, without concern for what that behavior may do to our future as respectable figures in the eyes of the community.
  • They determine economic policy without concern for our savings, selfishly eating obscene quantities of food every.freaking.day, outgrowing their clothes on a regular basis, and demanding character-building activities such as sports, music, and social events, which they enjoy for 3 weeks and then refuse to attend.
  • They keep tight control of the media by demanding the same freaking book every single freaking night and requiring us to watch shows that don’t say “fuck.”

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Monday’s Top 5

Are you looking for a way to get the inspiration flowing and kickstart your writing? This week, Vivacia from A Wannabe Writer’s Blog brings you 20 Tips on Mugging Your Muse. She’s got a heap of different ideas, from Succeeding with Sneakiness to using Passion to Make Perfect, so there’s bound to be at least a few that appeal to you.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m writing I have a tendency to act out the scene as I go. I speak dialogue out loud, my own facial expression changes to match the way my characters are feeling, and, on occasion, I even stand up and act out the physical movements of my characters. (What would it look/feel like to do [insert action here]?) Billie Jo Woods talks about these things in her post this week, and wonders whether her writing packs a greater emotional punch when it makes her laugh or cry or cringe as she’s writing it. Go have a read: Please Pass the Tissues, Emotional Writing Happening Here.

If you’ve ever read any of Bridget’s posts on Twinisms, you’ll already know at least two things about her life: (1) Boxed wine is awesomesauce, and (2) Alaska sucks. (There’s also something about having two sets of twins or something… So hard to keep track of the little things.) So I was both amused and disappointed this week to discover that she’s been lying to us all along. And now she’s spilled the beans (with pictures and video footage to prove it.) Here’s Bridget with her confession: Alaska — Not Sucking.

This was a big week for Tracy from Sellabit Mum: She wrote and published her 1000th post. Yes, you read that right: One thousand posts. All I can really say is: “Holy dooley! That’s amazing!” (I apparently lost the ability to exclaim anything normal or interesting once my children were born.) Tracy looks back on the last four years, considers where she is now, and considers the question: I wonder if I’m really ‘just’ a blogger and not a writer.

On a more touching and sadder note, the lovely Worrywart wrote an amazing story about Ashlee. She may not have known Ashlee, but this post is full of passion and love. I leave you with this excerpt:

Several tables were set up. A small group of serious women served food from large foil containers. It smelled delicious. There were flowers lining the perimeter.

A wedding? 

Rounding the corner, ASHLEE was written in flowers. Her yearbook photo rested against a nearby shrub.

She was 17. She took her own life.

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Monday’s Top 5

This week:

Kay Hudson is Reading about the Craft of Writing.

Laura Stanfill talks about Time Management for Writers.

Howlin’ Mad Heather is asking people to vote on her 33 Films, 33 Years Poll.

Mommy Rotten has Play Group Anxiety.

And Renegade Mama Janelle is pretty sure that You are Not Your 401K.

Sorry for the short and sweet links this week. Unfortunately, I’m a little time-poor at the moment so will simply hope that you trust my judgement when I say that these are all fabulous links and you should click through and read more.

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Monday’s Top 5

Jess Haines is one of my favourite authors. She writes of the H&W Investigations series, the first one of which I reviewed here. I’ve been following her blog for some time now, and always find her to be funny, a little snarky, and very open about her writing and her views. This week she posted about The Taste of Success — it’s a very personal and honest look at the realities of money, writing, publishing, and making it all happen. In her own words: “Well, you know what, self-doubt? Fuck you.”

Dan Thompson talked about an interesting sci-fi phenomena this week: the danger of missing the call. When you’re projecting your story into the future, it will quickly become dated if you miss an important element of future technology. As he says: “A story written in the 1930’s with flying cars can still feel like the future, but one that leaves out computers is fatally dated.” This article, titled What Are We Missing? is a must-read for any sci-fi writers out there.

Abigail of Oh My Words! revealed this week that she is in awe of a friend of hers who knows all the words to R.E.M.’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It. And fair enough, too. I’m pretty impressed that I know about 70% of them — and that’s more than enough to impress my lyric-challenged husband. In the spirit of this song, Abigail looks at a few other songs with lyrics that are just as tricky to Sing Along With All the Right (Oh My) Words when you know them as when you don’t.

It’s the same old story: Boy likes Girl, Boy pulls Girl’s hair, Girl goes home crying and is told, “It’s okay, it’s just because he likes you.” But have you ever stopped to consider why we think that’s okay? What makes it okay for a schoolboy to be hit, kick, taunt, or otherwise hurt a girl to show his affection? What would you think if he was an adult? And if society says it’s okay when he’s six years old, how can we turn around and tell him it’s not okay when he’s sixteen? I’d never considered any of these questions until reading this great article from the Queen of the Couch: You Didn’t Thank Me For Punching You In The Face.

And on a less serious note, Renegade Mama brings some of her trademark snarkiness to Valentine’s Day with her post: Yo, Hallmark, I got some Valentine’s for ya. After all, who hasn’t at some point wanted to give their partner a Valentine’s card that reads, “If you leave your boots on the living room floor one more time I’ll fucking cut you.”

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Monday’s Top 10

I know, I know, I promised to catch up on last week’s Top 5. But by the time I’d read all the previous week’s posts it was Thursday, and I had another 90 new blog posts sitting there to be read, and it was just all too hard. So I decided to just move on and give you a double dose of linky goodness this week with the Top 10 posts I’ve read over the last two weeks. I hope you enjoy.

Billie Jo Woods explores her writing process in Ogres Have Layers and Novel Writing Does Too. What do you think — do you “pants” it all the way through, or do you write in carefully planned layers?

Alexandra Sokoloff (a fantastic author who draws on her experience in screenwriting for her novels) posted about Key Story Elements and Lessons from Musical Theatre. I’m a very auditory learner, and being able to put all the parts of a story into the context of exciting musical performances really works for me. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Aly Hughes has a weekly “vs” column where she looks at two different ways to do something and compares/contrasts the two. Last week she tackled the Hand Writing vs Typing debate with some interesting points. Personally, I’m more comfortable typing than hand writing — but only because my handwriting looks like a frog fell in blue ink, splotched across a page and then died an ignoble death. Also, typing is quicker. What about you?

My very good (real life) friend recently started her own blog (I’d like to think she was inspired by my pure awesome, but I’m pretty sure the two things are unrelated) named A Mediocre Bunch of Boring. She raises an interesting question this week: Who Wrote the Rule Book on when women have to move from miniskirts, high heels and flirting with bar-staff to sitting at home in a house dress plucking hairs from their chins? It’s a great series of questions (I’ve provided my own answers on her site), and I highly encourage you to check them out and support a new blogger.

April of That Nolen Chick is a prolific blogger, writer, and mother of four kids. She’s always got something interesting to share, and this week was no exception. Check out her Eleven Things Not to Do — especially because it includes a quote about Sicilians and death….

Thinking about Valentine’s Day yet? (It’s tomorrow. Just in case you didn’t know.) Lily from Bedtimes are for Suckers shares with us her ideas for Valentine’s Day Hearts for Parents… Without the Bullshit.

Remember when children belonged outside and you didn’t need TV or the government to tell you that? Remember when we spent hours away from home and our parents only had the vaguest idea of where we were? Remember when you could go visit your friends and you didn’t have to bring your mom with you? Mommy Rotten brings a little nostalgia to the blogosphere this week when she asks Remember When…? I loved this post — and it definitely got me thinking about the lack of freedom our own children have these days.

Remember when going for ice cream was just going for ice cream? A single or a double in a sugar cone? Tracy of Sellabit Mum remembers those days before we had the choice of 352 TV channels and 58 types of mints at the CVS check-out lane. Sure, it’s nice to be able to choose between the 5,789 pairs of black pumps available online, but what effect does that have on our children? In Tracy’s words: I Blame our Ungrateful Society on Baskin Robbins.

Kvetch Mom is also asking questions. In her case, the question is: How many two year olds get attached to a marble? Look, as someone who has had to listen to a similar cry of “AQUEEN! AQUEEN! WHERE YOU, LIGHTAQUEEN!?”, I completely empathise with her situation. And really, don’t we all have those stories of odd things our kids get attached to? (In Big Brother’s case, it’s been everything from a paper airplane to a snow globe.) Check out The Marble and Other Unsafe Lovies.

Don’t you just hate it when your children use your own rules against you? Yeah, me too. But sometimes it’s just so darn cute. Tricia from Critters and Crayons details just such a moment when her four-year-old daughter said, “Mum, You Need to Invite Dad to the Peace Table.”

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Monday’s Top 5

I’ve posted links to blog posts with advice on ways to get over the infamous Writer’s Block in the past. (As a note: “infamous” does not mean “more than famous”. Just in case you were wondering.) Now, I don’t believe in Writer’s Block, but if you do, then this post may help you. With such great advice as “Wallow in Self-Pity”, how could y0u go wrong? I highly suggest you check out the rest of Peri Kinder’s Top 5 Ways to Get Over Writer’s Block.

While that advice is obviously going to be useful to those people writing a first draft, what about those people currently working on revisions? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered as well. K. Marie Criddle’s drawg this week is a truly inspired piece of awesome. Check out what happens when she tries to edit her work while in a non-neutral mindset: Revising for the weak minded and easily distracte–SHINY.

Have you ever sat down and thought to yourself: You know, grammar is seriously sexy. (…yeah, me neither…) Julie of byanyothername clearly has. She published a post this week titled Today call me Laid — but it’s not about S – E – X. No, this post is about the correct usage of the verbs “to lie” and “to lay”. Because as she says: “There’s nothing hotter than the proper conjugation of verbs.”      Warning: References to Moby Dick, Jersey Shore and Ryan Gosling. 

Shawn Ledington Fink starts out her post on Ways to Just Be With your Children by saying:

It’s not easy being a parent. No matter if you work outside the home, inside the home. No matter if you have one, two, three or fifteen children. No matter if you have a small house in a big city or a big house in a small city. No matter if you have money or very little money. Raising children is hard work — at least it is if you are doing it right.

This post touches on a number of concerns that have been playing around in my head recently, and suggests 25 “unplugged” ways to spend time with your kids. While I wouldn’t necessarily use all 25 of her ideas, this post really got me thinking. If you’re a parent and you’re struggling to come up with interesting ways to connect with your kids (sans TV, computers and consoles), check it out.

Finally, I’d like to share a post on parenting that really touched me this week. Tracy of Sellabit Mum is a Stay at Home Mum of three girls who believes that we should get on with raising our children according to the needs of our own families, rather than participating in so-called “Mommy Wars”. But she wasn’t always a Stay at Home Mum. Like many of us, she was once a career-focused woman who didn’t think having a baby would change her ambitions. But then it did. Check out her beautiful story Why I Stay at Home… (And if you’re a softie like me, have a box of tissues handy.)

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