Thursday, April 28, 2011

The alternate universe on Book Blurb Friday!


It's time to write that best selling novel again, or at least what would go on the book jacket. If you are new to my blog, Lisa Ricard Claro, from Writing in the Buff, posts a picture meant to serve as a fictional book cover. It's your job to write a blurb about the book in 150 words or less to entice a prospective reader. Are you up to the challenge?

Most pictures are taken by Lisa's equally talented daughter, and this week's picture is more than a little interesting. My first thought was murder, but I am in too good a mood to go there, so here is the picture and my story:

And Another Looked Back....

The ocean always soothed Sarah’s soul, no matter what kind of day she was having, and today she needed mega amounts of soothing. Her parents’ divorce was getting ugly and Sarah felt betrayed by both sides-her father had found the love of his life only it wasn’t Sarah’s mother, and Sarah felt her mother’s constant chiding is what finally drove her father away.

Sarah’s parents started fighting early so she headed for refuge. It was an ordinary beach day, catching some rays, flirting with the boys, searching for seashells (or at least pretending to while the boys looked on).

But when all the regulars had gone home, Sarah saw a pair of sunglasses wash up on shore. She picked them up and stared, open mouthed-the lenses reflected another world, and another pair of eyes were staring right back!  (Not bad-138 words, but I'm not too crazy about the title....)

So what's your story? I can't wait to come by!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Play the day away (and Succinctly Yours!)

I hope everyone had a nice Easter! There were some slight disagreements with my kids over the break, but overall the holiday was a wonderful way to reconnect with my family. The weather even cooperated for the last part of the weekend and we spent the majority of our time outside. Nice...

The kids are still off tomorrow, but it's back to school for me (my school district lost spring break and most of our Easter due to the snow storms this winter, but at least I will go back with a smile on my face!)

Now it's time for Succinctly Yours, another writing meme that piggy backs on the idea of Susan of the Stony River Blog. Grandma Goulash posts a picture each Monday and you are to write a 140 character or word story about it. You can also use the word of the day in your post if you wish. This week's word is quaint. Here's this week's picture and my story:

Bessie stared hard, daring me to come closer while the others looked on, and I knew what she was thinking-one false move and you’re mine!  (137 characters)

I'm in such a good mood today that I couldn't resist some humor of my own this evening. I can't wait to read what everyone else came up with!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Still as a statue in Book Blurb Friday!


Ah, my new favorite time of the week-Book Blurb Friday! If you are new to my blog, Lisa Ricard Claro, from Writing in the Buff, posts a picture meant to serve as a fictional book cover. It's your job to write a blurb about the book in 150 words or less to entice a prospective reader. Who knows? It could be the start of something great!

I went with a mythical approach tonight, back in the time of wizards and evil kings. Here is this week's picture and my story:

The Prophecy Reborn

It had been ages since Neila felt the warm of the sun, but she could feel it now, the heat slowly bringing feeling back to her aching limbs. Suddenly her eyes twitched, and blinking for the first time in years, the scene gradually coming into focus was that of her bedroom.

Dust cloths strewn haphazardly about covered remnants of the past, Neila’s past. She remembered the resistance, how her people were preparing for war with the evil King Nathrach, and how the king sought her capture and hand in marriage to end the uprising, and dispute a prophesy.

Neila had ardently refused the union, but the King’s reaction had been puzzling-instead of raging at her insolence, he simply touched Neila’s sleeve and everything went black, like the snuffing of a candle.

But who or what was waking Neila, and how had life in her kingdom changed? (147 words-just made it!)

Wow, I wish I could stay in this alter reality for a bit longer, but it's way past my bed time. I look forward to visiting you all tomorrow!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Succinctly Yours #4

Why not join me in another writing meme that piggybacks on the idea started by Susan of the Stony River blog. The meme is called Succinctly Yours and  you can click her very stylish header above or right here at Grandma Goulash. Grandma posts a picture each Monday and you are to write a 140 character or word story about it. You can also use the word of the day in your post if you wish. This week's word: request, and this week's picture with my take:

There they sat, comparing their lives, each one impressed by the other, and each wishing he had a little more time to try something new. (136 characters)

I know a lot of you went with humor, but I just wasn't up to it-it was a long day...  I do wonder what these gentleman might have been talking about.  Well, I'm off to take a look at your stories-I certainly could use some laughter this evening.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just a little gold among friends

Lisa Ricard Claro is a recent writer blogger friend that I found doing the Stony River writing meme. (Lisa now hosts her own meme, Writing in the Buff on Fridays.)  Like me, Lisa's blog revolves around a variety of topics-I connect and laugh with her over family posts, then marvel at her word usage and creativity in her writing memes. She is definitely a word master, and I am in awe... Thank you Lisa for your kindness and friendship!

The Lucky recipient of the award must do the following:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.

2. Write a post and include the image of the award, a link to the person's blog who gave it to you, and a link to Write Wild. (Christie Wright is the original creator of this award.  Copy and paste the rules in your post.)

3. Award four bloggers this award and tell why each is a Pot-O-Gold! (If you receive this award more than once, you only have to forward it the first time.)

4. Share four simple things about yourself: 1-a time you had to exercise FAITH, 2-something you HOPE for, 3-something (or someone) you LOVE, and 4-a time when you felt LUCK.

Narrowing my favorite bloggers down to just four seemed pretty daunting, so I thought I would tackle the questions first.

Faith: The moment where I needed the most faith was right after finishing my senior year of college. (I was a transfer student-on the 4 1/2 year plan-and needed to finish my student teaching in the fall.) I took a job as a camp counselor at a summer camp up in the Pocono Mountains, but I only finished three weeks before I was involved in a horrendous car accident.

We all had the night off and were heading to a local eatery-I was in a car with three other counselors instead of taking the camp bus, and we were hit head on by a van driving on the wrong side of the road. It totaled the little Chevette we were riding in, killing Andie, our driver. I was the front passenger and I broke my nose, severed an ear, severed my liver (from the seat belt Andie made me wear!), broke my left wrist in two places, broke my right ankle in two places, broke my right fibula, and my right tibia. One girl in the back was thrown from the car and sustained head, arm, and leg injuries, and the other girl in the back just about crushed her right arm and sustained massive facial lacerations.

The doctor's told my parents that if I had broken my leg like this just five years earlier, I never would have walked again. With a lot of faith and sheer stubbornness, my father’s, and mine, I walked without support in 9 months! (He would wheel me down our road and then strap me in my walker-it was fitted with a sling to cradle my arm-and make me walk.) I may be wired together like a bionic woman, but I walk and run (okay, maybe I don’t run, but that’s just because I don’t like to run-sorry Molly!)

Hope and Love: I'm going to do both of these as a "two-fer" since they revolve around my kids.
  • I hope to give my kids the best childhood I can.
  • I hope that they never give in, never give up, stay true to themselves, and create success in their lives.
  • I love them dearly, and they will always be my "best thing."

Luck: I see luck in different ways :
  • It was lucky that I found my other brown sock Friday morning
  • It's lucky when I don't get behind a certain bus on the way to school-I did on Friday :(
  • It's lucky that my husband and I still like one another (loving is the easy part, but liking can sometimes be tough!) after 20 years of marriage.
  • It's lucky that I broke my nose in the accident. It looks better now.
Now for the tough part-awarding other bloggers.  I used these blogger's last posts as the deciding point.  Here are my selections:

Kelly, from My Voice My View and Write With Pictures. Kelly is both writer and mom blogger whose main blog is filled with color, both visually and emotionally-her postings consist of hysterical day-to-day musings as well as thought provoking poetry and prose. In her second blog she provides pictures and prompts to inspire creative writing in others.

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded I know MOTPG's real identity because we've shared an endless streaming of e-mails when one of us hits on a topic that makes the other laugh. I love going to MOTPG's site because her writing can make me laugh or make me cry quicker than anyone!

Shelly at Tropical Mum is the blogger I follow from down under, and who is always confusing me on Twitter when she tweets about getting ready to go for a swim and I'm tweeting about going to bed! I love her candor and wit, and reading her blog is like reading Erma Bombeck, a woman who truly knew how to find the humor in anything!

And Amy, from Where A Woman Shakes Her Tablecloth. Her blog is about the trials of raising two boys only a couple years apart, but so very different. I have laughed out loud on some occasions and wished I could make her a cup of coffee on others-she definitely knows how to pull at the old heart strings!

Well, I'd better go to bed before I erase my faith section-I don't often reveal information about that accident unless I'm asked, and since not too many know, I don't get asked...  Goodnight all!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fight the good fight-it's Book Blurb Friday!


If you are new to my blog, it's Book Blurb Friday! Lisa Ricard Claro, from Writing in the Buff, posts a picture meant to serve as a fictional book cover. It's your job to write a blurb about the book in 150 words or less to entice a prospective reader.

I had several directions to go with this week's picture, but unfortunately my mind had a hard time picking just one. I finally settled decided to focus on the unpredictability of nature, and I like what I came up with (I hope you do too.) Here is this week's photo and my story:

Little Fight Left

Fed up with the city, Cassie and Sam boarded the next plane for southern California, and quickly made over their lives. Gone were the noise and traffic, the lunches in front of a computer, and no time for exercise-now there were lunches in the park, morning jogs, and hikes in the mountains. And if the stresses at work got too much, there was always the ocean…

But sometimes when people become too comfortable, they fail to see warning signs, to listen to that inner voice saying something isn’t right-they take risks.

Cassie and Sam would become this comfortable. After several fires in the San Bernardino Mountains, and a mudslide advisory, the couple continued plans for a hike. But when that predicted mudslide does come, it washes the couple and their vehicle down the mountainside, and it will take everything they have to make it out alive. (A little windy tonight at 146 words...)

What about you? Do you see a story when you look at pictures? Just post an entry and join us at Lisa's! I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Math Blaster Review and Giveaway!

My kids and I have been associated with Jump Start for a year now, and it's the only online educational site that they don’t get tired of and it's a site that I encourage, so I was pretty excited when Jump Start asked me to review a new educational game site-Math Blaster! First developed in 1987, Math Blaster allows kids to have fun while still practicing math skills. Skill levels start at kindergarten and go all the way up to 8th grade, and kids can practice a variety of problems ranging from basic math facts to fractions and conversions.

I noticed my son hesitating with subtraction problems in his homework, especially when the problems involved two-digits. Flash cards are frustrating for both of us, so I couldn’t wait for him to try out Math Blaster.

We had a rough start at first because my son forgot his password to log into the site, but thankfully the site sent me a temporary password that I then changed, and I had the site remember it so he wouldn’t have to keep typing it when he went to log in. We also noticed that Firefox seemed to run the program a little better than MSN, and since the games are pretty graphics intensive, you really do need either a cable modem or DSL line so the games load quickly. (There still is some wait as games load, but there's graphics and music so it's not too bad. I also didn't quite know how to move around with my character, but leave it to kids-my 8 year old son helped me out!)

I wanted to do this review last month, but things got hectic around here, and then there were some illnesses to get through. But I’m glad we had a bit more time to really see what this site has to offer.

If you are familiar with the Jumpstart site, you will see some similarities in Math Blaster. You still have a character that you move from place to place, and each is completely customizable, and for some reason, this is one of the things my kids absolutely love about the game. My son showed me how to customize the skin of your character, even to the point of turning it into an alien too! Graphics are out of this world (no pun intended), and the space-like music really has you feeling like an explorer.

When Math Blaster first loads, you decide to either start right into the games or do a little exploring. My son usually starts right in because all practice involves some type of gaming aspect, sort of like an arcade. From here you pick what skill you want to practice, and the level of difficulty, and at the start of every game there are visual as well as verbal instructions on how to answer the math questions and maneuver your character.  (Click on any of the pictures to view them larger.)
Flying on the way to the alien!
The alien with all the questions...
My son’s two favorite games are HyperBlast and Alien Wrangler, and just watching him play was fun (and playing it myself was even better-LOL!) With HyperBlast, you maneuver your space ship past obstacles and bombs, (you shoot them away using the keyboard) until you reach the alien who asks math questions. But it’s not that easy-the alien dangles the answers on about 8 different arms, and you have to click on the right one. (My screen shot on the right shows easy problems)

Alien Wrangler
Alien Wrangler has you sitting atop of a blob-like alien. Math questions are given at the top of the screen, and you only have a small amount of time to answer before the Alien starts working a little harder to throw you-pause too long, and you may end up on the ground.
Bolt Crusher

I also tried Bolt Cruncher and did some conversion practice. Decimal values start turning around a conveyor belt and you have to match the fraction values before the time is up.
Easier level with Bolt Crusher
(I also did an easier match-up with shapes-see left)

My son hasn’t dealt with conversions, but as he watched me play, he started to understand, and this is the key to what these games do-they help kids master what might have been a mystery to them earlier. Teachers in the elementary levels already know this and use games often to help kids bridge the gap. And take my son and subtraction problems-he doesn’t whine so much now about math, especially if I let him practice with Math Blaster.

Would you like to win a six-month free membership to the Math Blaster game site? Your first mandatory entry: tell me who you would like to win this for. Be sure to leave your email address in the comment if it’s not in your profile. (You need to complete this entry before you can qualify for any additional entries.)Please keep in mind that I have comment approval turned on and comments made will not appear to the site immediately...

Earn "Extra Entries(Woo hoo!) with the following but be sure to leave a comment per entry (IE. if it says you get two entries, put two comments :)

-Follow me via Google friend connect (or tell me you're already a follower)- 2 entries

-Follow me on Twitter(Twitter link is on my sidebar)-1 entry

-Tweet this giveaway(you can tweet once a day.)- 1 entry

Help your kids play and practice math with Math Blaster. Win Six-month membership #giveaway @FamilyFormula (Ends 5/7)

-Add my blog button to your site and provide a link-2 entries

-Add my blog to your blog roll and provide a link- 2 entries

-Make a blog post about this giveaway and link back here (leave a link in your comment)- 5 entries

The giveaway ends at midnight (EST) on May 7, 2011 and is open to U.S. residents. I will pick the winner with and notify by e-mail. (The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.) Good luck!

And please note: I was provided a six-month membership of Math Blaster at no cost by Knowledge Adventure to help facilitate my review. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided. My family thoroughly enjoys Math Blaster and JumpStart-thank you again JumpStart!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Succinctly Yours #3

I joined another writing meme that piggybacks on the idea started by Susan of the Stony River blog. The meme is called Succinctly Yours and  you can click her very stylish header above or right here at Grandma Goulash.Grandma posts a picture each Monday and you are to write a 140 character or word story about it. You can also use the word of the day in your post if you wish. This week's word is procrastinate.

The 140 character limit is really good writing practice because every word counts. I got out of the habit of posting on Sunday, but hopefully I'll be able to get back into it even though I'm feeling a little guilty about carrying on without Susan...

Here's this week's picture and my story

Amy anxiously looked around, hoping her disguise would help her blend in.  No police, no guards-she was just minutes away from freedom. (Exactly 135 characters-cutting it close but I'm a little out of practice...)

I'm really looking forward to coming around to all your blogs. You might also be interested in the meme by Lisa Ricard Claro called Book Blurb Friday. Here you look at a picture and then compose a 150 word blurb that might appear on the book jacket. Every story is completely different, and I have really enjoyed taking part. Why not check it out this Friday? Lisa usually puts the post up Thursday night-I hope to see you there as well!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's sheer danger on this Book Blurb Friday!


If you are new to my blog, it's Book Blurb Friday! Lisa Ricard Claro, from Writing in the Buff, posts a picture meant to serve as a fictional book cover. It's your job to write a blurb about the book in 150 words or less to entice a prospective reader.

I almost couldn't wait to write tonight's post-as soon as I looked at the picture, my mind headed down the cobble stone alleyway and landed in the mysterious world of secret agents and undercover activities. What a way to end a week! Well, here is this week's picture and my story:

The Road Ends in Rome

Stacy pushed past all the shoppers and tourists and headed quickly to an alleyway to meet her informant. It might be nice to actually tour Rome, she thought wryly to herself, instead of chasing down another lead concerning her missing partner.

The buildings seemed to close in around her, making Stacy feel somewhat claustrophobic, but swallowing hard she quickened her step, her heals eerily echoing off the flagstone street. She strained to see the shadowy figure against a back wall. The man was lean, with a definite stockiness about him, and she could see glimpses of his baldhead beneath his comb-over-yes, she was sure this was Italian spy Rodolfo Siviero.

But as Stacy made her way into the shadows, a second man she hadn’t noticed stopped in front of her and turned around. Their eyes met, and before he signaled the others, Stacy knew it was a set-up. (148 words)

What do you think?  This was another close one at 148 words, but I actually had to add more to get the count up-hmm... I'm usually more wordy. I can't wait to see your stories!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blockbuster Express-YES! Redbox-NO!

I’m a little worried. We rent movies exclusively through Blockbuster Express, but with many of Blockbuster’s brick and mortar stores closing and the video giant filing for bankruptcy, who will take over their kiosk rental business? I read somewhere that their kiosk business is the only part of the company making any money, and I can believe that.

Those of you familiar with my blog will remember me writing about my love/hate relationship with the other video rental kiosk company Redbox. Here’s why:

·I hate how I could find the latest movies in stores, but never in Redbox, and when Redbox finally did get the movie, it was usually another two or three weeks before I could rent it. (Everyone and his brother wanted that movie too!)

·I found out that I could reserve a movie online, but the Redbox website is less than ideal. Even with a cable modem, the site continually locks up, and on one occasion I somehow reserved the same movie twice! (I checked to see what the site looks like now, and I can't believe it, but it's even more confusing to use!)

·Redbox kiosks are either down or in "limbo" constantly. A drive back to the same kiosk the next day would be a waste of time because it was out of service. Movies wouldn’t come out of the machines, and that’s at least a 20 minute call to customer service to fix-they used to give promo codes for free movies to make you happy-although they don’t know what it’s like to drive home with your kid screaming in the backseat!

·I hate having to wait in line 15 minutes, often in the rain, just to return a movie, longer when people are having trouble with the machines!

·What about all those promo codes I received? Nobody said you couldn’t use your promo code when you reserve online- I found that out when I went to pick up my "free" movie. What good is a promo-code if the movie you want isn’t in the machine? The only way to check is online…

·And remember I said customer service USED to give promo codes? I think the company realized it was losing money from all the "free" offers, and the last few times I called I was offered nothing.

·Then there are the late fees-don’t miss your 9:00 PM deadline, or that $1 movie rental quickly turns into $3!

·And this might sound petty, but there is only one way to put the movie back into the Redbox kiosk. The last time I returned a movie, I put it in wrong, I saw the guy behind me put his in wrong, and as I was driving away, the woman returning her movie was doing it wrong!

But when things went from bad to worse with old Redbox and me, the blue and gold machine with the familiar logo showed up. I won’t say it was love-at-first-sight-I only tried Redbox because Blockbuster continually raised prices and reduced inventory. But when a fellow blogger suggested I try Blockbuster Express, I gave old blue another chance, and I’m glad I did.

·Blockbuster kiosks are always in working order, and when I did have trouble with the touch screen of the kiosk closest to our home, I was offered a promo code, and the kiosk was fixed within a week-I haven’t had a problem with that machine since.

·Those promo codes can be used online when reserving a movie, and the website is easy to use and navigate. Plus, Blockbuster Express continually offers promo codes throughout the year, at least once a month-I always do a search online for updated promo codes before I reserve my movie.

·Blockbuster Express has all the latest movies almost the same time they are available in stores, and I can usually find the movie I want when I want it.

·Now I don’t know about your town, but there seems to be far more Blockbuster Express kiosks around me then Redbox-while Redbox is with Walgreens, Blockbuter Express is with all the mini-marts all over town.

·If you should forget about the 9:00 PM return time, the late fee is only another buck, and I never put the DVD into the kiosk wrong! (This is a pretty big deal when it’s cold outside!)

So I don’t know what I’m going to do if my night and shining armor (at least of the movie rental world) packs up shop, but I can say one thing for sure-Redbox and me will never get back together… What about you-if you like one movie rental chain over another, do tell…