#TopTenTuesday – Summer

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday in a long time.  But, seeing as this is the last Tuesday of August and I’ve had a pretty wonderful summer,  I thought it time to share my favorite things of Summer 2016.  It started out where I was a little stressed, a little restless, and a lot sick of cold, but it’s turned out to be a summer where I’ve truly felt loved and blessed.  So here ya go.

Top 10 Favorite Things of Summer 2016:

1.  Fourth of July.  This is always my favorite holiday, spent with my crazy family at my aunt and uncle’s cottage.  This year’s theme for the boat parade was “Anything Goes,” and since my uncle is the Loon Ranger for their lake, this happened.  Oh, and one of the flags fell off the back when my aunt wasn’t paying attention, my cousin-in-law started playing “Taps” on his phone as it sank, and I jumped overboard to pluck it from the mucky bottom of the lake.  Pretty standard times.


2.  This little girl entered our lives!  My parents used to raise Weimaraners when I was a kid, but we’d been without one in the family for far too long.  Ghost is probably going to be a bit spoiled as a result.


3.  My bridal shower.  I hate being the center of attention, but that wasn’t a problem considering we had 19 kids staying.  My mom’s side of the family hadn’t all been together in like 3  years, so I was happy to be the excuse.


4.  I’ve read a lot of amazing books from fellow authors.  I also beta read more than I usually do (meaning I read an advanced copy of a book an author is preparing to release into the world), which was a great opportunity.  You can see some of these books I’ve read here:


5.  I moved to a super cool apartment that is slowly but surely getting filled so it’s less echo-y in here.


6.  The Fiance and I celebrating knowing each other for 2 years.  Honestly the first thing to remind us was Facebook.  He was training for an upcoming Ironman all day, I was working, I went to McDonald’s to get us dinner…  It was “special” but worth noting.


7.  My bridal crew helped me pick out a wedding dress.  Now, I’ve had a deal with my mom since I was 7 years old that I would elope.  However, since the diva groom wants a wedding, that means I had to find a dress.  I didn’t cry when finding the dress, but it meant more to me that these people were there.  (Our little Dutch souls did cry at the great deal I got, though.)


8.  Reviews from authors I respect.  I’ve been slacking on the whole “book promotions” thing, but it’s been wonderful to have occasional kind words come in about my books.  It especially means a lot to me when other authors whose work I LOVE have something nice to say.  Here’s one:


9.  The Haymarsh Benefit Shoot.  For almost 2 decades, our family’s hunt club has hosted a benefit shoot for a local facility that helps families with their needs.  It’s always a time I use to catch up with my many adopted-uncle-types.  It’s also a time when my dad, my brother, and I frantically prep to get things ready.  This year was no different, and it’s nice some things never change.


10.  I found a quiet peace of heaven.  Our apartment doesn’t have a balcony, but there’s this weird private courtyard down the hall that leads to open sun, open air, and astroturf.  It’s the quietest place you can imagine while living downtown, and it’s great for relaxing and unwinding…which means reading.


#TopTenTuesday – Memes

Top 10 Favorite Memes:

1:    Okay, yeah,  I made this.  But it’s useful. 🙂80e71cf4f03a93d3ed2f2e377e7b7193

2.  For the Emo artistic soul in all of us.


3.  I giggle at this every time.


4.  It’s the expression on the face.


5.  Because… Yes.


6.  It’s coming…


7.  Awesome.


8.  I laugh at this way too hard regularly. 


9.  Sophistication. 


10: And…oh, well, here.  Words, Words Everywhere.

Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday – Author Resources

(This week is really only interesting to fellow writers & authors, but I thought it might be nice to share.  It can take a long time to figure out what ads/promos/how-to’s/sites are worth it vs. which ones make you want to eat your own hair.  Here’s a list of the cheap or free ones that have worked best for me with the least amount of effort required – i.e. living the dream.)  

Top 10 Favorite Author Resources:

1:   WordPress.  Okay, this seems kind of “duh,” but this is where I started to create any kind of “brand” or name for myself, and it’s very straightforward and intuitive to use.  Plus, with so many other writers on WordPress, you can just click their “follow” button and have instant access to a whole collection of blogs to read.
2:   Bitly.com.  It’s very, very handy to create shortlinks when posting everywhere.  It’s even better to be able to see which links people use and which they don’t.
3:   SocialOomph.com.  Yes, it seems like cheating to set up Tweets ahead of time.  But it’s a huge relief to know you’ve got SOMETHING posting every day without your having to take time to promote your work.  (Just, for the love of goodness, don’t auto-tweet promos 10x a day – no one wants to see that!)  I use this in conjunction with Bitly, and it’s pretty easy to keep track of what works.
4:   NovelRank.com.  Honestly, there are probably better systems out there that track the sales of your books.  But a friend in publishing asked me to try this because some of her authors wondered about it, and I’ve stuck with it because it works well enough for me.  Also, I like the app for my iPhone…not that I check my sales hourly, but it’s nice to have.
5:   Makerbook.net.  This is a good artsy resource to get to a lot of other artsy resources.  They have collections of places to get stock photography, fonts, audio, video, etc.  It’s just an easy site to find everything  you’d want at once.
6:   TheFussyLibrarian.com.  If you’re willing to pay (not a lot) to get on daily emails to subscribing readers, this is a pretty good place to start.  I’ve made my money back easily every time I’ve used them.  Plus they send out intelligent newsletters with helpful author info.
7:  ReadCheaply.com.  I tried this on a whim and saw the most downloads of my book that I’ve ever seen.  Definitely great if you have a free book that can lead to sales of another book.
8:  AwesomeGang.com.  They have a free promo option, and I’ve seen sales just from that.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s certainly worth what little time and effort are required.
9:   AskDavid.com.  This is another one of those “why not try it?” things that works pretty well.  It sets up a page for your book, plus tweets out about your book, PLUS you get a handful of tweets you can create yourself and they’ll send out whenever you want.
10: Alinka Rutkowska’s advice page.  I randomly found this (translation: I can’t remember how), and the links on this page are really helpful.  You tend to see the same advice over and over, and little of it tends to be useful.  BUT, this woman has a lot of new ideas  that made me go “Oh, I can do that,” and almost all of them are little tweaks you can make to your marketing approach for free.  You can grab her book on Amazon for free (I think) here.


Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday – Fairy Tales

Top 10 Favorite Fairy Tales:

1:   Sapsorrow.  I’ve never liked the usual versions of Cinderella.  Even as a kid, I remember thinking, “Who wants a prince who can’t recognize you without the right shoes?”  But THIS version is from an old German folk tale, a version of Allerleirauh (yeah, I had to look that up), and is much darker and has characters that believably interact with each other.  Animal friends are still there.  Wicked stepsisters are still there.  A prince is still there – BUT, he has to learn some lessons before getting the girl who leaves a slipper behind after a ball.  I immediately became a fan when Jim Henson’s The Storyteller did this story for an episode.  If you haven’t seen it, look it up. (pictured below)
2:   Llewellyn And His Dog.  Okay, not a fairy tale per se, but it’s an old story with a poem.  My aunt shared this with us when we were little, and it’s still one of the saddest things I’ve ever read.  I did find the poem here.
3:   Sleeping Beauty.  There were early signs that my interests and creativity might run on the “dark side.”  My love of Maleficent in the Disney version was one such early indication.  I don’t remember giving a crap about Aurora.  I still liked the living-in-hiding-in-the-woods-and-singing parts of her story, but mostly I wanted to get back to the magic and awesome costume of the bad guy.  So, obviously I was really happy with Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent because it gave a whole new spin to the story.
4:   The Little Mermaid.  Bless my mother.  At mostly my prompting (my brother liked it too and could do a great Sebastian), we watched the Disney version of this probably every other day for a while there.  I’ve always loved the water and swimming, and having my own underwater fort where I could store thingamabobs was pretty much my dream.  I also *might* have tried to put on a performance with myself as Ariel, Christian as Sebastian, and my Aunt Sharon as Ursula.   
5:   The Light Princess.  This is by George MacDonald.  It’s kind of a Sleeping Beauty story, but the curse on the girl is that she has no gravity.  This means she floats in the air unless tethered down, and it means that she doesn’t take anything seriously and cannot cry.  But she loves water.  The relationship with the prince is much more fleshed out in this story than a good many “prince and princess” stories, and the sacrifices made for love are really lovely.
6:   Beauty and the Beast.  She’s a book nerd – of course I like this one.  In the Disney version (let’s face it, that’s what people of my generation think of first), I love the use of color and light to add to the beauty (no pun intended) of the story.  It’s always been about not judging a book by its cover – both for seemingly good guys and seemingly bad guys – and I really like that.
7:  Aladdin.  Yep, Disney version again.  This is such a great “boy’s movie” compared to the usual princess emphasis, and Jasmine is tomboy enough to be okay.  I liked the desert and Arabia almost as much as I liked the underwater world, so I liked the culture and look of this one.  And the story’s just packed full of adventure, which is fun.  And, of course, Robin William’s Genie stole this movie.
8:  Hansel and Gretel  The Brothers Grimm version.  It’s so dark.  I mean, it’s hard to have a story about a witch eating children NOT be dark, but there are a lot of versions which soften that part.  And I’ve never thought the dad should get off the hook so easily – being whipped is no excuse for sending your children into the woods to starve.  But I love the brother-sister teamwork.  And outsmarting pretty much every adult.
9:   Pinocchio.  There isn’t a romantic love story!  I like that.  This one’s all about family love and friendship.  And honesty.  There’s just a lot of goodness in this story.
10: Thumbelina.  I really wanted to be small when I was little.  Mostly so I could “ride” my Breyer horses.


Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday – Actors

Top 10 Favorite Actors:

1:   Johnny Depp.  Honestly, not so much with his work lately where Tim Burton keeps making him over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top.  But as far as actors who are versatile and creative and somehow GOOD no matter what they’re doing, he’s my favorite. There’s no reason Jack Sparrow should have been so loveable except that Depp made him so.  And I laughed ridiculously hard at the simplest thing – trying to put on a glove – in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which I wouldn’t recommend for any other reason.
2:   Michael Fassbender.  I love when an actor can make me root for a bad character. Young Magneto is of course on that list.  I’m looking forward to Fassbender as MacBeth.  In Shame he was impressive for…obvious reasons, but also the depth of internal conflict Fassbender was able to convey was amazing.  And he makes a very convincing robot who’s trying to look like Lawrence of Arabia, which made him the only forgivable thing for me about Prometheus.
3:   Bill Murray.  Be it crazy comedy or a more subdued role, Murray always makes me happy.  His delivery is always spot on.  Every time I see a sailboat, I think (or yell, let’s be honest), “I”m sailing!”  Also, if you haven’t seen St. Vincent, go see it now.
4:   Will Smith.  As a teen of the 90s, I watched a lot of Fresh Prince.  Then Independence Day happened, and I became a devoted fan.  It doesn’t hurt that he chooses to do a lot of Sci-Fi (my favorite genre of…any media form), but he always brings a bit of reality to his characters that I appreciate.
5:   Daniel Day-Lewis.  Is there anything he can’t do?  I mean, anything?  I feel like he’s the more serious version of Johnny Depp as far as versatility goes.
6:   Tom Hardy.  He’s been around for way longer than I was consciously aware of, but at some point I noticed a pattern:  Whenever I was impressed by an actor and asked, “Who is that guy?”, it kept being Hardy.  If you haven’t seen Warrior – OMG, watch it!  Yeah, I didn’t think I’d like a movie about UFC fighting either, but I might have sobbed.  A lot.  In a good way.
7:  Michael Caine.  Whenever I see he’s in a movie, I enter into it with a certain level of trust – at the very least, I know HE is going to be good.  And admit it, he’s kind of like the British grandpa we Americans all wish we had.
8:  Kevin Spacey  I can’t think of another actor who can equally seem like an everyday man and then also seem completely evil at the same time.  He can play these completely warped men, and there’s something that much scarier about them because he looks so normal.  Think Se7en and House of Cards.
9:   Gary Oldman.  I grin immediately whenever I see him in a movie.  I don’t even know why I like him so much, except that he’s always convincing…which I guess is the whole job of an actor, but hey.  Again, this guy has range.  Think about it – the same guy was in The Fifth Element and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
10: Robert Downey, Jr.  Wit and sarcastic humor will win me over every time.  I can’t picture anyone else as Tony Stark.  And his narration in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang will always be one of my favorite things in film.

(On any given day when my tastes are slightly different, switch up with Tom Hanks, Ralph Fiennes, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Patrick Stewart, Paul Rudd, Bryan Cranston…)


Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

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