Guest Blogger – Armand Rosamilia


Hey guys, today I’m proud to present my first ever guest blogger in the form of Horror writer Armand Rosamilia. Armand is currently on a blog tour to promote the latest book in his Dying Days series. There are chances to win a copy too, so check out the details at the end of this post. I hand you over now to Armand…

Product Placement

I remember, in my early twenties, subscribing to Writer’s Digest, and seeing so many ads from Jeep, Coke and others. But not just regular ads, these ran full-page and said something to the effect: “Jeep is a registered trademark. You can say car, auto, SUV, automobile, riding thing with wheels, motorized car – but don’t say Jeep or we’ll sue you.”

Author Armand Rosamilia

Now I actually don’t remember them saying they’d sue me, and I’ve used the word Jeep in a story or two in the last twenty+ years of writing.  I’ve also mentioned McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, and a bunch of other restaurants, food items (a Diet Coke seems more realistic in a tale than ‘generic soda’, and everyone knows its cooler to say Budweiser than ‘generic beer’, right?), and used real places in my stories like hotels, cities, airlines, Styrofoam (they had an ad as well, now that I think of it)…

I’ve also been edited in several short stories over the years, where I’ve mentioned the protagonist and his whimsical sidekick were eating at Dairy Queen and talking, and the editor came back with ‘can’t use a real place, make something up’ or ‘make it a non-descript restaurant.’ Did I agree with that? Nah. No, if I’d said Satan worked the grill at Burger King and was cooking souls and making them anyway you ordered it, sure I could see a problem. I just never subscribed to the fictional world where you strip all reality out of it, no Hondas, no Walmart, no White Castle, and no Barbie Doll. Yet, I keep getting edited on the side of caution and told simply ‘you can’t use real things.’
But is that right, and is it realistic?

Not really. Think about writing a story with your hero using his new pair of Nike running shoes to get across town to the Texaco to buy Kleenex and a pack of Marlboros for his wife, before jogging to the Olive Garden to pick up dinner.
Is there anything wrong there? Nope, it’s benign product placement and it dips your tale in reality. A boring reality, but reality nevertheless.                                                                         Now, suppose our villain is using his Nike shoes – outfitted with laser beams and a saw-blade on the toes – and going down to Texaco to buy crack, which he wraps in Kleenex to transport in the Marlboro boxes, and takes his stash to Olive Garden, where he picks up dinner (even villains have to eat). Is that going to get you sued?
Actually, if you were Stephen King or James Patterson it might, although they wouldn’t even try to add that scenario in and their editor would have a cow.                                       But you and I? Nah. Unless your story goes viral, sells a ton of copies or someone makes a huge huff about it… actually, nah. No one would touch that one, and no company would waste their time with a lawsuit with some ‘unknown’ writer.
Would I write that? Never. In the case where I’ve added an evil company or product that directly affects things, I make it up myself. It’s fun that way.
But I’ll still get an editor in my future who insists I take out Cheetos (Cheesy Poofs, perhaps?) or Clorox or Hefty, even though it isn’t an evil item after world domination.
I once had an editor delete my throw-away line in a zombie flash fiction piece “You can’t leave, all the plants will die”… as if Bill Murray and the producers of the movie Stripes would be upset I stole it from them, or sue her and have her anthology removed forcibly from the store shelves.

But that’s another story all together…

Armand Rosamilia

* * * * *
I’m actually running a Giveaway for my Dying Days series of zombie books, although you might not have gotten that from the blog post… anyway…

Want to know more about the Dying Days series? Want to win free eBooks and maybe print books of them? My contest is simple: e-mail me at armandrosamilia@gmail.com with DYING DAYS in the subject line and I’ll enter you into the daily giveaway… also, post a comment here and you get another chance… follow my blog at http://armandrosamilia.com for yet another chance, and friend me on Twitter (@ArmandAuthor) and simply post DYING DAYS to me, and you’ll get another shot… nice and easy, right? If I get enough people joining in the giveaway there will be a print book given away that day!

Dying Days series information can be found here: http://armandrosamilia.com/dying-days-series/

And now for something completely different…


Exciting times awaits, folks. The end of this month marks the one-year anniversary of NM’s Writers’ Bloq. Yessiree, consider me a blog pro! Well almost.

Anyhoo, so in honour of the anniversary, the month of March will see some new ‘developments.’

Firstly the Writers’ Bloq will play host to its very first Guest Blogger, so look out for that this coming Sunday.
And secondly…

I have a confession to make.

I have always wanted to be a writer, ever since I can remember. Yes, I know, that’s not really a confession and hardly a revelation, just let me continue…

When I nurtured dreams of being a writer as a young girl, I never, ever thought that I would be writing…. fiction.
How’s that? Surprised? I always saw myself writing articles and when it came to books, the only kinds I imagined myself publishing were textbooks and celebrity autobiographies (I’m being serious). Hey, I was young- I was allowed to dream big.
I only started dabbling in fiction writing about three years ago, hence my lack of confidence sometimes with regards to my stories.

Non-fiction, however, is what I consider my comfort zone. I’m not saying it’s easy, in fact, it can be just as difficult even with all the information at your disposal. I enjoy reading and writing it however so I’m hoping you would humour me in this regard.
See, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog. I’m calling it History, Myths and Legends. I think that pretty much speaks for itself. There is already a category dedicated to this, as you can see on the side but I’ve decided to up the ante. If you are into historical events, true life mysteries and the supernatural then you’re in for a treat!!!

Once a month, I will dedicate one post to a famous legend, myth or piece of history with/without a supernatural twist. I can’t promise that they will have some literary link but I will try. Therefore to all my writer buddies, if this isn’t your cup of herbal tea, I do apologise. You will just have to wait for another one of my regular posts where I moan about editing. 😉
Also if you have a sensitive disposition and a natural aversion to the supernatural, I will understand if you make yourself scarce. I would hate to think I was the cause of nightmares or sleepless nights. I have affectionately abbreviated the feature to HML (not to be confused with the web-link abbreviation!) so you will recognise the article.

As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts about my new blog feature. My very first HML post will be next week : Spring-heeled Jack, the Scourge of England.
See ya then!

NM 🙂

All these Blog Awards – great idea or great nuisance?


It just seems like every week more and more blog awards are being created. If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you’ve probably received one yourself. And as pleased as some people are when they are presented with one, there are some who are not so grateful and find it a complete nuisance.

I recently read a blog post (I won’t mention the site for obvious reasons-it was not from a blogger I follow or who follows me if you must know) which gave me a good giggle. The blogger ranted about how much she hated these awards with its spam-like quality and made a direct appeal to her followers never to present her with any.

I can’t imagine how hurtful that might have been to some of her followers who had presented her with some of these awards in the past. On closer inspection however I tasted a hint of sour grapes. I’m paraphrasing her here but she moaned about how annoying it was to read an entire (long) post, only to find in the end, her name not mentioned on the list of awardees! Oh gasp.
Hence the good giggle. 😀

I did not agree with her reaction to the whole thing but I can understand why some might be annoyed. Having to pass an ‘award’ on to 10-15 bloggers and for them to pass it on to a further 10+ people and so forth, is reminiscent of the days when chainmail was trending over the internet and if you did not forward that email to X-amount of people within seven days, you were either going to die, be abducted by aliens or get peed on by a poodle.

But there is a difference here and that is: intention.

Bloggers, who create these ‘Awards,’ are only thinking of others and trying to spread the love. They are well-meaning and I guess good intentions can sometimes be misplaced. What’s also different is that there is no obligation with these blog awards, there is no ultimatum. You don’t HAVE to pass it on if you don’t want to. So to all those who whinge about these awards, instead of moaning, if you receive one, accept the award graciously, thank the blogger for thinking of you in the first place (which I think is a nice gesture in itself) and then move on.

Personally I quite like Blog Awards even though I don’t always pass it on. I like receiving them because it’s proof that this blog of mine is not a complete waste of cyber space and I also like to be introduced to other bloggers. You see, since my TAG Surfer has dropped off the face of the earth (that’s a hint WordPress!) I’m finding it hard to discover new blogs. So these Blog Award Posts actually help me in a sense.

In hindsight, I also realised that I discovered some of you guys via these Awards. So it can’t be all bad now, can it?

NM 🙂

One Lovely Blog Award


Sharon at FigmentsAndImagination has been awfully kind to me this month. She has nominated me once again for another award – The One Lovely Blog Award.
Thank you Sharon, you are just too sweet! If you guys are into poetry, go visit her at her blog for some bardic words of inspiration.

What’s great is that this blog award has no rules so I can pass it on to as many people as I want. Oh, wait, I don’t play by the rules anyway so this doesn’t matter, ha ha! 😉

Anyway, I’ve been checking out some great new blogs over the past couple of months and have decided to pass this award onto the following people. Though I must admit, I did wonder whether there was any point highlighting some of them, especially MJ and Lauren, whom EVERY WordPress blogger seems to be following! They are probably sick to death of receiving awards but hey, never mind, a little bit more acknowledgement wouldn’t hurt anyone. There is a reason these guys are popular, you know. So go check them out if you haven’t already…

MJ Monaghan
LScott
PoeticJourney
Day I started Reading
– Barb at Before Morning Breaks
As the Raven flies

Thanks guys for adding some much needed excitement to an aspiring writer’s dreary life. Keep those awesome posts coming… 😀

The Candle Lighter Award


Just as I was recovering from my Liebster Blog Award, I received another nomination, much to my surprise.

Thank you so much to blogger Sharon over at figmentsandimagination for awarding me the Candle Lighter Award. Guys, you must and go check out Sharon, a real humanitarian, who’s doing great work on the African continent and who really has an awesome blog.

I never heard of the Candle Lighter Award so I did some research and traced its origins back to a blog called Believe Anyway. Its blogger created the award for people who light a candle in the dark with their blog.

I really love the concept behind this award:

This award belongs to those who believe, who always survive the day and those who never stop dreaming; for those who cannot quit, for those who keep trying and if you’re in this category, you are Entitiled to this Award.

I found this so inspirational that I really couldn’t bring myself to single out anybody and leave others out. The above applies to all my blogger friends(you know who you are), so I am not going to pass this on to anyone in particular. Instead I dedicate this to you (YES YOU!), thank you for supporting me and remember to always keep that candle of hope burning brightly.
And thanks once again Sharon for your acknowledgement!

NM 🙂

The LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD


Happy New Years y’all!!!!!

I trust that you’ve had fun over the festive season. I certainly have and am looking forward to a great year in 2012. I could not have thought of a better way to start the new blogging year than with another blogging award. My good friend Becky awarded me the Liebster Blog Award last month. She’s always singing my praises, is benevolent Becky, so there’s no words to fully describe my gratitude to her except to say, a big, hearty THANK YOU!!
And if you love books, which I assume you do (and if you don’t, what on earth’s wrong with you?!), Becky is THE best book reviewer in the blogosphere. That is my opinion of course but I happen to rate my opinion very highly so go check her out at Blogs-of –a-bookaholic.

Obviously, as with all blogging awards, it is required that I pass this award on to others.
The rules are thus:

Upon receiving your Liebster award, you should:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (some say just 3 or more blogs of less than 200 followers each)
5. Let them know they have been chosen, by leaving a comment at their blog.

It’s been awhile since my Versatile Blogger Award and I’ve met so many great bloggers since then. Of these, I’ve chosen my top 5, in no particular order:

Martin Shone
Even if his short stories weren’t so darn entertaining, I would still give Martin this award just for being a Sherlockian like me. In my opinion, to be considered truly awesome, you HAVE to be an Arthur Conan Doyle fan, so he definitely meets the requirements. He’s also a great poet so check him out here.

Nelle
I don’t mean to play favourites but Nelle is definitely one of my favourite commenters here on the Writers Bloq. An intelligent writer, who’s life experiences and musings I really enjoy reading over at her own blog Ramblings of a Daft Writer.

Happiness Stan Lives here
This is actually a cooking blog but still one of my favourites. If you love good food, love to cook and have a sense of humour, go here right now!

Chris
Chris is a young writer to watch out for. He’s a prolific blogger with excellent insights on the writing process. Check him out at Write to Perfect.

Jennifer Neri
Jennifer’s musings about her writing experiences hits very close to home. Her down-to-earth style and honesty is refreshing and will appeal to writers. Go and pay her a visit here.

Once again thank you to the Great Beckster (sorry Becky, that’s your nickname from now on 🙂 ) for my Liebster. And to the bloggers mentioned above, go on now, and spread the love. You know you want to.

NM 🙂

Welcome to Spam-alot!


Last week my WordPress Dashboard kindly informed me that Akismet has protected my site from 100 spam comments. Woo Hoo! No matter what the occasion, one hundred always seems like a great milestone that calls for a celebratory punch in the air with shouts of ‘Woo Hoo!’

After my so-called “celebration” I became quite concerned as I thought that 100 spam messages was quite a lot considering that I only had 52 posts to my name at the time. That’s an average of almost 2 spammies per post. And I didn’t even consider those that got away and really did find their way to my Pending Inbox, hoping (stupidly) that I wouldn’t notice.

Monty Python-inspired spam

Speaking of those messages that managed to escape Akismet, I have to confess that even though 99 per cent of the time these comments don’t make any sense, I sometimes approve a few of them because they seem quite encouraging and sincere. And when your self-esteem is a bit lacking like mine, every bit of praise helps, like a booster shot of confidence to help you get through the day. Or in my case a couple of hours.But like I said, these ‘spam-like’ comments really don’t make any sense and I wonder if they are meant for me at all.

On one of my posts I got called a genius for no apparent reason – the commenter gave no explanation as to why he/she thought this and did not allude to the post at all! I kept the comment anyway because I quite like the idea that I might actually be a genius.

There is also another type of comment that leaves me confused. I say ‘type’ because I get quite a few messages with very similar phrases. The responder will state how much they loved the post and that it ‘saved them much time.’
Really? Wow, imagine that. If the reader had not stumbled upon my humble blog, think of all the hours they might have wasted, doing God-knows-what.

Not all responses are this harmless though. A few months back I wrote a poem-it’s probably somewhere there in my archives. I was pissed off at the time, so the poem was actually a rant but I got the following response:

so tell me how you really feel

What is it about a non-punctuated sentence with no Capital letters that’s so creepy?
Thankfully I never got a comment from this spammer again. That’s the good thing about spammers. They get you once and then they leave. They are like bees. Except they don’t die after they sting you but just disappear. Unfortunately, also like bees, when you trash one spam comment, there are millions more in the Internet hive waiting to take its place.
Comments like these I have no trouble sending to the Trash. It’s the non-creepy ones I have a problem with.
On this blog of mine, I try to approve and reply to every single response I get (That off course is standard blog etiquette) and I sometimes feel awful to delete these ‘spam-like’ comments, in the off chance that one of them might actually be a genuine response from an internet-user but non-blogger.

So my blogger homies, how do you react to your spam comments? Do you trash them quickly or do you consider each one? And what is the funniest/strangest/creepiest response you ever got?
And just for kicks, if I receive any spam for this particular post, I will not only approve it but I will leave an equally strange response in return. That should show those spammers…

NM 

Addendum:
I got the idea and drafted this post last week and it seems that the Spam Gods, on foreseeing my actions, have hatched an evil plan to thwart me. Since planning this post, an alarming amount of spam has escaped Akismet. On Thursday I received a whopping 8 messages….all spam. Plus I’ve been getting quite a few very day since then. As of today, Akismet has protected my site from 172 comments. That’s 72 in one week! From 100 spam comments in seven months of blogging to over 70 in one week, may I kindly ask, what the f*ck is going on?

NaNoWriMo? Is that a new type of IPad or something?


I have decided to take part in NaNoWriMo 2011……………….Ha! Ha! Gotchya!

Yeah right, like I have the discipline to pull that one off.
But I must admit that with every writer/blogger talking about National Novel Writing Month, I feel like a sad schoolboy, who doesn’t have the latest Playstation game all his classmates are talking about and therefore cannot get excited about it in the same way as his friends are. What I’m basically saying is that I feel decidedly ostracized and even considered, for a fraction of a second, to take part. Off course, I do know my limits and therefore exercised my better judgment.

Even though I’m not participating, I feel strangely motivated. With all the hype, it seems NaNoWriMo is having an indirect effect on me.Maybe it’s the thought of all those brave souls, who are deliberately putting their entire lives on hold – locking themselves in their houses, switching off their television sets, the internet and other social media for the entire month in an attempt to eliminate all distractions so they may undertake the admirable task of writing their novels in 30 days (strange how they find the time and means to blog about this though!). This has motivated me to work just a little bit harder on my own stuff. It’s an incredible lesson in discipline and it’s rubbing off on me. I seem to be winning a little-and I’m not even taking part!!

I have to confess that if I had not started blogging, I would never have known such a thing as National Novel Writing Month existed. Only when I did, did I realize what an incredibly small bubble I was living in. When I first heard the term “NaNoWriMo”, I thought it was some new piece of technology out on the market, like a new type of IPad or those Tablet PC thingies. I even delayed finding out what it was because I figured since I don’t even own a Kindle as yet, there was no way I would be able to afford a NaNoWriMo, which sounded very expensive.
Ah, the beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand, as Frank Herbert once said. My ignorance certainly has been betrayed since blogging, I won’t lie. That’s the purpose of ‘web-logging’ I suppose, to open up yourself to the world around you so you become less of an idiot.

So will I ever take part in NaNoWriMo in the future? Probably. Maybe. Nah, highly unlikely, maybe in my next life. But if you are taking part now, here’s a hearty good luck to you. I truly admire your spirit so go break a leg, or finger and remember to have some fun in the process. If possible…

NM 🙂

Part 2 – And the Versey goes to…


Yesterday I revealed 7 facts about me that you didn’t know. I have one more for you. I know exactly how Dorian Gray feels.
Why? Because this Saturday happens to be my birthday and I’m dreading every second that brings me closer to it. One year older and sillier rather than wiser, I think.

Anyways, in honour of my impending dotage and possible senility, I’ll be the one handing out the gifts in the form of a Versey to the bloggers who have had an impact on me since I started this blog in April.

I’ve customized my Awards (when have I ever done things the normal way?), so don your red carpet apparel on and let’s go…

Drum roll, please.

THE VERSEY OF INSPIRATION goes to…

Philip Bradbury
Whenever I feel low and demotivated, I can always count on Philip to pick me up again. Published author of no less than 9 books, his posts are very inspiring and just the boost every struggling writer needs to get going!

THE RODIN’S THINKING MAN AWARD goes to…

August McLaughlin
I love reading August’s thought-provoking posts which combines elements of writing, inspiration and psychology. I’m always left resting my chin on my hand, deep in thought, afterwards. Your levels of self-awareness will definitely go up a few notches after reading this blog.

THE MONTY PYTHON AWARD goes to…

The Wuc
If you tell me that there is a funnier blogger out there than the Wuc, I will not believe you.

THE MISS CONGENIALITY AWARD goes to…

Katy Hulme
I don’t know Katy personally but from my interactions with her over the Blogosphere, I can truly say, she is one of the nicest bloggers you’ll ever meet. And I think her popularity bears testimony to this.

THE HIGH ACHIEVER AWARD goes to…

Charlotte English
Charlotte has the distinction of being my first ever subscriber (although I don’t think she realizes this). She recently published her first novel Draykon- I noted her progress prior to this and it gives me warm fuzzy feelings to see a fellow writer do so well. She now also has her own website and Facebook page, way to go Charlotte!!

THE VERSEY OF CREATIVITY goes to…

Monique(Neeks) Give Neeks any 3 random words and she’ll create a story from it, using those words. Some of the words are pretty hectic and chosen by other people so you don’t expect much when a writer attempts this. But Neeks does a brilliant job and her stories are very enjoyable to say the least. An excellent concept with great results.

THE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AWARDS goes to…

F Scribbles
F is a Kuwaiti who loves her music and who lived in the US for awhile. Her anecdotes on being Muslim and living in America are entertaining but also very refreshing and honest. There’s also a healthy dose of inspiration in there as well and off course, music. We need more people like her in the world, who can bridge the gap between East and West.

THE BOOKWORM’S BEST FRIEND AWARD goes to…

Becky
I only discovered Becky’s blog last week but I love her posts and her topics. We seem to have quite a bit in common so I look forward to her future posts.

And finally…
Just as the beautiful Ouroboros devours its own tail in accordance with the karmic cycles of life, I too, have decided to come full circle in order to repay the favour bestowed upon me. Therefore I award the

PORTRAIT OF A CLASSIC LADY AWARD to…

Louise Jaques
For being the best advocate for Classic Literature than anyone I know and well, just for being downright awesome!

Congratulations friends, on your Verseys, and thank you for inspiring me and helping me on my journey to becoming, not just the best writer I can be but also the best person I can be too!

NM 🙂

The Versatile Blogger Award – Part 1


Woo Hoo!! This is is my 50th post and I couldn’t have wished for a better way to celebrate. Last month Lovely Louise (as I call her in my head) awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award (otherwise known as the Verseys). To accept a Versey, a set of rules need to be followed. I need to:

1. Thank the person who gave me the award and link back to them in my post
2. Tell 7 things about myself that others might not know about me.
3. Pass along the award to 15 newly discovered bloggers (I’m going with 9 here, sorry).
4. Contact these bloggers to let them know they’ve received the award.

First things first, about Louise Jaques.
I’ve known Louise for about 2 months now but after only a week, I already declared her my kindred spirit (except she’s much younger and better looking). You can check her out over at My Other Book is a Tolstoy. She is startlingly intelligent for a young woman her age and her blog posts reflect this. Have you ever met someone and had this overwhelming feeling that they were destined for great things? Well that’s how I feel about Louise and this is all the more reason I feel honoured to receive a Versey from her, thank you sweetheart!

As if the nature of blogging isn’t narcissistic enough, I am now required to reveal 7 things you might not know about me. Okay, here we go…

1) I’m a herbal/flavoured tea addict. People cannot understand how I can drink green tea. Well I can’t understand how they can drink normal tea with its gross tannin after-taste.
My favourite flavour however is peppermint, but also like Jasmine, English Breakfast and Earl Grey.

2) I like to knit. Yes, I’m in my twenties but there is something therapeutic about the craft. When I’m feeling stressed or anxious, knitting while listening to an audiobook, is the most relaxing thing in the world to me.

3) I used to be an amateur ghost-hunter.
This is kind of a joke but I’m still very proud of this for some reason. When I lived in Scotland, I belonged to a ghost-hunting group but we weren’t very professional like the way proper parapsychologists are. The only equipment we had were camcorders, cameras, flashlights and walkie-talkies. We would visit haunted sites and hold short vigils at night or if it was during the day we would have a picnic. Like I said, not very serious but still loads of fun.
One of my short stories, Vigils at Yester, is somewhat autobiographical and based on these experiences but unlike in my story, we never experienced anything out of the ordinary and I, myself, have never seen anything spooky. Thank God.

4) I get star-struck very easily. I become paralyzed and get the chills when I see someone famous in person. Whereas most normal human beings find it very easy to run up to a celebrity and ask for their autographs, the very thought of me doing the same leaves me in a catatonic state.

5) I get very, very scared when I watch horror movies. Yes, me, the great Ghostbuster and bragger of how knowledgeable she is about the horror genre, has to close her eyes when the chilling, ominous music reaches its crescendo. It’s all a façade, people. Inside I’m one great, big chicken!

6) When I was 12, I tried to write an autobiography of Michael Jackson.
I was a huge MJ fan back then and I still think he’s a legend (May his soul rest in peace) and who better qualified to tell the King of Pop’s story than little ol’ me? Ha ha, not surprisingly my only sources of information were an unauthorized movie of his life and a little bit of knowledge gleaned from reading music magazines. After writing about 6 pages, I realized it was a joke and scrapped the project.

7) Continue reading