Archives for November 2013

The Spot Writers: The Confession

spotsWelcome to the Spot Writers. This week the prompt is to have a character explain why they stole something.

Today’s contribution comes from RC Bonitz, author of A LITTLE BIT OF BLACKMAIL, A LITTLE BIT OF BABY, and A BLANKET FOR HER HEART.  

Next week’s story will be by Val Muller, author of FOR WHOM MY HEART BEATS ETERNAL, a sci-fi romance, and CORGI CAPERS: DECEIT ON DORSET DRIVE, a mystery novel for young readers.

***

The Confession

It’s the weirdest thing. I never did anything like this before. Maybe it was the challenge, you know? I mean wind chimes make  noise when you touch them, right, so I had to be real careful. And the shop was small- I wasn’t very far from the woman at the cash register. [Read more…]

Dear Mr. President – I’m Still Waiting

health benefitsI’m a huge advocate of all things Affordable Care Act. I think President Obama did what most only talk about. He took action to try to solve one of the problems our country faces. We have tons of problems and most can be solved one at a time – or at least by giving primary focus to one at a time.

It disturbs me when people say that those taking advantage of the health exchange sites are freeloaders. I’m sorry? I work what probably totals to the equivalent of two full-time jobs. I’m 100% self employed. I pay taxes. As a matter of fact, I automatically pay more taxes because I get to pay a self-employment tax. I deserve to see part of my tax money go towards my own healthcare.

Regardless, all good things come with hiccups and growing pains. While I’m not 100% sure why the healthcare.gov site was allowed to launch the way it did, or why so many major issues were covered up, that sort of behavior seems par for the course. [Read more…]

Product Review: Green Mountain Fair Trade Coffee

SAM_1938Disclaimer: I’m a member of the BzzAgent program and received a free sample of Green Mountain Fair Trade Coffee and some coupons as part of the campaign. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my honest opinion of the product. I was not required to write this review, nor was I compensated for writing it.

Mention the Green Mountain name to any true coffee lover and you’re bound to hear a little bit of excitement in the responses you get. Everyone I told about this campaign said, “Oh, Green Mountain is a good brand of coffee,” or some similar variation. I knew, with all the coffee lovers in my life, that getting others to try coffee wouldn’t be too difficult.

green mountain

The campaign itself wasn’t just about coffee though. It was about Fair Trade coffee. As part of this campaign, we were encouraged to visit and encourage others to view ChooseFairTrade.com. This is a great website where you can learn about what Fair Trade really means and how Green Mountain is striving to offer Fair Trade coffee blends to the public. As part of their campaign, Green Mountain sent superstar Kelly Clarkson to Peru to visit some of the local coffee farmers. She got to learn not only about the process of farming coffee beans but how the Fair Trade campaign has altered the lives of the farmers involved. Fair Trade, to be clear, is a logo applied to products that have agreed to pay farmers and manufacturers in foreign countries a fair wage for the products they produce. It applies not only to coffee, but to a wide variety of other foods and goods as well. [Read more…]

Motivate Yourself to Get Some Exercise

exerciseI love to exercise, but I have to be honest, I sometimes have a bit of a hard time motivating myself. I also know that I get the best results when I get up and exercise first thing in the morning. But let me tell you something. It’s cold outside and my bed is really, really warm – especially with the heavy winter comforter. This makes it just a tad bit harder to crawl out from under the covers at the crack of dawn.

So what do I do? I get up and exercise, most mornings – but some mornings I don’t. I do, however, look for ways to motivate myself so that the percentage of morning workouts far exceeds the number of afternoon workouts (or days I don’t workout at all).

Set Aside Time for Yourself

One of the biggest complaints most women I know have is that they have too much other stuff to do. I call BS on that. You have to take time for yourself at some point, and if that time is to exercise, so be it.  But it should be guilt-free time you can claim as your own. End of story. Thirty minutes to yourself won’t hurt anyone in your family. [Read more…]

The Spot Writers: The Holiday Miracle

spotsWelcome to the Spot Writers segment for this week. This week’s contribution comes from Deborah Dera. The prompt for the past few weeks has been “magic brew,” and Deborah found it challenging to work the theme into her piece so far after the spooky Halloween season. She hopes this piece sparks a little bit of holiday magic.

Next week’s prompt will come from RC Bonitz, author of A LITTLE BIT OF BLACKMAIL, A LITTLE BIT OF BABY, and A BLANKET FOR HER HEART.

***

The Holiday Miracle

Desi sat quietly in the kitchen. The only light shining through the windows was from the street lamp outside, and even those weren’t so bright anymore. Everything seemed dim lately.

Arnold slept peacefully in their shared bed upstairs. He’d been out of work for 4 months, only doing odd jobs here and there to supplement his unemployment. Desi worked nights at the local truck stop and what they were making simply wasn’t enough. They were just barely scraping by before Arnold lost his job. Christmas was just a week away and it didn’t look like there would be much of a celebration for the kids this year. [Read more…]

The UGG Controversy: Trademarking Common Terms

trademark1Did you know those UGG boots you clamor for yearly have been, and in some places still are, the subject of a huge controversy regarding – you guess it – trademarks? Believe it or not, they are – and here’s why.

The Origin of UGG Boots

UGG boots were originally created in the early 1920’s. They were invented by Australian sheep herders and farmers to keep them warm in the cool morning hours. They were then worn by pilots during WWII, to keep warm in their uninsulated cockpits.

As far as the term goes in Australia and New Zealand, where the boots originated, the term “ugg” is a very broad descriptive term used to describe shoes made out of a particular type of sheepskin. [Read more…]

7 Things You Need to Know to Prepare for Your SAT

A piggy bank on top of a stack of books, good for saving for college themeWhile the SAT season is technically over for college seniors, there is still time for those who want to improve their scores to take the test again; and there are plenty of juniors who are still taking the test multiple times. Whether you’ve take the exam before or not, there are probably a few things you could do to better prepare for the experience.

1. Make Sure You’re Taking the Right Test

Is the SAT really the exam you need to be taking? The SAT and the ACT serve similar purposes, and a lot of schools accept either score. Professionals say the best way to determine which you should take is to do a home practice test for each. See which structure feels better for you, and keep an eye on the scores and how long each takes. [Read more…]

The Spot Writers: Magic Brew (take 3)

spotsToday’s little tale comes from Catherine A. MacKenzie. The current topic is “magic brew” and what follows is an excerpt from Cathy’s short fiction “Between the Good and the Bad,” which (if her muse cooperates) is being expanded this month for NaNoWriMo. (November is National Novel Writing Month; write a 50,000 word “novel” in one month.)

You can read “Between the Good and the Bad” in its entirety in her most recent short story collection, available on Amazon and Smashwords: 

***

I don’t kill without reason, at least not anymore, not once my sugar problem had been discovered. Sometimes killing for blood is a necessity, like the need for caffeine that drives humans to drink cup after cup of their morning coffee. They require caffeine as I need blood. But I’ve learned to use my skills to help the world, and I’m selective with my prey. [Read more…]

The Spot Writers: Magic Brew

spotsToday’s Halloween-inspired tale comes from multi-genre author Val Muller. Her two Halloween works, Faulkner’s Apprentice (adult horror) and The Sorceress of Stoney Brook (spooky middle-grade mystery) are available at www.valmuller.com.

Look forward to next week’s tale, coming to us from Cathy MacKenzie, who you can stalk at http://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/.

***

Magic Brew

Hilda Bingen plodded down the linoleum hallway. Persnickety High School never had a working elevator, and the stairs always made her joints ache. Today was even worse, though, because she had just gotten over a week of the gak.

She picked it up taking a short-term subbing job at Pine Hill Elementary. The kids that age always got sick before Halloween, and they insured she had the worst Halloween ever. Those damn kids made her miss her favorite tradition, sharing her special brew with the teachers at whatever school she subbed at on Halloween. It was the one day she didn’t have to dress up, the one day when sharing goodies and drinks and snacks didn’t seem out of place, the one day where everyone’s attitudes were well-groomed for magic hijinks—and she had missed it. [Read more…]