30.5.11

How 'Bout an Old Fashioned Game of Tag on Memorial Day?

I've been tagged by the wonderful Kittie Howard, so now you'll be subjected to a few random tidbits about moi. And guess what...
come close now...
You're It!

When you get the time, please answer the following 8 questions at your blog and then tag some others (I think 5's the rule, if you're the type to abide by those sorts of things).

1.  If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?

My dad's 65th birthday. A big group of us celebrated Dad's big day at the Beirgarten restaurant in Epcot's Germany, where Bavarian beverages flowed, the kiddies rocked out to polka music, and we were all abundantly relaxed and happy.  The very best thing was the smile that didn't leave my dad's face the whole night.   

2.  If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

I would arrange it so my other brother & his family and my sister could've been there...and maybe transport us all to a genuine biergarten in Bavaria. 

3.  What movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality?

Whoever Courtney Cox plays, apparently.  I've been told I remind people of Monica on Friends (I actually was hyper-organized once upon a time) and now I've been told her mannerisms on Cougar Town are just like mine. 

4.  If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?

I don't think I should tell you...because what if it happens? 

5.  Name one habit you want to change in yourself.

I wish I didn't love toast slathered in butter so very much.

6.  Describe yourself in one word. 

Busy.


7.  Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.

Compassionate.

8.  Why do you blog?  Answer in one sentence.

At first because I was pretty much told I had to, but now because it's fun and other bloggers motivate me and provide a unique window into real life in the outside world. 

Happy Memorial Day!
And God bless soldiers and vets worldwide who've abandoned the self 
to defend and protect what is right and good. 

23.5.11

Blog Buddies -- They're not just on the Internet!

We did it!  Ever since blog friend Michael Di Gesu and I discovered our birthdays are only three days apart---and that he's in Chicago and I'm in the western 'burbs---we've been talking about getting together.  And last Friday we made it happen.  Of course we made it happen; we're both stubborn Tauruses (or would that be Tauri?), after all.
This is us at the Grand Lux Cafe on Wabash

I'm happy to report that Michael is just as lively, open, warm, and wonderful in real life as he is on his blog.  The conversation and laughs flowed easily all through lunch...and about 45 iced teas/Diet Cokes. But that wasn't enough, so after
having the waiter snap a photo of us, we wandered over to a Starbucks that had the most AMAZING view of Wacker Drive and continued the conversation.   If you ever get the chance to meet up with someone you've clicked with in the blogosphere, I highly recommend it.  Thanks for the fun, Michael!

During A to Z, Michael won a copy of a soon-to-be-released Summer Anthology, and now I get to tell you  a little bit more about it.  The authors of Omnific Publishing have all come together to write summer-themed romantic short stories to benefit a very cool breast-cancer charity, Save the Ta-Tas.  This is a non-profit foundation that raises funds to support innovative initiatives, such as funding independent breast cancer research. 


Our stories will be divided into two collections, a Young Adult "Breeze" Anthology, and a steamier "Heat "Anthology. Both anthologies will be available for purchase from July 1 - September 30, 2011, and all proceeds will go to Save the Ta-Tas.  I adore the story this summer theme inspired me to write, and I can't wait until it's out in the world and raising money for breast-cancer research (no, it's not set in the 80s, and yes, it's in the "Breeze" Anthology).

Here we are at Meet an Author Monday again, hosted by Lisa Sanchez.  Please link in and hop along to see what's up with these awesome authors:   


16.5.11

Flexing Writing Muscles With SEO

Given the plethora of writing-related blog hops, I gather I'm not the only one who enjoys a writing challenge.  I don't often get to join those hops, as I'm still trying to figure out how to keep all the balls I'm attempting to juggle in the air, but I'm very fortunate in that more than one of my balls---okay, can we please switch to oranges or something?  Thanks---as I was saying, more than one of my oranges involves writing.

Added to my ever growing list of duties at work is writing about products for my company's website and blog.  This can get dull at times, but being the writing dork that I am, I get huge kick out of wooing the search engines with my words, i.e. Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  The challenge lies in packing the entries with key words without looking like I'm doing it.  The most important thing is to have something informative and appealing to potential customers, and that ain't gonna happen if I simply parrot the same words over and over.

Since most of you have your own blogs and websites, you might want to give SEO a whirl if you haven't already.  When writing a post on a topic that has appeal beyond your current circle, spice it up with some SEO basics and help more people find your post via a Google search.  I'm by no means an expert, but I've learned a lot an have had decent success.  The first time I tried it with my personal blog was during the A to Z Challenge with 80s TV Shows.  That's a really tough nut, with lots of active 80s websites out there, but if you Google "80s tv shows blog" you may see a familiar name in the #3 slot.

For those totally new to search engine optimization, here are four simple SEO tips to get you started:

1. First step:  Determine your key words.  Think about which words people will actually type in to find your article.  One of the shops I write for sells bras and forms for women who've had mastectomies or lumpectomies.  The PC terms used by surgeons these days are "after surgery" and "prosthesis" but when real people are doing a Google search, they're typing in "post mastectomy" and "breast forms." So the webpage has to incorporate those terms while still sounding professional for the doctors who visit our site. 

Google Wonder Wheel
SEO tools can help you determine effective key words. My favorite tool is Google's Wonder Wheel, which shows related search terms.  It can be useful for building a website hierarchy or, the way I use it, for more key words to work into the text.

To get to the Wonder Wheel, type your primary key words (I used "seo") into a Google search, then select "show search tools" in the left column and click on "Wonder Wheel" in the list that pops up.  You can click on any of the terms on the wheel to open up a sub-wheel with more terms.  For this post, I incorporate related search terms: seo tools,  basics, tips, google, tutorial (and see---I just used them again).

2. Incorporate the key words naturally into the post. Work them in as often as possible, but not so much that readers get annoyed.  Most people don't use quotes in their search, so go ahead and split the words apart if necessary to make it flow better---for example, I can say search engine in one place and optimization in another, and that'll still help someone typing search engine optimization into the Google search bar to find me.  Also, be sure to incorporate key words into your titles.

3. Images, use them.  And make sure each image's title includes key words. For example, the Wonder Wheel image above is titled seo-search-engine-optimization-tools. As with anything else, images should be relevant to what you're writing about.

4. Links!  Links to relevant external sites are great, and even internal links to relevant pages at your own site are good for SEO (ala Wikipedia, the king of internal links).  Getting relevant external websites to link back to you is incredible for search engine optimization, and having valuable content is the best way to get others to link up.  When linking within your own writing, make sure the text you anchor the link to is meaningful, i.e. gives an accurate indication of where that link is going. 

And there's my mini SEO tutorial.  Click on any of the links throughout the text for more detailed info.

Now, to optimize your blogging experience, check out the fabulous authors in this week's Meet an Author Monday blog hop, hosted by Lisa Sanchez (future hostess of the Sizzling Summer Author Extravaganza)!  

9.5.11

80s TV Shows Trivia Finale


Alrighty then, here are the final 80s TV Shows Trivia answers.  Much thanks to everyone who played. :)  If you see your name below, this badge to the left is all yours. 



Remington Steele
One of the show's early writers and producers, Glenn Gordon Caron, quit after the first ten episodes to start his own production company.  He went on to write and produce another hit 80s TV show, also about a pair of bickering "I hate you/I love you" detectives.  Know what it was?
A: Moonlighting
Who got it right? Tara Tyler; Alex J. Cavanaugh; Anne Gallagher; Lynn Reed.  I'm on the bubble about Michael Di Gesu because he was going for "McMillon & Wife" but did switch to the correct answer when he saw other guesses, so, hrm, 1/2 point?

Saved by the Bell
Only four of Saved by the Bell's seven regular characters (pictured here) appeared in each of the TV show's eighty-six episodes. Can you name them?
A: Zack, Slater, Screech & Lisa
Who got it right? Carrie. You were soooo close, Michael Di Gesu with 3 out of the 4, So 3/4 point.

thirtysomething
This series was influenced by a 1983 movie that also featured an ensemble cast of baby boomer yuppies.  What move was it? 
A: The Big Chill
Who got it right? Anne Gallagher; Tara Tyler

Unsolved Mysteries
The concept of the show is based on a series of three specials run on NBC in 1986.  The success of these specials, which focused only on missing persons, led to an expanded focus and the creation of Unsolved Mysteries as we know it today.  Does anyone remember the name of those three 1986 specials?
A:  Missing...Have You Seen This Person
Who got it right?  Well, nobody. But Anne Gallagher demonstrates an excellent 80s memory and named the 1981 missing persons incident that caught America's attention and thus spurred TV network's interest in such shows. I'm giving her 1/4 point (and I think you're beginning to see why nobody ever lets me count the ballots...) 

The Wonder Years
This coming of age TV series was inspired by a classic 1983 movie. Can you name the movie?
A: A Christmas Story
Who got it right?  Nobody :(  But "Stand By Me" was an excellent guess by Anne Gallagher---it was made in 1986, two years before The Wonder Years started and is named by tv tropes as the show's spritual successor, soooo 1/2 point.

Max Headroom
What is Max Headroom's name derived from?
A: A British sign warning of low clearance 
Who got it right?  Alex J. Cavanaugh

The Young Ones
What was the occupation of three of the four cast members (all but the actor who played Mike) before The Young Ones?
A: Stand Up Comedians
Who got it right? Gyran Gymble

The Equalizer
In the pilot episode, a regular from Seinfeld appears as the character who gave McCall his nickname, the Equalizer.  Anyone care to make a guess what actor that was?
A: Jerry Stiller, George's dad
Who got it right?  Another tricky one---nobody got it, but lots of fun guesses. :)

And now... our top three:

Alex J. Cavanaugh - 6 points!
Anne Gallagher - 6.75 points!!
Michael Di Gesu - 7.25 points!!!
Wave1 
 Congratulations!
Michael wins a belated birthday drink & a signed copy of a to-be-released "summer lovin'" anthology with short stories by Omnific authors, including moi.

Since Anne has proven herself an 80s diva, I'm hoping she'll enjoy a romp back in time and will send her a signed copy of Three Daves.  
 
And because I know deep down he really wants it, 
Alex wins a One Hit Wonders of the 80s CD.

I...I think I'm ready for another blog hop...assuming my morning gardening goes okay, and the boss doesn't e-mail me with anything too pressing...I do miss my Monday Author buddies, so, yes, I'm going to do it...
It's Meet an Author Monday!

A great chance to mix & mingle with other authors.  Sign up below & post the icon on your blog, or just hop around, whichever you prefer.

6.5.11

Here, Have Some Wine with Your 80s TV Shows Trivia

Last week was my wine tasting/book signing event at Gibby's Wine Den.  The experts at Gibby's paired a wine with each of the Daves, and it was SO much fun!  I'm grateful to everyone who came out ready to laugh, sip, and talk Grapes & Guys.

I did a guest post about the event at the very cool book review blog Chick Lit + Wine, where hosts Syrah and Chardonnay review Chick Lit books and then pair each book with a wine.  If you're wondering what kind of wine goes nicely with a bad boy, Mr. Perfect, etc., please stop over. 


And now it's time to reveal more answers to my 80s TV Shows Trivia! (Scroll over the black bar to see the answer)

Jake and Fatman
Jake and the Fatman was supposed to be canceled after its first season, but it was saved when another 80s TV show ended and CBS wanted to make use of the expensive unexpired lease on that show's studio facilities in Hawaii---what show might that've been, hm?
A:  Magnum P.I.
Who got it right?  Michael Di Gesu

Knight Rider
On KITT's jumps, the shot often switches to another angle---like Michael driving---because more often than not, the stunt car's front end was totaled upon landing.
What is KITT's exact make and model (year too)?
A: 1982 Pontiac Trans Am
Who got it right?  Weeeell, technically, nobody...however, Anne Gallagher gave a tremendously respectable guess with 1982 Chevy Camaro, which shares the same platform (whatever that means  dunno) so I'm going to give her the point.

L.A. Law
What was the name of the law firm they all worked for?
A: McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak
Who got it right? Alex J. Cavanaugh

Magnum P.I.
Throughout the series, we never get to see Magnum's mysterious absentee employer, Robin Masters.  Producers had eventually planned to reveal a very famous actor/director as the mysterious Masters, but the actor died before the end of the series.  Any idea who that might've been?
A: Orson Welles
Who got it right? Michelle Gregory

Night Court
Harry Anderson, who played unconventional judge Harry Stone on Night Court, also played the recurring role of trickster con-man Harry the Hat on which of the other "Must See Thursday" shows?
A: Cheers
Who got it right? Alex J. Cavanaugh; Tara Tyler; Theresa Milstein

Out of this World
The famous actor who did the voice of Evie's alien father (who's never seen) asked for his name to not be in the credits, since he was only doing this as a favor to the producers.  Care to guess who that was?  Hint:  He was also involved in another TV show at the time---Evening Shade.
A: Burt Reynolds  
Who got it right? Nooooobody

Perfect Strangers
Perfect Strangers is set in one of the greatest cities in America, nay the world, with many famous city icons featured in the opening credits.  What city is it?
A: Chicago
Who got it right? Michael Di Gesu; Alex J. Cavanaugh

Quantum Leap
Scott Bakula was recently (type) cast in as another scientific genius with recurring appearances in a contemporary NBC show.  He played Orion, the long-missing father of what lovable nerd/spy?
A: Chuck
Who got it right?  Anne Gallagher

Thanks for playing! If your name is listed above, help yourself to the 80s TV Shows Trivia Winner badge in the post below. I've got one more set of answers to reveal on Monday, and the blogger w/ the most answers right will get a reward for their ultimate 80s awesomeness.  Here are the current front runners with their points so far:
Liz P - 2

2.5.11

Answers to 80s TV Shows Trivia

I don't know about you (although I have my suspicions) but I'm exhausted after AtoZ.  And I didn't even make it through a tenth of the entrants!  But I sure did have fun at those blogs I did frequent. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and made me laugh and smile with your comments about crazy 80s TV Shows.

Double thanks to those of you who played along with 80s TV trivia madness.  I've got something for you:

1. The answers to the first 10 trivia questions (scroll over the black bar to reveal the answer).

2. An award!  I've listed anyone who answered the question correctly---if you see your name listed, please help yourself to the award to the left.

Stay tuned, because I'll reveal the rest of the answers over two more posts---one later this week and the final one next Monday---and I just may have a special prize for the blogger with the most correct answers. free smiley emoticon  (To be fair, I'll only count answers entered during April for the prize)  


ALF
Q: ALF is actually an acronym.  Know what it stands for?
A:  Alien Life Form 
Who got it right?  L. Diane Wolfe;


Bosom Buddies
Q:  The series was short-lived (and rightly so) but when Tom Hanks started attracting attention for his role in a popular 1984 movie, ABC bought the rights to Bosom Buddies and re-aired select episodes.  Know what that movie was?
A:  Splash
Who got it right? Liz P; Michael Di Gesu; Anne Gallagher

Cheers
Q: One of the original regulars wasn't even in the script until the actor (after auditioning for and not getting the part of Norm) created an impromptu character on the spot and impressed the producers. Everybody at Cheers knew his name...do you?
A:  John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin
Who got it right?  Alex J. Cavanaugh; Jennifer Lane; Michael Di Gesu; Hart Johnson; Marie Rearden; Anne Gallagher 


Dynasty
Q: One of the main cast members regularly vetoed any story lines involving adultery.  Whoever could that have been?
A: John Forsythe
Big surprise, huh?  Nobody got this one.

E/R
Q: A regular cast member of the later ER was also a regular on all 22 episodes of this E/R.  Do you know who?
A: George Clooney
Who got it right?  Suzanne

Family Ties
Q: Who's picture was on lil' Alex's lunchbox.
A: Richard Nixon
Who got it right?  baygirl32

Golden Girls
Q: Two of the actresses were originally supposed to play different roles, but they worried about being typecast so they traded.  Which of these two do you think it was: Sophia, Blanche, Rose, Dorothy?
A: Rose and Blanche
Who got it right?  Liz P; Michael Di Gesu ;Susan Oloier

Hill Street Blues
The show is set in an anonymous city, but do you know which real city it's based on?
A: Chicago
Who got it right? Elliot GraceMichael Di Gesu ; Milo James Fowler