Visit

Visit
My New Blog

Repost.Us

About Me

My Photo
I am a lawyer & mother by day & a midnight writer. I just finished my first novel, a legal thriller, JUSTICE FOR SALE. More...

My Crimespace Page


CrimeSpace: A place for readers and writers of crime fiction to schmooze, booze and draw up plans for the heist to end all heists.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

My 2013 A~Z Theme

Crimes, Police Procedure & The Legal System: A Reference for Crime Fiction Writers

Click Here for the A to Z list of bloggers

Have You Heard

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Ninja Novel Conference

the dojo

Ninja Warrior

Get widget

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) - 3 Year Anniversary

Holy Bookends! 3 Years. Now I Really Feel Insecure:

As you all know, Alex Cavanaugh, created this group . What you may not know is that the IWSG is celebrating its 3rd Anniversary.  And next month will mark the one year anniversary for the IWSG Website and the creation of the Insecure Writers Support Group Facebook Page.

Thank you Alex. You have always welcomed new writers and you continue to support writers of all genres and in various stages of our writing careers.

This month Alex's cohost are Laura Clipson over at My Baffling Brain, Mark Koopmans, over in Hawaii (where I want to be),Shah Wharton and Sheena - kay Graham. I've known Mark for some time, but since I'e been away from blogging for too long, I haven't had the pleasure of getting to know Alex's other cohost and I will introduce myself to them today and extend a personal thank you.


What am I insecure about now?


And ... Why am I so ashamed to share my insecurities with others? Why do I continue to wear the false brave mask?


That's an easy one. While this three year anniversary is a remarkable milestone and I am honored to have participated (intermittently -- I admit), I can't help but focus on the number. Three long years that I've been writing, rewriting, scratching, starting over, pulling my thrown away novel out of the trash bin and revising again ... and again ... and again. Still, I don't seem to be any further along than I was three years ago,

Now I know that isn't true. I'm feeling sorry for myself and acting melodramatic. If I truly consider how far I've come, then I know that my writing craft has drastically improved. See Alex, this post forced me to focus on what I've learned and I'm already feeling better. 

I've made friends and contacts, attended a writers conference and I've written a complete novel. Is my novel ready for the world to see  , agents to read? I don't know. I do know that when I first started writing my novel I didn't know a thing about point of view or that I was head hopping within my scenes.  I didn't even really know what a scene was, if I'm brutally honest. Not in the sense of a scene and a sequel. I was clueless about the art and science of story structure. Yup, I've learned quite a bit.


So, what is my problem then?


I don't know and therein lies my deep rooted insecurity. I suppose I don't feel like my writing is good enough to make it. There. I've said it.




I struggle daily. I read mostly thrillers, suspense and mysteries and I write crime fiction. I completed my first draft almost a year ago . I've learned so much from so many bloggers, authors, agents and others through their blog post and on Twitter and I try and adapt every new piece of knowledge to my own work and I end up having to restructure or rewrite entire chunks of my novel.

My biggest problem is the opening. We've all heard it a million times -- you only get one page or a half page or one line to hook your reader, agent or publisher, so it better be a winner. So I write my killer opening for my killer thriller and let someone read it and they don' think I've started as strongly as I could have. Someone, usually a person I truly admire, respect and trust will tell me that my opening chapter isn't catchy enough. It's not suspenseful enough for a thriller. The advice I get is along the lines of, "this is a thriller. Start with a bada ... bada ... bada badass bang!"

So, I rewrite my opening chapter. I write the first murder scene. First I try it from the villain's chilling POV, then I write it again from the victim's point of view. Yes. I like this one. It's raw and fresh and readers can feel the the victim's emotions. This is it. I've found my opening. So I show it to another trusted, experienced writer and I hear that I've jumped into the dramatic story much too soon. "You didn't give me a chance to even get to know any of the characters. How can I care about someone I know nothing about?"

Both of the above suggestions are correct. How do I find a balance?

So, back to the writing board I go for another trip on the nauseating merry - go - round. The ride of insecurity. I must learn to trust my own writing and my choices and not get so caught up in the well- meaning comments and suggestions of those kind enough to offer critiques.



Advice to self and others ... Let's see what happens if we don't give up.

What are you feeling insecure about? 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Remembering Tina Downey


Join Us in Remembering Tina Downey
September 8, 2014



In Memory of Tina Downey {Life Is Good} the awesome A to Z Challenge Team is hosting a sunflower tribute on September 8, 2014 - Remembering Tina Downey.

Tina loved sunflowers. I can't think of a more beautiful flower or one that represent the beauty of everlasting life and love. How appropriate that Tina was so drawn to their beauty.







The A to Z team is asking each of us to purchase or plant a sunflower, prior to September 8th, and to share a photo in a post on September 8th, in Tina's memory. The goal is to splash the blogging world with sunflowers that day and honor such an awesome woman who meant a great deal to so many of us. Let's honor Tina and share with the world how much she brightened our lives and spread the warmth of sunshine and friendship to all whom came in contact with her.

If you knew Tina, then you know that that she is looking down on the rest of us and hoping we remember her motto, #lifeisgood. Life is good and this is a time for all us to reflect on how good our lives are and honor a remarkable woman who continued to share her goodwill & spirit no matter how she felt. She saw the beauty in life and we can pay tribute to her by carrying on in her memory. 

Losing a friend or acquaintance is always difficult. I never knew how hard it would be to lose a friend I'd only met on-line. 

Please take a photo of your sunflower and share it on your blog on September 8, 2014, along with any special memory or story about Tina. My heart goes out to her family. God bless you!

To join this bloghop, please sign up on the A to Z Page

Tina struggled with Pulmonary Hypertension and passed away on August 23, 2014. She will be missed.

A special thanks to the folks over on the A to Z challenge, for hosting this wonderful memorial for Tina.

Thank you Alex Cavanaugh for your "Goodbye Dear Friend," tribute to Tina.

I'm certain that many more of you have equally wonderful and touching stories and tributes on your blogs and I hope I have the opportunity to read all of them.

God bless you Tina Downey and may you forever have the beauty of sunflowers within your reach.


Have any of you experienced the death of a blogger friend?


Have you given much thought to what will become of your blog if you were to pass away, unexpectedly? I know it sounds morbid, but this is probably a topic that bloggers should discuss with their next of kin or significant other.

I hope you all had a Happy Labor Day and  I look forward to seeing your sunflower photos and reading your parting words to a blogger who was a huge part of so many of your lives.

Take care, all.















Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Heart Pounding Thriller - How Far Will a Desperate Woman Go to Have a Child?


Until You're Mind by Samantha Hayes

Until You're Mine: Mind - boggling twist and turns right up until the very end -- when this reader (and I'm betting others as well), was certain I had it all figured out ... until ... I didn't. I was wrong. I love when I've been outplayed by an author.


Until You’re Mine:
Author: Samantha Hayes
ISBN 978084136891
Release Date: 4/15/14
Publisher: Crown
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Verdict: 5 out of 5



******WARNING****** MAJOR SPOILER ALERT {I truly hate to spoil the ending in a book review and don’t worry, I don’t give it away. Not completely. I feel compelled to give you this warning. This is one of those rare books that is too hard for me to review without giving something away.


If you’ve read Until You’re Mine, please scroll down for my review. If you haven’t read the book, I don’t want to ruin it for you. Go read the book — now. You won’t regret it. Then come back and read my review and tell me what you though of it.

Summary: 

Claudia, an eight and a half month pregnant social worker appears to have the perfect life — everything she ever wanted. She’s a wonderful step-mother to her four-year-old twin sons that she’s raised since their mom died, when they were two months old. She’s happily married to James, a Naval officer who is away at sea for months at a time. They decide to hire a live in nanny to help Claudia with the twins and upcoming birth.
Enter Zoe. The nanny is perfect on paper and instantly bonds with the twin boys, but readers know right off the bat that something just ain’t quite right with nanny Zoe. But … is it what we think? 
She has an unhealthy obsession with pregnancy and a pregnancy test even falls from her bag on her first day. As the days press on, Claudia becomes more uneasy about Zoe and rightfully so. Zoe sneaks into James’ private office, but the kicker is the day Zoe comes home in blood soaked clothing.

My Opinion:


Until You’re Mine is told from the point of view of three women. The author brilliantly alternates between the first person point of view of Claudia and Zoe and third person point of view of D.I. Lorraine Fisher. Fisher and her husband, Adam Scott are investigating a string of viscous attacks on pregnant women. Two women about to give birth, are murdered and the babies cut from the womb. Don’t worry there are no gruesome murder scenes.

I liked the way the author told the story. I was clearly invested in Claudia and Zoe as I read from their respective POV’S. At times I was rooting for Zoe, despite knowing she was not who she claimed to be and was harboring a dark secret. Other times I was rooting for Claudia and desperate for her to get to the bottom of Zoe’s secret. At first, the troubled marriage plot told through D.I. Lorraine Fisher’s point of view stumped me and I wasn’t sure why the author included it. But it all ties in beautifully.

I found myself being pulled in by Claudia’s point of view more than Zoe’s and then WHAM — I switched my connection to Zoe. The author had me flip-flopping back and forth. The novel is written with just enough mystery  surrounding all of the characters and enough lies or omissions by both Claudia and Zoe, that it is up to the reader’s intuition to figure out who is hiding what. What is their motivation for the lies? The reader gets to determine who they believe because it is clear that no one in this story is telling the whole truth.

I don’t know why this is my first book by Elizabeth Hayes. It definitely won’t be my last. I fell hard for the author’s voice and writing style. Each of the three point of view characters have their own unique and distinctive voice. I could always tell which woman’s head I was inside of — or so I thought. The writing style and individual voice of each character is what propelled the book into an unforgettable and shocking finale. A tantalizing twist ending that wowed me.

I read a lot of novels and I mainly read mystery, suspense and thrillers — every sub genre of crime fiction, so I am seldom thrown completely off guard. Oh, but I love it when I am. I love when an author stays one step ahead of me and the writer has hit a home run when I can’t guess the ending or I guess it wrong. Hayes has a devoted new fan.

I’m not going to go into the subplots — which all tie into the main plot. I will just reference a couple of them. Claudia and her husband are filthy rich, but the money came from his dead wife’s family and he refuses to touch any of it. This is one of the reasons he continues to work and spend so much time away from his family and why Claudia insists on continuing her job as a social worker until she is ready to pop.

I read some of the reviews on Amazon, which for the most part are glowing recommendations for Until You’re Mine. However, I want to comment on an issue that came up more than once. I stumbled across a few reviews offered by readers who were not satisfied with the books ending.

 Some were outright pissed off with the final plot twist. Some felt cheated. They wrote that the ending was such a surprise because it came out of nowhere and was not supported by the novel they read. Their argument was that the twist is so out of nowhere that the logic of the book and motivations of the characters we’d grown to know, must be thrown out the window. I wholeheartedly and respectively disagree. 

It’s all there if you pay attention and as with many of the best twist endings, you may not recognize many of the subtle clues unless and until your second or even third read (same with movies with the best twist endings). I challenge any of you with this belief to reread, Until You’re Mine, from beginning to end, paying close attention to detail this time. Pay close attention to what is said and more importantly what isn’t said from each women’s POV. I bet, like me, you were so engrossed in this gripping tale during your first time reading it that you didn’t notice many of the clues. Perhaps the clues didn’t seem significant at the time. 

But, that my friends, is the signature of a great suspense/thriller author. Hayes didn’t cheat us. If you think she did, read the book again and see how quickly you are able to connect the dots. You will notice the ever so slight change in one of the POV character’s demeanor and voice in certain areas.

*********** CAVEAT: Here is That Spoiler I Warned Of *************

Just a few areas that caused me to suspect Claudia was not as honest and innocent as she portrayed herself to be:

  • Unwilling to have sex with her husband James and refuses to even sleep in the same room with him. Does she do this because she is honestly worried about the baby girl’s health? Or does she have a more treacherous reason?
  • She tells James that the doctor will not permit them to engage in any sexually activity. Okay, nothing too weird about that … until … in Claudia’s own point of view we learn that this is a lie and she was compelled to forge a letter from the doctor attesting to the “No Sex Rule.”
  • Why does she have a work file at home?  A file that had been assigned to another caseworker, not her? The file that contained all of the pertinent information concerning one of the recently murdered girls?
  • Why has she lied to her husband, James about her previous miscarriages?

Granted, none of these things, individually, mean anything malignant, but taken in totality of one another ( plenty more where those came from) they add up to a woman who is not being honest with her husband. A woman who had access to the murdered girls. A woman who has more secrets than she lets on.

So back to my spin on the ending:


Up until the very end I was mesmerized with this book. I’d guessed the somewhat predictable ending, but hey, nothing unusual about that. Not when reading a thriller. In this genre, we often know early in the book who the villain is. Thrillers differ from the typical mystery that way. It’s not a “who dun it?”  In thrillers, even when we know the killer’s identity, a good author never lets up on the suspense. We flip the page, filled with apprehension and dread, biting our nails as tendrils of terror dare us to turn another page and race to the end. We want to find out whether or not the protagonist can stop the bad guy. 

Clever but predictable, that’s where I was headed — until the author wrenched my world upside down. She’d been baiting me all along. None of the women were who they appeared to be. 
The author easily leads and wills the reader into believing that Zoe could be the monster who is killing pregnant women and trying to cut their babies right out of their wombs. 

Who is the stranger — the other woman that Zoe visits and shares some sort of loving relationship with? This other woman appears deranged and won’t be happy until Zoe delivers her a child for them to raise together. At times Zoe feels this other woman’s love slipping away and knows the only way to hold onto her is to give her what she wants — a baby. 

Of course, just like every other character in the book, this woman is not who we think she is and the author is a master at disguising the truth and hiding the truth in plain sight. A remarkable talent for a writer
This is one of the best books that I’ve read in quite a while. Everyone, and I do mean everyone has a secret. You have to read to the end to discover whose secret is bad, whose secret is reprehensible, but not beyond redemption and whose secret is brutal … evil.

Not until the second to last chapter when we ride along with the killer on the bicycle, in her point of view, inside her mind, as she rushes to a pregnant woman’s home — a friend of Claudia’s who is in distress and needs immediate help … seemingly to help, do we learn her true intent is to kill the woman and steal her unborn baby.

But wait. Whose head are we inside? Zoe’s or Claudia’s? Looking back I spotted a few clues foreshadowing this mind altering twist. So in my humble opinion, author Samantha Hayes played fair with the readers and did a splendid job with not just one, but two unreliable narrators. How hard is that to pull off? She pulled it off. Unreliable narrators, misdirection and we allowed ourselves to form certain disturbing thoughts about Zoe. Or did we?

Written with similarities to Gone Girl, Until You’re Mine is one of those books that will have you questioning yourself. I caught myself saying things like, “I knew it. Well, no I didn’t know it.”

 Toward the end I knew Zoe wasn’t a killer (or so I thought ). Admittedly, I toyed with the idea that I’d solved the master plot twist, but shot the idea right down as I considered it couldn’t be Claudia riding that bike. No way, not in her fragile condition at nine months pregnant. 

But …

Until You’re Mind, is a complex thriller with multiple plot twists and a final twist that will blow you away. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys thrillers, especially dark, psychological thrillers.

The final line in the book still haunts me.

Have you read Samantha Hayes' Until You're Mine? What did you think of the book? Did you love the surprise twist ending as much as I did or did you feel cheated? Have you read her other book? Can you recommend any mind-blowing psychological thrillers.

BTW - I know you thought I disappeared off the planet and I admit I have been MIA for a really long time. My apologies and I can't tell you how much I have missed all of you. I wish I could go into the details of why I couldn't blog. Perhaps I will be able to tell you all about it very soon. Suffice it to say, someone took offense at my blogging on certain issues of public interest. I will fill you all in just as soon as I possibly can. It has been a nightmare.

But I am so damn happy to be back. I am doing the happy dance right now. On my way to jump in the pool and do the happy stroke.



Read more about Samantha Hayes here and her next psychological thriller Before You Die

Or Check her out on Goodreads

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dirty Santa Rules: How To Play Dirty Santa At Your Next Holiday Gathering

My family plays Dirty Santa every year and we have the best time.  But ... someone always claims that we aren't doing it right and who knows -- we're probably not.

I've played for twenty- five years and with many different families and co-workers and others.  It seems every group has their own version ( and that's ok), as long as everyone knows the rules and agrees before the game begins.  It's never a big issue, we are always having too much fun, but I've noticed two main areas that different groups differ on. The first is whether player one draws first or last and the biggest area ( by far) of discrepancy seems to be on how a particular gift is finally retired. Thanks to the following post, I finally understand what " 3 times," means and am glad to know it is not what my family believed it to be.

Read on for a complete and detailed guide to playing Dirty Santa and if you haven't tried this game - I highly recommend it.

 Dirty Santa Rules: How To Play Dirty Santa At Your Next Holiday Gathering

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How Writers Scrutinize Movies & Books

Do non writers read books & watch movies with the same scrutiny and intensity as writers?

I don't know about you, but the longer I write and the more I learn about the craft of writing, the more I pick apart every film I watch or every book I read. I find myself dissecting films and books. 
I'm always looking at the structure of a novel. How quickly does the writer hook me? Has the protagonist entered a point of of return? Is the First Plot Point where it should be? Does the midpoint fall at the 50% mark? Here comes the dark moment or crisis or all is lost scene (or scenes); is this really the absolute worst place the protagonist could be at this moment? What is the last piece of information injected in the second plot point or the 75% mark that arms the protagonist with everything she needs to become the catalyst for the climax? Is the climax believable?

 Did I see the ending coming? Was it too easy to figure out? Did the writer keep me guessing and on the edge of my seat? When I go back and reread the book will I now see the careful foreshadowing? Ah ha, the clues where there all along, if only I'd been paying closer attention.

Any of this sound familiar? Do you do it? Do you enjoy it or does it interrupt the flow of your reading or viewing experience? I love dissecting movies and books. I take my favorite authors from my favorite genres and deconstruct their novels in hopes of learning from the best.

Take the popular movie Juno, for example. I'm using Juno because I recently watched the movie with my husband, mother, a good friend, grown stepson and two teenage daughters. So, excluding me (the writer), our viewing audience consisted of a lawyer, a stay at home mom with tons of kids, an interior designer, a film buff, a seventeen year old a fifteen year old. At the beginning of the movie, I asked each viewer to analyze the movie as they watched. I didn't expect a full critique or anything. I told them that at the end of the movie I wanted them to tell me what they thought "the movie was about." That was it ~ the only instructions or requests.

Juno clearly reached and satisfied millions of viewers. It was well written and not just another teen pregnancy story. I thought it was the perfect movie to test my question. Do non writers view or scrutinize movies the same way that writers do?

Juno


My  mini- deconstruction on Juno.

I may be wrong, but here is how I analyzed Juno.

Protagonist or Main Character: Juno


Juno's Beginning Goal: Find out if she is pregnant

Juno's Middle Goal: What to do, now that she knows she is pregnant. Find a good home for the baby

Juno's Ending Goal: Tell Bleaker how she feels

Juno's Beginning Obstacle: Refusal to accept accuracy of pregnancy test

Juno's Middle Obstacle: Confusion over abortion, adoption and inability to find the perfect family

Juno's Ending Obstacle: Bleaker may not want to be a couple

Juno's Beginning Motivation: Her body is telling her she is pregnant and she must know for certain

Juno's Middle Motivation: She want her baby to have a perfect, two family home. Her own mom left her and she hasn't learn to deal with her abandonment issues.

Juno's Ending Motivation: She wants to be a couple with Bleaker


Okay, back to family & friend movie night:

Here are some of the answers I received to the question, "What's the movie really about?"

A young girl learns that there is life after making mistakes.

A story about mistakes and choices.

Mistakes and doing the best with what you've got.

Okay, not too terribly bad, but not exactly what I was looking for. I was a little surprised that none of my viewers even commented on Juno's struggle to find the perfect family for her baby because her own mom abandoned her.

For me, Juno's unresolved emotions stemming from the abandonment by her own mom interferes with her need to find the perfect family to adopt her baby. She thinks she has found the ideal, perfect family. Sure, the adoptive mom is a little up tight, but Juno is pleased with their home, the ambiance, the idea of the perfect mom who bakes cookies and stays home with the baby in the perfect little baby nursery. Juno knows that the mom is committed and desperate to become a mother. She will make a perfect mom. Dad is super cool, into rock and roll and Juno digs him. They share a love for music. She believes she has found the family...the family that is everything her own is not.

But...wait...all is not right.

Dad wants out. He wants out of the marriage and out of the adoption. This destroys Juno's perfect two parent family image. For Juno to choose the woman without the man to adopt her unborn child she must emotionally accept what she has grown up to believe is an un-perfect family...an incomplete family. To Juno, a one parent family is less than perfect, it's the exact family she came from and the opposite of what she desires for her baby.

This happens for Juno. This is her character arc. You remember the moment in the movie when Juno leaves the note for the adoptive mom that says, "I'm still in if you are," or similar words? Juno has accepted and agreed to place her baby with a family that she once considered not perfect. She has grown enough throughout the story to either accept the non perfect family or to realize that a one parent family is just perfect enough. One parent can provide a child all of the love that a child needs.

When I talked about these issues with my mom and husband, et al, their faces scrunched up, and I heard, huh's, what's and come again.

I haven't tried this with other books or films, but it made me wonder...

We read and watch movies as writers, yes, but does the average reader or regular (by average and regular, I only mean, non writers) viewer get it? Do they actually get this internal struggle? They must, right? Maybe they can't explain it or put it into words, but surely they must. Is it just so subtle to them that the issue is visited upon without drawing attention to it?





You know, the point where the protagonist opens her eyes and sees for the first time that the external events are not responsible for keeping her from achieving her goals...that her own choices (her own flaws) have either created or majorly contributed to her problem?

To the untrained eye or the non writer eye:


When the protagonist shows the full range of emotional effects the crisis or dark moment has on her~

Is this reaching readers and viewers, but they just don't label it the way we do?

It must or the reader ~ film goer wouldn't love the book or movie.

I suppose it doesn't matter if non writers dissect or scrutinize the book or movie and label it the way we writers do...if they relate to the the protagonist, identify with her and root for her, then the writer's job is done. 

My little project proves the importance of a writer using proper story structure, developing a strong and identifiable protagonist and connecting the dots in such a subtle manner that the reader or viewer doesn't even realize it. They only realize that something in the movie or book captured and kept their attention.

Do you dissect movies and or books? Does this help you become a better writer?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Rafflecopter Alternatives & iPad Winner Announced

And The Winners Are...

The Winner of the iPad mini is...Al Diaz over at Father Dragon Writes.

The second place winner will receive a $100 Manuscript Coaching Session with Larry Brooks, which has increased to $150, so it's quite a prize. The winner of this awesome prize is, D.L. Hammons, over at Cruising Altitude. 

Emily Crider over at Newlywed Moments, is the winner of Larry Brooks' newest book, Story Physics.

and....
Jessie Humphries over at The B-Word and Shell Flower over on Tangent Shell each win a copy of Jessica Bells'  awesome new book, Adverbs & Cliches in a nutshell.

There you have it...the winners.

I want to thank everyone who participated. I'm still not quite at 500 followers, but I'm delighted to be in the 490's.

I'm not, however, delighted with Rafflecopter. I'm pretty sure that I'm in the minority on this one because I run across at least one blog every day, hosting a contest with Rafflecopter. 

Here's my problem:

We are allowed to customize our contest/give a way. We all live and learn from every experience and I learned that it is far better to offer fewer entry choices. My mistake- offering too many. I figured that people would be more likely to enter a contest if they had more options to choose from. After reading up on the subject, I've learned, that not unlike every other area in our lives, too many options, often send us running

That's not my problem, though. See, with Rafflecopter, the contest creator is permitted to assign the number of contest entries for each category. You all know what I'm talking about- I'm pretty sure you've all seen a million Rafflecopter give a ways. You earn "X"amount of entries if you do "Y". It is usually something like 1 entry for a blog comment, 2 entries for following on Twitter and 3 or more entries for other things like a blog post or a shout out...

Sounds perfect, right? 
Wrong. 

Unless you read the fine print...and I didn't. I know, not very lawyerly of me, huh? You see, the fine print tells you that the winner or winners are selected from Random. Unless, I am totally missing something, it appears to me that a random selection from Random.org, does not give anyone the extra entries that they are entitled to for doing the extra things like more shout outs or tweeting about the give a way.

The second problem that I encountered is that after, the winner or winners were randomly selected, then and only then was I able to verify whether or not they actually performed the task required for the entry. Thankfully, I didn't have any winners who didn't actually qualify for the contest.

The only way I was able to make sure that people were given the proper number of entries was to ask Rafflecopter to email a copy of the spreadsheet and then tally the entries myself and conduct a second drawing which would have defeated the purpose.

I'm not complaining about the turn out as I'm sure I could have done more to promote it. I do however, feel certain that some of you left blog comments or tweeted about the contest, yet I did not see your name anywhere on the spread sheet. Nothing I can do about it now. Like I said, live and learn.

While researching the contest options, after it ended  (yes, I know I should have done this before), I came across some Rafflecopter alternatives that I will try in the future, if I  host another give a way.

Here are some of the Rafflecopter alternatives that are worth looking into before you host your next give a way.


I haven't had an opportunity to look into the details of all the Rafflecopter alternatives, but I did spend a good amount of time reading about Punchtab and I like what I see. It seems to be the first loyalty incentive type program for contest and give away hosting. It works sort of like your local grocery store or pharmacy rewards program by rewarding users for performing simple actions on a blog or website. 


I know that Rafflecopter appears to be the main giveaway hosting platform for bloggers, but I'm curious to know if any of you have used any of the alternatives that I mentioned? If so, please share your experience. Are those of you who use Rafflecopter, pleased with the platform or do you have any complaints? Do you know of any other contest and or give a way platforms, that I didn't mention?

Thank you again for participating and for reading my blog.