Saturday, November 27, 2010


I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. You go to one of your favorite blogs, the ones hosted by famous authors or people who know famous authors or people who famously review books by famous authors ... and they're giving away a copy of the latest offering by said famous author ...

Now, if you're anything like me, you simply can't resist the opportunity to win the book, instead of going out and buying it. How hard can it be?  You have to follow one or two of the following instructions:

*  "Post a comment below to win a copy of the book"
*  "Post a comment below and mention the title of the book"
*  "Go to Facebook and 'Like' our Facebook page, then tell us 
    you liked us."

Okay, not too onerous. So you do it.  Well, today I found the book giveaway of ALL book giveaways.  The one that required a marathon of tasks to be carried out, just for a chance to win a copy of a book.  Going through all these steps seemed a little insane, but for the hang of it, and in the interests of writing this blog, I decided to comply with their instructions. After all, how long could it take ... 7 steps.  For each of these steps, you earned a certain number of entries in the competition.  These were:

1. 1 entry - "Like" the blog page on Facebook
2. 1 entry - "Like" the famous author's 'Author' page on 

Then there were the bonus entries:

3.  2 entries - Visit famous author's website and comment 
     about a book you would like to read.
4.  2 entries - Follow the blog on Twitter
5.  3 entries - Tweet about the giveaway for 3 extra entries 
     every day.
6.  4 entries - Comment on any of their blog posts and leave a 
     comment with the title. Leave multiple entries, but each one 
     must contain the title and must be a new comment.
7.  5 entries - Blog about the giveaway and link to their post.

So off I went!!  Step 1 - I zoomed off to Facebook to 'Like' the blog's corresponding page. 1 entry in the bank!  Will they notice I now like them or should I tell them? Hmmm ... I'd better post to their blog site.

Step 2 - I went to the Author page of the Famous Author. Now, I'm actually friends with the author in question on their actual Facebook page, so fortunately for me, I've never 'Liked' their Famous Author page. Whew! 1 more entry in the bag. Wait ... I'd better tell them I 'Liked' the Famous Author ... back to their blog site.

On to step 3 - off to the website of the Famous Author.  I'm supposed to tell them about a book I'd like to read. Now I'm guessing I'm supposed to say I want to read their book, but would I still qualify if I named a book by a different author? Moot point, it turns out, as there is a problem. There is no place to comment on anything on Famous Author's website. 2 entries lost - surely I should at least get one for trying??? Do I tell them I tried? Back to their blog site.

Step 4 - follow the blog on Twitter. Done. Yay! Another 2 entries in the bank Wait a minute. Am I supposed to tell them I've started following them on Twitter, or can I trust that they'll notice I'm now following them? Hmm, I'd better leave a comment on the blog. 

Step 5 - Tweet about the giveaway. Did that, 3 entries banked. But wait a minute. How do they know I've tweeted about it? Do I have to tweet to them or can I just post it on their blog? Back to their blog site. No help re this dilemma on their blog or website, so I guess they're a trusting bunch. But how will they know to credit me with 3 entries if I don't let them know.  I'd better go to their blog and tell them I tweeted.  Wait. Do I have to do that every time I tweet? I should ask them. Yes. I do have to tell them, they say. And I have to mention the book name every time I comment, telling them I've tweeted. If, by any chance, I forget to do so, my entry is void, despite the trouble I've taken to tweet a link to their giveaway.  Wow.  This is getting difficult.  

Step 6 - Post a comment to their blog site and mention the book name every time I comment. Every new comment is worth 4 entries. Wow! You have GOT to be kidding me!! That's WAY easier than all those previous steps, so why don't I just write a hundred comments on their blog site, mention the book title in every post and earn 4 entries for each comment? FOUR ENTRIES??? I could copy the post and repeat it, over and over ... Hmmm ... Back to their blog site.

And the really interesting Step 7 - blog about the giveaway and link to their blog from your blog ... So here I am, blogging about their giveaway.  Somehow, I don't think they'd like this blog post, so I have deliberately NOT mentioned the site or the Famous Author at all ... there ... I just blew 5 entries!

By now, I have invested almost an hour of my life in this endeavor ... I wonder if the bloggers or the famous author realize that's how long it would take a reader to comply ...

Let me just say that I am trusting the blog owners to add all these entries on my behalf ... I have absolutely no way of knowing whether they have or not ... it's not like they have to post a comment on their blog telling me they've entered X number of entries into the competition in my name.  This is stictly a one way street, apparently. They could just be yanking my chain and it doesn't mean squat that I actually participated in this marathon of madness. Reciprocity would go a long way here, guys.

I just wanted to make a point about how insane these giveaways are.  It's all about self promotion, either by the blog site or the Famous Author and we poor saps are their tools ... doing their marketing for them, free, gratis, for nothing  etc. all in the vain hope that we'll win a copy of the book ... which winner, incidentally, is drawn randomly, so someone who entered once by posting one comment could be the winner instead of me, who participated in the marathon!!

I think the Famous Authors who pass along a copy or two of their books should be made to go through all these steps before they allow blog sites to subject their readers to this kind of torture. I totally get that publishing houses expect their authors to do self-promotion. I understand how hard that is for the authors. I understand that they all make use of every social media outlet that exists in an effort to get word out about their latest book. 

But this giveaway was at the top end of insanity. 

However, there was method in their madness. Every time I had to tell them I had complied with one of the steps, I went to their blog, driving up traffic to their site. Every time I mention the name of the book, I drive more traffic to their site every time anyone googles that book title. I should get PAID for all this traffic I'm driving and all I get is a lousy chance to win a book????

So ... I think I'll just buy the book, or better yet, wait until it hits the shelves of my local library.  At least they don't make me jump through hoops just to read the darned thing!

Monday, May 31, 2010

thomas jefferson, day 1

while out rambling on saturday, i found a soft stuffed thomas jefferon doll at a neighborhood yard sale.  now, caricaturish he may have seemed, and the bow tie was so incongruous i had to giggle, but how could i pass up a founding father for just a quarter??  and my favorite president at that?!!

he seemed delighted to have been rescued, telling us how confused he felt, left as he was on the table for a couple of hours before we decided to adopt him.  needless to say, a lot of s'plaining was necessary.  we got him back to the house and with the help of google and the interwebs, which he was on ALL NIGHT apparently, he seemed to have acquired a fairly firm grasp of a wide variety of topics by the time we woke up on sunday morning.   i know he was considered really intelligent back in the day, but i was truly surprised at what a quick study he proved to be!

after being shocked that breakfast consisted only of cereal and some fresh fruit (he's just going to have to suck it up that 12 course meals are a thing of the past!), thomas joined us in the early cool of yesterday morning as we duly set off for our community garden. while being suitably impressed with the speed at which we are able to travel, tom was thoroughly annoyed at having to wear a seat belt (as can be seen from the look on his face!), even when we explained the dangers of driving without one.  methinks he was secretly a serious libertarian.  boy, is he in for a shock, landing as he has in a liberal family like ours!

back to the garden, where we have just started growing our own organic vegetables and herbs.  now, our 30 x 30 plot is more than sufficient for our little family of three (okay, four now that thomas has joined us), but i have to say, he was completely underwhelmed ... both by our efforts and the size of the plot! (i think that even after hours on the webs, he may have been surrepticiously looking around for our slaves!)  however, i think he came to see that we were doing our level best and that huge tracts of land are no longer available, as they were in his day.  he even (graciously) posed for this photo!

on our return to the house, we showered and came down to find tom kickin' back watching some TV.  the old boy sure seems to enjoy the history channel!  however, continued bad news of the oil spill really freaked him out.  "LOUISIANA??" he kept yelling.  "My purchase???".   it took a while to calm him down, but since everyone in the house is more than a little sad over the failure of the topkill, we didn't feel it was really fair to censor his reactions in any way.

later in the day, we did our memorial day grilling, as hubby has to work today ... the joys of being a reporter!  tom had fun watching the whole grilling process and thoroughly enjoyed the ribs, burgers and shrimp.

today, we are chillin' (except for hubby, who is off to work soon) and tom, i believe, is out on the deck catching some rays.  he sure loves nature.  there is a problem, however ... if anyone knows where i can find the guy a tricorn that'll fit, please let me know ... he's not happy without a hat and the one i gave him (borrowed from the boy amish doll) is, in his words, "inelegant and undesirable".  rotten ingrate!

Friday, May 28, 2010

appreciation of american holidays

well, memorial day weekend is here.  in our house, that means ... well, not much, really.  hubby, apart from being a published author, freelance writer and editor, is also a reporter for the local paper and he is working monday, so we'll do our grillin' on sunday instead.  our son, nick, is the grill master.  the kid just loves grilling, what can i say?   he'll be out there, ipod hooked up to the speakers on the deck, tongs in hand, completely in his element.  i just love watching the whole joyful spectacle of it!!  of course, the prep work falls to me and  i love it! choice of foods is anything but exotic, but you can count on ribs, burgers and shrimp being on the menu. 

I guess that being an immigrant, it took me a while to understand the significance of the various american holidays, and i think memorial day was the first uniquely american holiday i experienced after arriving in the country almost  fourteen years ago.  we were living in florida at the time and we drove up to jupiter and had lunch at one of those key-westy-waterside-quay type restaurants.  afterwards, we ended up at the jupiter lighthouse and there was this massive picnic going on, with about a million flags.  everywhere you looked, people were decked out in the colors and i was really impressed.  hey, i'm from south africa ... we did things differently back there, ok? 

over the years, i have come to deeply appreciate the significance of the holidays americans celebrate.  without a doubt, thanksgiving is my favorite.  i just love the whole pilgrim thing!!  i love decorating the house when fall rolls around, all with thanksgiving in mind.  i do, however, recall a rather disastrous pumpkin episode in west palm beach.  we had just returned from a trip to philadelphia, and having seen all the pumpkins so beautifully displayed on porch steps in the suburbs of philly, and fallen completely in love with the idea, i dutifully went out and bought the largest pumpkin i could find and proudly put it outside, next to the front door. 

oh gosh, anyone from florida is probably falling off their chair laughing at me by now, but hey, i was new to the tradition and still fairly new to the country.  how was i to know that within 72 hours, the pumpkin would be a steaming, rotten, stinking mess, crawling with ants and bugs that seemed to have migrated specifically to my garden with the firm intent of feeding on said rotten pumpkin???  my sons friends eventually did the whole 'kick the cr@p outta the pumpkin' thing before i had a chance to get out there and clean it up.  let me tell you, rotten-insect-fed-upon pumpkin is one of the vilest smelling things on the planet.  there was NO pumpkin on the thanksgiving menu that first year, i assure you!

back to memorial day: i want to wish everyone a wonderful memorial day weekend. drive safely. and above all, let's not forget WHY and in whose honor we celebrate this day. thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all our troops who so gallantly serve this nation and its people.