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Friday, August 29, 2014

#atozchallenge #roadtrip #lifeisgood - Road Trip Detour

A slight detour on today's Road Trip post.

I'm sure you've seen the news by now, that we have lost a very influential and inspiring woman from the blogging world, Tina Downey.

Tina and Nicole Ayers were kind enough to ask Stormy the Weather Gnome and I to join them in the Post A-to-Z Road Trip this year.

I was truly flattered and honored that they asked. Tina was very supportive and understanding when the newbie and her gnome asked the dumb questions.

I'll never forget her funny emails, her always relevant movie quotes, and just her general positive attitude, even when things weren't going well for her.

The Road Trip won't be the same without her.

Check out this POST to find out about the Sunflower for Tina tribute taking place soon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sunflowers for Tina - September 8, 2014 #LifeisGood #AtoZChallenge

In memory of Tina Downey, the A to Z Team is hosting a sunflower tribute on September 8, 2014 – Remembering Tina Downey.

Prior to that date, purchase or plant a sunflower in her honor. (If you have to resort to plastic, that’s cool.) Take a photo of your sunflower and post in in her memory on Monday, September 8. Tina loved her sunflowers, and we want to splash the blogging world with sunflowers that day and honor a truly amazing woman who was friend and family to so many.

You can sign up now or add your link when you post your sunflower.

Please help us spread the word! Add Tina's motto #LifeisGood as hashtag and share about this blogfest on all social media platforms.

Let’s brighten the Internet with sunflowers the way Tina brightened the lives of so many.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Themes That Rocked - Amazing Photos From Around the World!

Please welcome expat and travel master, Rhonda Albom!

Your theme was My Photos of AmaZing Places – why did you choose that theme?

I wanted a theme that defined me, something incorporating adventure, travel and photography. I also wanted short, easy to read posts. April was prior to my re-branding to Albom Adventures, so my blog was still named Laugh-Quotes. I wanted a clever theme as I was still trying to make that name work. Using the AtoZ style in AmaZing seemed to meet that need.

How many countries did your photos represent?

I had to go back and count. I used photos from only 24 countries, half of the number we have been to collectively, although my teens have only been to 34 countries (I know, I shouldn't say "only").

Which set of photos was your favorite?

Being that AtoZ was a collection of my favourites, this was a difficult question. I am choosing three:
K: Kate and William – Watching the Royals Racing Yachts in Auckland For some reason, I am enchanted by the royals, and when Kate and William came to New Zealand in April, I had to change my post for them. I was pretty pleased with the photos I was able to get.
N: Night Shots of Cities on Five Continents I really love taking night shots. I have printed the night shot of St. Basils Cathedral in Moscow on canvas and it hangs in my house.
X: eXpert Craftsman in Morocoo Did I cheat with eXpert? I am not worried about it. This post made this short list because it is about the people. And for me, meeting the people is one of the best part of travel.

Which letter provided the greatest challenge?

You will never guess . . . it was S. My process was to make a list of AmaZing places. Then I matched it to the alphabet starting with the traditionally difficult letters like J,k,q and z. As I assigned the photos, and paired down the list I had about 10 items remaining at the end, and only the letter S.

Of all the places you’ve visited, which is the most amazing?

Having walked on the Great Wall of China, been inside the Kremlin, rode an elephant in Malaysia, seen platypus in the wild and even taken a broomstick flying lesson at the same castle as Harry Potter, I found this to be a very difficult question. So I used my dictionary, amazing "causing great surprise or wonder." Using this definition, I would have to say it was somewhere in Portugal, either arriving at Obidos to find the city gates locked or Evora where our hotel was haunted, we visited an ossuary, and a circle of monoliths created 400 years before Stonehendge.

Were there any scary moments?

I am pretty easy going in most situations, so being stopped, detained or overly questioned generally doesn't frighten me, especially when I am fairly sure it's more about paying a bribe than about the "issue." I think all long term travels encounter some difficulty along the way. Our scariest moments were: the creepy guy setting us up to be mugged in Morocco; driving through rapidly raising flash flood water in Oman (incident death toll of 6); landing without runway lights in Samoa; riot police running past us towards protesters in the park in Rabat; or being let off a boat in a closed to the public area being used by the military in Moscow.

Did drinking from the Fountain of Youth in Norway work?

I will let you decide. I am actually 107 years old.

If you do the Challenge again next year, do you have a theme in mind?

Yes. It is a fantastic theme and I can't wait for the big revel day so I can share it with you.

Whoa! I guess the fountain did work. Thanks, Rhonda.

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon Best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, and his blog can be found HERE

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Great Loss to the Blogging Community: Tina Downey

       The sad announcement of the passing of Tina Downey appears on her blog Life Is Good today.

        Tina has been an integral part of the A to Z Team for many years and has been the motivator and scheduler on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Blog.  

          We will post a tribute to Tina here later in the week.    For the time being we hope you will leave a message for her family at Life Is Good.

            We all love you Tina!   You will be missed.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Does Weather Affect Your Stories?

Being a California native, I’ve always had to take trips to experience “weather” in the sense of really hot and humid (Southeast Asia) or really cold (Alaska).  Most of the weather we get is of the medium variety (50-70 degrees) with a rare freeze and sometimes a few days in the hundreds during August. And boy do we complain when any of those "extreme" days happen. I think we’re weather sissies.

When I thought about how the weather affected my writing, I had to scratch my brain a bit to come up with something. Then I went to my journal and thumbed through a few entries. What I found was I become more prolific on either really stormy days (usually about day three) or on really sunny, sparkly days. And I know this because I have pages that remark on exactly these weather conditions.

I did discover that any settings I write about during those wintery times have a lot of clouds and windy electrifying scenes.  Here's some wintery day writing.

The first time Marian met Justin Kane, he stood at the center of the burned out lot, making notes on a yellow legal pad while trying to stay dry under his oversized black umbrella.  The unexpected September rain had started early that morning and gave no sign of stopping.  Now with thunder promising an electric sky, the wind picked up and whipped at her jacket, blowing sharp, cold drops against her cheeks. 

There are several summer notes that involve toasty park benches with fountains playing in the background. 

The sun hung in the window, filtering light through the old glass and tinting everything amber inside the kitchen. Outside the fountain sprinkled into the pond, teasing fish to the surface. 

Since I like to write in different locations, when the rain keeps me inside I often roam to different rooms with a clipboard. I do this roaming after I put in a morning (between 4 and 8 is my usual stint) at my desk, pounding on my computer keys. Those spring and summer days allow me to be in the garden or on a hike with my journal tucked into my backpack. I can always spot entries I’ve made outside. They’re smudged with dirt and sometimes a leaf falls out when I flip the page--a small token of a day I’ve lived and written about.

One other thing I discovered, thanks to having thought about weather and writing at the same time, is that I’ve made so many notes about the sounds and textures of what I’m surrounded by, that I have tons of weather to include in almost any book I write that takes place above ground level. 

I keep thinking that Poe must have had a lot of bad weather. Dicken’s, too. I mean all of that snow and British fog had to have some effect on those stories. I’ll bet Miss Haversham wouldn’t have lived in that dark house with the moldy wedding feast if Dicken’s had written his story in, say, Hawaii.

How about the rest of you? Does weather affect your characters and your setting? Ever thought about it?