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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Books Resulting from the #AtoZchallenge

A friend of mine shared a book with me that was written because of the A to Z challenge. It contains a selection of alphabet-themed short stories that were originally written for and published on a blog during the A to Z challenge.

My own reference book was originally written as A to Z posts. This has me wondering — how many of us have books out there for sale right now that exist as a direct result of this wonderful blogging challenge?


(Links should go to Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, or other such websites where your A to Z book is for sale.)

What else has participation in the challenge resulted in creating? Is there artwork thanks to the challenge? Games, new recipes, or a travel itinerary perhaps? Talk about it in the comments, please!

by J Lenni Dorner
Reference and Speculative Fiction Author
A to Z Challenge Co-Host
Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer
Please visit the blog of @JLenniDorner Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer @JLenniDornerFollow @JLenniDorner on Twitter please WhatAreThey on Facebook pages

Monday, February 20, 2017

List Free A to Z - Why and How to Make it Work #atozchallenge

Making a List Free Challenge Work:

There have been a lot of concerns regarding the absence of the Linky List this year. How will the new system work? How will I know who is participating? Why isn’t the list being used this year?

That last question has several answers. It wasn’t an easy decision to go list-free, but it was the right one. Here’s why:

The Linky List is massive – and overwhelming. Many have stated they stare at the thousand-plus blogs on the list and don’t know where to begin. Now there won’t be an intimidating giant list.

A lot of people sign up who don’t participate. Some sign up and then life just gets in the way. Some post a few letters and then quit. Some sign up just to get more traffic to their site. Some are just out-and-out spammers. Under the new system, you won’t encounter those people.

This list is time consuming to maintain – and a bit soul-sucking. To understand the man hours required, this was the process:
  • The co-hosts’ minions/helpers visited a certain section of the list and reported back non-participants.
  • The co-host had to confirm each blog reported by visiting it.
  • The co-host then had to list all blogs that required either removal or adjustment on another list.
  • The List Master (which for the past seven years has been me) had to go through the lists from a dozen co-hosts every day and remove/fix links, a process that never took less than an hour.
  • This process wasn’t limited to April – culling the list of ad sites and spammers started in February.
You can see where that might suck the joy out of visiting other blogs.

Finally, there are just not enough co-hosts this year to maintain a list of that magnitude.

So, how will it work?

Before the Challenge begins, we will have a post or two where people can comment and announce their intent to participate. At that time, you can visit some and add to your Feedly reader, Bloglovin’, sidebar, or other location.

Every day during the Challenge, there will be a post at the A to Z Blog with the letter of the day. There will also be one at the A to Z Facebook Group. Once you have posted for the day, copy that link and leave a comment here or at the Facebook group. Then, start visiting others who have also left a comment, either that day or the day or two before.

You can Tweet your link with the hashtag #atozchallenge and look for others doing the same – and visit those people. (A to Z Twitter)

Once you start finding blogs you enjoy, make a list in your blog reader, sidebar, or even just copy the link into Word.

So, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. You can even include your theme when you post your link, which will be even better than the old codes from the Linky Lists of the past.

While this sounds like a huge and earth shattering change, it actually goes back to our roots. Because that very first A to Z Challenge in 2010 had no Linky List. Founder Arlee Bird just added everyone who commented they were participating into his sidebar and we all visited each other from that. And you know, that small scale made a huge difference, as many of us formed friendships that have lasted over the years.

So don’t fear the lack of a list – embrace it!

Any questions? Hot Tamales candy welcome.

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon Best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars, founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and his blog can be found HERE

Friday, February 17, 2017

Why I Love #AtoZChallenge (And You Should, Too!)

I started my blog so that I could join the A to Z challenge. I happened upon it while stumbling around the web. Blogging wasn’t something I considered doing before. I thought blogs were either public journals or sale pages in a nice disguise. The A to Z challenge opened up a new world for me. I discovered not only the different types of blogs, but that there is a community here. Most of my online friendships were born as a result of the A to Z challenge. Nearly all of the blogs I follow take part or have taken part in the challenge. When I’m looking for an expert in a certain area, I go back to the challenge blog and start my search there. (This has worked surprisingly well.) Planning posts for the challenge resulted in my publishing a reference book. Even though many of us are exhausted by the end of April, we look back with fond memories and find ourselves grateful to have taken part.

Friendships are easier to cultivate when people start with a common ground. The thousands of us in the A to Z challenge all have a blog and have all signed up for this blog hop. The challenge provides a conversation starter. (“Are you enjoying blogging from A to Z?”) Each post gives an opportunity to get to know someone better. Every comment is a chance to engage with someone online.

Community is born out of blog hops like this one. We have the common interest of blogging and the common goal of getting to know other bloggers while increasing our own blog’s views. When you sign up for the A to Z Challenge, you essentially move into this online neighborhood. The hosts are like the community homeowners association, in that they keep the blog running and are here for support. We care for each other at the A to Z challenge. Bloggers who want to connect with and support each other will always belong here. Together we have a positive influence on each other. The A to Z challenge isn’t just another blog hop— it’s a shared experience that leads to shared history.

Knowledge is a lifelong quest. With so many bloggers in this challenge, it’s almost impossible not to learn something new when you hop from one blog to the next. The discoveries made during the challenge lead to an increase in social network sharing. People often enjoy telling a friend about a new recipe they found, a book they now want to read, a previously unheard of place to visit, a song that’s a new favorite, a tip that’s going to make life easier, etc. We can positively associate the A to Z challenge with fun learning and personal growth opportunities.

Goal Achievement is important. The best A to Z challenge participants want to see everyone here succeed and have their needs met. Our Twitter chats usually include people offering links to blogs that have almost no comments. We want April to be a month where everyone not only has an alphabet of posts, but also feels they’ve been engaged with by peers. Many find they love the challenge more when setting the following goals:

  • Having a post for every A to Z day 
  • Commenting on a set number of other blogs 
  • Replying to received comments 
  • Connecting by following blogs 
  • Connecting through other social media

What are your goals during the A to Z challenge? What do you love most about this blog hop?

by J Lenni Dorner
Reference and Speculative Fiction Author
A to Z Challenge Co-Host
Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer
Please visit the blog of @JLenniDorner Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer @JLenniDornerFollow @JLenniDorner on Twitter please WhatAreThey on Facebook pages