Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting to Know The Co-hosts: All About Tina

WARNING: I'm not known for short posts or one-word answers.  If you make it through this whole post, I PROMISE that the rest of mine will be very brief.  I was just having too much fun with this one.


1. What is the most daring thing you've ever done?

Hard to say...Depends on whether you're talking about daring on purpose or daring by accident because I'm an idiot rather frequently. I have stories for both categories. The most recent dare-devil (of the non-planned variety) stunt, that I didn't know was daring until I realized my predicament, was when I, in extreme desperation, climbed over what I thought was a one foot rock wall, but instead was an ice cliff, and at the bottom of which was a mostly frozen creek full of boulders and sharp rocks. Obviously I survived, but it was truly frightening. As to what drove me to do such a dumb thing in the first place will have to wait for the post I now realize I need to write. It will fit well into my semi-regular series of embarrassing story posts.

 2. What is your favorite article of clothing?

I'm a uniform girl as I've mentioned before. T-shirt and jeans. Or t-shirt and jeans shorts. In the winter, tank top under long-sleeved v-neck Old Navy shirt. I have seven black tank tops, and six v-necks in (gasp!) actual colors. Ok, one is black, but the others are turquoise, brown, grey, pink, and light blue. If I had to pick just ONE article though, I'd have to say my light blue v-neck. It's the one I reach for first. I also love my “diva” style Old Navy jeans.

3. What is your favorite monster?

The Super 8 Monster. My family loves JJ Abrams. I've seen every episode of Lost, and his Star Trek too many times to count. Super 8 is a fantastic movie, and I love the great surprises. Rent it! I watched it three times in 24 hours. I was also on bed-rest, but “normal” people might do that, too.

4. If you had to dress up as your favorite literary character, who would it be?

Eve Dallas of JD Robb's Death series. These are great murder mysteries that take place starting in 2059, New York City. She's written 36 of these. Each book features a new crime, but over the course of the series, we get to know her co-workers and friends, and the lovers.  Very good sex descriptions, so if you're a PG person, skip those.  They are R.  Eve is tall, lean, kicks-ASS and always gets her perp. I'd wear her tear-drop 6 carat diamond pendant and her long, black, leather coat. (And I suppose jeans and a t-shirt). It would be fun to trade in my short and sturdy for her tall and strong.

5. What is your favorite fairy tale, urban legend or nursery rhyme?

Hoodwinked, based on Little Red Riding Hood is my favorite kids movie ever. We know it by heart, but it never gets old. I mean, where else would you find a snowboarding grandma and a sleazy reporter wolf?  Here's an even better endorsement.  The Engineer aka my husband watches movies once.  "I know what happens."  He's watched this at least 10 times, and if he finds a friend who hasn't seen it, they have to come over and watch it with us.

6. What is a cause near and dear to your heart?

American Lung Association.  "When you can't breathe, nothing else matters."  Both my boys and I have asthma.  Jake's is categorized as severe, and he's had to see pediatric pulmonary specialists all his life.  YellowBoy was diagnosed a month ago.  His has developed over time as a result of really severe "common" allergies.  I got mine after whooping cough (in 2010).

7. What's the strangest item you've used as a bookmark?

When out camping, and reading outdoors, I often get too hot and shed a layer. If I need to put my book down, I put one of the sleeves in the book.

8. Do you have any nicknames?  What are they and how did you earn them?

Yes, lots. Too many to list though, as The Engineer makes new ones each day, and they make no sense. Pizzalatukit, for example. My kids have been calling me Momster while I've been on prednisone. Nasty side-effects and a very appropriate nickname.  My Best calls me T.  So if you get an email from me and I sign it just T., that means I like you and consider you a friend.  (I'll give you some time to go check your emails...let me know when you're back.)

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

I make piles. Piles upon piles of my crap instead of putting it away. My excuse for not putting it away is that there isn't a free spot to put it because of course I fill all my drawers with crap, too. If you could see my dining room table right now...well, you see what I mean. If I were brave enough to post a picture. Which I'm not.

10. Tell us something interesting or shocking about yourself.

I spent 9 years in gymnastics, and am still, at the ripe old age of 46, extremely flexible. I can still do the splits all three ways!  There are practicing gymnasts  who aren't as flexible.  It was my one "talent" when it came to gymnastics.  The rest was pure stubbornness! When I was a teacher and track coach, which was 1988-1996, I could still do aerials (cart-wheels with no hands, pretty sure you could dig one up on YouTube, but I  did it for you, and I'm glad because there were a lot out there that showed poor form.  This video of an aerial is good.)  If you want to read more about me and gymnastics, read these posts. N is for Never Give Up and Careless Words.


1. What was your favorite A-to-Z post from 2011?

I guess I'd have to say my own U ~ Unveiling post. If you have time to read it, you'll know why the post is a big deal.

2. What brought you to the A-to-Z originally?  Tell us about your first A-to-Z.

I met Rayna of Coffee Rings Everywhere and Snapshots of Bombay through a common, weekly blog party called Alphabe-Thursday. I've been her follower ever since. I noticed at her blog that some guy Alex J. Cavanaugh ALWAYS commented there, and was first 99/100 times. So I checked him out, saw that he was promoting the challenge, and signed up. Of the 1282, my number was somewhere in the 100s. I finished the challenge, and then after the challenge, Shannon, also a co-host this year, and I created the Post-Challenge Challenge of visiting every single one of the 1282 blogs. We had over 200 hundred join us for that. Very exciting to get such a response to our idea.

3. Are you doing a theme?

Yes, I am. Didn't last year, but learned quickly that for me, it's the best way to approach the challenge. I'm half Swedish, so my April is going to be called Postscripts from Sweden. You'll learn 29 Swedish words – they have three extra vowels. Don't worry though, the posts will be written in English ;-)

4. Are you writing & scheduling posts in advance?

Going to try. As a co-host my role is to visit as many bloggers as humanly possible, so having my duckies all row-ed up would be helpful. I'm just not finding a lot of time to do that though. Co-hosting duties are taking up a lot of my blogging time, and I'm LOVING that crazy-busy feeling. Just doesn't leave a lot of time to write.

5. What is your favorite letter of the alphabet, and why?  What letter do you like least?

I've never really thought about it until one of the co-hosts (sorry, canNOT remember which one) put that poll up, over there in the sidebar. I voted, but can't remember what I voted for. Do I sound brainless? It's because I am. I'm still on some heavy-duty meds that aren't helping that cause, but only for three more days. Looking forward to having my brain back...I'm really missing it.

I hope I didn't bore you to death. I'm really working on that whole “brevity” advice from DL, another co-host. Just not there yet.  Don't forget, you are welcome, even encouraged, to ask any additional questions you might have in the comments section.  Or feel free to answer the questions yourself!  We'd love to get to know you too!

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-Host of the April A to Z Challenge Twitter: @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catch Fire!! Cassafire Release Today

          Did you know that Alex J. Cavanaugh, ninja captain and blogger extraordinaire, is one of the co-hosts of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge?  

          Did you know that Alex J. Cavanaugh is one heck of a nice guy and so humble that he refers to himself as "just Alex"?

          More importantly in regard to today's post, did you know that Alex J. Cavanaugh is a sci-fi superstar?

          His last book, CassaStar, was an Amazon best-seller last year.   This year I believe he is about to outdo himself with his new book, released today, CassaFire.

         Today is the Catch Fire Blog Party, celebrating the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh! The goal is to help CassaFire “catch fire” on the best seller charts and achieve the success of the first book, CassaStar

There’s also a special package of prizes being given away at the author’s blog (copies of CassaFire, CassaStar, tote bag, mug, and bookmarks) as well as book giveaways during his two-week blog tour. See Alex’s site for details:

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. 

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available today!
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

You can visit the author’s site at
Book trailer available at

The following is the official book trailer for CassaFire and not an entry in the A to Z Video Contest.

Now--I'm going to attempt to transmit my thoughts telepathically to you.  Are you ready?  "Buy the book now, buy the book now, buy the book now."  Did you hear my thoughts?  Oh, you're good.  So now what are you going to do?

Good luck, Alex, on the success of CassaFire.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Getting to know co-host Jenny Pearson (the inside scoop)

Today, I'm over here at the Blogging from A to Z Challenge blog, answering some questions that each co-host has been asked to answer - so you can get to know us a little better - today is my turn on the hot seat!

Name:  Jenny Pearson
Blog:     Pearson Report 
Twitter: @Pearson Report 
             (see...I’m prepared to Tweet - I just don’t know how, yet)

What is the most daring thing you've ever done?
Come to Earth. 
What is your favourite article of clothing?
My birthday suit.
What is your favourite monster?
My inner child.
If you had to dress up as your favourite literary character, who would it be?
Lola, from Storm Wenger Chronicles. (stilettos, fast cars and tall, handsome Thor - what more could a girl want)
What is your favourite fairy tale, urban legend or nursery rhyme?
My favourite tales are those I made up and told my daughter...long, long ago...far, far the end of the galaxy!
What is a cause near and dear to your heart?
Motherhood. (yes, I consider it a cause)
What's the strangest item you've used as a bookmark?
I’ve never used anything that would qualify as “strange”...for a bookmark. 
Do you have any nicknames? What are they and how did you earn them?
No-fur. My name appeared on a roster as Jennifer - I advised the team captain “there’s no fur on this Jenny” - it stuck!
Name one habit you want to change in yourself: 
Tell us something interesting or shocking about yourself:
I applied to be a Private Eye and acquired my FAC; I can hit a moving target and I ask questions later!
What was your favourite A to Z post from 2011? 
What brought you to the A to Z originally? 
I saw the Challenge badge on April 1, 2011, over at Al’s place.
Tell us about your first A to Z Challenge: 
2011 was my first - since I had no time to prep I posted daily based on that day’s inspirations. I loved it! 
Are you doing a theme this year? 
I think so...but we’ll see.
Are you writing and scheduling posts in advance? 
Yes, but only because I’m co-hosting, otherwise I would do my posts the day of (I liked the spontaneity last year). This year I will use my free time to visit and comment on blogs that are participating in the A to Z Challenge.
What is your favourite letter of the alphabet, and why?  What letter do you like least? 
I don’t have a favourite, I like them all!

* * *
All that’s left for me to do is invite you to stay for cake and ice-cream!

Today is my birthday, and I like celebrating it with friends!
If you want to read a funny post about how I celebrate this monumental THIS!

* * *

Is there anything else you’d like to know? ...shoe size? ...ring size?...just ask! I might know the answer!

Now, tell me something 'interesting' or 'shocking' about yourself, hmm...

Happy Blogging!  Jenny
And don’t forget…
This A to Z Co-Host wants to play TAG with you! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

#atozchallenge: Sunday Summary February 26, 2012

There's lots of activity going on as we make our big push for 1000 sign-ups by March 1st.  If you haven't signed up yet why not do it now.   Also please consider liking the A to Z Facebook page.  We're still sort of 200 likes there--shouldn't we have more like at least 700 likes?   Same with this A to Z Blog. Have you clicked the "Follower" button yet to become a "Friend of the Alphabet"?   Let's fire up some A to Z spirit!

We had some great posts on the A to Z Blog this past week.  If you missed any be sure to go back and check them out.  We are no longer accepting guest posts for the A to Z Blog as the schedule is now full.  Thanks to all of you who have shown such hearty participation.

Fellow co-host Konstanz Silverbow is providing some incentive with a great give-away.  Check out what she's offering at her blog No Thought 2 Small and then be sure to tell others about it as well.   Somebody's going to win a very cool package.

Be sure to be at the A to Z Blog this coming Tuesday February 28th.  I won't tell you what's going on, but I bet some of you can guess.  Tuesday is a very special day to celebrate.

Jenn at Scribbles from Jenn participated in Jenny Pearson's game of tag and helped with the push for 1000 by March 1st.

Sommer Leigh at Tell Great Stories provided one of the best A to Z posts that I've seen so far.  Make sure you pay her a visit to thank her for providing this valuable information and make sure you follow her advice when the April Challenge starts.  In fact, don't wait, start now!

RJR Daydreamer gave not only a nice summary of what the Challenge is but also provided an excellent graphic layout of what he did last year.

Donna Mc is a first-timer on her blog My Write Spot and she's getting organized for April.  She provides some excellent tips on how to plan for the Challenge.  I hope all of you will go through her checklist and make sure you've got these points covered.

A to Z got a slightly eccentric mention at The Slightly Eccentric Diary of Rob Z Tobor.  Thanks Rob--I think. Now don't you forget to start the Challenge on time.

Jman at Death of a Hardcore Gamer appears to be ready for April.  I think you'll have loads of fun, Jman.  Let all your friends know about this.

Susan Kane at the contemplative cat provided a round of A to Z brainstorming inspired by the "How It's Made" TV show.

Teresa at Journaling Woman was having an internal debate about the Challenge, but it looks like the Alphabet won.

Mish at Writer-In-Transit got very creative with her Challenge post.  Just goes to show what kind of inspiration comes from Blogging from A to Z.   Can you top this one?

Marcy at Maine Words (#235 on the Linky List) played the "Getting to Know Me" game by answering some of the questions posted to co-hosts.  Always a good time to get to know one another better and everyone is welcomed to join in the fun.

Dave at Dave Wrote This is another blogger who joined in the "Getting to Know Me" fun--Dave went with the entire list.  Whether you answer them all, just some of them, or make up your own questions; we'd all enjoy hearing some of your answers.  As we head into the Challenge you might want to set aside a post to introduce yourselves to the others who may not know you yet.

Susan Gourley/Kelley at Susan Says provided some important tips on her blog that can't be said too many times.   I hope everyone listens to what Susan says.

And hooray Inspire Nordic who also touted the Challenge on her blog.  So glad you're with us this year.

Patricia Stoltey is a solid supporter of the A to Z Challenge.  She's been giving weekly shout outs for us on her blog.

Janice at Jabblog had some kind of snafu with her sign up on the Linky List, but it gave her a reason to post about the Challenge which is always good.  Might as well turn lemons into lemonade.

Call it what you will, there's no reason to be in a tizzy about the April Challenge Lizard Happy--who is #370 on the sign up list by the way.

Tower of Archmage is a gamer blog that is returning to play the A to Z Challenge for the second year.  Have fun!

Thank you Christine Rains for helping push for the March 1st 1000!

I'm learning about Twitter and in doing so I spotted Laurie Carlson's Challenge to her readers.  Check out Laurie's great A to Z Post.    Then follow her blog while you're there--she deserves it.

Spirit Called put forth a call out for more folks to be a part of the April A to Z.   Yeah! That's the spirit!

The adrenaline is pumping high at Whatever.  Thanks Gossip Girl for your energetic post.

Susanne Drazic at Putting Words Down on Paper announced our drive to get 1000 sign-ups by March 1.  Come on bloggers!  Get everyone you know involved in the April Challenge.  Let's make this a party to rival any Oscar party out there.

Lindi from F.A.I.T.H. Girls gave the Challenge a nice mention and provided the link for others to sign up.  Anyone can do this--how about you?

More and more of you are posting about the Challenge.  We are trying to keep up with these posts to list on our Sunday Summary.  I'm watching Google Alerts, emails from co-hosts, and the messages I receive from you who contact me.  If you've posted something and we've missed it here, let me know and I'll try to put it up.   In the weeks to come we may have so many mentions that I may have to distill them into the highlights and the most unique posts.

 But Please! no matter what--keep on promoting A to Z to get more sign-ups.  We are looking for 1000 by this Thursday and it would be nice to pass 1300 by April 1 so we can surpass last year.  Our goal is to make the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge bigger and better each year.   Thanks to all of you for helping us meet this goal.

And now a word from our sponsor courtesy of Ron Easton at Dads Unlimited:

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

#AtoZchallenge Fiction and Call for Writing Prompts

 All A to Z participants have  some or the other plan for how they're going to meet the challenge. Like last year, I'll be doing fiction, based on prompts left by commenters.
Since this year I'll have hosting duties, I hope to pre-schedule at least some of the posts. 
So I'm requesting you, our blogging audience, to challenge me with an interesting picture that you would like me to write on, and drop me story starters, each sentence/phrase beginning with a different letter (i.e. the first word of the starter must start with a different letter from A to Z).  Last year this brought me to A to Z Stories of Life and Death. I hope I write enough stories this year to do another collection.
You can drop me the prompts in the comments on this post. Of course, when I post each prompt during April, I'll link to you and explain why I chose it. You may also mail me the pictures and story prompts at atozstories at gmail dot com.You need not be participating in the A to Z Challenge to challenge me with either a story starter, or a picture, or both. The more the merrier! Last year I had asked for word prompts, and I got loads to choose from! This year, I'm taking it a step further.

As a sort of warm-up and illustration of what I hope to do, I'm pasting below a picture, a story starter( both randomly chosen) and the resulting story.

Story starter: I can no longer... 



I can no longer fit in small corner spaces. 

My body lurches as I run up the stairs, my joints have not been oiled in years, and my feet make thumping noises in tune with my overwrought heart. My breath wheezes, and I'm sure you can hear it from downstairs, where you count up to hundred, your face to the wall. I try hiding behind a cupboard, but my belly and my behind jiggle this way and that, and I know you would spot one or the other. I try hiding under the bed, but can only go in as far as my shoulder. I sneak behind the curtains, but they billow around me, calling to you. 

In the end, I stand amongst the clothes hanging in the changing room. As I hear the patter of your feet, your squealed warnings, and whispered threats, I squeeze my eyes tight shut and breathe the paint on the wall, rubbing the softness of my old cotton dress between my thumbs.

I think of yesterday, when you could have fit anywhere at all, but instead chose to hide your face against the wall. 'How can you see me Granny,' you said when I got you, your pigtails flying, your eyes trembling with unshed tears, 'when I can see nothing at all?'

I'll let you teach me, I decide, as I relax my grip on my dress. You walk past me in my search. 

Between you and me there's only the cloak of a few years, a hundred wrinkles, and a few dozen pounds. Wearing these, I hide from you in plain sight, and as it turns out, from my self.

By Damyanti Biswas, co-host #atozchallenge

Friday, February 24, 2012

DL's Guide To Surviving A to Z

A to Z rookie.  Yep, that’s me.  So you’ve got to be asking yourself…how can someone who’s never been through a month of April blogging every day, write a survival guideAnd an even better question, why should I pay attention to anything he has to say?

Both very good questions, so let me answer them for you.  First, I don’t live under a blogging rock.  Even though I haven’t participated for the past two years, I did follow along and read a ton of posts.  I know what I liked, what worked, and consequently what didn’t.  Second, you know what I spent a good many years doing for my job in the real world?  Planning and scheduling!  Third, you know what else I used to do in the real world?  I wrote instruction manuals and trained new employees about the stuff in those manuals.  And finally, I’m motivated.  I have two goals for this post…to encourage somebody who’s not signed up yet to do just that…and to reassure those of you out there who are nervous about committing to what seems like a massive task and show you how easy it can really be.  You can do this!

To make it all the way to April 30th with your sanity intact, you’ll need a survival kit.  I’ll show you a couple thing’s to place in that kit, but I’m sure they’ll be plenty more recommendations offered in the comments below.  Pick and choose what makes sense to you.

First item to place in your kit is also the most important.  If nothing else makes it, this one item is an absolute must.  Take an index card, or a small piece of paper roughly the same shape, and write on it this one word in bold letters.  BREVITY.   As of today there are 661 bloggers signed up for this challenge and we are expecting something north of 1,000 when April gets here, so part of the challenge isn’t just writing a post every day but also visiting as many of the other blogs as possible to sample the awesome writing talent on display.  Uploading long diatribes, regardless of how fascinating the subject might be, cripples this initiative.  So keep your submissions short and to the point.  They’re easier to write…and read….that way.  The fact is, the shorter your post is the more comments you’ll probably receive.  :)

Next item to put in your survival kit, instructions on how to utilize the scheduling feature on your blog.  Posting every day doesn’t have to mean writing every day.  There are six weeks until April gets here and if you wrote and scheduled two posts a week until then, you would have 12 of the 26 letters/days covered before the month even begins.  Start today…right now as a matter of fact…stop reading this post and write one of your post for the Challenge.  Planning ahead will save you a lot of anxious moments.

So you’re more of a pantser than a plotter, and no matter how many good intentions you had when April 1 arrives you haven’t written a single post yet.  No problem, time to pull out that next item from your survival kit.  A tea spoon.  I know how standing at the doorstep of April contemplating blogging every single day can appear daunting, overwhelming.  The key is to not concentrate of the whole and instead break it down into pieces, small bites.  Take it!  If you find some extra time to punch out a couple posts ahead of time, great, but don’t sweat it if you can’t.  Just worry about today’s bite!  And remember that BREVITY card?  Small bites!

What else should be in your survival kit?  Definitely something like a playlist for your MP3 player customized for the A to Z Challenge, or some of your favorite CD’s, maybe some type of aroma therapy or your favorite exotic coffee.  This is not intended to be a stressful event, and if you utilize some of the items in this survival kit you’ll avoid most of that, but still there are some participants that do get a little tense.  To combat this I recommend you utilize the items in your kit that best help you find a sense of tranquility that will help you through those times.  Remember, we want this to be FUN above everything else!

Last, but not least, duct tape.  Every self-respecting survival kit includes duct tape!

I hope I’ve helped some.  I’m here, along with all of the co-hosts, to see that you have an enjoyable experience.  A survival kit filled with at least those five things will take you a long way to surviving April in one piece, but it’s only a start.  If you have a suggestion for something else that needs to find its way into that kit, just leave a comment below.

Have  a great weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Making A to Z Challenge More... Friendly!

Okay this is something that I did on the last year's "A to Z Challenge" and I thought this would be a good thing for you all to... so I share. I made a desktop calendar that had the breakdown of April right at the click of a button, this way no having to fumble back and forth.

Click on Image [First, should fill screen] and then right click [PC] save to your Hard drive or as your Desktop.
If you save it to your hard drive just click once on image and it should allow you to save as the desktop, you may need to readjust it in your settings. This also should work for most monitors as most have this shape and I have tried on most successfully

Also I have been making a few more banners/badges with some of the suggestions you had mentioned from the last post... you can find all of them either at the bottom of the main page or look for "A to Z Badges and Banners" at top.

So many banners/badges so little time, got something you would like to see... I will get it done...
Any questions please ask or stop by my site and I will do the best I can to help!

Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pre-March Sign-up Blast for #atozchallenge

We're trying to hit 1000 sign-ups by March 1st, which is next Thursday.  Please make an announcement on your blog to encourage your readers to join us in the A to Z Challenge.   If you have any special connection to bloggers who haven't signed up yet, send them an email to let them in on the April fun and ask them if they'd like to be a part of it.  This week we're counting on all of you to boost the numbers.   Can you help?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tackling the Taunting Letters: Guest Alana Garrigues

Picture        Many of you know Alana of Writercize for her tips on better writing and building writing muscle.  If you're looking for some great exercises to help you become a better writer, visit Alana's blog and let her be your trainer.  In this post Alana offers some suggestions on how to conquer some of the those letters that menace our successful completion of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

       There are a few select letters in the alphabet that like to taunt writers navigating the linguistic waters from A through Z. Dr. Seuss had one solution to this conundrum in his alphabetical children's books; he made up his own words like Zizzer-zazzer-zuzz.

       Since most of us have neither the illustrative talents nor the vast audience that Dr. Seuss enjoys, word creation is not likely the first choice of A to Z blogging challengers seeking to attract and sustain an audience. If I were to open a page and see a post titled xytorphian xolecites, I would probably run for the hills, thinking it was a foreign language or highly complicated medical terminology. Either way, something that would take far too much time and effort out of my blog reading time to understand!

       So, rather than cringe and avoid certain letters, cling to a dictionary in hopes of discovering inspiration or resort to nonsensical word creation, let's band together as fellow A to Z participants to brainstorm and support one another as we embrace a few pesky letters.

      Say it with me:

To the letters F, J, Q,
We are not afraid of U!
Finally, dear X and Z,
We'll find great posts for you to be.

        Yes, last year those were the six letters that attempted to elude me. X and Z are pretty obvious. I was surprised that F and J were not more cooperative, expecting more difficulty towards the end if the alphabet with W and Y, but those two stuck out like a sore thumb. Random knowledge thanks to participation in the A to Z last year!

        Before we move forward, please take a moment to bookmark this post now. Go ahead. I know how amazing, creative and cooperative readers of this blog are, so I know they (and that means you!) are going to make it a valuable resource and reference point for all the 2012 A to Z bloggers who find themselves stuck on any of the aforementioned letters.

        Good, now ... I run a blog called writercize, where I create and post a few writing exercises (hence, writercize) every week, and I have an assignment for you here today to help you and hundreds if others prepare for the challenge. Ready?

        writercize: Brainstorm words, phrases, feelings, topics, celebrities, locations, companies ... anything you can think of ... for the letters F,J,Q,U,X,Z. Pick one letter to focus on, spout out solutions to a couple or give all six a go, but please help your fellow challengers out by leaving your brainstorm in the comments section of this post.

       The goal is to have a page where anyone in the challenge can visit for inspiration or a free word when those tough letters seem ready to bare their teeth.

       I'll get you started with a few, and really look forward to seeing what you all come up with!

F: first (love, kiss, fight, discovery), flight, fox, finnicky, fear
J: juice, jiggles, jumpy, jaded, jolly
Q: quell, quit, quake, quick, quart
U: underdog, understood, underwhelmed, ugh, ubiquitous
X: xeno, x marks the spot, x-hilirated, the exes, xanax
Z: zany, zither, Zoey, zebra stripes, zoo

          Good luck to everyone with the challenge, and here's to a very prolific April in the blogosphere! Now get those brainstorms thundering!

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