Friday, June 29, 2012

Letter Play - How to Make a TV Picture Frame

The following tutorial is brought to you by Nicole from The Madlab Post...

It’s time for Letter Play - Where DIY activities, cinema and life offline collide!

Sometime in the last two weeks or so, I came across an adorable handmade birthday card that was inspired by Twitter. The popular social networking website was to become the topic of today’s post but my Twitter craft ideas were too complex to finish in a short amount of time as my schedule and goals continue to get the best of me. Since, my friend David gave me some photos to use in a YouTube/Television series that I’m currently working on, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and construct a DIY picture frame - a handmade item that could be done quickly with just a few household arts and crafts items.

Here are instructions on how to make a TV picture frame for your home, office cubicle, school locker, car dashboard, bookshelf or any other place where you want to display new photos.

Materials used for this TV picture frame:
  • Two Black 3x3 inch cardstock squares - One solid and one open square, cut into a sizeable border.
  • One 3x3 inch photo
  • Two thin strips of black cardstock (to be used as antennas)
  • One small strip of yellow cardstock (to be used as a VCR/DVD player)
  • Glue
  • One pen
  • Scissors
  • Two brads
  • One sponge or paint brush
  • One small piece of cardboard from the top of an aluminum foil box* or similar item. (*Optional)
Instructions to make this handmade TV picture frame:
Step 1. Glue the black “antenna” strips in the middle of your solid black square.

Step 2. Attach the photo to the solid square, on top of the antenna strips, using glue. Set aside to dry.

Step 3. Glue the yellow “DVD player” strip onto the bottom center of your open square.

Step 4. Poke holes into the upper right side of your open square, using a pen.

Step 5. Put one brad through each hole on the open square and then fasten them on the opposite side.

Step 6. Glue the open square on top of the solid photo base, press down and allow to dry.

Step 7. Fold a small piece of cardboard and then attach half of it to the back of your finished TV photo frame, using double-sided tape. As an alternative, you can also use magnetic squares or strips if you want to display the photo on a refrigerator or other magnetic surface. 

Additional options for using this DIY handmade photo frame as a stand-alone item include placing it on top of your dresser, window base, mantel or coffee table. Enjoy!

Do you like group blogging activities? Sign up for the Monday Movie Meme, a weekly blog series that inspires discussion about entertainment, in a whole new light and provides recommendations for your DVD, on-demand or theater fix. New topics are posted every Monday!

Blog: The Madlab Post
Also @MadlabPost on Twitter

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Special Challenge Participant Feature – Jamie at Mithril Wisdom!

One of the highlights of the A to Z Challenge included visiting Jamie Gibbs at Mithril Wisdom every day. A fantasy and metal dude, Jamie’s theme just rocked! So I asked him to join us today and give us a little insight…

Your Challenge theme involved fantasy and metal music. (Which I thought was wicked cool.) What made you merge the two together?

I've been listening to power and folk metal since I was 17, and it's given me a lost of inspiration in my writing. There's a whole lot of imagery in the music of that genre that other musical styles can't reach, but it's pretty niche and doesn't get a whole lot of recognition. It's very similar to fantasy as a literary genre - it tends to get sneered at by 'more established' genres but it's got such huge potential in terms of imagery and imagination.

Which song and band comprised your favorite post?

Ooo, don't make me choose! *quickly rilfes through A-Z posts*. That's a really hard one to nail down. I'm going to go for my M is for Mithril post (before anyone says anything, my blog's name did not influence the decision at all). The song is Durnir's Forge by Dragonland. The song itself is pretty badass (a hero venturing into the bowels of a dwarf fortress to gain the help of the dwarf king in order to overthrow an evil tyrant? What's not to love) but the entire album is amazing.

What usually grips me most of all about these kinds of albums is that I can perfectly imagine them being performed on the stage, like a rock opera/heavy metal musical. That's when you know you've struck gold, and this album Under the Grey Banner has all those qualities.

You mentioned science fiction once or twice – think you might want to tackle science fiction and metal music next year?

Sci-fi would be pretty sweet; there's definitely a good number of sci-fi inspired power metal songs out there (like one called Ironhead about an alien cowboy robot. It can get pretty crazy). The genre can go to some pretty dark places though, so maybe a sci-fi/horror theme is on the cards. People seemed to get a kick out of the fantasy songs, so it's possible!

You’re a D&D geek, aren’t you? Favorite type of character to play?

Oh boy, I suppose this is confession time. I've never actually played D&D. I played the kids version years ago, but real D&D I've never touched. I've always wanted to try it out, and I'm a big Warhammer geek as a way of compensating. Right now, though, Skyrim is taking up most of my life. I tend to opt for assassins when I play video games and mages in any other kind of RPG. Hurling fireballs at unsuspecting folk is definitely the way to go.

What do you blog about the other eleven months of the year?

I do my best to whittle down the massive pile of books on my to be read shelf, and I like to share the things I find online that tickle my geek bones. I've recently started writing fiction again, so expect to see more of that and some writing tips and tricks I find along the way.

You studied Egyptology in college. Any interesting stories? Find any mummies?

There's a long story involving beer, a jacuzzi, grenades, a 7 day ban from Egypt and a schizophrenic geologist, but I don't want to bore the readers with that. I didn't find any mummies, sadly, but I did help uncover a burial chamber in Luxor. I was lucky enough to be part of the team that helped excavate the tomb at the time (and my camera was the only one to hand when they broke in, so I got all the photos!) Getting into the burial chamber did involve belly crawling through a narrow gap filled with limestone chips and a 40 foot drop on the ricketiest ladder known to humankind. It was totally worth it, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

You’re engaged – does the future Mrs. Jamie Gibbs like fantasy and metal music?

Not as much as I'd like :) She's much more eclectic than me when it comes to music so she's more tolerant of my musical tastes than I am of hers. She's just as big a geek as I am, though, and almost as big a fantasy fan too (I'm hoping she's not reading this!). She takes more from the music side of things than the imagery, so I need to wear her down a little more before she likes some of the weird bands I show her.

Jamie, you rock!

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex is the author of CassaStar and CassaFire and his blog can be found HERE

Monday, June 25, 2012

Call Attention to Your Blog or Get the Promotion You Need

Be My Guest   

        You may have often heard that guest posting is a great way to bring more readers to your blog.  It's a tactic that can work well.   As a guest blogger you can reach readers who might not have heard of your blog before.  You can even venture off into topics that you might not normally cover on your own blog.  Guest blogging is an effective way to hone your writing chops and to step out beyond your own blogging community to tap into a larger one.

           Blog tours and guest promotional posts are standard procedure for many bloggers who have something they want to spread the word about.   Many authors take advantage of guest blogging to pitch new book releases.  You have probably even seen guest bloggers trying to draw attention to favorite charities and causes.  When you've got something that you want to tell others about, you should take advantage of every outlet that is available to you.

            Some of you may be too shy or uncertain of yourself to ask other bloggers if you can be a guest on their blogs.   If what you've got to say is important enough to you then maybe it's time to step out of that comfort zone of your own blog and speak out on some other blogs.   Now's your opportunity.   There are blogs looking for your guest posts.

Guest posting opportunities await!

           Tossing It Out  -- This summer and into September I will be hosting guest bloggers during my Hijack This Blog! campaign.  Click here for details.   Click here for schedule and application.

            Wrote By Rote  -- I look for guest bloggers year round on my memoir blog that publishes every Saturday.  Posts remain at the top of the page for an entire week to give your guest post maximum exposure. I'm interested in memoir writing or helpful articles about writing memoirs.

            A Faraway View -- One of the most unique writing opportunities comes on my dream blog A Faraway View.  This blog also publishes only once a week so posts stay current for the entire week following posting.  Anything about dreams is welcomed.   Topics that have yet to be covered are non-psychological dream interpretation, dreams as prophecy, and dreams as related to literature.  Any other topics are certainly welcomed.  Dream study is a fascinating field and it's fun to write about.   Tell us about your dreams or dream experiences.

           Blogging from A to Z Blog --  We are always receptive to guest posts on this blog you are visiting now.   We are interested in all topics here.  Priority is given to those who have been past A to Z participants, but anyone is welcomed as well.   Posts can be about the A to Z Challenge, blogging, writing, or just about anything else you want to write about.  Go to the "Contact Us" page by clicking the tab at the top of the page and send us an email or leave a comment on this post and we'll set you up.

             Kid Lit Reviews -- Sue is having to take a blogging break due to health problems and she's looking for guest bloggers for a while.  She could use some help or at least a word of encouragement.  Go to her site for complete information.

        So there you have it.  Some great blogging opportunities are right there for you to step up and claim as your own.  My Hijack This Blog! campaign has been a tremendous success so far with several bloggers trying guest posting for the first time.  Try it--you'll have a good time and should make a few new blogging friends.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Alphabet Remix - Time is Ticking

These A to Z Challenge blogging ideas are brought to you by Nicole from The Madlab Post...

It’s time for The Alphabet Remix - A Writing Prompt Idea Engine Treating A to Z Blogging Avoidance Disorders

TIME tends to be a popular subject during the A to Z Challenge, and no, I’m not referring to TIME magazine -- although you can write about that publication if you struggle with finding topics for Letter T in April. From Time Management tips at Tossing It Out to Time Traveling at Vive le Nerd and It’s Raining Blue Umbrellas, blog posts highlighting the way people spend their time is one trend in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge that some of you might want to write about, yet avoid doing so, in an effort to not cause visitors to think “been there, read that!” when visiting your blog.

So, here are some additional blogging ideas about TIME to consider for Letter T the next time you find yourself reluctant to chase the clock because you don’t want to look like a one-trick pony or like you're following in the shadows of bloggers who already wrote about it.

Timeless Phrases

Blog about phrases that have the word TIME in them such as “Time is of the essence,” “In the nick of Time” etc. and what they mean to you in various situations such as shopping, work, dating, road rage, exercising, aging or any other subject where this phrase may apply. Another possible approach is to blog about whether you think a certain TIME related phrase is logical or illogical. A phrase like “Time-Sensitive” creates a sense of urgency for many people, however, you could share your opinions on when the use of this phrase is valid and when it is not. For example - 9-1-1 calls are time-sensitive conversations versus rushing your roommate off of the phone so that you can tell your boyfriend/girlfriend about the semi-annual sale at Victoria’s Secret.


There are many directions that you can go in when blogging about timelines. If you’re on Facebook, then write a blog post about whether you are in favor of (or against or indifferent to) the timeline feature that they launched on that website. You could also track your journey through your experience in weight loss, graduating from college, healing after divorce or hardship, renovating your house, restoring an old building or raising a kid, etc. by posting photos and dates representing each milestone moment or depicting your progress. Show readers how you got from where you started to where you are now, no matter if it took a long TIME or short amount of TIME.


Consider a point in your life when the phrase “Timing is everything” had an impact on you and then blog about that experience. This could encompass almost anything such as wanting to end a relationship with someone but deciding to wait (or not wait) until after a holiday, birthday, surgery, etc. to do so -- or realizing that despite being 20 minutes late to work due to traffic, you missed a dangerous police shootout and hostage situation that occurred 30 minutes earlier, in the building where your job is located -- or calling the radio station one more time before giving up after five tries, and the sixth call led to you winning those Bruce Springsteen tickets.

No matter what the case may be or how a situation was (or is) presented, if you had a feeling that timing IS everything at one time or another in your life, then blog about it.

Guess can still also blog about TIME MANAGEMENT by remixing the topic into the following subject: Write a blog post that describes your position on texting with regards to managing time. While many people think texting is a particular convenient cell phone feature, you can blog about why you agree or disagree, in comparison to voice calls.

Yep, you guessed it, TIME TRAVELING is open for A to Z Blogging business as well, when you consider a different way to look at the topic: Blog about what you would tell your 16 year-old self if about dieting, smoking, bullying, drinking, sex, school, competition, etc. if you could travel back in time to your teenage years. Want to get a little adventurous? Ask the same question to three friends or family members who are 10-20 years apart in age...and then list your three responses in a blog post. This option could also work for Letter G on the subject of Generational Gaps, but you get the picture!
Now for some Friday Fun Time housekeeping, the winner of last week’s Alphabet Soup game is....

Tina Downey at Life is Good

This is Tina’s second win in a row, so her Alphabet Wizard status continues with a prize package that includes: the choice of letter to be covered in the next Alphabet Soup game and the option of selecting the topic* for my next Monday Movie Meme (*Must be a topic/theme that has not been previously covered). She unscrambled all eight Theatrical Title Twisters correctly.

Here are the answers from last week:

1. The Terminator
2. Transformers
3. The Transporter
4. Trainspotting
5. Tangled
6. Takers
7. Tropic Thunder
8. Trois

Congratulations to Tina and may you all have a great weekend!

Need some extra blogging motivation? Sign up for the Monday Movie Meme, a weekly writing and memory activity that will have you thinking about movies in a whole new light. New topics are posted every Monday!
Blog: The Madlab Post
Also @MadlabPost on Twitter

Thursday, June 21, 2012

E=MC2 ... Let's Have Little Fun!

Hi everyone, and thanks for stopping by the Official A to Z Challenge Website. My name is Stephen Tremp and I post here every 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month with something fun, different, and exciting in the world of science.

Today I thought we’d have a little fun with a Mass to Energy Calculator and get a peek into Einstein’s famous equation E=mc². According to Einstein's Theory of Relativity, matter and energy are simply different forms of the same thing. Energy can be turned into matter, and matter back into energy. Pretty cool stuff. But wait, there's more!

Energy is equal to matter times the speed of light squared. We don't have space to go into what this means, but think that multiplying a small unit of mass by 186,000 miles a second or 700 million miles an hour. It doesn't take an Einstein to make the connection this is a very powerful number.

Example: If you consider all the energy in the full kilogram of water, which contains hydrogen and oxygen atoms, Einstein's formula tells us the amount of energy this mass would be equivalent to is the total energy close to 10 million gallons of gasoline. Now that's a lot of energy!

Fun Facts: Check out this Mass To Energy Calculator (you’ll have to scroll down a bit) to show the amount of energy if a particular quantity of matter were completely converted to energy. For example, one pound of mass has the potential to release almost 10 megatons of TNT. 100 pounds = 974 megatons of TNT (a megaton is one million tons).

Take a few moments and plug is some numbers. You can quickly begin to see the awesome and amazing power available in our world.

Question: Should we pursue methods to convert mass to energy more efficiently (current methods are coal, oil, nuclear plants)? Or do recent events in Japan tell us we should proceed with caution or stop for a while?

If you feel this blog is worthy, please select the appropriate icon below such as Twitter. And as always, thanks for stopping by and supporting the A to Z Challenge Website throughout the year!

Stephen Tremp, author of BREAKTHROUGH and OPENING, blogs at Breakthrough Blogs. Stop by and say hello. And feel free to Tweet this post if you think it is worthy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Post A-to-Z Road Trip Check-in (Rest Stop)

Hello out there in Blog-Land!  Hopefully, everyone has recovered in full from the A-to-Z Challenge and is busy enjoying their summer (or winter, for those of you in the southern hemisphere).  

We're well aware that summer is a busy time, so the Post A-to-Z Road Trip is meant to be nice and laid back.  We're a couple weeks in, though, so how about a quick check-in to see if anyone's making any progress?  Even if you've visited one blog, that's progress!  Everyone's got to stop at a rest stop on a road trip, so this is rest stop number one.  Time to kick the tires, check the oil and clean those bugs off the windshield.

I'm not going to lie.  I'm still trying to catch up with the comments on my blog.  School's out, my kids are home, and we are keeping busy, which is wonderful.  Also, I started a new novel!  Yay!  On top of that, Tina and I are both participating in BuNoWriMo (thus starting a new novel!)  So I am, admittedly, busy, and I know I'm not the only one.  I have gotten through a couple blogs when I've had a little bit of time here or there, and I'm still delighted with new blogs I'm finding.  However, it's a slow process.

So...check in!  Let us know if you've been road tripping.  Have you discovered any blogs you'd like to share?  Feel free to do so in the comments.  Also, we'd love to hear how June is treating you.  Anything interesting or fun to report?  Any big plans? 

Now pass me another pina colada and the map; I need to figure out where I'm heading to next.

Your Post A-to-Z Road Trip Hostesses,

Shannon L.
The Warrior Muse


Tina D.
Life is Good

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Art of Seeing the Invisible

Badge design by Ada Z from
         I had intended to go into depth about my proposal presented in last week's post, but have since decided to put this on hold.  There were so many wildly varying interpretations in the comments and from input I received elsewhere that I came to some realizations that I won't explain at this time.   I thank all of you who provided input in last week's comment section and a special thanks to those who answered my request for some evaluation of what they thought was going on in last week's post and the ensuing comments.

        As I mentioned in one of my comment replies, I will present a simplified outline of my proposal to see if that offers any clarification.

Here is the process as I envision it:

  • Simple registration for screening and classification purposes.
  • Registrants are collected into one master list through which all screened links can be accessed.
  • Sub-lists that are derived from master list and divided into categories will appear in separate locations for those who prefer more definition in what blogs are.
  • Due to the better organization, list can be accessed according to alphabetical, topical, audience rating, and other methods of approach.
        Some of you felt that my suggested method would create too much work for the administrators.  There were also mentions related to the complexity of maintaining multiple lists.   The point of my proposal is to address these concerns.   The primary work would be programming the system that would automatically administer the list.   Once the system were in place the list, the categorization, the screening, and the cleaning would mostly manage itself if done correctly, with minimal overseeing by administrators.  My goal is more efficiency, greater ease of use, and less maintenance.

        That's my vision at least.   I think some of you saw what I was seeing or something near to it.   It's something that will require more thought.   I continue to be open to questions and suggestions.  Ideas?

"Create your future from your future, not your past.”

— Werner Erhard

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Alphabet Soup - Theatrical Title Twisters

This post is brought to you by Nicole from The Madlab Post...

It’s time for Alphabet Soup - The Word Scramble Puzzle of A to Z Wizards!

Did you know? - Although thousands of movies are made each year, many of them are never shown in a public theater before being exhibited on television or other entertainment platforms. The black-and-white romance film “For Lovers Only” was released on iTunes and VOD cable; Disney’s animated film “The Return of Jafar” was a direct-to-video release as opposed to “Aladdin,” earned over $500 million in box office revenue worldwide.

So today, T is for Theatrical Titles -- let’s play!

Unscramble the following titles of movies starting with Letter T that received a theatrical release. The first commenter who has unscrambled all of them, or who has unscrambled the most at best, wins this week’s Alphabet Soup game. Answers and the name of the winner will be posted here at the A to Z blog during next week’s “Friday Fun Time.” 

eT toinTrehrma


reanpotrTsr The




odineu TrrcThp


Tina at Life is Good currently leads as the Alphabet Wizard, based on her win from the previous Jumbled Jungle of Js word scramble. Will any of you succeed in topping her unscrambling wizardry this weekend? We shall find out!

Need some extra blogging motivation? Sign up for the Monday Movie Meme, a weekly writing and memory activity that will have you thinking about movies in a whole new light. New topics are posted every Monday!

Read The Madlab Post.
Find/Follow/RT @MadlabPost on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Special Challenge Participant Feature – Stormy the Weather Gnome!

During the Challenge, Stormy took us on a hilarious adventure. (For those who missed it, go visit Heather Gardner’s site, The Waiting is the Hardest Part.) I wanted to find out more about Gnome behind the Indiana Jones outfit and asked Stormy to join us here today!

Stormy, tell us what you did for the A to Z Challenge?

Well, Alex, let me first just say thanks for having me today.

I mostly just took others on a tour of my daily life. I travel extensively and have a very exciting lifestyle. I just wanted to share what it’s like to, you know, be me.

What was your favorite adventure?

It’s really a toss-up between climbing the Matterhorn and being a guest on Survivor. I certainly am a lucky gnome to experience any of my adventures.

You went on a date during the Challenge that didn’t go well. Who will you ask out next?

Yeah. If anyone knows anything about restraining orders please send me an email.

I’m actually interested in asking out this gargoyle I met. She’s not the prettiest or the most talkative but she doesn’t have a trunk load of emotional baggage either, if you know what I mean.

How do you know so much about the weather?

Like any weather gnome worth his salt, I graduated from the International Weather Institute. Actually I’m joking, there’s no such place.

I just stand outside in the weather a lot and you get to be familiar with things after a while.

Ever suffered from foot fungus, mold, or moss?

Who told you about the moss? It’s no big deal really. Some ointment and a little oil based paint and it’ll clear right up.

What did you think of the movie Gnomeo and Juliet?

To be honest, I haven’t seen it. There was this huge, you know, Union thing with the gnomes and the movie studio. It was like a hot mess.

What character would you like to be in a movie?

I don’t think there’s doubt in anyone’s mind that I could be the next 007.

What was your scariest moment?

To be honest, it was trying to tame all those tigers. When that rare gray & white tiger attacked I thought I was a gnoner!

What was one adventure you didn’t get to complete for the A to Z Challenge?

I really wanted to go surfing. Catch a wave. Hang two. It would have been a blast.

Will you participate in the A to Z Challenge again?

I might. I could come up with Stormy’s Bucket List and do all the things I haven’t tried yet. Ride a Harley. Jump from an airplane. Kiss a girl gnome.

What’s next for Stormy?

Really, I’m just waiting and hoping for that next big weather event. Maybe I’ll head out west and chase a storm or two. Maybe take a walk on the wild side and catch up with El Nino and La Nina! Or maybe, I’ll just take a nap!

Thanks, Stormy! Be sure to visit Stormy and Heather at The Waiting is the Hardest Part.
Co-host Ninja Captain Alex is the author of CassaStar and CassaFire and his blog can be found HERE

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guest Poster Susan Kane

It's my pleasure to introduce today's guest poster, Susan Kane who blogs at thecontemplativecat

I love her tagline:
One who observes and thinks about one has seen, what has passed my way, what greater meaning lies behind and beneath life's small events.

Today she'll be sharing her take on what makes good writing.

The pieces matter. The pieces are what combine to make a whole.

This seems simplistic, I know, but this sums up my approach to everything. Paying attention to the details of life, art, writing, quilting, relationships—those pieces or details change everything.

When I was teaching third and fourth graders about writing, convincing them to focus on the pieces of an experience was next to impossible. Write about the best thing you got to do? Your favorite day? The best birthday ever? *Sigh*

Every story was a bed-to-bed story in which the student got up, went to Disneyland, ate pizza, and came home (to bed). Blah. That was it. It took months to work through the clock and write about an event that lasted five minutes. Only five minutes.

The most successful write was after we had gone on a field trip to the butterfly exhibit at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. It was a domed tropical habitat filled with plants, water streams, and freshly-hatched butterflies.

Students wrote about the awe they experienced when an amazing tropical butterfly landed on their hands. Still, they stood so still watched the splendor of this fragile creation. Then they understood what it meant to write about just those minutes when they experienced beauty in such a form.

As a life-long writer, I have learned that it is the minutes that make up our lives, not the broad sweeping strokes of time.

I have learned that longer is not necessarily the best writing. Slash that adjective! Burn that adverb! Modifying progressive verb phrases? Fewer are better… Long hefty paragraphs are weary. I stop paying attention midway. Elaborate metaphors are tiring.

Now I write in pieces with the goal of combining to make a whole. But, man! I make those pieces sing. Make them dance. Paint them with vivid senses.

After that, I pray that the reader experiences the joy I felt in the writing.

Just a quick reminder from the guest post scheduler, we are still accepting guest posts. This is your chance to use this blog with a nice following to showcase your blog and what you're all about. Email me directly (see email addresses under the contact tab) if you're interested.

Monday, June 11, 2012

An Improvement or Not? The On-Going Debate

          Today's A to Z Challenge analysis comes to you from Arlee Bird:

A to Z Badge by Ada Z from

 Where We've Been So Far

          We've been listening to your thoughts about the Challenge and mulling over some of our own.    I'm sure the debate will continue.   Over the past few weeks on this A to Z Blog I've been taking a look at the good and the bad of the A to Z Challenge.   I also asked for your thoughts on the misunderstood and somewhat neglected A to Z Video Contest.   If anyone reading this post today missed any of those three evaluation posts, I hope you will go back and check them out.  I also hope that everyone checked out the excellent comments on those posts to get a better perspective of what others thought.

 The Biggest Problem That We Can Control

          The general response to the A to Z Challenge is positive.  But as with anything involving so many people with so many different ways of approaching things, problems do arise.  For the nuisances such as CAPTCHA, blog platform incompatibility  (such as WordPress versus Blogger), bloggers who don't reciprocate with visits and comments, and other negatives that rest on individual bloggers or internet specific sources, there is probably not much we can do.

          However, there is one problem that seemed to be cited more than any other--THE MONSTER LIST! Repeatedly participants have cited that the list was intimidating and too massive to tackle.  Our suggestion of visiting at least five blogs a day starting on the list with the blog following yours was heeded by some and worked well for many of those who tried this method.    But this was not favored by everyone.

           Here are some of the problems that were cited about the big list as it was:

  • Too much time wasted on blogs that were not participating or had quit.
  • Didn't like finding advertising blogs and blogs too heavy on self-promo.
  • The overwhelming numbers mean it is just not possible to visit everyone for those of us with limited time.
  • Encountering blogs with offensive subject matter.
  • Don't have time to keep visiting blogs in which I have no interest.
  • Would prefer to just visit blogs in my interest range.

           On the other hand, many of you love the big random list.  It provides an element of surprise and allows you to discover excellent blogs that you might normally not visit.  The large blind list provides an adventure that is part of what makes the A to Z Challenge to exciting and rewarding.

          I will admit that I like the big list as well, but as a co-host I realize how much work is involved in maintaining a list such as the one we have been using.  There are two sides to this story so how do we find a solution that can please everyone?   I believe that I have one that will come close if not completely appease all camps.

My Suggested Solution

        The plan that I have would require special programming and possibly a separate web site--I don't know that it can be done on Blogger or any other blog hosting site.  I don't have specific details on how to achieve this but I'm going to lay out the general concept to get some feedback from you readers.

         The sign up process would be a bit more complex than merely adding a link to a Linky List.  There would be a screening process that would verify email addresses and blog links which would start us off with a clean list with no broken links that might have to be fixed later and would possibly eliminate more of the spam blogs.  

          As a part of the screening process entrants would be required to choose a category or categories in which their blog would be placed with a designated limit decided beforehand.  Blogs (such as my own eclectic site Tossing It Out ) could be listed in multiple category lists    Possibly some of the categories such as writing could even be broken down into subcategories.  We could also possibly add a rating system such as the kind done for movies and television.

         A screening registration process might even allow for information (probably optional) such as location (as was suggested by one of the British bloggers), blogging platform, blogging experience, interests, or what have you.   Information of this nature might help bloggers with common goals and interests to meet up and connect.    The NaNoWriMo site offers this sort of thing and participants in that event even have regional meet-ups.  As A to Z grows, we might be able to do similar things.   It might be fun for those who are interested to meet up in a local coffee shop or the like to share blogging help and camaraderie.

       After the initial screening registration process the blog links would go first into a master list where all the blog links are listed blindly as they are in the Linky List.   This list would appear on a main page.   Separate pages would contain the lists of the different categories.  This could be as vast and intricate as we cared to make it, but the final outcome would be that we would have a number of lists that would pertain to more specific things that would help those with limited time or patience to deal with the larger list.

         In essence we'd have a random list for those who like the big list and simpler lists for those who like that idea better.   And for those who really like the element of randomness we could always include the popular "Surprise Me" button that Marcus Clearspring developed for us.

        What we would probably lose in doing this central list would be the mobility that we have with a Blog Hop list.  The list would probably be confined to only one site, although it's probable that we could have the capacity to register on any co-host site if that were desirable.   My feeling is that a link list in one location is probably better anyway since as it gets bigger most of you probably would not be using it on your own blog.

         I can see many other advantages of doing the list as I have suggested, but for now I'll leave you with this initial presentation.   Let me emphasize that the registration would require only basic information needed to place you on the list.  In other words, we wouldn't be asking for extreme personal data and we wouldn't be collecting data.   The sole purpose would be to find you placement on the list and make sure as best we can that you are a legitimate blogger who is serious about participation in the Challenge.

          Now I open this up to you.  Do you think this sounds like a reasonable solution?  Would you have a problem with a simple registration process if it meant achieving what I've described here?   Do you see any possible flaws with what I've described?   What are some of your suggestions?
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