IMPORTANT INFORMATION

*For the 2017 Challenge we're trying something new--no Linky List! So if you're looking for a list--stop now. For more info click on the link at the top of the sidebar on the right hand side of your page.

*Check under the comment box at the bottom of each daily letter page to find the
LOAD MORE button to get the ENTIRE list of comments! You may have to click it more than once.

*Use Control+F to bring up a search box to find participants posts. (Make sure you LOAD all comments first.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

What Works...Online Marketing Symposium


Do you ever wonder why some books become bestsellers while others can barely be given away? Why some businesses succeed and others fail?  

How does a blog post or a YouTube video manage to go viral? What does it take to reach celebrity status? Why does a person who is less intelligent than you are become the teacher's favorite and make better grades with less work?

Is it a matter of luck or is there some magic formula for success? 
   
Would you like to know what works and what doesn't?

Well, now maybe we can latch on to some of the secrets and tricks that make success happen or what we might want to avoid. We want you to tell us your stories of success (or not so successful) as we present the blogging event that will help us learn.


                                               What Works...
               The first ever "Online Marketing Symposium!"
A blogfest with information you can use.
The event happens on Monday January 20, 2014.

On event day you tell us about a marketing idea that you've used and what worked or didn't work. Your post could describe a campaign that succeeded in a big or small way or one that failed drastically. Tell us about a business campaign, an organizational event, a fundraiser – anything where a bit of promotion was necessary!

The What Works.. Marketing Symposium is not limited to authors but also to anyone in a business that has a promotional aspect – online or otherwise!

Posts can be informational, statistical, a personal experience account, or a funny marketing story. Experience gained from a promotional effort in one area can have applications in other efforts in which we are involved so anything goes as long as promotion or marketing methodology has been involved. 

The ultimate goal is to learn.

Remember – no book – no problem. Marketing and promotion principles apply to your blog, your business, any dream, or project, because we all want to win people over.

This information exchange is more than just a "blogfest"!

It's an online forum where ideas are shared and success for all is the goal.  

Does the thought of marketing and promotion scare you or turn you cold? Fear no more—let's learn together.

It's possible the blogging community can help you make that next project a viral success orthat next book a best seller!

Join our first ever Online Marketing Symposium
Monday January 20, 2014
*****
sign up below:

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Challenge Participant Feature - Roland Yeomans

This month’s Challenge Participant is the amazing author, Roland Yeomans! His theme was Words of Wisdom for Writers, something he offers on a regular basis at his blog.


Please welcome Roland in an interview like none other!




Meilori's was empty for once: everyone was out Christmas shopping. What do ghosts give one another? Don't ask. You'll sleep easier.

Alex sat opposite me, toying with his Romulan Ale.

Alex:
You know, Roland. After our "Hangover" adventure with Mark Twain, I don't touch this stuff.

Roland:
Mark wanted to show you Asgard next ... with Jamie Alexander ... as his date.

Alex (rolling his eyes):
Of course as HIS date. Your blog always offers words of wisdom. Was it hard matching letters to your topics?

Roland:
With as varied a place as Meilori's and as populated as my linked novels are, it was fun. Sort of like bobbing for ideas.

In fact, some of my literary friends fought for some topics. Some letters were challenges, of course -- like Q or X or Z. That's what makes the A to Z Challenge fun.

Alex (sipping at his Romulan Ale):
Hey! This is Ginger Ale!

Roland:
I didn't want to risk you with Loki.

Alex:
Thanks for having my back.

Roland:
This way I get to accompany Jamie Alexander to Asgard.

Alex:
Oh, it was Jamie's back you were interested in. I should have figured. Your F post was on Frost. Do you really think poetry is dead? And just how important is poetry anyway to a prose writer?

Roland:
If poetry is dead, we prose writers are in the next ward over, wheezing noisily, with our family gathered around looking concerned and asking about our DVD's.

There are about six people who buy new poetry, but they are not feeling very well. I joke, of course. But poetry is becoming a lost taste in reading. A shame really.

Ernest Hemingway said that the best writing was poetry in prose. Read some of the early Stephen King and you will see what Hemingway meant.

Alex (stiffening in his chair):
Was that Carl Jung who just strolled by?

Roland:
Yes, and we writers can learn alot from him.

Carl Jung was a “spiritual thinker” who offered Western culture a way back to religion that places no shame on being human.

He said: "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being." And isn't that what fiction is meant to do as well?

Alex:
What are some of the keys to writing success, do you think?

Roland:
Well, Mark Twain had some keys:

#1 - Write without pay until someone pays you to do it.

#2 - Don't say the old lady screamed. Drag her out on the stage and have her caterwaul herself.

#3 - Do not hoard.

Give each paragraph all the dynamite you possess. Do not save "a good bit" for later. Your reader may become bored and wander off before your novel explodes.

Alex:
Which post was your favorite and which one was the readers' favorite?

Roland:
The post I am working on is always my favorite, for everything seems possible and the only limits are my imagination and my skill -- so I constantly push myself.

The readers' favorite is WHY FRIENDSHIP? (A RETURN VISIT) See it HERE.

In this digital age, we have never been so connected, yet so alone. Yvette Vickers, star of ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, was found mummified sitting in front of her computer, having lived the last tragic days of her life, touching people only digitally.

Alex:
So tragic. But enough gloom. My favorite post was our Galactic Hangover adventure. How much fun was that for you?

Roland:
Immense fun. You got the hangover. I got the laughs. Flying through space in Ming the Merciless's space ship was a hoot. And I hope it got people to read about Gordon R Dickson's HOKA. :-)

Alex:
If you do tackle the A to Z Challenge again, what do you think might be your focus?

Roland:
The world is changing so, especially the publishing one. I might write on CHANGE.

You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past.

The only way to learn the secret of life is to press "Play."


Thank you, Roland!

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

Monday, November 11, 2013

A thru Z? The Possibilities Are Limitless!

Infinity Room
Infinity Room (Photo credit: pixeljones)
         Can you believe that in 2014 we will be celebrating year FIVE of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge!

          How will you be using A to Z to your best advantage?

           From that first year in 2010 I realized the potential of an event like the April Challenge.  It was a great way to meet new bloggers and add to followers to ones own blog.  Now after four Challenges we've seen the endless possibilities that A to Z has to offer.  Each year brings talented bloggers with innovative ideas to try as well as tried and true methods of improving content generation, reaching out to community, and bettering oneself as a blogger.  

         Among the ongoing A to Z community and the A to Z alumni, proudly displaying A to Z badges and other identifiers is a mark of achievement.   A to Z has become a blogging institution of integrity.

How has A to Z helped you?   How can you make the Challenge serve your needs?

         These are some questions we'll be exploring in the next coming months.  If you've given up on the April Challenge or have considered not doing it again in 2014, think again.  You may be overlooking some important potentials offered by the A to Z Challenge.

Want to Start a Blogging Wildfire?

          Please check out my Monday November 11 post at Tossing It Out.   You don't have to read the entire thing, but scroll down to the last section.  I'm planting some seeds of thought that I hope to start sowing more extensively in the next couple of weeks.

         Or if you'd rather just skip the Tossing It Out post and visit the post that started my thinking, then go to the post by Yolanda Renée at A Faraway View.  This post might make you think.  But this post is only a starting point for something else.   Something that will come later.  Be sure to leave Yolanda a comment about her post so we know that you were there.

         How has the A to Z Challenge helped you?   Are you looking for more readers on your blog?   Do you think there is any tried and true formula for increasing blog followers or subscribers who actually come back to read your posts?

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Science and the Supernatural: A Match Made in Heaven and Earth

As a writer of modern day Sci-fi, action, suspense, and horror I love marrying two polar opposites, while at the same time creating great conflict. I can think of no better subject than combining science with the supernatural.
Most civilizations, including advanced ones throughout history, believed there was more to this world than what the five senses could perceive and interpret. They thought there are more realms than the spatial dimensions we are confined in and limited to by our five senses. Most believed the supernatural was more real than the world they lived in.
Looking back on Greek and Roman mythology, these cultures were merely trying to understand and explain their universe they best they could. Theologians do the same today, the best they can. So do astronomers and biologists. And physicists. Which brings us to one of the simplest, beautiful, elegant, and powerful equations known to man.
E=MC2. Einstein’s famous, even cult-like, equation. The key to this expression is the equal sign. Both sides must be the same. E equals energy. MC2 is mass times the speed of light squared. To get an idea of the potential power of energy in mass, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki only released one to two percent of their inherent energy.
But what I love about this equation is energy can be converted to mass and mass right back into energy. This could very well explain angels and demons. An angel is generally understood to be a spirit being, made of pure energy, and living for the most part in a dimension above and beyond the space-time continuum we reside.
These beings can, at will if they have the authority, convert themselves into mass and manifest in our world. Then, when their work is done, convert back to energy, disappear, and move with ease back into their dimensions.

Add in a wormhole or two, and let the fun begin. Who knows what evil lurks for a human traversing a portal through space for the first time? They could punch a hole through another world and bring back an evil hitchhiker. But why stop there? Wormholes are the Pandora’s Box that gets knocked over, its unknown contents spilled across the floor and unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. Let the fun begin!
As a writer, I now have free reign to do pretty much anything I want when combining science and the supernatural. I am not confined by the scientific method or need to call my work speculative fiction. I have a license to write all kinds of crazy stuff and not care if I anger someone in the scientific world or the religious field.
Believe me, I have had both camps hound me and write terrible comments on some of my blog posts over the past five years. Why, because these conflicting viewpoints, both trying to explain our universe and our place in it the best they can, do not understand E=MC2.
What about ESP? These are senses that go beyond sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. Pentecostals will call these Gifts of the Spirit, such as discerning of spirits. Mediums claim they can talk to the dead. Others will say they can read your mind, help police find a buried body, or bend spoons. Children seeing monsters in their bedrooms at night? This may not be their imagination after all. Regardless, E=MC2 goes a long way in helping to explain our universe and our place in it. It is certainly not limited to Bunsen burners and telescopes.
So to all my writer friends, you may freely move about the cabin. Take a deep breath and know you can confidently move in any direction your story demands. You may not be writing speculative fiction. You might just be onto something far more concrete than you think.
Stephen Tremp is the author of the Breakthrough trilogy. His third book Escalation is the final installment in the series and is set for release November 2013. You can visit him at www.stephentremp.com
 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Challenge Participant Feature - Sean McLachlan, Civil War, and the Wild, Wild West!



This month’s Challenge Participant is Sean McLachlan, author, freelance writer, and traveler. Sean is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to history, and his A to Z Challenge theme was the Civil War and Wild West history. And if you think history is boring, read on…

You’ve written about Civil War history for so long – was it difficult to find topics that fit the A to Z?

Not at all! The American Civil War is such a rich topic, plus I look at the understudied area west of the Mississippi, which only now is getting the attention it deserves. As usual with my blog, I swerved off topic and talked about the Wild West and movies as well!

Did you learn anything new while composing your posts?

I learned a little while researching almost every one of my posts. That’s one of the things I love about blogging, it doubles as research to inspire my historical fiction and nonfiction.

Which letter was your favorite?

That would have to be G for Globster. See below!

Who was William S. Hart?

William S. Hart was the first Western film star, back in the silent movie era of the 1920s and 1920s. He starred in more than 70 Westerns from 1914 to 1925 and helped establish many of the tropes still used in Westerns to this day. In The Return of Draw Egan (1916) Hart favors a slight grimace and a cigarillo that looks like it inspired Clint Eastwood's The Man With No Name. I wouldn't be surprised. Hart inspired many Western actors and helped establish the genre. He was hugely successful in his day but sadly all but forgotten now.

What are Baldknobbers?

The Baldknobbers were a group of vigilantes in the Missouri Ozarks in the years after the Civil War. The Ozarks were hard hit by the war and returning Confederate soldiers found their land had been confiscated by the government and sold Unionists for failure to pay taxes. Some former rebels turned to lawlessness (like Jesse James did in western Missouri) and a group of former Union soldiers formed the Baldknobbers, so called because they’d meet on a bare hilltop (a “bald knob”) in local parlance) so they could talk without being heard.
Gunfights and lynchings became rife, with both sides losing many men in this replay of the Civil War.

You posted about Pterodactyls for P. Explain to everyone how Pterodactyls fit into Wild West history.

Pterodactyls are alive and flying over America! The old Native American legend of the Thunderbird, a giant bird, inspired many tales in the Old West of living pterodactyls. Back in 1890, the Tombstone Epitaph published a story claiming that some cowboys bagged one. Several photos have popped up since then purporting to show cowboys or Civil War soldiers proudly posing next to dead flying dinosaurs.

Continuing the weird theme, what are globsters?

Globsters are simply the cutest, cuddliest lumps of decaying flesh you’ll ever come across on the beach. Every now and then a large chunk of unidentifiable meat will wash ashore, sparking rumors of strange sea beasts. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for globsters. Perhaps it's the name, or their irresistible charm. Perhaps it's because I always root for the underdog, and you can't get much lower than being a rotting hunk of unidentifiable meat on the beach being gawked at by local yokels.

If you do the Challenge next year, what themes are you considering? 

I’ve expanded beyond the Civil War and Wild West in my blogging. While I’m keeping my blog Civil War Horror alive for those subjects, I’ve revived my old blog Midlist Writer in order to reflect my shift to other subjects in my fiction. Midlist Writer covers writing (a lot about NaNo at the moment), travel, history, photography, obscure films, globsters, and whatever else I fancy. I’m thinking the next A to Z will be a seething mass of chaos from the fevered brain of Sean McLachlan.

Thanks, Sean!

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Only On A Sunday and a Message for My Blog Friends!


On Friday "TOSSING IT OUT" posed this question and I thought about it and wanted to share more on my take, so I want you to visit there, first!

What Can Happen If a Blog Post Goes Viral?.... ...... .. ... ...a few words from someone who's been there!

I thought about this and this is the what I felt like about the whole "Where are you" in the blog community? We all wish for that one post that will bring us into the light, though it is a good light... finding our way to the top without hurting someone or getting hurt. It might be a strong "TITLE" or "SUBJECT"... maybe "TRENDING", what makes you grab attention? I would like you to really go read this post, it is a great strong important post. Much success to all of you and your quest to be heard... maybe stop over to my site, say Hello!

Jeremy

Friday, October 25, 2013

Are You Looking for Numbers on Your Blog?

Blog icon
Blog icon (Photo credit: photologue_np)

A Word from Arlee Bird

         A to Z may be about the letters, but it's also about the numbers.  That's one of the reasons we do blogfests and interact with other bloggers isn't it?   We want to get readers for our posts and more followers for our blogs.   There's nothing wrong with that, especially if our blog is used as a platform for whatever it is we are trying to promote to others.

         But what about a viral blog post?  I'm talking about a blog post that gets media attention and turns the world's attention to something you've written.    The post that gets hundreds or maybe even thousands of comments and massive numbers of views from people who would have never otherwise visited your blog.  You become a blogging celebrity for your 15 minutes of fame.   Could you handle it?  Would you want it?  What would you do if it happened?

         Odds are your blog will not achieve that status, but if you focus on top quality content that deals with current relevant issues that are of interest to many people then your odds are increased.   It can happen and has happened to some bloggers.  In a sense it's like winning the lottery.  But in the end it boils down to how do you spend your gain?

 Why These Questions Here and Now?

         If you haven't visited Tossing It Out in the last couple weeks you've been missing a somewhat interesting series that I've been presenting.  And since we've been talking about odds, my guess is odds are you haven't visited.   How do I know?  Because the numbers of my visitors have been relatively low compared to the number of A to Z bloggers out there.

          Even though numbers of visitors have been low, the quality of comments has been amazingly high.  Some of those comments are like blog posts in themselves.  There is valuable content in each post of my series especially with the comments included.  If you're interested in building and bettering your blog I encourage you to visit Tossing It Out.

The Main Current Attraction

         If you read no other post in the series I suggest you visit the post that went up today (Friday October 25, 2013).   In this post I interview Liza Long of The Anarchist Soccer Mom.  Some of you may remember when last December after the Sandy Hook school shootings Liza Long gained national attention with her post I Am Adam Lanza's Mom.   Since her viral post she's done numerous national interviews and spoken at conferences throughout the United States as an advocate for mental illness.   In 2014 she will have a book published by the Penguin Group on the same topic.  All of this the result of one of her blog posts that went viral.

         I encourage you to read the interview at my blog and then continue over to her blog for a continuation of her story.  It's an exciting blog story that might stir your imagination about what you could do and make you look at your blogging in a whole new way.

         Don't sell yourself short as a blogger.  A to Z can sharpen your blogging skills and extend your audience reach.  Maybe 2014 is when A to Z bloggers will be going viral in April.   It could happen to you!

If You're Interested in the Series:

You can start at Do You Feel Respected As a Blogger? and then follow the posts that come after that one.  Or go to the home page and start with Liza's story.    Don't forget to comment on all of the posts as I'd like to hear your thoughts.   And please share on Twitter, Facebook, and any other favorite social media sites.   

       Thanks for reading and being a part of another blogging experiment!


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Monday, October 21, 2013

Another Sighting of The Vanished Knight with Misha Gericke


       Hey all! I’m pretty sure at least some of you have seen me and my book around on some of your favorite blogs, but today I thought I’d introduce you to two of the guys featured in The Vanished Knight. 

        Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you, Darrion and Gawain.

Gawain: Hi. *Darts an amused glance Darrion’s way before strapping off his sword and sitting down.*
Darrion: *crosses arms* Should have asked Callan.
Me: But I wanted to intro you two, since all the other posts have focused on the others, if we came to characterization at all.
Darrion: Oh I don’t know… *checks with Gawain* “I love writing scenes where Darrion’s arguing with anyone”, she said.
Gawain: *Nods, eyes dancing* Yes and…
Me: *Didn’t think they’d actually read my interviews.* I’m sure it doesn’t matter. How about we discuss –
Gawain: “There’s something delicious about pushing him to the edge.”
Darrion: *Raises an eyebrow at me.* De…licious?
Me: Uh….
Gawain: *Chortles, failing to cover it up with coughs*
Darrion: Of all the things you chose to refer to me as, you picked delicious?
Gawain: All the girls at Grayston Academy think you delicious too.
Me: … Not what I meant.
Darrion: *Eyebrow raises a fraction more* No?
Me: …. About Callan.
Darrion: *Scowls* Really?
Gawain: Well played. *Sits forward, watching Darrion.*
Darrion: *loooooooooong siiiiiiigh* What about her?
Gawain: You really don’t like her?
Darrion: Haven’t we covered this before? No. No I don’t. And she doesn’t like me either.
Me: She probably would if you stopped being an ass every time you’re near her.
Darrion: But I won’t, so the point is moot.
Gawain and me: *sigh*
Darrion: Still can’t believe you called me delicious in front of Tree knows how many people.
Me: I didn’t! I basically said I enjoy torturing you… *thinks* Uh…
Gawain: Yeah mo chrie. That came out very wrong.
Darrion: *Grins despite himself*
Me: *covers face, can’t help laughing at herself and them* Sorry… Yeah I meant…
Darrion: *goes over and pats my shoulder* Give it a rest, love, before we need shovels to get you out.
Me: Right… So about Callan…
Darrion: *pretends to be startled* Oh look. Time’s up.
Me: … oh.
Gawain: He’s been doing the same thing over and over again.
Darrion: *half smiles and steals a kiss to my cheek before heading out* Seeya later. And get writing!
Me: That wasn’t all that illuminating.
Gawain: Oh I disagree. *grins* Got to know you a lot better, didn’t I?
Me: Oh go on scamp! *chuckles*
Gawain: *laughs and heads out after Darrion* Hey! Maybe we should do these get-togethers for the A-to-Z Challenge next year. It’s fun!
Me: We’ll see!

       There you have it people, a few moments of life with the Nordian boys. And yes, they’re a lot like this to me when I write them too… Anyone else have characters constantly surprising and defying you as you write?


Blurb:
Since the death of her parents, Callan Blair has been shunted from one foster family to another, her dangerous secret forcing the move each time. Her latest foster family quickly ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in the Cumbrian countryside. While her foster-brother James makes it his mission to get Callan expelled, a nearby ancient castle holds the secret doorway to another land...

When Callan is forced through the doorway, she finds herself in the magical continent of Tardith, where she’s shocked to learn her schoolmates Gawain and Darrion are respected soldiers in service to the king of Nordaine, one of Tardith's realms. More than that, the two are potential heirs to the Black Knight—Nordaine's crown prince.

But when the Black Knight fails to return from a mysterious trip, the realm teeters on the brink of war. Darrion and Gawain set out to find him, while Callan discovers there is more to her family history than she thought. The elves are claiming she is their princess.

Now with Darrion growing ever more antagonistic and her friendship with Gawain blossoming, Callan must decide whether to stay in Nordaine—where her secret grows ever more threatening—or go to the elves and uncover the truth about her family before war sets the realms afire.

Bio
M. Gerrick (AKA Misha Gericke) has basically created stories since before she could write. Many of those stories grew up with her and can be seen in her current projects.
She lives close to Cape Town, with a view over False Bay and Table Mountain.
If you’d like to contact her, feel free to mail her at warofsixcrowns(AT)gmail(DOT)com, Circle her on Google Plus or follow her on Twitter. If you'd like to see her writer-side (beware, it's pretty insane), please feel free to check out her blogYou can also add The Vanished Knight on Goodreads.


Links



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Monday, October 14, 2013

Are You Getting Ready for A to Z 2014?

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris
The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         When the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge isn't consuming nearly my every thought, it at least lurks in the shadows at the back of my mind.   I keep thinking about what's coming in 2014.  How many bloggers will sign up?    Who will be on the A to Z Team?   Will we find enough good folks to assist the team?   What will I be blogging about in April?

         Have you thought of a theme for your 2014 A to Z entries?   That is if you're going with a theme.  You might be just going random, which there's certainly nothing wrong with that.   Many participants fly through April by the seat of their pants and have a grand time doing it.  There's no right or wrong way to go with how you want to do the A to Z Challenge.

        Personally, I've found going with a theme easier to work with especially if I enter more than one blog as I have done in the past couple years.  It may seem superfluous, but I feel like I'd be neglecting my other blogs if any of them weren't part of the April Challenge.  I don't know for sure if I'll keep all four of my blogs busy that month.  It is a lot of work.  But it's also been worth the work I've put into doing it that way.

        Just the other day, the theme came for my main blog Tossing It Out.   I won't be revealing the theme until right before the Challenge begins but I just wanted to mention that I've started the planning for April for that blog and am beginning to organize the daily posts.   I've heard that others have also already started into preparing their posts for April.  How about you?   Have you started yet?  Are you still trying to decide what you want to do?   Or are you just going to improvise when April comes?

        No matter which way you go, have a good time with it!

        Please visit my post at Tossing It Out and leave a comment.  I'm doing some information gathering and would like as many opinions, suggestions, and insightful information that I can find.  I will be presenting my findings in an upcoming post on that blog.

        Thanks!
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