Monday, September 30, 2013

Road Trip Pit Stop - Time to Refuel Your A-to-Z Engine!

Beep, Beep! Who else is still awake on this alphabet route? 

Photo by Little Peppercorn
After running low on gas and making multiple pit stops, I nearly fell asleep at the wheel. Good thing I have two partners – Tina Downey at Life is Good and Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse to share in the driving duties as we move along through the A-to-Z Challenge list, stopping by the blogs we missed in April, to pay them a visit before the next challenge rolls around. Although I put the car on cruise control, I did manage to read more A-to-Z Reflections posts and visit some blogs located in the first half of the sign-up list.

During my visits, I found that some people either stopped blogging after the challenge or kept new blog posts coming sporadically until early-to-mid Summer. Still, the last posts that were published on these blogs were worth a looksee. I also came across some places on the list with blog posts that were cool to read, yet, difficult to leave a comment on. For those of you who are still on this Road Trip with Tina, Shannon and I, this is likely not a surprise, as you’ve probably encountered similar situations during your blog visits. 

When I started this road trip, I planned to visit at least five blogs per day, keeping in tune with the recommended visits of the April challenge. Now, I’ve reduced that number to one blog per day. I figure that way, it will be much easier to fit a visit to a new blog into my schedule – and – if I encounter non-active blogs or blog posts where leaving a comment feels like I’m participating in some type of three ring circus with no instructions, my Road Trip efforts are still time well spent.

Photo by Hayley Bouchard
As co-host, I want to try to also make sure that your time is also well spent, so in the name of efficient fun, here is some roadside assistance to stay on course if you find yourself running low on gas or hit something on the road that caused a flat in your tires at this stretch of our Post A-to-Z Adventure. 

Now, I’m no Allstate or AAA, but these blog visiting methods can be especially useful if you’re taking the one-and-done approach, or a similar one, that I’m using for the A-to-Z Road Trip.

Pick a Number – Think of a number…any number during your day and then visit the blog on the list that corresponds with this particular number.  You could also make this a theme and visit all of the blogs that fall under a specific area of the number table such as every hundredth or so (102, 202, 302, 402 and so on).

Heads or Tails? – Visit a blog that is among the low numbers (1-100) on the sign-up list and then visit another blog that is among the high numbers (101-500 and up) on the list. The number range doesn’t matter…you determine what is considered “low” and what is considered “high” just so long as two blogs on both ends of the list get a visitor today (or tomorrow or whenever you’re doing your A-to-Z Road Trip visits).

Hit the Reflections – If you haven’t read all of the 2013 A-to-Z Reflections posts, visit blogs on that list. That way, you’ll know that the blogs you’re visiting are run by people who finished the challenge – or at least attempted to complete it.

Funny Names – Scroll through the signup list and visit blogs with names that either make you laugh or fill you with curiosity. These are usually the types of blogs where, at first glance, you have no idea what the topic or theme of the blog is about such as Big Girl Panties (#264 on the list), Buttered Toast Rocks! (#365) or Cabin Goddess (#432).

Photo by Zach Dischner
It’s all about making it fun. If we make this road trip as simple and as fun as possible, we’ll have enough gas to keep our cars steady and well maintained…at least until the next Check-in. Now, the only thing left to do is call Allstate and tell them that you don’t need them because you’re in better hands. Ha!

Cheers to all!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Should We Return To The Moon

Should We Return To The Moon?
This post is brought to you by writer Stephen Tremp, author of the Breakthrough trilogy.
Listening to the latest and greatest on a return trip to the moon, you would think you were reading an executive summary of an important business plan.
A return trip to the moon actually makes a lot of sense. A lot has happened since the six manned U.S. Apollo landings between 1969 and 1972.
New and innovative technologies will be able to utilize lunar resources to supply and replenish oxygen (found in the lunar soil), volatile gasses, fuel, water, and construction materials. We won’t have to haul all off this to the moon and worry about replenishing supplies vital to sustain life. 
• The moon could hold secrets regarding our world.
• Lower gravity means it’s easier to launch ships to other planets and moons.
• Telescopes would have a better view to see deep into our universe as there is no atmosphere to interfere with observations.
• And the moon holds vital resources. We know there is water on the moon in the form of ice. And the hydrogen and oxygen atoms could be used as rocket fuel.
At least seven major potential lunar construction materials have been identified. These include:
• concrete
• sulfur concrete
• cast basalt
• sintered basalt
• fiberglass
• cast glass
• metals
Add new and innovative technologies with the moon’s natural resources, and it’s not difficult to imagine one giant leap for mankind toward self-sufficiency and independence from the Earth.

Sure, more leaps need to be taken, such as producing a steady flow of food. Maybe Quisp and Tang grows there in abundance. But for now, it’s easy to see how making return trips to the moon makes a lot of sense.
The U.S. does not have concrete plans to return to the moon any time soon. China plans to land an unmanned exploratory rover on the moon by the end of this year.
The Question Is: will private industry beat governments to the punch?
Let’s take a quick look at private industry on the cusp of taking man and supplies into space and the moon. I’ll refer you to an earlier post on Space X, headed up by Elon Musk: CLICK HERE.
Also check out my article on LEO (Low Earth Orbit), the first private space telescope launched by Planetary Resources.
Do you have time for one more? Check out my article on Virgin Galactic, headed up by Sir Richard Branson.
You can visit Stephen Tremp at his blog by CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Taking the World by Storm


By Alex J. Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together." - Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes

“With a talent for worldbuilding and a compelling cast of characters, Alex J. Cavanaugh combines high powered space battles and the challenges of family dynamics to provide readers a space opera with heart.” - Elizabeth S. Craig, author of the Southern Quilting and Myrtle Clover mysteries

“I thought the revelation was going to be one thing and I was completely wrong … CassaStorm pushes the limits…” - Tyson Mauermann, Speculative Reviews

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Amazon Kindle, and Goodreads.

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
Find Alex - Blog, Twitter, and Goodreads

Visit Alex's blog for your chance to win some awesome prizes - books, mouse pads, mugs, magnets, posters, swag, and more!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A to Z Challenge Hacks – All Text, No Extras!

The next Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge is a few seasons away but it’s never too early to get a head start on mapping out your game plan for surviving this massive undertaking. 

As we close out the Summer and head into Fall, this is a good time to learn from our own previous A-to-Z Challenge experiences or those of other participants, to keep up with the alphabet and visiting new blogs without losing our minds in the process.

Since I was fundraising for my short film at the time and didn’t have internet access during most of April, my daily schedule was hectic. There were days when I found myself scrambling to get a blog post up by 11:59pm to avoid falling behind our 26-day blogging schedule. Here is one of a few tips and tricks that helped me stay on track as best as I could during the 2013 A-to-Z Challenge.

Text first, Pictures & Stuff later

I posted my blog posts without photos and then returned at a later time to edit/update the posts by adding photos. This is one of my A-to-Z Hacks that worked wonders for me by reducing the stress of not being able to have something new for those who were visiting my blog.

Putting text-only posts up on your blog is especially useful for procrastinators or those who just usually write their blog posts later in the evening due to jobs, screaming babies, whining spouses, ailing parents, church services, natural disasters, technical issues, NBC’s The “X-Factor” or “America’s Got Talent,” CBS’s “Big Brother,” HBO’s “Breaking Bad” or for whatever other reason.

Since I’ve written a lot of my A-to-Z Challenge posts at night, I would aim to get something up on my blog by 11:59pm for the current letter of the day. When the challenge reached Letter K, I did not have the time to write, edit, proofread, edit again and format my post earlier in the day, so I worked on it at night starting around 10:00pm and noticed that I was running out of time. 

So instead of worrying about the layout of photos that would support this post, I focused on getting the post to go live before midnight, so that I could remain up to date in the challenge. Afterward, (since I wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon, anyway) I searched for the images that I wanted to accompany that post and then went back into my blog editor and added them sometime after midnight, within the next hour or so.

My Text first, Pictures, etc. later A-to-Z Hack worked so well that the same trick could be applied to posts written earlier in the daytime as well. If you are among the challenge participants who write your posts in the morning or during the early afternoon hours but still need to find photos to go with them, just split up those duties – publish the post that you have so far (which is the text) and then add the images and/or any links that you didn’t have handy the first time around, later in the evening when you get to them. See…this A to Z blogging trick is as easy as pie.

Have a joyous weekend, everybody!

- Nicole @MadlabPost

*More of my A to Z Hacks will be coming soon. Until then, let me know something…

When (morning/daytime/nighttime) did YOU usually write YOUR posts for the A to Z Challenge?

Do YOU have any A-to-Z Challenge survival tricks up YOUR sleeve that you’d like to share with me?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Elise Fallson and "Ologies" - Challenge Participant Feature

Today I welcome the lovely Elise Fallson to share her theme for the Challenge. And it was very unique. And informative! Careful, you might learn something…

What made you chose _ologies as your theme?

My theme last year was Entomology and since is went pretty well, I decided to look for another _ology theme. Trouble was I couldn’t decide on just one. There were many fascinating and odd _ologies to choose from that I decided to highlight them all. Well, not really all of them, but just the ones I found interesting or quirky. Then, when I found a list of _ologies from A-Z online I thought to myself, “Jack pot!”

Which one was your favorite?

That's a hard question to answer because I liked so many for different reasons. For example, D for Dactylology comes to mind because ASL (American Sign Language) interests me and when I stumbled upon songs interpreted using ASL, I was glued to the screen. I can't tell you how many times I've watched those videos, they always impress me. H for Hoplology is another one I enjoyed because I've been a fan of the fighting arts for many years and found the video of the longsword technique simply awesome. Then there's R for Rumpology and that was just butt-loads of LOLs to write. And I have to admit, I did enjoy I for Ichnology, but only because I masterfully managed to slide in a music video of Jensen Ackles doing Eye of the Tiger. Grrrrr  ==swoon==

I'm sorry, did you ask for just one? ;)

You kicked off the Challenge with the science of stupidity – agnoiology. Just so no one ends up studying us, what’s it all about?

Unfortunately, I feel the human race will always be under the microscope when it comes to studying stupidity.  Agnoiology however, centers on the study of culturally induced ignorance mainly through the publication of inaccurate or misleading data. I guess it just boils down to one group of people wanting to control another group by keeping then intellectually inferior. The dumbing down of the masses isn't a new strategy, but it does allow government to maintain control over the masses.

You HAVE to describe rumpology for us!

Ahhh, finally. I couldn't bare waiting a second longer to reach the bottom of this post!  Rumpology, sometimes referred to as "Bottom Reading," is fortune telling by reading people's butts. A 'rump reading' is performed by a rumpologist who examines crevices, dimples, warts, moles, and folds of a person's buttocks in much the same way a chirologist would read the palm of the hand. And to add some much needed creditability, astrologer Jackie Stallone (actor Sylvester Stallone's mother) states that rumpology is known to have been practiced in ancient times by the Babylonians, Indians, Ancient Greeks, and Romans (hard evidence proving this theory pending). You think Sylvester get free readings from his mom?  

You struggled with J but finally found Japanology and stated you find Japan fascinating. What are some of the things you’d like to see if you visited? (And you should visit – I lived there as a kid and it’s an amazing place.)

I'm glad I found J for Japanology because I've always held a fascination for Japanese culture, food, art, tradition, and really the Far East in general fascinates me. If I were to visit Japan there is so much I'd want to see that I could fill up an entire post, but off the top of my head I'd want to . . .

  • Go to Hiroshima's memorial park.
  • Visit Osaka and Kyoto mainly for the history and to visit the temples and shrines. 
  • Visit Tokyo, go shopping in Akihabara, get drunk in a Karaoke Bar, ride the bullet train. (: 
  • Climb Mount Fuji.
  • Visit Tokyo National Museum, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Adachi Museum . . .
  • Visit a samurai district.
  • See the forging of a true katana sword.
  • Eat in a real sushi restaurant where the food comes to you on a conveyor-belt.
  • Eat ramen soup in Fukuoka.
  • Go to a sumo tournament.
  • See the cherry blossoms in March/April . . .

     Anyone want to take me to Japan???? 

Yogurtology isn’t really a field of study – what is it?

I had a hard time finding a y_ology word but luckily (thank you internet) I came across this: Yogurtology, a chain store that sells frozen yogurt and ice cream. I've never came across one, but if I ever did, I'd probably wander in for some frozen yogurt.

Any meltdowns or freak-outs during the Challenge? 

YES, during my Q post for quinology. I only had prewritten posts up to Q, so when my Q post went live, I started to freak out. Luckily, I had a butt-load to talk about the next day for R. (;

If you participate in the Challenge next year, do you have any themes in mind? 

I'm not sure if I'll participate next year but that hasn't stopped me from bouncing around some ideas. I may have a few things brewing but, mum's the word. (; 

Thanks for having me over today Alex, it was fun revisiting some of these old posts. (=

Elise, thank you for enlightening us!!

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

Monday, September 2, 2013

Road Trip 2013: Let's gather for Another Pit Stop!

Hellooo? Is there anybody out there? Is anyone still on the road visiting A-Z participants from April 2013? I'm calling another pit stop, so pull your virtual car into a spot here, and let's catch up.

Hundreds of us set out in May for a road trip around the world. Some headed for the fast lane and kept on trucking. Some took the back-roads and meandered. Some of us have run out of gas, some have had our cars breakdown, and some have been called home for pressing family matters.

However far you made it, no matter what number of blogs you visited, I still want to thank you for participating. I know it's meant a lot to many bloggers who for whatever reason didn't get a lot of visits during the Challenge. THANK YOU for persevering, however far you came.

It's not over though! You can still visit for as long as you like. The big list is still clickable, as is the Reflections list. How about making just one visit now? You know how exciting it is to get someone new at your place! Give someone that thrill.

As for me and my trip, I've converted to “Sunday Drives”. I take some time on my down-time-day-of-rest to hit a few more Reflections posts. I promised to read them all and I will. I'm concentrating there, and will return to the “big” list after that.

May your road be smooth, may you hit all the green lights, and don't forget to enjoy the scenery!