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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Getting to know your co-hosts ~ Konstanz Silverbow

ABOUT ME

Name: Konstanz Silverbow
Blogs: Nothought2small, and Writeaway
Publications: So far, none. But I did just submit my first manuscript to Shadow Mountain! 
Other Places to Find Me: Facebook (author page), Facebook (blog), Twitter, Goodreads

10 GETTING TO KNOW YOU QUESTIONS


1. When writing, do you prefer to compose your first-draft by hand, on your computer, or using Morse Code?
  A mix really.  I start by hand, somewhere in the middle I begin typing, and along the way I write down ideas I have for other stories. 

2. If you could sing any song with the artist who wrote/performed it, what would it be and with whom?
 Secrets’ by OneRepublic but more importantly, Ryan Tedder.  (He is the lead singer for OneRepublic and also composed the music and lyrics for the song)

3. Who inspired you to write in the very beginning?
 I wasn’t really “inspired”  by someone to start writing.  What really started it was an experience I had.  It is a really funny story and one day I was telling my two best friends about it.  We were all laughing and I realized that it kinda sounded like something you would read in a book or see in a movie.  So I sat down and attempted to write it out.  I failed miserably.  After that one of my friends told me that her mom and eight other women had just started a writing group and I was invited to come. 


4. Favorite childhood memory? 
Spending time with my siblings. We grew up close because we were all home-schooled and own a family business. We did everything together. That doesn't happen often anymore with everyone grown up, some of them have their own families now, and one brother lives in Australia. 


5. What is your "Thing". i.e. do you have a non-professional hobby or a particularly acute preference for something that you feel defines a large part of who you are?
 Almost all of my hobbies, I make money from.  The one that I have not is Dragon and Sword collecting.  I LOVE dragons, I LOVE swords.  (Does that count as a hobby?)

6.What items could you typically have in your pockets?
 My phone, a hair tie, and loose change.

7.What is the most unusual thing you have ever given as a gift?
 I love this question.  Usually people ask what is the most unusual thing you have been given.  So, most unusual thing I have given?  An old mining Stock Certificate.

8. What makes you cry? (Emotional reasons. Onions don't count.)
Answer:  Movies, books, people.  I am a sympathetic crier.  I am over emotional so a lot of things make me cry.

9.Where do you go to "Get away from it all"?
 Novels.  I read and listen to music. 

10.What makes life worth living?
 The Small moments when it seems like everything is falling apart and one person changes it all with the simplest of things.  A simple gesture, a small compliment, a smile.

Another random fact just because, I love sarcasm.  Oh yeah, and I LOVE being an A-to-Z April Blogging Challenge Co-host! 

~Konstanz Silverbow
Nothought2small

Monday, February 25, 2013

#atozchallenge news -- Here's Who's Been Helping Out

         Oops!  What day is it?   I guess I totally lost track of time!

Here are some great bloggers who have been helping promote the April Challenge:


Jen from We're Living a Full Life put in a push for A-to-Z'ing in April.

I encourage you out there to follow Angela from Whole Foods Living.  She's coming back for a another year, but still doesn't have as many followers as she should have.  You might get some good eating advice while you're there.

With the help of Jimi Hendrix, Bill at Images By Bil paid homage to the April Challenge.  Go over and check out his cool artwork--Jimi Hendrix is the subject of one of them.

An outstanding promo post was delivered by Jolie at Precious Monsters.   She covers a lot of bases in this post so please go to it, read it, and then tweet it, send it to friends, and spread it around.  Jolie is one our A to Z staffers.

Our own A to Z co-host Nicole Ayers offered some excellent Challenge advice in a guest post at Write Non-fiction Now!     Especially if you're still trying to come up with an idea for April posts or are afraid to sign up because you can't think of a theme, check this out.

She may be a newcomer to the Challenge, but Shirlene from Just Good Stories promoted the A to Z like a vet.   Go to her blog and help fuel her enthusiasm.

Thank you Colin D. Smith for the mention and the fascinating Challenge analysis.  That should be of some help to bloggers looking for Challenge advice.

Then there's Dennis at LimeBird Writers (now that's a group I can fly with).  He's got his April plans all mapped out as evidenced in his post about the Challenge.


Thanks all!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oodles of Ideas for Finding Your A-Z Words


Did you know that if you're participating in the 2013 A-Z Challenge, or have participated in any of the past challenges, we'd love to showcase your ideas here at The A-Z Blog? Today's brilliant ideas are brought to you by M.J Joachim who blogs at Lots of Crochet Stitches and FOUR others.  Here's how to find them all: Follow M.J in one stop-shopping!  (I'm not a shopper...I like one stop...)



On your mark!

Ready!

Set!

Go!

And they’re off, all participating in this year’s Scavenger Hunt for Alphabet Words! 

Here are a few clues, to help you on your way!

Online Alphabet Word References

There are oodles of places to find A – Z word lists online. I discovered this last year by Googling, “words that begin with x.”  Wish I’d found this out much earlier in the Challenge, I must say!


You can also get a little more specific and look up things like “scientific terms beginning with letter _” or “recipes beginning with letter _.”

Another easy thing to do is type (define:word – whatever the word may be) into Mr. Google’s search engine URL. You can also do this for synonyms, antonyms and homonyms, btw. It will search for sites to help you. Then you can click on the link and open up a virtual Pandora’s Box, containing words with links to new words, with links to new words…and so on, and so on and so on…

Bring it on Home

It takes a keen observer, and it might be an unexpected chance to clean out your garage, but most people have numerous things they’ve collected over the years, many named with at least one letter of the alphabet, some containing multiple words – things like books, movies, records and food & product labels. This sounds like an opportunity, if ever there was one!


Out and About

I might be stating the obvious by mentioning the library here, but what about all those other places you go like restaurants, museums, amusement parks, theaters, retail shops etc. etc. etc.? If you spend any length of time there, you’re bound to find at least a few bits of jargon for posts that might be puzzling you.

Don’t forget the great outdoors, when looking for words to write your posts! Start naming all those trees, plants and shrubs. Break down the animals by species, habits, diets and food chain levels. Not enough for you? How many shades of gray do you see when it rains? Is the sunset pink, orange or mauve? Does the wind shriek, lament or whisper?


It’s a challenge, but it’s not hard…

Not if you know where to look, that is!

Wow, that was some really great advice! Now we have no excuses for Q, Z, X or whatever may be stumping us on a particular day. We appreciate you sharing this with us!
~ Tina (contact me, see contact tab, if you have ideas you'd like to share at this blog)

Photo credit:  Scrabble Game in Progress, thebarrowboy, Creative Commons Attribution; Interior Mall of America, Mono P, Creative Commons Attribution; Animal Diversity, GNU Free Documentation License
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Our Fascinating Moon. Who Knew?

Our Moon. Something that has captured our imaginations and fascinated the minds of mankind for millennia. The moon and its regular cycle of phases have made it a vital cultural influence on language, calendars, art and mythology since ancient times. The moon has inspired stories of werewolves have frightened us and poems of love. Books, movies, and songs have centered around the moon. I Googled the list and it is far too long for me to elaborate here.

Our moon, which does not have a name like other moons, is Earth's only known natural satellite. It is the fifth largest satellite in our solar system. It has a diameter one fourth that of Earth’s, making it the largest satellite relative to its host size. Our moon is in a syncrhonized rotation with Earth. That is why we only see one side of it. Hence, the term The Dark Side of the Moon. Its gravitational pull produces the ocean tides and the minute lengthening of the day.


The Soviets actually reached the moon before us with an unmanned spacecraft in 1959. Since then, NASA’s Apollo program has sent an orbiting mission in 1968, followed by six actual manned landings from 1969-1972. Twelve men have walked on its surface. We brought back lots of rock that helped scientists determine its age: 4.5 billion years old.


The prevailing hypothesis is that the Earth–Moon system formed as a result of a giant impact: a Mars-sized body hit the nearly formed proto-Earth, blasting material into orbit around the proto-Earth, which accreted to form the Moon. It is believed most of the Moon came from the impactor, not from the proto-Earth. Like the earth, the moon has a crust, mantle, and core.


Water cannot exist on the moon as exposure to solar radiation causes water to decompose, a process known as photodissociation. However, comets and hydrogen from solar winds combined with oxygen in lunar rocks could have deposited water ice in permanently shadowed craters. This is of vital importance if we want to set up a permanent base on the moon, a possible stepping stone for reaching Mars.

Although we have recently found proof of frozen ice on the polar regions, the moon does not have wind or erosion. That is why we see crater impacts large and small that pocket its surface over its life. Volcanoes in the past have spewed out basaltic lava. With a decent set of binoculars or a small telescope, you can see fascinating features on its surface on a clear night.

There is no legal ownership of the moon, although the U.S. has planted flags there. There is an Outer Space Treaty (1967) that defines the Moon and all outer space as the "province of all mankind. The moon cannot be used for military purposes and bans weapons of mass destruction.

You can view the moon using Google Earth.

Grail Moon Mission September11, 2011 (Very Cool Stuff Here)On NASA's third attempt, the dual-spacecraft mission finally lifts off from Cape Canaveral. The twin craft separate and begin their journey to the moon, where they will study its gravitational field. Scientists predict that the mission will provide a map of the lunar gravitational field, data that will allow for the first comprehensive assessment of the moon's crust, mantle and core.

Some scientists say GRAIL is the beginning of a revolution in planetary science. Precision formation flying could allow for numerous spacecraft to create singular technology "platforms" that could see deeper into space and in far greater detail than ever before. Scientists envision a day when they will send swarms of iPod-sized spacecraft into space, a technology that could replace satellites and offer other advances in communications.

Well, how about it? How has our most awesome neighbor inspired you?
If you think this post is worthy of Twitter or Facebook, please select the appropriate icon below. Thanks!!!

Stephen Tremp, author of the BREAKTHROUGH series, has a B.A. in information systems and an MBA degree in global management. Stephen has a background in information systems, management, and finance and draws from this varied and complex experiential knowledge to write one-of-a-kind thrillers. 


His novels are enhanced by current events at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and other scientific research facilities around the world. These potential advances have the ability to change the way we perceive our universe and our place in it! You can visit Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs. BREAKTHROUGH and OPENING can be downloaded: Kindle for $2.99

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Is Your Blog in Danger of Google’s Guest Post Shakedown?

Did you know blogs that publish guest posts could be penalized by Google? I didn't at least not before reading about this latest news regarding the practice, a few days ago. Yesterday, I also received an email containing tips from another blogger on how to play it safe when publishing content from guest bloggers.

The overall message from both of these posts is that our blog’s search engine rankings, traffic and general reputation could be affected if we publish content written by third-parties. Sounds scary, right? I don’t blame you if you’re scratching your head wondering what the heck is going on. Just remember that this guest posting penalty thing isn't as simple as A-B-C; Pun intended for all you folks gearing up for the April Challenge!

Most, if not all concerns surrounding the matter stem from a video that Google released where it’s CEO explained why they frown upon guestblogs. Just like mainstream media, however, some bloggers who have brought attention to this news are sensationalizing the situation by yelling “penalty” first but ignoring the rest of what he said. If you are among the bloggers who did (or will) watch the video and listen – I mean, really pay attention to what is being explained, then there might not be much for you to worry about. Does this mean you’re safe from being hit by some type of sequel to the Panda and Penguin updates? Not at all – and this is where things get kinda risky for those of us in the blogging arena.


All of these practices are simple to implement – for me, at least. I do suspect, however, that it might take some time for a lot of bloggers to adjust their guest posting routines and develop a new – more Google-friendly practice in how they manage guests on their blogs. So, the news comes at a very inconvenient time. I considered outsourcing the posts for my blog via guests -- after shelving the theme that I initially wanted to use for this year’s A to Z challenge. I was going to invite 26 people to write a post for my blog and now I’m going to have to change that plan up a bit.

I’m also currently at the beginning of making what will be several, or more, guest appearances around the blogosphere; promoting my short film campaign, which runs all the way through March. How in the world am I going to swing this? I’ll tell you how – the same way you’re going to save your own blog from being shot down by search engines like there’s a hit out on you by Frank Costello (as played by Jack Nicholson) in “The Departed.”

Here’s how we’re going to make this happen through a summary of proper guest posting practices that I learned from blogs managed by Darren Rowse and Neil Patel.

  • “Guesting” Language Hurts Your Blog
Stop using language such as “guest post” and any derivatives of the title including “guest author,” “guest blogger,” etc.  on your blog. Do not address people as guest bloggers nor posts as such in your titles, within the body of the content itself or in any introductions or closings that you add to the post.

The Remedy: A good rule of thumb is to publish blog posts in a manner similar to magazines and newspapers. When was the last time you saw “guest writer” in an issue of Rolling Stone, VOGUE or Architectural Digest? There is a reason you didn't  so take heed of how these publications do things when it comes to featuring posts on your own blog.

  • Say No to Bios/Bylines Filled with Several Links
Author bios and/or bylines should not contain more than two links. In fact, links aren't even be necessary if you just create a page with short bios of all your contributors and then link to their blog or wherever else readers can find them.

The Remedy: Create an author page for each contributor and link their name to those pages, OR, link their name to their blog/website/social media page or whatever. That could count as one of the two maximum links, so they wouldn't even need to add more to their bio, OR, just stop allowing guests to send you bios containing a link to every single online site or social media profile they have online. Since I don’t have a staff of people and am short on time, I’d likely opt for the two latter solutions.

  • Don’t Pimp your Blog’s “Write for Me” Page in Exchange for Guests
Telling potential readers that they will receive link(s) when contributing to your blog is a violation of Google’s linking policy. Receiving a link back to a blog or social medial profile should not be the sole benefit of someone being featured on your website.

The Remedy: Change your “Write for Me/Us/this Blog” call for submissions to something less saturated. Again, this is a good time to check out what the Big Boys do and follow that model. Next, establish editorial guidelines that include a requirement for original content that was not previously published elsewhere.

If you wouldn't eat food that somebody else already chewed up and spit out, then why would you accept blog posts that were seen on another website? It’s what’s known as “duplicate content” by Google’s standards. By the way – secure the rights to these posts, while you’re at it. Doing so brings the extra satisfaction in knowing that a contributor won’t spin something they wrote for you today, into a post for another blogger, tomorrow.

  • Be Selective About Who You Feature on Your Blog
Don’t just accept posts from anyone and everyone who submits something to you – especially content that is already written. In fact, why are you even accepting open submissions in the first place? It’s much easier to review, accept and reject queries or proposals or cover letters or messages of intent than to have to read through entire blog posts.

I thought that most bloggers already knew this (…even I don’t write or submit guest posts blindly. I query FIRST and then wait for a response from the blogs that I’m interested in submitting a post to), but, I guess there are blogs out there who just put up an “open call” and take everything that comes their way.

The Remedy: Only accept posts from people who have a track record of writing great content on other blogs – and on their own website! Do a Google search for the name of your potential blog contributor; this search should not yield a bunch of spammy websites and spam links. If it does, then that’s a red flag and you may have a spammer trying to ride his or her spammy wave through some of your blog’s link juice. Also welcome contributors who are community builders and can add some discussion to your blog, by responding to comments on their post.

  • Restrict Access and Privileges
It is not necessary to give contributors author accounts to your blog, like handing out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Maintain a filtering system that compliments your submission guidelines, by restricting the publishing privileges allowed on your blog to you only. Are there exceptions to this tip? Yes, of course there are exceptions. Does this mean that leaves more work for you in terms of formatting, scheduling and publishing posts on your own? Yes, but in many cases, that’s better than the alternative -- being penalized by Google. 

The bottom line is that unless they are a part of your main administrative team or a regular contributor who has established a good track record of posting on your website, everybody online shouldn't have the access and authority to publish anything they want on your blog. When contributors publish blog posts about weight loss or diet pills on your homeschooling and parenting blog – you know you have a problem!

Solutions to the Guest Post Dilemma in a nutshell: 

Stop telling people you have guests. Those who read your blog already know who is who, thanks to author bios, tags and/or bylines. Speaking of author bios, those of contributors on your blog should contain two links maximum – and they better not be spammy (diet pills, SEO marketers, Viagra, anyone?). The bio link concerns could be solved by designating a page on your blog for all of your contributors. Of course, this part (making a “contributors” page…which also takes a lot of time to setup and maintain) is optional – I’m surely not doing it unless I feel it’s useful. That day isn't coming any time soon.

Now that we’re all up to speed on the happenings of blog post authors, Google rankings and best blogging practices, I’m pleased to report that this long post is done.

~Nicole


*Photo by: atduskgreg


Monday, February 18, 2013

Your Key to Surviving the A to Z Challenge on Mondays

By now, I’m sure that many of you are aware that surviving the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April is no easy feat. My fellow co-hosts have made it clear that scheduling posts in advance and picking a theme are some of the best ways to complete the challenge. So, you don’t have a theme, yet? No worries! I can help you create a schedule -- at least, on Mondays -- even if you’re plan is to wing it when writing posts for the April challenge.

In April 2012, Dale a.k.a the Smurfdok at Smurfin’ the Web partnered up to merge our Monday Movie Meme (MMM) osting duties with the alphabet, since we both signed up to participate in the A to Z Challenge that year. If you want to know more details, check out my previous MMM introduction to challenge participants, which shares the history and more in-depth information about this meme.

Here’s a Cliff notes version to get you up to speed: The Monday Movie meme is a weekly blogging event where I post a different theme or topic on Mondays and then list my selections of movies that fit the topic. Participants (that would be you) then follow suit by posting a list of their own movie choices on their blog, of course, linking back to my original post and leaving a comment to let me know they participated. I will then visit their blog to find out what movies they picked for the week. This year, the Monday Movie Meme will continue to operate throughout the A to Z Challenge, so my themes and topics will coincide with the letters G, M, S and Y.

Want to know the best part about this weekly meme? You don’t even have to wait until April to participate. You can get started this week, next week or on any Monday leading up to the A to Z Challenge in April. An early start will get you into the swing of things, providing great practice for when the challenge starts. So, what do you say? Are you game to join me? Let’s Rock it out!

~Nicole
A to Z 2013 Co-Host
*Check out my short film! - Contribute, Share and Comment*
@MadlabPost on Twitter

Friday, February 15, 2013

Getting to Know Your Co-Hosts - Tina, Life is Good


ABOUT ME

Name: Tina Downey
Blogs: Lifeis Good
Publications: Until They Have Faces, an anthology of stories of the homeless, a fundraising coffee table book
Other Places to Find Me: Twitter: still can't believe I did it...@TinaLifeisGood. I don't do other social media, it's just too much to keep up with. I'd rather write...

10 GETTING TO KNOW YOU QUESTIONS

1. "Where do you hail from?"
I'm a first generation immigrant, born in Sweden. In 1974 when I was almost nine, we moved to America for “just a year”. We lived in Silver Spring, MD. However, for my senior year of high school, The Swede got a big promotion and we moved to Colorado. Well, he dragged me kicking and screaming across the country is more like it... I shouldn't have wasted that energy, though. Colorado is my dream home. I love almost everything about this state except the hot summers. The smallish community (formerly farming, now high tech silicon valley stuff everywhere) with the magnificent view of the foothills and Longs Peak/Mt. Meeker is a wonderful place to raise children. They're living my childhood in Sweden – go knock on a door and see who's free. Or what happens more often, there's the knock on OUR door. We're THAT house where everyone gathers and I love that.

2. Would you ever join a team that was headed off to colonize Mars?
Yes, I actually would. I'm a die-hard sci-fi fan, and The Engineer is an inventor, and dreams of doing this. So how could I say no. It's a pretty safe “yes” though...I can sound like the supportive, adventurous wife, but with little risk of ever leaving my beloved Colorado. There are parts of this adventure that DO appeal to ME too though: the whole fresh start thing...and space travel...

3. "Who is your favorite fictional character and why?"
I should probably pick some Jane Austen or Mark Twain or other “classy classic” character, but I like Eve Dallas of JD Robb's futuristic cop series. She's my exact opposite, so that's probably why. When I need a break, I splurge $7.99 and buy the next book in the 35+ book series. I think I'm seven behind...good mind candy, and since I'm hypoglycemic and can't eat REAL candy, it's my justification.

4. "If you were a contestant on the CBS show "Amazing Race" and could pick ANY movie character to be your partner, who would it be and why?"
James Bond. Let's be more clear, Daniel Craig's James Bond. C'mon, who else could do ANYTHING they'd throw at us? I love this race. It is amazing (haha) to see places and cultures I might never, ever see. I don't have much time for TV anymore, and we don't have cable (got data plans for smart phones instead, something had to go...) so I haven't seen it in a while. I'm confident he could “carry” me, and I love martinis, too. We'd both be seeking the same thing at the end of the day.

5. What's your biggest frustration in blogging?
Not enough time. I'm a schedule woman, so I try hard to carve out my time for it, but I'm also a wife, a mom, a volunteer teacher, and there are only so many hours in a day. Setting priorities is hard, but it's life.

6. "Have you ever wanted to be a rock star?"
No, but I wish I could sing on key. What I REALLY want is to be a best-selling author...sigh.

7. You're house in on fire, assuming your kids, pets, and other living things are safe, what do you grab as you head out the door?
My mom has made me some amazing Creative Memories photo albums, and I've made some myself, waaaay before the blogging bug infected me permanently. I'd grab those. Two of them are the boys' baby books. Of course, they're not done. The Transporter is 6 months old, and OYT has ONE picture affixed in it, the rest lying loose on the pages...some day...

8. "Where do you go to "Get away from it all"?
We go camping in our 1968 Forester camping trailer. The Engineer has redone all the systems, so it's still peddling along despite its need of another new paint job. We pull it with our prison van. Not kidding. The van still has the outline of the “Colorado Department of Corrections” logo that adorned both front doors. It seats twelve and then has a huge cargo area behind it. Nothing like having two teenage boys separated in the car by an entire bench seat...We prefer state and national forest parks with bigger sites, no hook-ups, and more privacy. The only thing I don't like about camping is pulling out of the site and heading home...I could seriously be a campground host.  I think. I've got enough bossy in me to do the job...

Thanks for making it this far. We're supposed to do 10 questions, but I'm so far over the word limit you get 8. I promise to be more brief during the challenge, but it's hard to get to know someone in a few words. Especially a wordy, talky person such as...me.

I'll be writing about “Adventures in America” - what it was like my first year as a Swedish immigrant. Last year's #atozchallenge I taught a word or two of Swedish a day, included a picture and a childhood memory. I'm thinking this will be similar, but you won't be learning a foreign language...hope to see you then!

~Tina, and yes, Life really is Good






Thursday, February 14, 2013

What you can do RIGHT NOW to Ensure a #atozchallenge WIN??

You're all signed up for the A to Z Challenge. (If you aren't, go on, run and do it, I'll wait.) Now you must be thrilled you've done your bit for your blog by entering it on the list. You can relax till April. 

NOT. I have news for you.

To get the best out of a bloghop the size of a T-Rex on steroids (just go look at the sign-up list now to see what I mean), you need to put yourself and your blog on steroids, right away. 

Here are 5 ways to do it:

 1. There are no rules stating you should start blog visiting in April. Start with the list now, and if you visit and Comment on 5 new blogs a day, you would have covered at least 250 by the time the challenge comes around. This challenge is all about building a community, and schmoozing with other participants will guarantee your AZ posts hordes of comments come April. 

2. Preschedule your posts now, so you can focus on comment love in April. Even if you can't be online during some of April, that's no reason to be discouraged. Point 1 above will ensure your blog remains active with comments even on the days you're away.

2. If you're on twitter, tweet your posts using the #atozchallenge hashtag  and comment on other posts that use the same tag. 

3. Follow @AprilA2Z and better still, follow other participants on twitter. It's easy to do if you start following the peeps on this twitter list

If you're not on this list, tell us on twitter, and we'll add you. Discuss the #atozchallenge themes, compare how many posts you already have scheduled, cheer on other participants. Mingle.

4. Talk about the challenge on your blog, on Facebook and Google+ and any other social media you're part of. The higher the buzz about the challenge on your blog and on these media, the more visitors you can potentially attract. Tag friends, start a discussion.

5. Check your blog. Is it easy for a visitor to comment or do they have to sign up on some vague machinery to do it? Have you turned off CAPTCHA ?

If you are a challenge veteran, and have something to add to the above list,   fire away in the comments!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Do You Luv the #atozchallenge?

Words from the Bird: 

      We will soon be announcing our individual co-host subordinate administrative assistant teams.  Alex has already announced his.  I will be doing so on my Friday post at Tossing It Out.  Soon we will also be adding a special tab at the top of the A to Z Blog page with our helpers listed.  Be sure to stop in to get to know all of these fine bloggers and follow their blogs along with those of the co-hosts.  We are all here to make the Challenge more fun and more efficient for everyone.  We appreciate the support you give us.

      The A to Z Team will be trying to address as many of the concerns some of you have been asking about here on this blog in the weeks to come.   If there are any topics that you would especially like to see us discuss here please let us know.   Watch this blog for important A to Z updates.

A to Z Luvs U:

     Tomorrow is Valentines Day so don't forget the one you love.  Over the past  couple of weeks many of you have been showing some A to Z Challenge love with some truly endearing promo posts.  It's so nice to see so many love letters in honor of the letters of the alphabet and the Challenge that goes hand in hand with those letters.

Here are a few bloggers who luv the A to Z Challenge enough to have included a post on their blog about it:

Thank you Belinda Nicoll at My Rite of Passage for telling your readers about what you're planning for April.   Sounds like a great idea to me!

Don't worry, Deena at e-bookbuilders.   You sound like a natural for the Challenge and I think you'll do a great job if your A to Z promo post is any indication.

Danielle Zecher has decided to take on another Challenge after enjoying last year's A to Z.  She talks about it in her post on the blog Sweet Tea Reads.

Sunni at Surviving Life announced the Challenge and at the same time did her bit of public service with instructions on how to remove the Captcha word verification from Blogger blogs.   If you're still wondering about this process, check out Sunni's post.

Rebekah Loper says she's not going to do this year's Challenge, but she gave us a very nice promo post.  Maybe she'll talk herself into participating after she reads her own post.

Teresa at Journaling Woman added her own bit of Challenge news with a reminder for others to sign up.  Good to hear from you, Teresa!

Carol Kilgore tossed her blog into the A to Z fray.  Stop by Under the Tiki Hut to wish her well.

A challenge enthusiast from India, Phil of Philipscom posted a big announcement about Blogging from A to Z on his blog.

Keep Spreading the Word:

       Thanks to all of you who have been telling others about the April Challenge.  I know that there are many more than I have listed here.  Feel free to promote each other's A to Z posts with your own posts.  A big part of the A to Z Challenge is about networking and building community.   Be sure to keep on visiting the list and making new friends.

        The A to Z Challenge is all about the participants!  And we luv all of you!




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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Meet Author AJ Lauer: Author of Armageddon: Pick Your Plot

Please join me in welcoming today's guest, AJ Lauer, an A-Z participant and author. The book you're about to hear about is so unique I think we'll be burning of some fiber optic/cable/whispernet or other magical stuff that makes books go from Amazon to my beloved Kindle in about...oh there it is. I've interviewed AJ so you can get to know her a bit better.




A-Z Participant Profile: AJ Lauer, author of Armageddon: Pick Your Plot

Hi, AJ! Welcome to the Blogging from A-Z blog! Why don't you start by telling us about your blog?

Naturally Sweet started as a place to put my early-college angst. It was a way for me to keep in touch with friends from high school and my first boyfriend, a daily journal of writing snippets and figuring out how I fit into the college scene. Over the years it has become a bit more intentional. I use it now still to keep in touch with friends, but also to reflect on my profession and our adventures here in Colorado. And of course to share my writing efforts.


 How did you find Blogging from A-Z? 
Last February, I caught a horrible, awful cold. After about 2 days of whining and moaning and TV, I got bored and challenged a fellow writer friend to a duel. We spent the next four weeks duking it out creative-writing style in a shared Google doc. It was so much fun to push myself to write every single day. When we finished I knew I needed another challenge, and knew as soon as I saw it, that A-Z was the perfect next thing!

You've already signed up for this spring's challenge. What brought you back?
I had so much fun last year! I met several of my favorite blogging buddies, and truly enjoy the challenge of coming up with things to write about every day for a month. A-Z is also part of the reason that my co-author Dan approached me to write Armageddon. He is a talented graphic artist and does something super-cool every year for his birthday. Last year he decided to have an armageddon themed birthday party in honor of the Mayan calendar myth, so decided to make a Pick Your Plot book that explores apocalypses. He'd seen that I had been doing a lot of writing, so asked if I would like to co-author the project. Of course I said yes - how could I resist such an offer? So I'm back this year for the challenge of the writing, and also just to see what neat things come out of it.

Wait, a Pick Your Plot book?  Yup - kind-of like a Choose Your Own Adventure (TM) book. The endings range in topic from Ragnarok to nanobots to (of course) zombies. Since it's about apocalypses which are by nature somewhat unavoidable, you die in 33 of the 42 endings. The odds are definitely not in your favor, but each one is written to be entertaining. Our friends who attended Dan's party loved the book and immediately asked about 'real' publishing, so we decided to go for it. Feedback so far has been very positive - you should check it out! ;)

That sounds awesome! What are you writing about for A-Z this year? Well, last year I did the theme of "things I like" because it was general and easy to come up with topics. This year I've decided to write a scene or character description for each letter. It will be a bit more challenging, but should lead to some fun stuff. I'll start pre-scheduling posts in March, to make sure I've got enough time to do each one well.


Thanks for stopping by! We look forward to seeing what you write this spring. 
Thanks! I'm definitely looking forward to it

AJ's blog: Naturally Sweet 





Other places to find AJ: Facebook (public)Facebook (book fanpage)

Monday, February 11, 2013

List-Loving Rosalind Adam Pays a Visit

 
Please join me today in welcoming second time challenge participant Rosalind Adam to the A-Z Blog! She's got some nuggets of truth and hints for you to digest as you prepare for THE CHALLENGE. I meat to shout that, because in the words of my two teen boys, it's going to be EPIC. They'd of course roll their eyes knowing I was using that word, but I do like making them roll their eyes...
So without further ado, glean what you can to better be prepared for April. You've got your badge up, right? You're signed up, right? You've started your networking (the purpose of the challenge – building your blogging community, right?) I think I've used up my “right” quota for the day...



10 Reasons for Loving Lists by Rosalind Adam

1.  When I was a teenager I loved the weekly Top 10 Chart hits, the Top 100 Records of the Year, the Top 20 films and so on. I was obsessed. I kept all manner of lists in the back of my school note book. Now the Internet is full of them so it’s not just me!

2. Today I can spend hours sorting out new playlists on my iPod. It’s replaced the hefty task of shuffling my LPs into preference order. I love the way that Word produces a list of my writing files in alphabetical or chronological order at the click of a button, and don’t even get me started on the lists I create with Excel.

3.  Lists are an excellent way to dump all that rubbish clogging up your brain. I’m always making To-Do lists, and as for shopping lists, they’re a must otherwise I’ll come home with pudding and forget all about the main course! 

4.  Lists of names make compulsive reading, like those Past Presidents on Sports Club walls or the list of attendees at a conference. I always hunt for my name on those attendance lists, even though I know I’m there.

5.  Then there are dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopaedias, I love them all, especially catalogues. I may not need any of the items on offer but I have to pause over the list of small kitchen items because you really can’t have too many grippers for opening jars.

6.  Lists attract our eye, rather like a poem. There can be nothing worse than looking at a page of densely typed words. A list has a visually satisfying shape to it.

7.  When we see an article or blog post in list format, we know we’re going to get brief nuggets of information. There’ll be no rambling or repetition so we feel more inclined to stop and read.

8.  It has been proven that having a number in your blog title attracts more visitors, a ploy regularly used by advertisers.

9.  I’m guessing that most bloggers love to check their stats. Me too. Yet another example of the thrill of lists, and who doesn’t like to watch their list of followers grow? Incidentally, this is a guaranteed outcome of taking part in the A to Z Challenge!

10.  For me the A to Z Challenge is the ultimate in list making. I’ve already started making lists of the A to Z content for my theme and I’m going to include a small list in each day’s post, a list within a list. I will be a truly happy blogger.

Are you making lists to prepare for your A to Z contributions? It’s the only way to survive the month. See you in April. You’ll find me at Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain


Thanks Rosalind for being here today. I really like how you took your passion for lists and showed us what an asset that can be as we prepare! 


~Tina, coordinator of guest posters. Drop me an email if you'd like to be one.  tndowney at gmail dot com or the infoaz2013@gmail.com.  I check my personal more often...and I'm info@ email girl, so either way, you're talking to me.  If you want to talk to another co-host, use the contact tab above.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Getting to Know Your Co-Hosts - Shannon, The Warrior Muse

ABOUT ME

Name: Shannon Lawrence
Blogs: The Warrior Muse, Writing From the Peak (as Managing Editor)
Publications: Sunday Snaps: The Stories, an anthology
Other Places to Find Me: LinkedIn, Facebook (blog), Facebook (personal), Twitter (@thewarriormuse), She Writes, Google+

10 GETTING TO KNOW YOU QUESTIONS

1. When writing, do you prefer to compose your first-draft by hand, on your computer, or using Morse code?  While I wish I knew Morse code, I usually compose in a mix of pencil and computer (but never the two together...that would be messy!)  For novel writing, I prefer that go directly onto the computer.  A specific computer, in fact.  For short stories and such, I will often write on paper first, though not always.  It really just depends when and where the mood takes me, and if I feel like paper and pencil or computer keys.

2. Who would win a fight: Jiminy Cricket or Tinkerbell?  Tinkerbell, hands down.  That girl is feisty.  She's pretty scary.  J.C. is a bit of a softie, and I feel like he'd run and hide when he saw the pixie dust flying.

3. Cake or pie?  Cake.  Always cake.  While I won't turn down pie (for the most part), a moist delicious slice of cake is impossible to say no to.

4. Describe the last Halloween costume you wore.  I was a rainbow faerie this year.  I'd intended to go with something different, but found a rainbow wig and colorful wings that I couldn't resist.  Below is a pic of hubby and I (he made that Batman costume).  I also had on rainbow striped leggings.  Fun!


5. Where do you hail from?  All over!  I was born in California, and have lived in Oregon, Maryland and Colorado.  Not as many places as some, but good enough for me.  We've had opportunities to move, but have so far passed them up; some of those opportunities were for overseas.  Maybe some day.  I really love it here in Colorado, though.  I AM a Coloradan.

6. Do you know how to Gangnam Style?  Heck yeah, I do!  I like to bust it out to humiliate my children.  That's why we have them, right?  Unfortunately for my son, he's very easy to embarrass.  My daughter, on the other hand, is impossible to humiliate.  I imagine my son will adjust, as both his parents are smart alecks (I can never figure out the proper spelling for that word...).

7. Where do you go to get away from it all?  I like to hike, and I back up to a place called Ute Valley Park, so I can go there if I need a walk or to hide myself.  If I'm okay with being around other people, but want gorgeous views, I'll go to Garden of the Gods.  It relaxes me.  Both places do.

Garden of the Gods in the fall
Can you see why?  That's Pikes Peak in the background.  I know I'm home when I see Pikes Peak.

8. What makes life worth living?  So much.  My kids, my hubby, my family, my writing, nature, my surroundings, my kitty, my friends, movies, books, the simple pleasures.

9. Who inspires you to write?  My fellow writers.  My friends and family.  My writer's groups.  Nature.  I find my inspiration all around me.  I love writing!

10. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?  Cone or cup?  Sprinkles or hot fudge sauce?  I like anything chocolate, but chocolate and marshmallow make me supremely happy.  I prefer a cup.  I don't like the taste of cones, and I'm always sad when that is the flavor I'm left with.  I prefer whipped cream, hot fudge and a maraschino cherry.  Not the mediciny ones I always manage to get from Baskin Robbins, though.  What's up with that?

I hope you feel like you've gotten to know me a little better!  What are your answers to these questions?  I'd love to see your views in the comments.

May you find your Muse.

Shannon L.
The Warrior Muse