Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Storyteller's Perspective: Make 2015 the Year of Stories!

In the spirit of filling up 2015 with stories both new and old, here are 10 things you can add to your New Year's resolutions!

1. Collect some family stories
Now is the time to buy a digital recorder (or fire up your smartphone) and visit Grandma, Auntie, or Second-great-uncle-in-law down the street, and record a few hours of their recollections. Believe me, you will thank yourself later. Or someone else in your family will thank you.

2. Dig down to your roots
Do some genealogy research (and revel in the fact that many archives are now digitized). Find out where some of your ancestors came from. See if you can dig up some stories about them, or the moments in history that directly affected them.

3. Relive traditions
Go visit the library and find some folktale collections from the cultures your family came from. Read them.

4. Cook something sweet
Buy a notebook and write down some family recipes. Ask around. Write the recipe on one page, and write personal notes on the other - who you learned it from, where it came from, who cooked it best, who made the biggest mess at first attempt, etc.

5. Diversify
Find stories from cultures you don't know about (but always wanted to ask). Seek out storytellers that visit from far away. Find lists of authors who have a different perspective. Enjoy, appreciate and promote diversity in all forms of story.

6. Attend a storytelling event
Look around for story circles, concerts, festivals, or other storytelling events in your area. Go visit them. Enjoy.

7. Make a new personal storytelling tradition
Make a little time in your day (or week) for stories. Bedtime is great, but sometimes it just doesn't work out - but don't fear! There are other options. Listen to a storytelling CD on your way to work. Share an anecdote with a friend over lunch. Write a blog post length story every weekend. Or every day.

8. Follow the path
Find and follow people of story on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other social media. Enjoy the tiny snippets of story news every day.

9. Time capsule
Record some of your own stories for posterity. They don't have to change the world. Imagine that you are making a time capsule and you have to include the five (ten) most significant events in your life. Write down the stories. Store them in a good place. When the time comes, share them.

10. Fund a storytelling project
Go on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or another crowd funding website, and look around for stories. Spend a few bucks funding the ones you would love to hear (or read). Treat yourself to being a midwife to a new story.

+1. Don't forget to participate in the 2015 A to Z challenge! Share your stories!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Csenge (@TarkabarkaHolgy)
The Multicolored Diary - Adventures in Storytelling
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Characters Who Blog

It's Christmas Eve, one of the most magical days of the whole year. The stockings are hung by the chimneys with care and we join together with our friends, family and loved ones to celebrate. I thought long and hard about which character most deserved a chance to speak out on this special day (for there's no shortage of Christmas folklore to choose from), but there's one in particular that seemed desperate for a chance to share his story. A cold-hearted miser who learned the true meaning of Christmas . . . 

I hope you enjoyed checking out Ebenezer's blog! And no matter which holiday you're celebrating this time of year, in the immortal words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, everyone." 

Friday, December 19, 2014

This Week on the Road: Bubbles, Poems and Smiling Faces #atozchallenge #roadtrip

Participants in the 2014 Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge are like that box of chocolates that Tom Hanks referred to in the comedy “Forrest Gump.” You never know what you’re going to get when reading any one of them on this year’s sign-up list

That is one of the reasons why the Road Trip encourages bloggers who did the April challenge to continue visiting new blogs that may have been overlooked several months ago. So in the spirit of giving this season, let’s give our fellow bloggers some new readers and some more blog comments. If you need a guide on where to start as you get back into the swing of things, here is the latest activity happening in our A-to-Z community.

A well-travelled, South African bred drug and alcohol counselor who lives in Australia has organized two plans for nourishing the soul in 2015, at QueasyPeasy. Her first plan of activities centered on eating well and getting organized include pink bubbles and a hammock. The backup plan allows you to recharge with naked handstands and selfies…you know…for those days when completing all of your New Year’s resolutions gets to be too much to handle. Peter Heppo at Sleepless in Singapore gives some lessons in English dialect while recounting his battle through a Christmassy tourist destination where his friends were sharing beers and receiving Easter Eggs from young girls dressed as holiday elves. Speaking of the holidays, Eve Gaal at Intangible Hearts sucks readers into a poem that toasts to real friendships that need no explanation. 

Nerd in the Brain is practicing an exercise in gratitude by sharing things that induce smiles. The pride of passing down crocheting skills to the next generation, handmade postcards and yarn displays at the library are among these things. Who knows what happened to the blog Three Foolish Fisherman after its author shaved off her hair for MS Society Cymru? Since ALL of her blog posts from this year’s A-to-Z Challenge are also still up, they’re worth a read by any of you who missed them back in April. Owning “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The X-Files” clearly make her worth visiting, even if it’s for the archives!

What topics have YOU come across on the new blogs you visited this week?

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers writes about the magic of movies at The Madlab Post. Connect with her @MadlabPost on Twitter.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Holidays!!!

Stephen Tremp writes over at Breakthrough Blogs. Stop by and say hello!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Characters Who Blog

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and I am in the Christmas mood! Anyone else out there experiencing the same thing? I've got my tree all decorated and my Pandora station blasting out some holiday tunes. But most importantly, I've made a list of all my favorite Yuletide films and I'm checking it twice. Hands down the best Christmas movie of all time . . . Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (that's the original animated one of course, not the much less awesome Jim Carrey version)!

And I've got to say, if any Christmas character deserves a blog of their own, it's the mean, green, present-stealing Grinch himself. Check him out as he counts down the days to his very least favorite holiday . . . 

I hope you all enjoyed a little Grinchy blogging, and no matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, I hope they're filled with joy and laughter. Happy blogging!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Letter Play – The Answer Key to a 'Mixed Bag O' Fun'

Thanks to all who participated in the Fall's “Mixed Bag O’ FunLetter Play game. The object of this Friday Fun Time installment is to guess the grocery store products that each letter (presented in photos) represents.

Although there weren't any participants who had correct answers to this particular edition of Letter Play, special extra kudos, high fives and alphabet points go out to Birgit at BB Creations and Rebecca Douglass at The Ninja Librarian for their fun attempt in guessing which product the letter “D” represented. “Doritos” was a nice try! Additional points go to C. Lee McKenzie at TheWriteGame for her tasty interpretation of what the letters could possibly stand for.

Here is the Answer Key for the "Mixed Bag O' Fun" Letter Play game:

#1 – GLAD garbage bags
#2 –Life Cereal
#3 – Dr. Praeger veggie burgers
#4 – Poland Spring water
#5 – Naked juice

What are some of YOUR favorite grocery store items when it comes to packaging (design, layout, etc.)?

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers is celebrating her BIRTHDAY at The Madlab Post. Connect with her @MadlabPost on Twitter.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Making friends through Blogging

It's December, in case you hadn't noticed.  All around me people are sorting out gifts for friends and family, and making arrangements for seasonal celebrations, both in our homes and on our blogs.

One of the things that I didn't expect from the A to Z Challenge was that I'd make friends.  It seemed strange, the idea of blogging friends, but of course, once you get people you meet regularly, it's just like any other community.  You may start by passing someone in  the street.  Then you smile, or even just nod.  Then maybe something happens and you speak.  If that goes well, it may develop - you may stop and chat, and perhaps even share a coffee break if you're in the right place at the right time.

It's not until you have to do something together that it changes from an acquaintance to a friendship.  Thinking about the place I used to live, what suddenly bonded a street together was fighting an unwelcome development in the old school playing fields.  In my new home it has been building a new village hall, and setting up new activities.  On my website I made some friends through discovering shared interests during the A to Z Challenge.  Some of those are like people I've known for years and still exchange Christmas cards with - I visit during the A to Z and wonder why I don't visit more often (I could do that with the Road Trip!)  Others I follow more diligently, and love the range of their posts and the experiences they share with me - and with other readers.

BookElves AnthologyI've had two experiences that I really wanted to share - things that I feel have made a real difference to me, and I hope you will find the equivalent in your blogging lives.  The first was when a writer, Sally Harris, invited twelve of us to join her in a Valentines Day project - putting out a chapter of our books in one volume, with a puzzle hidden within it.  Readers who solved it were eligible for a draw for a major prize.  Working with these other authors has led on to other projects - this year we brought out an anthology of short stories for readers aged 8 and over, the BookElves Anthology Volume 1.  One of my 'physical' friends asked about the 'Volume 1' bit.  I just love the optimism of thinking it might be the start of something regular, worth repeating.  I hope so, anyway.  If you write, I hope you find a community you feel you can work with on projects too.

The other experience I wanted to share was the fun and friendship I gained by being one of co-host Damyanti's team for the 2014 A to Z Challenge.  I worked closely with six other blogging enthusiasts (and most of us write), and we still share our activities and support each other's blogs.  You saw last month that the Challenge 2015 co-host team has been announced.  They will all need minions, so if you feel you want to get involved, do.  I assure you it'll be worth it.  You'll make some real friends.  Even if you never meet them face to face!

Thank you all for your interest through this year, and very best wishes for 2015.

Have you made friends through blogging?  Tell all!

Jemima Pett writes fantasy for younger readers in the Princelings of the East series, and is working on an adult scifi series. Read her blog, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Organization - What? At This Time of Year?

My office is NOT this organized!

Organization. It is a word at once ominous and yet freeing. For me I find I am very organized right up to a certain point, and that point always changes depending on the things I have to do. Right now I must prepare for Christmas (yes, not the only one I know), blog, study marketing and begin a rough outline of a marketing strategy, try to get some writing and reading done, pay bills (notice where they are in the lineup!), and still remain sane.
From Point A to Point B
I have a group of “online” friends who I correspond with regularly. I find that I turn to them at least once a day to help keep my head organized. Not because they tell me what to do, because they don’t. But having a "point A" to go to whenever I need to get back on track seems to help, like an outline does while I’m working on a story, or a road map does when I'm traveling. Checking in with them helps me return to my path when I’m way out in a field somewhere.
And you? Do you have a method that helps you stay on track? If you share it, we might be able to incorporate something new into our “staying sane” check list. That said, I wish you all happy holidays, and, I’m looking forward to “seeing” you in 2015!

Images from:

Lisa Buie-Collard is the author of "Evangeline's Miracle". Her new release "The Seventh Man" is coming to in January 2015
Contact her at:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Themes That Rocked the Challenge - Cat Starr and Travels Around the World!

Today we welcome Cat Starr from Astral Traveller and her travels around the world!

Your theme was travel photos from around the world – what made you choose that theme?

When I travel, I keep a daily blog of what I did and what I saw. However, only a few of my photos ever make it to the daily story and rarely do I focus on one topic. Occasionally, I will write in more detail about a place I visited and include more pictures. I saw this challenge as a way to write on specific topics and share more of the stories and pictures that interested me during my travels.

Which letter was your favorite?

My favourite was F = Food shopping in Barcelona. This is still one of my all-time favourite experiences and I highly recommend the Cook and Taste cooking school in Barcelona. Coming in at a close second is J = Jewelry shopping in Santorini. This was a very personal story because I am usually very frugal in my purchases.
This one was definitely a budget-breaker that led to another questionable decision -- walking down over 300 steps to get to the dock!

Which letter was the most difficult?

X! I never really found anything that would fit for X or Z. that will be my biggest challenge next year as well!

How many palaces have you visited?

I’m not really sure! I think The first palace I visited was the Royal Palace in Madrid. The Casa de las Rosas in Buenos Aires is a beautiful building built in the style of European grand palaces. It was on a cruise to the Baltic that I really started visiting palaces. In St. Petersburg, I visited the Hermitage Museum, which is really a collection of five separate palaces. Then there was Catherine’s Palace and Peterhof – the one Peter the Great designed based on Versailles. I also visited a palace in Stockholm and watched the Changing of the Guard, complete with the Horse Guards and a band on horseback! I visited two palaces in Copenhagen and finally the Palace of Versailles – in order to compare it to Petehof. As for London, I’ve walked by Buckingham Palace, but never been in it. Same with Holyrood in Edinburgh – it was closed when I was there due to a royal visit.

What was the most interesting thing you saw at the Helsinki Market?

At almost any market, it is always the food! In the Helsinki Market, it was Finnish fish from Lapland, salmon soup and paella -- that is definitely not the same as paella in Spain! In fact, I really think they need to call it something else (not that it wasn’t good – just not paella!).

What was the weirdest food item you saw in Barcelona?

This is an easy one, the whole goat heads and the “pig faces” (basically just the skin of the pig head).

Where on Earth is Kotor?

Kotor is a small port community in the country of Montenegro. You sail through some beautiful fjords to get to the Bay of Kotor and this beautifully walled town. It is stunning!

What theme are you considering for the Challenge next year?

I have been one more adventures since last year – one to the UK and Ireland and one to the Canadian Maritimes. Therefore, I’ve built up a lot more stories to share! G will probably be for Gaspe – one of my favourite experiences this past year.

I lived in the UK for a while – look forward to those photos, Cat!

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

Friday, December 5, 2014

7 Themes for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge

With the holiday season around the corner, the last thing on people's minds is blogging and what to write as far away as next year. Me? I'm full of good intentions that get lost along the way, so I like the thought of advance planning.

I already know what I'll be blogging about in the A-Z next year, or so I think for right now, until another shiny, new idea comes along. In case you haven't settled on a theme yet, the holidays are a great time to look around and see what possible fun and exciting topics you can cover.  Here's my shortlist of things I'd be interested in seeing done during the Challenge.

A-Z of planning for a new year (Helpful, if you're the sort who can't seem to get things rolling motivation-wise or resolution-wise when January 1 hits)

A-Z of getting though the holidays with your sanity intact (think, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. or any other one for that matter. This guide will help you organize and delegate tasks before, during and after the holidays)

A-Z of planning and researching your projects (Some of us are useless when it comes to getting ourselves organized and ready to work when we're taking on anything new, including writing a book)

A-Z of handmade gift items (If you're good with crafts and such and like the thought of personalized gifts)

A-Z of fun projects for children (This might interest you if you're that relative who gets landed with the job of babysitting all the little tots during family gatherings)

A-Z of getting through the A-Z Challenge (This guide would help the disorganized among us to plan for the chaos that descends during the A-Z if we do little or no planning beforehand)

A-Z Holiday Devotional (If you're religious or spiritual and use devotionals to jumpstart your worship sessions)

Can you think of any other fun topics that would be great to tackle during the A-Z? Anybody planning to take on any of these? Have you started planning for the A-Z?

J.L. Campbell lives in Jamaica and writes romance, women's fiction and young adult fiction. She blogs at