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Monday, March 31, 2014

LET'S GET READY TO BLLOOOGGGG!!!! #atozchallenge


Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/
Author Stephen Tremp http://authorstephentremp.blogspot.com/
Tina @ Life is Good http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/
Damyanti@Amlokiblogs http://amloki.blogspot.com/
Jeremy @ Being Retro http://www.beingretro.com/
Nicole Ayers - The Madlab Post www.madlabpost.com
M. J. Joachim's Writing Tips http://mjjoachim.blogspot.com
Heather M. Gardner http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/
AJ @ Naturally Sweet http://frodofrog.blogspot.com
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian http://unconventionallibrarian.com

We also have a Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/atozchallenge)
email address is infoatoz2014@gmail.com,
and the Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge. - See more at: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-challenge-sign-uplist-2014.html#sthash.BmSm1aZM.dpuf


Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/
Author Stephen Tremp http://authorstephentremp.blogspot.com/
Tina @ Life is Good http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/
Damyanti@Amlokiblogs http://amloki.blogspot.com/
Jeremy @ Being Retro http://www.beingretro.com/
Nicole Ayers - The Madlab Post www.madlabpost.com
M. J. Joachim's Writing Tips http://mjjoachim.blogspot.com
Heather M. Gardner http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/
AJ @ Naturally Sweet http://frodofrog.blogspot.com
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian http://unconventionallibrarian.com

We also have a Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/atozchallenge)
email address is infoatoz2014@gmail.com,
and the Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge. - See more at: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-challenge-sign-uplist-2014.html#sthash.BmSm1aZM.dpuf
"Good morning. This is Stormy the Weather Gnome."

"And, Sparks!"

"Zip it, Sparks, I've got a speech to deliver to the troops.

In less than a day, Bloggers from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest Blog Challenge in the history of Blogkind. 

Blogkind.

That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our Blogging differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests."

"Common Blog interests!"

"Yeah, Sparks, they know.

Perhaps it's fate that tomorrow is April 1st, and you will once again be Blogging for 26 days... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from boredom.

We are Blogging for our right to be AWESOME.

And should we win the Challenge, Blogging from A to Z will no longer be known as a tiny Blog Challenge but as the day the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to BLOG on! We're going to survive!

Tomorrow we celebrate the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge!"


Things are just getting started my Gnome friends!

Hang out with us here on the Blog, on Facebook, and stay tuned for the continuation of the Twitter Chats!

GO BLOG!

TELL A FRIEND!

YOU ROCK!


Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/
Author Stephen Tremp http://authorstephentremp.blogspot.com/
Tina @ Life is Good http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/
Damyanti@Amlokiblogs http://amloki.blogspot.com/
Jeremy @ Being Retro http://www.beingretro.com/
Nicole Ayers - The Madlab Post www.madlabpost.com
M. J. Joachim's Writing Tips http://mjjoachim.blogspot.com
Heather M. Gardner http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/
AJ @ Naturally Sweet http://frodofrog.blogspot.com
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian http://unconventionallibrarian.com   


Facebook
Email: infoatoz2014@gmail.com
Twitter: @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge #AZchat
WEBPAGE

Friday, March 28, 2014

Do You Blog? Have you joined the #atozchallenge yet? #blogging


Today, in the last week before  the A to Z challenge, Csenge Zalka from #TeamDamyanti is here to tell you the basics.

If you haven't heard it yet: As a blogger, one of the best ways to boost your audience is to sign up for the A to Z Challenge!

Every blogger gets a kick out of writing, but a large part of the fun during the month of April is discovery: Hopping from blog to blog, reading about things you never knew before, making connections that will last well beyond the 26 days of the challenge.

Whether you're joining today, or you've signed up long ago, here's a quick and dirty list of things that might help:

1. Start visiting early.

The list is already up! You can get an early jump on visiting your friendly A to Z neighbors, and follow the ones you find particularly interesting.

2. Don't overdo it.

Set a comfortable number of blogs per day that you want to visit. Keep in mind that you will spend more time on some than others, especially later in the month when there is a lot more to read! Make it a number aroun 5, but make sure that these are 5 new blogs, not some that you have visited before!

3. Visit later in the day.

Some people post later than others, because of time zones or personal schedules. If you set out very early in the day, you might run into blogs that have not updated yet. If you give them some time, you can get the fresh letters from everyone!

4. Visit those that visit you.

This is really important, people! If someone visits you and leaves a comment, go check out where they came from! It's common courtesy, and also can take you to blogs that you might have missed otherwise. It can be the start of a beautiful blogging friendship!

5. Make your visiting routine diverse.

You might be drawn to a particular kind of blog – books, crafts, travel, etc. - but make sure to give a chance to some that are outside your comfort zone. Go crazy on the categories, that's why we have them!

6. Mark the blogs you like.

Click Follow, or bookmark the blogs you especially like, anything you need to do to make sure you will find your way back to them later.

7. Give some extra love to the smaller blogs!

We have a special list for blogs that have less than 100 followers. Make sure to check it out and help them grow!

8. Don't start from the top.

If everyone stars with Blog No. 1, people at the bottom of the list will have a disadvantage, and you might miss some great blogs that have higher numbers. Start at your own name and work your way down. Or, alternately, jump around like a crazy caffeinated frog. Believe me, it is fun.


If you haven't done so yet, sign up for the A to Z Challenge, trust me, you'll love it.

Look up a detailed checklist for the A to Z challenge, join the Facebook page, become part of the Facebook group, follow the challenge via @AprilA2Z on twitter, and check out some quick social media tips to help your blog.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An A-Z Story in A-Z Style: Inspiration for #atozchallenge

Today please welcome Michelle Wallace, one of Alex J. Cavanagh's minions, as our guest.  I ran across this post in my travels and thought it might inspire you, too.  Take it away, Michelle!

Some of you may remember it - I used it as a promo post for the 2012 challenge.
I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to resurrect it and share it again...

                               A to Z Story in A to Z Style  

 
Arlee the  
                        
Brains behind this

Creative cool challenge;

Demanding, dazzling yet different;

Entertaining and energizing every blogger,

For a period of 26 days,

Get ready for the ultimate blogging challenge.

Hype yourself – get into the swing of things.

Infectious atmosphere, incredible feeling, impossible to put into words.

Jubilation, an upbeat spirit prevails and spreads throughout the blogosphere.

Keep in contact – re-connect with bloggy buddies from last years challenge.

Love affair of an entirely different nature (lovestruck and confused? click here)

Midway – made it… the halfway point – not that bad after all, is it?

Natural situation that novices need help along the way – experienced bloggers nurture nervous newbies

Oodles of oomph required – old bloggers maintain an optimistic outlook or others may opt out

Phew! Pressure's on… big time. Plod along at your own pace. Perseverance needed. Push yourself forward.

Quirky, quaint and for some the "quintessential letter of dread"  – may cause bloggers to quiver and quake.

Revitalisation, rejuvenation, re-energising and recharging of dying batteries may be required at this point – remember you're not alone…

System overload… out of sync… saturation point almost reached… senses spinning as you struggle to sustain the systematic flow.

Thank goodness… can see the end in sight. The turbulent, tumultuous, torturous journey almost over! Almost time to say - toodles.

Unbelievable – the undeniable atmosphere of unity! Lots of bloggers upbeat – also a sense of urgency as the last five letters loom.

Va-va-voom!  Versatility and variation is the name of the game as the bloggers prepare for the end – full of verve and vigour.

What do I say now? Words fail me… sending  well-wishes to all bloggers participating – if you made it this far, three more posts…

X stands for x-ceptional, x-otic, x-factor, x-files, xtreme, x-hale, x-rated, xerox – the letter that most bloggers have a hard time getting to grips with.

You know that I've run out of things to say. Yes, enough yada-yada and blah-blah-blah… you'll understand when you get to the Y-post in April.

Zis is zee end. No more left. Zip… zilch… zero… and there is no way that I'm gonna make 26 words for the Z-post… I tried.

Michelle blogs at Writer in Transit.  Be sure to pay her a visit!  It's always a good time over there.

~Tina
                  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bonus A-to-Z Challenge Questions Answered #atozchallenge #faq

The A-to-Z Challenge is B.Y.O.B. – Bring your own blog! As this alphabet party approaches, we look forward to welcoming all of our blogging guests in a 26-day marathon, complete with entertainment, socializing, reminiscing and learning. 

We like a good party – the larger, the better. So like a good party host, we don’t want to have to show anyone the door – but we will if we find a guest who is spoiling the fun with adult content or blogging recklessly without warning. 

Now that we all understand the importance of following directions, let’s take a look at the differences between Adult Content and Offensive content, considering that these two can get mistaken for each other.

Adult Content Blogs vs Offensive Blogs

A Word on Adult Content Blogs:
"Does cursing count as adult content?" 

"I'm a potty mouth, and there's a clear warning regarding such on my blog. 
Should I categorize as AC here, as well?"

The Short Answer: Yes

The Long Answer: Blogs using frequent harsh language are deemed as adult content. If your posts, however, contain a sporadic use of profane words, then it does not necessarily have to be listed as adult content – but your blog may still be offensive to visitors; which is something we must take into consideration. As such, if your posts have questionable material such as a harsh word here or there on an otherwise non-AC blog, we strongly urge you to put a disclaimer at the top of your posts; which brings us to the subject of defining Offensive Content.

In previous years, we've had youth participants in the challenge. While we would not expect you to monitor or police the levels of exposure that someone else’s child has to harsh language, we do ask that all of our participants show some courtesy to each other, which includes providing visitors with enough information -- in the form of disclaimers -- to decide if they want to venture further and continue reading certain content.

A Word on Offensive Blogs and use of Disclaimers:
“If I have a few scattered cuss words in some of my A-to-Z posts, would that automatically qualify me as an AC blog?”

“There are some blogs out there with content I don't really want to see ...in past years 
I have come across blogs that gave me the creeps. 

“What about the case of say to occasional nude drawing? 
Nothing more than what you might see in a PG-13 movie?” 

“I'm pretty sure I'm PG 13, that's okay right?”

The Short Response: Non-AC blogs containing offensive content are strongly advised to include a disclaimer on their blog.

The Long Reponse: We live in a world encompassing different belief systems, cultures and viewpoints that each have their own take on what is, and is not, appropriate. Oftentimes, what may be offensive to some guys and gals will not offend other folks. Even British blogger Rob Z Tobor pointed out his thoughts about Brits being less offended by certain things than us Americans and since the internet is an international medium, anyone, anywhere is bound to come across a blog or website that may be offensive based on his or her own perspectives. Keeping this in mind, Non-AC blogs that contain Offensive Content are strongly urged to include a disclaimer on their posts, at least during April.

A Quick Guide on How to Use Disclaimers:

There are many ways to incorporate disclaimers or warnings on your blog, where necessary, during the A-to-Z Challenge. They can be as simple as a line of text or a photo/graphic that gives notice to readers who visit your blog.  Here are two ways to incorporate a disclaimer notice on your blog.

  • One main site-wide disclaimer – You can put a warning in your blog header, at the top of your sidebar or similar highly visible area that gives notice to everyone who visits your blog. It’s a one-and-done approach that, if done properly, can be effective in allowing you to focus on posting and not have to worry about the disclaimers. Kelly at DysfunctionallyFunctional is an example of bloggers who do a fantastic job of utilizing the site-wide approach of using disclaimers. She displays them in several places on her blog, which provides fair notice to all who visit about the nature of the content we are about to read.
  • Individual disclaimers per blog post – You can write or display a warning within the content of each blog post, which gives readers enough advance notice to determine if they are mature enough or adventurous enough or open-minded enough to handle the material. Sophie Duncan and her twin sister Natasha Duncan-Drake at Fantasy Boys XXX puts disclaimers at the top of each of their blog posts, using a simple grading system for the level of intensity in each post.

It is worth noting that the above examples are full-out Adult Content (AC) blogs that just happen to also be using disclaimers, which is an awesome double-whammy in giving visitors a heads up on their content. That said, even if you are a Non-AC blogger that does not publish or display explicit language on a frequent basis like Kelly does, or all-male erotica like the Duncan sisters do, we still urge you to at least put a disclaimer on your blog

This way, teenagers and readers who might be offended will know what they are dealing with upon visiting your blog during the challenge.

Still need guidance on using disclaimers? Check out Carrie-Anne’sMagick Theatre which is one of the Non-AC blogs that not only understand our purpose for advising the use of disclaimers, she also puts them into practice very well.

 “I'm doing what I did last year, putting a bolded warning/notice on any posts that might have some swearing, adult language, or a type of humor that offends certain people. Overall, there's barely any of that in the posts I'm going to do for this year's challenge, but I think it's fair to give a heads-up to anyone who's squeamish about certain language.” – 
  • Never underestimate the power of our A-to-Z Challenge community! One of the easiest ways to get help with your #atozchallenge questions or concerns is to reach out to one of your fellow bloggers who is participating in the challenge. 
  • When in doubt, you can connect with one of the Co-Hosts or send your question/concern to @AprilA2Z.
Since its inception, the Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge has been an all-inclusive community filled with members who support one another and practice consideration for the viewpoints of their fellow bloggers -- even if they are different than their own. People within the A-to-Z community agree to disagree on a variety of subjects, while still having courtesy to treat each other with respect. 

Co-Hosts and participants of the Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge have furnished information on common questions and concerns involving our April blogathon. Due to the large amount of bloggers who signup to participate in the A-to-Z Challenge, it is important for each participant to practice his or her due diligence in following the Guidelines set forth on the A-to-Z Challenge Sign-up List as well as the knowledge provided in content published on this blog -- while also taking into account the additional information available on our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) page and our CONTACT page.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Getting to Know Your Co-Hosts - M. J. Joachim

Teresa, that’s my birth name, and if my pen name hadn’t stuck so long ago, that’s what my byline would say. Thanks to my Dad for deciding I’d be strong like St. Teresa of Avila and his little flower, like St. Therese of Lisieux – my strong Irish Catholic background influenced me, but the writer in me remained open to interpretation on all fronts. Being the youngest of such a large group (8 kids) only encouraged me to be who I am, a free spirit with more than too much creativity, and way too many ideas to keep things interesting.

Thus, the birth of my blogs…if you want to get to know me, that’s probably the easiest way. They were born from a desire to write, and the easiest things to write about are things I enjoy doing every day. I try not to get too personal on my blogs, treating them more like magazines, than a diary. But this is where you’ll see my creativity at work. If you follow me closely, you’ll also catch glimpses of my personal life from time to time.



Take my book reviews, for example. I’ve always loved to read, so sharing my thoughts about what I’m reading is perfectly natural, an easy progression. I remember one time in high school, my history teacher consistently had us write current event essays. While most kids simply followed the directions, I wrote a story about the story. Mr. Rogers loved my current event papers so much, that he told me never to let anyone teach me how to write, encouraging me to use my writing as an expression of myself, even if the writing was about something else entirely.

One of the reasons I started writing book reviews on my Writing Tips blog is because I hated writing book reports in school. Those formulas the teachers made us follow were so mundane; they drove me out of my mind. When I read books, the stories come alive. I become one with the scenes and characters; they speak to me. As a reviewer, there’s an added element, because I get to share what makes these books stand out, or not, against their competition.



At first, I was a little nervous about writing negative book reviews. After reading more than my share of poorly edited books, I changed my mind. In fact, I get a little insulted as a reader, when a book is not professionally produced, before it is published. Using my writing skills to illustrate how and why these books didn’t make the cut provides valuable information for my audience. Letting my creativity flow as I write them, allows the writer in me to be true. The same holds true when I get to write positive reviews, and I have a much better time writing those. I totally get into it, when I get to praise the authors.

Call me M. J., Teresa, Mrs. D., Aunt T. or Mom – pretty much call me whatever your heart desires. In my mind, I’m just another person on the planet, striving to achieve the ultimate goal of meeting my maker in Heaven someday. There are many roads to get there, a few detours along the way and lots of people we meet on the journey. The hope is they will be better for having known us, because we’re real and the love in our hearts make us shine.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know me better. It’s a true pleasure getting to know you too!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved

Photo credit:  M. J. Joachim + the two center ones received from my Mom last summer. ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 24, 2014

Checklist: Are you READY for the BIG DAY? #atozchallenge 4/1/2014

You've signed up on the list.  You've maybe written some posts.  Maybe you have a theme, but are you REALLY ready for Tuesday, April 1, 2014 when the biggest blogging event of the year will begin?  Here's a checklist so you can be sure.

1) You might have heard this before, but you HAVE TO TURN OFF CAPTCHA, aka WORD VERIFICATION aka PROVE YOU'RE NOT A ROBOT.  You really don't need that "keep out" sign. (If you're worried about spam, disabling anonymous comments is the best defense, and you can also you use comment moderation.)

If you don't know how to turn it off, there's a video in the FAQ to help you.

2) Do you have a way for visitors to follow your blog? 
You can use Google Friend Connect (GFC), follow by email, follow by RSS feed, or all three.  We recommend that you have at least one if not all three options available for guests to be able to come read more, or look at your great photos, or listen to your creative songs, or learn your awesome craft ideas.  You do want more followers, right?

3) Have you cleaned up your sidebar?  (I need to...egads, it's cluttered...) What I mean is, do you have your sidebar in a logical order?  How to follow you (see #2) should be near the top, if not THE top item. Arrange the rest of your items in the order of importance ~ what do you want people to know about you and your blog.  Some may not scroll all the way to the bottom, so put the important "stuff" at the top.

4) Do you have your participant badge displayed?  I'm talking about this one, found in the banners/badges tab above:



I know some of you have very legitimate reasons for not displaying it, and we're not forcing anyone to have it up. However, here are some reasons why it's to YOUR advantage to have it in your sidebar, and I suggest placing it right under your follower widget of choice.

* visitors know right away that you're participating

* if you put it up NOW it's advertising and we get more participants

* you avoid a reminder email from one of the co-hosts or one of the minions to please display your badge (which saves us work and we'd really appreciate that)

5) Do you know where the sign-up list is?  I suggest having it open in your browser all day so that it's easy to visit someone when you have just a few minutes.  All of those add up, and pretty soon you've been to more than the suggested 5 blogs immediately following your number on the list.  That will bring you more visitors!  This is the sign-up list.

6) Do you know what to do once you've put your first post up?  A lot of people have been asking.  The quick answer is: you've already signed up on the list I linked in #5, you don't have to link up each day.  However, here's what you should do to insure success:

* advertise your post using your other social media outlets of choice

* if Twitter is one of those, include the #atozchallenge hashtag

* for those of you on facebook, get active with the A-Z facebook page by visiting it daily to see what's going on, liking comments, adding your own.  Doing so will bring more visibility to your blog, and more visitors.

* if you include an image, others can pin your post on Pinterest

* make sure you're visiting others.  If you visit, they will come.  If you sit there, they will not.  Your success, your connections with others, your increase in friends and exposure all depends on YOU.  If you invest the time to make the first move, it WILL pay off.

* the more you get yourself out there, the more you will get out of this adventure

Yes, most of this has been said before.  It's worth repeating though.  The A to Z Team's goal is for this be a rewarding experience for you, and we really do care about you.  We may not be able to read all of your posts...but we want you to succeed.

Questions?  Contact Us tab is right up there.

~Tina, on behalf of the A to Z Team

P.S Got some new info this morning.  Be sure to read Ida's comment below. It has other following suggestions and shows you how to fix GFC if you're having problems with it.  Thanks, Ida!




Friday, March 21, 2014

What's up with these #atozchallenge Category Codes?

Happy A-Z Theme Reveal Day! Stop on by to see the list of folks who are participating!

*****

In the 2013 Challenge, we introduced a new feature to the sign-up process called Category Codes. These are codes which allow you to identify the general topics of your blog, to give other participants a bit more information about what they might see on your blog, before they click your link. In case you missed it, here are the instructions and the list of Codes from the sign-up page: 

There are categories for those looking for like-minded blogs. Select ONE category code and enter it after your blog’s title/name. The code applies to your blog, not your theme for the Challenge and is purely optional. However, if your blog has adult content, you MUST mark it (AC) or it will be removed from the list. Codes are as follows: 

1. WRITING: (WR) 
2. BOOKS: (BO) 
3. FILM: (FM) 
4. PHOTOGRAPHY: (PH) 
5. GARDENING: (GR) 
6. CRAFT: (CR) 
7. ART: (AR) 
8. MUSIC: (MU)   

9. CULINARY: (CU) 
10. LIFESTYLE: (LI ) 
11. FASHION: (FA) 

12. PERSONAL: (PR) 

13. SOCIAL MEDIA: (SO) 
14. GAMING: (GA) 
15. EDUCATION: (ED) 
16. POLITICS: (PO) 
17. HISTORY: (HI) 
18. SCIENCE: (SC) 
19. HUMOR: (HU) 
20. TRAVEL: (TR) 
21. MISCELLANEOUS: (MI) 
22. ADULT CONTENT: (AC) 

The A-Z Team thinks these codes are really awesome, and encourages everyone to use them. Here are a few reasons it's beneficial to use the Category Codes:
  • Interested in a certain topic? Look for folks with the appropriate Category Code marking and go visit their blog!
  • Hoping to attract others to your blog that are interested in the same topics as you are? Commenting on others' blogs is the best way to drive traffic to your own, so if say, you write about Education and want other educators to find you - go visit them first! Remember, A-Z is all about making connections so use the Codes to help you find your people.
  • Is there something that you aren't really interested in? You might skip blogs that are marked with that Code. But! The Challenge can also be a great opportunity to push your boundaries. In our humble opinion, our participants are the best of the 'net, so the Challenge might be the place where you find a really excellent blogger that shows you that a certain topic isn't so bad, after all.

As we are just over a week out from the start of the Challenge, and the sign-ups are just rolling in, we hope that new participants will stake their claim in a category, and hope that folks who are already browsing the list will start to take advantage of the Codes to find their future blogging besties!

********
A note on Adult Content blogs - this is the only category for which we have made it mandatory to identify yourself. Many of our participants have families and jobs, and we don't want to risk disruption of harmony in either of those locations if someone were to accidentally end up with explicit material up on their computer. And so we require that AC blogs identify themselves, out of respect for other participants. Any unidentified AC blog that is discovered by the Host Team will be immediately removed from the list. For more information, check out this post from a couple weeks ago. Thanks for your cooperation on this!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How to Be One Step Ahead for #atozchallenge

Hello Alphabet Fans,
I have a quick idea I thought I'd share to make life easier come April. Unlike most of the co-hosts, I haven't written and pre-scheduled all of my posts.  I do have a theme, and I do know what I'm doing for each letter, but that's as far as I've gotten.

Maybe that's where you are, too, or maybe you don't have a theme and are just going to go day by day. That's totally cool, too.  Here's how to make it just a bit quicker each day.

Between now and April 1, go put up a draft of each post.  Here are the steps.

1) Download all of Jeremy's amazingly beautiful letters.  I like to start each post with the letter of the day so that visitors know right away that I'm participating, and on the right letter.  They are under the "banner/badges" tab up at the top.  They look like this.


Pretty, eh?

2) Now go to start to write a post in the compose window.  Insert the correct letter.  Put the letter A as your title, or the real title, if you've picked it out.

3) Pre- schedule the post.  Not sure how to pre-schedule?  I wrote a post about it here.

4) Not sure what day to put each letter on?  Under banners/badges there's a desk top calendar you can use, or in the FAQ, there's a simple list of what letter goes with each day.

5) Be sure to save your post.  It will show up in your post list as a draft.  

6) When you've written the post, even if it's days ahead, be sure to push publish.  It will sit and wait until the proper day and time and then magically, you'll wake up and see your post already up, and with comments!  Because you have turned off the evil CAPTCHA, right?

If it's still on, and you should check your settings under comments to make sure, we have a video in the FAQ about how to disable it.  DO IT NOW IF YOU HAVEN'T.

I hope these tips are helpful.  If you have any questions, we are all ready to answer them.  

infoatoz2014@gmail.com

Be patient though, AJ and I are pretty busy, so it might take a few days.  If you're in a hurry for the answer, you can email me, Tina, directly.  My email is in the contact tab.

~Tina, A to Z Team

P.S Do you see how useful those tabs are?  If you haven't read them, please do so.  The info we've put there for you will help you have a great A-Z Challenge!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#atozchallenge -- Stormy the Weather Gnome talks mid-alphabet slump!

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If this is your first year doing the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, or your fifth, it's easy to get bogged down during the middle of the alphabet.

It's not that M, N, O, and P are boring, it's just that you've been looking at letters for about two weeks and there seems no end in sight!


Well, don't bury your head like an ostrich! 

You must embrace the middle!

You must find your inner motivation!

You must push through those 'sucking you down like quicksand' and 'walking through molasses' letters!


Have a laugh!
 


Have another!



And then, get right back to work!



The end is near!!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Getting to Know Your Co-Hosts for #atozchallenge: Tina @ Life is Good


Hi, I'm Tina, the super-shy one on the team.  Ahem.  SO not true.  If you've ever read my blog, Life is Good, you know I'm pretty much an open book.  I have no on-line persona.  I'll talk about anything (and have).  I write embarrassing stories about myself.  I talk about my family, my life, my struggles, fears, hopes and dreams.  

I know some think that doing so is dangerous, that I'm opening myself up for stalking, identity theft.  Kidnapped children.   Have at it people.  You can come take my medical bills, my asthma, my messy house, my struggles with contentment.  You can come finish all the still-in-progress projects at my house.  You won't find much of material value here, and my life is eternal, so if you take my earthly one, well then, it was my time.  I have a strong faith, and though I'm a very bossy, take charge, schedule oriented "let's get this done" type of person, I have no illusions that I have control of my life.  God's in charge.  

I do like the questions, so here you go:


How far in advance do you prepare your theme and complete your A-Z before the Challenge begins? (Yvonne)

Um, I usually don't.  I try to get the first three or so set up, and if I know I'll be out of town, then I'll write the posts for those days.  There are several reasons for this.  One: I'm so stinking busy from January to April with behind the scenes stuff of a co-host, that I don't have the time.  Two: I really like the spontaneity of daily writing, the pressure, the deadline. I know that sounds crazy, but it's totally doable if you have your theme and topics for each letter picked out. So yeah, none of mine are done yet...but I picked my theme in January and have been working on matching the letters and the topics since then.

At the end of a long day…wine? beer?? Walk?? Chocolate?? Pet your pet?? Sex?? (SammyD)

SammyD and I have been getting to know each other.  It started with the info@ email and went from there...so I will not shy away from a question with the word sex in it.  This does not make this question (AC) so feel free to keep reading.

I love wine and beer, I can't walk very far right now because of my severe asthma but it's getting better.  Can't eat chocolate because I'm hypoglycemic.  Can't have pets because of the asthma.  Sex is one of the best stress relievers I know, so at the end of the day, you'll find me with a glass of chardonnay in my hand, and a gleam in my eye ;-)

Do you believe in Sasquatch? (JoJo)

Absolutely.  I also believe we still have some aquatic dinosaurs.  My husband, The Engineer, and my dad, The Swede, and I were on a sailing trip on the Chesapeake Bay.  We each individually saw the head of a plesiosaurus come up and say hi, about a 100 yards away. The Engineer saw it first and asked my dad what it was.  We watched some more.  It came up again. We looked at each other in awe.  We thought maybe we'd had too much sun, but we kept watching and theorizing, and in the end, it was the only conclusion which made sense.  Then The Engineer and I watched a NOVA about dinosaurs and saw what they looked like and it was exactly what we saw.  NOVA said they're still out there.

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I blog at Life is Good, and have had two short stories published.  I'm a columnist for a newsletter, and have been writing my first novel for too long. I'm also the mom of two teenage boys and the wife of a nutty-professor inventor-engineer so life is never dull, nor does it have much free time.  But life IS good.




Monday, March 17, 2014

Meet Your Co-Hosts - A Word (or Two) about Nicole #atozchallenge

I am Nicole Ayers and this will be my fourth year doing the Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge at The Madlab Post as well as my second year in a Co-Host position. 

In addition to hosting the Monday Movie Meme – a weekly blog event challenging you to pick films you've seen that fit various themes, I pimp out my short film "ABYSS: The Greatest Proposal Ever" in hopes of finding my place in the world. You can connect with me on Twitter, Watch videos on my YouTube channel and Follow my boards on Pinterest – but many of you all knew that already, so let’s get down to business where I tell you what you probably didn't know about me.
  • I favor action and adventure movies among most all other genres. If I’m going to the theater, something has to start exploding within the first half or somebody (preferably Bruce Willis or Matt Damon) better be jumping off of moving vehicles on the highway. Otherwise, I tend to lose interest quickly.
  • Right now, my Top 5 movies (in no particular order) are:
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The Town
Bad Boys II
Schindler’s List
A Beautiful Mind
  • My fascination with movies comes from the invention of video cameras. During childhood, I was always fascinated with recording devices -- being able to capture moments and play them back on television or a boom box stereo system. 
An uncle used to bring his huge VHS camcorder to most of my family’s’ events and I was always excited by how he could get everything on tape for us to watch later for amusement or remembrance. I later developed interest in learning how films were made.
  • If I was forced to choose between spending the rest of my life without books or without films, I would say goodbye to films. Books would be my best friend forever because they can be enjoyed as-is whereas we need so much more resources to watch films such as hardware & utilities. 
Films require high maintenance, even as a pastime. People don’t need DVD players, iTunes, electricity or data plans and other first-world luxuries to read a book. Plus, it would be silly of me to ignore how much more beneficial reading is compared to watching movies.
  • What I like best about co-hosting the A-to-Z Challenge is the chance to give back to Arlee Bird and his event that helped me step my blogging game up, saved me from existential despair and helped me build so many quality friendships.
  • My philosophy on life can be described in the following sentence:
Each day is a blessing, so make it count!
  • The weirdest thing I've researched is vesicovaginal fistulas, for a freelance writing assignment, which made me even more apprehensive about childbirth.
  • The last book I really did not enjoy was The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. I had high hopes for this book but it pissed me off by being so difficult to read that I stopped after only a few pages in.
  • If I could describe my short film “Abyss: The Greatest Proposal Ever” in one word, it would be: Propositions
  • In a classroom full of creative, sporty and geeky children, the artistic group is where I would fit in. I was a creative kid who could usually be found drawing pictures, painting and writing short stories at any given time. I also played “school” while managing a home library. While sports weren't my thing, I was pretty good at soccer but if I could turn back the hands of time, I’d repeat my cheerleading days in a heartbeat.
  • I’m still prepping a theme and am not even at the halfway mark for completing my A-Z posts in advance. Add to that my spontaneous plan to do the challenge with two blogs this year and it’s just one big ol’ pickle of madness that could very well be a recipe for disaster. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking!
  • Telling someone my darkest secret would defeat the whole purpose of it being a secret, would it not? I think so.
  • Sometimes I blog in one of the student lounges at a local University and other times I blog in the (dis)comfort of my kitchen.
That’s all for now, folks! I would like to thank my Mighty Minion Bureau Assets – Dale at Smurfin’ the Web, Andrea MusicFan at Twelve Steps to Cloud Nine, Melody-Ann Jones-Kauffman at MAJK INK, Deniz Bevan at The Girdle of Melian, Sydney Aaliyah and SA Larsen for helping me come up with material for this “About Me” post for this year’s Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge. 

Also, shouts out to Yvonne, Susan Scott and Rob Tobor for obliging in Tina Downey’s (at Life is Good) request to hit us all with your best questions. Stay tuned for additional nuggets of stuff about me, which I’ll be putting up over at The Madlab Post.