Friday, February 27, 2015

Characters Who Blog

It's getting closer to the start of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge -- are you getting excited? I've already started working on my blog posts, and I can't wait to share them! But for today, we're going to hear the A to Z's from someone else, a character many of us hold in the highest of regards. Well, I do at least. 

So let's hear it from the most famous wizard in the world . . . 

I hope you enjoyed hearing from my favorite wizard, Harry Potter! You still have time to join him and sign up to participate from the A to Z Challenge. It's going to be a blast! Join us and have a little alphabetic awesomeness. 

Harry Friday everyone, and as always, happy blogging. 

A to Z Co-host S. L. Hennessy can be found blogging at Pensuasion.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Meet Your Co-Host: John Holton

I'm John Holton, host of the blog The Sound of One Hand Typing, simulcast on The Sound of One Hand Typing FM. (I'll the answer the question, "whaddaya mean, simulcasting?" next week.) I chose the name "The Sound of One Hand Typing" based on the Zen riddle ("what is the sound of one hand clapping?") and the fact that I type with one hand thanks to a stroke a few years back.

I've been blogging daily since July 1 of last year. My blog covers just about anything (as you've heard, it's kind of the Seinfeld of blogs); you might read about music, old TV, math, cats, technical topics, and anything else that crosses my mind on a given day. I enjoy challenges, and also participate in A Round of Words in 80 Days, the bimonthly "Battle of the Bands", and Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

This is my fourth year doing the Challenge. During my first Challenge, I used the word list from the NATO spelling alphabet; the year after that, members of the Chicago White Sox from the late 1960's and 1970's; and last year, I winged it, just picking random words and writing about them. I have a better theme than that this year, which I'll share on March 23, the same day we all do. (I've already posted it, because I was so excited, but plan on posting it again that day.)

I'm a retired (as in "out of work and on Disability") computer person with experience in training, development, support, installation, and system administration. The blog has helped me become a better writer. Do I have a book inside me? I'm not sure just yet, so I blog to fill in the time while I figure out the answer to that one.

There were two reasons I wanted to be on the staff of the Challenge this year:

  • I get a lot of joy out of doing this every year, and wanted to "give back" in some way, so I could help other people enjoy this as well.
  • I wanted to find something to do with my time now that I'm not actively working. Being part of the blogging community is a lot of fun, and making connections with other bloggers fills that void.

Now, onto some of your questions:

  • Susan Scott asks: Do you like sleeping? Do you remember your dreams? I enjoy sleeping, maybe more than I should. I remember some of my dreams, but more the settings than the people.

  • Barbara in Caneyhead asks: What would you do if your pc died in the middle of the AtoZChallenge? I have a desktop, a laptop, a smartphone, a Kindle Fire, and my wife has an iPad. I think I'm covered. On the other hand, if all were plugged in and we had a massive power surge, knocking everything out simultaneously, I'd run down to the library.

  • betty asks: How do you manage your time during the A/Z challenge? I get as many entries written before April 1 as I can, and use Sundays to finish the ones I haven't done.

  • Luann Braley asks: Have you ever dropped Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke to see what would happen? I've never done it, but I remember an episode of Two and a Half Men where Jake did it.

Looking forward to this year's Challenge and getting to know more of you! See you soon!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lessons from the LEGO Girl on Blogging from A to Z

K is for Knight | Courtney Pearson's Sketch Blog | Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2012
Your Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge experience can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. Having a theme for the month can be helpful; yet, there is no rule that says you need to have one. So how can you get the most bang for your blogging buck while figuring out what to post every day in April and visiting hundreds of other blogs in the process? Do something that will grab your readers’ attention and get people talking about (and linking to) your blog posts.

Vancouver based artist Courtney Pearson used Legos to depict various subjects such as dancing and tributes to Sherlock Holmes, when she participated in the 2012 Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge. To date, her cute alphabet inspired displays are one of the most memorable blog posts in the history of the challenge. 

What makes Courtney’s theme so interesting is that she bucks the writing trend that packs the A-to-Z Challenge year after year. Most of her blog posts contain one-liners while others are no longer than a single paragraph. Although this former A-to-Z Challenge participant fell short of completing all 26 days of blogging, here are two useful lessons that can be gleaned from her efforts of showing more, writing less and adding a much appreciated touch of whimsy to our alphabet blogathon.

Making Arrangements Says it All

Use food, knickknacks or other items around the house to illustrate a theme related to a letter of the alphabet. For example, try creating a smiley face for the Letter S, using fruit, vegetables or cereal. You could also do a collage depicting what your ideal vacation looks like. New Years may have passed but there is still time to create a vision board for your bucket list, yearly resolutions or general life goals. The A-to-Z Challenge is a good opportunity to share the process of making a collage, showing readers how they can make one on their own using similar materials. This would be PERFECT for those of you who are into scrapbooking.

A Photo a Day Keeps the Writer’s Block at Bay

Take Wordless Wednesdays to another level by posting one image of a person, place or object representing a letter of the alphabet, every day in April. Of course, this means you have to take photos yourself (which is easy since the camera on your cell phone has probably already been taken for a spin many times over). If 26 photos sound daunting to you, consider using images as a backup for days when you don’t have the time or interest in writing yet another 500-word (give or take) blog post to keep up with the letter of the day.

These two lessons can help to make your Blogging from A to Z Challenge fun because they involve less work and more play. So, if at any point you find yourself short on words in April, take these lessons into consideration and you just might survive the A-to-Z Challenge.

What is YOUR plan to ace the Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge this year?

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers writes about magic, theaters and women in the U.S. Navy at The Madlab Post. Chat with her @MadlabPost on Twitter. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meet your co-host: The Multicolored Lady

Hi, my name is Csenge, and I am a storyteller.
No, really, I do that for a living.

I have been blogging for 8 years now. I started my first blog when I came to the USA as an international student (I a originally from Hungary) and I needed a way to keep all my friends and family updated without writing billions of emails. I soon started a parallel blog in English, to keep my new American friends updated - and it the rest is history. Currently I have three regular blogs; two of them in English, and both participating in the A to Z Challenge because I am a chronic overachiever that way.
This is my fourth year in the challenge. Last year I was a minion on Team Damyanti, and this year I am a co-host. I am exactly this much excited about it:

On The Multicolored Diary I blog about storytelling, and my storytelling-related adventures: Gigs, conferences, festivals, new folktale collections and storytelling CDs I enjoy, things like that. For the past two years I had folktale-related themes (Weird Princesses and Tales with Colors). This year I am doing my most ambitious theme yet, but in order to find out what it is, you'll have to wait for the Theme Reveal Blogfest! (or better yet, participate!)

On MopDog, I blog about Hungarian weirdness, such as the cartoons of my childhood, strange Hungarian proverbs, and Aggressive Piglet jokes. Last year I barely made it through the alphabet, but this year I am all prepared, and even have a theme! Again, you'll find out later.

Apart from blogging and telling stories, I am also an author. My first book in English is a collection of 55 folktales that feature superpowers (pretty much anything from Invisibility to Sonic Blast). It is titled Tales of Superhuman Powers, and I wrote it as a resource for storytellers and teachers who want to get students interested in traditional stories. Also, because I love superpowers. I'm a nerd and a gamer, I should have said that up front.

Oh, and you can also follow me on Twitter, where I most tweet about storytelling, epics, books, and TV shows.

And now, for some of the questions you submitted:

Do you remember your dreams? (from Susan Scott)
Yep, I usually do. I am also pretty good at lucid dreaming (being aware that I am in a dream without waking up). Dreams are stories, and they don't always make sense, but I like them anyway :)

Which do you prefer, horses, dogs, cats, lizards? (also from Susan)
Dogs. Definitely, 100%. I'm a huge dog person. I have an English Sheepdog called Elderberry. I also love puli dogs (hence my second blog) and Irish wolfhounds.

Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr., and why? (from Barbara in Caneyhead)
RDJ. Because Iron Man.

Have you ever dressed up in some costume and ran into Walmart wearing it? (from Naila Moon)
Heck yes. I am in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) which means that when I need to shop during an event, I run in and out of all kinds of stores wearing historical garb (either 16th century Italian, or 2nd century Sarmatian, depending on the day). I love the looks I get :)

Happy A to Z everyone! I'm looking forward to visiting with you in April :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

A to Z Challenge Tips - The Advantage of a Theme

If you’re participating in the Challenge, you are probably already planning your posts. That’s great–plan and write as many as possible before the Challenge begins so you have more time to visit other bloggers in April. And it’s easier to do that if you have a theme for the month. That’s another reason why we’ve run the feature Themes That Rocked the Challenge. It gives you an idea of the variety of themes out there.

The first year of the Challenge, I didn’t have a theme. Of course this meant some days I was scrounging for something that matched the letter. (For Q, I blogged about Q*Bert and some obscure band called Q-Tip–not good!)

A theme will give you direction. If you select movies, you can go with the movie titles. Music? Go with band or song titles. Sports? Go with players or teams. By narrowing the focus, it’s actually easier, because then you won’t feel overwhelmed.

A theme also lets visitors know what to expect. They will be more apt to return, especially if they like your theme. Include a line or two at the beginning of each post that states your theme for the month if it’s not obvious in your post title.

It’s good research. Select a topic you want to know more about – you’ll learn something as you search. Perhaps it’s something you need to research for your next book or for school. Kill two birds with one stone.

Does the theme have to match your blog exactly? No, it can be anything you want. If it’s something that interests you, chances are you’ve already talked about it on your blog. Brainstorm some different themes and pick one. If it fits your style, then do it.

Have fun with it. Just think–your blog is a theme park for one whole month. Make it fun! Because if you’re having fun, so will your visitors.

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, February 20, 2015

This Week on the A-to-Z Highway: A Fashionable Detour #atozchallenge #roadtrip

The Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge community is brewing with energy and positive vibes in anticipation for another go-round at the alphabet on April 1st. Until that day rolls around, there are still lots of sight-seeing activities worthy of some attention on the Road Trip. First, let’s take a brief detour to visit one small, yet social, town populated by fashionistas who signed up for our 2015 alphabet party.

When Anna at Hello,Handbag isn't figuring out smart ways to overcome writer’s block, she’s showcasing some independent designers such as one based in England who makes Disney Villain and Star Wars handbags that are convertible. Mars at Curling Stones for Lego People found a way to put excess beads to use while working on a bracelet. In her experience, she describes why knowing how far along you are in a project is important. Tami at Thrift Shop Commando paints her weekends pink with a Resurrected Couture cashmere sweater, beaded purse and doll shoes. ShawnTe at SJPs Fashion Sense tests out an organic Vitamin C serum to find out if it measures up to the hype.

What was the topic of the most recent blog YOU visited this week?

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers writes about making movies at The Madlab Post. She also supports the American Red Cross. Connect with her @MadlabPost on Twitter.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Would You Live On Mars? Now's Your Chance.

Would You Live On Mars? Would you? Many would be tempted to say yes. How about a one way ticket, knowing you will never return to Earth? Surprisingly, there are no shortage of applicants who would want to do this. 

Mars One, a group that plans to send humans on a one-way trip to Mars, has announced its final 100 candidates. They have been selected from 200,000 applicants and will go on to further testing later this year, which they expect to include team-building exercises and later, isolation. 

Eventually, 24 will be selected to make up six crews of four, which Mars One says they hope to launch to the Red Planet every two years from 2024, with the aim of starting a colony there. 

The Dutch non-profit hopes to use existing technology to carry out the mission. However, the planet has always been a difficult target for exploration, with only around half of all unmanned missions succeeding. The journey itself is expected to take around seven months, and a recent MIT study found that, should the first explorers succeed in landing, using current technology they would likely survive just 68 days. 

In addition to the video clip below, check out this CNN LINK for these incredible videos regarding this ambitious project. Amazing how fast our world, errr, solar system, is changing. Literally. Deep Space, here we come.

Question: If given the opportunity, would you spend the rest of your days on Mars?

You can visit Stephen Tremp at his Website Breakthrough Blogs. Stop by Friday through Sunday for the Weekend Follies, a great way to get a few laughs as you wind down the work week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ask Us Anything You Always Wanted To Know About The Co-Hosts But Never Remembered To Ask!

So, let's do a quick check:
1. You have signed up for the 2015 A to Z Challenge
2. You decided if you would like to do a theme, and if you do, you have signed up for the Theme Reveal Blogfest
3. You have started obsessing over scheduling posts for April (or maybe that's just me)

What's next?...

Meet Your Co-Hosts!

Following the traditions from past years, you get to ask the questions about things you would really like to know! Each co-host will pick some and feature them in their introduction post. This way we make sure you find out all the really important, relevant information about your friendly neighborhood A to Z Team, such as

... Which exotic fruit we'd be willing to eat on a bet,

... What our opinions are on cross-breeding dragons,


... For which historical figure we harbor a secret crush.

(Come on, everybody has one!)

So, without further ado: Ask us anything in the comments! The more questions, the more entertaining our introductions will get...


Monday, February 16, 2015

The Great and Powerful A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest!

The Great and Powerful A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest!

Sign-ups for the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge are already under way. If you have done it before, you know how much fun it is (good for you!) and if you have not, this is your chance to give it a try! You can sign up to participate here.

One of the most burning questions participants ask themselves every year is: "Should I have a theme?"
Themes are not mandatory, but definitely fun. They let your visitors know what to expect, and help you create posts that line neatly up from A to Z. They also have an added bonus: They let you participate in a whole separate blogfest!

Two years ago A to Z participant Mina Lobo started the Theme Reveal, and we thought it was such a great idea that we made it tradition. It is now our very own, grand and festive way of rolling out our themes together!

Here is how the Theme Reveal Blogfest works:

Sign up on the Linky list below, and on March 23rd (Monday) publish a post on your blog in which you reveal your theme, tell us why it is exciting, and give us a hint of what to expect from it! Then, once your post is up, use the Linky to visit all the other blogs announcing their themes. Enjoy!

This is a great opportunity for all of you to get a jump start on your A to Z experience. You can link up with fellow bloggers, scout out and bookmark themes that you look forward to, and set out delicious themed bait on your blog to lure in wandering participants! This way, by the time the frenzied posting begins on April 1st, you will already have an audience eagerly awaiting your posts.

Sign up below, ready your theme, and post March 23rd on your calendar!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Characters Who Blog

Tomorrow is a very special day, a day devoted to flowers, and candy, and hearts, and of course . . . LOVE. And in honor of this very special, very commercial holiday, I thought I would give you a peak at the A to Z’s of what it’s like to be a symbol of love. Check it out!

I hope you enjoyed a little taste of alphabetic awesomeness. Don't forget that sign-ups for the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge are going on right now! Join us on this awesome blogging adventure. And we're still looking for Minions to help us out, so if you're interested, please let us know in the comments below. 

Happy blogging everyone! And (early) Happy Valentine's Day!

A to Z Co-host S. L. Hennessy can be found blogging at Pensuasion.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Little Group Love

If you're like me, January flew by so quick that it seems that Christmas was just yesterday. And now here comes Valentine's Day. As a romance author, this can be a big week. Like last year, I spend a few hours on the 14th peddling my books at an author event. There will be twenty other authors involved so it will be a great networking opportunity also.

As a writer, every networking opportunity is one not to be missed. And what greater one than A to Z Blogging Challenge. There are some bloggers who would like to be involved but find posting every day to be too much of ... a challenge. But some still find a way to be part of the whole, crazy-fun event if they're part of a group blog.

A perfect example of a group blog participating in the challenge is IWSG blog. The seven administrators of the blog take turns and none are over-burdened by how many posts they have to do. The group decided together on a theme, easily done, and that will help the creativity factor of the blogging challenge. And by the way, you should visit the blog today for a special guest, Literary Agent Alex Slater.

Untethered Realms is another group blog participating this year. They have twelve contributors. I don't know their theme this year but with all that creative talent behind their posts, you can bet it will be really cool.

Another great way to network is to work as a helper to one of the busy folks working behind the scenes to make sure the list is up-to-date. If you'd like to help me, just say so in the comments or visit my blog at Susan Says and leave a comment there. Lots of virtual kisses and love coming your way if you do.

Are you part of a group blog? Any group blogs you're especially fond of? Are you interested in being one of my firebugs? Did you think I meant something different with that title 'Group Love.'

Monday, February 9, 2015

Themes That Rocked the Challenge - Tracey Lynn Tobin and Fictional Characters

Today we welcome author Tracey Lynn Tobin from No Page Left Blank. She chose a really fun theme for the Challenge!

Your theme was Favorite Fictional Characters – what made you choose that?

When I decided to try out the A to Z Challenge I knew that I wanted to pick a theme to help me work my way through the month, but at first I didn't know what kind of theme to choose. I thought about a number of possibilities, but most of them had a number of letters that would be difficult - if not impossible - to work in, so I vetoed them all. I was actually playing a video game when it occurred to me that fictional characters come with all kinds of strange names, and that's when I decided on my theme. I read a lot, play a lot of games, and watch a lot of TV shows and movies, so I knew I could come up with 26 characters whose names all start with different letters. I decided to make them all favorites of mine to make the theme a little more personal.

Which letter and character was your favorite?

There were a lot of good ones, but my favorite was probably a letter that a lot of people find difficult: X. I thought this letter would be torture, but within seconds I realized that one of my favorite characters ever starts with the letter X: Xander Harris. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my favorite TV shows of all time - I've re-watched all seven seasons multiple times - and I always thought that Xander was an awesome character. I love how he's a bumbling idiot at the beginning of the show and he just grows and grows and becomes this super-dependent person by the end of it.

Which letter was the most difficult?

Most people probably have a lot of trouble with Z, X, and Q, but I had those ones all worked out right from the beginning. The letter that gave me the most trouble was O. Try as I might I couldn't think of any characters (at least, ones that I personally enjoyed) that start with O. Eventually I settled for "Other Mother", although it felt a little like cheating since it's not really her name, just what Coraline refers to her as.

I saw the banner - tell us about the Supernatural A to Z.

When "theme reveal" day rolled around in 2014, several participants noticed that they had all chosen a "supernatural" theme for their A to Z Challenge; they were all planning to blog about things like ghosts, monsters, demons, and so on. Tasha over at Tasha's Thinkings decided to put together a little sub-group for the challenge for people who'd all decided to blog about these kinds of things. I didn't join right from the beginning since I'd actually joined the A to Z Challenge at the last minute and hadn't come across this little sub-group, but a few days into April one of the other participants put me on to the Supernatural A to Z. He thought that since some of my characters were from supernatural worlds, that perhaps I would like to take part. I signed up and met a few new friends as a result, so it made the A to Z Challenge that much better.

You like Deadpool even though he’s practically a villain – what other villains do you like?

Okay, right off the bat, Deadpool is not a villain...he's an anti-hero. lol Okay, yeah, he does some bad things every so often, but most of that is because his brain is kind of broken. In the end, usually everything he does works out for the better, so he can't really qualify as a villain. That said, I do love villains, and a lot of the time it's because they're so much more interesting than the heroes. I love the insanity, the drive for power, and a lot of the really awesome villains are the ones who are damaged inside because of some horrible thing that happened to them, or some miserable situation they've been through. Some of my favorites? Well I love Loki, from the Thor universe, and no one can deny that the Joker is one of the greatest comic book villains ever. I was also always a big fan of Boba Fett from Star Wars, and I love Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although he becomes somewhat less of a villain as the show goes on.

Who is Gau, the Wild Orphan?

Gau is one of the playable characters from Final Fantasy III (US version), which is still one of my favorite games of all time. Gau is a strange, feral boy that you find on an island called the Veldt. He joins your party after you give him some dried meat to eat, and his special ability is that he can learn the abilities of monsters in the game. If you return to the home of a strange miser after taking Gau into your party, you learn that the man is Gau's father, and that he abandoned the baby on the Veldt after his mother died giving birth. The man went a little crazy after all of that, so Gau leaves him be and continues on with your party, following wherever they go.

What fictional character did you hate to leave out?

There were a lot of possible subjects for the letter T that I had to leave out. It ended up being a showdown between Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones and Thor, but Tyrion won out in the end because I'd already done several other comic book characters. I also gave up Terra Branford (another Final Fantasy III character), which I hated to do because as I mentioned, Final Fantasy III is one of my favorite games ever. Honestly, I probably could have done 26 days worth of the letter T, but of course that would have defeated the point of the challenge.

What theme are you considering for this year’s Challenge?

Honestly? I've been wondering about that for a while now. I briefly considered doing the same theme with different characters, but I don't know if I want to repeat myself like that. I'd like to do something that relates to my writing, but I'm not sure what I could do in that vein that would allow me to come up with an idea for each letter of the alphabet. If possible I would like to relate the challenge to my writing somehow, though, so I'm already working on trying to come up with ideas so that I'll be ready when April comes along.

Thanks for the interview, Alex! I can't wait for the challenge to roll around this year.

Glad you’re excited about it, Tracey!

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, February 6, 2015

#atozchallenge #roadtrip - Stormy introduces some manly men!

It's ME!

Stormy the Weather Gnome!

We're changing things up a bit so you don't get bored.

Don't worry, we're still on the road to nowhere, still can't drive 55, AND still running against the wind.

I have some new friends I've met on my journey to tell you about!

John Holton - The Sound of One Hand Typing

John considers his blog to be..."the Seinfeld of the blogging world most of the year..." so he went with Random Topics for his posts.

He likes to tie in great subject information with pictures and videos. What kind of random topics? Bananas, Jeopardy, Marvel Superheroes, Shopping, and Wasabi!

Matthew MacNish - The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment - (The QQQE)

Mr. Matt is a returning co-host to the Challenge. (WELCOME BACK) He had a break from posting in 2014, but in 2013 his theme was unique words and their etmologies.

We writers do love our words. Especially when he chooses words like Asinine, Feral, Quagmire, Tacit, and Vicarious.

How is your road trip going?

The 2015 A to Z Challenge sign up list is open! Why haven't you signed up yet?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Incredible Space Telescopes

Hubble Space Telescope
How Many Space Telescopes Can You Name? Most people will immediately thing of The Hubble Space Telescope and all the amazing images that have been on TV and the Internet. Believe it or not, there are dozens of telescopes orbiting Earth right now, and dozens more whose mission has been terminated. 

Telescopes are placed into orbit around the Earth or are sent farther out into space to get a clearer view of the Universe. There are many different types of space telescopes. Some are used to study a special object like the Sun. Others are used to study the different types of light given off by objects in space. 

X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes study the hottest and most explosive objects in space. Infrared telescopes study the places where stars are born and can look into the centers of galaxies. Optical telescopes study the visible light from space and ultraviolet telescopes study very hot stars. Many of these types of light (such as x-rays, gamma-rays, most ultraviolet, and infrared) can only be studied from space because they are blocked by our atmosphere. Reference 

NASA has four large powerful space-based telescopes called the Great Observatories. Their mission is to examine a particular region of space using differing technologies. 

Spitzer Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope: launched in 1990 aboard Discovery, it observes visible and near-ultraviolet light. 

The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory: launched in 1991 aboard Atlantis observes gamma rays. In 2000 it was deorbited due to a failed gyroscope. 

The Chandra X-ray Observatory: launched in 1999 aboard Columbia observes soft x-rays. 

The Spitzer Space Telescope: launched in 2003 aboard a Delta II rocket it observes the infrared spectrum. 

Kepler Space Telescope
The Hubble and Kepler (see my post about the Kepler Space Telescope HERE) are optical telescopes, which captures optical or visible light. There are no atmospheric effects in space, so the resolutions are significantly higher. This is why placing a space observatory on the moon makes so much sense. 

Cameras images are monochrome, meaning one color. Different filters are used to capture infrared (deep red in color) or ultraviolet channels (deep blue in color). These images are then combined to make a single image. So those amazing images we see are not how the space telescopes capture them. Rather, they are combined to make a false color version. This method is used by astronomers to make the images more comprehensible. 

Example: Here are actual images of the asteroid Ida taken by NASA’a Galileo satellite. On the right is a false color image. This reveals more of what elements make up the asteroid. 

Here are a few more examples of false colored images:

Comet Halley

I hope you enjoyed this post. We live in an incredibly amazing universe and with the use of space telescopes are beginning to unravel the secrets of our cosmos. 

You can visit Stephen Tremp at his Website Breakthrough Blogs. Stop by Friday through Sunday for the Weekend Follies, a great way to get a few laughs as you wind down the work week.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Storytelling A to Z: Themes, tags, and tales!

Sign-ups have started for the 2015 A to Z challenge (yay!) and this year's list is already shaping up to greatness - and involves storytelling in more than one way!

First off, you probably already noticed that we have some hew tags:

You can now use the shiny Mythology (MY) tag if you plan on blogging about myths, folklore, legends, urban legends, ghost stories, and other traditional stories or myth-related topics. (I personally will be rocking this tag on my main blog with a theme - which will be revealed soon!)

The Writing (WR) tag, for the first time this year, also includes Storytelling! So if you produce, perform and share stories in a non-written format, feel free to take advantage of the broader concept of the tag!

As a co-host, I will once again be keeping an eye out for the year's storytelling participants on the side, and possibly create a blog hop that focuses on storytellers of the performing kind. Last year was the first time we gathered them, and it was an impressive list. Good news: Many of them are returning in 2015!

Of course you don't have to be a storyteller to have a story-related theme. In the next two months many bloggers will be hunting for themes (and revealing them... more about that later!). I am a big advocate of themes. I have participated in A to Z for three years, and have done folktale-related themes for the past two - Weird Princesses in 2013 and Tales with Colors in 2014. They were immense fun, and made me feel like they also gave people a chance to discover new things that they could play with. If you have always wanted to introduce us to your 26 favorite Greek deities, or the 26 magic treasures you always wished you could own, or the 26 most traumatic Grimm experiences of your childhood... Do share :)

Keep signing up, keep blogging!

Oh, and also: If you would like to volunteer as a minion helper to the A to Z team, or my team in particular, do let me know!

The Multicolored Diary - Adventures in Storytelling
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How Do You Find Your Ideas?

How do you find your ideas? Authors are often asked this question in interviews. Or perhaps; Do you have trouble finding ideas to write about? My problem is the opposite. I have too many ideas. What I’ve found is that having an idea and getting the idea down in words that actually say what I imagine they should, is a totally different pot o’ honey. Does that metaphor work? I also don’t have enough time to actually write a different story for every idea that I have.

That said I’ve found that using more than one idea in a story can add not only a new dimension to it, but adding two, three or sometimes four different ideas can make the original idea much more profound, intricate, and beguiling to the reader.  Kind of like a photographer taking a shot with one type of lens and then finding that if a wider (or narrower) angle is used the whole view of the photo, the whole concept and direction of the photograph is changed, broadened and the focus encompasses more than the photographer originally dreamed of. Or a painter who finds a new color that brings a startling new life to his painting, a life not previously glimpsed, an ambiance not previously hoped for but now heartily embraced and enhanced. Or what about a musician who finally plays a note in a sequence he's never used before and falls into a piece of music the world must hear?

Do you use more than one idea in a story, different lenses on the same scene, more than one new color on your canvas? Do you mix and match, push your mind outside of your “normal” range to see what creation you are capable of producing? Because to me, finding the “newness” in ones “old” methods is what makes creating so beautiful and satisfying, even if it doesn’t always work the way we think it should.   

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