Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z to Adieu - See I sort of Cheated There... Okay I did!

Here we go the end of another challenge as it comes to a close, another door opens... we can reflect, reflect on a couple of things. A matter of a success, finished a task, found yourself surrounded by new and old friends. What are some of the things you had seen, did you find yourself gravitating towards one or two sites everyday...

Also, did you finish the challenge... do you feel like a winner, well gosh darn it you are winner and what better way to show that. TELL SOMEONE!

May we suggest "AtoZ Challenge Gear"... well okay it's like a t-shirt but there are a few other things to choose from, for all the information please "CLICK HERE".

For now, until next time...
Jeremy [Retro]
AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

There's no earthly way of knowing.
Which direction we are going!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Letter Y

Y: the next to last letter and the finish line is just ahead.

Do you see it? 

Isn't it beautiful? 

Y is for YOU did it!

Y is for YAY!

Y is for YIPPIE!



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for X-hiliarated

Okay, so the word is actually “exhiliarated,” which means “happy, animated or elated,” at least that’s what Google tells me. That’s probably how you feel now, isn’t it? If it isn’t, well, you should.
  • You’ve managed to post every day, Monday through Saturday, in the month of April.
  • You’ve come up with 26 words, each one starting with the next letter in the alphabet in sequence. And most of you came up with 26 words, each one starting with the next successive letter, that fit into a theme. Whether or not you had a theme, you still managed to come up with a 26-word list, each word starting with a different letter. Including Q! and Z! and X! Those letters will break anyone, even the old pros!
  • Each one of your posts required preparation, whether it was going through photos in your collection, or reading web pages, or reading books, or listening to music, or drawing or sewing or knitting or cooking. And you did it!
  • You learned how to budget your time. You knew you had a post to do every day, Monday through Saturday, and you knew what you had to do to get that post out on time, every day.
  • You’ve been visited by people from all over the world, and you’ve visited people from all over the world, you’ve made some friends and read some pretty amazing stuff by some remarkable writers. They’re all in your feed reader (you do have them in your feed reader, right?), so, every time they post, you’ll know about it. And you’re in their feed readers so, every time you post, they’ll know about it.
It’s been an exhiliarating experience, hasn’t it? Whether this was your first A to Z Challenge or your fifth, it taught you a lot about blogging, and yourself.

So, what now? Well, there are still a couple more days left, so don’t quit yet. But, come Friday, this year’s A to Z Challenge wll be history. So, then what? Here are some suggestions.
  • First, there’s the A to Z Reflections, where you can recap your experience with the A to Z Challenge: what you liked about it, what you didn’t like, what you got out of it, what you wish you had gotten from it, things like that. The link might be different, so make sure you stay tuned to this blog for further details.
  • Then there’s the A to Z Challenge Road Trip. It’s a trip through the blogs that participated in the Challenge at a more leisurely pace. Where April is a dash, this is a meander. Take a look at the page linked above.
  • Make it a point to visit your new friends regularly, and to leave them comments. See who comments on their blogs and go visit those people, too. That’s what blogging is all about.
  • Keep an eye out for other challenges to participate in. As you follow your new friends, see what they’re doing when they aren’t doing A to Z, and join them. If it’s not as much fun as it looks, it’s okay to drop out of it. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.
  • And, by all means, make plans to join us again next year. This is the highlight of my blogging year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes yours.
Have fun the last couple of days of the challenge! Straight ahead!

John Holton
The Sound of One Hand Typing
The Sound of One Hand Typing FM

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Willpower

The month of April has zoomed by at the speed of light, in my case anyway.

We're getting close to the finish line with only four W, X, Y and Z left before we can zone out and take a breather. So far, it's been a blast. I've come across many blogs with great topics. The only thing lacking seemed to be comments, which I can only assume is the result of two things, but I'll save those observations for my A-Z Reflections post.

Some of us will be zinging over the finish line come Thursday, others will be jogging over and some of us will be hanging on by a thread when we get there, but get there we will, because we can do it! Will-power to move forward is what has motivated many of us in this Challenge and another shot of will-power is what will keep us going until the 2015 Challenge comes to an end.

You may not have added 'writer' to your list of professional tags, but just in case you need a shot of energy or encouragement, here goes:

The life of the [professional] writer - like that of any freelance, whether she be a plumber or a podiatrist - is predicated on willpower. Without it there simply wouldn't be any remuneration, period.
                                                                                     - Will Self

Have you written up all your posts yet? Ready to hit the visiting trail again this week? Scoping out any new blogs to visit?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weary Sunflower of the #atozchallenge

Tina's sunflower as it appeared on April 25th, 2015
     Each Sunday I've been doing a sunflower update post.  To read the series from the beginning you can start with The Special A to Z Tribute and the follow each Sunday after that one.

       I'm guessing that more than a few of you are feeling a bit like the sunflower pictured above.  This flower has managed to make it through April and looks like it will make it to the end of the Challenge.   I'm also pleased to report that the majority of those who began the Challenge on April 1st are still hanging it there and will be crossing the finish line at the letter "Z" on Thursday of this week.  

        At my last count we had lost 328 links from the opening count of 1888 when the list closed for sign-ups.   Over 1500 bloggers will finish the Challenge they set out to accomplish.  You all are to be congratulated.  A few might come up short for one reason or another--we understand that things can happen to derail participants sometimes--but many of those have indicated that they still plan to continue blogging the letters even if it takes them until sometime in May.  We honor everyone who at least tried.  If you didn't meet the Challenge this year you can still give it another try in 2016.

        Hang in there those of you who are blogging until the end!    On May 1st be sure to check this site for information about the A to Z Reflections Post on Monday May 4th.  This is the annual event where you have a chance to reflect on your A to Z experience and tell all of us what you think of the Challenge.  Full details coming up on Friday, but be sure to reserve May 4th on your blogging schedule.

        Let's make this final few days the best ones of all.   Get your posts up on schedule and try to make as many blog visits as you can.  Four more days!   Can you believe the end of April is so near?

        Do you have your last posts ready to go?  Will you be joining us for the May 4th Reflections?  Are you just a wee bit weary as we reach the end?


Saturday, April 25, 2015

The A-Z Blogger's Mantra for Victory Lane

V is for Victorious!
Victory Lane is where the magic happens. It's that last stretch of road where you start to realize you have what it takes to master the art of blogging everyday....and through the alphabet, no less. It's where you begin to feel proud for signing up for such a huge undertaking, in the first place. It's where you realize that most other things on your to-do list and other people in your life that were neglected, just to keep up with everyone else in this April blogathon, are what helped you get this far.

You’re not alone.

More than 1,500 people are in victory lane, including some who are managing to rock this year's A-to-Z challenge with two, three or four blogs. We're all in this 24-hour cycle together, trying to make it through blogging, visiting and commenting without going nuts. Be proud that you’ve been able to get to this point and remember, there's nowhere to go but upward and onward from here, until it's time to grab that 2015 A-Z Survivors Badge!

If for some reason you feel like you're at your wits end, just read the following mantra:

The "Survivors" Mantra for Victory Lane

You're a survivor.
You're not gonna give up.
You're not gonna stop.
You're gonna work harder...because you're a survivor.
You're gonna make it.
You will survive and keep on surviving.

If these famous words helped Destiny's Child reign on the Billboard Charts, then they can get you through the remaining days left to blog April. So, pat yourself on the back because making it to victory lane is an indication that you're strong enough to be in this for the long haul. It's a sign that the blogging muscles you've been building up so far are what will help you continue on to the very end of the alphabet.

How well are YOU flexing your blogging muscles this month?

Are YOU starting to feel Victorious yet?

 The Madlab Post

#AtoZChallenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers is blogging 
at The Madlab Post on a mixed bag of subjects including 
superheroes, card games, documentaries, human trafficking, 
road rage, drinking games, film festivals and making the world 
a better place. Connect with her @MadlabPost on Twitter.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Counting today, there are six more posts to be done for this year's A to Z Challenge, those for the letters U through Z. If you've kept up with the official calendar, great! I'm sure most of you got all your entries done and have them showing up on your blog automatically, on autopilot. There are others that are writing two or three days in advance, and even a few hardy souls who are getting the entries written and posted the day they're due.

This is for the rest of you, the ones who are stuck and maybe even falling behind:

Be undaunted! Stick with it! The only way you can fail now is by giving up. Regardless of the roadblocks you've faced this month, you can finish. And you're going to do great.

Stuck on a letter? It'll come to you. Move on to another one. Go back to the beginning and re-read all you've written, and see what suggests itself to you. Start writing down words that start with the letter, and see if you can find a word that can be made to fit your theme. Read what others have written for that letter. Go old school and pull out the dictionary, the thesaurus, the New York City Business-to-Business telephone directory, the good ol' World Book Encyclopedia. Turn it on its head.

You've done too much great work on this challenge to give up now. Your readers are all rooting for you. Hang in there!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday #AtoZChallenge style!

When I realized that the letter T fell on a Thursday this year I KNEW I had to do a Throwback Thursday (#TBT) post for you all!

So I asked all the co-hosts to send me a link to their very first A post for the Challenge. It's fun to see how long we all have been participating - turns out 2012 was a good crop year for co-hosts - and also how our topics (and comments!) have changed. Click on our links below to take a step back in time!

Check 'em out:
Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out 
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh 
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts 
Nicole Ayers @ The Madlab Post 
Author Stephen Tremp (Due to a catastrophic SPAM battle with Google, Steve only has his A post from last year :( But we promise he's been around awhile!)
Heather M. Gardner 
AJ Lauer 
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian 
Matthew MacNish @ The QQQE
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary and MopDog 
S. L. Hennessy @ Pensuasion 
C. Lee McKenzie @ The Write Game 
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot 
Susan Gourley @ Susan Says 
John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing 
Lisa Buie-Collard, Author 

I was going to post the #1 single on the charts on April 1, 2010 but it was a song by Rihanna and I made y'all suffer through twerking last week so I didn't think it would be nice to do that to you again :)

And also because it's T and this fits into the Throwback theme, Tina's post welcoming me to Tina's Terrific Team in 2013 after she cajoled me into giving her an embarrassing childhood photo... <3


Have you checked out our new A-Z merch?

Our hero Amy has made it through 19 crazy letters of the alphabet - will you help her make it through the last 6? Stop by to help her decide what to do!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Signatures!

It came up in the Twitter chat the other day that we should talk about signatures. I know we have left the halfway point behind, but it is something that can still be useful for your remaining visits, and also for the reflections and road trips after A to Z is over!

Signatures are links to your own blog or website that make it easy for people to re-visit you after you comment on their blog. If you don't have one, people have to click on your name, and that either takes them to your Google+ profile, or your Blogger profile (or nowhere at all).

Is that a bad thing?
Well, if you are like me, and have multiple blogs (and not all of them are in the Challenge), there is nothing telling people on your Blogger profile what they should be clicking on. If you don't share your posts on G+, once again, it seems like a dead end to visitors. If you comment on blogs anonymously, you are essentially invisible.
And here is the thing:

We WANT to visit you back!

Visiting back is common courtesy during A to Z. You might not have the time every day to do it, but it is polite to catch up and visit back whenever you get the chance. Leaving sigs in comments also brings new people to your site!

In order to make it easier for people to visit you, you are encouraged to leave a clickable link to your blog at the end of your comment.
You can just copy-paste your blog's URL if you want to.

But if you want to be even more smooth, elegant and helpful, you can create a signature.

Signatures are HTML coded, which means they show up as clickable links. Mine looks like this:

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

In the HTML code, it looks like this:

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
<a href="">Multicolored Diary</a> - Epics from A to Z
<a href="">MopDog</a> - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

You can just copy and paste it, and swap the links and titles for your own!
Make sure you save it somewhere handy (I have it as a Draft in my Gmail box) so you don't have to re-type it every time you go on a visiting binge! You can just Copy and Paste, easy peasy.

Most commenting systems allow HTML, which means your sig will show up nice and clickable. Some might make it show up like the second example (Google+ does that sometimes) but the links are still clickable, and that's what matters.

Happy Visiting!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"R" - Red Pill - Everything that has a beginning, has an end!

Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill would allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix, therefore living the "ignorance of illusion", while the red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and into the real world, therefore living the "truth of reality" even though it is a harsher, more difficult life.

So we are nearing the end of this challenge, how do you feel? Do you feel as you should have taken the blue pill, the challenge can get even the best of us all. Main thing did you have fun, make some new friends... I did and for that I am truly grateful. Come on over to my site "HOLLYWOOD NUTS", say hello... look around and enjoy the journey.

Jeremy [Retro]
 AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

There's no earthly way of knowing.
Which direction we are going!

Monday, April 20, 2015

#AtoZChallenge - Q - QWERTY -- [Blogfest Announcement]

Happy 'Q' Day!

QWERTY: is the most common modern-day keyboard layout for Latin script. The name comes from reading the first six keys appearing on the top left letter row of the keyboard (Q, W, E, R, T, and Y) from left to right.

Getting tired of looking at your QWERTY keyboard yet?

Well...tough noogies!

We are not done yet!

Q is only the 17th letter in the alphabet!

You know what's up next? All the hard letters!

Yeah, you know it and I know it!

U, V, W, X, Y & Z!

[add movie scream here]

These letters are going to require lots of finesse and skill, two things I sorely lack, so instead, I'll have to wing it!

Hey, look! Wing it! That's a W word!

Know what? We can't lose!

Can we do it? Yes, we can!

Wait! That's a Y word!


Special Blogfest Announcement

Blood, Boobs, and Carnage Blogfest!
Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner. 

Yes, Blood, Boobs, and Carnage!

Alex used that phrase last year to describe an upcoming movie release. It amused many people, including ME. (Okay, mostly me)  So, naturally we decided to make it a blogfest.

What falls into that category? Here’s a few examples – Conan the Barbarian, Breaking Bad, Fast and Furious, The Watchmen, etc.

Here’s the details, short and simple:

On May 18, 2015, post about a movie, television show, book, or all three that falls into the category of Blood, Boobs, and Carnage. (Or just Blood and Carnage or other mixture.) It can be any genre that fits the bill – fantasy, science fiction, action, adventure, western, thriller, etc. Post the badge and visit other participants.
Sign up below!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Sunflower #AtoZChallenge Update

          As we head into the final ten day stretch of the 2015 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, some of you might be feeling a little worn and ragged like my poor sunflower in the above photo.  If you don't know about my sunflower you can read the beginning of the story here as well as the follow-up here.

         I've mentioned previously that I'm not much of a gardener and this sunflower is essentially on its own as it struggles during our current California drought.  Maybe this is what a sunflower bloom is supposed to look like after two and a half weeks, but I wouldn't think so.  In any case, this flower is still hanging in there and hopefully will continue to stand until at least the May 4th A to Z Reflections Post.   This Reflections post has become a yearly tradition of the Challenge and we hope that everyone who finishes the Challenge will join us in this event.  Be watching for more information in the days to come.

Stay Strong!

        My sunflower is hanging in there for April.   Are you hanging in there as well with your posting and commenting?    Maybe your initial A to Z bloom has wilted away some, but we hope you're still meeting the Challenge as it was initially stated.   Since opening day approximately 250 links have been removed from the list due to not keeping up as the Challenge calls for.  We hope you aren't one of them and hope you don't become one of them.

        So how are you doing right now?   Up to date with posts?   On the right letter (tomorrow will be the letter "Q")?  

Don't Slack Off!

         As we find those of you who have fallen behind or just slacked off for some reason you may feel is fitting to not post, we are trying to leave reminders and notes of encouragement to nudge you into catching up or at least letting us know that you are there.  The co-hosts don't want to appear to be insensitive, but keep in mind that this is a challenge and not just some idle blog hop where you put your name on a Linky List and just expect it to stay there.  

        If you are not keeping up, not keeping readers informed about your status if you are not keeping up, and not communicating with the co-hosts when they attempt to find out what's going on, then you will be removed from the Challenge list.  We want to be fair to all participants including those who are faithfully posting according to the guidelines we've set for the Challenge.  When these participants take the time to visit a blog only to find that blog hasn't posted according to the letters or has shown no activity for many days then they are wasting their valuable time because that slacker blogger wasn't considerate enough to keep their blog updated.

        If you look at the instructions in the "Sign up List" tab you will see that we clearly state:
Blogs on the list showing no activity once the Challenge starts or miss five days in a row will be removed. 
We try to show some leniency and compassion for most of you other than the blogs that are obviously only on the list to be on the list and having no intention of participating--those blogs are cut without mercy when we find them.  But the others we try to give a chance before removal.  It would be unfair for anyone to say that the A to Z Team is unfair in maintaining the list to reflect actual participants.  

We're Only Human

       Admitting mistakes can happen, but we do everything we can to correct the errors when they are brought to our attention.   If you feel that you've been unfairly cut from the list then we apologize and hope that you will let us know so that we can do what we can to fix the situation.

        We are still weeding through the list in hopes of finishing with a list of bloggers who mightily made their way to the end.   And I hope that if you are reading this, you are one of those champion bloggers who cross the finish line with your letter "Z" post and stand with us in the winners circle of the May 4th A to Z Reflections Post.

          You are almost there.  You can do it!  Don't give up when you are so close and catch up to the rest of us if you have fallen a bit behind.  This Challenge is doable.

          Are you keeping up to the letter of the day?    Has there been a point during the month where you fell behind or maybe even considered giving up?    Will you be joining us for the Reflections Post on May 4th? 


Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Peace, Bugs, and Understanding: An Adventure in Sibling Harmony

It's P Day

Which means P is for Pammy Pam,  
your fave unconventional librarian!

I have a book for you that I think you'll love:

Peace, Bugs, and Understanding: An Adventure in Sibling Harmony 
by Gail Silver, Illustrated by Youme Nguyen Ly

I know you're looking at the title and wondering what in the world the book is about. 
I also know you're loving the adorbs cover as much as I am!

So, here's a recap: Lily and her little sister Ruby are having a picnic when, in typical little sibling style Ruby ruins their checkers game. Lily is irritated at her sister, of course, but after reading a beautiful allegory about her grandfather who must come to terms with his angry feelings.
Lily learns to practice breathing techniques to calm herself and not feel so angry at her little sister too. The process of Metta is kind of like mindfulness, which includes breathing techniques and may help promote forgiveness.  

I love this sweet picture book for so many reasons! First the illustrations are breathtakingly simple watercolors that evoke the feeling of child like storytelling. Second the philosophies are Asian inspired and the people and the culture are beautifully authentic looking. And finally, I love the idea of teaching children (and the grown ups who are reading the book to them) how to channel their anger into positive feelings. 

As the book says;
May you be happy.
May you be strong.
May you be safe.
May you live with peace.  

We all could all benefit from a little more peace, bugs, and understanding, no? Do you have any suggestions for mindfulness for the little ones? Tell me!

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Optimism

If you’ve gotten to this point in the Challenge, it means you’re safely over the half-way hump and well on your way to joining the survivor ranks at the end of the month.

Although I intended to write all my posts before April set in, I was caught flat-footed because of a number of other projects I’ve been trying to straddle. At times, panic threatened to set in, but since I’ve done the Challenge for a few years, I was upbeat about the chances of being able to finish.

Optimism counts for a lot in anything we do. If we tackle challenges with a positive attitude and the feeling that we will be successful, then we’ve already won. Negativity tells us what we can’t do, but optimism says hey, I’m here, ready to make the most of each opportunity.

I know we’re on the side of having positive energy, right? So on we go to the next letter and the next ... you get the idea.

What are your strategies for keeping a positive frame of mind and believing for good things?