Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hitting the Road with Mario

We're all up against the clock these days. Being connected online does not save us time; it absorbs it like a sponge. Yet we're here, so how can we best meet our Challenges online as well as in other parts of our lives?

I've devised a plan for my start on the AtoZ Challenge Road Trip. 

First I've got a great blogger to share the load. She's efficient and she's dependable, and I greatly appreciate her inviting me to join her on this year's trip. Wave to Madlab Post on your way by.

Next I've convinced Mario the Muse to be my dashboard buddy. He's there to guide and inspire and keep me awake on the those long stretches.

As I start off, my plan is visit at least 2-3 bloggers each day who are on the road with me. 

I'm starting with any blogs beginning with the letter A and moving ahead through the alphabet. If there's no X, so be it, but I'll look for a blog with that letter.

So bye for now. I'm off to visit A blogs. Hope to see you as I make my way through those 26 letters. 

Do you have a plan? Is is just easier for you to wing it? 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Are YOU Ready to Go on the 5th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip? #AtoZChallenge

Are YOU ready to cruise through the 2015 A-Z Challenge list? I sure am looking forward to visiting a number of blogs I missed in April. 

Thanks to the late great Tina Downey at Life is Good and Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse who started the Road Trip (formerly known as the Post-Challenge Challenge) -- by calling on each other to visit all of the blogs on the list before the next A-Z Challenge rolled around -- we now have this year-round event to stay active in the blogosphere during the "off-season."

I've had the pleasure of co-hosting this with the founding ladies and then continued with Tina after Shannon hitched a ride at a rest stop to embark on other adventures. Soon, Heather Gardner at The Waiting is the Hardest Part joined us as a travel guide and brought Stormy the Weather Gnome along to swap shifts taking the wheel on this open road of A-Z blogs. After racking up lots of mileage out here in blogland, Heather and Stormy parked their car in the garage for a tuneup earlier this year. Luckily, I gained another driving partner in C. Lee McKenzie at The Write Game who will be helping with refreshments, maps and other necessities to keep everyone's engine running and going in the right direction (i.e. forward) on the highway.

Starting today, C. Lee McKenzie and I invite you to join us on the 5th annual Post-Challenge Road Trip, a meandering journey through the 2015 list of A-Z participants, at your own pace, with your own rules, and very few expectations.

The most important thing to keep in mind is you're the boss of you're own schedule and approach to visiting blogs. Whether you want to visit one new blog on a daily basis or hundreds of blogs per day, you're the one at the wheel. The Road Trip is really just some buddies in the blogging community hanging out and visiting new voices in the A-Z world.

A few strateties that may have worked for Road Trippers include...
  • Visiting all the blogs with similar topics or categories as yours
  • Visiting all the blogs whose names make you curious
  • Visiting all the blogs at even (or odd) numbers on the list
  • Start from where you left off and keep on truckin'...
  • Visiting blogs that are low (or high, or in the middle) on the list
  • Visiting blogs randomly by just clicking on titles located in different areas of the list
Whatever you do, remember that signing up on the linky doesn't mean you're committed to visiting ALL of the blogs on the list. Coming along with us on this Road Trip just indicates that you're not done yet and would like to show your fellow A-Z participants some visiting and commenting love. These are among the things that keep a blogging community strong.  

Who's with us for the 2015 Post-Challenge Road Trip?

~ Nicole @ The Madlab Post

SIGNUP to Be Our (A to Z) Post-Challenge Road Trip Traveling Companions HERE:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Themes That Rocked the Challenge – Things That Go Bump in the Night with J.H. Moncrieff

Today we welcome author J.H. Moncrieff!

She had one of the best themes this year – it was riveting.

Your theme was Things That Go Bump in the Night. Why did you select it?

I've alway been fascinated with the darker side of life--creepy places, supernatural events, terrible people in history, unsolved mysteries--if it gave me nightmares as a child, I was all over it.

I recently made the decision to blog for my readers, instead of for other writers (although writers are always welcome, of course!). My old blog would have been perfect if I wrote inspirational self-help, but I don't. So I made the switch, and I'm happy I did, even though it's a lot more work and can require a ton of research.

Which subject was your favorite?

Easily the Dyatlov Pass Incident. It took the most time--I estimate I spent about six hours researching that post, and another two hours writing it. I apologize to everyone who probably freaked when the saw how long it was, but I really wanted to do it justice. That was important to me. Something terrible happened to those young people, and we'll probably never really understand why they died the way they did.

Which letter was the most difficult?

Strangely enough, P. I had three possible topics jotted down for P, but when it came down to it, I didn't feel like writing about any of them. It was a mad scramble to find a new topic, and I suddenly thought, "I wonder if the Phantom of the Opera was based on a real guy?" I have no idea where that came from, but it saved the day.

Did any of the subjects unnerve you while you researched and wrote about them?

Yes, Dyatlov really bothers me. The night I wrote the post, I couldn't sleep. I kept picking the evidence apart in my brain. Fire in the Sky bothers me too, because so many people say it's a hoax, but I can't see why all of those guys would make up this crazy story and stick with it so many years later. I don't believe in alien abductions, but that case troubles me. Also, Vanished. The fact that so many people disappear everyday is crazy! I would go mad if I lost someone I loved that way. The story of Julie Weflen haunts me.

What do you think happened at the Dyatlov Pass incident?

I really don't know. I wish I had a good theory. One of the people who commented on my post had a really good suggestion when she said the people were ordered out of their tent by someone with a gun, but that doesn't explain why their tent was torn to shreds. Or why half the victims died so much later than the rest, or where their horrific, strange injuries came from. That whole case is highly disturbing.

Would you stay in Italy’s abandoned asylum?

Sure! I've planned an awesome trip to Italy, and I really hope I can go next year, although I'm not sure how. Maybe if I sell enough books! (Ha,ha!)

You’ve experienced a haunting – have you experienced any of the other subjects?

Yes, I had a weird experience with a Ouija board, which I mention in that post.

What theme are you considering for the Challenge next year?

I'll do the same theme with different topics. It fits my brand well, I find it interesting, and people seemed to like it. I regularly blog about the dark side on Tuesday and Wednesdays, unless it's an IWSG day.

Thanks for featuring me! I really appreciate the opportunity. There's a lot of info about my book and the trailer HERE.
You can also find the trailer on YouTube

Thanks again, Alex!

Thanks, JH! Looking forward to your posts next year.

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

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Final Sunflower Update 2015 #atozchallenge

        The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is now history with A to Z posts tucked away into the archives of the many who participated in this year's event.  The last of the A to Z Reflections Posts have been added to the list.  There are many to visit and there have been many excellent suggestions made along with numerous kudos to the Challenge.  Be sure to visit as many of these Reflections as you can and let the bloggers know you were there to visit them.

One Worn Out Sunflower!

The A to Z Sunflower on Saturday May 9th.

      After a grueling month and a battering but well needed rain, the A to Z Sunflower is about to keel over as the week of Reflections come to an end.  This flower stood tall throughout April and became an apt symbol for all the A to Z participants.  What began as a seed planting in tribute to our late A to Z Challenge co-host Tina Downey, the Sunflower became my official A to Z Mascot for the 2015 Challenge.

The A to Z Survivor T-Shirt!

       Did you get your A to Z Survivor T-shirt yet?  Mine came in the mail this past week.  I ordered it on Tuesday morning, received shipping notification that same afternoon, and the next day it was in my mailbox.  The company that makes these is about an hour from where I live so I got mine faster than you might, but still I've got to give NeatO credit for fast service.

      I thought I'd prop up my A to Z Sunflower to pose with me while I modeled the shirt for you.

        Here's a closer look at the shirt design. My wife absolutely loved the design and colors.  Now I can't guarantee you that you'll look as pretty as I do wearing your shirt, but I think odds are you might look even better.   When you get your shirt have a photo made to put up on your blog and share it with us.  Maybe we'll even put up a photo gallery of A to Z shirt wearers here at the A to Z Blog site if we get enough of you sending them in to us.  Leave us links in the comments if you have any photos on your blog of you wearing your shirt.

        If you're interested in the shirt then visit NeatO Shop.  If you go right away you might even be able to take advantage of the special sale prices they've been offering this week.  But even at the regular price the shirt is still a bargain.

       Our thanks to all for participating in the 2015 A to Z Challenge.  An added thank you to everyone who added their Reflections Post.   Be watching this site on Wednesday May 13th for the announcement of the 2015 A to Z Road Trip.  The A to Z fun is not over yet!

         Has anyone else's Sunflowers for Tina bloomed yet?   Have you ordered an A to Z Survivor T-shirt yet?   Are you or have you already put up a picture of you wearing your T-shirt?



Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections

The A to Z Reflections Post is a post presented on your own blog site giving the A to Z Team, the other Challenge participants, and any other readers your thoughts about this year's April Challenge.

We are looking for feedback about the Challenge. Tell us what you liked and didn't like, what worked and what didn't. If you have suggestions about making future A to Z Challenges better, this is a good time to let us know. You can highlight other bloggers who you felt did an outstanding job or direct us to specific posts that particularly impressed you or that you found to be very helpful.

In other words, we want to know how the A to Z Team did and how the Challenge worked for you. If you'd do it again, tell us why. If you would never consider A to Z again, let us know what would make you feel that way.

Please put up your Reflections post between now and Friday, May 8. AFTER your post has gone live, add the link to the Linky List below. Enter the link that goes DIRECTLY to your Reflections post and not your general blog address. The list will be accessible for the remainder of this year. Be sure to grab the badge.

The list is intended for A to Z Reflections posts only. Any links to advertising sites or non-relevant posts will be removed from the list. General links added before you actually post will be removed. And remember that these posts will be directed to a diverse audience of varying ages and sensibilities so please respect others by refraining from posting obscene materials or hurtful attacks upon others. We want a productive interchange of ideas that can lead to positive innovation.

Add your link below AFTER you have posted your reflection post!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

#atozchallenge Sunflower Survivor

A to Z Sunflower as it appeared in the afternoon of
Saturday May 2, 2015

         Anyone who has been following my Sunday A to Z Blog posts probably has figured that I've adopted this sunflower in my backyard as a sort of A to Z symbol or mascot.  I've followed its progress from first bloom on the Challenge opening day on April 1st, 2015 with my Tribute to Tina post and followed it to the end of the Challenge.

           Considering the story (which can be found by going back to the first sunflower post linked in the preceding paragraph), this sunflower is an apt symbol to represent the participants of this Challenge.   Most of us are a bit weary after our month of blogging and networking, but we're still standing and ready for whatever is coming next.

          The first A to Z  related post-Challenge event is the A to Z Reflections post which we hope you will put up on your site any time between now and Friday May 8th.  Some of you already have your posts up and I've seen some good reports.  But keep in mind that your Reflections don't have to be all good.  We'll listen to the downsides as well though we hope there aren't many of those.  For full details about this please visit Wait! A to Z Is Not Over! Not Quite.  This post should tell you just about everything you need to know about the Reflections Post and if you still have questions then just ask.

           Don't forget to add the Reflections badge to your Reflections Post and be sure to flaunt your A to Z win with the Survivor Badge in your sidebar.  All artwork is courtesy of our official A to Z graphics guy and hard-working co-host Jeremy Hawkins.  Be sure to drop by his site Hollywood Nuts! to say hello and thanks.   And be sure to order your A to Z Survivor T-shirt (see badge link in the sidebar of this page).

A Bit Tired, but We Survived !

Here's the A to Z Sunflower on May 2nd getting ready for the beginning of the Reflection Posts during the week beginning on Monday May 4th.  We're all still hanging in there!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Wait! A to Z Is Not Over! Not Quite

The Reflections Tradition

         Oh sure, the alphabet is now behind most of us.  Your letter posts should be finished and now you're ready to start blogging as you normally do--or maybe even take a respite from blogging.  But hold on before you leave this 2015 Challenge completely behind you.  We ask you one more little thing:  Tell us about your A to Z experience.

         The A to Z Reflections Post has become a tradition as most Challenge vets will remember.  We've done this since the first Challenge in 2010.  What we request is that in a post on your own blog you tell us all something about the Challenge that impacted you the most.

         Actually this post can be about any April A to Z related topic and presented in any form that you like.  Your post doesn't have to be long and complicated unless that's what you want to do.  Like the regular A to Z posts the Reflections Post can be whatever you want it to be just as long it's about the April Challenge.

           This is the time for you to register your complaints about anything Challenge related.  Let us know the weaknesses along with your suggestions as to how they can be improved.   We don't mind hearing the negative aspects of A to Z, but we hope you will have some positives to report as well.  Relate your anecdotes about interactions with the A to Z staff or other bloggers.   Offer praise to the outstanding bloggers in this year's Challenge or tell us about particular posts or themes that you think deserve recognition.

          Incidentally, even if you didn't participate in the Challenge itself or didn't finish the A to Z Challenge but have something about it that you think is worth mentioning, you are welcomed to add your own Reflections post as long as you were following some of the A to Z posts.   Do not take this invitation as a license to just get on the list with some random post that has nothing to do with A to Z.   These non-Challenge related post links will be removed from the list.  

          The Reflections Post is your time to tell everyone what's on your mind about the A to Z Challenge.  If you want to brag about your own blog then go ahead.  If you want to brag on something else then that's definitely welcomed.  Good, bad, indifferent or however you feel, tell the rest of us.  Whatever you feel is worth saying, then say it.   Even if it's just your blog stats for April--that's valuable information that might help us get some ideas.  Say what you have to say and we will listen.

We Want Next Year to Be Better

          The Challenge of 2015 was pretty darn good by my estimation, but there's always room for improvement.  That's one reason why we like the Reflections Posts.   We get ideas on what not to do in the future and even better we get some ideas on what we can do to improve future events.

          Many of you have some good ideas that the A to Z Team may have never considered before.  Let's hear those ideas so we can do some brainstorming.   And even if your brain is not brimming with ideas for improvement, just your general thoughts can stimulate some thinking.  Don't think that you have nothing to say because everything any of you say is worth hearing.

          Bottom line is that we want to hear from you.  All of you are important to us and each of you has some valuable input that will be lost if you don't tell us.

"What Do I Do?"

         If this is the question you're asking then let me explain.   Starting anytime between now and Friday May 8th, put together your thoughts in a Reflections Post.   No rules on this as it can be as short or as long as you like and it can be composed in any way that you wish.    Once your Reflections piece has been written then add the "Reflections" badge that you see at the top of this page to your composition.  When you have your Reflections ready to go then post it on your own blog site.

          On Monday May 4th the Reflections Linky List will appear on this blog--The Blogging from A to Z Challenge Blog.   Add the link of the Reflections post that you have already posted on your site.  ***NOTE:  Add the link that directs to your Reflections Post and not your general blog URL***Please don't do this wrong and expect us to have to go back to fix it!

         You can post anytime between now and next Friday May 8th.  You must post your Reflections to your own blog before you can add it to the list at the A to Z Blog.  Only add your link to the list if you have actually done a Reflections post.  This Linky List will be accessible to all for the rest of the year so it can be advantageous for you to participate.

       Hopefully this is all clear to everyone, but don't hesitate to ask questions in the comment section if there is anything at all you don't understand.  

         Those who have successfully completed the 2015 A to Z Challenge are invited to copy the Survivor badge below and display it on your own blog to show your visitors that you are an A to Z Winner!

      We'll be looking for your Reflections Posts in the week to come!