Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Crazy Signs Along the AtoZ Roadtrip

You can't drive very long without passing a sign, right? Well, here are some that I'd love to see if for no other reason than it helps to make the trip fun.

Since I just had the pleasure of driving in Ireland, this sign spoke to me. 

What to do is the question.

Now this is my kind of sign.

Which of these is your favorite? 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Get your feeds under control with Feedly

If you've been doing the A to Z Challenge for any length of time (like, say, at least a year), you've probably discovered a lot of new blogs that you'd like to subscribe to and follow forever. To do that, you need a feed reader (you might also hear it called a "news aggregator"), one that can cope with both Wordpress and Blogger and keep you up-to-date with all your blogging buddies.

Both Wordpress and Blogger have feed readers, and there are a lot of other ones out there. My particular favorite is Feedly. It's been around since 2006, but it became really popular when Google announced they were shutting down Google Reader in 2013.

I used Google Reader, and deciding to shut it down turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me. I thought Reader's display was a little too busy. With Feedly, you can specify how much white space there is in the display, the font, color of the sidebar, your favorite sharing and/or saving service(s), and whether you want to see your articles as a list, as individual cards, or as full articles. You can navigate through your list with the mouse or with the keyboard. Best of all, it's free. (There is a Pro license, that includes saving to OneNote or Evernote, sharing to LinkedIn, Hootsuite, and Buffer, enhanced search capabilities, and "shared collections," as well as faster support and article delivery, that sells for $65 a year; so far, I haven't found a need for it, particularly with tools like IFTTT.)

A shot of my Feedly home screen. I use a "comfortable" density, supplying plenty of white space, and a "magazine" format, presenting my list with a preview of the articles.

Feedly has a plugin for both Firefox and Chrome (maybe other browsers) that makes it easy to subscribe to blogs. When you go to a blog's main page, a Feedly icon will appear either in the address bar or in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. When you click the icon, Feedly launches, showing you the feed from that blog. You can then choose whether to add the blog, and to which user-defined category to add it to.

Screen shot showing the Feedly icon

If you're currently using a feed reader and want to try Feedly, Feedly will accept your OPML file so you don't have to add all the blogs by hand.

I don't want to get too deep into the product (sorry, I was a software trainer for fifteen years), so I'll stop there. Anyway, if you're in the market for a new feed reader, give Feedly a try. I think you'll like it!

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Semi-Wordless Wednesday: Traffic Signs to Follow on the A-Z Road Trip

Exit 1252 takes you to Skating Buffalo park, where you'll find nerdy high school students, dissect movies that grow on you years later and highlight a metaphor for prayer.

Exit 1283 is the way to Keith's Ramblings university with a campus full of fish and chips, Alzheimer's and beautiful nurses.

Exit 1284 leads into Crazy Doll Lady town where the locals are chatting about dolls, finding clothes that are the right fit and a resin casting experiment with polymer clay charms.

Exit 1287 heads toward My Life with Photographs retreat to bypass the sick days and important deadlines in lieu of gorgeous Fall colors in Alaska.

The A-to-Z Challenge Road Trip is hosted by Nicole Ayers and C. Lee McKenzie who’s dashboard buddy Mario sends his best to all of you fellow travelers!

Monday, September 21, 2015

A-Z Creativity

In keeping with Heather's post about the 2016 Blogging From A-Z Challenge, I'm beginning to turn over ideas in my mind as to what I want to write about for next year's event. I haven't settled on what I want to do yet, but you can be sure I'll be putting more thought into it as I want to do something unique (as do we all, right?).

Over the years, a few enterprising and industrious writers have compiled their April posts and published same, mostly in fiction format. Now, it that's not being creative, I don't know what is.

I've had ambitions of doing the same for years, but haven't done anything about those posts. Most of the material relates to writing and would help others in some way, but as they say, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. I still haven't removed the material from my blog, but I do have them in individual files.

Do you have anything special you're turning over in your mind? If so, have you started plotting yet? I don't know about you, but I've got my thinking cap on.

Have fun planning when you get there!

Friday, September 18, 2015

28 weeks until the 2016 Challenge. Have you thought about your A to Z posts yet?

It seems like a long time from now, doesn't it?

More than half a year. 28 weeks. 195 days.

But, how many of us said we wished we'd been MORE prepared for the A to Z Challenge?

Admit it. Almost all of us.

So, why not start thinking about it now?

With 28 weeks ahead of us, we have plenty of time to plan.
Now, what to plan?

There are so many things.

These categories might get your blog ideas flowing.



If this list doesn't do it for you, then maybe you could start your own list.

What do you like to do?
What do you like to talk about? Read about?
What are your favorite things about where you live?
What subjects are you interested in?
What do you want others to know about you?
Why do gnomes wear hats?

You get the idea!

It's never too early to start thinking about your A to Z posts.

Heather M. Gardner
The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Return of the Weekend Follies Star Trek Style


My name is Stephen Tremp and I’m a writer of speculative fiction. My fourth novel, Salem’s Daughters, is set for release October 1st. To pre-order a copy for $2.99 Click Here

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Don't Be A Stranger

What a wild ride it is to be part of this group. There is so much energy but that energy is needed. I have my own blog and am part of the IWSG admin but I still wasn't prepared last year when I volunteered to be part of this group. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes.

The administrators of the Challenge have soooo much enthusiasm and creativity. They constantly brainstorm on ways to make the challenge better every year. From the outside, it may seem like the majority of the work in done during the craziness of the challenge in April, but there's actually a lot of things going on all year long.

It has been such a privilege to be part of this but I am stepping down as an administrator this year. I'll still be helping out as someone's minion next April and I would never miss participating in the challenge but I will be leaving all that behind the scenes work to the other wonderful people of the Challenge. Thanks to Arlee Bird for starting this endeavor and for letting me be part of it. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for asking me to step up last year. With a lot of regret, I'm stepping back this year but not out.

As an experienced A to Z'er, I'm already thinking about my theme for next year. I expect to be able to visit even more blogs than I did last year since I won't be administering anything but myself. I'll still be promoting and encouraging everyone to participate and keeping going to the end.

Finishing the Challenge is a terrific, fulfilling accomplishment. So, I'll be seeing you all in April. In the meantime, I hope you'll visit me at my personal blog, Susan Says.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Themes That Rocked the Challenge - Elizabeth and My Little Pony Artwork

Today I welcome author and artist extraordinaire, Elizabeth Mueller! I’ve known her for many years and have seen her talented artwork. She really did something unique with it for this past Challenge.

Your theme was My Little Pony fan art – what made you choose that theme?

To be honest with you, I had already written 50% of the A to Z's posts (on writing) and scheduled them before April started. Being the hermit that I am, I had barely heard about a successful adult coloring book by a self-published artist, and I thought to myself, I can do that! I can draw just about anything, and people can color my art. Also, drawing takes less brain power and after having Babykins, my brain has been pretty mushy since.

Feeling a bit weird about where this was leading, because I typically keep my art low key, I asked my daughters what they thought about a My Little Pony fan art theme for the Challenge. I wanted to retest my skill in drawing horses (horses were my first drawing love). It turned out that they loved it, and volunteered to color them for me. You should've seen the amount of hours they dedicated!

How long did it take you to draw all those ponies?

Straight up? About three hours all squished together just to *draw* them. Not counting the coloring. Or researching A to Z worthy flower names. Or inventing the storyline. Or getting them printable worthy. (And the scheduling of the posts is a whole 'nother story.) Whew!

Which letter was the most difficult?

X was the most difficult! I searched each letter of the alphabet for flowers and then I'd comb down each one to see which sounded the best sounding name for the character. Xs didn't have much of a selection and we (yes, my daughters helped me, it was a labor of love!) had to do many searches on different sites.

Which flower was the easiest for visitors to guess?

There were many flower names that had a good number of correct guesses, but I'm thinking Zinnia won the race. I suppose that is a very popular flower.

Which flower was the most difficult for visitors to guess?

Adonis, Firethorn, and Knotweed are a tie--no one was able to guess those guys. Not very common flowers, are they?

You had a cool prize for those who made the most guesses, right or wrong – tell everyone about it.

As you said, my goal was to get as many friends to participate. Right or Wrong. It was a little party every day for us! I converted every one of the illustrations into coloring pages along with edited versions of the stories I had included in the blog posts. I did the illustration process backward: I pencil sketched them and then colored them for the Challenge before I had turned them into coloring pages. Turned out alright anyway, though.

What theme are you considering for next year?

That is something I'm still mulling over!

I bet it will be something good! Thanks again, Elizabeth.

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

On The Cyber Road

I took some time to go on the Cyber Road today and scoped out some sites that I hadn't visited before. These are aimed at writers still seeking publication or who have already published and are now looking for help with becoming more than a tiny blip on the Reader Radar.

Writer's Edit.

Resources for Writers
Book Reviews
Writing Jobs Online
Opportunities for Writers: Writing Contests

Jane Friedman
Dedicated Link:

This was a hoot! You can actually buy or get some "free" apps to help you as a writer.
Mark Twian, Victor Hugo, Will, you dudes missed out.

Evil Editor

Want to see why you're not published? You might check out this site and offer up your tender prose to scrutiny.

Write To Done

I perused the site and found this article the most interesting. It's all about promoting yourself on LinkedIn--something I've neglected.

Have a great Cyber Road Trip! And Mario the Muse sends his best, but still likes "REAL" road trips the best.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Blogging memes for story-lovers

Hello there Blogging World! I hope you are keeping busy, even in the off months when there is no A to Z to turn your blog life into a crazy rush. But in case you were getting a little bit bored, I would like to introduce to you two memes that you might want to look into.

Especially if you like stories.

(We have had quite a few people participate in this year's Mythology and Storytelling sections in A to Z, which was amazing to see.)

Folklore Thursday
Folklore Thursday is a weekly meme, hosted on social media by The Witch, The Weird, and the Wonderful. People participating on Twitter and on their blogs post interesting tidbits of folklore - beliefs, customs, pictures of their favorite creatures, local legends, ghost stories, and fairy tales. Some tweets are book recommendations, and all the blogs are teeming with fairies, ghosts, Black Dogs, and all the creatures living on the other side of Reality.
If you are interested in folklore, legends, mythic fiction, fantasy, or any related topics, this is a treasure trove to dive into every week!
If you want to find out more, follow this link, or click on the #FolkloreThursday hashtag on Twitter! Hosted by @FolkloreThursday

Story Saturday
Story Saturday is also a weekly meme, started specifically for oral storytellers, and people interested in live storytelling. People use the #StorySat hashtag to talk about upcoming storytelling events, publish musings on life and work as a storyteller, and discuss stories that they are working with, or planning to tell. The hashtag was started by the #storytelling community to create a social media space where the term is used in its oral context - performance storytelling. Everyone is welcome to join who has an interest, or would like to learn more about the art form.

If you are interested in diving into the world of folklore and storytelling, check out these memes next time Thursday or Saturday rolls around.

Blog and Twitter away, story-lovers!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Trans-Neptunian Objects: The Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud, and Conspiracy Theories

Hi everyone and thanks for stopping by. I hope you are as excited as I am regarding our world and our place in it. We are truly in a new Age of Discovery as we search out the mysterious of our universe hidden since time began.

We recognize eight planets in our solar system, the furthest being Neptune which is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third-largest by mass. Beyond Neptune are what is referred to as Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNO) which include minor planets like Pluto and other rocky and icy objects that orbit our sun. 

Kuiper Belt: A disc-shaped region beyond Neptune extending from 30 – 55 astronomical units (AU). An AU is the approximate distance from the Sun to Earth, or 93 million miles. There are over a half million icy and rocky TNOs we know of so far with and close to 100,000 having a diameter of at least 100 kilometers (62 miles). There are probably hundreds of thousands more yet to be discovered along with a trillion or so comets. There are four dwarf planets that we know of. Most comets that take less than 200 years to orbit the sun are believed to be in the Kuiper Belt. 

Astronomers think the frozen objects in the Kuiper Belt may hold clues about the origin of our solar system - sort of like how fossils tell the story of dinosaurs on Earth. Scientists think the gravity of big planets like Jupiter and Saturn swept all these icy leftovers out to the edge of our solar system. 

Oort Cloud: In 1950, Dutch astronomer Jan Oort suggested that some of the comets entering the solar system come from a cloud of icy bodies, ammonia, and methane that may lie as far as 100,000 times Earth's distance from the sun. It is believed that this cloud of particles are the remains of the disc material which formed the Sun and the eight planets. 

When its inhabitants interact with stars, molecular clouds, and gravity from the galaxy, they may find themselves spiraling inward toward the sun, or cast completely out of the solar system into distant regions of space. The Oort’s Cloud extreme distance makes it challenging for scientists to identify objects within it. Comets with orbits longer than 200 years originate from the Oort Cloud and can be as far as three light years from the sun. 

Some astronomers theorize the Sun may have captured the material in the Oort Cloud from outer disks of other stars that formed in the same nebula as our star. The planetoid Sedna, discovered in 2003, is thought to reside here. 

Conspiracy Theories: There is a conspiracy theory NASA knows of a mysterious unnamed planet lurking beyond Pluto. The scientific claims were based on observations of gravitational influences on a group of space bodies termed the “extreme trans-Neptunian objects” (ETNOs) orbiting our Sun beyond the planet Neptune. It's coming our way and spells certain doom for us, but our government is keeping it a secret. Yes, there is quite a following on this one. For more on this Click Here

Did You Know: The New Horizons spacecraft is now heading toward the Kuiper Belt to an object named 2014 MU69 a billion miles away from Pluto, It is set to arrive in January 2019. The object is about fifteen miles wide and is small enough that it has not been modified by geologic processes and is far enough away from the sun’s influence that it likely has maintained its original composition. New Horizons will then keep going until it runs out of fuel. 

Fun Facts: Astronomers have found structures similar to our Kuiper Belt around at least nine other stars using the Hubble Space Telescope. 

My name is Stephen Tremp and I’m a writer of speculative fiction. My fourth novel, Salem’s Daughters, is set for release October 1st. To pre-order a copy for $2.99 Click Here