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Friday, January 30, 2015

Multiple By Twelve

Can you believe there's only one more day left in January, 2015? This first month flew by and I expect time to continue its fast wheeling. Have you accomplished what you  hoped to during these first thirty days of the year.

I wrote over 40,000 words during this month, wrote 23 blog posts and didn't keep count of the blogs I visited or how many Tweets I wrote and read 11 books. And that is 1/12th of my year. How great would 2015 be if I multiply those numbers by twelve? A pretty good year.

I don't do the New Year's Resolutions thing but I do make some general plans. January far surpassed my planning. Can I do all that 11 more times?

Look back at your past month. Did you do well? Can you multiply that by twelve? Or can you do even better.

I'd like to think I can all except for one month. APRIL! During that one month, my focus will be on blogging, making new contacts and having fun as well as making sure that participants have a good experience. Have you signed up yet?

Did you accomplish everything you planned on during January? Can you take what you did then and do that much twelve more times. Or do you need to step up your game? Are you better with short term goals or long term plans? Is A to Z part of this year's plan? What works best for you? Daily, weekly, monthly or yearly goals?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Confessions of an A-to-Z Road Trip Participant

How many (estimated) new blogs -- on the previous A-to-Z Signup List -- have YOU read between April 2014 and today? 

Let's be honest, visiting all of them is a massive undertaking. Needless to say, the "move along at your own pace" nature of our Post A-to-Z Challenge Road Trip is a relief for those of us who may have pulled our cars over for a tune-up, more than a few times. Whoever has managed to get through the entire list in April, let alone throughout the rest of the year (where road tripping helps participants get caught up to speed) needs to bottle their superpowers up into a productivity drink, and sell it! 

Having participated in the Road Trip for at least three years, you'd think I'd have this blog-visiting think down to a science. The truth is, like most things in life, I can only visit as many blogs as I am able...when I am able. Sometimes I visit more than a handful of blogs. On other days, I don't visit any at all. While I'm at it, allow me to confess some other things about what transpires during my Road Tripping activities:
  • If I visited, read your content and left a response but you still don't see the comment, chances are it's not me....it's Blogger!
  • When I have to prove I'm not a robot every single time I leave a comment on your blog, this task makes me less likely to visit again. That doesn't mean I won't ever return. It does, however, make me hesitant to bother with the extra steps involved with reading your blog posts...especially when there are a number of other blogs that provide a better, user-friendly experience.
Speaking of being user-friendly...
  • If your blog takes forever to load, I'm not sticking around, regardless of how interesting the subject matter of the post you wrote (and/or the name of your blog) appears to be.
By the time April rolls around, I am certain that I will have not visited all 2,000+ blogs that signed up for last year's challenge. Still, between May 2014 and March 2015, I know I will have visited (many) more blogs that I didn't get to in April -- because of my participation in the Road Trip. That's good enough for me...and the bloggers who were, and will be, on the receiving end of those visits and comments, of course!

What confessions, if any, do YOU have to share about your participation in the Post A-to-Z Challenge Road Trip so far?

How many (estimated) new blogs -- on the A-to-Z Signup List -- have YOU visited between April 2014 and today?

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers is listening to Beyonce's "Flawless (Remix)," among other tunes, while arranging this blog post. She currently supports members of the U.S. Armed Forces, discusses emergency preparedness and movies that make you cry at The Madlab Post. Connect with her @MadlabPost on Twitter.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

The 2015 A to Z Challenge List is Open!

Please read and follow the sign-up instructions outlined below so you sign onto the list correctly!

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE

We recommend short posts, turn off Word Verification, and visit five blogs (or more) a day beginning with the one after yours on the list.

Blogs must be on an open platform – no Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. – and comments enabled.

To streamline legitimate blogs from advertisement blogs, the Co-Hosts will be visiting each blog on this list throughout the Challenge. Blogs on the list showing no activity once the Challenge starts or miss five days in a row will be removed.

Please note your blog name and number in all correspondences. Remember that as blogs are removed, your number will change.

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

ANIMALS: (AN)
ART: (AR)
BOOKS/REVIEWS: (BO)
CRAFTS: (CR)
CULINARY: (CU)
EDUCATION: (ED)
FASHION: (FA)
FILM/MOVIES: (FM)
GAMING: (GA)
GARDENING: (GR)
HISTORY: (HI)
HUMOR: (HU)
LIFESTYLE: (LI )
MEMOIR: (ME)
MUSIC: (MU)
MYTHOLOGY: (MY)
PERSONAL: (PR)
PHOTOGRAPHY: (PH)
POLITICS: (PO)
SCIENCE: (SC)
SOCIAL MEDIA: (SO)
SPORTS: (SP)
TRAVEL: (TR)
WRITING/STORYTELLING: (WR)
ADULT CONTENT: (AC)

Be sure to grab the badge and display it in your sidebar so we know you are participating and link to the A to Z Challenge Blog.

For more information we recommend you follow the A to Z Challenge Blog and the hosts:

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
Nicole Ayers @ The Madlab Post
Author Stephen Tremp
Heather M. Gardner
AJ @ Naturally Sweet
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian
Matthew MacNish @ The QQQE
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
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

We also have a Facebook Page
Email address is contactatozteam@gmail.com
Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z

Sign up below and join us for a month of alphabet fun!



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Share and Advise

It's nearly here. Sign up time. I know a lot of veteran A to Z participants will be putting their names on that list next Monday. I hope you'll announce it and link from your own blog to this blog on that happy day. But there will be people new to this great event and they could benefit from some advice.

The first year I participated in A to Z, I had only been actively blogging for a few months and trying to grow my audience. I had lots of doubts going into that first year. I was busy in my personal life. I was teaching full time and my daughter was still in high school playing softball which meant attending games two or three times per week. Our firewall at work didn't allow access to blogs so I couldn't do A to Z work even during my lunch break.

I also didn't realize how important it was for my sanity to schedule my posts ahead of time. Or how much easier it would be to create my posts if I had chosen a theme. By the time April ended that first year, I felt frazzled and like I'd failed the challenge even though I managed to post every day. For a short while there, I hated blogging. Only my stubborn determination to never quit something I started kept me going until the end. I ended up getting no writing done on my work in progress and visiting only a very few bloggers every day.

My second and third years went much better as I followed the advice of other bloggers. Things like settling on a theme, scheduling posts ahead of time, and keeping posts short. Though still a challenge, A to Z was fun instead of agonizing. Last year I took on the responsibility of being a minion for Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh and this year I joined the A to Z team to help everyone else have fun. I couldn't have arrived at this point if not for the advise shared by others.

So when you shout out to the world that you've taken on the Challenge, share some advice for the newbies to this April tradition. Tell them what helps you make it through the Challenge. Even something very simple, like 12 cups of coffee per day, may be the thing that helps someone else enjoy April as much as you do.

Are you ready with some advise? Keeping that theme a deep secret until the reveal post? How many years does this make for you in the A to Z?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Turning Over A New Leaf in 2015

I'm often tempted to "Turn Over A New Leaf" when a new year arrives, aren't you?

  • Be a kinder person.
  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Save the world.
  • Have the best theme for AtoZ ever.
  • Floss. 

Here's how I imagine categories of folk might try to turn over a leaf or two.

Book Blogger: Begin blogging in Spanish and become as successful a blogger as Paulo Coelhos.

Novelist: Write the next Hunger Games trilogy.

Chimney Sweep: Have a good facial scrub before the singing begins.




Gardener:

Now this guy would take me literally. What better time to mulch stuff than in January. Those leaves make the earth ripe and ready for the seeds come April.

What's your new leaf? Or do you prefer to ignore the idea of fresh starts in a new year? As for me, I'm off to find a pitch fork and do some turning of the earth. I'm already itchy to plant my April crop.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Preparing a Theme and Daily Topics for the Blogging A to Z Challenge

2015 Badge Soon To Be Revealed
Here it is already January 2015 and before you know it, April 1st will be here and once again the annual April Blogging A to Z Challenge will begin. 

It is recommended to have a theme for the event. Makes writing the daily posts much easier. And if you do not have a theme, now is a good time to think of one. Try to have one by the end of the month.  

Then, open a Word document and type the 26 letters of the alphabet like so: 

A- 
B - 
C - 
D - 
... 
... 
... 
Z - 

Then begin selecting topics that fall within the theme. Example: my theme is Paranormal and the Supernatural. 

A- Angels, Astral Projection, Apparition 
B - Bilocation 
C - Clairvoyance, Challening 
D - Dreams, Deja-vu, Doppelganger 
... 
... 
... 
Z - Zenoglossy 

Select one final topic for each day (you’ll want to cap your posts at 100 words), write an explanation of each topic, then prepost throughout February and March. By the time April 1st rolls around, your posts will be ready to go and so will you. 

We will be having a Theme Reveal Blog Hop in March where you can announce to the world what your theme will be, then visit your friends around Blogdom and see what their themes will be. 

Happy theme hunting, and the sooner you start outlining your posts, the better prepared you will be for the 2015 Blogging A to Z Challenge. 

You can visit Stephen Tremp at his Website Breakthrough Blogs

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

#atozchallenge #roadtrip - Stormy's got some new BFF's!



 Hi!
It's ME!

Stormy the Weather Gnome!

Running with Scissors!




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!

Lisa Buie-Collard

Lisa is an author and traveler! A student of life!

Her 2014 A to Z theme was: "For the Love of France"! So many really wonderful photographs and lots of great history about the country! You won't be disappointed.

   

J.L. Campbell - The Character Depot
Joy is also an author with a long list of titles to her name.

Her theme was A to Z Scenarios. Each day she posted a drawing and asked her readers to explain how they would handle the situation! Very fun and inventive way to keep your visitors engaged!



Sliding to my destination!


How is your road trip going?

The 2015 A to Z Challenge sign up list opens in two weeks! Are you ready for the sixth Challenge?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Themes That Rocked the Challenge - Sharon Arthur Moore and Food!

Today we welcome Sharon Arthur Moore and her theme of all things food.

A little background about Sharon:

After 39 years as an educator, Sharon Arthur Moore "transitioned" to the life of full-time fiction writer. She's an intrepid cook, game-player, and miniatures lover.
She writes culinary mysteries, women's fiction, historical fiction, short stories, plays, and erotic romance (under the pen name Angelica French). Oak Tree Press published Mission Impastable, by Sharon Arthur Moore, a culinary mystery, in 2014. Sizzler Editions published Streetwalker, by Angelica French, in 2013.
Sharon has lived in every region of the country except the Pacific Northwest and loved every single one of them. Her current favorite region is the desert Southwest. She is married to the most extraordinary man and claims four children, one daughter-in-law, two grandsons, and an old, fat, yellow lab rescue dog, Maudie.

Thanks so much, Alex, for including me in this blog series! I love A-Z and work at recruiting others to participate, so it is an honor to be here.

Your theme was basically all things food related – since that’s the theme of your blog as well, did you have any challenges?

Just keeping up with daily blogging was the major challenge. I normally post once a week on three different blogs, so daily posts get to be wearing. At least I got Sundays off, right? In February, for the last several years, I post a recipe a day in some category my readers select. That’s fun, and it’s sort of training for posting a couple of months later for this challenge.

In terms of challenges with the topic, I did have to scour the Internet to find terms for a few letters. But, in the end, every letter had at least two options for me to select from.

The other challenge was keeping it to two or three terms. I see my blog as an instructional one, so I tried to cram as much as possible into each day. But I never did more than three terms per letter--well, almost never!

Which letter was the easiest and why?

Both S and M were by far the easiest. Huh, maybe because those are my initials? I had so many more options for those two letters--all of which I wanted to do--than I could manage. The hard part was limiting it to two.

Which letter was the most difficult and why?

It wasn’t “Q”. There’s not a plethora of Q cooking terms, but enough so I had a choice and still did two. The end of the alphabet always presents a challenge when finding category terms, so I didn’t have as many choices with U, V, Y and Z.

But what really surprised me was how few P terms there were. I mean, you have pour and pound, but words that people might not know well were very few. That was true for N as well.

What fun fact surprised you the most?

Hmm! What a good question! I had to look back over my twenty-six posts and remind myself of the learning that occurred. Irradiated food and hydrogenated oils had tons of technical and science terminology and findings. Those were really interesting for me to read about. I am not anti-irradiation, but I am not a proponent either. I am waiting for more definitive research. But I’ve been against using hydrogenated oils for a long time. Now I know why and it’s not just a knee-jerk reaction!

What is Vichyssoise?

Potato soup sounds so much classier when you use the French name, n’est-ce pas? And of course, vichyssoise, is so much classier than my mother’s potato soup. It’s a thick soup made by pureeing leeks, potatoes, onions, cream, and chicken stock. While traditionally served cold, like gazpacho, cucumber soup, and fruit soups, vichyssoise can be eaten hot.

Have you ever made a Fricassée?

You got me there! Nope! Even though I cook all the time, there are techniques I haven’t yet tried or tools I haven’t used. But, I am marching my way through techniques so I can die having done it all. My husband gifted me with one-on-one cooking lessons with a chef so I could increase my expertise!

Still, how hard can it be? You cut up meat, sauté it, braise it, then serve with a sauce. I’ll make friscasséed chicken just for you, Alex, if you want to drop by Phoenix.

Sweat isn’t just perspiration, is it?

Umm, well sort of. The onions “sweat” when cooked over low heat. They perspire, like we do, giving off their fluids when heated. When onions are sweated, not browned, the flavor is intensified and deepened. That adds a new layer to my chili.

If you participate in the 2015 Challenge, what theme are you considering?

Oh, I’m in! I’ve met some terrific bloggers through A-Z. It’s choosing that’s the hard part. I have three blogs to choose among. Last year’s challenge was on “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” where I focus on food and mysteries.

I am dithering. I have two themes I’ve been developing. I might go back to “Romance Righter” (pen name Angelica French) to blog this April just as I did in 2013. If so, I’ll be writing about relationships and terms associated with relationships and interactions.

Or I might write on my third blog, which I haven’t featured on A-Z yet. “Write Away” deals with general writing issues. If so, I’ll be writing about terms and strategies in fiction writing. I am only missing a few letters at this point, so I’m almost there for planning both of them! Can you tell I’m eager to begin this year’s series?

You do sound excited, which is awesome! Thanks, Sharon.


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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Characters Who Blog

It's a brand new year, a time for resolutions (some of which you'll actually keep) and fresh starts. And soon it'll be time for A to Z sign-ups, yay! I hope you've all started thinking about what topics or themes you might want to write about, maybe even started drafting a blog or two. I thought I'd give you all a little inspiration in the form of one of my all time favorite literary characters. Check out what Alice might blog about during the month of April . . . 


Stay tuned for A to Z sign-ups coming your way at the end of the month. And of course check back in here for tips and helpful hints about the best blogging challenging in the blog-o-sphere. Happy Wednesday and, as always, happy blogging! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What Do You Read? Is It What You Write?




I don’t think that I write what I read. I LOVE to read Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mysteries, Spy Thrillers, Romance, women’s fiction, historical fiction, and some non-fiction, like true stories about amazing people or biographies/memoirs. I tend to read a lot. I like to read authors I'm familiar with, but also new ones, to help with honing my own craft at times. I've read a few written by folks participating in the A to Z. I have found more than a few Indy-published authors that I really like and I buy their books whenever they come out.
But I don’t write , strictly speaking, in any one genre. I guess you could say I mix it all up. The first novel I published was a mystery/women’s fiction/ghost story (which nowadays is called Paranormal). When someone asks, I say mystery. It’s easier. But the genre boundaries are spreading across lines, crossing into one another. I wonder how this is affecting the market, and my chances for sales.  
Are you someone who writes to a market? Are you someone who writes whatever you feel like writing? Are you someone who writes in one genre? We all write for different reasons and I think those reasons have a lot to do with what we write.
I write fiction in whatever form it comes to me because it’s the only way to get the stories (those voices!) out of my head. And, I don’t want to do anything else. When I write, not only does it (almost always) make me a better, happier person to live with, but I, crazy fool that I am, realize that I want to be read. I want other folks to read my work and tell me what they think. I don’t like it when they don’t like what I’ve written, but hey, I’ll take the bad with the good. Hopefully it makes me a better writer. It also helps me to keep my personal introspections more positive. Writing makes me more apt to listen to my positive blah blah instead of the negative. The negative is always worse when I’m not writing. I get mad at my husband (poor guy) when I don’t write and usually don’t realize I’m taking out my frustration on him until I’ve opened mouth and crammed the proverbial foot inside.
So, after that little “walkabout” in my head, do you write what you read?

Lisa Buie-Collard's blog is found at: lisabuiecollard.com Please drop by, and if the mood suits you, leave a comment. She always returns the visit!


Images from:



 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Making Plans for 2015

Most of us have probably already looked back on 2014 and evaluated our progress on our careers, our personal situations and perhaps even the state of our souls. Now that we're well into the first week of 2015, should we set goals for this next year.

You might have heard how few people keep the resolutions they make each year. 8% of people making those resolutions actually achieve their goals. Over a third of us never make resolutions. Here's some stats for how those resolutions work out for people.  If you do make them, you're more likely to achieve them if you make them public. More than a few bloggers will make their public by putting them up on their blogs.

The number one resolution made by people has to do with losing weight and the second is to get organized. Either of those sound familiar?

Even if you don't make a resolution or set a specific goal, the start of the year is a good time to change a habit or try to create a new one. An exercise habit, a writing every day habit or perhaps a regular blogging habit.

Blogging creates networking connections and 2015 is a great time to increase yours. The signers for 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge will open later this month. Now is the time to plan your networking plan for the year. April too far ahead for you to think about?

Are you part of the IWSG blog hop? This group posts the first Wednesday of every month and shares problems, solutions and some great ideas. If you're not part of this group, this month is a good chance to join. Well into its third year, this month the participants are going to re-introduce themselves to everyone. It's the perfect month to learn about the members of this group, their strengths, their accomplishments and why you'd like to be part of their network. If you're unsure if you want to take on another group, this is a perfect month to check it out and understand who you would be making connections to as part of that group.

For 2015, you might want to make some plans even if you aren't making resolutions. IWSG posts 12 times per year. A to Z posts for one month solid. It's not an entire plan but if you saw Guardians of the Galaxy, 12% of a plan is a pretty good start when you're surrounded by friends.

Are you making plans for 2015? Have you ever made resolutions? Are you part of the 8% for 2014?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Looking Back...



This is my first post of 2015. I love that I am sharing it with you, my fellow A to Zer’s. As I sit here, propped up in bed after a day on the road, the last of my “holiday travel” I have no clue what to write about. I want to give amazing advice, wonderful words, be a meaningful model but all of that falls short of what my heart is full of right now. What my heart is still “digesting” is how lucky I am. I had a wonderful time with my family over the last few weeks, and with loving friends. Connections were made and previous ones renewed. I go into this new year with a feeling of hope and of being loved after some really hard moments in 2014. I know that I am not alone in my hopeful feelings, but I am also aware that not everyone was as lucky as I was in 2014. So if I have one thing I will take away from last year and all its trials and joys, that one thing is that I am grateful, I am honored, I am aware and want to share the blessings I have been given. I know we are often told, "don't look back," but I hope that as you begin your new year you do have a moment to, instead of only looking forward or making new year’s resolutions, look back and think on what you have learned from the last 365 days, what you might have to offer to the universe for the blessings you had, or if your year was not so great, that looking back might give you the strength to make this year better. A new year is upon us. 365 chances to make good. I’m going to do my best to make something I can be proud of with those chances. This post is, I hope, a good example. Because for someone who didn’t know what she wanted to say here this time, guess I found something to write about after all. 

Images from: