Monday, February 29, 2016
#atozchallenge Blog Check Up in 7 Steps
Friday, February 26, 2016
#atozchallenge Meet Your Co-Host: John Holton
This is my fifth Challenge, my second as a co-host. I started my blog, The Sound of One Hand Typing, on Wordpress in January 2012, specifically so I could participate in this Challenge. I had been toying with the idea of blogging for a while, anyway, and had in fact started several blogs in the past, all of which I was embarrassed to leave lying around. It gets its name because a stroke nine years ago deprived me of the use of my right hand, but I wasn't about to let that stop me. What encouraged me was reading about the author Walter Wager, who wrote novelizations of TV series and tie-in novels based on them. I read somewhere that Wager only had one hand, and I decided that, if he could do it, so could I.
I blog daily, which I started in July 2014. I have a few regular features, and participate in a number of blog hops I've found along the way. I'm also technically inclined, and found a way to simulcast my blog to one on Blogger, which I talked about last year. This year, I created the Challenge's Pinterest and Google+ pages. I also participate in the weekly chats on Twitter. See what happens when you retire?
You can find me at either of my blogs, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. I hope to get to know many of you during this year's Challenge! See you soon!
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
#atozchallenge Presenting Co Host Pam
I'm Pam, I'm one of the co hosts for the 2016 Blogging Team! I'm here to get to know you a little bit better. I'll share some stuff about me and then you share some stuff about you, ok?
I'm the self appointed librarian of the Challenge.
If you need a book recommendation, I'll be happy to help you. If there's research to be done, I'll do it. If there's a book to be read, I'll read it.
Monday, February 22, 2016
#atozchallenge -- Theme Reveal Sign-up is Open!
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!
Three 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.
Here is how the Theme Reveal Blogfest works:
Sign up on the Linky List below. On Monday, March 21, reveal your theme on your blog and give us a hint of what to expect from it. Then, once your post is up, use the Linky List to visit all the other blogs announcing their themes.
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 lure in wandering participants with your awesome theme. This way, by the time the frenzied posting begins on April 1, you will already have an audience eagerly awaiting your posts.
Sign up below, ready your theme, and put March 21 on your calendar!
Friday, February 19, 2016
#atozchallenge -- Who the heck is Heather?
This will be my 6th year doing the A to Z Challenge and each year it gets more interesting.
My 3rd year I was recruited by Alex J. Cavanaugh to be a Ninja Minion and in my 4th year Alex
As for my posts, my 1st year (2011) I went completely random, but for the next three years my blog was taken over by the Gnome.
You may know him as Stormy the Weather Gnome.
He took a slight break last year when I hosted The Re-opening of The X-Files theme where I shared 26 days of my love for the show, old and new information, and all my memorabilia.
Is it possible that Stormy will be back this year? Only time (and glue) will tell.
You can find all my A to Z posts HERE.
We hope you join us for this year's Blogging from A to Z April Challenge!
Heather M. Gardner
Blog: The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
#atozchallenge -- Introducing co-host AJ Lauer
On the Challenge Team I am a scheduling master - so I help our team keep track of all the things we have going on, including posts, our own A-Z Challenge participation, and timing of other A-Z related events (Theme Reveal Day, etc). I'm also a bit of a data hound, so the participant survey you'll get at the end of the event is a care package from me - please fill it out! :)
Here are all the places you can find me. Stop by and say hello:
FacebookTwitter @ayjaylauerBuy my book! Armageddon: Pick Your Plot
Join my email list! New subscribers get a free ebook novella. Hooray!
Have a wonderful Challenge, everyone :)
And! Don't forget, our first A-Z Twitter chat is tomorrow, February 18! Join us at 9pm Eastern time (USA) at #azchat. Co-hosts will be around to answer questions and share in general excitement. See you there!
Monday, February 15, 2016
#atozchallenge -- Meet your co-host: Csenge
Friday, February 12, 2016
Why do I love the #atozchallenge so much?
Some of us co-hosts are still finalizing our teams, so if have participated in the challenge before, and want a turbo-charged AZ this time, email us at the contact address: email@example.com
---------Take it away, Vidya!
The A to Z Challenge is one of my favorite blogging activities.
Okay, okay, my favorite!
That I love to write, is a given. I do occasionally take part in other blogging/writing challenges. But why am I absolutely hooked to the A to Z Challenge?
Daily (W)rite tagged me on Twitter. I fell in love with the concept. Blogging daily with thousands of people in a specific pattern appealed to me tremendously. So many perspectives and so many genius themes and ideas to meet! The whole idea filled me with joy and I energetically jumped in. I could think of nothing but ideas for April - my kitchen shelf was full of my scribbling. My writing pad was filled with doodles and mind mapping for ideas. My friends and family got a bit tired of me trying to fit everything into the A to Z sequence. I suspect they loved it, though! So, in my first A to Z Challenge in 2013, I participated with one blog. In 2014, 2 blogs, in 2015, 3 blogs.
This year, 2016, I am participating with 4 blogs - I enjoy the challenge so much.
Why A to Z Challenge is my favorite :
- It keeps my adrenaline pumping and my writing muscles flexed and ready
- It cultivates a writing discipline I enjoy
- I get back into the groove with posting regularly on two of my 5 blogs.
- It encourages planning ahead - this is a major life lesson I follow in other areas of life, but not always with blogging. To truly enjoy blogging challenges, planning is critical.
- It boosts my creativity, making me think of freaky ways to entertain my readers, rather than just give them info. Yes, I like to think they love me!
- I get to meet new and wonderful bloggers via the challenge. I've met several who are fast friends now, location no bar!
- I've been part of a co-host's team for two years and enjoy the team work behind the scenes, team spirit and fun. Sort of like a girl gang, only wiser! (You can join in the teams too-- write to the email on top!)
- The A to Z is a great way to actually plan your book if you aspire to write one. I mean, write around a theme for 30 days and you have a pretty good premise for a book or an anthology!
- If you believe that travel broadens the mind, youíve got to believe that blog-hopping also broadens the mind, and heart.
- Talking of travel, I almost always travel in April, but that doesn't stop me from sailing through the challenge, thanks to the
kicksencouragement of my supporters!
- The learning. This is tremendous. Can you believe I actually converted from being a pantser to a scheming theming planner Yes I did! Go check out last year's letters to my son! I have to confess a theme feels good and keeps you focused.
- I love getting in a couple of guest posts from my blogging friends and highlighting them as there are usually more visitors in April and that makes me feel good.
- I enjoy doing the Reflections post - what activity is complete without a review and some learning points - and how to do it better next time, eh?
- The A to Z encourages me to explore my own writing abilities and I am surprised to discover how much more I am capable of.
- Consistent writing and online conversations are good for ranking- which means more paid opportunities for your blog.
Let's just say, if you like blogging, if you need the motivation to get back in the groove, the A to Z Challenge is for you! So what are you waiting for? Grab a few of your blogging buddies and Go sign up NOW!
Vidya Sury is living her dream as a Writer | Editor | Blogger | Social media explorer, after a couple of decades in the corporate world in marketing and training (sales and soft skills). She blogs at Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles, tweets as @vidyasury and flits around Facebook.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
If you like #blogging the #atozchallenge is for you! Right?
The A to Z Challenge is 26 posts on 26 days of April, on a theme of your choice, or without a theme.
The Challenge is not for you if:
1. You don't want to grow your blog audience
2. If you don't want more followers.
3. If you don't like networking.
4. If you don't like posting more than once a week or month.
5. If you don't like the alphabet (Like our very own Gary Pennick! Love you, Gary!)
With the above reasons, you're right, the A to Z Challenge is not for you. You might be fence-sitting for other reasons:
1. You're very busy in April (That's all right, really--you can schedule your posts now!)
2. You're scared by the idea of writing everyday. (It's ok, you don't have to. As above, you can pre-schedule some/ most/ all your posts)
3. You're worried you may not be able to handle all the comments that come in. (Ditto as above-- pre-write all your posts so you can comment away and respond to comments in April!)
4. You did not get many comments last time you tried. (We might have a solution for you Here)
So there you go: 8 shiny reasons for you (not) to join the challenge. For a gazillion reasons to join the challenge, check this post, and this one, and this one.
Oh, just go and sign up already!
And if you want to give us reasons (not) to join: let's have them in the comments!
Monday, February 8, 2016
Navigating the Challenge with Clones and Ninjas! #atozchallenge
Teleportation is also an option.
As much as I enjoyed writing about teleportation on my books, I decided that the Ninja Captain needed clones instead. And of course, a clone machine. Which does have its drawbacks. Everyone wants to borrow it. Plus there was the time I cloned way too many versions of Kate Beckinsale…
All kidding aside, I really don’t have any of those things. I’ve just made it a point to visit all of my blogger buddies, whether it’s during the Challenge or IWSG post Wednesday or just another day.
Yes, I do have a lot of blogger buddies! Where did they all come from?
I’ll give you a hint – it has to do with the alphabet.
My blog has never been the same!
I’ve been a co-host since 2011, managing the Linky List and helping in other areas. Of course, that’s not all I do.
Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We started as a monthly blog hop, and then grew into a website, two Facebook groups, and a newsletter. We even put out a free book for writers and last year partnered with a publisher for an annual IWSG Anthology Contest. (First anthology due out this spring.)
Offline, I maintain a full time job in web design and technical editing. I’m also a guitarist in a Christian rock band, as God and music both play very important roles in my life. I’m happily married, live in the Carolinas, and like to drive my sports car really fast.
Because darn it, teleportation machines don’t really exist!
Find me here: Blog, Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Twitter, What Are The Kargrandes, Goodreads, and Google+
Friday, February 5, 2016
Roll Out The Welcome Mat
Both Wordpress and Blogger have settings that allow you to screen comments. Some of them are set as defaults and others are options you can set if you think they're necessary. They ensure that the commenter is a real person and not just a bot from which you'll be receiving junk comments for the rest of your existence. Setting the options will cut down on spam, but some of the options also make it practically impossible for legitimate bloggers (e.g. the participants in the A to Z Challenge) to leave you comments.
Kind of defeats the purpose of having a blog and participating in the challenge, doesn't it ?
There's also an impression out there that, while blogs on Wordpress are friendly to Wordpress commenters, they're mean to commenters that don't have a Wordpress account. You hear the same thing about Blogger: nice to people with Google accounts, nasty to everyone else.
Bottom line: You want to make commenting on your blog as easy as possible for anyone who drops by. Let's see how to do that.
You can find the settings for comments at https://[your blog URL]/wp-admin/options-discussion.php
Allow people to post comments on new articles - Should be checked. This allows people to comment.
Comment author must fill out name and email - Should be checked. Having a name and email address generally indicates the commenter is a real person. Of course, spammers can fill that in, too, but it prevents posting by bots.
Users must be registered and log in to comment - Should be unchecked. This means that you have to have a Wordpress account to comment.
Automatically close comments on articles older than _____ days - This prevents people from posting comments on old articles, a favorite trick of spammers. I turned this on and set the number of days to 60 for a while, then realized there were new readers who might want to comment on older articles, so I turned it off. If you start getting a lot of spam on older articles, you might want to set it.
Comment must be manually approved - Leave this unchecked unless you start getting a lot of spam, or if you've attracted a troll.
Comment author must have a previously approved comment - I have this unchecked. I don't think it's necessary.
Hold a comment in the queue if it contains ____ or more links - I have this set to 5. Some people like to put links to their blog here rather than in the box for URL's on the comment form, and if this is set too low, their comment disappears with no word as to why.
There are also areas to put in words or URL's in comments that will either get the comment put in the moderation queue or in the spam queue. Use these with caution, or you might be blocking comments you didn't intend to block.
Sign on to Blogger and select your blog. Then click on Settings > Posts and comments.
Who can comment? - Typically you'll want to choose Registered User. This allows people who don't have a Google account to comment using their Open ID, Wordpress, LiveJournal, TypePad, or AIM account. Anyone allows anonymous commenting, probably not a good idea.
Comment Moderation - Setting this to Never means anyone can comment. If spam becomes a problem, you can set it to Always. Sometimes allows you to specify a number of days after publication when commenting is open, after which comments must be approved.
Show word verification - This forces a commenter to enter a CAPTCHA code before the comment is accepted. Most people think that's an enormous pain in the backside and might just leave without commenting and never come back. Turn it off.
Whether this is your first challenge or you're an old pro, welcome! We hope you have a good time, make lots of new friends, and find lots of new blogs to follow.
The Sound of One Hand Typing on Wordpress
Simulcasting at The Sound of One Hand Typing FM on Blogger
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Blogging for #atozchallenge : does your #writing move your readers?
Do you run a popular blog? If yes, please go off and schedule a few A to Z Challenge posts. This post is for those of us who are struggling to build an audience.
It is a topic that all bloggers need to revisit from time to time, namely: RESONANCE.
Go read your blog posts from two months ago. Go on, I'll wait.
If you were a visitor, do you think you'd stop and read through, without skimming? If the answer is a firm YES, pat yourself on the back. All you have to do is visit more bloggers and get on social media to start interacting with other bloggers. Your blog will flourish.
If your answer is veering towards UNSURE or NO, examine your current posts. What do they offer a visitor: emotion, positivity, support, information, analysis, interesting tidbits, laughter? If the answer is a No, then you might need to re-examine why you blog, and your expectations of its popularity.
An audience will be loyal not just if you post regularly or comment on others' posts. You'll need to resonate with them, offer them intellectual stimulus or emotional support. Or good old entertainment.
Many of you are now deciding on themes for the A to Z Challenge. Before you finalise one, take the Resonance Test. Go back to a 2-month old post. You would now have become objective towards it. Check what you're offering your audience.
If you Resonate with your audience, they'll have more of a reason to keep coming back.
And if you haven't yet signed up for the A to Z Challenge, consider signing up now.
Do your posts Resonate? Tell us in the comments!
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Email address is contactatozteam at gmail dot com
Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z.
We’ll hold Twitter chats on Thursdays at the tag #azchat starting Feb 18, 2016, 9.00 PM EST. Please follow the Twitter and Facebook handles, and the hashtags in order to keep up with the conversation.