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Thursday, March 31, 2016

How to Add Your Social Media Buttons to Your #AtoZChallenge Posts

Today's tip is from An Unconventional Alliance Team Member Rajlakshmi who blogs at A Twinkle Eyed Traveller

I know you all are super busy writing, scheduling, bookmarking and drinking coffee in tons and gallons, so I will keep it really short and crisp.

Since A to Z April Challenge is a great opportunity to connect with bloggers around the world, here's few more tips to help you increase your social media visibility and highlight your talents.
1) Pinterest Pin It Button on Image - The Pin It button appears on the image when you hover your mouse over it. This makes it extremely easy for readers to share your beautiful captures on Pinterest. Check out the steps provided in this tutorial (http://www.bloggersentral.com/2012/11/pinterest-pin-it-button-on-image-hover.html).







2) Instagram Widget - If you are an Instagram addict like me then you gotta have this on your blog. Simple to configure and easy to use. Check here - How to Add Instagram Widget (http://helplogger.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/how-to-add-instagram-widget-in-blogger.html)




3) Facebook Page Like Box-  This can either be added as a widget on the sidebar or it could appear as a pop up when your site loads. Click here for widget - http://helplogger.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/how-to-add-facebook-likefan-box-to.html and here for Page load - http://theblogwidgets.com/2013/08/facebook-popup-widget-with-lightbox.html








Best of luck for the challenge!!
May the the force be with you. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

#atozchallenge -- Comments! Get your comments here!

 

The Challenge starts on Friday. We hope you're all prepared, but it's okay if you're winging it, too.

Just remember, the Challenge is here to push you, so if you're feeling pushed, we're doing our jobs. 


In my humble opinion, there are 3 key elements to the Challenge.


*Daily blog posts.

*Responding to comments received on daily blog posts. Optional, but recommended.

*Visiting and commenting on other participants daily blog posts. Optional, but highly recommended.

 
Let's face it, we can't force any of you to respond to comments, or to visit others to comment, but it is part of the Challenge guidelines and the Challenge fun.

Leaving comments on a stranger's blog can be intimidating, but let's put it in perspective.

Bloggers are people just like us and they like to get comments on their blog posts just like us!


Not every comment has to be a full paragraph, re-stating the post's premise, and quoting the author.

Leave a quick remark. Like a sticky-note. Just enough to get your point across. Something you wouldn't mind receiving on your blog.


When you do comment, think about leaving a signature so they know where you're coming from, like your name and your blog title. Something you can cut & paste quickly onto the end of your comments.

You can make a hyperlink signature as well. HERE is the latest A to Z blog post on how to create one.

Remember, the Challenge isn't just about the destination, but the journey. This is your blogging community. Make the most of it.


Heather M. Gardner
Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Co-host
The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ninja Minions Attack!


Just who are the Ninja Minions? Only the most awesome bunch of bloggers in the world. They will be assisting me in April, helping this Ninja keep his sanity. 


What makes a Ninja Minion? Stealth. Know-how. Top blogging skills. And sheer awesomeness. 



Let me introduce you to this cool team of Ninja Minion Masters. If you’re not following them, you should!


Master of travel and New Zealand, Rhonda Albom

Master of introspection and honesty, Nicola Burggraf

Master of poetry and truth, Nilanjana Bose

Master of her writing and IWSG admin, Susan Gourley

Master of mystery and book blogger extraordinaire, Mason Canyon

Master of freelance writing and middle grade mayhem, Stephanie Faris

Master of mysteries and flash fiction, Yolanda Renee

Master of deep thoughts and contemplation, Ann Bennett

Master of snark and other-worldly writing, Patricia Lynne

Master of innovation and writing entrepreneurship, Melanie Schulz

Master of book events and youthful writing, Donna McDine

Master of music and rants, JA Scott

Now you see them – now you don’t! Because they are Ninja Minions…


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

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Joyful Brigade Hits the Road

It's almost time for us to hit the ground running with the Challenge. I'm happy to be a co-host for the second year running and I'll be ably assisted by the seasoned bloggers listed below. Meet the Joyful Brigade and say howdy!

Keith Channing is retired and lives in the middle of France with his wife and two dogs, where he mostly makes up and writes lies for the sheer pleasure of doing it. Some of them even rhyme. Many of these lies, both of the rhyming and non-rhyming types, end up on his blog, as do some of the photographs he's taken from time to time.

Contact Links:

Fuller bio is at https://about.me/keithchanning
https://www.twitter.com/keithchanning
https://plus.google.com/108165500792647138091
http://keithchanning.tumblr.com/

Bish Denham was raised in the Virgin Islands where her family has been living for over a hundred years. She worked for 23 years with abused, neglected, and emotionally disturbed children before retiring. Bish has been writing off and on most of her life, but it's only been within the few years that she's taken the plunge to self-publish. She now has two books out in the world: A collection of ten stories about the Caribbean trickster Anansi, called Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and a novel about a vain young lizard who believes he has a destiny called A Lizard's Tail. She's currently working on a Caribbean ghost story and has been blogging 9 years. This will be her 7th A to Z Challenge.


Contact Links:
http://bish-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BishDenham.Author/
https://twitter.com/BishDenham


Betty Dmochowski Wooton has been blogging for close to 10 years under a lot of different names, but finally settled into her niche, A Bench with a View, about 4 years ago. She blogs about a variety of subjects and tries not to blog more than once a week so she can save time to check out and read lots of other blogs. This will be her 4th A/Z Challenge. In real life when she's  not blogging or reading blogs she's a medical transcriptionist. She has been married for 35 years and was recently blessed with a grandson born right after Valentine's Day 2016.

Contact Links:
http://viewsfrombenches.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/betty.wooton
https://www.facebook.com/walkhumblywithMyGod

Jen Garrett writes for, about, and around children all day. But sometimes she finds time to do the dishes at her home in Northern California. She also finds time to blog, participate in SCBWI, facilitate The Writers Bloc at her local library, query agents, and read mountains of books. How? We don’t know.


Contact Links:
lexicalcreations.weebly.com

Twitter handle @lexicalcreation
Facebook Lexical Creations and https://www.facebook.com/thewritersblocinplacerville/

Sheena-Kay Graham is a writer, Christian, proud Jamaican, Harry Potter fan, Divergent lover, Dauntless Faction, Book Obsessed. She blogs about her life, books, book reviews, her upcoming novels, and sometimes random fun, plus the movies she sees at the cinema.

Contact Links:
http://queendsheena.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SheenakayGrahamAuthor/
https://twitter.com/queendsheena
Laura Hernandez is the mother of four children and grandmother of three with another two arriving this summer. She is engaged to a retired military man and currently resides in Missouri. Her hobbies include reading, DIY projects and arts & crafts. She's always had a passion for books so wasn't surprised when she eventually started a blog. 

Those first few blog posts only had a picture of the book she read and a sentence or two for a review. Since then, reviewing books has afforded her opportunities that she never knew existed and Laura is very thankful for the many book-addicted friends she's been able to make.

Contact Links:
The Voluptuous Book Diva - http://voluptuousbookdiva.blogspot.com http://facebook.com/voluptuousbdiva

http://yabkd.blogspot.com and on Facebook http://facebook.com/yareeds
Twitter @VoluptuousBDiva 
Instagram @volptuousbookdiva

Michelle Wallace is a writer-in-the-making, on an adventure, a never-ending journey. Her many titles include writer, blogger, flash fiction junkie, wannabe poetess, educator. She looks forward to meeting and interacting with many different writers/poets/bloggers from many different places, as she believes that this potpourri of characters will enrich her life in one way or another, helping to mould and shape her writing experiences. Therein lies the success story~it lies in the actual journey!

Contact Links:
http://www.writer-in-transit.co.za/
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/michelle.wallace.author
Twitter link: @mishy1727 Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/14191973-michelle

And then there's me, J.L. Campbell. I'm plenty happy to have this great group of bloggers to help make the Challenge fun and easy. I live in Jamaica and write sweet romance, romantic suspense, women's fiction, new and young adult novels.


Contact Links: www.joylcampbell.com
https://www.facebook.com/jcampbellchambers
https://twitter.com/JL_Campbell
https://www.pinterest.com/thewriterssuite/

Thanks so much for stopping in, I hope you're looking forward to the Challenge as much as we are. Feel free to visit these bloggers and get acquainted.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Introducing Holton's Heroes!

The other co-hosts have introduced their team of assistants (a/k/a "minions"), so I guess I should introduce mine as well.


I asked each of them to write something about themselves, so here's what they had to say...

Dcrelief was born and raised in North Carolina has been blogging since 2006; celebrating ten years April 2016! Currently she maintains three blogs: dcrelief - Remove the Rose Colored Glasses, dcrelief - Battle of the bands (where I first met her), and An Artful Blogger (joke blog). Dixie is an artist, and paints and sketches portraits and landscapes, depending on a client's request, in acrylic, pastel, or charcoal. She does crafting and sewing, specializing in costume design or repair, shabby chic creations, and doll clothes.

Kimberley Cooper (Kim) is married, mid-fifties in age, and lives in the UK, sandwiched between the sea and the South Downs. She works part-time for a local charity and supports her father, who is in his eighties and frail. She's had a couple of short stories published in anthologies, which gives her the confidence to self publish, both short stories, a novella and a novel. There's a second novel on the go, 60,000 words through so far. She loves to read blogs, both on writing and those which give an insight into how other people live their lives.

Laura Roberts is a four-time A to Z Challenge participant (2016 marks #5!), and has published three of her April blog post collections as books. She is also a five-time NaNoWriMo winner and a 3-Day Novelist, and you can read more of her work -- or submit to her annual "Everything I Need to Know About Love I Learned From Pop Songs" anthology -- at Buttontapper.com.

Erica is a veteran with the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. She's been writing short stories and plays since 3rd grade and fell out of it in college. I started this blog to get back into writing. She tells us, "My writing style is rather dark and macabre. In my own opinion my writing style is very Edgar Allan Poe-ish/H.P. Lovecraft-ish." She's "super excited to be a part of the Holton’s Hero team. Every year I’ve participated in the challenge and have come across some pretty fantastic blogs and developed a few awesome virtual relationships. I’m looking forward to cheering ya’ll on and giving you virtual high fives. And I can’t wait to read your posts, get to know you and maybe, just maybe develop a blogger-to-blogger relationship. Sounds kinda creepy huh?"

Elizabeth Los says "My favorite fictional character: Sherlock Holmes - I'd sit next to the library shelves in the Summer and read for hours. My favorite movie is The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951). I play piano, flute and trumpet. I love Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, but enjoy film scores by Zimmer, Doyle, Goldmith, Horner, Elfman, Morricone, etc, etc. I could listen for hours and still not get enough. :) Oh, and I write. I've published one novel and a few short stories. I'm currently working on a five book young adult series."

Linda G. Hill says she's first a mother of three wonderful boys, second, a novelist and blogger. She says "I write. I observe. And then I write some more. People and their behaviour fascinate me endlessly. I read. A lot. I love to learn." Linda runs a number of blog hops that I participate in, including Stream of Consciousness Saturday and One-Liner Wednesday.

Shan Jeniah Burton lives a passionately playful life filled with lovely chaos, intertwined with her chef husband and two endlessly fascinating homeschooled children who keep outgrowing their clothes. She is particularly fond of words and dreams, imagery and photography, travel, nature, history, music, and fictional people with green blood and pointed ears. I met her through A Round of Words in 80 Days.

Sneha Sasikumar proudly says she has three beautiful places in India to be called as home: one, the emerald Andaman and Nicobar Islands where she is born and brought up, two the Luscious Kerala which is where her ancestral roots are, and finally the Happening and cool Bangalore where she is settled for the past six years. Techie by profession, dancer by birth, Blogger and doodler by choice and in love with her three tattoos. Sneha lives life on her own terms and is always up to learn new things in life. She follows her heart but doesn't forget to carry the brains along :) When life throws lemons at her she turns it into a lemonade!!!

Michele Truhlik is a writer, blogger and small business entrepreneur. Previously an owner of an advertising agency and a bar, she currently has a dog-sitting business and a jewelry business and is much happier being out of the corporate world. She is also following her calling and is an Animal Chaplain and will be officially credentialed and ordained in 2017. She has been rescuing and adopting greyhounds since 1999 and has been owned by 8 greyhounds.

I'm very honored and grateful to have a group of assistants this talented, decicated, and easy to work with, and hope you'll visit their blogs and get to know them.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A to Z tips - Keeping track of the blogs you visit during the #atozchallenge

Half the fun is the blogging.
The other half is the visiting.

It is basic A to Z etiquette to visit back the people that have visited you and left comments on your blog. In addition, we also recommend visiting a couple of people from the sign-up list every day, to promote blogging friendships and to support each other's work.

But even if you only visit 5 new blogs a day, keeping track of all of them can become daunting. Since the list numbers change over the course of the challenge as inactive blogs and broken links are deleted, simply visiting by number is not always the best way to go.

Here are some other things you can try. I have done them before and they worked for me, but you'll have to try to see which one works for you best:

1. Bookmark your favorites
Create a new folder in your Bookmarks on your browser, and bookmark any blogs you came across that you definitely want to visit again.
(I usually just clicked "Open all bookmarks", got my morning coffee and cereal while the browser loaded them, and then leisurely clicked through them every morning)

2. Follow / sign up
Even better: Sign up for the blog itself! Bloggers love to see their follower numbers go up during A to Z - they tell us that people didn't just walk by, they want to stay to read more. If you see a blog that you definitely want to keep reading, during A to Z and beyond, make sure to click Follow (if they have a Followers gadget), or sign-up for email notifications.

3. Feedly
If you want to take blog-following to a more organized level, create yourself a Feedly account. You can add any blog to it (Wordpress, Blogger or otherwise), organize them by themes, and it will put all of their new posts into one newsfeed you can easily look through.
WARNING: Feedly allows you to read blog posts without actually going to the blog site. Make sure you go to the actual blog and leave a comment there. It's only polite. 

Important reminder: Make sure to visit blogs that are below you on the list. If everyone starts at the top, people towards the end will get a lot less much deserved attention.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A to Z Tips - Creating a signature for the #atozchallenge

Here is a tidbit that you might find useful come April.

Visiting blogs and commenting on them is a huge part of the A to Z experience. And so is visiting back! If you want to make sure that people whose blog you commented on can find you and visit you back easily, it is very useful to have a hyperlink signature at the end of your comment.
Here is how that works:

Fill out this template with your own information:


[Your name or Twitter handle] from
<a href="yourblogaddress">Name of Your Blog</a>

You can add more lines if you have more blogs.
For example, my signature looks like this on code:

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
<a href="http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com">The Multicolored Diary</a>
<a href="http://hungarykum.blogspot.com">MopDog</a>

And looks like this when you see it at the end of my comments:

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
The Multicolored Diary
MopDog

IMPORTANT: SAVE YOUR SIGNATURE somewhere where you can easily find it and copy-paste it. Me, I have it saved under Drafts in my Gmail box. Every time I go visiting, I just Copy the code, and then Paste it at the end of my comments.

Also: Some commenting formats, like Disqus, don't read HTML. In those cases, just copy and paste your blog URL. The important thing is to leave an address so people you visited and easily visit you back, without having to sift through your G+ profile or your Blogger lists.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Where to Find Images for your #atozchallenge Posts

If you're like me, you LOVE having beautiful images in your blog posts. The addition of a carefully chosen photo can enhance the understanding of your words or add a funny context to make your blog post even more enticing.

“And what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversation?” 

And since I'm a book reviewer, photos and pictures come easy to me. I can simply download the cover of a book and slap it into my post. It's free to use to promote the author's book. 


See? Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!


The next easiest way to incorporate photos into your blog is to take them yourself. I'm not a photographer and if I add a photo, it's usually one of my pooch.


Sometimes Bailey cooperates and sometimes he couldn't be bothered with my good-boy treats. So what's a blogger to do when in need of a photo and you lack the resources (or skills) for photos for your blog posts?

You turn to Google. To be sure, copyright infringement is a real thing so you can't go around downloading photos and images and adding them to your posts. You must use copyright-free images. There are plenty of websites around and because I'm a librarian, I've done the research for you! 

You can start with Wikipedia. They maintain a list of public domain resources that are free.

The Library of Congress also maintains resources. Theirs are more historically oriented and take some digging. 

Viintage.com offers stunning beautiful images of old posters and other, well, vintage type images.  I used the word image alot in that sentence did i?  

One of my favorites is morguefile.com which contans photos of just about everything. Some are random photos taken by regular people and some are quite good.  

I just downloaded this beautiful image from pixabay.com 


I could go on but I suspect you're getting the idea. Go to the list at Wikipedia (see above) and check out their resources.

Have fun finding resources! 



There are no bad pictures; that's just how your face looks sometimes.” 





Monday, March 21, 2016

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal Day! #atozchallenge

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 (TODAY!) 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.

Be sure to visit others on the list and find some awesome themes!



Friday, March 18, 2016

#atozchallenge Stormy's Sidekicks! We put the FUN in dysFUNctional!

HMG: I do mean that with the utmost respect!

Today, we are here to introduce Stormy's Sidekicks. Well, here and The Waiting is the Hardest Part..

So, take it away Stormy 2.0!


Stormy 2.0: Hello, amazing blog people! This is my first ever A to Z Challenge and I have THE coolest team to help me! I don't even know how I lucked out the way I did!


StWG: You didn't 'luck out' at all, Funsize. It was all me! And, when am I going to be set back on my feet?

HMG: Stormy. Nice of you to join us.

StWG: Apparently, someone forgot to send me the memo that I was introducing MY Sidekicks today.

Stormy 2.0: You're so PRONE to dramatics. 

HMG: Well, now that you're here, feel free.

StWG: Good. Fine. Whatever.

Stormy 2.0: Yes, if you're so INCLINED!

StWG: So, we have 7 bloggers that couldn't wait to be my Sidekicks this year! Let's get right to the introductions so I can send version 2.No back to the assembly line.

Returning Sidekicks


Suz at Suzi's Ice Box Art. 


 






Sarah Foster from The Faux Fountain Pen.
 
Diana Gordon from Part Time Monster!








Brand Spanking New Sidekicks



L.G. Keltner from Writing Off the Edge.








Andrea Casarsa from Maybe it's just me...







Pempi aka SENCO Cat Herder at Special Teaching at Pempi's Palace.







Tamara Narayan at Tamara Narayan, Author.







 
StWG: My team is going to ROCK the Challenge this year! Prepare to be amazed! Mostly by me, but hey, having these awesome bloggers under my wing couldn't hurt! Them.


HMG: Thank you, Stormy.

Stormy 2.0: Even when you're FACE DOWN, you still LEAN toward full TILT Diva status.

StWG: Watch and learn,  Shrimp-Kabob.

HMG: Yeah Stormy, about this 'laying down on the job' thing you've got going on, we really need to talk.

StWG: Less talk, more glue.

HMG: Fine. I'll see if I can make that happen.

***


Sign-up for The 2016 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge!

The A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal list can be found here!

 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

To make #blogging fun, Bring a Friend to the #atozchallenge !

Today's post is brought to you by Andrea, from D's Company.
 -------------
As an introvert, I've always thought that big parties sucked. Especially the ones where I'm all on my own, in carefully chosen clothes & makeup that don't make a bold statement but aren't boring either, enduring awkward chit-chats until I finally find at least one semi-decent person to talk to. But what a difference it makes to be able to bring a friend, who would laugh at the same jokes, understand my bookish references, and would introduce me to people who are worth it. The party doesn't suck so much any more. image

Doing something with a person you like is always easier and more fun. Doing a blog challenge with a person you know is no exception either. Having someone there that you're already familiar with, going through the same ups and downs makes the ups better, and the downs shorter.

Blogging can be tough as a one-person job, but having a friend in it with you, makes things lighter. Do you have doubts whether you can manage a challenge? You'll have your own community to support each other. Are you stuck on the theme or a specific letter? Your readers can help.

So spread the word, involve your audience - here are some ideas how.

 1. Write a blog post. Your readers might or might not know about the challenge, so give them a short intro, tell them how you're going to do it or just to keep yourself accountable.

image 2. When you see a great blog/post, leave a comment encouraging them to join. We're all unsure about our capabilities from time to time, and knowing there's someone believing in us, makes all the difference.

3. Talk to your friends about it! In person, you know, maybe over a beer. I'm forever trying to recruit my friends who don't only deserve the benefits of this great community, but could also do with a little shake-up of getting challenged. 4. Invite people to the twitter chats. We've two every week, Thursdays at 9pm, and Saturdays at 8am EST to accommodate the different time zones and it's nothing like the dreaded parties! But bringing a friend still helps.

5. Be social on, you know, social media. Get your friends to the A to Z Facebook page where you'll be able to see what everyone's posting about.

Show them the A to Z pinterest boards, the G+ page or my personal favourite, twitter.

You name it, we have it! What I'm saying is, don't fall into the trap of doing it all alone. The best thing about blogging is connecting to others through your writing.

Reciprocate it by involving them in the biggest challenge you'll probably take and you'll have the pleasure of seeing another person succeed because of you.

Isn't that the awesomest?  Still on the fence about signing up? Look at all the blogs that are participating!


PS: If you do any of the sharing described above, leave a comment and we'll visit. We're cool like that.
 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Introducing the Multicolored Lady's Minions of Might & Magic! Csenge's #atozchallenge team

Sziasztok!

I'm the Multicolored Lady, the Challenge's resident Hungarian co-host. I have already introduced myself earlier - this time I am here to introduce my marvelous, much appreciated multicolored minion team, my

Minions of Might & Magic!
(*confetti*)

Erica is a lover and practitioner of Music, Meditation, and Storytelling. You might remember her from her amazing theme of Hindu mythology last year! I hear she will have something equally fascinating for this year's challenge. You can find her blog here.

Freya writes about herself thus: "Incurable Drama Queen, Mind-Vagabond, OCDed Control Freak, Innate Traveler, Proud-Softie Dog Mama, Insatiable and Irregular Blogger. I'm Freya and I live in Bangalore, India. I love to read, that's my thing. I'm a housewife and have 5 dogs who fill up my life along with the husband. Mostly that's what my blog is about too."
You can find her blog here, and you can also connect with her on Twitter or Instagram

Lancelot is 25 years old, and describes himself as "a foodie who loves to eat (not so much love in the cooking department), part-time wanderer, blogger since 2014, an A to Z survivor and basically trying to live 100% a life without regrets since 2015!" You can find his blog here, and follow him on Twitter here.

Last, but not least, the team would not be complete without our Everyday Fangirl, Patty. She is from Michigan, and lives disguised as a mild mannered data analyst for an advertising firm. You can find her blog on all things fandom here, follow her on Twitter here, or check out fandom blogs The Cantina Cast and The Bearded Trio where she also regularly posts. 

The Minions of Might & Magic will be visiting you over the course of the Challenge, helping us make sure everything is in order and everyone is having a great time.
See you all in April!

*disappears in another shower of confetti*

Monday, March 14, 2016

A to Z Tips - Running with a Theme #atozchallenge

If you’re participating in the Challenge, you are probably already planning your posts. That’s great–plan and write as many as possible before the Challenge begins so you have more time to visit other bloggers in April.

If you’ve toyed with the idea of a theme or not, let me tell you - it’s easier if you have a theme for the month. We offer the Great Theme Reveal on March 21, which gets people excited about your theme. Plus we run a feature here during the year called Themes That Rocked the Challenge that gives you an idea of the variety of themes out there.

Here are some reasons why a theme helps:

The first year of the Challenge, I didn’t have a theme. Of course this meant some days I was scrounging for something that matched the letter. (For Q, I blogged about Q*Bert and some obscure band called Q-Tip–not good!)

A theme will give you direction. You don’t want to be confined? Choose a good theme and it will expand your possibilities, not limit them. If you select movies, you can go with the movie titles. Music? Go with band or song titles. Sports? Go with players or teams. By narrowing the focus, it’s actually easier, because then you won’t feel overwhelmed.

A theme also lets visitors know what to expect. They will be more apt to return, especially if they like your theme. We’re creatures of habit and like consistency. Include a line or two at the beginning of each post that states your theme for the month if it’s not obvious in your post title.

It’s good research. Select a topic you want to know more about – you’ll learn something as you search. Perhaps it’s something you need to research for your next book or for school. Kill two birds with one stone – and educate others in the process.

Does the theme have to match your blog exactly? No, it can be anything you want. If it’s something that interests you, chances are you’ve already talked about it on your blog. Brainstorm some different themes and pick one. If it fits your style, then do it.

Have fun with it. Just think–your blog is a theme park for one whole month. Make it fun! Because if you’re having fun, so will your visitors.

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

Friday, March 11, 2016

Introducing An Unconventional Alliance, Pam's #atozchallenge co-host Team!





I'm so thrilled to introduce you to this year's Unconventional Alliance! Why are are we the alliance? Because an alliance is like a party and who doesn't want to have a party everywhere they go? An Unconventional Alliance will be my team to help me get through the A to Z Challenge. There will be lots of partying and lots of work and lots of fun! Let me introduce you to the band team:

First up is our DJ. She'll be playing the music that will keep our toes tapping. Meet Shalini:  

Taking up the #atozchallenge for the third time in a row, I can already feel the adrenaline rush. Here's a lil' about me.

An IT Professional who decided to get married to an Olive Green and thus start a nomadic life - Began blogging only to note down the recipes she tried in her almost-burnt-down kitchen. Like any food blogger, 'Julie and Julia' is her inspiration.Music is her soul and she can be seen humming and dancing to the latest tunes played in the radio while trying out recipes in her kitchen. One day wanting to meet the one and only Gordon Ramsay, she cooks her heart out to bring a smile on her soldier's face. She is also an ardent reader and a passionate dancer. She occasionally writes poems and stories as well.
Shalini blogs at Something's Cooking  and Tale of Two Tomatoes. Her other nickname may just be Mrs. Tomato. 

Next is our lead singer Rajlakshmi.  When she's not rocking out on the mic, she might be cooking or taking beautiful photos.
A military brat hailing from Assam, I have lived in different parts of the country, experiencing the essence of various cultures in India. I often brag about the fact that I studied in 9 schools (No, I wasn’t kicked out :P ) and know 5 languages. Most days you would find me processing travel photosblogging about ‘smarty’ siblingstrying my hands at Paper Quilling or watching the world - upside down

Java Developer by profession, Sydneysider, travelling is my passion, writing keeps my creativity alive, Yoga is a part of my lifestyle and, more often than not, I end up setting off the fire alarm while cooking.

I strongly believe in Karma - what goes around, comes around. And therefore, no matter how small, I avoid negativity. 
She blogs at The Twinkle Eyed Traveler, The Poetry Wagon, and Destiny's Child. I believe in Karma too. And cake. She tweets 


No party would be complete without a dance teacher! Meet  Claire. She'll show us all the moves so we can look our best on the dance floor. Claire is also passionate about children's books, which is also my passion.   

Hi, I’m Claire Annette and am joining the A-Z Challenge for the third time Yippee! I live and write in Central California. I’m passionate about kids and books and have made my career as a children’s librarian, reading specialist, and kindergarten teacher. I get my kid fix these days as a substitute teacher - yes, I actually think subbing is fun. I am a field trip planner extraordinaire and I combine my love of travel and kids’ book on my blog. Sign your permission slip and join me at A Field Trip Life

Claire blogs at A Field Trip Life and tweets  


Here's Parul! She's the life of the party who will make sure everyone is having a good time. My teens would call her the Hype Woman because she's happy. 

HR Professional. Working Homemaker. Blogger. Wikipedian. Family Photographer. Engineer This is how I describe all that I do on an almost every day basis. I am Parul and I write for the love of expressing myself and giving my thoughts a voice.
I love my love, life, colors, watching the Sky and Sunsets. If I could get up early – Sun rises would have made it to the list. I started blogging three years ago and I wish I had started earlier. I always have personal stories to share and moments to feel excited for. I call my blog happiness and food cos I write about things that make me happy and in my posts, you will find food for thought.
If not writing, I am reading or editing Wikipedia. After work, you will find me on my couch with a cup of ginger tea and my laptop. A child at heart – I love playing games like Candy crush, Free cell, Klondike, Sudoku, Words, 2048 and every other thing. A social media enthusiast and a learner.
Taking up #atozchallenge for the second time and excited to see what it will bring this year. I am lesser prepared than last year and hence a bit nervous. Good luck everyone! 

She blogs at Happiness and Food.  She tweets at 

And, well, you know me, I'm the ring leader, partygoer who always wants cake. If you see the team around the Challenge, please say hello cuz they are here to help! Remember I'm @pamlovesbooks on Twitter. Say hello. 
Please?

And now, we dance.