Saturday, March 31, 2018

A is for Amazing Alphabet Team #AtoZchallenge

#AtoZchallenge 2018 A is for Amazing Alphabet Team


For our team A post, we present a brief interview with the 2018 Amazing Alphabet Team!


(The fine folks who volunteer their time, energy, and skills to make this challenge happen for you. There will be a seperate post to honor our Amazing graphics guy, Jeremey, later this month.)


1- What's your passion in life?



Arlee-  One passion that consumes much of my thinking is road tripping.  I hate to think of a time when I wouldn't be able to drive.

J- Writing is my passion. That's how I relate to the world.

Csenge- Storytelling. It is both my passion and my profession, which makes me incredibly lucky.

John- Music. Roughly half of my posts outside the A to Z Challenge are about music, and a couple of years ago I had two themes (quite by accident) and one of them was music.

Jayden-Writing, of course. It's therapeutic. But music is a close second. Singing is like sharing a story through song and I love that.

2- What are your goals during the A to Z Challenge 2018?



Arlee-  To keep a balance in my life between blogging and other stuff around me.  But I do want to get my posts done before April.

J- My goals are to make this year really fun for all participants, to complete the challenge, and to leave comments on 300 blogs. On my own blog, I have a short story told in parts, which my goal is to get people to think about life. (If you do too, check out the stories of A to Z post!)

Csenge- My goal is to write posts that people find both entertaining and informative. Also, to make some new blogging friends! I have found marvelous blogs through the challenge in the past, I am looking forward to more.

John- To have all the posts done by April 1 and do as much visiting of other blogs as I can during April.

Jayden- My goal for this year is to have all of my posts ready to go before April 1st so I can enjoy exploring new blogs! I have found some awesome writers I am excited to catch up with this year and I look forward to finding even more!

3- What was your biggest accomplishment in the last 12 months?



Arlee-  It's become a yearly tradition--driving back east to see family, friends, and especially my grandkids including the newest girl child, Logan Lego.  This past year I made the trip twice.

J- Publishing my debut novel, Fractions of Existence, was my biggest accomplishement in the last 12 months. One of the coolest parts was being interviewed on the Debut Author Spotlight at Operation Awesome. (That's what I usually do on Wednesdays, so it was fun to switch to the hotseat.)

Csenge- Finishing my PhD, and publishing Dancing on Blades, my new folktale collection!

John- Continuing my streak of consecutive days posting to the blog, now close to 1500.

Jayden-Publishing my first Choose Your Own Adventure Erotic Novel: Runaway. I couldn't believe how much fun I had writing it for NaNoWriMo last year. I released one iteration of the novel in last year's A to Z Blog Challenge. Publishing the whole novel April 30th was incredible!

4- What about a blog will catch your eye and turn you into a regular visitor?



Arlee-  Interesting material written in an accessible style--and preferably in black print on a white background.

J- A blog with a subject I enjoy written in captivating manner will always keep me coming back for more.

Csenge- I like blogs with interesting topics or themes. Bonus if they are related to folklore, mythology, or role-playing games.

John- Humor. I like to laugh.

Jayden-I love a well written story. I enjoy characters whose lives are compelling, particularly if it's an ongoing story!

5- Besides your blog, how can you be reached online?



Arlee-  I'm not on social media very much, but I can be found on Twitter @ArleeBird

J- Twitter twitter.com/JLenniDorner is my favorite method of online communication. I'm also on facebook.com/WhatAreThey and most of the other major social media outlets.

Csenge- Twitter (https://twitter.com/TarkabarkaHolgy), and the Facebook page for my "Following folktales around the world" series.

John- I have presences on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/johltonehandtyping), Twitter (https://twitter.com/onehandtyping), Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/onehandtyping/), and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/onehandtyping_/). Probably the best way would be through Instagram, as I don't check the others that frequently.

Jayden- http://twitter.com/jrvincente, https://www.facebook.com/jrvincentewww.goodreads.com/jrvincente

#AtoZchallenge 2018 friendly new badge logo
If you wish to include a direct link to your blog post of this day's letter, please click: 

https://goo.gl/1aNz52
LETTER A FORM


This form will close in 48 hours.

The A to Z team recommends TimeAndDate or WorldTimeBuddy for your time zone calculation needs.
We post at Midnight GMT.
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is the standard by which all time zones are based. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the time zone used for UTC. That's why we use it.


If you wish to visit other blogs in this bloghop challenge who have incorporated today's letter into their current post, please click: 

https://goo.gl/CeRMy3
LINK TO LETTER A SPREADSHEET

(If you intend to make a copy of the spreadsheet, we suggest waiting until the form closes.)

#AtoZchallenge 2018 traditional badge logo
https://goo.gl/9f9mfR
Click for the MASTER LIST
of all participants who signed up for the #AtoZchallenge 2018!


"I enjoy challenges. If a challenge is in front of me and it appeals to me, I will go ahead and conquer it." - Conor McGregor

Friday, March 30, 2018

Starting Motivation


Motivational Quote #atozchallenge

The start is what stops most people.

Don't give up without trying!
Yes, the blogging A to Z challenge is a challenge.

"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try." - Beverly Sills 


I hope to see

YOU

and your blog on Letter A tomorrow!



πŸ“œ And if your April posts are stories, please visit:
http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com/2018/03/29/stories-of-atozchallenge-2018/  πŸ“š


😊


Thursday, March 29, 2018

This is only a test -- Please ignore



We're having some issues with the pass-thru between Blogger and Wordpress. We hope to have them worked out soon. Apologies for the interruption.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

#AtoZChallenge Sign Up Reminder!

Hi! Jayden, here, your new co-host for the A to Z Challenge! I've already interacted with many of you via email and comments adjusting your sign ups for the Master List. I just wanted to take a moment to give you all a few reminders about our new systems.

  • The last day to add your link to the Master List is March 31st. Check out our post for more details on how to sign up if you haven't yet.

THE MASTER LIST IS NOW CLOSED.


  • You can add your links daily for more exposure, but it's totally optional. A full list of all daily forms can be found here, or you can follow the A to Z Challenge Blog for daily posts that include the form link and the daily list link. 
  • If you need your information fixed on the Master List, please let me know in comment or email (jrvincente@gmail.com), but I will not be fixing daily lists.
  • A handful of people participate only by sharing links on Facebook or Twitter. It means far less exposure for you and your blog.
    • We highly recommend including " #AtoZChallenge " in your post titles and social media links.
  • Each daily link will close 48 hours after it opens.
  • The reason we did both lists is to accommodate 
    • participants who like the daily lists (which won't have many broken link)
    • participants who don't mind a few broken links, but want one Master List
  • The MASTER LIST also allows us to count how many people joined the challenge (approximately)
  • Some benefits of the Google Sheet are that it's searchable, sortable, and filterable! The post linked above has instructions on how to do those things.
  • The Master List should include a link to your blog (Example: http://a-to-zchallenge.com/). The daily lists should include direct links to specific posts. (Example: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2018/03/master-list-sign-ups.html)
  • The Theme Reveal is now closed. You can check out direct links to theme reveals here, and take that as an opportunity to familiarize yourself with Google Sheets! 
A to Z Challenge

Sunday, March 25, 2018

#AtoZchallenge Pre-Challenge Survey Results

If you were curious, here are some results from the 2018 Pre-Challenge Blogging from A to Z Poll.



(No, taking the survey was not manditory. Yes, you can still join the challenge if you didn't take the survey. A big thank you to everyone who did take the survey! There will be one after the challenge, as well.)

71% of survey takers feel they are proficient in using Google Forms.

Google sheets, however, 28% of survey takers might be learning for the first time.

69% requested a video or written instructions on how to use forms and sheets. That's why we made them available for you. Our team of cohosts has been getting a lot of questions which we hoped the videos had answered. It'd be great to know what or how the instructions were unclear. So, please, if you're asking a question that we attempted to cover in the videos, but the instructions there were not enough, please include the timestamp of the portion of the video where we "lost" you. If we don't know what's confusing, we can't make it better.

Passion Led Us Here image Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash


81% of you wanted categories! (Don't worry, we created a "don't know/ prefer not to say category for the other 19%.)

A short theme description on the Master List? 69% of you said, "Yes, please!"

Sort the list? 60% of you are looking forward to this feature.




How did survey takers feel about posting links to their blog daily?
The longer a blogger has been with us, the less they liked the idea of that being the only option. However, a majority of people from all four groups agreed that "I would use both the Master List and Daily List (including posting my own link each day)."

According to the survey, people really want the Master List.

Leaving a comment on Facebook or Twitter was ranked mostly with a "3" on the 1 to 5 scale.  Those both remain optional.

Daily commenting on the blog ranked lowest. Thoughts on the matter included disheartening statements about there being far too many comments to keep up with, especially with the scrolling and needing to go to "load more" to find the next stack of comments. Participants saw a drop in visitors. And the further away a blogger was from the UTC timezone, the more they disliked it. (They were still in A, others were already in B.)

The only way the A to Z team can compensate for our global timezones is to offer the daily letter forms in advance. However, not everyone knows how to determine what their link will be before their post is live. (There are too many variables for us to try to teach that lesson.) We are NOT going to edit the daily letter sheets because they are relevant for such a short time. Daily letter linking up is optional.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

People who use Twitter are hoping for more Twitter chats (including different days and times). The team is working on it!

Deciding which blogs to comment on last year during the challenge was, overall, a matter of random picks. Some people only commented on blogs they knew or on the blogs of people who commented on their blog first. A couple bloggers only commented on blogs similar to their own. In previous years, categories were the most popular method of deciding which blogs to comment on first. (Random numbers were second.)

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Nearly everyone has participated in another blog hop at some point. Lots of them had to do with books or writing. IWSG is very popular among the A to Z crowd. Broken links, bloggers who drop out, or hosts who gave up mid-hop were the biggest complaints about other hops. A few of you were kind enough to say that A to Z is your favorite! πŸ’— Thanks! We love you, too.

A blog hop is a way to share your blog while also visiting, or hopping, to other blogs using the links of the participants. It's a way to network, increase engagement, and build a community.
A few mentioned that they hate it when someone links up in the hop and then doesn't comment on any other participating links. Others mentioned feeling too much pressure to comment on all the blogs.

Listen up: MOST people do not manage to visit EVERY blog in the A to Z challenge in April. There were 1,344 blogs in 2016. And 1,509 in 2015. BUT, if everyone makes an effort to comment on as many blogs as your schedule will allow, there are good odds that everyone will be visited. 

Non-list methods from other blog hops included daily emails with less than a dozen links, Facebook groups, or the use of pingbacks for Wordpress blogs.

Some people who participated years ago asked if the random blog post picker would be back. (The one that figured out which blogs you hadn't seen yet and suggested you see a set of randomly generated selected ones.) No, sadly, we don't have that in the works. However, there are plenty of random number generators or dice rollers on the Internet, so you could try to fiddle around with those on your own.

One idea offered was making an e-book with our favorite posts. 

Also, people wanted more motivation to complete the challenge. Some survey takers asked if we could make all blogs more mobile friendly, get everyone to include images for Pinterest sharing, or if we could get Wordpress and Blogger to play nicer together. (I appreciate the omnipotent-like power that some participants think the co-host team has over the blogosphere. Alas, we put our pants on one leg at a time.)

Probably NOT a picture of your A to Z team Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
^ Probably NOT a photo of Arlee, Zalka, John, Jayden, and J ^
(Strikingly similar though, right?)

For the people who asked, there's a page on the site with the story of this challenge. CLICK

A handful of people would like to know how many followers each participant's blog has currently.

People worried we'd require a theme, or require the use of Twitter and/or Facebook. We don't. That's optional. The nearest thing to a required theme is using the alphabet letter of the day, incorporating it some way in your post. (You could just toss in a picture of something that starts with that day's letter and then do your blog post.)

There was the usual "debate" of some people requesting that people leave links in comments (easier to track them down and reciprocate), versus people who think links in the comment section look "spammy" and could alter Search Engine Optimization and Domain Authority. (Here's a link to an article that discusses this issue in depth.) Here's MY suggestion, which isn't full proof but could help:
If that's important to you, end your post with an open-ended question (so that people have something inspiring and original to write about in the comments); and also ask them NOT to leave a link, but rather to include their "blog name as it appears on the A to Z challenge Master List." 
The Master List is searchable. You'd have a way to find the person who left a comment. Yes, this method will require a few more clicks, a bit more effort to reciprocate a comment. It could work though. Bonus: It requires no HTML.

HTML Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


THANK YOU to everyone who used the comments on the survey to thank the co-host team. πŸ˜πŸ’–

Congratulations to Cheryl "Calensariel"
https://promptlings.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/blogging-from-a-to-z-april-challenge/
Winner of the pre-challenge survey giveaway.


Wow, this has been a long post. Here's a link to a POTATO recipe I found on the blog of one of our participants: Simple Potato Fry

Don't forget that there will be another survey in May, after the challenge is over.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Testing a New Function

Hey, John here. It appears that Networked Blogs is no longer posting to the Facebook and Twitter feeds, so I'm testing a new way of doing it. Nothing to worry about...

Monday, March 19, 2018

Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge #ThemeReveal

theme reveal #atozchallenge 2018 blogging



Welcome to the 2018 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal! While the Theme Reveal is optional, we highly recommend using this opportunity to share with everyone your plans for April!

Click here for a reminder on what the A to Z Challenge Means by THEME


When you fill out the form, you should select the

category of your Theme,

which may or may not be the category of your blog or other posts.



Each posting day in April, you will see a post that looks something like this one. Scroll down to find the links you'll want to use! The first one is to the form where you can fill out the direct link of your Theme Reveal Post. In future posts, that's where you'll find the link for the form for each letter.

The second link takes you to the spreadsheet of participants who have filled out the form. This will only include participants who have completed this particular post's form. (This is a great option for those who have been frustrated by having links on the list that are no longer active.)

The last link is the Master List of all participants. While the Master List spreadsheet may include some links to participants who drop out, it is still the best way to ensure you see every participant's blog. 


#AtoZchallenge 2018 friendly new badge logo

To include a direct link to your blog post with your theme reveal, please click:
Here
This form will close at midnight UTC on 3/26. 
To visit other blogs in this bloghop challenge who have done a Theme Reveal, please click:
Here

#AtoZchallenge 2018 traditional badge logo

Click here for the MASTER LIST of all participants who signed up so far!


Sign ups for the Theme Reveal will close on: March 26 2018

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Idea Donation Day



Did you ever think of a great idea for the A to Z challenge, but not want to use it yourself? Perhaps it seemed like too much work for you, it didn't fit the "brand" of your blog, or you already had an idea you liked more.

That's what today's post is for! Out there in the blogosphere are people who are thinking about joining the challenge, but they don't know what they'd write 26 posts about. (Maybe you're one of these people.) And here in the A to Z community are people with more ideas for the challenge then they could ever post about. (It could be that you're one of them.)

So go for it! Drop off an idea in the comments that you'd like to see someone use for the challenge. Or pick up an idea from the comments and churn out 26 amazing posts. Maybe even both! Share with your community of bloggers.


Friday, March 9, 2018

An A to Z List of Why You Should Do WRiTE CLUB


Was’up alphabet champions! A few of you may remember me, six years ago (which feels like a lifetime ago now) I was one of the co-hosts of the A-Z Challenge. I’ve participated in the challenge multiple times throughout my nine-year blogging adventure, but this year I’m taking this opportunity to bend your ear (or rather, eyes) about a different topic.

For the past seven years I’ve hosted a tournament-style creative writing contest and I wanted to let you know about it because 1) Most of you are writers, 2) It’s a blast, 3) There are significant prizes, and 4) It’s FREE! Here’s an A to Z list of why you should be doing it.

  •        Aspiring authors can solicit a ton of feedback from a wide variety of readers.
  •        Bloggers are writers, even if they’ve not written a novel. Go ahead and submit.
  •        Contests (especially respected ones like PitchWars) are a fun way to make connections
  •        DFW Writers Conference is a partner/sponsor of the contest.
  •        Easy as pie. Submit a 500-word writing sample using a pen name.
  •        Fulfilling to see your work garnish the praise it deserves.
  •        Genre agnostic. Submit anything – even Poetry.
  •        Help other writers refine their voice by offering meaningful feedback via votes.
  •        I can do this! Keep telling yourself that and submit.
  •        June 9-10 are the dates for the DFW Conference – where the winner will be announced.
  •        Keep your real identity hidden by using a pen name. It’s a No embarrassment zone!
  •        Last round judged by panel of celebrity judges – authors, literary agents, publishers.
  •        March 12 – April 1 is the contest open submission period.
  •        Newbies and seasoned writers compete against one another.
  •        Only tournament-style writing contest on the internet.
  •        Prizes Prizes Prizes.
  •        Quintessential writing contest for writers wanting to see how they stack up.
  •        Read the entries and vote on your favorite. You don’t have to submit to participate
  •        Spread the word to anyone and everyone. We need both contestants and voters.
  •        Thirty contestants are selected by slushpile readers to participate in daily bouts.
  •        Universal appeal.
  •        Voters can win a prize also.
  •        WRiTE CLUB – Just Do It!
  •        X-citing to the MAX!
  •        Your easiest way to get your material in the hands of people who matter in the industry.
  •        Zip on over to the WRiTE CLUB link to find out more information.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Master List Sign Ups

#AtoZchallenge 2018 friendly new badge logo #AtoZchallenge 2018 traditional badge logo

Your choice of badges for showing off your A to Z pride!

Click here to sign up for the A to Z Challenge! Sign ups are open until April 1. Check out our instructional video below or our written instructions

The best part about our new list is that you can SORT and FILTER it! (So there's no need to worry if you're not at the top of the list). 

The Master List sign up is how participants officially register to join the A to Z challenge 2018.


Daily lists, Theme Reveal, and social media comment link-ups are encouraged but not required.
The daily list sign ups will be made available early for those who are confident in their ability to pre-determine their posts' direct links.

The Master List sign up is now:

CLOSED



Categories -- check out that post for information on categories. The MASTER LIST category question is the category of your blog itself. (For whichever category you'd like your blog to be known.)
What the A to Z Challenge Means by THEME


Click here to see the list of all participants! For information on how to use the Google Sheet list, see our instructional video below or our written instructions.


theme reveal

And don't forget to check out the Theme Reveal on Monday the 19 of March.

Plus, there's Idea Donations day on March 13.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Robots Have Not Won Yet

Thank you to everyone who took part in the pre-challenge survey! While the results are being tabulated, please enjoy this comic. Consider it your yearly reminder request to deactivate CAPTCHA for the duration of the challenge.


web comic about robots and captcha from Facebook


SIGN-UPS WILL BEGIN TOMORROW!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Categories #AtoZChallenge

On MONDAY you'll be able to sign up for the A to Z Challenge 2018.



You have your choice of the newer, friendlier logo badge, or the traditional logo badge for showing your challenge pride on your blog. (Or you can use both!)

#AtoZchallenge 2018 friendly new badge logo #AtoZchallenge 2018 traditional badge logo

The sign up form is easy to use. (It's much the same as the pre-challenge survey.) There will also be daily letter forms, which will be OPTIONAL, that will look like the master list form (except with less information). The daily forms will produce a list for each letter that won't have broken links or blogs of people who stopped participating. The REQUIRED Master List Sign Up Form will produce a Master List of all participants. However, that list will NOT be edited, so some participants may drop out, but will remain on the list. Details on how you can access this information will be coming soon!

THE MASTER LIST SIGN UP IS A REQUIREMENT.


That's how we'll know who is participating.

On the MASTER LIST, you indicate the category of your BLOG.

The optional Daily Letter forms will allow you to choose the category of your individual posts.
The optional Theme Reveal will let you pick the category of your theme.


So what are the categories?


Categories:

  • Animals
  • Art (reviews, creations, painting, sculpture, print, drawings)
  • Author/Writing (craft of writing, stories, memoirs, publishing, literature, poetry) -- MASTER LIST
    • Author/Writing (craft of writing, publishing) --Daily/ Theme
    • Author/Writing (fanfiction) --Daily/ Theme
    • Author/Writing (fiction including short stories and flash fiction)--Daily/ Theme
    • Author/Writing (literature discussion/critique)--Daily/ Theme
    • Author/Writing (non-fiction including memoirs)--Daily/ Theme
    • Author/Writing (poetry)--Daily/ Theme
    • Author/Writing (other)--Daily/ Theme
  • Automotive and Transportation
  • Books (reviews, recommendations)
  • Crafts (DIY, ceramics, textile, flowers, leatherwork, needlework, paperwork, jewelry, etc.)
  • Culinary (food, drink)
  • Education
  • Entertainment (reviews and critiques on performing arts: film, TV, theater, dance, music)
  • Gaming (video, RPG, tabletop, board, etc.)
  • Genealogy
  • Health
  • History
  • Home Decor/Decorating
  • Humor (jokes, comics, etc.)
  • Lifestyle and Social
  • Motivational
  • Mythology and Folklore
  • Nature/Outdoors
  • Parenting/Family
  • Personal (journal, diary, musings)
  • Photography and Videography
  • Political and News
  • Sciences
  • Spirituality and Religion
  • Sports/Fitness
  • Travel
  • Other and Miscellaneous
  • Prefer not to say/Don’t know


Did you look at the last one? That's right! If you don't want to reveal which category you're using, YOU DON'T HAVE TO! "Prefer not to say/Don’t know" exists so that categories are still optional, not mandatory. We want the challenge to be FUN for everyone.

Please spread the word about the #AtoZchallenge!

What the A to Z Challenge Means by THEME

Sign-ups open on MONDAY. (Check when GMT midnight is for you.)

Jayden has been collecting data from the survey. Overwhelming numbers of you agree that having a master list (with all the blogs and lots of information) is imperative, and a fair majority of you are looking forward to also having daily letter lists. We're working hard to make sure 2018 is the best A to Z Challenge yet! 

The questions most asked are "What do you mean by theme?" and "Do I have to have a theme?"


1)     THEMES ARE NOT MANDATORY.

Themes are really fun. They sometimes make the challenge easier. They intrigue audiences. But it's YOUR blog and YOU can do what YOU want. 😊



2)     The difference between a THEME and a CATEGORY:

A category is the TYPE of blog you have (master list), or the type of post you've made (daily letter lists).

A theme is what ties your A to Z 2018 posts together, other than the alphabet.



THEMES ARE NOT MANDATORY. (Wait, really? Yes. Really. πŸ˜†πŸ˜Š ) You could have A for animals and B for baseball and C for coffee -- no theme at all, no ties between your posts except for the alphabet. People have done it. You could cover one category for each letter if that makes you happy.

OR, if you want to have a theme:


"Automotive and Transportation" might be your category. Ford models might be your theme.

"Animals" might be your category. Dogs might be your theme.

You could have a "Personal" blog where you journal (master list category), but use the mythology category for your daily letter lists, with a theme of the mythology of the Hittite. 


(Guess what? You're not required to use the daily letter lists! That's optional too, just like themes.)



3)     A THEME is what the author of the blog hopes the reader will learn about or become interested in.



I know this will shock you, but themes aren't required! (Louder, for the people in the back.) They are, however, really fun. 😸😡



4)     The OPTIONAL theme entry on the master list form is a short description of the theme of your blog's 26 posts.

The THEME REVEAL is a longer post on your blog detailing what your theme is about. It gets the audience excited about your April posts. It's your chance to draw people to your blog sooner.


Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge 2018



PARTICIPATING IN THE THEME REVEAL IS OPTIONAL BECAUSE THEMES ARE NOT MANDATORY. (Promise. πŸ˜‡πŸ˜˜πŸ˜)

We hope that clears this up for you.

#AtoZchallenge rocks!