Showing posts with label Shannon Lawrence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shannon Lawrence. Show all posts

Monday, January 13, 2014

Road Trip Pit Stop Oil Check

Hi guys! It's time to cruise into the mechanic for an oil check to be sure we're moving forward in the best shape possible. Wouldn't want to stall out on the way along the A-to-Z Highway!

The holidays have been a busy time for all of us, whether because of gatherings with friends and family, time spent shopping and preparing feasts, children vacationing from school, finals, or even work deadlines before the end of the year. So if your visits to your A-to-Z friends slowed, there's no shame in it. Get that engine check, make sure your spark plugs are in working order, and continue along at whatever pace your speedometer is comfortable with.

If you need to take an extended pit stop, grab some eats at a greasy spoon, nab a night in a motel, that's okay, too. We hope to see you on the road when you're able! Above all, have fun and stop to enjoy the tourist traps.

In the meantime, I'll continue cruising along with my fantastic Road Trip partners, Tina, of Life is Good, and Nicole, of The Madlab Post. I couldn't ask for two better ladies to Road Trip with.

Honk if you're still taking part in the A-to-Z Road Trip!

~Shannon, The Warrior Muse

Monday, September 30, 2013

Road Trip Pit Stop - Time to Refuel Your A-to-Z Engine!

Beep, Beep! Who else is still awake on this alphabet route? 

Photo by Little Peppercorn
After running low on gas and making multiple pit stops, I nearly fell asleep at the wheel. Good thing I have two partners – Tina Downey at Life is Good and Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse to share in the driving duties as we move along through the A-to-Z Challenge list, stopping by the blogs we missed in April, to pay them a visit before the next challenge rolls around. Although I put the car on cruise control, I did manage to read more A-to-Z Reflections posts and visit some blogs located in the first half of the sign-up list.

During my visits, I found that some people either stopped blogging after the challenge or kept new blog posts coming sporadically until early-to-mid Summer. Still, the last posts that were published on these blogs were worth a looksee. I also came across some places on the list with blog posts that were cool to read, yet, difficult to leave a comment on. For those of you who are still on this Road Trip with Tina, Shannon and I, this is likely not a surprise, as you’ve probably encountered similar situations during your blog visits. 

When I started this road trip, I planned to visit at least five blogs per day, keeping in tune with the recommended visits of the April challenge. Now, I’ve reduced that number to one blog per day. I figure that way, it will be much easier to fit a visit to a new blog into my schedule – and – if I encounter non-active blogs or blog posts where leaving a comment feels like I’m participating in some type of three ring circus with no instructions, my Road Trip efforts are still time well spent.

Photo by Hayley Bouchard
As co-host, I want to try to also make sure that your time is also well spent, so in the name of efficient fun, here is some roadside assistance to stay on course if you find yourself running low on gas or hit something on the road that caused a flat in your tires at this stretch of our Post A-to-Z Adventure. 

Now, I’m no Allstate or AAA, but these blog visiting methods can be especially useful if you’re taking the one-and-done approach, or a similar one, that I’m using for the A-to-Z Road Trip.

Pick a Number – Think of a number…any number during your day and then visit the blog on the list that corresponds with this particular number.  You could also make this a theme and visit all of the blogs that fall under a specific area of the number table such as every hundredth or so (102, 202, 302, 402 and so on).

Heads or Tails? – Visit a blog that is among the low numbers (1-100) on the sign-up list and then visit another blog that is among the high numbers (101-500 and up) on the list. The number range doesn’t matter…you determine what is considered “low” and what is considered “high” just so long as two blogs on both ends of the list get a visitor today (or tomorrow or whenever you’re doing your A-to-Z Road Trip visits).

Hit the Reflections – If you haven’t read all of the 2013 A-to-Z Reflections posts, visit blogs on that list. That way, you’ll know that the blogs you’re visiting are run by people who finished the challenge – or at least attempted to complete it.

Funny Names – Scroll through the signup list and visit blogs with names that either make you laugh or fill you with curiosity. These are usually the types of blogs where, at first glance, you have no idea what the topic or theme of the blog is about such as Big Girl Panties (#264 on the list), Buttered Toast Rocks! (#365) or Cabin Goddess (#432).

Photo by Zach Dischner
It’s all about making it fun. If we make this road trip as simple and as fun as possible, we’ll have enough gas to keep our cars steady and well maintained…at least until the next Check-in. Now, the only thing left to do is call Allstate and tell them that you don’t need them because you’re in better hands. Ha!

Cheers to all!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Blogging Basics: Guest Hosting

Last week we discussed guest posting, where you formulate a post to go up on someone else's blog.  This week, let's look at being the host and putting someone else's post up on your blog.

The five pointers last week were: 1. Choose a Relevant Host Blog, 2. Choose a Relevant Blog Topic, 3. Be Present/Visit the Commenters, 4. Link to Your Site, 5. Thank your Host.

Just as guest posting on another blog can expose you to new readers, hosting someone else can bring guests by your blog that have been led there by the promise of an interesting post from the other blogger.  Thus, you get introduced to their readers, and they see what you have to offer.

Some basic pointers for guest hosting.

1. Establish rules.  Be sure the guest poster knows what you expect from them, and any rules you may have that are applicable to your blog.  When do you want their post by?  Do you have specific formatting rules?  Do they need to watch their language?  Do you want a specific length?  How would you like it submitted (text, html)?  Think carefully about what you expect from them and make sure to make it clear from the beginning, for the benefit of both of you.  If you want a specific topic or theme covered, be clear on that, as well.

2. Introduce them.  Write a nice introduction about your guest poster.  Be sure to include links to their blog or website, and anything else you might want to link to (Facebook, Twitter, links to purchase their books, etc.).  Consider including their image or their most recent book cover.  Don't know what to say?  Think about how a talk show host might introduce them, or visit other blogs they have guested on.

3. Be on time.  If their guest post is supposed to go up on Monday, the 23rd, be sure you've got it formatted and posted on Monday, the 23rd.  Let your guest know when you will be posting it.  If you post at a specific time, let them know that, as well.  You want them to be able to cross-promote, so give them the tools to do so.

4. Be present.  This one sounds familiar, doesn't it?  Well, it applies here, too.  Even though you are playing host instead of poster, it's still good for you to be there to respond to comments and to visit the commenters. After all, they took the time to visit your blog, even if it was to read someone else's post.  Bear in mind that many of the comments will be from your readers, and you want to maintain that relationship and show your appreciation for their support of your guest poster.

5. Thank your guest.  Yep, another one that sounds familiar.  Your guest put a lot of work into writing a quality piece for your blog, as well as (hopefully) cross-promoting and bringing people over to visit you.  Thank them for their time and for their post.

Hosting a guest can be as beneficial as guesting on someone else's blog.  Also important is that you're forging a relationship with another blogger, so try to make it a positive interaction for both of you.

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blogging Basics: Guest Posting

Last week, we discussed the basics of blog hops and memes, and how to make connections with them.  This week, we'll discuss making connections by guest posting on other blogs.

The five pointers last week were: 1. Be Interested, 2. Participate, 3. Follow the Rules, 4. Visit Other Participants, and 5. Advertise the Hop/Meme.

Guest posts can expose you to new readers, as each blog already has its own readership.  Thus, this is a valuable way to meet other bloggers and possibly build your own readership (as well as bring your readers over to the host's blog, benefiting both of you.)

Some basic rules for guest posting are as follows:

1. Choose a relevant host blog.  You want to find a blog that will have a readership that might be interested in what you typically post about.  If you are a writer of romance novels, it behooves you to find a host blog that has something to do with romance, reading, writing, or other related topics.  You will likely not find the appropriate audience on a hardcore science blog or one that focuses on politics, for instance.

2. Choose a relevant blog topic.  You've chosen an appropriate blog, now be sure the post you write up is a topic that is relevant to both your blog and the host blog.  You don't want to trick their readers into coming over to your blog, just to discover your post has nothing to do with what they will find there.  Don't make an entire post that is just about self-promotion.  Your guest post should have valid information and be interesting.  Choose a topic and do it justice.

3. Be present and visit the commenters.  Know when your blog post will be going live on their blog, then be sure to show up.  Respond to comments and questions left in response to your blog.  Be a presence and show that you care what they think, and that you weren't just throwing a post out there.  And just as you should visit those who comment on your blog, you should visit those who visit your post on another blog.  Stop by, read what they have to say, and leave them a nice comment.  If you really can't think of anything to say, or are limited on time, at least thank them for stopping by.  Your friendly personality might win you more readers than the guest post itself.

4. Link them back to your site.  Always give readers a way to find you.  The best way to do this is to include a short bio at the end of the post, which should include important links, such as your website, your blog, etc.  You may just choose to include a list of contact points/links, or you may include a link to your blog or website somewhere within the body of the post.

5. Thank your host.  Be sure to show your appreciation to the host.  Thank them in your post, in the comments, with an email, whatever you feel comfortable with.  Let them know you appreciate that they were willing to share their space with you.  Think of it as them having invited their friends over to their house to listen to you talk.  Wasn't that nice of them?  Also, as an advance thank you, be sure to ask them what they want from your post and how to format it.  Giving them something they can easily cut and paste, and that they will be happy to share on their blog, is the best way to thank them.  The thank you at the end is well deserved frosting on the cake.

Always remember that the host is doing you a favor by sharing their space with you, and treat them accordingly.  Try to make this exchange as easy on them as possible by having a well written post that is relevant to their blog, and that is formatted nicely, easily, and to their specifications.  If you have questions, it's better to ask them, rather than leaving it up in the air whether you're doing what they need you to do.

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse

Special Announcement:   The special A to Z edition of Woven Tale Press is now available!   Be sure to check out Woven Tale Press.    Is one of your blog posts included?

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for...Winning & Warriors

As Charlie Sheen would say...Winning!  (Geez, that's SO two years ago...)

We're almost to the end now. Hang in there. You've got this!

Congratulations on making it this far. And if you didn't? You still deserve congratulations for going outside your comfort zone and giving a challenge like this a try. Either way, don't let yourself get discouraged. Let's make it through these last few days together.

You're all Warriors for taking on this challenge. Let's keep that momentum going!

How are ya'?

May you find your Muse.

Shannon L.
The Warrior Muse

Image of W courtesy of Ashley at Monogram
Image of warrior on horse courtesy of OCAL at Warrior Horse Sword

Join us for the A to Z Reflections post starting Friday May 3rd.   For more details be sure to visit this post

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Love

Blog love, to be specific.

After all, isn't that kind of the point of the A to Z Challenge? I mean sure, part of it is to push yourself to write a lot of posts, but mainly the idea is to visit a lot of blogs, and show them some love.

So here are a few of the blogs I've been reading during the Challenge:

Shannon Lawrence has covering Histories Mysteries.

L. Diane Wolfe has been sharing a lot of great Promotional Tips for Writers.

Joe Lunievicz has been writing about swordfighting.

Laura Eno has been writing about cats! Who doesn't love cats?

Andrew Leon has been posting about How to Be ... any number of things.

Do you have any blogs you've discovered through the Challenge that relate to the letter L? Feel free to share them in the comments, and make sure to visit my five, follow them, and tell them I sent you. Oh, and you can find my blog: The QQQE, here if you'd like to follow me.

Have a great weekend, and enjoy your Sunday off!

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for...Go, Go, GO!!

o, Go, GO!!

Sure, I know it's simplistic, but it's also what I need to hear right now. We're into the A-to-Z Challenge by 7 days, into week 2. That's Great! You've made it this far, and you can make it to the end.

Struggling? Make your posts short. No one expects you to write the next great novel in post form (given, some are doing exactly that, so props to them!) Just share with us. Whatever it is you need to say that day.

See you at the end, my fellow warriors!

How ya' doing?

Before I go, here are a few blogs that could do with some more visits:

May you find your Muse.

Shannon L.
The Warrior Muse

Image of G courtesy of OCAL at Effect Letters Alphabet Silver
Image of cheerleader courtesy of Vickey: Cheer

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quick Note to A-to-Z Participants

Hi there!

In order to insure that everyone gets to come along on equal footing during the A-to-Z Challenge, and to make sure you have someone specific to go to should you have any questions, each co-host is assigned a certain number of blogs to attend to.  Now, we all try to visit everyone, but this way, each person will get visited by at least one co-host and will be able to contact their co-host directly in case of questions.

We want to be sure you know who to go to, so you will receive a single email from your co-host at the beginning of the challenge.  It will just be an introduction and welcome, along with your co-host's contact information.

Your emails will be BCC'd, so your email will not be given out to your fellow participants.  Only your co-host will have that information.  In order to insure it doesn't turn into a spam-fest, be sure to reply only to the co-host if you have a question; don't hit "reply all."  However, do feel free to ask your co-host anything, and don't be afraid that you will be bothering won't! 

Ultimately, we are here to support all of you.  This should be fun.  Yes, we're challenging ourselves, but if you take it too seriously, it just won't be fun at all.  Enjoy yourself, and ask your co-host if you have a question.  Let's make this the best A-to-Z yet!

May you find your Muse.

Shannon L.
The Warrior Muse

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Blogging Basics: Formulating a Post

Last time, we discussed how to make hyperlink signatures in order to lead others directly to your blog and streamline the process of blog visiting. This week, we'll address the nitty gritty of putting together a post that will draw readers and keep them.

Our previous five pointers were: 1. Choose your link, 2. Choose your signature, 3. Make your hyperlink, 4. Add your signature, and 5. Post it following your comment.

When I talk about putting together/formulating a post, I know very well you all know how to write a post. However, there are things that can make it so people are more likely to stick around and read your entire post, rather than just skipping along after a quick glance. And why do we write blog posts? Ostensibly so someone will read them, right?

Before I hit the five pointers, I want to give you a disclaimer: Not every rule has to be followed. When I give out these Blogging Basics tips, I don't expect you to do everything to the letter of what I'm saying. All I'm doing is passing along things I have learned along the way, that may help you, and that you may or may not find meets with your personal preferences. Do I follow all the rules? Not necessarily...

Without further ado, the basics of formulating a post:

1. Choose a catchy title. Those of you who are also writers know this one already, but, surprisingly, it is often forgotten with blogging. Try to choose a quick, clever title that will catch the attention of those scanning through new posts to read. Make sure it is an honest title, though. Don't say the post is about one thing then switch it on the reader. They won't appreciate it.

2. Keep it brief. We're writing blog posts, not magazine articles, and attention spans online aren't as long as they may be elsewhere. There are always exceptions to this rule (I'm sure my posts are longer than the "standard"), but overall, try to keep it somewhat brief.

3. Provide quality content. On the flip side of the "keep it brief" pointer, don't make it so brief that you're not actually saying anything. Find the balance you're comfortable with and go from there. Don't post just to post. Post because you have something to say, something others want to read.

4. Use photos/images. This is especially true if your post is longer. Images break up the text and give the eye a rest. They may also draw the eye to the blog post, which benefits you. Do make sure it is an image you are allowed to use. Look for Creative Commons photos or use your own!

5. Make it yours. Add your own flair. Your personality will show through in what you're writing, and that may ultimately be what gains you readers. It's the other half of providing quality content. Content + personality makes for a winning combination. If you're writing about things that interest you, you'll find this happens on its own.

These are just a few pointers that may help you with writing a post people will enjoy reading, and one that will hopefully draw readers to that post. Feel free to share your own pointers in the comments. Tell us what draws you to a post and what drives you away.

What is your top pointer when it comes to writing a blog post people will want to read? What Blogging Basics topics would you like to see covered in this series?

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse

Friday, February 8, 2013

Getting to Know Your Co-Hosts - Shannon, The Warrior Muse


Name: Shannon Lawrence
Blogs: The Warrior Muse, Writing From the Peak (as Managing Editor)
Publications: Sunday Snaps: The Stories, an anthology
Other Places to Find Me: LinkedIn, Facebook (blog), Facebook (personal), Twitter (@thewarriormuse), She Writes, Google+


1. When writing, do you prefer to compose your first-draft by hand, on your computer, or using Morse code?  While I wish I knew Morse code, I usually compose in a mix of pencil and computer (but never the two together...that would be messy!)  For novel writing, I prefer that go directly onto the computer.  A specific computer, in fact.  For short stories and such, I will often write on paper first, though not always.  It really just depends when and where the mood takes me, and if I feel like paper and pencil or computer keys.

2. Who would win a fight: Jiminy Cricket or Tinkerbell?  Tinkerbell, hands down.  That girl is feisty.  She's pretty scary.  J.C. is a bit of a softie, and I feel like he'd run and hide when he saw the pixie dust flying.

3. Cake or pie?  Cake.  Always cake.  While I won't turn down pie (for the most part), a moist delicious slice of cake is impossible to say no to.

4. Describe the last Halloween costume you wore.  I was a rainbow faerie this year.  I'd intended to go with something different, but found a rainbow wig and colorful wings that I couldn't resist.  Below is a pic of hubby and I (he made that Batman costume).  I also had on rainbow striped leggings.  Fun!

5. Where do you hail from?  All over!  I was born in California, and have lived in Oregon, Maryland and Colorado.  Not as many places as some, but good enough for me.  We've had opportunities to move, but have so far passed them up; some of those opportunities were for overseas.  Maybe some day.  I really love it here in Colorado, though.  I AM a Coloradan.

6. Do you know how to Gangnam Style?  Heck yeah, I do!  I like to bust it out to humiliate my children.  That's why we have them, right?  Unfortunately for my son, he's very easy to embarrass.  My daughter, on the other hand, is impossible to humiliate.  I imagine my son will adjust, as both his parents are smart alecks (I can never figure out the proper spelling for that word...).

7. Where do you go to get away from it all?  I like to hike, and I back up to a place called Ute Valley Park, so I can go there if I need a walk or to hide myself.  If I'm okay with being around other people, but want gorgeous views, I'll go to Garden of the Gods.  It relaxes me.  Both places do.

Garden of the Gods in the fall
Can you see why?  That's Pikes Peak in the background.  I know I'm home when I see Pikes Peak.

8. What makes life worth living?  So much.  My kids, my hubby, my family, my writing, nature, my surroundings, my kitty, my friends, movies, books, the simple pleasures.

9. Who inspires you to write?  My fellow writers.  My friends and family.  My writer's groups.  Nature.  I find my inspiration all around me.  I love writing!

10. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?  Cone or cup?  Sprinkles or hot fudge sauce?  I like anything chocolate, but chocolate and marshmallow make me supremely happy.  I prefer a cup.  I don't like the taste of cones, and I'm always sad when that is the flavor I'm left with.  I prefer whipped cream, hot fudge and a maraschino cherry.  Not the mediciny ones I always manage to get from Baskin Robbins, though.  What's up with that?

I hope you feel like you've gotten to know me a little better!  What are your answers to these questions?  I'd love to see your views in the comments.

May you find your Muse.

Shannon L.
The Warrior Muse

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blogging Basics: Hyperlink Signature

Last week, we discussed the basics of blog hops and memes, and how to make connections with them.  This week, we'll discuss how to make a hyperlink signature to put on the comments you make on others' blogs, which will allow them to find your more easily.

The five pointers last week were: 1. Be Interested, 2. Participate, 3. Follow the Rules, 4. Visit Other Participants, and 5. Advertise the Hop/Meme.

When you comment on other people's blogs, you want them to be able to track you down to return the favor.  This can be tricky or time consuming sometimes, so the easier you make it for them to find you, the more likely you are to get a return visit.

Some people have multiple blogs, which makes it hard to know which one you need to visit.  Clicking on each blog to find half of them empty or not having been updated can be frustrating.  The same goes for trying to track down someone's blog when you get bounced all over the place.  When their profile connects with Google+, for instance, you often have to go to the "About" page to track down their blog, though if they update their daily posts there you can click through there instead.

In order to make it easier for people to track you down, follow this method of hyperlinking:

1. Choose your link.  Do you want them to go to your main page, a specific page or a specific post?

2. Choose your signature.  What do you want it to say?  Only a portion of it will be visible.  I'll give an example below.

3. Make your hyperlink.  This is what it looks like:

Notes: You will insert your own URL between the quotes ("http://yourwebsitehere") and your blog or destination in place of "The Warrior Muse" (>Your Website<)

4. Add your signature.  Note that the only things that will be visible after you post are where it says "Shannon at" and "The Warrior Muse."  Anything within the carrots (<,>) is invisible once you hit post.

Note: Make it say whatever you want.  My signature isn't gospel, just an example.  I will often change it for something specific, like a blogfest, so that it says something about the blogfest and directs them to the related post, rather than my overall blog.  (Ex. Shannon, visiting from the A-to-Z Challenge)

5. Post it following your comment!  That simple.

I've become accustomed to typing it out as I go along, but when I first started I used someone's example, made my own, then emailed it to myself so I could always copy it from my email and post it wherever I was commenting.  Figure out what works best for you, and go from there.  People will appreciate you providing them a hyperlink, and you'll appreciate them visiting you.

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blogging Basics: Blog Hops/Fests & Memes

Last week, we discussed the basic ways of making connections in blogging.  This week, we'll touch on the next step, which involves taking part in blog hops, blog fests, challenges and memes.

Last week's steps were 1. Visit Blogs, 2. Leave Comments, 3. Follow Blogs, 4. Have Something to Say, and 5. Respond to Comments on Your Own Blog and Visit Back.

Before we get started, we should probably define the terms we're discussing:

1. Blog Hop/Blog Fest: This is a virtual party that often involves a theme.  People sign up to participate in whatever the theme is.  They then post to that theme on their own blogs during the designated time period.

Ex: The A-to-Z Challenge.  We challenge participants to blog every day except Sundays during the month of April.  Further, we ask participants to go in alphabetical order with their posts.  Any theme will do, as long as the basic rules are followed.

Note: Blog hop and blog fest are fairly interchangeable and don't necessarily have a different meaning.  For the rest of this post, they will be referred to as blog hops or, simply, hops.  Challenges, campaigns and any other types of hops/fests will be included in this simple definition.

2. Meme: An ongoing blog hop, of sorts, that occurs repeatedly and consistently, such as once per week.  These are always to a theme.

Ex: Wordless Wednesday.  There are many different iterations of this meme, but they usually involve posting a photo or image of some sort once per week, rather than posting a written or wordy post.

Why do people do blog hops and memes?

It's a fun and easy way to meet other people.  Why do we have parties and meet-and-greets in person?  Same reason.  You get a bunch of people together so they can meet, rub elbows, forge relationships, and enjoy themselves in the process.  And when it's done via blogs, no one has to spend money on food and decorations.

How can they help me make connections?

When you participate in a hop or a meme, you sign up on a linky list or submit your name/blog in some fashion.  You're then expected to try to visit other participants, and the same is expected of them.  This means you have people dropping by your blog who might not have done so if you hadn't both signed up for the hop/meme.  Exposure may gain you readers/followers.

What are the basics in participating in blog hops and memes?

1. Be sure you're interested.  Don't sign up for every single blog hop or meme you happen across unless you are genuinely interested in doing so.  Choose only those you actually want to take part in.  If you don't enjoy the hop/meme, it will be obvious in your post.  And if you sign up for too many, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed.

2. Participate once you sign up.  Don't sign up for hops and memes only to draw people to your blog.  You must follow through and put your post up on the appropriate date.  While you may think it will benefit you just to have people drop by, despite not taking part, you may find it harms more than helps, as people are deterred by your lack of participation.  (Note: Honest mistakes happen.  Don't be afraid to address that you forgot to put up your post once you realize what happened.  People will understand.)

3. Follow the rules.  Yes, sometimes the rules may be flexible, but try to keep to the overall idea of the original hop/meme.  Don't sign up for a blog hop about cats and post about UFOs.  Follow the rules as they've been set out, so that you aren't cheating other participants or the hosts of the fun of the hop/meme.

4. Visit other participants.  Try not to just throw your post up then leave it.  You should make an effort to visit at least a few of the other participants and leave comments for them.  If you truly enjoy the topic, which you should if you signed up, you'll enjoy reading other people's take on the topic.  Get out, have fun, rub elbows.  The main point in a hop/meme is to meet other bloggers you may have something in common with.

5. Help "advertise" the hop/meme.  If they've made a badge, be sure to put it in your sidebar.  Even better, link the badge to the host's site, so others can participate if they'd like.  Put the badge in your hop/meme blog post, along with a link to the host's site.  If you can mention the upcoming hop/meme in advance, try to slip that in somewhere.  The more, the merrier, so you want more participants to share in the fun.  Be sure that you make it clear that this post is part of the hop/meme.  If participants are confused about your post, there is a good chance they will skip it.  I always try to put the badge beneath my introduction or at the top of the post, so participants who are stopping by know they've reached the right place.

The best way to learn about a hop/meme is to participate and learn as you go.  Just bear the above pointers in mind and jump in with both feet.  Hops and memes are meant to be fun, so don't be too serious about it, and don't allow yourself to get stressed out about it.  Enjoy yourself!

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blogging Basics: Making Bloggy Friends

As we near the 2013 A-to-Z Challenge, we'll be speaking increasingly on all topics A-to-Z.  In the meantime, though, let's focus on blogging overall.  Today, I thought I'd talk about how to make connections in the blogging world.

Blogging is a social medium, but people's reasons for engaging in the blog world differ.  Some are here to sell books or other products by creating a platform, some want to meet others and hang out, some are more interested in reading than sharing, and some just want someone to hear them.

For each reason to blog, there are dozens of types of blogs.  Parenting blogs, reading blogs, writing blogs, photography blogs, exercise blogs, history blogs, dream blogs, political blogs.  You name it, there is likely a blog for it.  This gives us the ability to visit all manner of blogs, and to invariably find something out there we want to read.

How do you reach out to all of these bloggers and get to know them, though?  How do you meet and forge relationships online?

This is easier than you may think, and really depends upon how much time you have.  Here's a quick rundown of how one might connect with other bloggers:

1. Visit blogs.  Pretty simple, right?  Hunt down blogs you're interested in.  Do a search on the topic you're looking for + "blog."  Head on over and check them out to see if you're interested in what they have to say.

2. Leave comments.  Once you've found a blog you're interested in, read their posts and leave a comment for them.  Make it a real comment, not just a passing "nice blog" type comment.  Address the topic they're discussing and/or ask a question about the topic.

3. Follow blogs.  If you like what they have to say, follow in the way you prefer.  Options include Google Friend Connect, RSS feed, follow by email, etc.  Choose the option you like best and follow it.

4. Have something to say.  It won't matter what you're doing on other people's blogs if you're not talking on your own.  Know what you want to blog about, then do so.  Be yourself, use your own voice, and talk about something that interests you...and that you feel will interest other people.

5. Respond to comments on your own blog and visit back.  When someone happens along and likes what you have to say enough to leave a comment on your blog, be sure to reply in some way.  You can comment back in the comments, reply back to each individual comment (on blogs that allow that), email a response to those who have allowed that possibility, or respond to them on their own blog.  No matter which response you choose, you should also try to visit them back at their blog to return the favor and see what they have to say.

There are many other ways to get to know other bloggers, but these are the basics that will get you started.  After that, you can explore other ways to make connections, such as blog hops/fests, memes, guest posting, guest hosting, interviews, etc.  Most important is that you find out what works best for you and go from there.

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Post A-to-Z Road Trip Check-In

Well, hello there!  It's been awhile since we did a check-in on the Post A-to-Z Road Trip, but now that the holidays are past us (well, as much as holidays can be past us since we like to throw out holidays every month or so) this is as good a time as any to see how everyone's doing.

We're officially gearing up for the 2013 A-to-Z Challenge, so time is running out to catch up with all of last year's participants.  How far have you gotten?  Are you able to make any monthly progress?  Weekly?  Daily (you visiting fiend, you!)?

What's your plan of attack as you go through the list?  Do you find that you go in order, or do you randomly choose someone to visit?  Did you go through the Post A-to-Z Road Trip sign-up list first?

What I've found works best for me is to go down the list and open a series of blogs at once (usually ten at a time).  I visit those blogs, then if I find I have some more time I open ten more.  This helps me take little chunks at a time, and to feel like I've made progress.

Let us know how you're doing, whether you're still at it or have given up.  This isn't a competition, so don't feel pressured to have made progress.  Do you intend to keep going?  Were you able to visit everyone already?  If so, what was your secret, and what tips might you like to pass along?

Click here to access the 2012 A-to-Z sign-up list.


Shannon (The Warrior Muse) and Tina (Life is Good)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Choose Your Own Apocalypse

Hello out there, A-to-Z'ers!

Perhaps you've heard, or maybe not, but the world is ending Friday, December 21, 2012, or so say the Mayans (or at least the people who have decided this is what the Mayans had to say).  What better way to ring in the end of the world than with a blog fest?  Join Shannon, of The Warrior Muse, and Chuck, of Apocalypse Now, for the Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blog Fest, Friday, December 21, 2012.

Assuming the world doesn't end until later in the day, it should be quite the party!

You see, while many people think the world really is going to end on Friday, the 21st, most of them can't agree on HOW.  Will it be an alien invasion?  Zombies? Collision with a mighty meteor?  The super flu?  Solar flares?  Oh my, there are so many ways the world could conceivably end, but the question is, what do YOU think will happen?

Visit one of the following blogs to sign up:

Shannon: The Warrior Muse
Chuck: Apocalypse Now

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Help With our 2013 Co-Host Questionnaire!

We're hard at work preparing for the 2013 A-to-Z Challenge, and we need your help!

Last year, each of us co-hosts answered a set of questions in a Getting to Know You post, so participants could learn a little about us and know who it was they'd be talking to or dealing with throughout the challenge.  You'll find last year's list of questions below.

This year, we want to know what YOU want to know about us.  We're asking you to create our questionnaire for us.  What would you like to ask us?  Leave a comment with your question(s).  You can suggest as many as you'd like.  Have fun with it!  No question is too silly.

For ideas, see the list below or click on the names of last year's co-hosts to read our answers to last year's questions.  Maybe you'll get some ideas based on what we said in 2012.

If we get enough questions, we'll each be choosing a set number to answer for ourselves, rather than answering all the same questions.  This way, you get a little variety.

Last year's Getting to Know You posts:

Alex J. Cavanaugh
Arlee Bird
Damyanti Biswas
DL Hammons
Elizabeth Mueller
Jenny Pearson
Jeremy Hawkins (Retro-Zombie)
Konstanz Silverbow
Matthew MacNish
Shannon Lawrence (The Warrior Muse)
Stephen Tremp
Tina Downey

Our 10 Getting to Know You Questions:

What is the most daring thing you've ever done?
What is your favorite article of clothing?
What is your favorite monster?
If you had to dress up as your favorite literary character, who would it be?
What is your favorite fairy tale, urban legend or nursery rhyme?
What is a cause near and dear to your heart?
What's the strangest item you've used as a bookmark?
Do you have any nicknames?  What are they, and how did you earn them?
Name one habit you want to change in yourself.
Tell us something interesting or shocking about yourself.

And our 5 A-to-Z Questions: 

What was your favorite A-to-Z post from 2011?
What brought you to the A-to-Z originally?  Tell us about your first A-to-Z.
Are you doing a theme?
Are you writing and scheduling posts in advance?
What is your favorite letter of the alphabet, and why?  What letter do you like least?

What questions do you want us to answer?  What do you want to know about your 2013 A-to-Z co-hosts? Can you get us to tell our deepest, darkest secrets?

May you find your Muse.

Shannon Lawrence
The Warrior Muse

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Don't Leave Yet! There's One More Thing....

Badge artwork by Ada Z from
You Mean It's Over? 

           There's a certain sadness as well as a relief when the party's over.  Yes, this April A to Z party is now finished, but the Challenges haven't ended yet.  We have a few more things that we'd like for you to do.  Don't worry--it will be fun and painless.   Certainly not the stress of the daily April postings.

             Most of you are probably aware of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Reflections Post that we have scheduled for next Monday May 7th.  Some may still not be aware of what this is all about.  Let me explain what's going to happen with this May 7th post and thereafter.

May 7th -- A to Z Reflections Post

             This is your time to tell us about your A to Z experience.   Share your pleasures, your pains, your setbacks, your gains.   Who did you meet along the way that you found to be especially helpful or inspiring?  Did you have a favorite blog post?   Or a favorite series?   Which blogs did you discover during April that you will be returning to in the future?

             Express your gratitude or vent your frustrations.  If you'd do this again, let us know why.  If you hated it. tell us why.  We want you to tell your A to Z story to the rest of us and tell it in the way that suits you best.  Like the Challenge itself, this Reflection post is your creative outpouring.  Be it prose, verse, song, video, or images, you can express yourself in anyway that you like.

              And guess what:   You don't have to have finished the Challenge or even entered the Challenge to be eligible to submit a Reflections post.  Didn't finish or never got started?   Let us know what happened and tell us how you feel about that.   If you were an observer who followed some of the A to Z blog posts and even commented on a regular basis, give us your thoughts about the Challenge.   I know of a few of you that I could name, but you know who you are.  Your thoughts are important as well.

               You can put up your Reflections post anytime between now and Saturday May 12th.  The Linky list will be made available on May 7th.  Please add the link that goes directly to your Reflections post and not your general blog link.  This list will be up for a while and since there could be a large number of links on the list it may take a while for readers to get  through it and we don't want visitors to have to be searching for your Reflections post.

Evaluations Posts

             On the last three Mondays of May, I will be putting up posts evaluating this year's Challenge.  I did this last year and it provided us tremendous insight.   Even though all ideas received last year were not implemented in this year's Challenge, some remain under consideration for future Challenges.

            This year I will once again be drawing upon what you have to say in your Reflections, what some have requested in direct emails, and observations made by the A to Z Team.   I will be looking at the good parts of the Challenge and the bad parts that might need to be changed.  Then on Monday May 28th I will wrap things up with some conclusions and final thoughts about the Challenge.

            We hope you can join us for these days to add your thoughts and help us out.

Post Challenge Challenge

            For those who would like to stay active in this A to Z community until the end of the year, A to Z Team members Shannon Lawrence and Tina Downey will be reviving last year's popular Post Challenge Challenge.   More details will soon be appearing on the A to Z Blog as will a sign up list.

We Want You!

           There's lot's of open space on the A to Z Blog in the coming months--after all we A to Z Team members can't do it all and you'd probably get sick of hearing from us if we did.   We are inviting you to come and post something in this space.  Anything that would be of interest to the A to Z community is welcomed.  If you are interested in submitting something please contact one of the A to Z Team members.  Contact information is in the tab at the top of the page.

           We look forward to your participation in all of these above mentioned events.  Thanks for Blogging from A to Z.
            The A to Z Blog will be taking a break for a few days.  Come back on Monday May 7th for the Reflections Post sign up list.
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

#atozchallenge: What's Next? Coming Soon!

Artwork by Ada Z from

The 2012 A to Z Challenge Reflections Post
          As we enter into the final week of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge some of you might be wondering What Next?  

         The frenzy of daily blogging and rushing around to visit as many of the other blogs as you can may have worn some of you to a frazzle.  You might be looking forward to a blogging break.  While others of you may be having such a great time with the Challenge that you might experience A to Z withdrawal come April 30th.

         Whichever the case may be, we hope that you will stick around in May for one more big event--the Blogging from A to Z Reflections Post 2012 Edition.   Those of you who have participated or followed the previous Challenges will probably remember what I'm talking about.  For those of you who don't know, I will explain.

          The A to Z Reflections Postings will begin on Monday May 7th.  These posts will be your personal thoughts about the A to Z Challenge and, like the A to Z posts, you can do them anyway you want--in prose, verse, images, or whatever suits you best.  We want you to tell us about your A to Z experience.

          You can tell us what you thought were the highlights of your April Challenge, what you learned, what changes you might make next time, or what surprised you most.   Let us know about special bloggers you met in your A to Z journey or about a post or posts that especially moved or impressed you.  There are no limits as to what your Challenge experience might have been so tell us in your best way how you felt about the April A to Z Challenge of 2012.

           We do ask that you keep your posts no more than a thousand words.  There will probably be a lot of blogs to read so we don't want to bog anyone down with exceedingly long posts.

            As I've said, the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Reflections Posts of 2012 will start on Monday May 7th.  The Linky list will go up on that day so you can enter the link for that post on the list.  For those who already have blogfests or something else planned for that day, don't worry--the list will be open for the entire week so you can publish your Reflections post anytime that week and still participate.  That list should also be accessible until the end of the year along with the A to Z Master List.

A to Z 2012 Evaluation Posts

           Last May on Tossing It Out I had a series of A to Z evaluation posts where we looked at the good and the bad in the Challenge of 2011.   This proved to be such a popular and helpful series of posts that we will be doing this again, this time on this A to Z Challenge Blog.

            Watch for these posts in May and be sure to let us know what changes you would like to see in the next Challenge.  Tell us what you would improve, keep the same, or get rid of in 2013.   Give us your thoughts on the A to Z Video contest and any other ideas that might add an extra special dimension to the A to Z Challenge.

             Since we will be having the evaluation posts, you might want to save any thoughts along those lines for those posts and not the reflections posts.  But by all means feel free to add your evaluations to the Reflections if you'd rather do it that way.   The evaluations will delve deeper into the specifics and offer more suggestions for your consideration.

Post Challenge Challenge

           I'm sure not many of you got through the entire list and I've heard many say that they will be continuing to go through the list after the April Challenge has ended.  It is a great way to discover new blogs so I'd encourage this.

            Last year our co-hosts Shannon Lawrence and Tina Downey hosted a Post Challenge Challenge.  Be watching for more details concerning this in the next week or so.

The A to Z Challenge Blog

           This blog will stay open for business!  This has proved to be a rather popular site and we want to keep it active.   No after Challenge schedule has been determined yet, but we're open to suggestions.  What we will be doing however is accepting guest posts for the upcoming months.  These posts will be about blogging and writing in general and whatever else you want to read here.  We will be featuring your blogs and providing the blogging news that seems most appropriate to appear on these pages.  Let us know your thoughts.

Let's Spike the Blog Numbers!

          I'd like to make one last request today.  In these final days of this Challenge, let's boost follower numbers on all the blogs that need it.   My goal is to see every blog leave this Challenge with at least 100 followers on their sidebar widget.

           This week, whenever you come to a blog that has less than 100 followers showing and you're not following them already, click that button and follow that blog.  I think most of you feel pretty good when you get a new follower so spread the love.  Become a follower and let that blogger know in the comments that you've done so.  You might even get a new follower by doing this.

            To start you off, go to the blog A Few Words and become a follower there and leave a note in the comments that you've done so.  Now I know this is a shameless plug since this is my blog, but I'd like to end up with 100 followers there at the end of the month.  And actually I'm making a point with my plug.

            If other bloggers don't know you're there you won't get followers very quickly.  In order for you to receive comments and followers you are going to have to get out there and leave some comments on other blogs and follow them as well.   It works and I know this from experience as do most of you.

          So, if you currently have less than 100 followers, note this in the comment section on today's post here.  And then get out and visit some blogs that you haven't been to before and encourage visitors to come to yours.  Increased visitors and followers will increase your odds of gaining readers and getting comments.  Try it and let us know if it works.

            Enjoy the upcoming week of blogging and make it the best one yet.   Some of the toughest letters are still to come and I'd say we are going to see some interesting posts full of creativity.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

#atozchallenge: Getting to Know The Hosts...Shannon

The hosts of the A-to-Z are all looking forward to getting to know all of the A-to-Z'ers. In the meantime, we thought it would be fun to help you get to know us. We've put together a set of questions that we'll each be answering in our own way on different days leading up to the A-to-Z. Please feel free to ask any other questions you might have for us in the comments, and we will do our best to answer them.


Name: Shannon Lawrence
Other Online Info (Twitter, Facebook, Website): Twitter-@thewarriormuse, Facebook-
Publications: I have a piece of flash fiction coming out in an anthology, due out in March, entitled Sunday Snaps: The Stories. You can also find occasional pieces from me at The New Never News, a fun mixed up nursery rhyme blog run by author J.A. Kazimer.


1. What is the most daring thing you've ever done? I ran into a cattle stampede to save my 2-year old brother when I was 8. Why we were in the middle of a cattle stampede is a long story.
2. What is your favorite article of clothing? This may out me as a weirdo, flannel hoodie-footie pajamas. You read that right. They have footies. They are so warm! P.S. I can unzip and remove the footies, but I rarely do. It's cold! FYI-this is my leisure wear when I'm writing.
3. What is your favorite monster? Right now, I'd say skinwalkers. I'm interested in Native American monsters and how they varied from tribe to tribe.
4. If you had to dress up as your favorite literary character, who would it be? I am currently trying to figure this out because I will be attending a costume event where you dress as your favorite literary character. The pressure! It would be fun to be rogue vampire hunter Jane Yellowrock, from Faith Hunter's Skinwalker. Too bad I can't bring weapons or a modified Harley to the party. If I want to wear jeans and a t-shirt, I can bring a wrench and be Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson.
5. What is your favorite fairy tale, urban legend or nursery rhyme? My favorite urban legend may very well be the one about the girl who's driving home late at night when someone behind her keeps flashing their lights at her. The longer it goes on, the more panicked she gets. When she arrives home, she discovers...dun, dun, dun...there is an axe-wielding maniac in the back of her car, and the man in the car behind her was flashing his lights whenever he saw him going for her. Ack! I always check the back of my car...
6. What is a cause near and dear to your heart? The longer I sit here, the more causes I realize I have. However, right now I am very interested in saving the wolves (the photo to the right is Baby, from Rocky Mountain Wildlife Foundation in Guffey, CO). Here, we reintroduced them then turned around and gave out hunting licenses for wolf season! How does that make sense? Oops, stepping away from the soapbox. I am also intent on bringing attention to childhood cancer. I almost stepped back up on that there box, but instead I will explain that my interest in this came about after a friend's daughter, who was (is) good friends with my son, was diagnosed with AML Leukemia at three years old. She is now a thriving almost-seven year old, who is officially in remission, but the battle is ongoing. I write about monsters, but I could never imagine anything more terrifying than watching my child fight this particular beast.
7. What's the strangest item you've used as a bookmark? I haven't used anything truly strange as a bookmark, but I have used a collection of odd items: tissues, tampon wrapper, folded toilet paper, paint samplers, other books, magazines, straws, barrettes, binder clips, paper clips, etc.
8. Do you have any nicknames? What are they and how did you earn them? I'm rather fond of Warrior, which some who read my blog have taken to calling me. My siblings call me Sissy (I'm the oldest of five). A friend calls me Non (for the end of my name) because I call her Stine (her name is Christine). And a group of online friends from a mother's forum I belong to call me Pookie. I have no idea how that started, and it is so not my personality, but it's officially mine now.
9. Name one habit you want to change in yourself: Pro.cras.tin.ation. Yikes.
10. Tell us something interesting or shocking about yourself: I was nearly kidnapped as a child, not once, but three times, in three different states (Oregon, Maryland, Colorado). I was also in the car when a serial killer went after my mom in the 80's.  Yes, a real one.  In fact, this prompted me to look him up and he was in the news in 2007 for admitting to an additional murder.  Maybe that's part of why made up monsters don't scare me.


1. What was your favorite A-to-Z post from 2011? I think my favorite post was my Y post, because it was so full of optimism and accomplishment. That moment reflected my really starting to see myself as a writer, not just someone who sometimes wrote some stuff.
2. What brought you to the A-to-Z originally? Tell us about your first A-to-Z: Last year was my first A-to-Z, and I signed up right as it was starting. Boy, was I feeling panicky! I sat there with that linky page open all day, starting to fill it out, backing off, starting again. Finally, I swallowed my fear, typed in my information and hit "submit." Almost a year later, I am delighted with where the A-to-Z has taken me. I learned so much and have come so far, and believe it or not, the A-to-Z was instrumental.
3. Are you doing a theme? I have decided I am mostly not doing a theme. I do plan to have some things running consistently throughout, but not something I would consider a theme. I'm still waffling, though.
4. Are you writing & scheduling posts in advance? Man, I hope so! I do intend to, but ask me if I've gotten even one post done so far. Nah, don't worry, I'll just tell you...nope. I keep thinking I'll have a minute. hahahahahahaha!
5. What is your favorite letter of the alphabet, and why? What letter do you like least? I like "X" because it makes me work for it, but it's interesting. "J," on the other hand, is one of the ones I think surprised me with how hard it was, and it doesn't have nearly the personality "X" does.

Thank you for reading!

I hope you've enjoyed these questions and answers. Don't forget, you are welcome, even encouraged, to ask any additional questions you might have in the comments section. Or feel free to answer the questions yourself! We won't tell.

We also have 2 new videos--both from Nicole Ayers from The Madlab Post.  Nicole submitted another video earlier as well.  Like her previous video, these two new ones are partly promotion for the A to Z Challenge, but also they have helpful prompts for those who may be struggling with ideas for April.  Watch and enjoy and then go to Nicole's blog and tell her hello.

Friday, February 17, 2012

#atozchallenge: Community & the A-to-Z

When I took on the A-to-Z Challenge last year, one of the most rewarding things I experienced was the warmth of the blogging community. Before the A-to-Z I'd been trundling along, randomly talking to myself on my blog. I wasn't really visiting other blogs, and I certainly wasn't commenting on them. Yet I yearned to have people comment on my own posts; I just had no idea how to make that happen.

What I learned was that talking to myself meant I wasn't embracing the full glory of the blogging community. You see, we get to know each other, we comment on each other's blogs, we support each other. And this is no clique, no closed community. Anyone can take part in it by jumping in with both feet and putting yourself out there.

How do I do that?

Visit other blogs. Leave comments. Follow other blogs. If a blogger recommends another blog, check it out; you may just like it!

On your own blog, you can respond to any comments left to you. There are a number of ways to do this, either by email or by posting your reply in the same comments section. You can also carry the conversation back their blog, as long as it is done respectfully. I make it a point to not only respond to the comment, but to then also visit the other blog back and leave a genuine comment.

You will find that as you do this more people may wander by your blog. They may even follow you and/or leave comments. Speak to them, not to yourself, and you will go a long way.

How does the A-to-Z help me with this?

The A-to-Z gives you an easy means to connect with similar bloggers, as well as bloggers who may not be similar but still interest you. It gives you a list of blogs, a virtual cornucopia of reading material and connections, right there on the linky list.

In addition, it provides inspiration for what to post about. The possibilities are endless, yet a prompt can help get you ideas you might not have had otherwise. You have a built in audience coming by to see what you have to say.

On top of that, you get energy and excitement. Everyone has something to prove. Engines are revving, and there's nowhere to go but out into the blogging community.

The A-to-Z gives us all the opportunity to step outside our cocoons and stretch beyond our comfort levels. There is a good chance you'll find that this is exactly what you've been waiting for, and what you've needed all along.

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse