Showing posts with label The Warrior Muse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Warrior Muse. 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

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?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Want to Join Us for the ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP?

Hi Guys, and welcome to the 2013 Post A-to-Z Road Trip!

Feel free to snag this badge for your own blog!

Despite quite a bit of late snow here in Colorado, including a lovely blizzard on May Day, I'm totally ready to get back on the road. Blue skies, black roads, yellow lines, and the sound of my tires on the pavement. I want to feel the heat, smell the wildflowers and chlorine.

But most of all, I want to visit the rest of the A-to-Z Challenge participants. I definitely didn't have time to visit everyone during the Challenge, so now is the time. 

What are the technicalities? There aren't many. The linky opens today. Sign up if you'd like to come with us on a summer of fun, visiting fellow A-to-Z'ers, discovering new blogs. We'll close the linky in December, meaning you can waffle all the way until then. And though it will be closed in December, that doesn't mean you have to stop. The linkies will still be available for visit up to the 2014 Challenge.

We'll have occasional check-ins, but there's nothing required of you other to make whatever effort you like to visit participants of the 2013 A-to-Z Challenge.

We won't be alone on this road trip. No, Tina will be revising her role as my lovely co-host, and Nicole will be joining us for the first time this year! 

As we get started, Tina has some pointers for you, and Nicole's got something to say, so I'll hand the floor over to them. 

See you on the road!

~Shannon, The Warrior Muse

I'm excited about this 3rd road trip! First of all, did you know that it was because Shannon and I organized the Post-Challenge Challenge in 2011 that we got chosen as co-hosts? Pretty cool. Then in 2012 we renamed it the more apt “road-trip”. History lesson over! We're really glad to have Nicole to take some driving shifts.  The more the merrier the trip!

Tips for the road: you're in charge. Want to visit one new blog a day? Want to visit hundreds of blogs a day? No problem. You're driving. Unless you hitch a ride with a friend, which I think is a good idea. Accountability and all that, not that this is a diet or a competition or anything. It's just some friends hanging out and continuing visiting.

Some strategies you might want to try:
Visit all the blogs with your same category
Visit all the blogs whose names intrigue you
Visit all the even (or odd) blogs
Start from where you left off and keep on truckin'...

Whatever you do, don't forget that this trip is a journey, not a destination. Signing up on the linky doesn't mean you're committing to visiting ALL the blogs. All you're saying is, “I ain't done yet.” We'll have some encouraging rah rah posts along the way, and a chance for you to share your best “finds” along the road. Personally, I like those little Mom and Pop cafes that are off the beaten road, and the food is real and so is the atmosphere – so cool but unknown blogs that need some customers!

Keep track of your finds, give us a holler if you run out of gas or need your tire changed. We're here as your guides – we've journeyed similar roads in the past! Good luck, and drive carefully.

Maps - Check! iTunes – Check! GPS - Check? Water – Check!

I’m ready to hit the road with Shannon and Tina for this Post A-to-Z Road Trip that’s taking us over some commenting highways, down a few tweeting tunnels, up through subscribing/following bridges and back again. One of the most exciting things about this trip are the fellow drivers and carpools accompanying us as we stop in towns all across the country to find out what each and every person in our alphabet network is cooking up on his or her blog.

Want to know a secret? We’re also taking advantage of some uncharted territory – back roads and routes that have little to no traffic signs – which means there are no set rules for how or where you drive your vehicle, no speeding limit for how fast or slow you go and most importantly, zero guidelines for where you choose to park your vehicle throughout our cross-country journey. I’ll be offering up some refreshments at rest stops, accompanied by tips and tricks that you can use to keep you on course – until we’ve racked up enough miles, stories and traveling buddies that will get us through another 26 days of blogging in April or any other month for that matter.

Honk if you’re packed in, gassed up, buckled up and ready to join us on the road for some sing-a-longs, games, rest-stop snacking and much more cruising through lanes of A-to-Z blogs!

~Nicole, The Madlab Post

Sign up here for the Post A-to-Z Road Trip!

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

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, June 19, 2012

Post A-to-Z Road Trip Check-in (Rest Stop)

Hello out there in Blog-Land!  Hopefully, everyone has recovered in full from the A-to-Z Challenge and is busy enjoying their summer (or winter, for those of you in the southern hemisphere).  

We're well aware that summer is a busy time, so the Post A-to-Z Road Trip is meant to be nice and laid back.  We're a couple weeks in, though, so how about a quick check-in to see if anyone's making any progress?  Even if you've visited one blog, that's progress!  Everyone's got to stop at a rest stop on a road trip, so this is rest stop number one.  Time to kick the tires, check the oil and clean those bugs off the windshield.

I'm not going to lie.  I'm still trying to catch up with the comments on my blog.  School's out, my kids are home, and we are keeping busy, which is wonderful.  Also, I started a new novel!  Yay!  On top of that, Tina and I are both participating in BuNoWriMo (thus starting a new novel!)  So I am, admittedly, busy, and I know I'm not the only one.  I have gotten through a couple blogs when I've had a little bit of time here or there, and I'm still delighted with new blogs I'm finding.  However, it's a slow process.

So...check in!  Let us know if you've been road tripping.  Have you discovered any blogs you'd like to share?  Feel free to do so in the comments.  Also, we'd love to hear how June is treating you.  Anything interesting or fun to report?  Any big plans? 

Now pass me another pina colada and the map; I need to figure out where I'm heading to next.

Your Post A-to-Z Road Trip Hostesses,

Shannon L.
The Warrior Muse


Tina D.
Life is Good

Monday, May 14, 2012

Post A-to-Z Road Trip - Join us!

Route dans les Pyrénées françaises(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Post A-to-Z Road Trip, previously known as the Post-Challenge-Challenge, or PCC

I think the dust has settled a bit, and that life (which is Good!) is slowly returning to normal.  I'm not labeling this as good or bad, just that it's a bit weird (see, so tired I can't come up with a unique adjective..) For the last four months, my on-line life has been dedicated to the wonderful challenge we just completed, and now all of a sudden, I'm free to...yeah.  Whatever!  My time is mine, to do with as I please.  I find myself at a loss, trying to decide what to do next.  

And do you know what I want to do now?  Go for a road trip.

This isn't a normal road trip.  There are no roads, no cars, no fast-food, no “next rest-area 54 miles are you SURE you don't have to pee?” signs.  This is a road-trip that is unending when you first look at it.  But as you peer closer, read the signs, and digest the purpose, I think it's a road trip you'll want to be a part of.

I'm talking about the continuing journey of blog-visiting, networking, exploration, spelunking even, if you're willing to stretch a metaphor.  Gone fishing.  For blogs.  For blogs that interest and infuriate and aggravate and make you cry and make you sob with joy.  A journey where around each bend is a new piece of the road to be discovered.  Blogland is a big place, and the 1700+ folks who joined the A-Z are still welcoming visitors.  I intend to be one of them.  Would you consider joining us?  

The Post A-to-Z Road Trip is a new challenge for you, but one with no real time limit, other than before the next A-to-Z Challenge begins in April 2013.  The goal?  To visit all of the blogs who signed up for the A-to-Z, in whatever time frame you find manageable.  We’ll have weekly check-ins and a linky sign-up here at the A-to-Z Challenge Blog.  You will not be required to check-in, but the option is there.  

You can approach this challenge any way you want.  If you’re like Tina, you’re going to want a plan of attack.  Tina has a wonderfully mathematical mind; last year she set herself an end date, figured out how many blogs that would require her to visit each day, and she went for it.

Or maybe you’re a little more like me, Miss ADHD.  One day I’ll hit up 100 blogs, not visit any for a week, then hit twenty a day for three days straight.  You never know when I’ll be hopping around the interwebs, but by golly, I get it done!  Oooo, shiny...

Most likely, you’re somewhere between the two of us.  The beautiful thing is, it doesn’t matter.  Hit that list however you want, whatever gets you through it to the end.  You don’t want to miss all those wonderful blogs out there.  There are so many, with so much to say.  Come along with us and meet some new friends, stress-free!  This is THE road trip for the summer, so put on your favorite station, open the windows and sit back.  It’s time for the Post A-to-Z Road Trip.  Who knows what souvenirs we might bring back.

Sign up on the linky any time the mood strikes you.  We’ll leave it open through the end of December.  That doesn’t mean the Road Trip ends then, but just that no one can put their name on the linky after that.  

There are no rules.  You can find Tina and I here, or on our individual blogs, Life is Good (Tina) and The Warrior Muse (Shannon).  Feel free to come to us with questions, ideas, feedback, etc.  Now, let’s get packed!

P.S. Feel free to take the badge above for your blog!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Victory, Von Herder and Vocabulary

ictory is close at hand! Can you feel it? You've almost made it through the A-to-Z Challenge. All your hard work and perseverance are going to pay off. Not only that, but you've probably picked up some fantastic new vocabulary words for next year!

If you're anything like me, you have found that being given a letter prompt and an almost daily deadline has really stirred your creativity. Johann Gottfried Von Herder said, "Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks." The A-to-Z is a wonderful inspiration. Take these last days and run with them, but continue on after the letter "Z." Take that inspiration, that spark, anything you might have learned from this experience, and make it a part of yourself.

How are you feeling as we near the end? Exhilarated? Tired? Sad? Pumped?

May you find your Muse.


The Warrior Muse

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Henry Ford, Help!, Hanging in There and Hoofing along

ere we are at day number 8, hoofing it along toward the halfway point of the A-to-Z Challenge. Hopefully everyone is hanging in there, not feeling hopeless or discouraged.

As Henry Ford said, There isn't a person anywhere who isn't capable of doing more than he thinks he can." If you're starting to doubt yourself, know you CAN make it through the rest of the A-to-Z. If you feel like you need help, just ask for it! One thing you will find is that your fellow A-to-Z'ers are always willing to be supportive. You can ask for help in a post, in the comments below, on Twitter with the hash tag #atozchallenge. Wherever you ask, you are bound to get some support and the encouragement you need to keep powering through.

How are you doing? Enjoying it so far? Have all your letters figured out or flying by the seat of your pants?

May you find your Muse.


The Warrior Muse

"H" image courtesy of Ramsha on

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

#atozchallenge: Don't Get Lost in the Shuffle, Link Tips

It's not uncommon for people to post links on their blogs, but it can be troublesome when it directs someone away from your own blog and takes them elsewhere.  Sometimes they end up clicking through a few links and losing track of where they started.  Sometimes they just forget that they started elsewhere.

To keep this from happening, I wanted to pass along a little html secret I learned, which will allow you to post a link that will automatically open a new window, keeping your own blog open instead of replacing it.

In order to post the coding and keep it visible, I will replace the carrots < > with parentheses ( ).  When you do this coding on your blog, be sure to replace any parentheses with carrots.

The following is what it looks like when you create a typical link:

(a href="")(/a)

You enter the name for where you want the link to lead, like so:

(a href="")The Warrior Muse(/a)

In order to change this coding so that you will not replace your blog page with another page, instead opening the link in a new window, you need to enter the following after the quotes that enclose the URL:


Your new code will look like this:

(a href=""target="_blank")The Warrior Muse(/a)

Don't forget to replace those parentheses with carrots (or whatever the heck those symbols are called.)

You won't get lost in the linky shuffle again if you use this little tip!

May you find your Muse.