Showing posts with label about me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label about me. Show all posts

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Blogging Beginnings ( #AtoZChallenge )

  My A to Z overview starts out with some of my past memories from blogging and my journey from that first post until now...

#AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

Blogging Beginnings

         Way back in September of 2009 I was at a sort of crossroads of life.  My job of 18 years had ended earlier that year and having difficulty finding another job I was pondering my next step.  It was at that time that I started running across ads about starting a blog to make lots of money.  Rather than send in the $99 to take the advertised blogging course, I instead researched the topic on my own which led me to Blogger.  Starting a blog was easy though it took some time to learn the ropes.  In fact I'm still learning.

          Having been interested in writing since I was a kid, blogging seemed like the ideal creative outlet for me.  And I started out with a lot of enthusiasm for my new found outlet of blogging.  Initially I spent the better part of every day researching and writing my blog posts, exploring other blogs, and trying to come up with ideas of how to promote my blog to gain readers.    Early on I discovered that to attract readers I needed to visit other blogs and leave comments.

           The principle of reciprocal commenting and establishing blogging communities was the spark that inspired the first Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April of 2010.  This event caught on in a bigger way than I had expected and in that first year an amazing community of bloggers was built around the A to Z Challenge.

              Over the succeeding years we've seen bloggers come and go.  A handful of dedicated bloggers have participated in the Challenge since the beginning while many more have followed along to support the efforts of the A to Z bloggers.  That support fuels those of us who take on this yearly Challenge--just the encouragement we bloggers hope for.  That is the purpose of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge:  To expand interest in our blogs and to become better bloggers while connecting to others who have a similar goal.

             Some of my enthusiasm for blogging has waned since the earlier days of my adopted "career" and I don't put the same efforts into the endeavor as I once did, but I don't see myself stopping blogging.  For now I'm coasting in a sense, but I still see an explosion of functionality waiting for my blog.

           How about you?   How does your blogging experience compare?    Do you think you've found the real potential in your blog?    What lies ahead for you in regard to blogging?


Grab your A to Z gear, and other cool goodies from our graphics guy, here:

You can see the list of all Blogs on our Master List!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Meet Your Co-Hosts! Fifty Shades of Nicole…
Dear Blogging from A to Z Challenge Participants, 

I am Nicole Ayers, a freelance writer, illustrator and media producer, who completed the April challenge four times and am embarking on my third year as one of your Co-Hosts. My tendency to write lengthy blog posts comes from a preference for painting the full picture of observations and thoughts on certain subjects, rather than an overview. It isn't unusual to find me making notes of some kind -- be that for ideas, to-do lists, troubleshooting problems, etc. on a daily basis. If I won 2 plane tickets, I would go to Italy with my grandmother because it's where many of the arts and cultural scenes that mesmerized me growing up are concentrated, and she deserves a vacation. 

The perpetual calendar in my room is a source of wisdom with reminders for approaching life with a positive and/or productive mindset, one step at a time. I enjoy watching The Walking Dead because its storylines contain lessons about developing multipurpose skills, conquering fear, being a team player, staying fit and identifying the reasons behind your actions. I’m far from a nature lover but would like to be more active outdoors and improve my agricultural knowledge. I care more about Twitter than Facebook. To this day, I dislike my inability to make an edible batch of pancakes. 

It would be great to make life a little better for someone dealing with adversity, before I die. The custom made dress I wore to the prom was based on a design I drew specifically for the occasion. I carry L'Oréal Paris lip gloss in my bag and aspire to find peace on earth but in the meantime, I’ll have BBQ sauce with my French fries, thank you! Although drawing The Gates of Hell at the Rodin Museum for my Art History class was an intimidating experience, the results were surprisingly better than I expected. Over the next 365 days, I plan to get back into the habit of creating artwork on paper.  

Connect with @madlabpost on Twitter
One thing I wish I could change in this world is the high cost of education for those who need it most. A computer is among the things I want to save up to get. Since I’m struggling with finding purpose, I think I can help it by just doing a bunch of different things that interest me and seeing what sticks. My favorite TV shows include Flashpoint and Parenthood. I seldomly favor any Holidays. At the time of this writing, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominated drama “Pariah” - about a Brooklyn teenager juggling an identity crisis while risking friendship, family & heartbreak while coming to terms with her sexuality - was the last movie I watched. 

I prefer gummy bears and nachos over popcorn. I don’t remember much about kindergarten but I do miss my friend Melissa from 1st Grade. We’ve crossed paths a few times over the years but don’t keep in touch. Still, I would have lunch with her today if the opportunity presented itself because she is one of the smartest, coolest, most ambitious people I’ve ever known from grade school. I’ve handled more guns than I’ve fired. 

The last book I read was A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson and loved it! Add in A.M. Holmes’ Jack and Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and you have some of my favorite books. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete is one of the saddest movies I ever watched. At this time, a Cabbage Patch Kid and a plush frog are the first childhood toys I remember having.
Posing with a stranger in my prom photos is one of the stupidest things I ever did. Looking back, I should have posed with my high school friend because now I have these pictures with a person I don’t talk to and it was a great opportunity to create memories with the person I actually knew, whom I continued to stay in touch with after graduation. That was a bad call on my part. Although I rarely celebrate Halloween, I would want to dress up in a rag doll costume. Nightmare on Elm Street is my favorite horror movie. An initiative I participated in for the American Red Cross had the biggest impact on my views about giving to charity.

I like to draw more than paint but if I must do the latter, then I’d prefer tempura over watercolor and acrylics. My favorite actors include Denzel Washington, Vincent D’Onofrio, Matt Damon, Bruce Willis and Leonardo DiCaprio. My favorite actresses include Kate Winslett, Angela Bassett, Hilary Swank, Eva Mendes, and Dakota Fanning. The martial arts adventure Falcon Rising is the last live action film (I think) I saw in theaters, while Marilyn Myller is the last cartoon/animation film I watched at a laundromat during Couch Fest Film Festival. A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School teacher Scot Pankey’s “Uptown Funk” dance is one of my favorite YouTube videos.

I believe that many of our traditions and practices in Western culture are the result of social constructs that limit our potential for unity. If I achieved my dreams, I would be a happier person who got more sleep. An anonymous postcard (the image over on the left) sent to Frank Warren’s PostSerect project contains what has become one of my favorite quotes. “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill is a song that usually makes me cry. My pair of socks from The Crayola Factory hasn’t been worn in at least nine months because I’m afraid about them getting raggedy. Traveling by plane is an experience I dislike since airport security measures that passengers go through have become more intrusive and downright ridiculous. Garfield, Charlie Brown and Bart Simpson are some of my favorite cartoon characters. 

Nicole who Blogs at The Madlab Post
What you wanted to know...
The Madlab Post TV - YouTube
Do we have anything in common?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Meet Your Co-Hosts - A Word (or Two) about Nicole #atozchallenge

I am Nicole Ayers and this will be my fourth year doing the Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge at The Madlab Post as well as my second year in a Co-Host position. 

In addition to hosting the Monday Movie Meme – a weekly blog event challenging you to pick films you've seen that fit various themes, I pimp out my short film "ABYSS: The Greatest Proposal Ever" in hopes of finding my place in the world. You can connect with me on Twitter, Watch videos on my YouTube channel and Follow my boards on Pinterest – but many of you all knew that already, so let’s get down to business where I tell you what you probably didn't know about me.
  • I favor action and adventure movies among most all other genres. If I’m going to the theater, something has to start exploding within the first half or somebody (preferably Bruce Willis or Matt Damon) better be jumping off of moving vehicles on the highway. Otherwise, I tend to lose interest quickly.
  • Right now, my Top 5 movies (in no particular order) are:
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The Town
Bad Boys II
Schindler’s List
A Beautiful Mind
  • My fascination with movies comes from the invention of video cameras. During childhood, I was always fascinated with recording devices -- being able to capture moments and play them back on television or a boom box stereo system. 
An uncle used to bring his huge VHS camcorder to most of my family’s’ events and I was always excited by how he could get everything on tape for us to watch later for amusement or remembrance. I later developed interest in learning how films were made.
  • If I was forced to choose between spending the rest of my life without books or without films, I would say goodbye to films. Books would be my best friend forever because they can be enjoyed as-is whereas we need so much more resources to watch films such as hardware & utilities. 
Films require high maintenance, even as a pastime. People don’t need DVD players, iTunes, electricity or data plans and other first-world luxuries to read a book. Plus, it would be silly of me to ignore how much more beneficial reading is compared to watching movies.
  • What I like best about co-hosting the A-to-Z Challenge is the chance to give back to Arlee Bird and his event that helped me step my blogging game up, saved me from existential despair and helped me build so many quality friendships.
  • My philosophy on life can be described in the following sentence:
Each day is a blessing, so make it count!
  • The weirdest thing I've researched is vesicovaginal fistulas, for a freelance writing assignment, which made me even more apprehensive about childbirth.
  • The last book I really did not enjoy was The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. I had high hopes for this book but it pissed me off by being so difficult to read that I stopped after only a few pages in.
  • If I could describe my short film “Abyss: The Greatest Proposal Ever” in one word, it would be: Propositions
  • In a classroom full of creative, sporty and geeky children, the artistic group is where I would fit in. I was a creative kid who could usually be found drawing pictures, painting and writing short stories at any given time. I also played “school” while managing a home library. While sports weren't my thing, I was pretty good at soccer but if I could turn back the hands of time, I’d repeat my cheerleading days in a heartbeat.
  • I’m still prepping a theme and am not even at the halfway mark for completing my A-Z posts in advance. Add to that my spontaneous plan to do the challenge with two blogs this year and it’s just one big ol’ pickle of madness that could very well be a recipe for disaster. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking!
  • Telling someone my darkest secret would defeat the whole purpose of it being a secret, would it not? I think so.
  • Sometimes I blog in one of the student lounges at a local University and other times I blog in the (dis)comfort of my kitchen.
That’s all for now, folks! I would like to thank my Mighty Minion Bureau Assets – Dale at Smurfin’ the Web, Andrea MusicFan at Twelve Steps to Cloud Nine, Melody-Ann Jones-Kauffman at MAJK INK, Deniz Bevan at The Girdle of Melian, Sydney Aaliyah and SA Larsen for helping me come up with material for this “About Me” post for this year’s Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge. 

Also, shouts out to Yvonne, Susan Scott and Rob Tobor for obliging in Tina Downey’s (at Life is Good) request to hit us all with your best questions. Stay tuned for additional nuggets of stuff about me, which I’ll be putting up over at The Madlab Post.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

AJ's "About Me"

Scene: A coffee shop back room, patrons buzzing with excitement and caffeine. Non-descript indie rock music is heard coming through the door to the front of the shop. A microphone in front of a slightly ratty armchair on a small 'stage' and an author/blogger stands to the side, wringing her hands with discomfort at the thought of 'introducing herself' to a room full of people. The coffee shop manager welcomes everyone and the author sinks down into the chair...

"Hi everyone! Thanks so much for coming today! I've never thought it was fair that the intro person just has to say your name and then leaves you all alone on the stage. I mean, us writing types like the written word, which generally means long hours alone tip-tapping at a laptop, and does not mean standing on stage in front of a room full of people who expect us to say brilliant things because they like what we wrote, which really is an unfair expectation because written words can be crafted and fixed after they come out of your brain and spoken ones cannot.

...But anyway.. I'm here and have already started rambling, so I should probably get to it. My name is AJ Lauer. I blog at Naturally Sweet and am very excited to be a co-host for this year's A-Z Challenge! I'm so happy I stumbled upon the Challenge in 2012 as it's been one of the most fun writing-related things that I do every year. Welcome to the Challenge, everyone :)

Me and Dan at a book signing.
Dan's the one with the beard :)
Last spring I published my first book, Armageddon: Pick Your Plot with my good friend Dan. Pick Your Plot books are interactive fiction, which means that you, the reader, get to decide where the story goes. Fun, huh? Armageddon explores end-world prophecies and has 42 story endings - you die in 33 of them. Hey, it says Armageddon! What did you expect? For a taste of it, try out this blog post from last year's Challenge. We are currently finishing a second book called Sky Pirates: Pick Your Plot which will come out this year.

If I'm not writing (or at my "real job") I'm usually outside gardening, hiking or running. I have the great fortune of living in a beautiful state where it's not too hard to get to scenery like this:

Near Lake Bierstadt, while snowshoeing this weekend.
You guys asked some great questions, so I'm going to answer a couple of them and then leave you to your caffeinated beverages!

"What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Cone or cup? Sprinkles or hot fudge sauce?" from Tracy Bermeo, A2Z Mommy
I pretty much love all kinds of icecream. I grew up in Wisconsin, so am partial to frozen custard but really it can be any flavor, in a cup. Definitely hot fudge rather than sprinkles though. And yes I'd like whipped cream and a maraschino cherry, please!

"Would you EVER tell anyone your darkest secret?" from Susan Scott
Yes, absolutely. But not here ;) Our secrets are part of what makes us who we are, so if you really want someone to understand you, eventually you have to share even the deepest and darkest.

"What brought you to blogging and how did you find yourself doing the A-Z?" from Hilary Melton-Butcher
I started blogging in college as a way to keep in touch with my friends from home, and also as a catch-all for random bits of story and poetry that came to mind. A lot of crazy stuff happened in those first couple years so it was an important outlet and place to process. So far as the Challenge goes... In the spring of 2012 I had a terrible cold and after a couple days of lazing on the couch was bored out of my mind, so I challenged an English Professor friend to a writing duel that involved writing every day for a month. That was a great experience so I looked for a way to do something similar with my blog and found A-Z! And the rest, as they say, is history.

And I think that's enough from me. Thanks so much for coming by today! It was lovely to meet you all and if you have more questions feel free to ask them in the comments section or stop by for a visit!"

Polite applause. Blogger scoops herself carefully up out of the armchair, turns off the microphone and walks off stage. Coffee shop manager beams and offers water. Patrons go back to their reading, work and friends. End scene.

Monday, February 24, 2014

What Would YOU Like to Know About Your #atozchallenge Co-Hosts?

You may have noticed that we've already had some of the co-hosts introduce themselves to you. We like to do this each year so that you have an idea of who we are, what we do, and so that you can find out some just plain fun or silly facts about us.

In the past, we used a question/answer format where each co-host chose from a list of questions as a basis for how they wrote their “About Me” posts. We're doing it a little differently this year. We are – gasp – free-styling it! Everyone is doing his or her own thing.

For example, since Jeremy was literally laid up with his ankle, we wrote his for him. (In case you were wondering, all million or so of you who left such nice comments, he was really touched by the tremendous support you showed him. As a Team, we are very grateful and say THANK YOU.) Heather's buddy Stormy the Weather Gnome introduced her.

There are still some of us who like the question/answer format and that's where you come in. YOU get to ask the questions! Just as a sample, here are some from the past:

"When writing, do you prefer to compose your first-draft by hand, on your computer, or using Morse Code?" (Mina Lobo)

"If you could sing any song with the artist who wrote/performed it, what would it be and with whom?" (Tracy Bermeo-A2Z Mommy)

"What's more important, space exploration, or under-sea exploration?" (Matt Conlon)

"Name an item that you have too much of." (Nicole)

"Favorite childhood memory" (Tina)

We currently have 34 questions. We are greedy. We want more. We want fresh questions!

We have a great chance for that since we have so many new to the A-Z Challenge participants! As co-hosts, we just love it that more and more people are hearing about this Challenge and joining! But wait! It gets better. This year we have many people who aren't just new to our April adventure, but also new to blogging! Brave people who aren't afraid to say, “Yeah, sure, I'll try that!

We're also just as excited that so many are returning. We have bloggers who are doing this for the 4th and 5th time. In case you haven't heard – this is year 5. It's fun to wander around the list meeting people (you are doing that, right?) and seeing the “A-Z Survivor” badges which you get when you're done. I think they're kinda like gold medals...

So hit us with your best questions. Anything goes. Not saying that a co-host will be brave enough to answer your outrageous question...but there's always the chance. (Honestly, it will most likely be me since I'm NOT the shy one in the group...)

~Tina, for the A to Z Team

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