Showing posts with label guest posters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guest posters. Show all posts

Monday, July 25, 2016

What Blogging Strategy Works Best? (#atozchallenge)

        Our thanks to guest poster and A to Z Challenge veteran Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin who blogs at and   In this post Stepheny shares her April blogging strategy--some tips you might find helpful in your own blogging.  

Reflecting on the A to Z Blog Challenge

“It’s true, with bloggers or a box of chocolates,
you never know what you’re going to get.”
Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Everyone comes to the blogging world in their own way with interests that are particular. The Challenge is like taking a class from a plethora of teachers who demonstrate what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t. I know I’m a better blogger for this teaching. After four years of participation, I hope this reflection adds to the consideration of the matter.  

There is major agreement that it is important to start early with the research and writing, placing your posts in a queue before April 1. Visit as many blogs as possible, leaving a comment behind will improve your stats as people return the favor. If you didn’t get a lot of comments perhaps the process is too complicated to be worth the effort. When I find a new blog that has my name on it because of content and presentation, I feel rewarded for the time it takes to work through the participation list. I gladly hit the FOLLOW button when the stars align, but I have high standards in that decision. If it isn’t readable, or the site is difficult to navigate, I’m a step away from moving on. An edgy blog does not persuade me either. Clarity: background/font size are essential. I want an uncluttered presentation that does not take away from the point of the be able to READ the information. Short posts work best not only during The Challenge, but all year long. People are too busy to take the time no matter how worthy the content.

The subject matter you pick for the challenge has ramifications. Remember, a visitor might find you on day one or later in the month. You have one shot to intrigue them. A long tale that makes no sense on day 12, or a subject that is heavy, worthy as it may be, isn't great for what I call a "26 day expiration date opportunity." I encourage careful consideration of this goal: posts which demonstrate your blog is easy to read, the writing is your best effort, and that your blog is worth someone's valuable time to return and follow. NEVER start a post with, I don’t know what I’m doing, but here goes. Ask yourself, have I picked a subject that is better published at another time? The time frame of the Challenge should influence these decisions.

Whatever theme I have followed during April, I want people to know that the blog will continue on with content you would expect a writer, gardener, addicted reader and book-alcoholic to write about. I ask them for their company in the coming year. After reading this reflection, do come and find me by the garden gate at where I’ll be waiting, or visit my 2nd blog about the revitalization of a small southern historic downtown, Rocky Mount, NC. Let’s have sweet tea and talk about blogging.   

IMG_1068About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East available on Amazon. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: or

If you'd like to contribute a guest post to the A to Z Blog, please let us know. We are happy to consider any topics that might be of interest to the A to Z Blogging community. Contact emails can be found at "Contact" tab at top of the page or you can contact me at

Friday, May 9, 2014

Today's Guest: jenn griffin: Survivor of Tina's Terrific Team #atozchallenge

Today please welcome my friend,  Jenn, who was brave enough to be my minion.  She survived working on Tina's Terrific Team!  This is an excerpt from her first novel, let it be, which is written but not yet published. Enjoy. 

She didn’t bother with make-up. The boy knew what she looked like. He must like her face well enough. She didn’t see the point in painting it. She didn’t possess that talent in normal situations. With her nerves, she would’ve wrecked her cosmetics in seconds.

In all the times she’d imagined dating him, she’d never considered it a possibility. Still, as she made her way across town to his apartment, she couldn’t tamp down the excitement she felt. Nor could she loosen the huge knot that had formed in her gut from worry that she’d screw things up before they’d even had a chance to begin.

You’ve known him for years, Isabel. You want to know him better. Yall are just talking.

Not my forte.

She sucked in a breath, then another as she turned into his complex, sat in the lot with the engine running. Waited for Christina Perri’s “Arms” to conclude. She shut her eyes, rolled her neck, her shoulders.

It’ll be fine. You can do this. “Yall are just talking,” she muttered as she shoved the door open, slid out and slammed the door.

Turned to find him waiting for her outside, seated at the base of the stairs that lead to his apartment. Smiling.

The knot in her stomach—the one that magically appeared every time she thought of him, saw him—tightened. She swallowed, tried a smile. Searched for something intelligent to say as she meandered over to him, but the damned knot had risen to her throat. “Hi.”


She sat next to him, folded her hands in her lap. “What’d you do that for?”


Isabel glanced at him, then down and out, toward the parking lot. Took a breath. “You kissed me. I wanna know why.”

“I’d think that’d be obvious.”

“I’m not your type.”

“I have a type?”

“Everyone does.”

“No. Not everyone,” he said. “Take Matt, for example.”

Her lips curved into a sneer. “I’d rather not.”

“Isabel.” He sighed. “I’m curious. That a good enough reason?”



“We can date or whatever.” Irritation flickered across her face. “I don’t know what I’m doing, though.”


She frowned. What the hell did I say that for? And how can I sound so ignorant and afraid?

Gray eyes peered into black. “Isa?”

“Nothing. Never mind. I’m hungry.”

He waited a beat, kept his gaze steady on hers, even as he rose and held out a hand to take hers and pull her up. But he didn’t take a step, didn’t make room for her. For the longest moment, they stood there, facing each other, eyes intent, her hand held lightly in his.

She lifted her other hand, placed it on his chest, near his shoulder, her thumb at the base of his throat. She felt his pulse, the warmth of his skin near the collar of his t-shirt.

But he didn’t try to kiss her. Instead he reached up, fingered the strands that fell near her temple, tucked them behind her ear, then stroked her cheek as he lowered his hand. Smiled and asked, “Who’s driving? Me or you?”

Isabel drew in a breath. Then another. Lowered her hand and pressed it to her stomach. Focus. “Mine’s a mess, and you know I’m a crap driver.”

“Me, then,” he said and stepped onto the parking lot, pulling her behind him. “We could grab some food then catch a movie,” he suggested as they crossed over to his truck. “How’s that sound?”


He turned to grin at her, then lead her to the passenger door, opened it. Finally released her hand when she’d gotten settled.

The contact had unnerved her. But she found she missed it when he’d let go.

Jenn blogs at quirky pickings, a must read.  She's smart, serious and snarky.  She's also incredibly honest and generous, and just a lot of fun to know. I love jenn's writing, and am always eager to hear what she has to say next. Pay her a visit!  I'm proud to count jenn as one of my friends, not just a blogging buddy.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Casting Call: Guest Post at the A-Z Blog!

Did you survive the A-Z Challenge 2013? You probably did if you're reading this. We already gave you an awesome badge – thanks Jeremy – now we're giving you a stage!

This is a casting call for guest posters here at the A-Z Blog. Over the next month or so we'll be featuring posts by some of the amazing assistants, some great Reflections Posts we've come across, and posts by YOU.

Please email me, Tina, at tndowney at gmail dot com if you'd like to use this stage to reach a wider audience. Your post can be about anything. We'll link it back to your own blog so that you can get more traffic, and ask that you link to us from your blog at the same time. Win-win!

So are you game? Much easier to get on this stage than American Idol...


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Call for More Guest Posters!

Greetings fellow A-Zers! I'm just dropping in to remind you that you are welcome to guest post here at the A-Z blog! It can be a post about any topic that would be of interest to your fellow alphabet friends, or if you're feeling shy, I've written a questionnaire that you could answer as your post.

Last year, as we were gearing up for the challenge, each of the co-hosts answered a set of questions so that all of you could get to know us better. This idea is similar, but the questions are a bit different. It's in the vein of Alex's every other Wednesday featuring a participant. However, he interviews them each personally, and this would be something you do on your own.

Guest post go up on Mondays and Tuesdays since we have regular features the other days of the week. If you're interested, please email me (Tina) at tndowney (at) gmail (dot) com. The info@ email address is about to just bounce everything directly to me anyway as we make the transition to the 2013 info@ address.

Here are the questions you can use to base your post on, if you'd like some guidance:

  1. When did you start blogging and why? Tell us a bit about the kind of blog you have.  Be sure to include the name of your blog and the link.

  2. How did you find out about the challenges, and how many have you done? What was your favorite part of participating?

  3. What suggestions would you have for visiting new blogs during the A to Z challenge?  What blog visiting strategy has worked for you during the challenge?

  4. What topics or themes would you like to see other bloggers cover during the challenge? What types of content (poetry, short stories, writing tips, photos, reviews, etc.) would you enjoy reading during the A to Z Challenge?

  5. Please tell us something unusual about yourself – don't be shy. Check out my revelation from last year here.

  6. Are you joining the challenge in 2013? Are you doing a theme? Please share any plans you have. We promise not to steal your ideas.

    If you'd like to guest, leave a note in the comments AND email me. I'm hoping for a bunch of brave participants so that we can have all our Mondays and Tuesdays filled until 2013. It's always good to have goals...