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Monday, August 29, 2016

Hello Alphabet People!

It's been a while since I've stopped in to say! Hope you're all well.

Are you already planning and plotting for next April?

There is so much you can be doing right now to prepare!

Want to write reviews?

Read books
Watch TV show/movies
Listen to music
Cook new dishes
Go to restaurants

Want to share your talents?
Take photographs
Create videos

All of these ideas take some time and effort so why not start early?


Are you still traveling in the Post A-to-Z Road Trip? Have you found some new blogs that you think we should all know about? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Themes That Rocked the Challenge - Cherdo and Favorite Characters and Lines

Today we welcome Cherdo on the Flipside and her awesome theme of Favorite Characters, Favorite Lines!

Why did you choose the theme of favorite characters and lines?

As a movie buff, there's nothing I like more than an iconic line that captures the spirit of the movie or the essence of an important character. Even more important, is the instant recognition that comes with a GREAT quote; I'll drop that line in my day-to-day conversations when that happens.

Which character out of the bunch was your favorite?

Tough, tough question. A few names rise to the top: Brad Pitt's Achilles...Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark...Jack Nicholson's Melvin Udall...all truly great characters with great lines.

But in the end, "I'm your Huckleberry." It's gotta be Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holiday from the movie "Tombstone;" a wonderful fountain of quotables! Val's Doc was elegant, educated, and so snarky - but cool. Doesn't hurt that he knows his way around a gunfight and Latin. " In vino veritas!"

Which letter was the most challenging?

Actually, the challenging part came with the letters that had multiple great choices for quotes. Letters like X or Z that might seem challenging were actually a snap (X-men, Zoolander).

What movie or show got the best response from visitors? (Outside of the letter A, of course.)

If you would have made me guess in advance, I couldn't have picked it: E for Evil, as in Dr. Evil of Austin Powers fame, got the most views of all. Who knew there was an evil fan base lurking on the blog-o-sphere.

How long did it take you to find the quotes and pictures for each letter?

About a month before the A-to-Z, I jotted down the letters and every time I was working at my desk, I'd glance at it and add names. Most of these names popped into my cranium attached to quotes, so the only thing to find was a confirmation that I was remembering it correctly. I probably spent less than fifteen minutes writing a post and adding pictures.

So many great Tony Stark lines – how did you resist the urge to just go crazy with that one?

You mean Stark-raving mad? Oh, that would have been so easy to do! What a perfect pairing of actor and character! At first, I was trying to find one great quote (as in Achilles) and later in the month, I tried to limit myself to five quotes. Basically, I was having too much fun and I always try to squelch fun.

But seriously, I could do a whole month of Tony Stark. Maybe that will be next year's theme: "All Things Tony Stark: The Sequel."

Would you need a little gin after a whole day with Jar-Jar Binks?

No, you'd need a lot of gin. The biggest problem is that you know you'll start doing the Jar-Jar voice after about ten minutes. The gin will only make you snicker while doing so.

If you participate in the Challenge next year, what themes strike your fancy?

Still loving pop culture, music, and humor. I'm pretty sure it will fall somewhere in that neighborhood. I toyed with the idea of "Ear Worms I Can't Kill" to address those songs that stick with you way too long.

All in all, I love the A-to-Z and I think you'll probably see me next year, too. Thanks, Alex, for including me!

I think All Things Tony Stark: The Sequel would be a great theme for next year! Thanks, Cherdo.

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon Best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars, founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and his blog can be found HERE

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