Monday, March 30, 2015

Finally, A to Z Is Upon Us

The 2015 Blogging from A to Z Challenge is almost here. Let the countdown begin . . . only two days to go! Are you ready? Have you pre-written some of your posts? No need to worry if you haven't. Sometimes spontaneity can make for the best inspiration. 

Just a few reminders for those of you new to the challenge (and those of you who, like me, just occasionally need a reminder):

- If you're participating, please keep the A to Z Badge visible somewhere on your blog. (It's below if you need it!)
- Make sure you have comments enabled on your blog. 
- It helps is you disable word verification, if only for the challenge.
- Comment, comment, comment. The point of this challenge is to make new friends, and commenting on other bloggers posts is a big part of making that connection. And don't forget to return comments on your own blog. 

I hope you're all as excited for the challenge as I am! I'll see you all Wednesday for the best challenge in the blog-o-sphere. 



Monday, March 23, 2015

The Great and Powerful Theme Reveal Blogfest

It's just a week and a half from the opening day of the 2015 BLOGGING FROM A TO Z CHALLENGE!!! We're almost there . . . have you started writing some of your posts ahead of time, or are you more of a procrastinator? I'm putting a few finishing touches on mine and can't wait to share!

And speaking of sharing, are you ready to give everyone a little insight into what you'll be blogging about this challenge? I sure hope so, because today is The Great and Powerful Theme Reveal Blogfest! If you haven't signed up already, it's not to late. Just click here and share your A to Z theme with us! 

As for my blog theme, I had a bunch of ideas this year. In fact, I was already planning out my posts for one theme I thought was pretty fantastic when one night I asked my husband to rank his favorite superhero movies. I looked over his completed list a while later and felt pretty smug (for our lists were almost an exact match -- I knew I married Mr. Right). And then I had a bit of a shock. He'd ranked last year's Guardians of the Galaxy as #1. I mean, he ranked it higher than Joss Whedon's The Avengers. Say WHAT? 

I was shocked. I mean, Guardians was hands down my favorite movie of the year, and ranked second highest on my list. But better than Avengers? I don't think so. 

So after a long debate (in which I think both of us came out a little confused over which movie we still thought deserved the number one spot), we agreed to call it a tie. And it got me thinking. 

So long story (not so) short, I changed my blog theme. This year my theme for the A to Z Challenge is . . .
MOVIE SMACKDOWNS!! 

Each day I'll pick a movie pairing based on that day's alphabetic category, and bloggers can vote on their favorite. In fact, I believe my theme will help my husband and I solve some of our great movie debates . . . a nice little side benefit.

I hope you'll all enjoy my theme for this year's challenge, and I look forward to seeing how all of you vote. Good luck with your themes this year! I can't wait to check them out!

And if you have't already signed up for the 2015 Blogging from A to Z Challenge, it's coming up FAST. Don't miss out! Sign-ups are still going on here.

[Note to Readers:] The Avengers vs Guardians of the Galaxy is actually NOT one of my pairings, so if any of you want to cast your vote, my husband and I would really appreciate your help settling our argument! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Author Accountability

The other night my husband and I were watching an old re-run episode of How I Met Your Mother, and it reminded me of a discussion my friends and I had following the show's finale. For those who didn't watch the series or it's conclusion, the CBS comedy went out with a controversial ending that split their fan base between those who found it fitting, and those who thought it was THE WORST THING EVER. (In case you couldn't guess, I'm one of the latter.)

[To be clear, this post really isn't about a TV series. It's about author accountability and what that means. And it'll be a little long-winded.]

You see, when my friend Andy and I were discussing the HIMYM final (read "discussing" as a euphemism for heatedly debating), he asked me if I thought the show's creators should be held accountable to the audience they both thrilled and pissed off. As one of the "pissed off", my immediate thought was . . . of course! Of course they should cater to my every whim. And if there are other fans that disagree with me, too bad.

But you can see how this idea of accountability is both fascinating and debatable. The assumption is that authors are held accountable to either A) their artistic vision, or B) their audience. And sometimes they simply don't agree.

Let's take a look at the Divergent novels for example. This series spent a great deal of time in the limelight last year due to the release of the first movie adaptation and the final book of the trilogy, Allegiant. [SPOILERS ahead] I'll admit that I never read Allegiant, but it would be hard to miss the uproar that followed it's release. Audiences were outraged when the series' protagonist was killed off, so much so that author Veronica Roth spoke out defending her choices.

In some ways I understand her decision. I too have become disillusioned with the YA market spitting out a surfeit of teen love stories set against post-apocalyptic or "dystopian" backgrounds. Inevitably both partners make it through war and turmoil with nary a scratch, only to be reunited with their "true love" and live happily ever after. This is neither realistic, nor original. So I can't really blame Roth for taking a more George R. R. Martin-esque approach and bumping off at least one of the lovebirds.

On the other hand, she's chosen to write for a mass market that doesn't really want reality or, some might argue, originality. They want the war and devastation, followed by the predictable happy ending. So it's not shocking that her audience took exception to her more maudlin conclusion. So the question remains, should Roth have been accountable to the audience that stuck with her through three novels, or herself?

[More SPOILERS ahead] Last February, seven years after the release of the final chapter in the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling made the somewhat shocking statement that she shouldn't have written Ron and Hermione ending up together; that this decision was a reflection of her own wish fulfillment rather than remaining faithful to the characters' development. I have to say, I found this statement quite distressing. Not because I don't understand a writer's desire to hold onto one of their "little darlings" as they say -- that's a struggle I am quite familiar with. But rather because I've read the novels countless times, listened to the audio books so often I wore out my discs, and I simply can't imagine a world in which Ron and Hermione didn't end up together. I could say the same of Harry and Ginny (for those who might argue a Harry/Hermione match-up). She spent seven books setting up the future depicted in the series' epilogue, and to write it otherwise would have felt incohesive. In the case of Harry Potter, I'm thankful Rowling followed through on her own wish fulfillment. I'd bet the majority of her audience, like me, shared that same wish. And hey, who's to says an author can't be considered among the audience of their own work? Write first for yourself they always say. 

In this case, I'd argue that J. K. Rowling remains accountable to her audience rather than her own artistic vision (in which a more "realistic" Ron and Hermione don't wind up together). How I Met Your Mother, on the other hand, suffers in from the writers' refusal to stray from the ending they scripted back in season one. Sure, if the show had ended earlier it might have made sense. But once the audience was finally introduced to the mother character and had the chance to fall in love with her, the original ending no longer fit with the arch of the show. In other words, this is a situation in which the "author" might have been better off listening to audience opinion rather than chaining themselves to their outdated artistic vision. In my humble opinion.

So one has to wonder then what's the better choice? Artistic vision, or audience approval? It's a complicated issue, and one which lack a definitive answer. In the end I believe that authors should ultimately stay true to the work itself. Ron and Hermione end up together not because audiences prefer it that way, but because the relationship built over the seven novels leads them there. Ted and Robin should go their separate ways because after ten seasons of trial and error, they realize they still want different things and found love with other people. And as for Allegiant, well, who knows. I probably won't get around to reading that one. 

As for my own work, I'll do my best to remain flexible with my artistic vision and follow the story where it leads me. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. A huge shout-out to our fearless leader, Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, for starting this group and giving anxious writers everywhere an outlet for their fears and way to connect with one another. If you're an insecure writer or just looking for a little support, click here to join us! 


This month I'm a little anxious about time. Not just managing it, but having enough in the first place. I've been dealing with some health related issues which suck away at the vast majority of my time. Added to that I've got A to Z coming up (my first year as a co-host, yay!), blogging, and my own sorely neglected writing. Sometimes it feels a little overwhelming. 

Do any of you IWSG-ers feel the same way? Any tips? Pieces of advice? 

I hope this month goes well for all you writers out there. Keep up the good (sometimes exhausting) work! And don't forget to sign up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (which starts April 1st) and The Great and Powerful A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest (happening March 23rd). Sign ups are still going on NOW! Just click on the links to enter and join us. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

A to Z Theme Reveal and Calling All Minions

The Blogging from A to Z Challenge is around the corning and coming up fast. For those of you who haven't signed up already, there's still plenty of time. Just click here and you can be on your way to some alphabetic awesomeness! 

For those of you who have signed up already, themes are a great way to dig into the challenge and help you come up with interesting and cohesive posts from A to Z. Themes are by no means mandatory, but I've found over the past three years that they add an element of fun to my daily blogging. If you plan on using a theme this year, consider participating in the Theme Reveal Blogfest on March 23rd. It's a great way to spread the word about your particular niche and gives you a preview of what other bloggers plan to write about. If you're interested, sign-ups are below. 

Last but not least, I'm still looking for a few Minions to help out during the challenge. It's a great way to get involved in the A to Z Challenge and connect with other bloggers. If you're interested, please let me know! 


The Great and Powerful A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest!

Sign-ups for the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge are already under way. If you have done it before, you know how much fun it is (good for you!) and if you have not, this is your chance to give it a try! You can sign up to participate here.

One of the most burning questions participants ask themselves every year is: "Should I have a theme?"
Themes are not mandatory, but definitely fun. They let your visitors know what to expect, and help you create posts that line neatly up from A to Z. They also have an added bonus: They let you participate in a whole separate blogfest!

Two years ago A to Z participant Mina Lobo started the Theme Reveal, and we thought it was such a great idea that we made it tradition. It is now our very own, grand and festive way of rolling out our themes together!

Here is how the Theme Reveal Blogfest works:

Sing up on the Linky list below, and on March 23rd (Monday) publish a post on your blog in which you reveal your theme, tell us why it is exciting, and give us a hint of what to expect from it! Then, once your post is up, use the Linky to visit all the other blogs announcing their themes. Enjoy!


This is a great opportunity for all of you to get a jump start on your A to Z experience. You can link up with fellow bloggers, scout out and bookmark themes that you look forward to, and set out delicious themed bait on your blog to lure in wandering participants! This way, by the time the frenzied posting begins on April 1st, you will already have an audience eagerly awaiting your posts.



Sign up below, ready your theme, and post March 23rd on your calendar!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. A big thank you to our fearless leader, Alex J. Cavanaugh, for starting this group and giving writers a place to voice our fears. If you're an insecure writer or a writer looking to give support to others, check us out here

This month I have one very specific writing concern, and it's related to blogging -- the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in fact. I'm one of the co-hosts this year, and I'm super excited for the chance to work with the incredible A to Z Team. But as it's my first year as part of the team, I'm a little anxious about doing the job well and making sure that I make ever participant feel welcome and encouraged. It's a lot of work, but I can't wait!

[Shameless A to Z plugging -- if you haven't signed up yet, there's still time! Click here to join us!]

If anyone is interested in helping me overcome this month's insecurity, I could use a few awesome Minions on my team. If you're interested in becoming involved in the A to Z Challenge, please let me know. 

Good luck this month to all my fellow insecure writers. And as always, happy blogging!

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Here!

I am thrilled to announce that today is a very special day. Why? It's Blogging from A to Z sign-up day! Sign-ups are officially opened and we're putting out a call to all bloggers to join us in the best blogging challenge in the blog-o-sphere! If you're interested in learning more about the challenge, check us out . . .

Please read and follow the sign-up instructions outlined below so you sign onto the list correctly!

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE

We recommend short posts, turn off Word Verification, and visit five blogs (or more) a day beginning with the one after yours on the list.


Blogs must be on an open platform – no Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. – and comments enabled.


To streamline legitimate blogs from advertisement blogs, the Co-Hosts will be visiting each blog on this list throughout the Challenge. Blogs on the list showing no activity once the Challenge starts or miss five days in a row will be removed.

Please note your blog name and number in all correspondences. Remember that as blogs are removed, your number will change.

There are categories for those looking for like-minded blogs. Select ONE category code and enter it after your blog’s title/name. The code applies to your blog, not your theme for the Challenge and is purely optional. See the first few blogs on the list for examples. However, if your blog has adult content, you MUST mark it (AC) or it will be removed from the list. Codes are as follows:

ANIMALS: (AN)
ART: (AR)
BOOKS/REVIEWS: (BO)
CRAFTS: (CR)
CULINARY: (CU)
EDUCATION: (ED)
FASHION: (FA)
FILM/MOVIES: (FM)
GAMING: (GA)
GARDENING: (GR)
HISTORY: (HI)
HUMOR: (HU)
LIFESTYLE: (LI )
MEMOIR: (ME)
MUSIC: (MU)
MYTHOLOGY: (MY)
PERSONAL: (PR)
PHOTOGRAPHY: (PH)
POLITICS: (PO)
SCIENCE: (SC)
SOCIAL MEDIA: (SO)
SPORTS: (SP)
TRAVEL: (TR)
WRITING/STORYTELLING: (WR)
ADULT CONTENT: (AC)

Be sure to grab the badge and display it in your sidebar so we know you are participating and link to the A to Z Challenge Blog.

For more information we recommend you follow the A to Z Challenge Blog and the hosts:

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
Nicole Ayers @ The Madlab Post
Author Stephen Tremp
Heather M. Gardner
AJ @ Naturally Sweet
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian
Matthew MacNish @ The QQQE
Zalka Csenge VirĂ¡g @ The Multicolored Diary
S. L. Hennessy @ Pensuasion
C. Lee McKenzie @ The Write Game
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
Susan Gourley @ Susan Says
John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing
Lisa Buie-Collard, Author

We also have a Facebook Page
Email address is contactatozteam@gmail.com
Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z

Sign up below and join us for a month of alphabet fun!