Saturday, March 24, 2012

Oh no, how do I resist?

I had previously written about my stationery addiction, one I've been good about resisting (thank goodness due to our limited storage space). But I recently discovered a site that is putting me to the test!

The site is lost crates and they specialize in unusual finds in several categories: Eco, Housewares, Foodie, Found In ____, Jack's Picks and my personal favorite, Stationery. Sigh....


You can sign up for "crates" to be mailed to you monthly or quarterly at a set price. You never know what will arrive, surprise gifts in every shipment. Oh my! How tempting....

Subscriptions not for you? They have a regular store for each category. I took a peek at the Stationery store....journals, notepads, pens and more. All stylish but useful. I'm trying HARD to resist. I am, honest!

Their blog is a nice mix of merchandise (theirs and others), general topics and inspiring photos. Definitely added to my list of daily reads.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge - What have I done?

I've been monitoring the A to Z Blogging Challenge sign-up list. I was number 375 when I signed on. Today the list is up to number 1064. Oh my!!! I know part of the challenge is reading others blogs and sharing them via the various social media outlets.

With two weeks left for folks to sign up, it looks like there could be 1500 bloggers participating, maybe more. How the heck will I do my part to read blogs? I mean, really....think about it. There will be 26 days of blogging x 1500 people = 39,000 posts. There are 30 days in April, that means reading 1300 posts a day (average).

For grins and giggles, we'll take three minutes to read each blog and navigate to the next post. That's 3900 minutes or, are you ready.....65 hours. Um, I don't know about you, but my day only has 24 hours. And I still need to eat, sleep, write, do household stuff...hmmmm. Gives you something to think about, doesn't it.

Well, my solution is simple. I won't be reading every post or every blog. Sorry, not going to happen. I'm spending some time now, storing up links to blogs that I know are participating and I already read. Then I will add in another 25-50 links, picked at random, from the list. If I find that I don't enjoy the writers style or topic (if themed), they'll be dropped and I'll move on to another. That's the best I can do, I'm being realistic here.

Remember, the purpose of the challenge is several fold:
  • Spur our creativity and get us writing
  • Introduce us to new blogs and writers
  • Spread the word to others and get them reading
  • HAVE FUN!!!
I've already gotten three folks to commit to their first A to Z Challenge along with me. That's a start. I've gotten several others to help me with story prompts. I've passed along a few tips and tricks to the bloggers. Now it's time to start writing!


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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge - Story Starters

Yesterday I posted a flash preview of the photos I am using for my 26 letters of the alphabet blog posts for the A to Z Blogging Challenge next month. A recent blog post by Damyanti, has led me one step forward.

For the next week I will accept starter prompts for each letter, using the photos in this post for your inspiration. Post your story starter prompt in the comments here, listing the letter of the alphabet you are using. Please try to keep the prompt to ten words or less.

For clarity, here is my list of words:
  • Ambition
  • Boisterous
  • Closed
  • Deadly
  • Elegant
  • Future
  • Garage
  • Hoard
  • Icy
  • Jaywalking
  • Knothole
  • Linked
  • Missing
  • Nonsense
  • Open
  • Poison
  • Quirky
  • Reticent
  • Simple
  • Trinity
  • Urgent
  • Vehicle
  • Wallflower
  • Xyloid
  • Yearning
  • Zipper
I look forward to your input, be sure to list something I can link to in order to credit your input: Blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge - Photo Inspiration

As I stated in an earlier blog, I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge this April. I've selected my words and searched morguefile for photos to help spark my creativity. For a preview of what's to come, take a peek at my photo inspirations.




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Monday, March 5, 2012

Writing Funk

This past week has found me in a bit of a writing funk. Over the past two months I've done a lot of flash fiction, outlined and re-outlined my romance WIP, A Montana Chance, as well as completing almost three chapters. I've done a little blogging both here and on my personal site, 2 Taking a 5th. I've neglected all my other blogs but did manage to eke out some time today to start a blog for my daughter and her extras casting company, CL Casting.

But this past week whenever I've tried to write some flash or work on my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts, nothing has clicked. Anything I've written is elementary school level and that's frustrating. My creativity has gone on vacation I guess....

In addition I've not done much reading, finding it hard to concentrate. Spent most of my time playing games on my phone (current Android, past iPhone, tablet). Talk about being out of it....LOL!

Now real life has intervened with me waking up sick yesterday, slept most of the day. Got my Rx filled today and feeling a bit better, maybe I'll finally get some writing done...writing that I can feel good about. First on the list, getting my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts done and scheduled. Then I'm tackling my novel, A Montana Chance, hoping to get enough written to claim my critique prize won in the 2012 Blog Hop Competition last month.

Hoping everyone is seeing more productivity than I have lately...what have you been up to?

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge - Preparation - Blog Clean-up- Favicon

I'm fine tuning my blog in preparation for the, hopefully, gazillion visitors I'll have during the month of April. Okay, so maybe not a gazillion, but a lot more than normal. I just read and implemented some of the tips on Sommer Leigh's blog post, Sommer’s Top Ten Tips for A-to-Zing it in April.

There was one tip that REALLY caught my attention since I recently vented about it: Blogger and Word Verification [rant] If you want people to comment, you really need to make it easy for them to do so. Check your blog to be sure, and while there check to be sure you allow anonymous commenters as well (as mentioned by Sommer).

One missing tip that helps keep your blog looking professional as well as identification once loaded. It's time to add a favicon to your blog. For years professionals have used favicons to identify their websites. For those with blogs hosted on their own domains, it's an easy enough process to create the .ico file and upload it to the home directory.

But for those of us using Blogger, we were left out in the cold. Not any more! If you look at your browser tab, you will see the pen icon that I use for my blog as well as my website, DonnaMcNicol.com.

Blogger has made the process even simpler, you just need an image that will be quite clear (keep it simple) and you can upload it. They will handle the conversion to a .ico file.

Here is a blog that explains the process in more detail: How to Add Your Favicon to Blogger It uses the old interface at Blogger. If you have already moved to the new dashboard, here is how it will look to you (the steps are the same). Click to enlarge.


Don't be afraid to try several images. Once loaded you will see the small image on your Blogger layout page. Don't like it? Not clear enough? Load a different one.

Here are a couple of place to search for icons: Find Icons and Icon Finder Think about what you want to represent your site. It could be as simple as your initials, a logo you already have or something connected to the purpose of your blog. For me that was easy....I am a writer, thus the pen. Happy icon hunting!

[Want more good tips on cleaning up your blog? Check out Anne R. Allen's blog series:  Part I: How to Blog, Part II: How not to Blog, Part III: What to Blog About, Part IV: Difficult Blog Visitors, Part V: 12 Dos and Don’ts for Author-Bloggers]

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