A to Z Challenge: A Review

First, I want to give a bit shout-out to all those who are involved in the running of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It’s got to take a lot of time and dedication to keep track of so many participants, making sure that non-participants are removed from the list, and ensuring that participants get the attention they deserve. Kudos!

Second, a double-huge shout-out to all my fellow participants who made it (sometimes kicking and screaming) to the end of the challenge. Some of those letters were pretty difficult, but you did it! You rock! 😀

Third, a triple-huge shout-out to all those who stopped by my blog during April and commented on my posts. I had some great conversations this month, met some cool new friends, and gained a number of new followers. I hope you all stick close by, because it’s been a blast, and I’ve been truly happy to meet you all. 🙂

The challenge has been a great deal of fun, and I got a lot of great comments on my 26 posts, so as part of this review I present a list of links to each of my posts in case anyone missed anything or is just dropping by now and would like to check a couple of them out.

Day 1: Ariel (the Little Mermaid)Day 2: Buffy Summers (the Vampire Slayer)
Day 3: Castiel (the Monster-Fighting Angel)
Day 4: Deadpool (the Lunatic Assassin)
Day 5: Eric Northman (the Viking Vampire)
Day 6: Freddy Krueger (the Nightmare Demon)
Day 7: Gau (the Wild Orphan)
Day 8: Han Solo (the Cocky Starpilot)
Day 9: Iron Man (the Smarmiest Avenger)
Day 10: James T. Kirk (the Star Fleet Captain)
Day 11: Kefka Palazzo (the Magitek Monster)
Day 12: Lisse (the Child of the Dystopian Future)
Day 13: Magus (the Lost Wizard)
Day 14: Neville Longbottom (the Heart of Gryffindor)
Day 15: Other-Mother (the Other World Evil)
Day 16: Peter Parker (the Spider-Man)
Day 17: Qui-Gon Jinn (the Jedi Knight)
Day 18: Ryuk (the Shinigami)
Day 19: Sherlock Holmes (the High-Functioning Sociopath)
Day 20: Tyrion Lannister (the Exceptionally Clever Imp)
Day 21: Usagi Tsukino (the Sailor Senshi)
Day 22: Victoria MacKinnon (the Lost Princess)
Day 23: Winchester Brothers (the Monster Hunters)
Day 24: Xander Harris (the Lovable Sidekick)
Day 25: Yuki Miaka (the Girl from Other World)
Day 26: Zelda (the Hyrulian Princess)

In case you somehow missed it, my theme for the challenge was “Fictional Characters”. Each one of these characters, even the ones chosen out of duress of very difficult letters, holds a special place in my heart for one reason or another. The TV shows, movies, comics, cartoons, and video games mentioned were overwhelmingly a great part of my childhood, and in some cases an incredible part of my adulthood. If you’ve got the time, check some of them out. You totally won’t be disappointed.

And finally, before I sign off, I wanted to share with you a couple of the blogs that I’ve come across during this particular challenge. I came into contact with so many awesome fellow bloggers this past month that it’s impossible to mention them all, but these are a couple of the ones I fully plan to keep tabs on even now that the challenge is over.

A Scenic Route – Kirsten is a fellow writer who blogs about her “journey into noveldom”. This month she wrote a wonderful series of posts with the theme “Backstage at the Blog”, in which she gave some wonderful tips, hints, and ideas for fellow bloggers, in addition to sharing info about her own blogging journey.

Sophie’s Thoughts and Fumbles – Sophie is a writer of many genres who uses her blog as a place to talk about reading, writing, all the topics in between, and whatever else she so desires. She is also the brains behind the mini-challenge that a few of us participated in in addition to the A to Z challenge: the Supernatural A to Z Challenge. She wrote about ghosts and ghoulies this month, and while I didn’t often comment on her posts because my WordPress reader doesn’t make it easy for me to deal with other blogging websites, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the creepy creatures that she posted.

Alex Hurst – Alex is one of my favorite new people because she is fun, bubbly, and friendly, and we apparently have a great deal in common. The fantasy writer spent the month talking about different aspects of writing and being a writer. Her post “J for Jargon” cracked me up because so many of the definitions she came up with were SO TRUE.

I would love to share some more blogs, and perhaps I will in the future, but this has been such a busy month that I simply do not have the time it would take to go through all the wonderful blogs I’ve found during this challenge. However, if you’re really, truly interested in finding some great new people to follow, check out the A to Z sign-up list and just start clicking. There are literally hundreds of wonderful blogs amongst that list.

And now, with all that aside, I must say adieu, and take a much-deserved nap. Cheers everyone! ❤

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 13

20140128-192236.jpg

The A to Z Challenge is well on it’s way! I enjoyed the company of several new visitors to the blog yesterday (*waves* Hi everyone!) as well as a spike in stats, and I also visited some truly wonderful posts by my fellow bloggers. Keep it up everyone! We can make it through April together!

And as promised, an accountability post, because I can’t just quit being accountable for a whole month. 🙂

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

Believe me when I tell you that it does make me cringe and hang my head to come here and hold myself accountable for this particular goal, but that accountability is not exactly helping at the moment. I seem to be going through another one of my trademark “binge” modes. I’m telling you, I don’t know why this happens every so often, but once again I find myself eating everything in sight. I’m constantly hungry. Even when I eat things full of fiber and good stuff I still find myself hungry a very short time later. The best thing I can tell you about this past week is that I’ve been able to mostly avoid pop.

On the “healthier” side of things, I have a doctor’s appointment first thing tomorrow to discuss the results of the procedure I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I’m expecting that it was all clear, as the doc who preformed it suggested immediately afterwards, but we’ll see. I’d love to have some answers for a change, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

You can’t see, but right now I’m holding up my hand and waving it back and forth in a “so-so” motion to indicate how the past week was for social media. I’m finding myself on Facebook a lot more than usual, but Twitter is a little harder. I dropped in a few times this week, but I rarely find myself with anything interesting to say that can be reduced to 140 characters or less, so I mostly just read other people’s Tweets and “favorite” them. 😛

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

On the bad side of things, I once again went through an entire week without even touching this. On the upside of things, I worked my arse off the past week so that I could get my A to Z posts planned and out of the way, so now there is literally nothing stopping me from working on my manuscript, aside from the obvious desire not to do so. Really, truly, I do want to get this finished, but I’m just so sick of editing, you have no idea. I desperately just want to lock myself in a room with my laptop and a blank Scrivener file and start something new. But I mustn’t. Editing. Dammit.

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

As mentioned, I put a real push on last week to ensure that I had April pretty much covered for blog posts. It was literally the only thing I did as far as writing, but it worked out in my favor, all things considered. I wound up with a very respectable 9054 words this week, and I am very close to hitting the 100,000 mark for the year so far. Now if I could just get that editing out of the way so that I can do some fiction writing again…*mumble, grumble*…

And that’s it for this week! Later peeps!

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 12

Untitled-1

First off, in case anyone is curious, the day surgery that I mentioned previously that took place on Monday went fine. I was so hungry that I had a permanent throbbing in my head, and the whole day surgery area of the hospital was backed up so I didn’t end up actually getting in until about an hour late, but all in all it went pretty well. I managed to grit my teeth through the IV insertion (I don’t mind needles so much, but when they’re poked in the underside of my elbow I get squeamish) and about twenty minutes later it was all over. I didn’t even fall asleep, which was really surprising because usually the littlest amount of drugs make me woozy. I hung out in recovery for half an hour just so they could determine that I was fully awake (how could I not be when I never fell asleep?) and on my way out the doctor mentioned to me that everything had looked pretty much perfectly fine. That’s good, in one sense, but also kind of bad because it means that they haven’t found the problem yet, and we already know that there is a problem. So I guess I’m going to be scheduled for a cat scan next. Fun times! I’m getting to experience the whole gambit of exploratory medicine! 😛

And so, moving on to the real point of this post:

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

As previously mentioned, I gave myself a bit of a pass this week because of the aforementioned day surgery. I had to fast for almost two days, which was excruciating, and also I never want to see a spoonful of Jello again. The days leading up to that I pigged out on whatever I damn well pleased, because yeah. Right after the procedure I ate a delicious roast meal courtesy of my grandmother-in-law, and then went home and ordered a garlic fingers. So yeah, it hasn’t been a great week for food. Neither has it been a great week for exercise, which I all but decided not to do. At all. I’m horrible, I know.

And here’s the thing. Out of curiosity, I weighed myself right before I started my fast, and lo and behold…I’ve gained five pounds since the start of this goal. I can’t say that I’m surprised, but I am definitely extremely disappointed in myself. The food thing is a sore spot for me because I crave food like a ravenous wolf even when I shouldn’t be hungry, but there’s no reason that I can’t at least be counteracting some of that over-eating with decent exercise habits. I mean, cripes, I have a treadmill in my basement. And dumbbells. And a yoga mat. And tension bands.

Someone, please, give me a good kick in the arse, will you?

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

Not bad, but definitely not my best week. I all but forgot about Twitter this week, although I have been pretty diligent on updating my Facebook Author Page with new posts and the occasional related “share”. The big thing has been networking amongst my fellow bloggers, particularly the ones who are going to be participating in the A to Z Challenge coming up soon. On “Theme Reveal” day I saw quite a nice little boost to my own stats while bouncing from blog to blog, checking out what everyone is going to be writing about. It was quite fun, and quite good for the blog as well (I’ve amassed a few new followers…hi everyone!), and I can’t wait for the actual challenge to see how the month goes. 🙂

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

Again, I feel like a complete tool for not even touching this this week. Surely this should be my top priority since I’m so close now, right? Well, I have a few explanations to admit to. Not excuses mind you, just explanations. See, for one thing, I’m so sick of editing that it’s making me grind my teeth just thinking about it. I want to finish with this manuscript, but when I sent it off to my beta-reader I was honestly expecting a few weeks grace…instead she finished the entire thing in one night! It was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but it also meant that editing was thrown back in my court right away, instead of the nice long break that I was expecting.

Other thing is just plain stress and fear. I’m excited to have the manuscript done, but I’m terrified of what’s to come after that. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to self-publish this one, and it hurts my head thinking about everything that needs to be done before I can hit that final goal. For one thing, I’m going to need a cover, and I’m a crap designer. I don’t know if I should use a photograph or ask someone to draw something for me, or just have some kind of creepy design with the title overlaid on top of it. I have no idea what I’m going to write for the back cover, or how I’m supposed to format the inside. I know that there are tons of guides out there to help with this kind of thing, but then all that reading just becomes on more thing that I have to do and that stresses me out even more.

I desperately want to work on this this week, I really do. So let’s see if I can overcome that mountain of fear-stress over the next couple of days, okay?

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

This week was not nearly as good as I was expecting it to be. You see, I’ve been working on the A to Z Challenge, planning posts out in advance. I figured, this past week, that I would just fly through those 26 posts, and that the result would be a healthy word count. Instead I only managed a handful of posts, and that was absolutely it. In my defense, I had a couple of rotten days. The fasting and the resulting headaches made it pretty much impossible to do anything at all, and day surgery day was a write-off because I was busy dealing with that from 9 am to about 4 pm. Then, yesterday, the hubby and I decided to take a day shopping trip in the nearest “real” city (an hour and a half drive away) so that he could pick up a present for my upcoming birthday, so that was a write-off as well. Long story short, I wound up with 4515 words, which isn’t really half bad, but isn’t anywhere near where I was hoping to get. Better luck this week?

400 is a Big Number

Since today is a bit of a milestone for my blog, I thought I’d take this moment to express my amazement of the follow set of statistics.

400 Posts
This post that I’m writing right now is my 400th post. To many of the bloggers whom I follow and commerce with that won’t seem like a huge deal because some of them have thousands of posts. But to me, it’s positively amazing. I gained access to the internet sometime around the fourth grade, and in that time I’ve hopped on several bandwagons and tried dozens of times to express myself in one way or another. I’ve “designed” websites (oh…dear Geocities…) and been an active member of several forum communities; I’ve posted web-comics and even had a couple of other blogs. but I never stuck with any of them. Eventually they would get boring, or I would fail to find the time to keep up with them, or some other issue would send me wandering non-nonchalantly in the other direction. But this blog? I’ve stuck with this, even when I couldn’t think of anything to write, and even when I didn’t have the time. I’ve stuck with it for 400 posts and almost two years straight, and I have to admit that knowing that makes me very proud of myself. Maybe I am becoming a responsible adult after all.

336 Comments
Oftentimes I’ve found myself wondering at the lack of comments on my blog. I see that people are reading my posts, but rarely does it seem that anyone takes the time to say anything. But today I saw this number – 336 – and thought, “You know what? That’s not too shabby.” My blog, after all, is not a viral sensation. I’m not a famous person that people flock to speak to, and even 400 posts is nothing in the grand scheme of the internet, so 336 comments is actually a pretty decent collection. So thank you to everyone who took the time. 🙂

Best Ever: 208 Views
Again, to many bloggers this number is going to seem piddly, but to me it’s simply amazing. On March 18th, 2013 I wrote a post expressing my feelings about my grandfather’s death and sharing some of my favorite memories of him, and 208 people read it. For a small-time blogger like me the thought that 208 people came to my blog on a single day and, for a few moments, shared in my grief is absolutely unbelievable. Someday I hope to break that record, but for now I just say thank you for choosing that particular post to show that you’re here.

13,524 Views
Someday I hope to have the kind of blog that gets this number of views in a month, but for the time being I’m amazed to know that my blog has gotten this many views since it’s beginnings. As mentioned earlier I’ve had several webpages since I first started being allowed to roam the internet, and I’m quite certain that this number is the highest one I’ve ever seen for views on something of mine.

103 Blog Followers
I don’t count Twitter and Facebook followers in this stat because, let’s face it, most of my Facebook followers are family members, and most of my Twitter followers are fellow writers who may or may not have the time or care to bother with my blog. But on WordPress itself, the follow specifically meant for reading blogs, I have recently surpassed 100 followers. Again, someday I hope that my blog gets that many followers in a month, but given the relative infancy of my blog I’m amazed and gratified that more than 100 people have said to themselves, “Yeah, I want to keep an eye on this blog and read what the author posts.”

And so here we are, me and my 400 posts, my personal-record-breaking views, and my followers with their comments. It’s been an excellent run so far, and I hope it continues far, far into the future. Cheers!

The Most Vicious of Vicious Cycles

I have a confession to make.

I decided to take a day off from blogging today so that I could try and get some cleaning done. Our house is in a bit of a shambles, you see, and I hadn’t vacuumed since Niece was here on the weekend, and the cat’s puked in the basement again, so I thought since I had no blog posts planned in advance that I would take the day off and focus on the homestead instead.

And now I’m here telling you about it because I needed to get this out:

Cleaning sucks. It’s the most futile task known to adulthood, especially to an adult who has a toddler and two particularly idiotic cats. The second I clean up the cat puke, one of them decides to “go” outside their litter box. I vacuum my daughter’s bedroom and two minutes later she crumbles a cookie all over her floor. I throw in a load of laundry, and god help me, the stuff still waiting to go in the wash seems to multiply exponentially. For the love of puppies, I can literally see a new coat of dust appearing before I’m even finished wiping away the old dust.

And here’s the thing…even if I’m diligent, even if I forsake spare time, writing time, and playing with my daughter, and I work my ass off to get the house sparkling…by the time I get from one end of the house to the other, the first end has gotten dirty again. Between baby messes, evil cats, and no end of hair and fur on everything, there is just no way to get ahead. And that’s not even taking into account all the organizing and purging that needs to be done.

So with that said, I implore my fellow bloggers, writers, and the random other people reading this post:
How the hell do you do it? Help! HELP! I’m losing my freakin’ mind!!!!