Reflections From My First A to Z Challenge

 I did it! I survived my first A to Z Challenge for April 2016. I’ll admit I had second thoughts.

April is, traditionally, a very busy time of year for me. My youngest daughter’s birthday is the third week of April. Each year I travel to Washington DC to celebrate with her. Other life issues came up this April, as well, but I bit the bullet and said, “You can do it.”

I learned a lot of things and met some great people, but a few things stood out for me. Here are my reflections.

My Top 10 Reflections on the Challenge:

  1. Preparation is the key to success. The minute I committed to the challenge, I began planning my topics.
  2. Themes varied widely among participants, but everyone I was able to visit taught me something.
  3. Reciprocity leads to new friends, resources, and opportunities.
  4. Reading the blogs of some many people helps you hone in on the types of blogs that support your interest (whatever that may be).
  5. There are as many styles of writing as they are voices and new ideas abound – if you’re willing to explore.
  6. Expectations and deadlines are the perfect incentives to write.
  7. Writing on a daily basis improves your organization, planning, and skill.
  8. You can’t form a habit overnight but writing for 26 days straight will take you to the half way mark of establishing a solid writing habit. Read more about creating new habits here.

According to Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes, on average, 2 months for a new behavior to become a habit – 66 days to be exact. Tweet This.

 9. Blogging, reading, visiting, responding, and sharing is time-consuming and may limit the time you have available for other works in progress (WIP).
10. Balance is the key. Setting priorities, making a schedule and sticking to it, is a must.

The 2016 A to Z Challenge has been an extraordinary experience for me. Thank you to Arlee Bird for creating this adventure, the hosts, co-hosts and teams who made this journey so enjoyable and successful. Thank you.

I’d love to hear about your experiences. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, and Contently

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Zemanta- The easy Way to Share Related Content

Day 2 6: #AtoZchallenge

Yeah, we made it. Today is the last post of the #AtoZchallenge. It has been a wonderful experience. For the letter – Z– I want to share Zemanta with you.

Zemanta is a browser extension that once installed provides recommended links and photos as related content (posts). It will load automatically as you write, allowing you to click on the specific content you wish to share. Proper credit for the articles and photos are provided by default. Below is an example of a post on Blogging Tips and the related content pulled up by Zemanta.

Zemanta 2

The content will show at the bottom of your post in either title  format:

Related

 

 

 

or thumbnail format based on your preferences in the settings.

Related2

 

 

This extension saves time and gives increases your authority, promotes, links to other writer’s content and increases networking.

To download the extension, click on this link.

I hope you will try it out and let me know what you think. Again, it has been my pleasure to participate in the #AtoZChallenge and to have met each one of you. I look forward to a long and engaging relationship in the Cow Pasture.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, and Contently.

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Your Year in Review

Annual reportDay 25: #AtoZChallenge

WordPress does a phenomenal job keeping up with our blog stats. At the end of the year, they send you an annual report: Your Year in Review.

The report includes:

  1. Posting Patterns – including your longest blogging streak and your Best Day.
  2. Posts that received the most views.
  3. Top Referring sites.
  4. The total number and name of the countries visiting.
  5. The post receiving the most comments and who commented.

To improve your outreach, it’s important to review your stats on a regular basis.

Things you can discover to improve your blog’s performance:

  1. Who’s following and how long.
  2. Where referrals are generated.
  3. The most active keywords.
  4. Who’s leaving comments?
  5. The number of clicks.
  6. The number of visitors.
  7. The most popular day and time to post.
  8. The most popular posts and pages.
  9. The post receiving the most comments.
  10. Total Shares.

Want to see what the report looks like? Click here to see the Cow Pasture 2015 annual report.

So, what about you? Do you review your stats page? Do you use the information to improve your outreach? I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, and Contently.

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Xanthippe- Got a Bad Rap

 SpeakMind048ed91d06b0d844473848717d55cb60Day 24: #AtoZChallenge

I won’t lie; the letter X mystified me. I didn’t have a clue what to write – until I came across the word Xanthippe. What in the world is that, you ask?

Webster defines Xanthippe as an ill-tempered woman. She was also the wife of Socrates (5th-century bc ). Her allegedly bad-tempered behavior toward her husband made her the proverbial shrew.

I don’t know about you, but I’d wager Socrates had it coming. Can you imagine living with a Greek Philosopher? I’d be ill-tempered too.

Yep, we women can thank Socrates for creating the Socratic Method– “A form of cooperative, argumentative dialogue between individuals…”  R-i-g-h-t. I can’t think of a better way to spend my evening than having a cooperative, argument with my husband (Not).

I can see it now. What woman wouldn’t want her husband throwing questions at her, like darts, on the pretense of stimulating critical thinking?

Not only did Socrates find his wife disagreeable, but he didn’t like her looks either, referring to her as “undesirable.” This from a man described by Plato ( one of his students) as “short and stocky, with a snub nose and bulging eyes, which always seemed to be staring.” I hate people who stare!

Seriously? Are you still wondering why Xanthippe had a bad temper? Not me.

My guess is she didn’t like Socrates debates, and he didn’t like her answers. Too bad. He’s lucky she didn’t kill him and write him into a parchment novel. Women sure do get a bad rap.

“By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher” Socrates. Tweet This.

Yeah, if you ask me, old Socrates had it coming.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, and Contently.

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Word Counts

Day 23: #AtoZChallenge  

WORD COUNTSOne of the most frequent questions asked by writers is : “What is an acceptable word count for  _________” (fill in the blank). Most magazines, contests, or websites will define the type of fiction they’re looking for and the required word count or word limit. In my research, I found a number of sites with slightly different word counts, but all were generally within these limits.

Basic fiction classification and the associated word counts:

  1. Flash Fiction – under 500 but some accept up to 1000.
  2. Historical Fiction – 90,000-100,000.
  3. Literary –  80,000-120,000.
  4. Memoir – 80,000 – 90,000.
  5. Middle Grade Fiction – 25,000 -40,000.
  6. Mystery, Thrillers & Crime – 70,000 -90,000.
  7. Novella – 10,000 – 40,000.
  8. Novelette – 7,550 – 17,500.
  9. Picture Books – standard 32 pages (500-600 words).
  10. Romance Fiction– 50,000 – 100,000.
  11. Science fiction & Fantasy – 90,000 -120,000.
  12. Short Story – typically between 1,000 – 8,000.
  13. Women’s Fiction as low as 70,000. Standard is around 80,000.
  14. Young Adult Fiction – 50,000 -70,000.

Remember, it’s recommended not to rely on your software program for an accurate word count, especially when words are limited as in a contest.

Shortcut for determining word count: Change document to Courier with one-inch margins, count the number of pages, multiply by 250. This is the adjusted number of words in your manuscript.

Want more info on word Counts? Check out these resources:

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, and Contently.

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