#AtoZchallenge

Twilight, Arizona supernatural short stories

Lessons learned in the 2018 #AtoZChallenge

This year, I participated in the #AtoZChallenge for the second time. Last year, I jumped on the bandwagon days before it started and scrambled to post all twenty-six articles. In 2018 I approached #AtoZ as a project. Here are some lessons learned:

1. Lesson learned: Have a plan

Lessons learned in 2018 AtoZChallenge. www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

In 2017, in a panic, I wrote about what I knew—writing and book marketing. This time, I took an idea, the unexpected, unexplained antics of a bunch of retirees, and fleshed them into twenty-six stories. Characters crossed over into each other’s stories or reappeared from earlier stories. I strove to attain stories that could be read separately or as a collection.

2. Lesson learned: Start early

Part of my plan included a timeline. Lessons learned in 2017 taught me to allow plenty of time to write the stories. Starting in January, I wrote five stories every two weeks and shot them to my alpha reader for feedback. The last two weekends in March, I edited the stories, formatted them, added images, checked SEO, introductory matter, and ending matter, including links to previous posts. By April 2nd, the date of the first post, the posts were scheduled and ready to go live on their prospective dates.

3.Lesson learned:  Read, comment, share

Part of the fun (and challenge) of #AtoZ is to read as many other posts as possible by other participants. For the most part, I stuck with the #BlogchatterA2Z list. I didn’t visit every blog by every member (more than 60 listed per day) but I tried to spread out my reading time.

Comment. Commenting on each blog I visited validates the blogger’s time and effort. Be kind. Leave a comment.

How to use Facebook Groups to connect with customers

Sharing. Sharing other’s posts on social media is an objective and a perk to participating in the challenge. You might only have X followers, but someone sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and other venues might have XX followers. My Twitter followers increased by 50 in April.

4.Lesson learned:  Respond to comments on your blog

It’s common courtesy to thank your visitors for their comments. Even if they don’t check the box to see any further comments, others will see your answers and know you’re paying attention. Be human. Be nice. Thank your visitors. Make the answers personal.

5. Lesson learned: Promote your blogs

Remember the images I created in Step 1? I threw them into a file along with the one sentence teaser introducing each story. Every morning, I posted both onto my social media as well as theblogchatter.com page dedicated to the day’s posts. I also used scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to ensure the posts showed up later in the day.

I learned how to make an Adobe Spark video and posted it several times. Pretty proud of myself!

6. Lesson learned: Take advantage of the opportunity

At the conclusion of the challenge, #Blogchatter offers anyone a chance to turn their blogs into an ebook. (It doesn’t have to be the #AtoZ blogs, either. It can be any ebook). In exchange, #Blogchatter will answer questions, offer mentors, and guide writers through the process. They will host a free download of the book on their site for two months (the book cannot be offered through any other distributor) and they will promote it for you.

I took advantage of their offer in 2017. This year, because I did so much work upfront, I collected and published the collection on Amazon for 99¢

Twilight, Arizona supernatural short stories

See the bold phrase up above? Offer mentors? #Blogchatter asked if I would like to mentor this year’s ebook authors, guiding them through the process of publishing their works. Of course, I said yes!

On April 15th, I took part in #AMACarnival, a live Twitter chat, and answered questions from new writers.

On April 27th, I took part in a live Facebook chat.

I don’t know what the next few weeks will bring, but I’m excited about sharing what I know about writing and publishing with others. If only someone had been around back in 19XX when I started!

7. Lesson learned: Look to the future

Don’t be like millions of Americans who are surprised when Christmas rolls around each year and they don’t have any money saved. Look to the future. Toss around some ideas about what to write about in #AtoZChallenge2019.

I had a great time, read a bunch of amazing posts, and plan on being part of #AtoZChallenge2019. Thank you #BlogchatterA2Z and all your writers!

Blessings until my next post,

Cheryl

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Snowbirds. atozchallenge. www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

#AtoZChallenge April 21, 2018. Snowbirds

Snowbirds. atozchallenge. www.cherylsterlingbooks.comYear-round residents have an issue with one of their neighbor “snowbirds”.

AtoZChallenge

AtoZChallenge. www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

26 posts. 26 days. And 26 letters of the alphabet, one post beginning with each letter, in April.

Follow me as we visit the not-quite-normal retirement village of Twilight, Arizona, where reality clashes with the unexplained.

Snowbirds

Janice Delaney hated Tina Sparrow. Not hate-hate, like she wanted to stab her in the heart with a steak knife, but more like get-out-of-my-face-I-never-want-to-see-you-again.

The animosity between the neighbors stemmed from the cockroach incident. Tina’s condo had them. Janice’s, separated by a common wall, did not. The “bug man” sprayed on the first Friday of every month; the cost included in their HOA fees, but once the little buggers packed their bags and headed inside, the problem became the owner’s.

Tina took exception to the condo rules.

Continue reading Snowbirds #AtoZChallenge

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Recycle Wednesday. AtoZChallenge. www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

#AtoZChallenge April 20, 2018. Recycle Wednesday

Recycle Wednesday. AtoZChallenge. www.cherylsterlingbooks.comIn today’s post, Recycle Wednesday, one Twilight resident learns if in doubt, throw it out.

AtoZChallenge

AtoZChallenge. www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

26 posts. 26 days. And 26 letters of the alphabet, one post beginning with each letter, in April.

Follow me as we visit the not-quite-normal retirement village of Twilight, Arizona, where reality clashes with the unexplained.

Recycle Wednesday

“When is recycle day?”

Judy Frasier rolled her eyes. “Wednesday,” she shouted from the front of the house. Dear God, the man couldn’t remember anything. Birthdays, anniversaries—he’d forget Christmas if not for all the commercials.

“This Wednesday?” Russ asked, walking into the house with an empty plastic bag in his hands.

“The second and fourth Wednesday of every month, just like the HOA guidelines said when we moved in.” She would dig them out of the filing cabinet and shove them under his nose if she thought it would do any good.

He waved his hand in dismissal. “I’m too busy to keep track.”

Busy? Doing what? Golfing? Swimming in the pool at the rec center around the corner? Attending every estate sale in Twilight, Arizona and bringing home junk he either sold at a loss or she threw out?

Continue reading Recycle Wednesday #AtoZChallenge

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