This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Challenge Has Officially Begun!

        Yes, the posting from A to Z has already started.  Remember that it is already April 1st in places like Australia and New Zealand.   Keep your eyes on your Google Reader or however else you keep track of blogs to see the posts as they go up.  I've already gotten a headstart on some of the A entries.

       This morning I was briefly on the Dennis and Judi talk radio show on New Jersey 101.5 FM and was able to give a plug to the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Within minutes afterward I received comments on my previous post and there was a surge of sign ups from New Jersey.  I thank my daughter Ada, who lives in New Jersey, for letting me know that blogging was the topic on the show so I was able to call in and let listeners know about the Challenge.  And I want to welcome our new A to Z-ers from the Garden State.

         Now back to visiting blogs.  I'll be back when April 1st arrives here in California. 



        A couple more things have come to my attention.  I know they've been mentioned elsewhere, but I thought I'd give it one more mention before we start A-to-Z'ing.

        Make sure that there is a link back to your blog if you follow or leave a comment.  If you just click "Follow" without leaving a comment that you've done so, I may not notice.  And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

       Any more, if someone new follows my blog, I usually don't click on the icon in order to follow back because most of the time there is no link.  Don't ask me why or how to fix this because I don't know.  Maybe someone reading this does know and can explain it. 

          One thing you can do when you leave a comment is leave the URL for your blog so readers can bypass your profile and go right to your blog.  One way to do this is to use a signature on your comment that includes the HTML tag form of your blog name and address.    For example, after I leave a comment I will usually will copy and then paste this signature:
Tossing It Out
         Sometimes I may change the address and blog title to reflect a particular blog post or a special message.  The bottom line is that the comment recipient or other readers can easily link to my blog page without clicking on my name and having to go through the profile. 

           Get rid of the surprise word verification if you have it.  I'm still going to sites of A to Z participants and leaving a comment only to find that CAPTCHA box pop up and pages slowly reloading and hopping around.  It really wastes time and sometimes causes lost comments.  If you haven't seen a lot of comments on your site then maybe you need to check to see how easy or difficult it is to leave a comment.
          Another hindrance can be some of the non-Blogger sites such as some of the Wordpress sites, other blog hosting sites, sites with Disqus or some other moderation filter, or blogs formatted in more uncommonly used ways.   I have gone to some sites where I've wasted several minutes trying to figure out how to leave a comment and evenually get frustrated and leave.  Once again, if you've been leaving lots of comments on other blogs but never seem to get any or many on your own site, then maybe you need to see if there is any problem with leaving a comment on your site.  Especially if you don't show any email it may be that no one will ever be able to contact you to let you know that there is a problem.


       These are just a few frustrating things I encountered on Wednesday as I made a concentrated effort to see how many blogs I could get through during the day.   I thought it was worth this special post in hopes that a few of these problems might be cleaned up.

        Oh, and in case you're wondering, I don't know the exact number, but I passed the 100 mark in visiting and commenting.  It took about 6 to 7 hours to do it.  If I had a faster computer I might have doubled my visits.  It can be done, but it takes time.

        Have a happy A to Z challenge!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Plan of Attacking the Challenge

          Some of you have your strategies in place for the April Challenge.  That's great!   To have an organized plan of posting, visiting, and commenting should be of great help in making the Challenge less daunting and more efficiently approached.

          On the other hand, those of you who plan to just dive in and write as you go and visit blogs as whim takes you will undoubtedly have fun and find the Challenge full of surprises.  There's nothing wrong with that approach either.

           It comes down to what kind of adventurer you are.  Perhaps you study the maps so you'll have a good idea where you are going and you pack your supplies so you'll be ready for just about anything you may encounter.  Or maybe you just traipse into the wilderness, machete in hand, hacking your way through the undergrowth and surviving off the land and from what the inhabitants in the unknown territories have to offer you.   Be assured that in this Challenge the natives are friendly and the adventures are many.

 My Challenge Strategy

         I have formulated a plan for April.  I won't be held to this plan--we all know about how the best laid plans can go.   From my experience with last year's Challenge and with other blog events I think I've learned a few things about approaching something like this.  But of course I've never participated in a blog event as massive as this year's A to Z Challenge.  Any of my plans are subject to change.

   Here are my visiting "rules" for this year:

1.)      I will probably only respond to comments that call for a response. Otherwise I will leave blanket thank you notes for all the "nice post" and other complimentary comments.

2.)      I am going to try to visit all who leave comments on my blog and if there are too many then I will limit my visits to blogs that I am less familiar with or who have left me an especially impressive comment that has drawn me to them.

3.)        I am going to use the Navigation buttons that Marcus at Writing Investigated created.   At the top of my sidebar you will notice the "Next Blog" and "Surprise Me" buttons.  I am finding these to work quite well so far.  To read more about this follow the link below the buttons.  I will try to visit at least 10 to 40 sites per day with this button system.

4.       I may also check out posts that appear on my sidebar or my Google Dashboard that sound especially interesting whenever I have time.

5.)     I'm going to attempt to visit 40 to 100 blogs per day.

      Here is my plan for posting:

1.)       I am trying to preschedule as many posts as I can before this Friday April 1st.

2.)       My theme will be "Alliterative Daily Doubles" with each day's post based on paired words beginning with the letter of the day.  For example, Friday's post is going to be "Ambitious April" in honor of the kick-off day. 
3.)       The subject matter and style of the posts will be random and varied.

4.)        I currently do not plan to do any motivational posts regarding the Challenge.  This could change just as it did last year when I revised some of my topics in order to cheer on Challenge participants.

A Few Closing Thoughts

           Don't forget-- the Challenge is yours.   You have your reasons for doing this, so I encourage you to stay true to yourself and what you hope to achieve.  At the same time don't forget to be courteous to your fellow bloggers.  Try to be fair in your visitation and comments.    And if you believe in the creed of following other blogs and wanting them to follow yours--do so.  Just remember that not all blog owners care about the follow, so respect that.  Be in this for you and for others as well.  We all want this Challenge to be a rewarding experience.

             Finally, I am going to give a plug for a blogger on the list who has a special circumstance.  The Saga of the Concrete Jungle is #525 on the Linky list.  Dan, the owner of this blog, is a prisoner who does not have access to a computer.  He has sent all of his posts for April to his sister, who regularly posts for him.  My understanding is that his posts for the Challenge will be a serialized story themed in accordance with the alphabet challenge.  Dan is unable to respond immediately to comments on his blog due to his circumstance, but he eventually does respond.   If you visit him and leave a comment, be sure to subscribe to the comments so you can see his responses down the road.   And realize that as much as he'd like to visit all of your blogs, this is not possible.    So if you're willing, check out his first couple of posts and see if it's something you'll want to stick with till the end.

              In parting, I wish all of you the best blogging event you've ever had as you head into the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge of 2011.   Let me or any of the other co-hosts know if you have any comments, questions, or problems concerning the Challenge and we'll do our best to address them.  Now let the fun begin!

          Have you devised a Challenge strategy for yourself?   

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Final Countdown

         This is it folks!  This is the week that the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2011 begins.  This past weekend I've watched as sign-ups for the Challenge surge toward the 700 mark.  Does anyone want to give us an 800?  Do I hear 1000?  You know at this point at the rate we're going it's very possible.

          There have been some great posts with tips on how best to approach the Challenge and ideas on how to make the experience easiest for all of us.  Please consider some of these great suggestions that others are making, and if you're doing something that you haven't seen anyone else mention please let the rest of us know.  Watch the blogs of all of my co-hosts this week for any other last minute ideas or words of encouragement.

          Soon we'll see who has what it takes to finish the Challenge honorably.  From last year's experience I think it will be most of you. 

          Some of the blogs signed up may have no intent in participating or will have decided to drop out for some reason--this is the nature of any blog event on this scale.  If you happen to run across a blog that is not actually participating in the Challenge or is only added to the list for show, please let me know so I can contact that blogger first to see what's happening, and if necessary drop them from the list.  We don't want any of us to be wasting our time clicking on blogs that have misrepresented themselves as part of the Challenge--I hope there are none like that.

           Also, let me remind you to follow blogs that you are not yet following.  No blog should end this Challenge without having at least 100 followers.   For those of us who already have a large number of followers this may not be such a major thing, but to those new blogs with only 5, 10,  or 25 followers, to reach 100 would be major for them.  Remember when you were just starting out?  Believe me, I will never forget.      

            Some of you have sent me some great ideas on how to make the Challenge better.  I truly appreciate these innovative ideas and I hope you will keep them coming.   For most of these suggestions it is too late to act upon them, but I will be definitely keeping some of these in mind for next year.

             Whoa!  Did I say next year?  Have I gone mad?  From the looks of things this year, the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge of 2012 will be massive with more improvements to make it even better.  But first things first--this Friday is April 1 with 25 more days of blogging to follow.  Have fun!

            Are you ready for the start of the Challenge?   Do you have any ideas that might make the Challenge easier for others?   Do you have any plans to post anything special this week about the Challenge?

Nicki Elson scored another online news article.   This one surprised me as it popped up on my "Google Alerts".  Thank you Nicki.   Check out the link.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Let's Take a Breather....

Let's kick back!

          After a couple of heady high-falootin' topics earlier in the week I think it's time to just slow down and relax today here on Tossing It Out.  I want to thank everyone for not only the great discussion here on this blog, but also the discussion that carried over on some of the other blogs.  I guess it just goes to show you that the topics of followers and  just doing the A to Z Challenge are topics that many of us are still thinking about.

           In between other activities I've been trying to get the press releases out to the media.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to devote much quality time to writing up the releases and making contacts, but I believe I should be having some things come out.  This is a project that I'll have to start on earlier next year.

          I mean really!  Is April 1 coming quickly or what?  It's next Friday folks!  And now I'm thinking I'm not as ready as I'd hoped I'd be, but not to worry I'm sure we'll all manage.

stuff and other stuff

            So speaking of followers, I've run across some of our participants who still only have a handful of followers.  Here's a new challenge:  If any of you reading this have the same follower philosophy as I do (try to get a bunch of them) would you please try to find at least five new blogs from the A to Z list to follow this weekend.  If you can do five a day between now and next Friday that would be even better.  Let's give some of our fellow bloggers a boost. 

            And so before the Challenge starts I have a couple of awards I need to get out of the way.  I also still have a few lost among my emails.  I'll have to get to those later.  But I'll take care of these two and you can start on my follow-a-new-blog challenge by following the blogs that I pass the awards to as well as those who gave me the awards.   I will be drawing from my commenters of this week.

One Lovely Blog Award

From MysteriousRose at MysteriousBooks comes this One Lovely Blog Award.

What do to when receiving this award:

1)  Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link (okay, that's done--thanks again Mysterious Rose).

2)  Pass the award to 15  3 other blogs that you've newly discovered (I'm going to reduce the number to save time)

3)  Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award (I hope I remember).

I'm going to pass this first award to:

Angeline Trevena / Fantasy and Horror Writer

Lisa  Vooght at Flash Fiction

L.G. Smith at Bards and Prophets

Memetastic Award

           Sandi at That's Ahh Some! passed me the Certified to Lie Memetastic Award where I'm supposed to tell 3 lies and 1 truth and you're supposed to guess which one is true.   But then I received the same award from Liz at 8-Bit Words except that hers is an Allowed to Tell One Lie Award (okay I made that up) where I tell four truths and one lie.  Now I don't know how this divergence occurred in the life of the award, but I guess it leaves me to choose which way I want to go with this.

          Hmmm--- I don't like to lie, but I am a storyteller so I guess they're not really lies are they.  So here's the deal.  I'll tell mostly "stories".  Can you guess which of the following is true?  

Wait!:  there is only one story tonight and it is true.  My computer slowed down so bad tonight that I'm not going to get around to any story telling.  I'm going to go to bed instead.  But I'll still get the award passed on and the recipients can tell their stories if they like.

Once again I'm going to pass this on to, not 5 like suggested, but  3 more bloggers just to save some time.

dafeenah a Journey of Self Discovery

Sand Castles and Snow Forts

Julie at What Else is Possible?

So I'm done.  Not going to proofread or anything else.  Done.  Finshed.  Soon to be asleep.  That's what I get for waiting so late to do this.

Follow some new blogs--make some new friends!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here We Go Again!

            Yes, I know its been done many times by many bloggers and you may even be one of them.  I know I've covered the topic of following more than once and now I'm going to do it one more time.  I just want to clarify where I stand on the issue.

            On Monday I alluded to a fine post by Jeffrey Beesler on the topic of following as in doing something because others were doing it.   The comments on this older post of Jeffrey's reopened and I noticed this comment from Michele Gregory of Beautiful Chaos:

i'm a crowd follower too, but am trying to change that. i'm cheating at this - doing all my posts ahead of time, and i know i can't get to every blog. i can barely get to the blogs i follow now. on top of that, it feels fake to follow a blogger just to get a blogger to follow me. i should probably do a post about that. or maybe not.   (I've added the underlining to emphasize my topic for today.)
         I asked Michele if I could quote her in this post.  She responded with this clarification:  
 no problem. it's the topic that i think of most when i hit the follower button. i want to be genuine in all my interactions with people and though i follow because i think a blogger has said something that resonates with me (as in i don't just hit the button to get someone to my blog), i know my chances of getting back to that blog to comment or read is iffy at best. i have a few i always read no matter what, some that interest me sometimes, and others i wonder if i should stop following because now i'm not interested and my time is limited.

on the other side, i've met some really great bloggers because i followed them or they followed me - you, Kristie Cook, Lisa Yarde, Alex Cavanaugh and others. i might have missed those friendships if i hadn't followed their blogs. i don't think there are any easy answers. and i do want people to follow me because i try to be encouraging, etc. it's not so much about promoting my books as it is to give readers a lift. i know that i have to follow and comment to get people to come so they'll read those posts.

not sure if any of that makes sense, but there you go. and you can quote this response too if you'd like.

           What Michele's said does make sense and I want to thank Michele for allowing me to quote her because she expresses concerns that many of us think about.   In the list below I want to try to clarify my personal opinion, philosophy, rule, or whatever you'd call it concerning the multiple definitions of "following"

1.     I want to have a large "following", that is number of followers to my blog.  With this comes the understanding that not all of the followers will always be readers.  The numbers are mostly for show, but also for that possibility that a non-regular reader might occasionally come back to check out what's happening on my blog.   A large following looks good to most people (including agents or any professionals wanting to see something about my platform).

2.     I believe in the reciprocation of the follow.  Whenever I can I will follow back anyone who follows my blog.   It always helps if when someone follows my blog, they let me know in a comment so it is obvious to me.   Silently following me does not guarantee a follow back.   I want to be told.

3.     There is no limit for me as to the number of blogs I will follow, but no matter if I'm following 200 or 20,000 blogs, I will not be "following" the majority of these in the sense of reading them on a regular basis.  I will prioritize according to the commenters on my blog first, and then the ones that happen to catch my interest.

4.   If the follow has to do with reciprocation then I don't think there is anything fake about it.  I believe it is a ritualistic blog act that is often found associated with blogfests and "follow days".   When most of us hit the follow button I think we know that there is no guarantee of a close, lasting, on-going relationship.  It can develop, but it is something that relies on mutual interests and goals.

5.   I will unfollow only if a blogger is rude, crude, or is in such extreme opposition to my values that it might hurt my reputation if anyone knew I was following that blog.   That has happened very few times.

6.   I tend to be wary of those bloggers who invite me to follow their blogs as though they are in some way so special that they never have to visit or follow anyone else's blogs.  Unless the content of that blog is so utterly amazing that I am compelled to stay, I will unfollow them eventually if I have happened to follow from their original invitation.  Those bloggers do strike me as fake and not at all interested in any mutually beneficial relationships.

7.  I only hit the follower button if I feel that there might be a possibility of some future blogging relationship, even if it seems remote at the time.  There have been blogs that I have followed that initially seemed of little interest to me, but there was something there that spoke to the future.  The act of following may amount to nothing in the long run or it might eventually blossom into something special in the future.  It's like a business adding people to a mailing list.  Not everyone will become a customer, but maybe someday they will.

            Those are some of my rules about following.  The main thing is to distinguish between the ceremonial ritual of following as in collecting numbers of little portraits, the building of an actual list of potential blogs to visit, and the literal act of following as in reading blog posts.   I wish Blogger had come up with a different term than "followers".

           On Monday I passed 700 followers and currently the sign-ups for A to Z are most certainly destined to go past the 600 mark.  That's a lot of blogs that neither you nor I will ever be able to visit on a daily basis.  I don't think anyone has been fooled into thinking otherwise.   Just like the local library has more books than I'll ever be able to read in a lifetime--but it's nice to know that they're all available just in case there happens to be one I'm looking for.

            Have fun blogging.   And enjoy the treasure hunt.
            What are your blogging rules?   Are there any of mine that are still unclear or that you disagree with?


Monday, March 21, 2011

Why Would I Want To Do That?

The Big Question

          I'm sure many bloggers look at the A to Z Challenge and ask themselves, "Why would I want to do that?"   In fact, some of you who have signed up already may be having second thoughts and asking the same question.   You might as well be asking yourself the question, "Why do I want to blog?" or perhaps even, "Why do I want to write?"

          The last two questions I have seen frequently asked in the blog posts of others.  It's easy to question our actions when we are tired or frustrated or just unsure what our efforts bring us. And yet we persist from whatever inner motive drives us onward.  So in answer to the "Why" question about the A to Z Challenge we might just as well ask, "Why not?".

Another Take On It

          Jeffrey Beesler's World of the Scribe addressed some very genuine concerns about participating in a blog event like the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.   It's interesting to see the varied reasons why people don't want to participate or do want to participate.  I left a reply to Jeffrey's post.

My reply to Jeffery's post:
This is a great post, Jeffrey.
You, Summer, and Bryan have all made excellent points that illustrate the way I see the Challenge. The comparison to NaNo is a good one. Blogging from A to Z is a personal challenge--it has different meaning and purpose to each participant. The best thing about a Challenge of this nature is that it allows us to make whatever connections we want--with ourselves and our own abilities, bloggers with similar interests, the blogging community in general, etc. The reasons for doing it are as varied as the bloggers participating.

The main thing is to have a good time and get what you need from it. Stressing or self-deprecation is not a good thing for anyone to do, so I hope the Challenge doesn't have this affect on anyone.

 I know a lot of other bloggers have reservations about participating because of some of the things you mention.

Love posts like these that stimulate thought. That's what blogging should be in my world.

Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011
February 2, 2011 9:03 AM


Some Additional Points Of View
The Words Crafter from The Rainy Day Wanderer has a post which reviews some things we should remember during April and offers some new suggestions that I do not recall having seen before.  Her post is worth checking out.

Be sure to also check out the post by Nicki Elson where she will be delving a bit more into the subject of self-promotion through the press in her whimsically titled blog bit called Self-Promotion Sucks.  I think it will be worth your time since it comes from the voice of experience.

Marcus from Writing Investigated has an interesting A to Z navigation badge that some of you may want to check out.   See his post about it and you can direct any questions to him about this.

How About You?
Is there any news from any of you?   Anybody get press coverage yet besides Nicki?   Any major werewolf events after this past week-end's Supermoon?


Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Story Should I Tell?

This is the final part of a five part series on promoting in the media.  If you have not yet read the earlier segments, you can find them here:

Part 1 --  The Media Challenge
Part 2  --Why you should promote yourself?
Part 3 -- An easy way to get press coverage 
Part 4 -- What is a press release?

The Story Is You!

         This is the last in the series about getting press coverage (it's about time some of you may be thinking).  Once I got started on the topic though I began to realize that this is a very important topic for any of us who have, or expect to one day have, something to promote.  Even if we have someone doing our promotion for us, it's still not a bad idea to know the ins and outs of how publicity works.

         The promotion challenge that I extended a few posts ago was to try to get something in the media telling about the A to Z Challenge and what your role in the Challenge is.   Blogging from A to Z can be looked at as an international story since hundreds of bloggers from over twenty countries are participating.  Every one of you represent a link in a chain of interconnecting communication that extends around the globe.  In my eyes that can be seen as a story that is news.

         A story can certainly be written from the international perspective, however I am suggesting that if you choose to try my publicity challenge that you make the story about you.  You are a part of this larger challenge that is in its second year and has grown five-fold so far.  Think big!  And in the process see yourself as someone who has a story to tell.

What is your story?

       Each of you has a unique story to tell about who you are and what you do.  Your ulterior motive should be to gain a foothold in your future, or if you already have something to promote, in the present.  Your story should have a broad appeal that speaks to many.    In other words, it's not just about your book or whatever you are promoting, but also about how you are connected to your world and to those who read your story.

         In the context of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge of 2011, let me offer some of the following ideas that you could apply to your own blogging story:

1)   Your personal journey--the story of your book, product, blog, or what have you and how you will tie it in to the A to Z Challenge.   If you did the Challenge last year, how did it affect you?  Where are you going in the future?  This is a human interest story.

2)   Your art and your life as an artist -- Yvonne from Welcome to My World of Poetry  or Vinay from I Rhyme Without Reason  both gave us a poem everyday of the challenge last year and will be doing the same this year.  Others of you may be presenting your arts or crafts.  We are all artists in some form or another.  Perhaps this can be part of your story--your creations presented on the world stage via the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

3)  Your cause or charity -- Perhaps you might be blogging in April using topics related to a charity or a health issue.  Something like this can offer great opportunities for publicity.  For example, if you were planning a series of articles about "Diabetes from A to Z" you might contact the local branch of a Diabetes Awareness group.  You could let them know what you plan to do, get their endorsement, and maybe some quotes from a spokesperson and put it all in a press release.  This approach could be taken with any group that has a cause to promote.

4)   Your knowledge or expertise -- If you are going to do your A to Z series on a particular field of knowledge such as science, social studies, literature, etc, you might arrange to give a presentation to a school class, at a library, or to some other group about your field of knowledge. Notify the paper about this and tell your blogging story as part of the news release about the presentation you have given or are scheduled to give.

5)  Your ties with the community -- Are you going to blog about the area where you live--the history, the people, the sights?  Ally yourself with a local museum, chamber of commerce, tourist bureau, or another local group and get some publicity for the A to Z Challenge tied in with the group you are with.

6)  Book, music, or other reviews --  Contact the entertainment editor of the local paper or find some of those free entertainment publications that you often see outside of restaurants, music stores, etc and try to get a story about your month of reviews.  Who knows--you might end up with a job reviewing. 

Use Your Imagination!

        Above, I have offered just a few ideas to stimulate your thinking.  In a publicity story you need to find that which is unique to you and how you integrate your uniqueness into your community.  Ask yourself what makes you special, what your unique talents are, and why people would be interested in your talents.   Then you want to tell where and when readers can find out more about you, which in this case is the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April.

        If your story is written in an intriguing manner and tells a good story, readers will be interested in you and in the Challenge.   With the publication of an article you will have expanded your presence in the public eye.  Done right, your story will leave the readers wanting more and the next time they hear your name they might remember it.

Seeing Is Believing!

        I have put forth the challenge and we have the first article.   The amazing Nicki Elson, author of the novel Three Daves, got her first article on an online news site affiliated with the Chicago Tribune and you've got to read it cause it's darn good. 
Check it out:   Nicki's news story

        As you can see Nicki did it right.  She got information about herself, her book, and the A to Z Challenge all tied together in the story.   And her topics for April sound pretty cool too!  So let's give Nicki a big hand and then drop by her blog, follow her, and let her know what you thought of her article.   She hasn't stopped there either--she said she will be submitting the press release to other papers in the Chicago area including print media.

       Nicki's story is proof that it can be done.  Now who's next--we're anxious to read your stories.


If you've been trying to figure out what to write about in April, be sure to check out Jeffrey Beesler's World of the Scribe today (3/17).   He will be offering some ideas about picking a topic--a helpful post not only for the A to Z Challenge, but for anytime.

Tomorrow (3/18) on Jen Daiker's blog Nicki Elson will be a featured guest.  If you missed Jen's post on Monday she had some A to Z tips that might be of help to you.

Also tomorrow Alex J Cavanaugh will be delivering another interesting post with tips for the A to Z Challenge.

Oh, and in case you didn't notice, last night we hit 500 participants signed up to the Challenge.  That magic entry was submitted by L..Diane Wolf at Spunk on a Stick.  Drop by and tell her hello and while you're at it check out her Monday post, Finding and Pitching to the Media--WHAT A GREAT POST!  This is the perfect accompaniment to what I've been talking about this week.  She provides some super useful links so do not miss this post.

Happy St Patrick's Day!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Press Release

Recap:  If you've been following this series on promotion you may want to scroll down to the next section "What is a Press Release?"

             Today we go a bit deeper into the topic of press releases.  What has turned into a topic series began with a challenge to the Blogging from A to Z participants.   I am encouraging all of you to try to get a story about the A to Z Challenge published in your local paper or some other special paper or newsletter, receive coverage on the airwaves (radio or television), get mentioned on an internet news or information site, and/or wherever else you can come up with.  In other words, I'd like to see our efforts get greater recognition.  I will post any efforts where you have been successful on my blog and may even give you an opportunity to do a guest post on Tossing It Out.

            Next, we talked about the reasons why you would be interested in getting press coverage for A to Z and how getting press can help you and whatever it is you are trying to do.   This post examines what news is and how you can spin your own story in order to make it news.   There is a sample press release included on this post.

              Then yesterday, we talked about getting press by talking to the right people.  This is often the easiest way since you might not even have to write anything to submit to the paper.  You've just got to make the right contacts to help you receive the coverage you need.  I gave some examples in that post.

              If you think that you will ever need to promote yourself or even if not, I encourage you to go back to these posts and read them.   Self-promotion is essential to the success of anyone who doesn't have a publicity machine behind us--and that is most of us.

What Is a Press Release?            

        A press release is an announcement of anything that someone wants to be made public by the media.   It can announce events, relationships, or the release of a new product.  Using the example of an author this could include a public appearance at a local venue, getting a contract with a major publisher, or the release of a new book.  The press release might be a combination of the above.  It can apply to anybody in any situation they deem might be of interest to some segment of the population.

         Press releases are used by individuals, businesses, organizations, or any entity that wants what they wish to convey to be treated as newsworthy.   In order to be deemed newsworthy it should have some special significance.   If you have self-published a book, the newsworthiness might not be as strong as having published the book, then appearing at the local library where a minor local celebrity will be introducing you.   You want to pack as much relevant content into the release without cluttering it with non-essential information.

       The press release should follow the standards of any news story in answering the questions of who, what, when, where, and why.   The story should be well-written with good grammatical style.  My suggestion would be to read some informational announcements in the paper and see how they are written.   A good place to find these articles is in the business, entertainment, or community news sections of the paper.   You will begin to identify a particular style of writing and presentation in articles based on a press release.

How should a press release be prepared?

        Typically a standard informational press release will be written tersely in a straight-forward manner.  If you are writing a press release you are probably better off to avoid too much creative writing and stick to reporting.  This is not to say a creatively written piece won't be accepted, but it's better to save that until  you've talked to someone beforehand and they've invited you to write one.   Often if the story is considered of enough interest, the press media will have a reporter get more info and they will embellish the story into a feature.

        It's usually very important to follow the standard rules of formatting your release.  My advice is to do a Google search for terms like "press release format" or "press release template".   A search engine will provide you with many sites that will give you the proper way to format your article for submission.

What do I do with my press release when it is ready?

         Once you've gotten your press release written, contact the places you want to send it to either via in-person visit, email, or phone.   It's a good idea to actually find out the name of the person to whom the press release should be delivered and directly communicate with that person.   You can start with the local papers.  The contact lists are usually somewhere in the front pages or on the editorial page of the paper.  I've found that now it's even better to see if the paper has a website.  The website will usually have the names of who is responsible for what and explicit information on how to submit your story.

Some real-life examples

            Now for some specific examples taken from my past experience:   For many years I managed a touring theatrical production.  Like any author or business should have, we had a press kit that was sent to whoever was promoting the show before we arrived.  The kit included 3 to 4 generic fill-in-the-blank stories that could be submitted to the local paper and radio or television stations.  Every town we visited had the same generic stories to use and the person submitting them would merely copy the stories and fill in the blanks for time, place, and name of sponsor.  The paper or media source would use them as they received them or rewrite them to be more entertaining.

           All of the examples I am using are from the 1979 tour of The Magic of Cinderella performed by "The World of Fantasy Players".  First here are two examples of stories that were put in the paper exactly as submitted according to our press release script:

Generic press release stories
click on image to enlarge

Including Photographs

           Also included in the press packet was a sheet of 4 photographs depicting scenes from the production.  These were publicity photos staged prior to the tour and taken by a professional photographer.  It is always preferable to include a photo in any press release because it attracts more attention.  If you are sending out a press release about the A to Z Challenge and including something about yourself in the story,  you should include a photo of yourself.  

           But going back to our show--sometimes the paper would use a photo and include a very condensed version of the press release to use as a caption.  Photo with press release info condensed into caption is shown below:

Publicity photo with portion of press release used in caption
click photo to enlarge

The Biggest Coup of All!

            One of the best things that can happen is that you score not only the press release story, but also an accompanying photo.   Beyond that, a feature story inspired by your submitted press release with a special photo spread is the ultimate goal.  This is very achievable if you've put the right spin on the story and made yourself accessible for an interview.  That's when you can really self-promote. 

              Below you can see where the paper has used the complete press release story and included a publicity photo (the guard in the funny hat and the beard is me):

Complete press release with publicity photo

A Final Thought for You

          I keep hearing hints from some of you that you don't feel comfortable self-promoting.  My question is "Why?".   Don't think of it as bragging or anything like that.   Believe in yourself and what you have to offer.  Then be ready and willing to share it with the world.   If you have a book or some product that you want people to buy, then you need to have total confidence and believe that people need what you have.  If you are at that level of thinking, it shouldn't take much more to be excited about wanting to tell others about it. 

          If it's rejection you are afraid of then get over it.  You've already been rejected plenty in your life and there will be more rejection to come.  Get over it and just keep pressing forward.  If you've got some big things coming up that you fear may be rejected, like book queries and the like, trying to get some press on how you are participating in the A to Z Challenge and how other bloggers might like to join us should be small potatoes.   If you've put together your press release the right way, your press release shouldn't be rejected and even if it is you haven't lost anything over it.  You will have overcome some fear and that should help you in the things you do in the future.

        Just try it to see if you can do it.  I'm anxious to hear some of your stories about what you encountered.  If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.   One of the reasons I've been stretching this story out into this series is that I've had more direct emails regarding this than for anything else that has appeared previously on my blog.  A lot of you are interested in this topic of promotion and for good reason.  I'm looking forward to seeing some of the stories you get in the public eye.

         Tomorrow I'll conclude the series with some examples of how to spin your story to make it more interesting to the reading audience. 

         Have you tried writing a press release yet?   Have you made any attempts at submitting a story? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Easier Way to Get a News Story

Reaching the Right Person

            Recently I've put forth some new challenges and discussed promoting yourself through the media.  If you haven't read these two posts yet, you might want to go back to look at these if you are interested in promoting yourself and your products.

             I realize that the concept of writing a press release and getting to a media contact may sound intimidating to some.   In my next post I will return to the topic of the press release, however today I'd like to look at a method that is in reality easier once you've made the right media contact.

             Take a look at the opening lines of a story by noted sports news writer Ted Riggs that appeared in the Sunday February 5, 1967 edition of The Knoxville News-Sentinel:
LEE JACKSON, 16, finds football about as exciting as a game of Chinese Checkers.

             He is just mildly interested in baseball and has a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward basketball.

              Lee, an Everett High sophomore, delights in watching television but is nothing more than a casual viewer of sports events.  He prefers comedy and mystery programs.

              Would you believe, then, that Lee Jackson has quicker hands, sharper reflexes and better balance than most first-rate high school athletes?
          You can read the rest of the story in the clipping below.   The person of whom the writer is speaking is yours truly (yes, Arlee Bird is a pseudonym and one day I'll tell that story).  Why did this reporter interview me and my family?   It's because my father talked to someone at the newspaper about us and suggested that they might want to do a story.  My dad was always trying to get our name in the paper because he wanted to promote our juggling act.  He wasn't at all shy about self-promoting to newspapers, television, or wherever he might get our name mentioned.   It's part of the business of entertainment.

click image to enlarge
              My dad just called the Knoxville paper and told them he had a story for them.  After they heard his pitch they apparently decided this would be a good story for the sports pages since the local sports scene was slower in February and they were always looking for something to fill the pages during the lull in the season.  They gave the story to award winning sports reporter Ted Riggs, who was known for his ability to be able to put a unique spin on any story.   And that he did.  That story gained me a bit of a reputation at school and got our family name out in the local scene, where we had recently relocated to six months earlier.

           Shortly after my father made his pitch, Mr. Riggs drove the twenty miles to our house and brought along with him the noted photographer Bill Dye.  Not only had we scored the coup of a story in the newspaper, we were going to get the added bonus of an accompanying photo (as seen below).   A photo almost always guarantees that readers will be more drawn to a story.

The extra added bonus of a photo
Click on image to enlarge
            My father did this often.  He would walk into a newspaper office, call them, or snag a press person he met at an event and tell them about the great news story that he had for them and more often than not he'd get a story in the paper.  He didn't have to write a word.  He would just make the story known and then talk to the reporter who would write the story for him

I'm Not Like That!  I Don't Have the Nerve!

           I realize not everyone has the chutzpa to just walk up to somebody and start promoting themself.  You may feel a little shy or embarrassed about doing this.  So why not get somebody to do it for you?  I'll bet your mother, spouse, kids, or some other friend or relative would be willing to do it.  Let someone who's gutsy who cares about helping you know what you'd like to do and I'm sure you can find somebody to help.

         You can also ask someone who has experience submitting press information.   Think of someone at your church, in the local PTA, in an organization you are part of, on your kid's sports team, or what have you.  Most organizations put someone in charge of submitting announcements or other news.  Ask that person how they go about it and who they contact.  They might even be willing to go with you and introduce you to their contact.  

          Some of you may even know someone who works for a newspaper or radio or television station.  Or maybe you know someone who knows one of these people.  You can start anywhere--even the person who delivers your paper. 

            Back when I was managing a touring stage show I was looking for an actress to play the lead in a production of Snow White.   The female lead that I had hired dropped out at the last minute and rehearsals were due to start in a couple of weeks.   I was at home in Tennessee on a break before we were to start.
In desperation I put an ad in the local newspaper for a week advertising the job opening.  When the ad appeared a light bulb came on in my head about a story for the paper and my search for "Snow White".

           I went back to the newspaper office and asked the lady who had sold me the ad space if she could help me get a story in the paper.  She was agreeable, but asked if I could write one.  Having thought ahead of time, I handed the story over to her.   The next day the following story appeared in the paper just as I had written it:  A few days later I had my ideal Snow White, who incidentally is now a writer.

Spinning my advertising
click on image to enlarge

A Final Word of Encouragement

            Come up with your story and put a spin on your story.  Think of why the story is interesting.  Make a list of the relevant information that you want to deliver to the public and the story that goes with it.  Then get that story into the hands of the person who will see that it is delivered to the public you want to reach.

           Just remember that the people who work in the media are just people and it's highly unlikely they are going to laugh at you or slam a door in your face.  They are probably more than willing to help you  and you should approach them with the attitude that you are helping them find a good story--which you are!    Be ready to answer their questions.  And definitely be as positive and confident as you can be.

           It's similar to trying to pitch your book or a product you're trying to sell, except it's a lot easier and has a much higher rate of acceptance.  Once you start doing it, trying to get press coverage gets easier and you learn what works and what doesn't.   Don't forget to keep track of the names of the contacts you make--you made need them later.

          Have you ever submitted a story idea or piece of news to a newspaper or other news venue?  What was your experience?   Do you belong to an organization or work for a company that has a press person or department?   What do you think is the best medium to use for getting free publicity?


Monday, March 14, 2011

Intro to the RPG Blogger Community: A Guest Post from Shinobicow

           Today I'm a guest on the blog of Alex J. Cavanaugh where I'm talking about the origin of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.   Be sure to check that out, but before you go make sure you check today's post from my special guest from Japan.   When I noticed all of the bloggers from the gaming community signing up for the challenge I wanted to know what these folks were all about.  My guest today is going to educate us about the RPG Blogger Community.  

Intro to the RPG Blogger Community

          You may have noticed that the A to Z Blogging Challenge has attracted more than just folks from the writing and reading crowd. The Roleplaying Game community has decided that the A to Z Blogging Challenge looks like a lot of fun. Hello! I’m one of those bloggers. My name is Greg – I live in Japan and teach English at a High School near Mt. Fuji, but when I’m not educating young minds, I’m rolling dice and either playing or writing about D&D or one of many other RPG’s.

        I got my start in gaming in high school when some friends of mine introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons. I got in deep. I became the fabled “Dungeon Master” pretty much overnight and ended up running D&D adventures for the next four years, often at the friendly local game store where I worked. In college, I didn’t play nearly as much as in high school, but I got back into the RPG world when I studied abroad in Japan. During my time studying Japanese, I started writing an RPG blog called The Dump Stat. I write reviews of old and new games, advice for players and gamer masters, and I also develop and publish my own content for existing games, as well as my own RPG’s. I am not alone.

       The RPG Blogger Community is wide and diverse. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of RPG Blogs out there spanning several continents and representing a truly international group of people all bound together by a singular common interest – picking up some polyhedral dice and having a fun time with some friends. Roleplaying Games are more than just games though – I know that my skills at public and extemporaneous speaking have definitely improved as a result of my “hobby”. Mark, from the Literary Roleplaying Game Society of Westchester, a fellow RPG Blogger, likes to focus on the idea of “What can RPG’s do for me?” when trying to introduce new people to our world. RPG’s offer you the chance to hone your skills in leadership, teamwork, tactical and strategic thinking, improvisation in both speaking and acting, and not surprisingly writing. Blogging on The Dump Stat has improved my writing in a number of different styles. I get a chance to write advice columns, reviews, fiction, guidebooks, and a whole lot more.

         But, like I mentioned earlier, I’m not alone in this at all. The RPG Blogging community is a vast, strange and amazing place. There are numerous network out there which link these bloggers together – I am a member of the RPG Bloggers Network and the Roleplay Media Network. Blogs in the RPG Community cover games ranging through the ages; a host of bloggers stay faithful to the original rules of D&D and are hard at work revitalizing old school gaming. They spearhead the OSR (Old School Renaissance) and keep the original feel of the original roleplaying game alive and well. Lots of people focus on new trends in RPG’s, choosing to play and write about the new stuff making waves in the hobby.

          So, why is any of this relevant to you? Why do you care? Well, chances are, that among you, are at least a few RPG players, even if you’re not blogging about them (or reading blogs about RPG’s). If you fall into the category of RPG players that simply haven’t found the RPG Blogosphere yet, we welcome you with open arms. Jonathan Jacobs, the head of Nevermet Press, a RPB Blogger, gone publisher, has put out two volumes of Open Game Table which have compiled some of the best RPG related blog posts from the RPG Blogger Community over the last 2 years and has put them all into the same place. You might think about giving it a read through if you’re interested in finding a Blogger Voice that speaks to you (or you could just find the RSS feed to the RPG Blogger Network and go from there – the network puts out around 100 posts a day, so there is a lot of content there to read).

         But, what if you’re not into RPG’s yet, and don’t even know if RPG’s are of any interest to you; well, there is content on RPG Blogs which still may be very interesting to you as well. The folks on the RPG Bloggers Network tend to be a very creative bunch of people and have a knack for writing science fiction and fantasy. I know more than one RPG Blogger that has self-published his own novel and I am sure there are more out there that I’m simply not aware of yet. Many RPG Bloggers develop their own game worlds for their ongoing RPG adventures and a lot of these blogs are worth a read. They can be truly interesting and often bring truly new ideas to the world of sci-fi and fantasy.

         So, in closing, what are you waiting for? Go give some of the RPG Blogs a read. I could do a link dump of all of the RPG blogs I read, but that would take up several pages. Your best bet is to go check out the RPG Bloggers Network (though it hasn’t been updated in a little while) and see all the blogs that are out there. Also, if you happen to be on twitter, the RPG community is there in force. You can find many RPG Bloggers tweeting up a storm, talking about RPG’s and generally fun stuff all day long.


            Thanks Greg!  I appreciate you having taken the time to give us this great post.  Stop by to visit him at The Dump Stat.  

            By the way, I checked with Greg after I got news of the earthquake in Japan.  He informed me that he and his family are fine.  This is a huge tragedy for the people of this great country and I hope you will keep them in your prayers and give whatever aid you can offer.

            Be sure to come back to Tossing It Out tomorrow and on Wednesday when I return with some thoughts on the subject of promotion and publicity as it applies to  the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Please let us know if any of you are trying the publicity methods I've been suggesting and what the outcome has been.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Making the News: Why You Should Be Promoting Yourself

Warning! -- this is a somewhat long post with some very useful information

            On yesterday's post I extended a challenge to each of you to do something that will not only help the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge become something bigger and better, but also help you in whatever it is that you do in your own life.   If you have not read my previous post I hope you will go back to see what I have to say.

             Some may have run away from my Saturday post with an "I'm scared" or an "I can't do that" attitude.   Others may be pooh-poohing the idea as something that won't work or is nonviable.  The ones I'll be addressing in this post are those who believe in themselves and what they can do.   I'm talking to those of you who seek success and want the best for themselves.

              There are essentially three kinds of people in life.  There are those who watch other people achieve their dreams and marvel at their successes or deride those accomplishments.   Then there are those who dream dreams and wonder, "This is a great idea--somebody should do this."   And finally, there are those who latch on to an idea and run with it, despite any discouragement directed toward their efforts, and they either succeed or they try again until they do.  My new challenge to you is directed to those who are part of this last group.

              There are many ways to promote something.  Those of you who are Tweeting about the Challenge or posting on FaceBook or spreading the word via your blog or some other social media venue are doing a great job and I encourage you to keep this up.  However, today I want to address using news media to get the message to the public and what some of the repercussions are in doing this.  

Is the Blogging from A to Z Challenge news?  

Consider the following:

J.M. who has been confined to a wheelchair since childhood has made friends throughout the world via his ham radio hobby.

Mr. and Mrs. E.J.  have cared for eleven different foster children over the past twenty years.

Mr. and Mrs. H.C. celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a trip to Myrtle Beach, NC.

The S. family recently returned from a two week vacation to New York City where they visited many famous attractions and saw a Broadway show. 

A wallet lost by W.W. was found by his dog.

Eight students from M. High School will be participating in a Junior Achievement conference to be held in N. in February.

         What do the above have in common?  They are all actual stories I have seen in a local paper.  Were they important?  To the people involved, perhaps.  Were they interesting?  Debatable. 

Now what about these:

Local author joins worldwide blogging challenge.

Student bloggers at M. High School join challenge to Blog through the alphabet.

Popular poetess composes a poem per day during the month of April.

Long lost friends are reunited through blogging challenge.

          Would you be interested in these stories?   Do you think others might like reading about these as much as they would someone's vacation?   If the stories were well presented, they would certainly get someone's attention. 

What is news anyway?

          A newspaper delivers what is termed "hard news" and "soft news".   Hard news is the major stuff that reporters are busy digging up.  These are the events that effect us or other people in potentially big ways.  This is the news that appears on the front pages and oftentimes receives extensive coverage.

          Much of the rest of the paper uses filler material in the form of soft news.   A lot of this soft news comes from press releases that people send in to reporters or news desks.  Newspapers rely on these press releases to give added content to the newspaper.

           If accepted, the story will often go into the paper as it has been received or with minor revisions.  Occasionally, a reporter may find the story to be interesting enough to follow up and get more information.  It may be expanded into a feature which can oftentimes include photographs.  Newspapers welcome press releases.  They are part of what is news.

What do press releases cover?
Community news --- The things that people, businesses or organizations in the community are doing.

Upcoming events -- Things that are going to be happening that people will want to be watching for.

Human interest-- Personalized stories about individuals or groups that are inspiring or entertaining.

             Any of these could potentially relate to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  You can put your own personal spin on the story of the Challenge.  In the third person, tell the readers who you are and what you do.  Connect this information about you to the grander scope of this Challenge that involves participants from throughout the world.

What to include in your press release:

             Make sure you drop in a few things about what you want to make known about yourself.  If you've recently written a book or have one soon to be released, mention it.  Or if you are involved with a particular cause or charity, include something about that.  This can even be a time to discreetly give a plug to your business or a product.  Just be sure it somehow fits in with the Challenge news so that your press release doesn't sound like a blatant advertising promotion for you and your products. A newspaper would prefer that you buy advertising for that.   Include the address to your blog so readers can come to see what you've been talking about.   Feel free to leave mine as well if you want readers to be directed to the information about the challenge and the list of participants.

             Remember that when writing a press release about yourself you should make it sound like it has been written by someone other than you.  Give the vital information without going into too much detail.  Put a good spin on your own story and connect it with something larger than just you so readers can better identify and feel that they are a part of your story.

         You're a writer--make the story seem interesting and relevant.    However a press release should also be fairly short--maybe 200 to 400 words.  Leave a contact so they can reach you if they want more information.  This is how feature stories start.   A feature writer hears a story and decides if it's worth expanding upon or even adding pictures.

Why would you want to be in the news:

          As I've already said, most of you have something that you are involved with that you want people to know about.  A news story can start that ball rolling.   You will often gain added search engine presence with the story.   If you are trying to build a platform or even a resume, it doesn't hurt to have news stories about you circulating--if they're about something good of course.   And a news story looks good in a scrapbook or even framed on your wall.

        Connecting yourself to something bigger like Blogging from A to Z makes your presence a little more significant and adds interest to your story.   There is something fun and uplifting about seeing your name in print and knowing that others will be reading it.  If you are blogging, you are probably trying to have your name recognized in some way.  Being in the news is another way of being noticed.

        More awareness of the Challenge will provide incentive to do our best if we know more people may be watching us. Our writing may improve and gain more exposure.   We will expand our potential for making connections with others who don't normally see our blogs.   This will increase our networking opportunities for the future.

        In upcoming posts I will talk more about the press release and how to get it into the right hands.  You can do the research yourself as well.   Google "press releases" and you can find plenty of information on how to format and compose your release.   If you do a search of the newspaper or other media that you'd like to submit to, you can find out about what procedures they require and who to contact.  It's all out there and it doesn't take long to find the most pertinent information.

         Try it--it's a writing exercise that will help hone your skills.  And if you haven't had to send out press releases already, someday you might need to.   That is, of course, unless your press agent does that for you.
Can I see a show of hands of everyone who has a press agent?


Addendum:  sample press release--
          This has already been a very long post, but Alex J. Cavanaugh asked me to include a sample press release which I will add here.  I may include additional samples in the future.   I am not formatting it like it should be--you can find formatting information if you look up "press release format" on Google.

              Local Author Joins Worldwide Blog Event

         Alex J. Cavanaugh, author of the novel CassaStar which is now enjoying a successful release, is going to take a break from writing his next book to participate in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge with hundreds of other bloggers from around the world.

The local author began blogging a year ago at the advice of his publisher Dancing Lemur Press. Since starting his blog, he has accumulated a legion of fans he affectionately refers to as “Alex’s Army”.

The turning point in amassing his army of blog followers was in April of 2010 when he joined in the A to Z Blogging Challenge that was started by fellow blogger Arlee Bird from Los Angeles.

“Last April, I was a new blogger,” says Cavanaugh. “It was the best thing I could've done for my blog. I got to know so many awesome people and those of us who participated became like family. We grew and stretched together. And we had a blast in the process!”

Poetess and blogger Yvonne Lewis from England is also sold on the concept. She will be returning again this April to match last year’s feat of twenty-six poems during the month with each one themed with a letter of the alphabet.

“I am so pleased that there is to be another A to Z,” said Yvonne. “Through last years challenge I gained more fans. It was fun and it brought a lot of people together via our computers. I wouldn't have missed it for the world and I will be doing it again this year.”

Due to Alex Cavanaugh’s enthusiasm for the A to Z Challenge and his rapport with so many other bloggers, he was invited this year along with six other bloggers from throughout the United States and England to co-host the event.

“Last year the Challenge was so popular that I knew that 2011 would be more than I could handle by myself,” said Arlee Bird. “I asked some of the best bloggers I knew if they would help me out this year—the response was an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’”

Cavanaugh expects that 2012 will be even bigger, but first they’ll have to make it through this April.  All bloggers are invited to join in and anyone is welcome to read through the progress of the Challenge.  You can visit Alex J. Cavanaugh’s blog and find out more about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge at

         I am not a professional copywriter.  Some of you may have a better grasp of writing these things than I do.  I welcome any corrections or comments concerning the above sample.   I will say that from my experience, something like the above is usually adequate enough copy to be accepted by a newspaper.  Just make sure you include contact information in case they want to take it a step further and do a feature article.
Also it's not a bad idea to include a publicity photo of yourself (sorry Alex).  Just like it's suggested for blogs, newspapers often like to have a picture to go with the story.
          I sincerely hope that some of you will consider putting something together today and try to get it submitted somewhere this week.   I will be posting more on this topic in the next few days.  Good luck!