Z Crew News Episode 3 | Coverage You Can Count On (Ft. Emmie & Natalie!)

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Hi everyone, and welcome back to ZCN! AGW hopes to make this a monthly series, and word on the street is, Paris will be joining ZCN soon! In the meantime, I’m your host, Ziana Yang, here with the fan-favorite segment Around the Blogosphere!

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We all hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving! Life got in the way, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a Thanksgiving post up during our first non-hiatus November. However, the reader is still filled with orange, gold, and brown from when bloggers celebrated the thankful holiday!

Carlye from Silver Fox Studios is hosting a photo contest! This contest will work like AGNDM: Each week, there will be a new theme and an elimination until a lucky doll-photographer is declared the winner! The deadline to sign up was November 10, but you can still read and enjoy the series. Thanks for the tip, Natalie!

Maya from Life Behind a Camera recently finished her novel, titled Hide and Seek, and had an awesome blog tour launching it! As her book’s synopsis reads, Hide and Seek is about: “Amara Clark is haunted. When her childhood friend, Asher, vanished during a seemingly ordinary game of hide-and-seek, she was left bewildered and alone.
Now, eight years later, memories of Asher are coming back to haunt her and she struggles to decipher the meaning of his disappearance…Before they know it, Amara and her best friend, Rowan, are whisked away on a journey to find Asher and take down the sinister group that is holding him captive. But time is running out, and saving one friend could mean losing another.”* This fantastic read is available at Amazon for just $10.12 paperback and $5.99 Kindle! ** Thanks for the tip, Natalie!

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Speaking of self-published authors, Allison from A Farm Girl’s Life has written and illustrated her very own book of poems! As the author’s note in Unfurling: A Little Book of Poems says, “A poem is a flower bud – such a small package, yet it holds so much in every petal, every word. When the outer layer unfurls, the old, familiar scales fall from your eyes, and everything is transformed. Perhaps that is what beauty is: a transformation.” The book is available at Lulu for $7.99 in paperback.***

Rose from The Bright Bookcase recently wrote a thought-provoking post about the struggles of blogging and blogger jealousy! You can check out her post here! She also is starting a competition called 25 Days of Blogmas. You can sign up for the posting challenge/competion here!

Madison from Madi Grace, Delightful World of Dolls, and Madison Grace Author is still on hiatus, and we hope to see her back soon! Be praying for her health, you guys!

AGs In Alaska is cutting down on her post frequency to prepare for what she calls ‘the best Christmas post ever’! Everyone is waiting in anticipation for the awesome post, and here at ZCN, we can’t wait to find out what it is. “Hmm, I’m not exactly sure [how long I will be gone]! I will try to post a few times during December but most of my work will be spent on the Big Surprise,” she says of how long the break will be, dubbing her Christmas post the same name as FPC before it was revealed.****

And of course, our Big Surprise has been revealed: it’s a photostory competition (FPC, or Fall Photostory Competition)! You can check out parts 1 and 2 of the intro photostory by clicking on the numbers, and you can sign up and check out the rules and how it works here. Stay tuned for an interview with the creators of the series, coming at the end of this post!

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Now that we’ve caught up with the latest blogosphere happenings, it’s time to check out our next segment: What’s Up, AGW?

“I’ve been sick for the last week or so,” Emmie says. “With Thanksgiving break and not going out too much, I have a lot of free time! I’ve been working on a video, did a super fun photoshoot, and obviously have been making this post! My mom and I just got back from my grandparents’ house, where my sister and dad are staying until Saturday. We’ll drive back up there, watch the football game, and then bring them home!” She told ZCN on Friday, November 23.

“I’ve also completed 114 pages of my NaNo novel’s structure! I decided to skip the scene outline. I’m usually a panster/minimal plotter, so I really just want those key moments mapped out and the rest I get to creatively make up as I go. Today is the LAST DAY of NaNo (!!!!), and I really need to catch up on the actual writing part – I’ve completed page 1, which is only 876 words of my 6000 wordcount goal.”

She’s using today’s home day to furiously type a novel into existence in hopes of conquering NaNoWriMo once again. “I really don’t want this to be the first year I lose, even though I wasn’t as serious about it this year!” Emmie says.

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Emmie’s also planning another surprise, coming this Christmas alongside the 2018 Emmie Awards.”All I can say is that it’s a mega-AGSM! It’s been scripted, and some of the characters have been cast. I plan to get some filming done when school gets out for winter break in two weeks.”

Thanks for reading What’s Up, AGW? And now it’s time for some breaking news!

Emmie recently received a mysterious letter from American Girl, announcing that American Girl Magazine’s (and I quote the letter’s heading) “FINAL ISSUE” will be in January/February! Here’s a photo of the letter:

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“We’re proud of our amazing 25-year run of American Girl magazine, which has given voice to millions of girls since its debut in 1992.  However, just as the broader print magazine industry continues to face serious declines, American Girl magazine is equally challenged with decreasing subscriber numbers as more girls turn to alternative forms of entertainment,” says American Girl Magazine Customer Service in a recent interview with the ZCN team.

“Although we’re sad to say goodbye to the magazine, we look forward to finding new ways to deliver the same type of fun and inspiring content for girls in new and relevant formats.  We’ll have more to share about this in the months ahead.”

American Girl magazine is offering three options for customers to get their annual subscription money back: A magazine subscription to National Geographic Magazine, a refund, or American Girl books valued at $40.

The only problem with the last option is that AG selects the books for you, which means you could get $40 worth of books you already have.

The first and most recent issues of American Girl Magazine, interestingly both featuring redheads holding something. Credit (Magazine #2) Credit (Magazine #3)

When ZCN asked American Girl magazine’s customer service about this, AG responded, “Sorry, but no returns/exchanges/substitutions can be made to the books included in the bundle. They are free to choose another replacement option, or you may consider donating the books to their local library or give them as gifts for other girls to enjoy.”

Emmie and her mom have decided to go with the refund option and spend the money on books they can pick out themselves. “Just like the AG magazine Customer Service, I’m sad to see American Girl magazine go. I’m going to miss waiting for the next issue, starting contest entries that never get sent in, and reading the latest issue for hours on end. My favorite part was the Help! advice column and According to Aggie comics, and I loved the spotlights on real girls from across the country.”

Are you sad to see American Girl magazine go? Leave a comment at the end of this post! But first, we have our Spotlight segment, featuring no other than Natalie from The AG Spot and our very own Emmie from American Girl World!


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Z: Hi, guys, and welcome to the show!

E: Um, was already here in the first place to help you with the episode, but…hi again!

N: Hey, Z! It’s great to be on the show!

Z: What sparked the idea of Fall Photostory Competition?

E: When Natalie had to leave Standing Firm in my Faith for personal reasons, we missed each other and I emailed her about doing an AG collab. When we were discussing how writing/photo contests like HARPS and CPC were so popular at the time, I had an idea: what if we did something similar, but a photostory competition? In the end, it turned out to be almost nothing like those competitions, but that’s how it began!

N: We were also trying to spark some more interest and add a little more excitement in the doll blogiverse, in addition to having internet friend fun together!

Z: That’s really cool – the blogosphere has been sort of quiet. How long do you think it took to create this competition?

N: A looooooong time. I believe we came up with the idea in February or March, and then decided to work on it in May to make it a summer contest. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize just how long it actually took to plan these things, and there were lots of things to tweak and agree on. Then, when one of my dolls suffered an unfortunate accident, we weren’t able to photograph the beginning photostory…

E: …So then I had an idea to turn it into fall photostory competition! We changed the name, images, and gave the audition round a fall-y theme, did a ton more, and then we were all set! It was a long and complicated process, so it finally being ready is super rewarding.

Z: Wow, that sounds crazy! Besides what you mentioned above, what kinds of things did you have to do to get the competition ready? 

E: Making graphics, coming up with scoring and prizes, figuring out rules, creating photo stories, fixing issues, getting a top-secret surprise that we’ll reveal at the end of the competition ready, taking pictures, and more!
N: There were a lot of little things we had to do that we hadn’t even thought of – like figuring out how to cc/bcc in emails and finding a fake text message generator (the weirdest thing I’ve googled yet).

Z: Why did you decide to create the competition?

N: The doll blogiverse has been at a bit of a low ebb lately, with many bloggers leaving or posting infrequently. We wanted to jazz up and add some excitement to the AG community, and this was the perfect way to do it!

E: Yup! I also hope it inspires lots of great ideas, stories, pictures, and friendships through all the readers and participants!

Copy of Copy of Untitled Design

Z: How does the competition work?

N: You can sign up on our blogs, and create a photostory using our prompts. During this first round, which is the ‘audition’ round, we’ll score the photo stories and pick six (or more!) stories for people to vote on. The top three receive awesome prizes!
E: You can check out the prizes at this post!
Z: That’s awesome! When will the competition end? Can you still sign up?
N: The deadline for photostories to be submitted is December 1st, which was recently extended so that more people can enter.
E: And that’s just for the audition round! The finals will overlap into December, (Fall doesn’t technically end until December 21, right? :P) where everyone will get to vote on the photostories (even the participants, but they can’t vote for themselves!)
Z: Where can you sign up? Where can you find the rules?
E: You can sign up right here or here! The rules can be found in those same posts!
N: After you sign up, you’ll receive a confirmation email from either me or Emmie. When your photostory is finished, you’ll submit it to us, and we’ll email you the results!

Z: Thanks for the interview! 

E: No problem!
N: My pleasure! It’s been super fun!

And that’s it, folks! Thanks for reading ZCN, and remember to send your tips through the contact form and sign up for Fall Photostory Competition! See you in two weeks!
This has been Ziana “Z” Yang, star reporter and anchorwoman for the Z Crew News. Have a blessed day, and Z Crew, Out!

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*Blurb from Goodreads.com

**ZCN and American Girl World are not sponsored by or affiliated with Goodreads, Amazon, or the author. This mention is not part of a blog tour.

***ZCN and American Girl World are not sponsored by or affiliated with Lulu or the author. This mention is not part of a blog tour.

****Comment reply used with permission.

 

Fall Photostory Competition (aka the Big Surprise): The Rules, What it is, & How to Enter!

Hey, marshmallows! I’m so excited that FPC is finally getting out there after half a year of planning and stalling on my part this awesome event. Ahh, I can’t wait!

Wait, back up. What is FPC, you ask?

  • FPC – Fall Photostory Competition – is exactly what it sounds like! It’s two-round competition hosted by Natalie from The AG Spot and me!
  • Here’s how it works:
  • In the first round, the Audition Round, you will write and photograph a 200-600 word photostory based on the two Audition Round prompt! (The Audition Round part of the contest is loosely inspired by this contest by foreveranddollways.)
  • We’ll have two weeks for everyone to put together and enter their photostories, and then Natalie and I will pick six (or more, depending on how many people enter!) photostories to continue to the Finals!
  • The finalists will write and photograph 400-800 word photostory based on the three new prompts!
  • The top 3 highest scoring winners will receive special prize packages!

Third place will receive: A winner graphic and their photostory featured on our blogs!

Second place will receive: All third place prizes and a guest post on each of our blogs!

First place will receive: All second and third place prizes, a doll trophy made by me, a TAGS t-shirt, and signed photos of our dolls! *Note: If the first place winner is not allowed to give their address to us so we can send the first place prizes, then the second place winner will receive the prizes, and if they can’t then third place, and so on.

Now that you’ve got a basic idea of the competition, let’s list the rules!

  • All photostories must be your own and original (no remakes of old photostories, books, movies, classic stories/fairytales, etc.)
  • You are allowed to edit your photos.
  • The Audition Round photostories must be 200-600 words long and include at least ten pictures. The Finals photostories must be 400-800 words long and include at least twelve pictures.
  • Although American Girl Dolls are the preferred subject for your photos, you can use stuffies, other dolls, clay figures, etc.
  • Please keep your photostory G-rated and God-honoring!
  • Your photostory will be judged in five categories based on a point system: Photo, props, doll, writing, and story.
  • Please, do not post your photostory on your blog until after the competition ends.
  • When you enter, you will have to give me and Natalie your email address. We will never use it for spam purposes, only to notify you if you have made it to the finals, answer or ask questions, and remind you of deadlines.
  • When you have entered, you will email us your finished audition photostory by December 1.
  • You do not need a blog to enter.
  • The deadline to sign up was originally November 22, then it was changed to November 29, and now is currently December 1.

What are you waiting for? Just enter with the sign-up form here!

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The audition round prompts are:

Feel free to take the prompts in any (appropriate) direction you’d like! Remember, try your best and be unique. Good luck!

During the audition round, we are looking for many things in your entry, most importantly; 

  • Quality photography
  • Nice ‘actors’ (your dolls)
  • An interesting storyline

And while we can’t give you instructions on exactly how to win, we can give you a few tips:

  • Dolls who look like they’re staring into space, are half-dressed, or have messy hair are a serious turnoff to us.
  • Lighting is key! Dark and/or grainy photography is always a no-no.
  • We LOVE fresh, compelling stories, so don’t be afraid to be creative or even slightly weird!
  • ANY plagiarism (a story very similar to another blogger’s photostory, past or present) we find will be automatically disqualified from the competition

Good luck and be creative! I can’t wait to see all your awesome photostories!

~Emmie

The Big Surprise Revealed: Part 1 (a Photostory)!

Note: Unfortunately, there’s been some confusion resulting in Natalie’s part being up before mine (all my fault)! This is Part 1 to her photostory ‘The Big Surprise Revealed’.

~Jade’s POV~

Laptop

Dozens of emails, ideas, and photos later, we’re here. Here with the big surprise, I’m holding in my hands (okay, theoretically holding in my hands), the big surprise I’m about to reveal. How long have I been promising this? Forever at least. But now, I think it’s finally time to reveal that the big surprise is-

*PHONE BEEPS LOUDLY*

Emmie pauses her typing, groaning in frustration at the interruption. “Jade, can you get that? I’m working on a really important post here…”

“Is it the big surprise thing? How much concentration do you need to type a gazillion dots for them to scroll through?” I ask.

“I’m NOT going to make them scroll through a million dots!” She protests, then adds quietly, “Just fifty or so.” She starts typing again, just when my phone emits another beep. “Seriously, can you get that?!”

“Fine,” It’s my turn to groan as I roll off of the couch to grab my teal iPhone off the desk. Before I even sit back down on the couch, I check my phone. A chat with Michelle fills the screen.

Text 1

Hey Jade! 👋 What’s up?? The message reads.

Text 2

Hey! Emmie was just making a blog post. About some sort of big surprise thingy?? 🤷 My fingers fly accross the digital keyboard as I type.

Text 3 Texts

I’ve heard about that. It’s supposed to be something about photo stories. And another blogger is involved too, but I’m not really sure.

The door opens and closes with a loud click! I look up from my phone to see Z holding a ginormous trophy.

FPC Trophy Reveal

“What’s that?” I point at the trophy

“Thanks for offering to help me, so nice,” Z says sarcastically, placing the trophy on the desk. “If the readers enter the Fall Photostory Competition that’s being hosted by American Girl World and The AG Spot, they could win this trophy.”

Without a word to Z, I bend over my phone, hurriedly replying to Michelle.

Text Final

Michelle, I think I know what the big surprise is…


Hey guys!

As you may have guessed from the title, photostory, and intro, today’s the day! At 4:00 p.m. CT, or 5:00 p.m. EST, Natalie’s part of the photostory is going up!

Yeah, that’s right! Remember when I hinted that another blogger is involved? Natalie is literally the other half of this project – or should I say collab? – and we’re so excited to reveal it together! In 1 hour, her post will be up at theamericangirlspot.com! Then, tomorrow we’ll post the rules and official stuff (yet another hint for you!) and the Big Surprise will be official!

I can’t wait for the Big Surprise to finally be revealed, along with another super awesome thing at the end! Make sure to check out Natalie’s post to find out what it is and what happens next!

Are YOU excited? Do you know what it is already cause I already kinda said it? Can you believe it’s finally here?
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