Z Crew News Episode 4 | Coverage You Can Count On (Ft. Julia Herkel & Jo @ Pananaw)

Welcome back to Z Crew News, here for our fourth episode in the hit series! I’m your host, Ziana Yang, here with coverage you can count on. In this episode, you’ll find the usual Around the Blogsphere (now hosted by Paris Elliot) and What’s Up, AGW? segments, along with two super-special spotlights with Julia and Jo!

Now, onto Paris for the fan-favorite segment, Around the Blogsphere!


Hey, everyone! Paris here with the latest scoop from around the blogging world. In this segment, we feature awesome blogs that we love who are accomplishing some awesome things, going on hiatus, hosting a giveaway or contest, reaching a milestone, and more!

thedolljournalist from Little Doll Journals is hosting an American Girl course! The six week course may not have any actual educational value, but you will learn a ton of awesome new things about American Girl that you never knew before, including hairstyling and dressing your dolls, AG’s history, and all about AG. The course will launch on (insert date), and you can check it out here.

Natalie from The AG Spot is creating an AG Blogger’s Club! Members of the bloggers club will be able to reblog their posts, get publicity, have their site listed, make friends, do collabs, and more. The official site will launch soon, and you can sign up to become a member here. AGW is super excited to be apart of Natalie’s AG Blogger’s Club!**

Hannah from The Striped Plaid has started aesthetic blog where she posts quotes, aesthetics, photos, and more! You can check out SP Aesthetic here.**

Arabella from Sparks of Ara created an aesthetic blog also, titled Arasthetic. However, it was mysteriously deleted, without any notice, about a week ago! We contacted Ara, and she says, “I deleted Arasthetic because although it was a fun blog, it didn’t have much purpose and I could have been posting that stuff on my main blog, Sparks of Ara…I also knew I probably wouldn’t end up posting a lot. I think at some point in the future I will start a similar blog to Arasthetic. It’ll be focused more towards my life, with aesthetics and photos as well. I’m hoping to start it as summer comes, because I can share things from the summer!”

AG’s in Alaska, whose doll blog is titled the same as her original username, has started a brand new personal blog, called Swingsets and Snapshots, and changed to the pen name Morgan McCartie! “…as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I feel quite limited in what I can post about on my doll blog,” she said in a recent post announcing the news. “I’m sure many of you feel the same. I don’t want to be limited by only being able to post about dolls, so on my personal blog, I’ll be posting about photography, traveling, reading, writing, Alaskan life, my pets, and maybe even cooking!”* Why Morgan McCartie? She explains in the post that a long time ago her family’s last name got changed from McCartie, and her parents thought about naming her Morgan. Morgan thinks the two names go together perfectly, and the AGW crew and I couldn’t agree more!**

Mary from Middle Mary, Just Around the Corner, and Forever American Girl is celebrating one year of blogging with a stationary-themed giveaway! The prize package includes stickers, washi tape, clips, scrapbook paper, and more. You can enter here.

Ariana Evans from Ariana’s Archives recently changed her blog name from Ariana’s Flying Life to Ariana’s Archives! She also is now hosting weekly challenges on her blog and started a theology podcast, also called Ariana’s Archives.

Following the footsteps of many other bloggers who recently started podcasts (including Christina’s Convos, Blogging 101, and Ariana’s Archives), Heaven from Glorify Christ and her sister started an Adventures of Odyssey -themed podcast called Raspberry Ripples! Check out the podcast at their new site, Raspberry Ripples.

Also, Sam from Happily Ever After Dolls started a new personal blog! Don’t forget to follow Cherry on Top! Sam’s gorgeous graphic design and short and sweet posts are so amazing!**

Dozens of bloggers are back from Camp NaNo hiatuses, and even more joined the winner’s circle this year! “Over 70% of my cabin finished their projects this year!” Emmie says. “I’m so proud of everybody! We all worked so hard and did such a great job!”

And that’s it for the latest news from Around the Blogosphere! Back to you, Z!

*Post excerpt used with permission.

**None of these mentions are part of a blog tour.


Now for our next segment, What’s Up, AGW?, where we chat with Emmie and the other AGW dolls to find out the latest happenings and what’s coming up on the blog!

“I won Camp this year!” Emmie says excitedly. “I can’t believe it! Before Camp, I re-outlined Paris Takes The Shot, and renamed it Trying for the Sky. I recreated all the characters except Paris and Alexandra for copyright reasons, and restarted the actual writing part of the book. And now I’m at the first pinch point and almost 26k! I’m so happy and proud of myself!”

And what’s coming up on AGW this summer? “My school gets out on May 9th! I have a TON of things planned for this summer (including Forever Season 2)! There’s also going to be some BIG changes and BIG things coming to American Girl World (expect a post on that soon)! And, as usual, I’m planning a HUGE surprise.”

Emmie gave the ZCN Crew one cryptic hint of her surprise. She revealed the letters “DD” in her interview, and we’re puzzled at all of the possibilities!


We’re so excited to have TWO blogs spotlighted in our Spotlight segment this episode! First, please welcome Julia Herkel of Julia’s Creative Corner!

“I’m the third of seven girls, a reader, writer, singer, blogger, and dreamer. I homeschool, and love my coffee,” Julia says. Her friends would describe her as “Funny, writer, loyal. [And,] I love to sing and draw. I don’t call myself and artist yet in the drawing category, since I’m not that good yet. But I really want to get better, and in the future, get a drawing tablet.”

“I began blogging from a mixture of motives: I wanted other writers to learn from my mistakes, so they wouldn’t do the same (sometimes dumb) things as me. 😝 The other part was that I wanted to start growing an audience for my writing,” Julia says. She’s been blogging at JCC for just over a year and a half.

Her main goal for her blog is to help other writers. “My readers are basically what keep me going. I love knowing that I’ve helped someone with a problem, or to learn something new!”

She’s also working on growing her audience and making everything better for them. “I want my blog posts to be easier for them to understand, and fun to read. I’ve been putting in clear, followable steps at the end of my posts recently so that they can implement what they’ve learned from my post in their own writing.”

“I’ve written all types of posts in the past: interviews, tags, book reviews, cover making reviews, and writing posts. The majority of my posts are all writing-related, and I have to say, those are actually my favorite to write!” she says about the different posts on JCC. “They help me understand the subject better myself when I’m trying to put it into words for others, and I know that, somewhere out there, there’s a writer who needs this post exactly in their life right now. Feels pretty great!”

“I have one book available for purchase at the moment. It’s on Amazon, and it’s called The Storm Inside. At this time, though, I am actually rewriting that book to make it even better! 😃 Once it’s ready, I’m going to also put up a print copy to buy, instead of just an e-book format,” Julia says.

Her favorite genre to write is fantasy adventure, and her favorite part of the writing process is rewriting. “I love to see everything become better than it previously was. But I think this part is the easiest because I’m pretty good at seeing what’s bad about my own writing and what I should change in it. With the first draft already written, I can just work with it and rewrite it to be better,” she says.

Julia recalls her first ever novel. “Oh man, it was really bad! 😂 I called it The Changelings Six, unaware that mythical creatures [were already a thing]. These six kids were brought to another world, and are supposed to defeat the evil president there: Evan Evansan. (as you can see, I’m super with those last names) I cringe every time I think of that book!…As far as first books go, I think that I did okay. I tried to give everyone different personalities, and everyone was supposed to have their own motives. It all went crazy, though, when I threw in about sixty more main characters in book 2. It was nuts.”

The hardest part of writing for Julia is the end of each part, whether it’s writing the first draft, editing, revising, planning, or something else. “I love to make up new books, see them build before me, become better, and then perfected. But toward the end of each phase, I start to hate the current one I’m in, and wishing that I was in the next one already. I have to admit, that’s where I’m currently at in my writing right now. 😅”

We were so happy to have Julia on ZCN! Thank you so much, Julia! We enjoyed learning new things about you and your writing and blog! Don’t forget to check out Julia’s Creative Corner and subscribe to her email list!


For the next spotlight of this episode of ZCN, please welcome Jo from Pananaw and formerly The Lens and the Hard Drive as part of a blog tour!

“I’m Jo, I’m weird, and I can tell stories. XD I try to do everything I can get my hands on, and I try to do everything for God’s glory, and I’m a hopeless fanperson. Hopeless, I tell you!” Jo describes herself.

Her favorite part of homeschooling is “Getting to try things I could’ve have if I was in regular school. Because of homeschooling I am able to blog, to write, to join Bible Bee and NaNo, and I have a much more flexible schedule…it’s pretty neat! Also no social interaction. It’s both a pro and a con.”

In a few words, her friends would describe her as “IDEK. I. don’t. even. Know. It’s an inside joke about MBTI and how I get different results when I take the test. XD Pretty accurate, I gotta say!”

“People often think I’m Chinese because the corners of my eyes are turned up just slightly,” she shares a random fun fact about herself. “But honestly, I couldn’t look any more different- even if I am part, part part part Chinese.. ehhe. XD It’s kinda hard to label someone who’s a lotta things, I guess.”

And according to all of the activities Jo loves to do besides blogging, she certainly is a lotta things! “AOLKGGNOLJGNOGLKNG EHEH YES YES YES—so I’m an amateur acting enthusiast as well as a martial arts enthusiast- which is my way of saying that I love these things and do them but I’m not very good at them. XD I also like audio and video editing… and memes. Ice skating. Violin. You know. Things. Analyzing Marvel, LOTR, Naria, Wingfeather Saga, and the books I alpha. Fun stuff. “

Jo, an Emmie Award winner for best new blogger, blogged at The Lens and The Hard Drive for one year and a few months. “Which, as we all know in blogging years, is pretty long, all things considered,” Jo says. “It’s hard to believe everything that’s happened within the course of a year.”

Jo was inspired to create The Lens and the Hard Drive by “…my sister, who, before she left for college, ran this beautiful and deep, and sadly, archived blog. My sister inspired a ton of stuff 😂 and blogging was one of them…I wanted to [create TLHD] because I thought that, hey, maybe it would be fun to share thoughts with the world, make people smile, and y’know- I don’t think much. 😂”

But soon, Jo decided it was time for a fresh start with a new blog. “I kept trying to change The Lens & The Hard Drive’s theme and look, and y’know, stuff like that, but (as I believe Tess says) sometime last year was the end of a chapter in my life, and a new one was already being written down. Pananaw [her new blog] is a result of that change affecting everything in my life, blog included.”

Pananaw means Vision in the Tagalog language, and Jo wanted to reflect that on her new blog. “Originally I was going to name my blog Viewfinder, keeping in with my camera theme, and playing on the words “view” and “finder” to kinda show how I was trying to find that view for myself. But since that name was taken, I had to think of something unique, still meaningful, and hopefully one word…Pananaw is what happened after relying on my culture and some creativity.”

She blogs “to glorify God, make people smile (and think and laugh) and to have a blast. That’s it. XD What keeps me going is the fact that apparently, people do smile and laugh and think because of reading my posts, and that’s motivation to keep blogging.”

The types of posts Jo loves to write and the type of content that will be on Pananaw is “anything that lets me be sassy. And have GIFs. And memes. Oh the memes. And have a ton of references, cause, y’know, they’re pretty great. I usually write those, but I also tend to write about a lot of topics that I think about, such as well, movie themes and how they compare to real life, to the Bible; about how shutting your emotions down can be damaging, and how fast food workers are really important. That mix is what I’m hoping to bring to Pananaw, as well as a hint of Filipino culture- just a little bit. 😉”

We’re so thankful to have the chance to chat with Jo as part of the Pananaw blog launch! The link to the Pananaw blog is hidden in some of the different blogs in the tour – so you’ll have to check out every post to find the link to the blog! Follow the tour here:

May 5:

Character Interview with Ava @ https://elysianartiste.com

Combo with Enni @ https://onthewingsofadreamblog.wordpress.com

Interview with Rose @ https://apurposeofwingeddogs.wordpress.com/

May 6:

Combo with Grace @ https://www.gracefullyinthemoment.wordpress.com

ZCN News Interview + Spotlight with Emmie @ https://americangirlworld.blog

Interview + Blog Spotlight with Isabel @ https://chasingfantasia.wordpress.com

May 7:

Interview (aka squealing) with Tess @ http://steeplechase-blog.com

Isa @https://www.artofbeingisa.wordpress.com

Charrie Interview + Spotlight with Merie Shen @ https://imperialscribis.wordpress.com/

May 8:

Interview with Allison Grace @ https://allisongracewrites.com/

Blog Spotlight with Meredith @ https://artsyarrow.wordpress.com

Combo with Christina @ https://christinaandcamera.wordpress.com

May 9:

Character Interview with Chloë Mali @ https://chloemali.wordpress.com/

Blog Spotlight with Maya J.T @ https://mayajt.wordpress.com/

Combo with Amie @ https://crazya.blog

Character Interview + Blog Spotlight! Penny Wood @ https://asouthernbellewithstoriestotell.wordpress.com

Blog Spotlight with Bayance @ https://bayance.wordpress.com

Blog Spotlight with Starling @ https://starling7.wordpress.com

Character Interview + Blog Spotlight with Liz @http://www.homewithhummingbirds.com


That’s it for this episode of Z Crew News, where there’s Coverage You Can Count On! We’d love to hear from you – don’t forget to leave us a tip through the contact form or the comments! (Plus, you could even get spotlighted if you do!) Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time on ZCN! Z Crew, Out!


What’s your favorite segment on ZCN? Are you excited for Pananaw? Are you going to check out Julia’s blog? Do you want to see more of ZCN?

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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.