A to Z Reflections – April 2017

This is my first reflections post. I did not do one following my first A to Z in April of 2013 even though I finished 26 daily posts. In 2015 & 2106 I did not finish the challenge, so a reflection post did not seem genuine. But in 2017 I am embracing a totally different attitude about not starting something without making a solid effort to finish.

When I thought about how I wanted to approach the 2017 A to Z Challenge I was fresh off an exhilarating month doing the 2016 National Novel Writing Month effort. You know all about that, you write at least 50,000 words in 30 days. I chose the second book in a series about an F.B.I. agent duo. I exceeded the suggested goal by over 21,000 words and found a new confidence and drive I have been able to capitalize on moving forward.

My approach for the A to Z followed with the idea to brain storm my next NaNoWriMo project over the 26 posts challenge. The Steel Horse Saviors is about three Civil War veterans, two Yankees and one Rebel, who take their steam locomotive west to seek their post-war fortune. In the process they encounter Clementine O’Grady a auburn-haired beauty fighting to save the family business that causes each of them to reconsider their efforts to escape their various pasts.

If you missed any of the posts you can go to the page on The Fiction Playground where they as well as the Recaps are collected: 2017 A to Z Challenge

Since I have not written anything on this yet the posts I shared are actually my feeling out of the possible characters, plot lines and settings. I will not and cannot say everything posted will absolutely find its way into the novel. After all editing can sometimes wipe out plot, setting and even beloved characters, but at this point this is how I see things going.

My Opinion of the 2017 A To Z

I may draw some response from this, but I know there was a lot of concern about the new method of adding posts to the Letter of the Day post each day. I am interested to see if the A to Z folks will give their opinion, but I feel a little disappointed in the experience. Perhaps my topic was just not that appealing, but I hoped for more engagement with others taking part. I tried to connect with new folks because I need new content to read.

I know in the past there has been around 2,000 bloggers that sing up for the challenge. I don’t know how many of that number actually take part, but on the Facebook page for each letter the comments of people adding links were roughly 10-15% of that number. Is there another place to look for the posts? I really don’t know.

I like the camaraderie of this challenge and I feel like I have connected with some new bloggers that will turn in to long term friends. Maybe the growth will come as the days go on, I guess I should wait and see, but I just hoped for more.

New Blogging Friends and New Content

Another desire during this 26 piece challenge was to find at least 26 new bloggers to add to my collection of like-minded folks who I could go to for new content. We cannot allow ourselves to remain within the narrow confines of what we know or think. How can we learn? How will we grow? We must look for new thoughts and ideas and entertainment through other’s work. Here is the lineup of new folks I now follow:

Raven Avery             https://everywhere-and-nowhere.com/              Flash Fiction

Janelle Miller            https://everydaymomentsofworship.wordpress.com/         Christianity

Iain Kelly                   https://iainkellywriting.wordpress.com/           Flash Fiction

Jacqui Murray          https://worddreams.wordpress.com/                Literary Genres

Carryl R                      https://carrylrobinson.wordpress.com/           Books & Authors

Stomperdad              https://allinadadswork.wordpress.com/           Fatherhood

Katrina                       http://calliopewriting.com/                                 Famous Quotes

Dee                       https://ladieswholunchreviews.wordpress.com/          Flash Fiction

Natalie                 https://lunanoctis.wordpress.com/                                  Musical Artists

Sue Ranscht        https://stranscht.com/                                                         Flash Fiction

Halee Pagel         http://2blueeyes.com/                                                         Flash Fiction

Megan Morgan   https://meganmorganauthor.com/       26 Things She Hates About Writing

Geraint Isitt         https://geraintisitt.com/                                                    Flash Fiction

jetgirlcos              https://fortyandfantastique.wordpress.com/          Adventures in Paris

Dawn                   https://lingeringvisions.wordpress.com/                      Black & White photos

Kerry                   https://kerrylizblack.wordpress.com                Herbs & Plants in Literature

The Artistic Christian          https://theartisticchristian.wordpress.com/       Christianity

Jazz Feathers                        http://theoldshelter.com/                                        Film Noir

shyutgal                                https://sparksfromacombustiblemind.com/        All about Utah

Kim                                        https://ramblingsofk.wordpress.com/                   Travel

Barbara                          http://lifefaithincaneyhead.blogspot.com/       Personal Perspectives

Eva                                        http://mailadventures.blogspot.com/       Postcards Recvd in Mail

Claudia                                http://thebookwright.blogspot.com                    Writing

Recap of A to Z Posts & Check Out These A to Z Bloggers – Part 3

15965050_1068241179964848_7193179799334160551_nRecap number three of the four I will post during the 30 day A to Z Challenge. They will all publish on Sunday, our day off except for the last, which will roll off on May 1st. In the posts I will highlight new bloggers (And I hope new writing friends) that I discover along the way of sharing 26 posts in 30 days.

My theme is based on a novel I plan to write during the annual National Novel Writing Month in November. Now that we are seven post in I want to collect the links here for anyone late to the party.

If you missed either prior recap, you can catch up here: Recap & New Bloggers & Recap of A to Z Posts & Check Out These A to Z Bloggers – Part 2

Here is a recap of this week’s posts:

Nolan Russell – The second of the Steel Horse Saviors trio and the muscle of the operation.

O’Grady Timber & Lumber Company – Clementine’s pride and joy, the business her father built from nothing.

Penley River Trestle – another significant impediment to O’Grady T& L reaching their full potential.

Quentin Rollins – the villain, who constantly lays barriers in Clementine’s way.

Rollins Lumber Company – O’Grady T & L’s chief competitor, but one unable to match O’Grady’s maximum potential.

Saving O’Grady Timber & Lumber – The main plot of Steel Horse Saviors revolves around keeping O’Grady Timber & Lumber from failing, leaving not only the O’Grady family, but all their employees in the lurch.

Here is a preview of the last seven posts in the 2017 A to Z Challenge:

Thomas Trumble, Colonel who is the Inspector General in the post-war U.S. Army and trying to find evidence to come after the Saviors.

Ueley Carlisle – The developer who wants to turn Harrington into the population center of the western frontier.

Venus O’Grady – Clementine’s oldest sister who allies regularly with her mother to complicate Clementine’s path.

Wedding – One of the Saviors will marry an O’Grady, but that plot development still needs some development.

Xavier Touchet Broussard – the mechanical genius and last Savior, who keeps Lulubelle running in top condition.

Yardley Station – The supply town that figures to be Thomas Trumble’s trump card in prosecuting the Saviors.

Zeke Barton – The foreman at O’Grady Timber & Lumber, who started shortly after Angus began the operation.

Finally, but not the least important item is this short list of new bloggers I came across this week in my A to Z commenting. I am trying to find at least one new blogger each day of the challenge to add to my Reader list and to share with you. Please take a moment to clink on their blog links:

The Artistic Christian          https://theartisticchristian.wordpress.com/       Christianity

Jazz Feathers                        http://theoldshelter.com/                                        Film Noir

shyutgal                                https://sparksfromacombustiblemind.com/        All about Utah

Kim                                        https://ramblingsofk.wordpress.com/                   Travel

Barbara                          http://lifefaithincaneyhead.blogspot.com/       Personal Perspectives

Eva                                        http://mailadventures.blogspot.com/       Postcards Recvd in Mail

Claudia                                http://thebookwright.blogspot.com                    Writing

These folks I highlight have very different styles, so I want to introduce you to them and ask you to support their craft, by stopping by to say hello and give them some encouragement in the comments section. Tune in next week as I put this together again with another recap, preview and more new bloggers to enjoy!

 

Recap of A to Z Posts & Check Out These A to Z Bloggers – Part 2

15965050_1068241179964848_7193179799334160551_nThis is the second recap I will post during the 30 day A to Z Challenge. They will all publish on Sunday, our day off except for the last, which will roll off on May 1st. In the posts I will highlight new bloggers (And I hope new writing friends) that I discover along the way of sharing 26 posts in 30 days.

My theme is based on a novel I plan to write during the annual National Novel Writing Month in November. Now that we are seven post in I want to collect the links here for anyone late to the party.

If you missed last week’s recap you can catch up here: Recap & New Bloggers

Here is a preview to the posts coming this week:

Harrington – the fast growing city that could make or break both O’Grady Timber & Lumber and Rollins Lumber.

Ingrid O’Grady – the middle O’Grady sister that switches allegiance between Clementine and the oldest sister, Venus.

Pastor James Farragut – The Baptist minister who preaches against many of the things represented by the Steel Horse Saviors.

 Julius Kenner – The bank president of the only bank in Penley River, who may be working with Quentin Rollins or may be working Clementine against Quentin to his bank’s benefit.

Lulubelle – The steam engine that is the unheard star of the novel.

The Mystery of Lulubelle’s Origin – Finding out just how the Saviors came to possess Lulubelle seems to be a tall order. Every story begins differently no matter which Savior is doing the telling.

Here is a preview to the posts coming this week:

Nolan Russell – The second of the Steel Horse Saviors trio and the muscle of the operation.

O’Grady Timber & Lumber Company – Clementine’s pride and joy, the business her father built from nothing.

Penley River Trestle – another significant impediment to O’Grady T& L reaching their full potential.

Quentin Rollins – the villain, who constantly lays barriers in Clementine’s way.

Rollins Lumber Company – O’Grady T& L’s chief competitor, but one unable to match O’Grady’s maximum potential.

Saving O’Grady Timber & Lumber – The main plot of Steel Horse Saviors revolves around keeping O’Grady Timber & Lumber from failing, leaving not only the O’Grady family, but all their employees in the lurch.

Finally, but not the least important item is this short list of new bloggers I came across this week in my A to Z commenting. Please take a moment to clink on their blog links:

Dee                       https://ladieswholunchreviews.wordpress.com/          Flash Fiction

Natalie                 https://lunanoctis.wordpress.com/                                  Musical Artists

Sue Ranscht        https://stranscht.com/                                                         Flash Fiction

Halee Pagel         http://2blueeyes.com/                                                         Flash Fiction

Megan Morgan   https://meganmorganauthor.com/       26 Things She Hates About Writing

Geraint Isitt         https://geraintisitt.com/                                                    Flash Fiction

jetgirlcos              https://fortyandfantastique.wordpress.com/               Adventures in Paris

Dawn                   https://lingeringvisions.wordpress.com/                      Black & White photos

Kerry                   https://kerrylizblack.wordpress.com                            Herbs & Plants in Literature

These folks I highlight have very different styles, so I want to introduce you to them and ask you to support their craft, by stopping by to say hello and give them some encouragement in the comments section. Tune in next week as I put this together again with another recap, preview and more new bloggers to enjoy!

 

Mystery of Lulubelle’s Origin – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 13

M.jpgSteel Horse Saviors is about three Civil War veterans, two Yankees and one Rebel, who take their steam locomotive west to seek their post-war fortune. In the process they encounter Clementine O’Grady a auburn-haired beauty fighting to save the family business.

Lulubelle, the real main character of the story, is a  4-4-0 wood-powered steam engine that will not only rescue Clementine O’Grady’s struggling family business, but power it to new heights as other markets begin to develop. When Clementine enters the story in 1866 Lulubelle is two years out of the manufacturing yards in upper New England. She won’t be nearly as brightly painted as the photo included for informational purposes, but as far as the look, this is it.

loco The mystery of Lulubelle’s origin is totally different each time its told. Between the three men that take care of her operation it is a closely guarded secret. If you ask Finn, he might say it was a reward for his fine service in defense of his nation during the war of Southern stupidity, depending on the geography at the moment. Ask “Brou”, the mechanical whiz that makes Lulubelle purr and you will get any number of fantastical adventures that result in the locomotive being their prized possession. But when it comes to Nolan, the muscle that collects the majority of the wood fuel the stories get much more murky.

Over time Clementine O’Grady begins to press Finn for the real story, not only straining their potential romantic ties, but threatening to drive a wedge between the good friends as they work to keep their mystery just that.

Here is an excerpt:

“Everywhere we have been the ladies ask who is the woman in my life. I always say Lulubelle,” Finn said. “I’m sure I don’t have to tell you once they figure out I mean this piece of modern machinery a few noses get out of joint real quick like.”

“I can’t imagine why,” Clementine said rolling her eyes. “How is it you said you came across her?”

Finn’s eyes darted left and right, just the way they always did when he fielded an unexpected or unwanted question.

“Well, Miss O’Grady I am not sure you are cleared for that kind of information. You know Army of the U.S.A. and all that. What happens in war is not always something to be discussed in polite company such as yourself.”

The way he parsed out Miss O’Grady should have made her as furious as it did when Quentin Rollins or Julius Kenner did it, but Clementine found herself barely affected in the negative, but mildly intrigued. There was so much more to the trio than she had unraveled so far. 

Tomorrow, or Sunday is an off day for the A to Z Challenge, but I am in such a writing mood I have put together my second weekly recap and list of new bloggers I hope you all will visit and support. You can find it on my fiction blog, The Fiction Playground.

Lulubelle the steam engine – Steel Horse Saviors – 2017 A to Z Challenge – Day 12

LSteel Horse Saviors is about three Civil War veterans, two Yankees and one Rebel, who take their steam locomotive west to seek their post-war fortune. In the process they encounter Clementine O’Grady a auburn-haired beauty fighting to save the family business who causes the Steel Horse Saviors to rethink their master plan to escape their collective pasts.

Lulubelle, the real main character of the story, is a  4-4-0 ( Meaning 8 sets of wheels) wood-powered steam engine that will not only rescue Clementine O’Grady’s struggling family business, but power it to new heights as other markets begin to develop. When Clementine enters the story in 1866 Lulubelle is two years out of the manufacturing yards in upper New England. She won’t be nearly as brightly painted as the photo included for informational purposes, but as far as the look, this is it.

loco

When the Saviors arrive in Penley River O’Grady Timber & Lumber is barely making do with a Stephenson Rocket. It was manufactured almost three decades before and sits idle due to maintenance issues as often as it is running. This engine has a 0-2-2 design for the wheels and the top speed is 28 m.p.h. Lulubelle can pull the Rocket and several freight cars with no issue at a much higher speed.

0-2-2 Locomotive

The moment Clementine sees Lulubelle she begins to imagine a future where O’Grady Timber & Lumber can not only survive but thrive.

Here is an excerpt:

The tall column of smoke was visible from several miles away. Clementine knew it meant something significant. There was very few times a steam engine found its way to Penley River without her advanced knowledge. The sheer cost of operating one was mind baffling. She had crunched numbers several times on getting new freight cars for her timber operation, but never found the way to make it happen. She had a couple sitting on rails a hundred miles east she couldn’t get delivered. 

As the steam engine came into sight Clementine rubbed her eyes in disbelief. This was a monster, the new 4-4-0 design that she knew was running in the more populated east. What in the world was this technological marvel doing this far west? She felt her stomach flop when she saw the two promised timber cars with O. T. & L. painted on the side.

She quickly imagined using this machine to gain the crucial advantage she craved on Quentin Rollins. She craned her neck to try to see more as the locomotive began to slow as it neared the station. She had to no more.

Come back once more this week to learn about the Mystery of Lulubelle’s origin with the Saviors.

Recap of A to Z Posts & Check Out These A to Z Bloggers

15965050_1068241179964848_7193179799334160551_nI plan to do this four times during the 30 day A to Z Challenge. They will all publish on Sunday, our day off except for the last, which will roll off on May 1st. In the four posts I will highlight new bloggers (And I hope new writing friends) that I discover along the way of sharing 26 posts in 30 days.

My theme is based on a novel I plan to write during the annual National Novel Writing Month in November. Now that we are seven post in I want to collect the links here for anyone late to the party.

Angus O’Grady – Patriarch and founder of O’Grady Timber & Lumber

Elise Begley – Young, attractive doctor with her first solo practice in Penley River, Clementine’s confidant.

Clementine O’Grady – the heroine, and face of O’Grady Timber & Lumber.

Delilah O’Grady – Mother to the three O’Grady girls, whose health removes her from the day to day operations.

Escaping the Past – The introduction of the Steel Horse Saviors reason for heading west.

Finn Honeycut – The suave, smooth-talking face of the saviors; one that can get in, out and back in trouble at the drop of a hat.

Gus Owens, the U.S. Army sergeant that brought the Saviors together, including a C.S.A. mechanical genius during the height of the War Between the States.

Here is a preview to the posts coming this week:

Harrington – the fast growing city that could make or break both O’Grady Timber & Lumber and Rollins Lumber.

Ingrid O’Grady – the middle O’Grady sister that switches allegiance between Clementine and the oldest sister, Venus.

Pastor James Farragut – The Baptist minister who preaches against many of the things represented by the Steel Horse Saviors.

 Julius Kenner – The bank president of the only bank in Penley River, who may be working with Quentin Rollins or may be working Clementine against Quentin to his bank’s benefit.

Lulubelle – The steam engine that is the unheard star of the novel.

The Mystery of Lulubelle’s Origin – Finding out just how the Saviors came to possess Lulubelle seems to be a tall order. Every story begins differently no matter which Savior is doing the telling.

Finally, but not the least important item is this short list of new bloggers I came across this week in my A to Z commenting. Please take a moment to clink on their blog links:

Raven Avery             https://everywhere-and-nowhere.com/              Flash Fiction

Janelle Miller            https://everydaymomentsofworship.wordpress.com/         Christianity

Iain Kelly                   https://iainkellywriting.wordpress.com/           Flash Fiction

Jacqui Murray          https://worddreams.wordpress.com/                Literary Genres

Carryl R                      https://carrylrobinson.wordpress.com/           Books & Authors

Stomperdad              https://allinadadswork.wordpress.com/           Fatherhood

Katrina                       http://calliopewriting.com/                                 Famous Quotes

These folks I highlight have very different styles, so I want to introduce you to them and ask you to support their craft, by stopping by to say hello and give them some encouragement in the comments section. Tune in next week as I put this together again with another recap, preview and more new bloggers to enjoy!