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


2017 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal


Today is finally, finally the day. Or as my son used to say when he was too young to really understand the concept “Today is today!” What day would make me so excited? The day when I get to unveil the topic I will square up to for the 26 post A to Z Challenge that begins April 1st.

For those few unfamiliar with the A to Z challenge it is a blogging juggernaut in its 7th year, begun by Arlee Byrd @ Tossing it Out  and a wonderful way to do a number of things:

  1. Create great content
  2. Make new friends as you discover other blogs
  3.  Comment on others work, giving them meaningful feedback
  4. Be part of something so much bigger than you are

Why is it bigger? Because in the past years as many as 2,000 bloggers from various platforms have taken their swipes at the list I gave above. Can you imagine all the potential new friends you can make in the month of April?

If you want more of an official explanation or want to join, there is still time you know, you can click here: A to Z Challenge.

Okay, so enough background about the A to Z. Let’s unveil the theme, huh?

In November of 2016 I entered and completed my second National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write at least 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. I was able to write 71,000+. How did I do that? I had a clear idea of what I wanted my novel to say. That is right, I am a plotter. I like to outline my novel before I write it.

Continuing that idea I decided to approach the 2017 A to Z with a plan to map out another new novel idea. As I began to put together my novel premise it really filled in quickly as I used the A to Z letters. I may just do all my novel planning this way.

Yes, I know I am delaying, but part of promotion is getting you interested. Since you are likely very interested if you are still reading I will give you what you came for.

In the 2017 A to Z challenge I will be giving you the inside scoop of my new novel I will write called the Steel Horse Saviors.

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 an auburn-haired beauty fighting to save the family business. There is a villain just as in any story, a rival lumber baron who is just days away from ripping control of O’Grady Timber & Lumber Company from Clementine O’Grady’s grasp. The locomotive team must decide if they have traveled far enough away from their own demons that they can stay around long enough to battle Clementine’s. The 29 year old beauty will find herself drawn to each of these strangers for different reasons.

As part of my promotion ahead of the A to Z Challenge  I have been using Hootsuite and Twitter to toss teasers using the #atozchallenge hashtag.


One of the exciting extensions of this is that one of the A to Z co-hosts, J Lenni Dorner has already endeared themselves to me by re-tweeting every single tweet I have generated over the last week. Not only that but others have joined in re-tweeting and have begun to generate some buzz. I guess that means my posts better be worth the time of my visitors, huh?

This is my third time with A to Z. I completed it once and failed miserably two years ago because of a death in my family and of our family pet. But this year I have decided to double down and make this a significant event in my writing life. I invite you to come back beginning April 1st to see what all this buzz is about.

Just know I intend to pop about reading theme reveals myself starting today so I can build a list of blogs I intend to visit and make my new haunts. If you want o read about other A to Z Themes click here: A to Z Theme Reveal.

NaNoWriMo 2015

National Novel Writing Month is coming in nine days. So what, you say? Why should I care? Well it is highly possible some novel you read in the next six to eighteen months could see its beginning in the thirty day festival of novel writing that is #NaNoWriMo. Basically, for anyone still in the dark, novel writers commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. While 50,000 words might seem short for a novel, on average there are 250-300 words per page. using this estimate a 50K word novel would constitute around 200 pages.

I can count five manuscripts in my inventory of unpublished works. I will confess I have never tried to do the #NaNoWriMo because the concept is more than intimidating. You will write 1,667 words on average each day to total 50K in thirty calendar days. Keep in mind there is a holiday on November 26th and you eschew that 24 hour period. This year I also will surrender four days of my writing schedule to an international mission trip. While I could still find the time, who knows if I will want to try?

So there are innumerable reasons to shake my head and retreat from this challenge once more, but there is another compelling reason not to: A story dying to be written. It is a concept I have been mentally building out over a few months. But now it is getting ready to hit the fast track and get a full court press to 50K words.

So, what can I do to facilitate this? Well, for the first time in my novel writing adventures I plan to do a flow chart. No, I am not a flow chart expert and it will not be pretty, but I feel like I need to chart out the action and story line so i can write more effectively. I have decided to use the tact of writing individual chapters that focus on one of the characters, and believe I can chart accordingly.

Three Christmases past my wife invested in the Dragon voice dictation program. It is great as far as making the entry a lot faster, once it learns your speech eccentricities. It is not 100% flawless, but it helps quite a bit. What I am hoping for is to connect with other #NaNoWriMo authors to build some community so we can cheer each other on. I would also like to get some others who will gently inquire as to my progress and keep me focused on the goal. Who knows, I might be able to get this thing ready for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award that is coming in Jan-Feb time frame.

Okay, here is the part where I find out how many people who click on my posts read to the end. You are probably asking what will be the subject of this novel. It will be a suspense thriller with an FBI agent chasing a serial killer on the Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina and Virginia.