2017 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

o6cmeq

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.

SHS

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.

2017 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal Teaser

o6cmeq.jpgIt is almost time for  the A to Z blogging challenge to begin! Over twenty-six non-Sunday days almost two thousand bloggers will post daily with the letter theme of the day about topics as various as you can imagine. For bloggers this is a wonderful opportunity to concentrate on some goals. Like writing more as well as more often. Also it gives us solitary soldiers a chance to identify others with our interest to build professional as well as personal relationships. This is a perfect tie in to my personal goals for 2017 as explained in my post: My 2017 Writing Goals. Plus, if we do a good enough job with our posts we can secure a few new readers/followers for our work.

I have to admit, even 6  days out from the official theme reveal day I am bursting to share mine. I won’t because that as I understand, is one of the main tenets of promotion. Build anticipation. I am not a marketing genius, yet, which is one of the reasons I have not taken the dive into self-publication, but I am learning rapidly the dos and don’ts of this world.

Many people do not care for Twitter, thinking it just a mindless pursuit. It can be if you do not utilize it to your advantage. I begin to understand just how to do that during this past November when I completed my first NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. Most bloggers/writers know, but in case you are a casual reader stopping buy it is a form of controlled madness where we attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Some people don’t understand the insanity. They ask why don’t you just finish the one you are working on, why write another? As with all things when you concentrate too long on one thing the ideas become stale. With multiple works in progress you can bounce back and forth to give your best work. I know I am bouncing around, but what I got from the NaNoWriMo Twitter experience was that it can limit your audience to those really invested in the same thing you are.

Again, I will not jump the gun to reveal my theme, but I am terribly excited about it and cannot wait to first of all share it and then write about it during the A to Z Challenge.

Use Twitter & Hootsuite to Promote Your Blog for the 2017 A to Z Challenge

2017 Badge.jpg

COPYRIGHT – ALPINE ACRES PUBLISHING 2017  In 19 days a whoop will be heard from computers around the world as nearly two thousand brave souls make their best effort at creating 26 blog posts in as many days if not more if they are blogging one more than one theme. What is this madness? It is known as the annual A to Z Blogging Challenge.

2017 will mark my third try at the challenge. I have completed it once, but got too excited last time and made a big mess. This year I decided to focus on one blog in particular, my favorite, the Fiction Playground. I tend to blog about a wide variety of topics. Family, faith, gardening/flowers, my model railroading hobby and more, but by and large my passion lies with fiction writing.

I join in on three photo fiction prompts each week, all of which challenge the writer with word limits. I can tell my ability to pack a lot of possibility in my stories has developed markedly and I appreciate the kind of feed back others in these challenges provide. I anticipate the same kind of interaction in the A to Z Challenge.

Okay, that was too long of an introduction, especially since I am 200 words into this post without the first mention of my topic, Use Twitter & Hootsuite to Promote Your Blog for the 2017 A to Z Challenge. Who wants to write something that will just float around the internet for eternity with no one engaging or making any kind of comment? Not me! Sure you put it out there for the wolves to rip apart too, but writers create for consumption and the possibility of mass consumption by the A to Z pack is very real.

During this past November I played around a lot with Twitter as I took part in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). One of the things I saw immediately is there is a tremendous amount of self-promotion going on there. At first I found that kind of off-putting, but as I took time to reflect between then and now I see the value. You have to make your product stand out. Why not use any tool you can understand to do so?

With that in mind I formulated a strategy to begin tweeting teasers for my April 2017 A To Z Challenge Theme. I guess I am jumping the gun a little, but I am going to share that theme with you here. Another thing I came to understand during NaNoWriMo 2016 is that the more you map out your novel ahead of time the easier it is to write. Keeping with that concept I began to flesh out a historical fiction novel I want to craft..

I used to be enthralled with wars, including the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World Wars. I suppose I still have some interest in all, but I am particularly fond of the Civil War. Perhaps it is because I live in Virginia, which was one of the most affected states in the sense of the amount of battles. Whatever the reason I have been knocking around the idea of writing a historical fiction about the Civil War. Pulling in the connection to my recent initiation of a model railroading hobby I came up with an idea that fused the two loves.

The Steel Horse Saviors is a story about the United States as it tries to right itself following four years of civil war. It is 1866 and three civil war veterans, two Yankees and a Rebel head to the western frontier with a nearly new steam engine to seek their fortune. On their way they encounter Clementine O’Grady, a breath-taking redhead struggling to keep her family’s Timber & Lumber company from collapsing. Civil War prejudices as well as our heroes’ past will combine to complicate their lives.

Now to the Twitter and Hootsuite connection. Hootsuite is an application that allows you to schedule tweets or Facebook posts, if you like, to post whenever you choose. I immediately grasped the process and find Hootsuite to be easy to use. Here is an example of some posts I scheduled:

SHS

You will notice I have employed the use of hash tags. One was pre-existing, #atozchallenge, which I hope will become really popular in the next days as people get excited about the challenge. The other is my own creation, #steelhorsesaviors. By doing this I can go specifically to that hashtag on Twitter to see what is going on. There is another hash tag I am trying to use, provided by the A to Z Challenge @Aprilatoz, but so far Hootsuite does not recognize it.

Here is a calendar on Hootsuite showing the various tweets I have already sent to twitter. You will also have a similar display for the tweets scheduled to post:

HS

I want to take this moment to give a shout out to one of the A to Z Challenge C0-Hosts who has been re-tweeting my scheduled posts since I began four days ago. J Lenni Dorner should get a kudo for living the role as a co-host. I mean really, it is 18 days until the real madness kicks off and this representative of the A to Z team is in full-on “Get It Done” mode!

JLD

So what value is their in this re-tweet? I have a grand total of 398 followers, of which I am not sure how many actually check my tweets regularly. Conversely J Lenni has 7,392! That is almost 16 times as many opportunities for someone to see the tweet. You cannot beat that kind of possibility for promotion of your work.

So you ask, am I concerned my effort will get smothered out by the torrent of similar effort when the real challenge begins? Concerned? No. Expecting it? Yes. I am not the only one to ever consider this, but am thankful it occurred to me early enough to work out the logistics and get it rolling now.  Tell me if you like this idea or if you have tried anything similar.

Six Things I Have Learned About Twitter During #NANOWRIMO

34f62-6a00e55098fdaf88330133f52be863970b-320wiIf you are an aspiring novelist you already know what National Novel Writing Month or #NANOWRIMO is. It is a harrowing thirty day adventure where you try to craft a novel of 50,ooo words. Write a complete novel in a month? Who came up with such madness? No doubt it was a writer. Only people such as us can dream up such utter madness!

But here I am, drinking the Kool-Aid for a second straight year. I will be quick to admit that NaNoWriMo ate my lunch last year, as my first attempt ran out of gas at 29,000 odd words. But I learned a lot from the experience and armed with a solid outline I am back for more. I have also picked up some knowledge I want to impart in this blog post. Here are six things I have learned through Twitter.

  1. People want to share their ups and downs with others who will commiserate or celebrate. Let’s face it, if you don’t do this thing called novel writing you cannot hope to understand the strain it puts on a writer. You see we go into bookstores all the time and dream of seeing our name on the front of a book in that shelf. To get to that point however means a lot of days where our success is either invigorating or lack thereof is energy-sucking.
  2. Some people have more time to write than others and trying to keep pace with them is foolish! I read several Twitter posts each day and I knew within a few days I would begin to see fellow novelists boast of being half-way or futher in their 50K journey. But today, on November 4th, I saw someone celebrating their “win”. For those of you not in the madness a “win” is crossing the 50,000 word threshold. I said “SERIOUSLY”, what do you do for a living. many of us have full time jobs and cannot devote the kind of time it would take to write 50,000 words in 4 days.
  3. Being and encourager is desperately needed! As a Christian I have always tried to live within the bounds of something I know as the J.O.Y. Principle, which is explained as Jesus First, Others Second and Yourself Last. So I try my best to read through some Twitter posts, find one with a post that reflects the need for encouragement and have at it. I even began using this hashtag: #Encourageawriter. I hope I can enlist a legion of others to help me make it trend between now and the end of NaNoWriMo2016.
  4. There is no end to the NaNo Tips Posts. Thanks to all of you who are trying to help those of us still cutting our teeth in the business, but who has time to read all these and reach our desired daily word goal? Yes, I realize I am joining this group, but I wanted to share some insight for those interested in the topic but not doing the dance.
  5. Too many people sabotage themselves by trying to get it perfect the first time through. The idea is to get the first 50,000 words assembled within the 30 days of the month of November. No, they may not be part of the final 80,000 or so words when you submit to a publisher, but it is much easier to submit a finished work if you get it started. Editing comes later, not while you are in the midst of NaNoWriMo.So what if you claim the win on November 30th and find yourself on December 15th with a 41,000 word revised manuscript? At least you have created something!
  6. There are so many great writers out there! Everyone I have encountered both last year and this year are just like me, only wanting to enjoy the thrill of a publisher asking to publish our creation. Oh how we will celebrate that day! I am trying to collect a few friends to share my celebration with and who will want to celebrate their success with me.

I am sure there are more Twitter discoveries I will collect during this adventure, but for now this is what I will share. If you want to help me encourage use the hashtag I mentioned above. You may get a nice 140 character thank you note!

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo – The Postmordem

What does it look like to be crushed by an idea you embraced with such excitement and enthusiasm in its buildup? I think the picture that follows can sum up my response.plane

What I envisioned as a 747 arcing across the sky over the month of November headed for at least a 50,000 word beginning of my first published novel instead is holding its place as a 29,039 word beginning. Rest assured I have not thrown in the towel or the landing gear on this quest. But I do know this, 50,000 words in 30 days is a monumental task, one I had known in the preceding years and avoided at all costs. But in 2015 I thought it would be worth the effort. I can say it was not.

I got tied in with NaNoWriMo.org (for free or I would not have done it) and they go to great lengths to try to encourage you and get you involved with other writers. This is all fine and well if you have scads of time to devote to such. But if you intend to tap out the average of 1,667 words per day to stay on pace it leaves little time for anything else. NaNo

I did attend one write in, which is a physical gathering of those taking part in the month long exercise at a local site. With the exception of the two liaisons from the event there was one other writer and myself, so not much opportunity to feel a part of a community. It is true that writing is a solitary adventure and most of your motivation has to come form within, but you would think  writers would jump at the chance to share a brief time with others.

The novel I am in the midst of writing was not the problem, that story is in my head, begging to be transferred to the computer. The issue is the demands of writing it within such a short and yet hectic time period. Consider the holiday that falls within the 30 day period. Then I can add in the fact that I left the country for a week long mission trip. Of course I knew that going in, but in the early days when the enthusiasm was tied to adrenaline I was able to get ahead of the pace and felt I could easily reach the goal.

34f62-6a00e55098fdaf88330133f52be863970b-320wi

So in summary I guess I would say this experience confirmed what I already believed, that NaNoWriMo is not for me. I will finish this novel and get it ready to be published either with a traditional publisher or by publishing it myself through Amazon or another means. It is my greatest desire at his moment after the things that are always bigger priorities (spouse, children, job, etc.). I suppose I will have to try to find another avenue to develop a writer network of friends.

 

 

 

 

 

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.